This past weekend I attended the GLCA, or Great Lakes Colleges Association, conference here at Hope, whose mission is to “take actions that will help strengthen and preserve our colleges; and by being a leading force on behalf of education in the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.” This was my first time attending the conference, but I had heard great things from my friends who had gone to prior conferences. Students from 12 other colleges like Albion, Denison, Ohio Wesleyan and Kalamazoo came to Hope to spend their weekend hearing from guest speakers and attend workshops.This year’s theme for the conference was “Student Success: The Politics of Institutional Culture,” which couldn’t be a more relevant topic to discuss right now with what is happening at several universities in the states. Student success among students of color in mostly white institutions is a common problem and can lead to struggles in how students succeed academically, socially as well as the overall campus climate, whether it is welcoming or unwelcoming.
I don’t have the right words to describe how I felt seeing so many students of color on Hope’s campus other than to say it was pretty cool. It doesn’t do that feeling justice, but really, meeting students from other colleges was the highlight of my time at the conference, if only for the simple fact that we all shared a same bond of knowing what it feels like going to a college where we are underrepresented. Another highlight of the conference was when one of the guest speakers, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, spoke during dinner on Friday night. I’ve heard from many guest speakers throughout the various events and lectures I have attended at Hope, but Dr. Strayhorn’s speech resonated with not only me, but everyone in the room. One of the major takeaways from what he spoke about was when he stated that we must be proud of what we are good at. If you are good at math, say you are good at math. If you are good at singing, then be proud to say you are good at singing. Too often we doubt ourselves and our abilities of what we can’t do, but why not be proud of what we can do? I urge you to think about your gifts, your talents, and the next time someone asks you what you are good at, hold your head up high. I know I will do the same!
On Saturday afternoon, I and a few of my sisters went to support our Theta sister Rudy who was presenting her research on the challenges, lack of support and resources students of color experience in their field. Even though Rudy’s research centered around the healthcare field, I was still able to think about the challenges I have faced thus far in my own English field and how much support I have received throughout the past 3 years. Either way, it is important for all of us to think about these questions as we continue our education and think about how we are receiving (or not) the support and resources we need to be successful.
After a long day of attending workshops and participating in important discussions, it was nice to end the day by going to Images. If you didn’t know, Images is a multicultural showcase with dances, singing and skits that Hope students participate in. What I love about Images if that highlights the many different cultures that make up our campus. A lot of my friends and sisters (Alexis, Ashley and Rudy–good job ladies!) were in a few of the dances, so I wanted to show my support for all of their hard work they put forth the past few weeks! Below is a video I took of my sister Qian performing in Images in a “Vietnamese Hat Dance,” which depicts both women’s grace as well as daily activities of the Vietnamese people.
Thanks so much for reading! 🙂