by Alexander Bossakov ’20; photos by Zoe Kiefreider ’20
The annual Activities Fair took place in front of the historic steps of Old West and presented students with an array of opportunities for engagement. “The Activities Fair is a community event—we’re really forced to rub shoulders and get to know new people,” says Jessee Vasold, program coordinator in the Office of Student Leadership & Campus Engagement and organizer of the fair.
From Swing Dance Club to the Idea Fund, from Trendsetters to Belles Lettres Literary Society, the Academic Quad was enlivened with first-year and upper-level students looking to pursue their passions, serve, learn, innovate and engage.
The beauty of Activities Fair is that the more than 120 student-run groups are the result of the individual and collective passions of past and current students who wish to share their knowledge, commitment and abilities with a wider community of individuals. At various tables, students could be seen demonstrating martial arts or science experiments, throwing hoops, belly dancing, playing music or making art.
Aidan Pidgeon ’20 presented the Astronomy Club to students. Together with the entire team, he trains students to use Dickinson’s planetarium and built-in telescope so that they can host “star parties,” allowing open observing for the campus and Carlisle community. The club also organizes trips to “middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, where we get incredible dark skies for observing,” says Pidgeon. The only requirement for joining the club is that you “saw something on the Discovery Channel and thought it was cool.”
The Portuguese Club was one of several language and culture clubs on display, from whose tables sprung music that overlapped with students’ presentations of their clubs. “Our mission is to break down stereotypes regarding Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries,” shares Thiago da Silva, an exchange student from Brazil. “We discuss [culture] critically, and we try to analyze the ideologies behind it, the politics behind it.” The members of the club are planning film screenings, food events and a talk on Brazilian meme culture in the upcoming weeks.
The College Democrats and College Republicans were symbolically situated next to each other. “We’re trying to focus this year on rebuilding our relationship with other campus groups, since especially more than anything we need dialogue right now—dialogue and education,” says Maureen Moroz ’19. “[Previously] we’ve held several events together, and I know that’s something we definitely want to do again,” says Katelyn Rademacher ’18. Student Senate has provided funding for a joint Democrats and Republicans barbecue later in the semester.
J Street U Dickinson, another politically oriented organization on campus, focuses on dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as political corruption and racism. According to Noah Frank ’20, president of the Dickinson chapter, the group is “trying to foster a movement to create impetus to lay the groundwork for peace between Israel and Palestine.” The group organizes campaigns against the expansion of Israeli settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes, he adds, as “part of a national movement and strategy, and we’re doing our part here at Dickinson to move all that forward.” The student group works with politicians like Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy and Joe Biden, and its members meet once a year in Washington, D.C., for a national conference.
We Introduce Nations to Dickinson (WIND), is the student-run organization on campus for and about international students. Its executive board is almost entirely international, with students hailing from South Korea, the Netherlands, Ghana, China, Greece, Nepal and more. WIND brings awareness to international diversity on campus and in Carlisle by hosting intercultural events and mixing cultures. “Being able to give people that multicultural experience without actually having to leave the U.S. is a valuable part of having students from abroad, but also [having] WIND supporting that cultural exchange,” says Corson Ellis ’20.
The fall Activities Fair ended with hundreds of student sign-ups, brochure handouts and connections made. The diversity of clubs offered is undeniable, allowing students to pursue paths they always wanted to or never thought they would take. What follows, for many, is the beginning of a new passion, the overcoming of an old fear or a remarkable intellectual, artistic or physical endeavor.
Published September 6, 2017