March 2016 Archways

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Shaina Robinson '17

Shaina Robinson ’17

Shaina Robinson ’17 speaks to the American Chamber of Commerce Denmark

During a study abroad semester in Copenhagen, Shaina Robinson ‘17 explored her interests in social justice, writing, history, and food. A history major at Bryn Mawr, Robinson was invited to speak at a Thanksgiving event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Denmark. Below, the Bulletin shares excerpts from her comments.

The Lure of Adventure

What makes a young person want to leave the relative ease, security, and familiarity of their home and everything they know? I can’t speak for everyone, but from the study abroad students that I’ve gotten a chance to talk with, I’ve learned that one thing is clear: the possibility of adventure is too tempting to pass up…. For them, as well as for myself, adventure has been about learning something that you never could in the comfort of your home. It’s about learning who you are when you’ve changed everything that surrounds you: the place you’re in, the people you encounter, even the language that you speak. It’s also learning about the history and culture of the place you’ve taken residence in, how vastly it differs from your own, or how eerily similar it may seem at times.

Global Citizenship

Wanting to actively learn and to educate oneself about a culture other than your own is indicative of an ever-increasing desire amongst young people to be global citizens. Not only to use study abroad as a time to evolve into a more reflective, empathetic, and overall well-rounded person but to recognize that as students in this globalized world, it is our responsibility to understand it and contribute to it positively. The only way we can do that is if we actively immerse ourselves in it, challenge our perceptions, and question our ideals….

The Meaning of Hygge

As a person of color, I did my best to prepare myself mentally before leaving the U.S. for a somewhat challenging experience. I researched Denmark’s history and culture thoroughly, tried to figure out the meaning behind hygge*, meticulously selected the classes I would be taking, and chose a housing option that would help me become familiar with Copenhagen in a way that couldn’t be Googled. Still, I was aware that I would be going to a country with a relatively homogenous population and a different ethnic and racial culture from the U.S…. Now, when trying to think about how my everyday life in Copenhagen differs from my everyday life back home in the U.S., I am hard-pressed to find anything significant.

A Life-Changing Experience

There’s a trope that when returning study abroad students are asked how their time abroad was, they will answer that it “completely changed their life.” Despite how cliché it might sound, I honestly feel as though my life has changed. By putting myself in an environment where I’ve had to test my strength, my confidence, my smarts, and my willpower independent of any of the resources I usually have to assist me in my decisions, I’ve learned new things about myself and what I can accomplish.

* Hygge translates roughly as coziness, a feeling of friendship, warmth, and contentment in a comfortable atmosphere.

 

The Power to Create Positive Change

13_ARCHWAYS_Charlie_1webThe Bulletin sat down recently with current Student Governance Association President Charlie Bruce ’16 for a conversation about SGA, leadership, and email. A comparative literature major, with a double minor in film and political science, Bruce takes inspiration from another Mawrter, Grace Lee Boggs, M.A. ’37, Ph.D. ’40, and her ideas about individual power and positive change.

AB: Can you tell me about SGA and why it is unique at Bryn Mawr?

CB: Bryn Mawr College is one of the few institutions in the United States that has a self-governance association, and what that means is every student has the power to create positive change.

So if we want to see some kind of change manifest itself in the community, we don’t need to go through an elected official. Any student can write a plenary resolution, or come to an SGA meeting, or talk to an administrator, or speak their ideas in a classroom.

I think that students at other institutions feel they have to go through different avenues of power in order to get something done. Here, every individual is a social agent in their own right.

AB: Why do you do this? Why is it important to you?

CB: I got involved in SGA leadership because I like facilitating the growth and development of other people. A lot of what I do in my job is talking to students about what they feel is going on on campus and talking to administrators about how they perceive student interactions and then trying to create a positive communication between them. I am always looking for students who have potential for great leadership and great ideas to change the community in positive ways and encouraging them to take on leadership or to enact their ideas. Just seeing people embodying themselves and becoming really excited about an idea or trying to make the community a better place for other people is what I love being a part of.

AB: What have you learned in your role as SGA president?

CB: I’ve learned a ton about leadership, and I can distill it to two pieces of helpful advice.

One, treat everyone as though they’re on your team. There are many different models of leadership where one person takes on an executive position and then other people just enact the tasks. But at Bryn Mawr, I’ve learned that every task is a collaboration and that we all need to see the value within every person and what they bring to the table.

I think that there’s this misconception that in order to become a part of SGA, you need to have an elected or an appointed position. But, actually, I believe that just by being a member of this community and by engaging with other students positively, you can get involved.

And two? Always read your emails twice.

 

Scoreboard

Owls don’t swim, but don’t tell Lillian Oyen-Ustad ’19, the first-year swimming sensation who is re-writing the record books for the BMC swimming program.13_ARCHWAYS_Swimming_web

In her first-ever collegiate meet, Oyen-Ustad announced her arrival to the Centennial Conference with a great performance in the 100 backstroke. Going up against the defending conference champion, Oyen-Ustad jumped out to a small lead over the first 50 yards. Then, she found another gear on the homestretch, taking the win with a time of 1:01.74—the second fastest in Bryn Mawr history for the back.

And that was only the beginning for the Rhinebeck, New York, native: against Franklin & Marshall, she stormed away to victory in the 50 freestyle—with a time of 25.58—the fastest 50 free for Bryn Mawr since 2011 and the fifth-fastest in the BMC record books in the event.

Against Dickinson, she demolished the field in the 200 backstroke—winning the event by nearly 10 seconds with a time of 2:13.75—just .50 away from breaking the school record.

Against Cabrini, she beat out the next closest finisher in the 50 freestyle—by almost a second and a half, with a win of 25.42—and set a new season-best time.

Wrapping up 2015 at the Gettysburg Invitational, Oyen-Ustad shattered the Owls’ record in two events: in the 200 backstroke—her 2:07.85 finish gave her third place—and bested the previous BMC record, held by Sarah Bailey ’06, by almost five-and-a-half seconds. In the 100 backstroke, her time of 58.03 put her third—and broke the 11-year-old Bryn Mawr record, also held by Bailey, by more than two seconds.

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