Author: am4619

Photo courtesy of Kuldeep Singh

 

This past week, Columbia Taal, the only South-Asian fusion dance team, hosted an event on campus called Samatva. This event included performances from Columbia Taal and Columbia Raaga, which is Columbia’s South-Asian fusion music organization. The showcase performance of the night, however, was led by junior Sophia Salingaros and her dance partner, Jeeno Joseph.

Photo courtesy of Kuldeep Singh.

Both Sophia and Jeeno performed a series of Bharatanatyam pieces, which is the most well-known form of Indian classical dancing. The Bharatanatyam style places great emphasis on the rigidity of the upper body as well as its nuanced use of hand and facial gestures as a sort of pseudo sign language. Historically, this style of dance was meant to be perceived as an interpretation of various Hindu myths, but it has in recent times become a source of resistance against its historical stereotypes. Sophia and Jeeno utilized this movement to create powerful and moving pieces of beautiful dancing to demonstrate that boundaries—religious, gendered, and political—don’t exist in art.

The notion of samatva, the word for “equality” in Sanskrit, can be seen throughout the entirety of their performance. Sophia and Jeeno, as a non-Indian and a Christian, respectively, demonstrate the ability to break through and transcend socially constructed historical biases. Their performance itself was extremely elegant and conveyed the richness of the Indian cultural tradition, which goes to show that art itself cannot be contained by external limitations, because it is the ultimate means of self-expression.

Raaga and Taal were both perfect complements to Sophia and Jeeno’s performance because they added the element of a group performance, which allowed multiple voices to come together in unison and create something incredibly powerful.

If you missed this performance, be sure to check out Sophia and Jeeno at the Battery Dance studios on November 11th and 26th, and be on the lookout for Taal and Raaga’s next performances on campus!

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

The Varsity Show is Columbia’s annual student-led, theatre performance that is the one of the biggest hits of the Spring semester. This year will mark the Show’s 123rd performance, and its purpose serves to be both “subversive and sentimental,” as per its mission statement.

During the “West End Preview,” I was able to catch a sneak peek of some portions of the Show; it absolutely lived up to the hype! It captured the #struggles of a Columbia student, from being stuck in an EC wall to our fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude that dominates campus culture.

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

Because the songs and acts were performed out of context, I was unable to decipher the plot of the show, though I did discover some nuances that will give an insight into the 123rd Varsity Show.

The Show featured the head of Public Safety not only as a pseudo narrator for the audience, but also as the main instigator of mischief and chief critic of Columbia’s administration. The most detailed act of the preview revolved around a newly admitted General Studies student. Besides being ~20 years older than the rest of Columbia’s undergraduate population, there was very little to separate him from a typical first-year. As he falls in love with Columbia’s perks–from Tom’s Diner to Surf ‘n Turf–he quickly realizes that all is not well with Columbia.

Unfortunately, that’s where the preview ended! I hope this information gives you a little taste of the hilariously exciting preview I had a chance to watch. The 123rd Varsity Show will perform from April 28th to 30th. Hope to see you there!

Photo Courtesy of James Xue (SEAS ’17)

When I first arrived at Columbia, I felt lost in the sea of freshman. NSOP felt overwhelming and overbearing at times. Though it was created  to spur genuine interaction between fellow first-years, in my case it often just produced superficial introductions and goodbyes. Needless to say, I was a tad worried at the prospect of finding those “forever friends.” Perhaps this feeling was compounded by the fact that I live in Wallach, a dorm with first-years as well as upperclassmen, so the majority of my floor had still not yet moved in.

After all the upperclassmen move-in day, however, something changed. The lobby would constantly be filled with people, driven out of their rooms by the September heat and into the floor lounge for AC. Even after the heat subsided, the upperclassmen stayed and just talked about whatever came to mind. As I inserted myself into these conversations, I quickly found some of my first and closest friends at Columbia. There’s Will and Ashu, who are always in the lounge and ready at any given moment to order UberEats. There’s Cindy and Victoria, the reigning Queens of Wallach 4; there’s Ralph, the fixed guest-resident from Wallach 2. There’s Josh, whose ability to make me smile never fades, even after the most stressful days.

As I quickly learned, these people were always happy to lend a helping hand, and whether it was a difficult pset or an emotional breakdown didn’t matter. As juniors and sophomores, they were also able to provide insightful tips and tricks, ranging from warning me about John Jay’s meatless Mondays to telling me how to score some free gear at various events on campus. More than just resources, these people have shaped and defined my experience thus far. I’m only two months in and already eager for the rest of the next four years. My initial tensions and anxieties have all but subsidied; in Josh’s words, I know that “everything will be ooooo-kay.”

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for. For more information, email submissions@columbialion.com.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I was part of the student council in high school for all four years, and I served as president for the last two years of high school. Naturally, I wanted to run for student council at Columbia too. As an international student, I can directly experience the vast difference in academics and cultures that my fellow international classmates have to adjust to. As the International Students Representative for SEAS, I hope to give all the international students a voice that matters as well as try to solve some of the problems that we face in various aspects of college.

If elected, what would your goals be?

Some of the issues that I hope to address are:

Offer subsidized summer housing to international students – Many internationals prefer to stay back in New York during breaks as traveling back to their home country is expensive. I hope to build upon the model Barnard uses to provide their students researching or interning in New York with subsidized summer housing and offer the same to the international community at Columbia.

Build a directory dedicated to on-campus jobs available to international students – Many of these jobs have certain limitations that do not allow internationals to apply, and as a result, it is difficult to find jobs that international students are eligible for. I hope to create a directory specifically for jobs available to international students and provide detailed instructions for applying to them. I hope that this will make the process of searching for an on-campus job easier for international students.

Create easy-to-comprehend academic integrity and Optional Practical Training (OPT) guides – This is something that at least I was worried about even before starting college! I spoke to a lot of people and researched a lot, but I could only obtain documents that explain both of them in a very complex manner. Since they are a very big part of international students’ lives, I hope to create guides that are easy-to-comprehend and layman-friendly so that internationals have to worry no longer about both of them.

Offer one-to-one peer mentoring – The best sources of advice for me have been international upperclassmen because they went through all the problems with adjusting to the culture and academics a while back. I hope to connect each underclassman with an upperclassman (if possible, from the same country) so that underclassmen have someone to relate to and talk to whenever they feel that they need help with any aspects of college.

Monthly stress buster events – What is the point of having such a diverse class if we do not celebrate all the cultures that help constitute it? I hope to host monthly events with themes from different nationalities every time so that students in our community get to know their classmates and their culture better. At the same time, the event will offer them a break from academics and give them time to have some fun.

International student friendly class placement criteria – I believe that the current placement system is biased towards students who have taken the AP, IB or the A level examinations. Students who have not taken one of the tests mentioned above have to take a placement exam regardless of their past standing in the subjects they were being tested on. Working with the academic departments, I hope to broaden the criteria for exemption from introductory classes so that internationals can easily take higher level classes without having to take placement tests.

In addition to these goals, I will always be working to bring about any change that a fellow international student in SEAS suggests.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

My goals address some issues that I hope to fix at Columbia. Ultimately, I want to create a better academic and social experience for the international community in SEAS.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

While I am a first-year, I believe that I can do as good a job as any sophomore, junior or senior could, if not better. I have had enough experience with student council in high school to know how to work my way around administrations, and I’m willing to work as hard as it takes to ensure that our (the international students’) voices are heard, and efforts are made to incorporate changes that we ask for.

And DJ Khaled endorsed me (http://imgur.com/rtML8dO)