On Tuesday, October 24th, 2017, members of the Swarthmore Community joined together during CIA Week's Kickoff in Sci Commons to discuss their identities, personal stories, signature traits, and some of their most prominent life experiences.
"My defining features are my eyebrows, my big nose, my Pumas, and my big hoop earrings. These are the factors that would go into a cartoon version of myself. Really, it could just be a circle with all of those things. As it relates to my identity, my eyebrows are my favorite inherited trait. People like to make fun of Arabs for having big noses, but I feel really great about my nose. I can't change it, so I might as well own it. I'm not really into fashion that much, but I really like hoops and I consider that my cultural expression."
"South Korea has an important holiday called Chuseok and it's the Korean equivalent to the mid-Autumn festival that the Chinese have. Because Swarthmore and its surrounding communities are quite white, there's actually not a lot of Korean populations here. I felt lonely for the first two years here until I thought I can do similar traditions here. A lot of the time, this means using what I have available to me to bring part of home to Swarthmore. For example, I have my friends come over and make dumplings with me because that is something you would do if you were home celebrating Chuseok. I think that makes my home in South Korea more accessible to me."
"When I was in 8th grade, I learned how to play the bagpipes, but I quit before I actually could learn how to play them. I spent seven months doing this, driving a half hour there with my mom and then a half hour back, but I never actually stuck with it. It's probably one of the biggest regrets, I think, of my entire life."
“Hair is probably one of the first things people notice about me. I’m down with that though, I love having long hair and doing new and different things with it. There aren’t a lot of black guys here with long hair like that and we gotta rep. I also feel like I make a lot of connections with hair, a few of the real ones (s/o Maxine and Hanan!) do me up sometimes real nice and it reminds of my mom giving me cornrows at home.”
"Because I'm biracial, because I'm mixed race, I'm able to code-switch often and that allows me to interact with a wide variety of different people, and that is something I've appreciated more and more as I've grown older. Especially growing up in a multicultural household, I think that's something really important to who I am because I'm able to speak in different ways, and to change my body language. I don't think it's changing who I am, but it's tapping into different aspects of who I am. That's something that's really important to me and important to my identity."
"If I was transformed into a cartoon character, my signature trait would be reliability. Something I don't tell people often but is a fun fact about me is that I've been in a near-death situation. In 7th grade, we were out at recess and a friend of mine came behind me and choked me for a good two minutes, and I didn't wake up for the next ten minutes. I went to the doctor and she said I got really lucky and didn't suffer any brain damage."
"If I were turned into a cartoon character version of myself, the signature trait that fans would associate with me firstly is my hair. I look like a gigantic circle looking around, and some of my friends on campus actually identify me this way; they look for a puff of hair. When you're a black girl, hair is a major part of that identity, and figuring out what to do with your hair and learning how to deal with it has been a major part of me realizing my identity as an African-American girl."
"One of my own traditions I bring to Swarthmore is over meals. When I was little, if you knew you had some news that might get you grounded, you would talk about it over dinner time. It was the safer space for us to have these conversations, or to even talk about something that went well with our day. Now some of the most difficult conversations I have are over at meals, especially sometimes in the work I do. I go to lunch for great things, too, but food is something that was really important to us in general. Love is put into how you prepare the meal, who comes into the kitchen to create the meal together, and even now, just moving here recently, there are many people who work here that don't have family nearby. There will be times when Dean Rivera and Isaiah Thomas and I will have nights like taco night at my house. I will invite people from the neighborhood who don't have places to go for Thanksgiving. Community around meals is something I bring from my childhood, no matter how difficult the dialogue was, and we always overfeed people, too."
"I'm a Jamaican man; I was born in Jamaica but I live in New York now. My culture means everything to me because it basically represents my past. Even though it wasn't the best growing up in Jamaica, it means so much to me. If I lose my identity, that is a slap in the face to all my family members who still life in Jamaica. My identity speaks volumes to me and it's pretty easy for it to get lost here. For so many Jamaicans, it is a completely different world out here. My identity is all I have. I'm really down for it, and I'll always feel strongly about it."