On April 25, one of the most powerful earthquakes took place in Nepal. This 7.8 magnitude earthquake impacted the whole country of Nepal and it’s neighboring countries too. It claimed the lives of over 5,000 people. While this earthquake happened close to eight thousand miles away from us, it has had an impact on people all over the world, including a few students from our very own Winona State University.
My friend Sourab Bhatta, a junior, is one of those students. He is from Kathmandu, Nepal and came to WSU three years ago to pursue a business degree. After the news headlines about the tragic earthquake, I talked to him about how he personally is handling the crisis back at home. Though the news was shocking and upsetting, Sourab is working through his difficult emotions by taking steps to support his friends and family back in Nepal them even though he is far away.
What was your first reaction when you heard about the earthquake?
I was shocked at first, because I never expected the news. It totally came as a surprise. It was 6am when a friend texted me about the news.
How has the earthquake affected you even though you are Winona, MN?
It affected me because some of my relatives’ houses collapsed in the earthquake. Also, people I’d known for a while had died in this event. It’s really personal; it’s really close to my heart.
Have you been able to contact your family? How are your friends doing?
I have been able to call my family and they’ve been calling me too. The first few days were tough because they didn’t have telephone lines or electricity. But the next few days, it got better. My friends are doing okay. Most of them have been living outside in tents–even in the rain. It’s wet, and they’re all outside.
Is that the reason for the tent and the fasting?
Yes, I wanted to be able to experience what they are going through also. And along with living in tents, a lot of people don’t have food back home. There’s a scarcity and a lot of people are hungry. Fasting is my way of showing that I support them and let them know that I am praying for them.
What would you suggest for those who want to be actively involved in helping out with this?
A few ways people can be involved is by reaching out to the people in Nepal through working with an organization, donating, or even just praying about it or sending notes of support to families in Nepal.
His story also made me think about how this earthquake impacted myself. I was impacted because I knew someone who was directly affected, Sourab, but I also realized I was impacted because it affected India, the country where I was born, which received aftershocks that killed several dozen people. While it is harder for me to identify with my country of birth since I did not live there very long, it still hurt when I realized over 50 people from India died. Listening to Sourab talk about how this earthquake affected everyone in Nepal and himself personally was very moving, and made me want to support Nepal more than ever before.
Sourab and a few others will be hosting a vigil at the Winona State University gazebo on today from 6-7pm. This will be a way to remember those whose lives were claimed by the tragic event, and I encourage you all to attend. If you’d like to make a donation to relief efforts, WSU alumnus Amit Khanal has set up the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to assist relief efforts in Nepal.
The environmental movement in the United States began, and as such most of us ’90s kids remember learning about Earth Day and recycling in schools. In fact, I’ll bet you can list off the three R’s as easily as you can name the seven titles in the Harry Potter series or the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.
But what more can you do if you already reduce, reuse and recycle? The answer is lots! Here are just 10 ways you can be even more sustainable as a student at WSU:
1. Print Double-Sided
This is a pretty obvious way to save trees and be more sustainable. All of the printers on campus have the ability to print on both sides of the paper, you just have to change the settings on your laptop whenever you print something. “I don’t know how” is not a good enough excuse because the WSU Technology Knowledge Base even provides instructions on how to do so on both a Mac and a PC.
2. Skip the Packs of Bottled Water
Plastic water bottles are wasteful, cost money, and you simply don’t need them in your life. What college student can afford to buy a pack of bottled water all the time? A better option is to have your own refillable water bottle. There are many water fountains on campus that make filling up your water bottle very easy and convenient. Some even keep track of how many plastic water bottles we have saved. How cool is that? Save money, save plastic water bottles, make life easy – you won’t regret getting a refillable water bottle!
3. Live in Kirkland or New Center
Did you know that the toilets in Kirkland and New Center are energy efficient? They have two flush-types that use different amounts of water, so if conserving energy and water with a toilet is important to you, living here is a good option!
4. Avoid Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are not a sustainable option, but unfortunately it’s what most stores use to package your purchases. However, there are other options. Winona’s own Midtown Foods bags all of your groceries in paper bags. This is definitely better than using plastics bags, but there is an even better option–reusable bags! Often made of canvas, cloth or heavy plastic, reusable bags are easy to find and once you pick up a few all you have to do after that is remember to bring them with you whenever you go grocery shopping.
5. Walk or Ride a Bike to Class
Depending on how far away you live or what the weather is doing, it is a brilliant idea to just walk or ride bike to campus. There a many bike racks dispersed throughout campus, so it makes it very convenient to just park your bike close to where your class is. Not only is this good for the environment, it also obviously saves you money for gas and car repairs, not to mention it’s an easy way to add some extra exercise into your daily life.
6. Use Cloth Towels instead of Paper Towels
It’s as simple as trading out those paper towel rolls on the counter for a drawer of cloth towels. Paper towels are wasteful and they cost money to purchase over and over but cloth towels can just as easily get the job done. You don’t even have to purchase special towels either; an old t-shirt can be re-purposed as a kitchen rag!
7. Take Advantage of Recycling Bins on Campus
Ever notice how awesome our recycling bins on campus are? They even have open spaces made for recycling paper and for recycling bottles to make it super easy to decide what item goes where. Both of these are next to every trash can, so there is no excuse for throwing your paper or bottles into the trash.
8. Dispose of Pizza Boxes Properly
Finals are coming up fast and this means one important thing: PIZZA! Most people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable. While the boxes in and of themselves are recyclable, once it is contaminated by all of that delicious grease and cheese, the box is no longer recyclable. A good option for this is to remove the contaminated portions of it and then recycle the rest.
9. Sell or Donate Your Stuff at the End of the Year
Just as finals are quickly approaching, so is the end of the school year. Often students want to get rid of a lot of their belongings so there is less to pack up and schlepp home. While the residence halls provide huge dumpsters for garbage we don’t need, if your stuff is still in decent condition it’s a better option is to sell it or give it away. Just because you don’t want it anymore doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Post your stuff for sale on Wazoo’s List and see if someone else wants what you don’t anymore.
10. Decorate Your Room
Now I know most of you are not thinking about next year yet, but if you are, there are many ways that you can turn recyclable items into decorations for your room. For instance, you can create lanterns and tea light holders out of aluminum cans. But those are just a few ideas, and there are many more tutorials out there on the web–as if you needed an excuse to peruse Pinterest, amiright?
With Earth Day right around the corner and spring weather among us, the memory of those winter months might still be putting you in a dreary mood… Don’t worry though! With a few recycled materials and a little craftiness, you can put any residence hall or bedroom into the mood of spring! Instead of tossing your bottles or cans, why not turn them into cute decorations to spruce up your room? Here are a couple great ways you can recycle your pop cans and water bottles by turning them into something fun!
Aluminum Can Lantern and Tea Light Holder (found on Star Online)
What you need:
To Make a Lantern:
To Make a Tea Light Holder:
Follow the same steps for making the lantern but do not pierce the set of holes at the top of the can. (Note: The body of the orange can is cut in straight lines unlike the lanterns, which has lines cut in S-curves.)
Remember, never leave the light unattended. If you live in the residence halls, you can still use these in your rooms! Just use a flame-less tea light candle.
Plastic Water Bottle Art Spirals (found on Washington Post)
What you need:
To Make the Water Bottle Spirals:
With the dreary weather coming to an end, here’s hoping that these recycled decorations will help boost your spirit, Warriors!
We’ve all seen the Sarah McLachlan commercials on TV about hurt and abandoned animals. We all want to help, but don’t know how. Well, my Speech class had to figure that out on our own.
At the beginning of the semester, our professor, Dr. Susan Hatfield, gave us a challenge: double the money I give you. She gave the 6 groups each $20 to raise money for the Humane Society here in Winona. She did this with the other two public speaking classes the same challenge and actually does this project every year, just with different causes.
With the $20, we could do anything! Well, nothing illegal, of course, so people sold puppy chow, went door-to-door asking for change, did trash for cash, sold cupcakes and even snow cones. My group put on a movie night for friends. We sat around, ate puppy chow, drank soda and watched movies about animals.
It was a great time, and my group doubled our money and then some! We plan on buying some toys with the extra money and bring them to the Humane Society on Friday.
I have always wanted to help out at a shelter, and because of this project I am finally going to go through with that plan. I suggest the rest of you don’t wait.
Next week, Full Spectrum: Winona State University’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance will be hosting its 3rdannual PRIDE Week surrounding the national Day of Silence. Before I jump in to tell you about all the exciting events Full Spectrum has planned from April 13-18, I’m sure you want to know a little more about the Day of Silence, which is the inspiration for PRIDE Week.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) started the Day of Silence in 1996. This group stated that the “Day of Silence is a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.” Now 19 years later, we here on the WSU campus are an active part of the movement!
Full Spectrum’s PRIDE Week not only brings attention to the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQIA+ bullying, but celebrates being a part of, or being an ally to, the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to tabling all week in the entrance to Kryszko from 11am-2pm, the week is jam packed with events that are both educational and fun!
Here’s a run-down of the schedule:
As you can tell, the week is sure to be an exciting and educational one! Please feel free to stop by any or all of the events and enjoy WSU PRIDE Week with Full Spectrum! Also, check out Full Spectrum on Facebook and Twitter (@WSUFullSpectrum) for more information about events.
On Tuesday, March 17, I had the opportunity to attend Cece McDonald’s presentation “Black Trans Lives Matter” in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium. Cece McDonald is a black trans woman and social activist from Minneapolis, MN. She came into the public eye after an incident in June 2012 where she was a victim of a violent hate crime while walking to the grocery store with some of her friends. She was verbally and physically abused and, while defending herself, ended up killing her attacker.
She accepted a plea bargain of 41 months for second-degree manslaughter. Even though she is a trans woman, she was housed in male prisons against her gender identity. This attracted the attention of many advocate groups and individuals, including actress and activist Laverne Cox who is currently producing a documentary called “Free Cece.” Today, Cece works towards education and equality for all people.
Cece discussed a plethora of information in her presentation, from the very real issue of violence towards women to the issues with the prison industrial complex and the goals of the prison abolition movement. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me from the discussions was the quote that acts as the title to this post. “Don’t ever feel like what someone says you are, trumps who you are.” I think that this is such a powerful message. Absolutely no one can tell you who you are other than yourself. You define your truth and no one has the right to change that. As Cece said, “You’re here. You’re existing. And you can’t let anyone take that away from you [even though] they will try.”
To share everything I learned would result in a blog post that kept scrolling forever, so I will share what I believe to be the main points that really stuck out to me:
Inequality, racism, transphobia and marginalization: these are all very real realities and it is our job as communities of people to work towards eradicating these ideals. Cece noted, “I’m always seen as the angry black woman and you know what? I have the right to be angry.” We all do. We shouldn’t be bystanders in this struggle. We all need to get angry and use that anger to work towards true equality for everyone in all aspects of who they are. Just because I’m am able-bodied cisgender white man doesn’t mean I can’t fight for the rights of my fellow people who don’t receive the privileges I do from being of that status. We all need to work together to make sure that people can go about their lives being true to themselves and not receive any discrimination for doing so.