Carissa Hilliard

September 10, 2008

Cultural Event Review #2

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I stood out from the crowd like a sore thumb.  Unlike a sore thumb, I was there for a reason and a noble cause, to improve the number of cheerleaders because, contrary to popular belief, cheerleaders were a dying breed.  I stood proud and perhaps all too sore like the aforementioned thumb, resisting all efforts to be swayed from my mission.  It did not take long, however, for the soreness to yearn for relief that it would soon find in the chaos of all the other campus club offerings of candies, cookies and ice cream.

As I navigated my way through the maze of tables that were set up in front of me, I could see the different offerings that were there.  Distractions, if you will, that prevented me from carrying out my own mission of recruiting more cheerleaders.  This was indeed a considerable feat in itself for there were swarms of people elbowing one another to get through the crowd, especially near the Greek life section.

Exhausted and sore, I did, however, enjoy myself and see all the other clubs that were present.  The diverse community with diverging interests and perhaps conflicting ones was clearly visible at this event.  There was so much energy at the event that it felt as if nuclear fusion technology was developed here.  People were enthusiastic and excited about the possibilities and were open to entertaining all sorts of questions.

Personally, I must have signed up for at least ten organizations because my inbox was filled with e-mails congratulating me.  I think this was an eye-opening experience not only for freshmen, but for students of all ages.

Carissa Hilliard

October 13, 2008

Cultural Event Review #4

The rest of the world is catching up on America.  Though science and technology have promised unprecedented progress in various fields with their innovative breakthroughs, the Americans seem to receive this piece of information with disinterest.  As such, it was enlightening to be present for Dr. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri’s presentation, “Science is Fun!”, which helped explain why science is vital to the future and how it can be applied in fun and interesting ways.

Dr. Shakhashiri began his lecture by elaborating on what he called “science literacy” and how it brings everyone together, even the non-scientists.  Comparing scientists to magicians, he elicited a raucous laughter from the audience when he said that only difference is, “Scientists actually explain how to do their tricks”.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about this experience was the fact that it was a very engaging presentation.  Admittedly, the flames and explosions did catch the audience’s attention and there was no arguing that when he popped balloons with fire, made liquids change color with dry ice, and even made bubbles float in a fish tank he indeed became the idol of the younger members of the audience.

I learned a lot from this presentation and found that I was able to connect with the speaker and understand the complicated concepts that he demonstrated with ease.  The manner by which he engaged and captivated the audience showed the cool side of science and it exemplified his message that while we need science more than ever in the modern world, a little fun never hurt either.

Carissa Hilliard

October 19, 2008

Cultural Event Review #5

Sarah Palin happened.  Perhaps the biggest political celebrity in the United States next to the American President, the Hockey mom turned governor turned Vice Presidential Candidate, was the biggest thing at that time.  The crowds that had gathered to see her was immense, the likes of crowds at a rock concert or at Super bowl.  The red white and blue that clothed everyone gathered dare, filled the arena with a patriotic spirit that reminded many of the pride that came with being American.  As the masses swarmed in through the gates, Images of Sarah’s face were everywhere – it was more like being at a pop concert than a presidential rally.  People fanned themselves with “Country First” banners as chants of “U.S.A.” filled the stadium.  When Hank Williams, Jr. took the stage, an uprising of patriotism swelled at his lyrics pertaining to John McCain’s “American tradition”.

Sensing the approach of Palin, the crowds drifted toward the other side of the baseball park, inexplicably drawn like iron filaments to a magnet.  Black SUVS, seeming like one long black train, soon broke formation and began pulling up into the parking lot.  Men and women in dark business suits began to strut across the platform as people lined themselves up against the metal barricades, screaming as if the Beatles had just arrived.  Much to the delight of the excited fans, Sarah Palin finally stepped out and walked on stage.

As she stood there, the energy from the crowd was electrifying.  Though she merely recited political buzzwords and catchphrases, she managed to excite the crowd.  Reactions such as “Drill, baby, drill!” at Palin’s mention of domestic oil and “Extra chromosome, extra love,” were messages that reached out to the public.  Though she was only there for forty minutes, there was no doubt in the mind and heart of everyone there that they had been part of history.

It was unusual to witness such a gathering that was not marred by protesters from the Democratic Party.  While I later found out that this was because of the fact that several organizers had limited the presence of Democrats by restricting access to the event, it did not remove the fact that this was definitely a once in a lifetime event.  Everyone in the stadium felt that they had played a part in history and supported change that would ensue.  I myself felt an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that I had not only witnessed but also taken part of this historic event and perhaps also contributed to altering the course of history.

Carissa Hilliard

November 2, 2008

Cultural Event Review #6

The Onion, something that brings tears to our eyes when we peel it and also something that leaves a delicious taste in our mouths, is also the name of Joe Garden’s presentation that presented a political satire that was riddled with comedic infatuations.  Starting his speech with a wave of profanities at everyone who wanted to have the most number of viewers on YouTube, Garden warmed up by taking about politics and just about every political figure he could think of.  No matter how saintly or well perceived, nobody was safe from the barrage of insults and humorous criticisms. Al Gore, George W. Bush, Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and Dick Cheney each had their own satirical niche in the presentation.  One of my personal favorites was the piece on Obama where he pokes fun at the Practices Looking-Off-into-Future Pose of the President Elect.

Seeing the entire thing as a brilliantly if not dangerously composed comedy act, I realized that there must have been so much time and effort that went into making it.  The jokes were political accurate if not critical and the impressions were very well researched and carried out.  From the manner that Obama struck his pose to the laid back approach of certain figures, this performance was indeed novel and interesting.   It was definitely a change to see the news in a different light for as Joe Garden would say, sometimes people just need to lighten up – we can’t be so serious all of the time!

Carissa Hilliard

November 3, 2008

Cultural Event Review #7

“Standard Operating Procedure,” as the name suggests, would entail one’s visualization on an operating room or perhaps some branch of government.  It came as a complete surprise, therefore, when I realized that this was about Abu Ghraib.  While I was not totally ignorant of the events that transpired in Iraq, I was totally unaware of the entire scenario.  After sitting through the two-hour film, I walked away with even more questions than when I came.

Focusing on the interviews that were made on soldiers who were guilty of criminal charges, it showed the atrocities that were committed during war.  The single most compelling picture of the abuses that were committed by the soldiers still flashes in my mind to this day;  Snapshots of the perversities and inhumane treatment that several prisoners were subjected to still haunt me and leave my hairs standing on end.

However, a side of me did rather enjoy the film for the simple reason that it involved a certain level of artistry in the presentation.  The way by which they showed the shots and the filters that were used really created a dimension to the film.  Not only was the movie visually stimulating, but it was also intellectually challenging.  The tough foreign policy issues that were featured not only raised many questions on the American military but also with war in itself.  It led to the question of liability and humanitarianism.  While different from the holocaust of the Second World War it did evoke comparisons that have drastic implications on the way the War on Terror is conducted.

Carissa Hilliard

November 3, 2008

Cultural Event Review #8

Ten events and a fast approaching always make for a bad combination, particularly when one is in a very strange place.  The Zone, as the others called it, was a place that was much a mystery as it was a dreaded place.  As I watched the first victim clamber on stage to read her piece, I visualized myself doing the same thing and being criticized by everyone.  I full knew that I was here for a “Bad Poetry Reading,” but I didn’t really understand just how bad it would be.

As I started the countdown to my doom, I witnessed others get on stage and share a selection of poems that they had from their teenage years.  These poems were weird because they were very different from the people reading them.  The darkness and anger that became the unifying theme of many of these poems was clearly absent in the manifestation of their older personas.

While there was a lot of anger, there was also a revelation that made everything bright; for while the themes were dark and often brooding they also showed the talent that these people had in them.  More importantly it was an accurate portrayal of the challenges that people faced growing up and perhaps how their writings gave them a chance to resolve these adolescent issues.  As such, I believe that this is by far the most unique campus activity I have attended.

Carissa Hilliard

November 7, 2008

Current Event Review #9

Did God Create the Brain? Did the Brain Create God?, is perhaps one of the most interesting presentations that I have attended.  It not only managed to pique my curiosity but it also enlightened me on several matters.  It was of course fascinating to see just how the brain is able to conjure up certain images and give birth to imagination that knows of no bounds.  The fact that there even exists a provable correlation between brain activity and religious experiences is a concept that was previously alien to me.

During the presentation, I saw the link that occurred between religious experiences and brain activity.  It was revealed that the meditative state that is often found in religious experiences increased brain activity.  In fact glossalalia, Cartesian dualism, and the Gestalt phenomena were all shown to be applicable to such a situation.  The lecturers also showed how the brain is able to generate a magnetic field.

More interesting, however, was the application of this theory since it led to a different approach especially to medical issues.  This wonderful opportunity provided a perfect way of studying religion and the how the human brain functions.  It provided a deeper understanding of perhaps one’s faith or in the alternative science and the mysteries of the human brain.

            Carissa Hilliard

November 10, 2008

Current Event Review #10

To be or not to be….I guess that was the very question I asked myself upon seeing the theatrical presentation of Sweeney Todd.  In junior high school, I was a huge fan of theater.  I religiously attended rehearsals and would often try out for the lead roles.  It came as no surprise, therefore, that watching Sweeney Todd would stir up those old memories and have me pining to return to stage.

They say that a great performance is one that inspires, and a great performance was indeed that inspired me to continue with theater.  Christopher Wood, cast as Sweeney Todd, was the epitome of pain and darkness that lurks inside each of us.  The peculiarities of the human condition are well portrayed by Matthew Masten and Lisa Carter.  In fact, the often thought morbid theme of the play was a distant second to the mastery by which these actors showed for their roles.

After watching, it made me realize that there was still so much that I had to accomplish in life.  The difference between high school and college productions was painfully obvious from the first scene alone.  More importantly, I feel that it was this realization which made me want to go back and revisit my theatrical and perhaps dramatic roots.



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