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Stand and Share Your Final Thoughts

September 4, 2009
Students take turns sharing what they've gained from TWTP.

Students take turns sharing what they've gained from TWTP.

The Third World Transition Program came to a close tonight after three days discussing racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia and heterosexism, classism, and imperialism. For over an hour, students stood up and shared what they gained from the last three days. Many expressed the love and acceptance they received from their peers. Students referred to the workshops as “life changing” with one student saying,

I’ve learned more in four days than I have in four years of high school.

Even those who were uncomfortable with public speaking stood to acknowledge the MPCs, MPC Friends, TWTPCs, and fellow classmates for enabling the program. In the words of one student,

Personal growth, you don’t do it alone. You do it with other people.

A few teared up as they described their peers as family and the room their home. In this room, some students were able to be themselves for the first time. In the end they found community, inspiration, and love:

I feel loved by all of you. I love all of you and I love all those people coming tomorrow too.

Although TWTP begins with what divides us, in the end it draws participants together as a community that fully embraces the differences. Many will leave here with lasting friendships, but they will also leave with a general appreciation of and desire to learn from other people, infusing all of Brown with their love.

Building Trust

September 3, 2009
Students write associations with the word "gay".

As students move away from racism and sexism into heterosexism and homophobia, the conversations become more personal. Some students in the room have never thought about their sexuality, and others have thought about it constantly while never coming out to their families and friends. At the end of the session, several first-year publicly state their sexuality to the entire room. Some are confidant, and others fight back tears as they stand.

The session goes overtime and during the five minute break, several dozen students linger to support those who stood up and spoke. Hugs are exchanged, students pat one another on the back, and someone helps one student to his feet. Outside a few students are talking on their cell phones. One girl’s voice falters as she chokes back tears in a conversation with someone from back home.

Just two days in, these students, once strangers, are learning to trust one another and come together as a group. There are no more workshops for today, but tomorrow students will need to do the same when they discuss classism.

Lunch with Ruth

September 3, 2009

twtp_panorama

The class of 2013, MPCs, and MPC Friends walked from Andrews Dining Hall to Ruth Simmons’ house for lunch today.

Step to the Left, Step to the Right

September 3, 2009

sexism

Just before lunch, students broke into small groups after a large group session exploring sexism. During small groups, students stood in a line at the center of the room with their eyes closed as MPCs read out statements such as

I am afraid to walk alone at night.
I more often ask others out than am asked out.
I speak over other people when they talk.

After each statement, students were told to step either to the left or the right. When the activity was completed, students opened their eyes and were asked to note where their peers stood. In my group, women stood to the right of the room and many of the men were at center-left. Students then discussed their reactions to the activity.

When students regrouped in Andrews Dining Hall, the facilitators for the sexism workshop told them to fill out cards about what they needed after their discussion on sexism:

I need to not be judged.
I need people to be as they are.
I need girls to stop hiding.
I need boys to start crying.

We all impact one another, and although me may not acknowledge it, we all need each other to move forward as a society. On day two of TWTP, the class of 2013 is learning how it will move forward into its first year of Brown.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoke, and made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
– Audre Lorde

Women of Color Lunch

September 2, 2009
Students take a lunch break on Day 1 of TWTP.

Students take a lunch break on Day 1 of TWTP.

The V-dub was packed at lunch today as TWTP students filed in after an intense morning discussing racism.

Laying the Ground Rules

September 2, 2009
Third World Transition Program Coordinator Ngoc-Tran Vu '10 writes the Ground Rules

Third World Transition Program Coordinator Ngoc-Tran Vu '10 writes the Ground Rules.

The freshman class of 2013 awoke this morning to breakfast in the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall, or V-Dub, and then ambled over Andrews Dining Hall for their first morning of TWTP. Today’s agenda is packed with energizers, a faculty panel, Third World history tour, and of course the first of the “ism” workshops, racism. But before the freshmen dive into this conversation, the TWTPCs facilitate a discussion on ground rules. These rules are essential to creating the “safe space” that allows for open and honest discussion on difficult subjects. Below are the ground rules for TWTP 2009:

Ground Rules

  • Active Listening
  • Respect
  • Open-Mind
  • Participate
  • Step Up, Step Down
  • Trust Intent
  • “I” Statements
  • Confidentiality
  • Challenge
  • Watch Airtime
  • Respect Silence
  • Be Conscious
  • A Presidential Welcome

    September 1, 2009
    President Ruth Simmons greets a student

    President Ruth Simmons greets a student

    TWTP opened tonight to a packed Andrews Dining Hall. Parents and students ate with with various deans, faculty, and other Brown staff members at the Presidential Welcome Dinner. The TWTP Coodinators, Nisha Mirani ’10 and Ngoc-Tran Vu ’10, announced the theme as “I Am because We Are: Celebrating Forty Years of Solidarity,” taken from a quote by John Mbiti. When President Ruth Simmons took the stage, she urged students to learn about the people around them and shared her own personal story of attending college on full scholarship and arriving on campus with no clothes. Mindful of those anonymous donors who made her college education possible, Ruth encouraged students to think actively about the people doing things for them. She also encouraged students to seek out help if they faltered and to ask questions. She ended her address by reminding students of how much they are wanted here and walked off the stage to a standing ovation.