HUMANS OF SWARTHMORE: CIA WEEK VIDEO & PHOTO SERIES
Brandon "Frames" Ekweonu '20
"Frames started off as a rap name I created for myself about three years ago. It was really interesting looking at the way people took that when I expressed that. Some of my friends and people who were close to me started taking it really seriously and started addressing me as Frames all over the place, because it helped me see myself as Frames, more confidently and wholly and completely. I didn't lose "Brandon" or any other part of myself when I started to take on the name Frames more often, but it was more just an addition to what is another part of my identity and it's really important to me. That's kind of the way I think of the way we grow in the world and we grow to take on new identities, not always necessarily letting go of our old ones, but recognizing that things change and people change. Now, I actually go by both Brandon and Frames. I put Frames on my business card. It's crazy because three years ago, I'd never think of doing something like that. Now I feel like I'm missing something if I don't have it on there. Not necessarily that that's the new me, but that's an essential part of who I've become now."
Sarah Parks '19
"One of the things that I've really enjoyed over the past few years as a supplement to my major and minor is being involved with Studio Art. It's something that I've always enjoyed growing up and especially cartooning and animation and stuff like that. I don't do it very much but when I do, I really enjoy it. We just had an animation project in my Life Drawing class.
One thing that had been an interest of mine especially when i was younger was with the Environmental stuff and the art. I loved the Lord of the Rings and the concept of people living in trees interested me. Later I did find out people actually do have housing developments in trees and in the forest and my mind was blown. Community, though, within these environments is important to me. if I ended up getting into architecture, looking into sustainable housing and the romantic aspects of nature would be important to me."
Jasmine Rashid '18
"I really love gold. I love gold jewelry; I'm always wearing my grandmother's bangles, usually I have gold hoop earrings on, gold necklace, and I think it's kind of a mix of being from a Bangladeshi family where gold is always a big thing, as well as being from New York where everyone is trying to have as much gold as possible. My cartoon character would definitely be decked out."
Jennifer Marks-Gold, Director of International Student Services
"One thing I did when my kids were young is when we would have dinner, I would tell them to go around the table and tell us one really good thing that happened to them today, and one not so good. That created discussion and openness and we listened and everyone waited their turn and you really got to hear what happened during their day. I think I bring that to my advising students who are maybe new to the school and I ask them how things are going. I use my not only family traditions, but also my motherly parenting style with my students all the time and I always tell the students that I always wanted a big family, and now I have even a bigger family because I consider my students part of my family. They learn about my kids and family and I get to learn about them too, so I always learn something new from the students when they tell me what's going on with them."
Sagnik Gayen '20
"Whenever the question comes up "Where Are You From?" it's always a difficult one to answer. Given my accent, a lot of people just probably would imagine that I'm from the States, and I was born in the States, but I also spent the last nine years of my childhood in India. That greatly impacts the way I see my own identity. It's always that sort of long answer, "I was born in the States but I grew up in India as well" and I just always have to give out that long explanation, it's not simple. It's never been simple for me. I feel like I've become a bit more integrated with my Indian heritage after coming back to the States. I definitely identify with my Indianness a lot more because now I'm not in the majority, so not so much that I feel more Indian, but it's just more apparent to me right now. I always find that it impacts the way I talk or interact with people."
Michael Nafziger '18
"I eat apple sauce on pizza and it's a family tradition. I eat it on pizza most times. It's better if there's apple sauce. This tradition originated from my grandpa teaching my dad that, and it's just something that we've always done. I've gotten people to try it; there have been mostly positive reviews."
Pam Harris, Associate College Librarian for Research & Instruction
"When I think of Nabil, he's such a wordsmith. He's very lyrical and I really turn to him when I need someone to write something that's succinct yet beautiful."
Nabil Kashyap, Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Scholarship
"When I think of Pam, I think the way in which she makes people feel at ease. I remember when I came for my interview I was really stressed out and anxious, and I came in the airport and Pam came to pick me up and it was immediately laughter and jokes and it wasn't what I expected. I feel that's continued with our students as well."
Umi Keezing '19
"Whenever I see the question "who are you and how you identify," I always have a ton of trouble trying to boil down the core of who I am. That's because I don't know myself anymore; my identity is so fractured in so many different ways that I've just lost track of all the different pieces because they're too small. I'm kind of divided in terms of my cultural identity; my mom is from Japan and my dad is American, and I also grew up in two houses so I was going back and forth. I'm divided when it comes to my education; I went to a really quirky private school that has no homework, then another prep school that was really strict. I have a lot of divided interests also between humanities and also social and natural sciences. Having so many different components of my identity makes it really hard to keep track of what's important and be able to say that I'm one layer."
Zara Williams-Nicholas '19
"A trait that people would most quickly associate with me is probably my skin because it's the most visible trait. I have a lot of other pieces of my identity that I think are important to talk about, but they don't usually come out unless they're in a conversation because skin is something they can see. My cultural roots like my ethnicity and sexuality are important, like my cultural roots to Jamaica, but I think that's often hidden behind the fact that I am black. It's great I'm black but a lot of times that's the only thing people see about me, which isn't great."
Dalia Castro '18
"My absolute favorite way to integrate my culture into my life at Swarthmore is to make food, and to teach people how to make food. Eating is important to survive. I find that it's very difficult to explain the tacos I eat at home or that I'm used to eating are not the ones they serve at Sharples. I like to teach people how to make tortillas because you just have to add water to the flour and it's easy, and I actually taught my friend who was my roommate for two years and she was able to make these tortillas when she was living by herself during her internships, so it was really nice to know that what I could teach other people can help them survive."
Coleman Powell '20
"I've always been taller than most people I've been around, so I guess if I were a cartoon character I would probably be very lanky. You can't tell now, but I had a lot more hair previously; I guess I would have a fro too, then. One of the first things people ask me is if I play basketball, and I'm like, "I've heard that a lot of times. Can you think of something more creative to ask me?" Because of that, I was used to playing basketball for a long time, but when I did play it, I did actually like it. It was like a begrudging "Okay, I actually do like this thing." It's interesting to think the reaction I get people from looking at me influenced what I actually want to do. Learning that I actually do like basketball made me less hesitant to do things people expected me to do, and to just worry about what I expect from myself."
Tiffany Wang '21
"I grew up in a community I had thought was pretty diverse when I was there. I grew up in a racially diverse place; I definitely wasn't the only Asian person where I lived. But I realize that diversity of thought, socioeconomic status, a lot of those things, were very homogeneous. Coming here is like meeting people with experiences so different from mine and is so interesting. I see that not everyone is the same, even the culture around school is different, just seeing that not everyone came from a school where everyone thought that As were normal. It's very strange moving from high school to college both culturally and in terms of thought school."
Ryan Stanton '20
"I think that identity is really complicated here at Swat. I think that coming from the background I did, being in the Metropolitan DC area, it made me realize early on really where I came from, but I think Swat brings things to the forefront more. Since I've come here, my identity has really been in flux a lot. I don't necessarily know how best to define things. I know things about my character and the like, but I think it's also hard to pinpoint lots of different things and how they relate to one another. There are some things I've been lucky enough to have conversations about at Swat to better define and identify it. Something as big as identity is so nuanced that being in a place like Swat allows us to really uncover and discover more."
Martin Warner, Registrar
"Over the years, I think that I've come to really appreciate the emphasis on inclusivity at Swarthmore. About 10 years ago when we changed the nondiscrimination policy for the college, and we added sexual identity and expression as areas that we were going to be intentional about and by policy nondiscriminatory about, that's when we implemented the chosen name option for faculty, students and staff. By growing up with Swarthmore and with society becoming more inclusive and folding that into the work, that's what I think of when I think of identity and change."
Dakota Gibbs '19
"Before coming to Swat, I already identified as multi, but coming to Swat and finding that multi is a real thing kind of solidified that identity. I was always comfortable with who I am, but I felt more validated. One thing that is always true is that your identity changes as you deal with different people; it comes down to more of a code-switching situation than an identity one."
Lauren Knudson '19
"One thing that really describes my identity is probably the fact I'm from Iowa. Anyone who knows me knows that you can't really get through a conversation with me without me mentioning it. I think only 8% of Swarthmore is from the Mid-West and I'm really proud of the fact I'm from Iowa. Iowa means family to me and family is a huge part of my life."
Reshma Ajayan, International Student Coordinator
"I was born in India, raised in U.K and currently living in the U.S. Because of this multicultural experience, I am able to see people and situations from multiple perspectives and realize that there are many different approaches to life. Being in the field that I am now, my multicultural experience definitely helps. I am able to speak in different ways/languages and understand the cultural differences and help our students understand too. I use my personal experiences as examples when I assist them with their problems."