Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beyond Tutoring - Looking Back

As the year is coming to a close, our group was able to work on the final report together and reflect on what we’ve learned from the VIP experience this past year. We realized that although we were not able to carry out our original project as intended, we were able to come together in other ways to serve. Additionally, we experienced how difficult it is in the real world to get a project off the ground. It is so easy in college to live in a bubble of obliviousness, only focusing on ourselves and forgetting about what life is like outside of college. Most of school life is convenient and happens smoothly because other people have worked out the details of our schedules, housing, food, etc. In trying to start our tutoring project, we had to get approval from so many people, figure out liability issues, work out scheduling, and then found out that we couldn’t do it anyway because those with whom we were in communication felt that the project housing children needed a more sustainable program. They felt that it would cause psychological trouble to the children if we worked with them for a year, built relationships, and then disappeared at the end of the year. For this reason, we sought other means of learning since our original project was not going to succeed as planned. By tutoring through an already existing program, reading books on issues related to poverty, and attending lectures on similar topics, we were able to find alternative ways to grow and serve.
Written by Erika Pinkerton

DEAR Vanderbilt -- A Quick Review

DEAR Vanderbilt 

            As VIP is coming to a close, our group sat down this past week and discussed the different aspects of our project and which activities we believed resulted in the best stress relief. From our discussion, our group came to the consensus that working out together and blogging were some of the most powerful stress busters that we found. The great thing about these two activities is you can place your own creative spin on both! If you want to work-out, you can go over to the Rec and participate in a variety of classes such as yoga, zumba, spin and even P90X. If you’d rather be out in nature, head over to Centennial Park for a nice run. The weather is perfect for it! And as far as blogging, you can really discuss anything you want: the latest movies, your boyfriend’s annoying habits or even the places you want to visit this summer. If you’re feeling venturous, you can easily set up an account on Tumblr or Blogger and publish your blog for others to enjoy.
            While we’re sad our project is coming to an end, our group is definitely happy we participated. Not only did we improve our stress relief methods, but we also cemented our bonds of friendship over this past year. Hopefully you can use some of these activities we enjoyed to wrap up the semester with a less stressful exam period. From DEAR Vanderbilt group members, we wish you all a great end of the semester and a fabulous summer!

Monday, April 4, 2011

In The Mood For Food

The month of March for In The Mood For Food was one of our slower months, as we all seemed swamped with work and weekend getaways. However, the local cuisine that we were able to explore was unique and delicious! Last weekend, those of us in town were able to head to Pie in the Sky, a local pizza place, and share a bunch of pizzas family-style! It was a bonding experience that we haven't had in quite a while. The week before, Jordan decided to make brownies late one night without all of the ingredients. We collaborated and decided that yogurt was an adequate substitute for eggs. Needless to say, they were some of the most delicious brownies I've had yet! While the month at large lacked structure, it was fun and enlightening to come together as a community once again and explore local Nashville restaurants whenever we could.

In summary, this year has been a fabulous one. We were able to explore a ton of different eating traditions, see firsthand how our community thrived when spending time together at the dinner table was a priority, and use our resources to serve the local Nashville community. As the year comes to a close, I think it's safe to say that our bellies are full and our hearts are happy. Coming to the end of Sophomore year is bittersweet, especially with so many of us going abroad next year, and I know that personally, I'll forever cherish being able to spend another year living alongside some of the most amazing people I know. It's been a privilege dining with you :).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bridging the Gap is Having a New Event!!!

March is here!!! That means only 2 more months until summer vacation!! It also means to get ready for Bridging the Gap’s next event, March 22nd at 7pm in Carmichael Towers East meeting room!  We’re currently deciding whether to have a panel or an interactive discussion that would involve students physically categorizing themselves into different groups based off of questions that will be asked.  Also, we’re thinking about co-sponsoring with the Greeks- Panhellenic, IFC, and National Pan-Hellenic Council.  Although we are possibly co-sponsoring with the Greeks, we don’t want to give off the impression that this is a Greek centric event. Different organizations will be featured in the discussion which includes, but is not limited to, Greek organizations.  We hope that everyone in attendance will leave with a better understanding of how and why students group themselves on campus.  We invite other VIP groups to attend so that we can get you guys’ perspective on different issues as well!  Stay on the lookout for fliers in the next 2 weeks explaining the event in more detail and good luck to you all on your midterms!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Focus Shift: Legal obstructions cause VIP group to rethink goals

Hi everyone, this is Summy from the VIP group Beyond Tutoring on 12th Avenue blogging about the ups and downs of a semester and a half in Vanderbilt Interest projects.

When thinking over what our VIP has done for the past month, to be honest there's not a whole lot new to report. Various people in our group have continued going to tutor in the Edgehill community every Wednesday with the P-Team tutoring program from Crawford and Gillette Houses on the commons. As part of our group's vision to reach out to the underprivileged children and community of the Edgehill housing projects, we have signed up to volunteer with the Nashville Mobile Market. The Mobile Market is a Vanderbilt-student-run endeavor that launched last month aiming to provide fresh foods to "food deserts" in Nashville - places where residents can't get fresh food or produce and resort to eating unfresh, highly preserved, unhealthy food. Our group is anxious to get involved with the Nashville Mobile Market as soon as we can, which should be after Spring Break.

As for my reflections upon this year, VIP has definitely been a mixed bag for me. It has been great to get to know everyone in my VIP better and to work on group projects, improve our group dynamic, and learn about cooperation, leadership and teamwork in such a diverse group. On the other hand, it's been extremely frustrating for me to see our awesome vision at the beginning of the year left abandoned because of liability issues and legalities. We came into VIP with an action plan and a desire to form really close relationships with the children of the Edgehill community. We wanted to be positive role models, to provide a creative outlet every week for the children to learn about different parts of the globe and gain a broader perspective on the human experience. Instead, despite what I believe was a genuine desire to help and empower others, we haven't gotten to do these things. I hope that with the remaining few months we do have in VIP, we will work hard with the resources that we have to give back to Nashville. Even though my VIP experience didn't turn out the way we envisioned it, I believe that things worked out the way that they did in order to shift our focus into a different way to reach out - whether it's through the Nashville Mobile Market or going with a more established group during the week.

Food as Medicine: ITMFF February

              The past month has been an excellent one for the girls of In the Mood for Food. We’ve been exploring the idea of food as medicine and unpacking all that entails. I’ve been learning a lot about cultural practices around the world. Did you know that indigenous tribes in lowland South America believe that the body is literally composed of what they eat? For them, the body is a “social product,” intrinsically connected to the natural world through processes, like eating. To be a healthy and moral member of society, one must consume the correct food products. Our Western ideologies are definitely different from this, but there are interesting things available to us too. In recent years, the prevalence of healing foods, like blueberries and acai berries, has infiltrated the media. I can’t read a magazine or newspaper or blog without seeing an article on the nutritious benefits of certain food products. Is any of this true? Can food help you feel better? 
             We’ve discovered that it is, to a certain extent, a plausible way to deal with health. Alternative health practices may not be rooted in hard science, but they are tied to millennia of ritual and traditional methods. Our options have been a little limited, but we were still able to try several different types of food rumored to have healing qualities. The one I personally found to be the most effective was chamomile tea. Chamomile comes from daisies, and has been used for mainstream health benefits like reducing stress and assisting with sleep, and other more traditional benefits like wound healing. I tried the tea while I had a severe cold and it definitely helped me to feel better! Overall, most “food as medicine” rumors are just rumors. They generally lack scientific evidence, so eschewing medicine in favor of blueberries probably isn’t the greatest idea in the world. But in our society that tends to over-rely and over-consume medicine, looking into alternative practices (even as simple as changing the foods you eat!) can be a cheaper and healthier option. We can’t wait to continue our journey next month!

DEAR Vanderbilt February Blog

February was on of the the most exciting months for our VIP group because of the VIP Showcase that was in the Commons this month. Seeing the finished poster product and really being able to reflect on how this made our group not only bond more, but accomplish so much over one semester was really rewarding. My favorite part was looking at the posters of all the other groups and seeing what they did for their projects. I did not realize how creative my peers were! I have been living in the same hall as some very extraordinary individuals and I was not even able to interact with them because I did not think we would have similar interests. After interacting with some other VIP groups, I realized that we have some very similar interests that I was excited to share. As far as programming, our group brainstormed ideas for how we wanted to use our funds. Since our group is about trying to find ways to alleviate stress, we decided we wanted to do something that would help us alleviate stress from out lives but also incorporate a civic engagement component into our final project such as playing with animals at an animal shelter. We are very excited to be going into the last few months of the VIP program and really accomplishing a lot, but it would of course be a bittersweet ending because we have thoroughly enjoyed the VIP program thus far. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

VIP Showcase - TRIUMPH!

Wow! The VIP groups pulled together this year to deliver a wonderful and impressive showcase. After viewing, picking-up, and delivering those large posters, I felt amazed to see what each has learned this year through trial and error by doing their own execution of events, learning about group dynamics, and analyzing data. So I thank each VIP participant for his or her contribution not just the showcase night but for placing VIP as a priority during their hectic academic and personal schedules.

A bird's eye view of the Showcase. Sustainability Through Food is conversing with Randy Tarkington, OHARE's Senior Director of Residential Education in this shot.
Anyways, the actual event was filled with many VIP students, their peers, people searching for dinner, faculty, and administration. If you were able to attend this event, thank you so much for supporting the VIP program and more importantly its students. At the event, each group highlighted their project with a large presentation poster and discussing their project with the public. Also, because of the excellent work of Vanderbilt Catering, we were able to have equipment set-up and delicious desserts for our audience. In the cafeteria, the Common's Staff set-up a screen for a VIP promotional presentation to be shown as well as a television in the Commons Center Atrium for public viewing of our groups' commercials. Plus, I really enjoyed hearing everyone's opinion on the new VIP logo (results to be revealed soon)!

D.E.A.R. Vanderbilt pause for a picture during the Showcase.
Overall, I believe this Showcase allowed for the public to understand what VIP has been doing throughout the year and the opportunity to ask students questions, regarding their projects. However, with only a few months left, I know that this year's VIP participants still have more menus to create, myths to bust, cans to recycle, and so much more!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poster + Outings + Schedules + A New Year

Hey there y’all,

So January has been kind of a busy month for our group with the he craziness that goes along with the start of another new semester. Because of this we haven’t gotten to do much this semester as far as organized group outings etc, but that does not mean that we haven’t got some great things in the works for the upcoming semester. We all met up this month and put together an amazing poster display of what our group is all about to be presented at the annual VIP poster showcase at the Commons. It should be an exciting opportunity for us to get to explain our project and the Living and Learning community in general. We all had a great time putting it together and are really looking forward to the possibilities for this new semester.

That’s all for now!!
Sara, Evyn, Lexi, Alex, Abby, & Liesel 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Building an Ethical Identity

Nelson here, with some updates about the Building an Ethical Identity VIP project. Thus far, this semester has meant a lot of retooling of our project. The time commitment has been really rough lately for all of us, as we've taken up quite a few more responsibility in terms of more rigorous workloads, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars. We were very close to withdrawing from the project, but after meeting with Shawn and discussing a few things, we were able to work something out, restructuring our project to fit our scheduling better. This was expressed in our poster that we are to present tomorrow, which focuses not as much on specific issues, but honing the ability to think ethically, a skill that in such a competitive world is greatly overlooked.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else's posters,
Building an Ethical Identity

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Global Perspectives in January

Hello and greetings reader!
On behalf of Global Perspectives, I would like to apologize for the tardiness of this blog. I'm sure you were all biting your fingernails, wondering what became of Jeremy and his intrepid gang of intercultural friends, but alas, alack, with classes beginning and all of our awesome programming, things got busy. The month of January was undoubtedly a good one for Global Perspectives. We kicked off 2010 with a screening of Ip Man, a martial arts tour de force from director Wilson Yip. The audience of 40 or so starry-eyed movie fans was spell bound by the incredible fight scenes and the free Chinese food. After this very successful event, our group moved on to bigger and better things. Specifically, the design of our 3x4 poster for the upcoming exposition. I won't comment further upon the subject lest I spoil the surprise and wonderment our poster will surely create, but needless to say it is INCREDIBLE. We have great things planned for the month of February, so keep posted and thanks for reading.

Aaron Landis