Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Zelda Smith, Ms.Ed
Student Learning Initiatives Coordinator
Office of Student Learning Services (SLS)
Ryan C. Harris Learning & Teaching Center (LTC)
University of Dayton | 300 College Park | Dayton, Ohio 45469-1302
Room: RL 022, A
TTY: 937-229-2059 (available for individuals who are deaf and hard-of hearing)
On the Web: http://learningservices.udayton.edu/
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Friday, March 30, 2012
A miracle occurred on the day I wore the traveling scarf! I've been searching for community my whole life, and as a single person could never truly find acceptance anywhere. Coming to UD for Engineering school years ago, was when I first experienced a hint of "community" and I was very influenced by it. In 2004, I converted to Catholicism under the tutelage of UD's Father Jerry Chinchar, who was the first person in my entire life who taught me that as a human being my life was precious! Even then, when I went out into the community parish, as a single Catholic with no Catholic family, I was unable to find any "church home" other than the UD Chapel, and UD has really been the only "community" I've ever known.
I've been in search for community my whole life. I tried lived in a convent for 6 months, and even there, I could find no acceptance and no evidence of this elusive concept known as "community". In fact, my whole life, I have been like Kevin in the movie "Home Alone," as he walked down the street on Christmas Eve looking from the outside in the windows of houses as families enjoyed the Christmas holiday together. Believe me, walking on the street on Christmas eve with no place to go is one of the most heart wrenchingly lonely experiences there is. I never been a part of a "real" family that actually hangs together, and now that my workaholic father has died, all I have left is my elderly mother who is in a nursing home, and a brother 1000 miles away who has nothing to do with me.
Last year, when I chose the University of Dayton to come back to school as an NTRAD, (my cool nickname for "nontraditional student") to pursue a new avocation, I was hoping to experience this "community" I had read about online.
On March 19, the day I wore the traveling scarf, I have to admit that I was at the lowest point of the semester in how I felt about myself. In fact, quite honestly, I was nearing the point of no return, and rapidly approaching a decision to give up trying to fit in anywhere ever again, stop reaching out, and stop trying to do anything with others, including playing music.
Even students who used to be friends who played duets with me last year now pass by me as if I don't exist and disconfirm me when I try to communicate with them. I was beginning to lose my faith and give up on the human race. I mean, after all, if you cannot find "community" and acceptance in a Marianist University where compassion is considered the norm, then where in the world can you find it?
After sustaining an injury in mid-August, during the last month of fall semester I was finally able to get down to business on my schoolwork and compositions, and made great progress. The performance of my work "The Black Hole" with the Gamelan Orchestra on December 2, 2011, was a huge success, but as a female composer, I was not recognized for my work. For some reason, I was even denied the opportunity to study composition again.
From the moment I put the scarf on, I suddenly felt better about myself, and even a little bit positive. I could feel the positive energy of every woman who wore the traveling scarf before me. I found myself walking on the campus with a newfound confidence and almost felt like a different person. I performed better in my music class, and when I sat down in the KU dining hall for lunch, where I usually sit alone, all of a sudden out of the blue, a traditional student I knew from the astronomy club walked right up to me, plopped right down at the table with me, and talked with me for 30 whole minutes! What a gift! And I have the "sisterhood of the traveling scarf" to thank for it!
What was even more amazing is what she said. This student expressed the hope that I would be back next year, she actually VALIDATED MY EXPERIENCE! She told me that a traditional female student friend of hers is currently undergoing the same issues I've had.
What a wonderful gift it was for me that day to be validated and to discover that my experience has been real, that it was never 'just me,' or 'all my fault.' I did the best I could. Oftentimes, it is common practice to scapegoat a victim, blaming the victim for getting hurt, and this has been an unfortunate fact of life in the female experience throughout history. And this is one reason why many of us have ended up wasting our gifts and talents, and been robbed of our potential.
Traditionally, it has always been difficult for female composers to be accepted and recognized, especially in academia, so the path I chose was not going to an easy one.
Historically, the only way female composers have been able to succeed has been to cater to the male ego, find a male ally, find a way around the male ego, or attempt to avoid it by joining a convent. One female composer, who has a 20-year history of hundreds of successful works and is revered as one of the finest composers of our day, lost opportunity while involved in academia. Why does this still happen?
If only we as women would validate each other more often. Fewer of us would give up and fewer of us would recycle the same mistakes over again. More of us would succeed, and this could make a big difference.
Considering how many times in history we women have reduced ourselves to playing "second chair in the fiddle section of life" in order to appease the male ego and survive or reach goals, just imagine what the world would be like now, if all women throughout history had been given 100% opportunity to truly shine, with not one woman's skills, talents, abilities or gifts squelched out of existence or wasted. Wouldn't that be a wonderful world? My question is when are we ever going to have this opportunity? When is this ever going to happen?
The next day, it was my turn to pass on the traveling scarf to my next "sister," a very sweet kind NTRAD (nontraditional student like myself) in grad school, Michela, who has a passion for making the world a better place through higher education! She actually took the time to sit with me in the KU Galley and get to know me. We enjoyed talking together and she expressed an interest in some future concerts. She seemed very compassionate, so I shared some of the experiences I've had at UD.
The Traveling Scarf has been true blessing to me!
Thursday, March 29, 2012
So, the traveling scarf and I met in Eileen Maloney's office on Monday February 27th following a delayed return flight as I completed time out of state at a conference. I am the woman wearing the scarf in the picture that Eileen posted in her blog. Although I was exhausted and the hand off occurred later than originally planned, Eileen shared her delightful story (included in her blog) and the scarf and I moved back to my office. I don't remember much else of the first day—we all know how it is following time away from the office along with flight issues. I do remember, though, wanting to appropriately display the scarf and trying to attend to my posture so that I could do 'her' justice.
On February 28th, the day of the book discussion regarding Zora Neale Hurston's "their eyes were watching god," I was trying to finish the book prior to the midday discussion, when a colleague, who had seen me in my exhausted state, but with the beautiful scarf about which she commented, came to my office and needed to talk for a few. While my inclination was to tell her that I had work to do, it was clear that she needed a listening ear—and that was much more important at the moment than my finishing the book right then. Wearing the scarf made me reconsider my responsibilities to a friend who was, herself, wearing a beautiful scarf that day about which I commented—spurred on by the traveling scarf. During the powerful book discussion led by the amazing Dr. Denise James, Patty Waugh called attention to the scarf, so I was glad that I had spent a few minutes making sure that 'she' was secure and appropriately displayed for the discussion.
As my time ended with the scarf, beautiful in appearance and feel, I had the opportunity to meet and hand the scarf off to Mary Niebler, a mom of a very young daughter, who shared her plans regarding the scarf that included her daughter. Mary and I had coffee at the Hangar at KU. In addition to learning of Mary's UD story and her current work in the Center for Social Concern, I learned that the Hangar is open early in the morning J. The adventures with the scarf made me walk the talk of being open to the possibilities, slowing down, and reflecting; thank you. Pam Young
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Director of Accreditation
School of Education and Allied Professions
University of Dayton
Dayton, Ohio 45469-0532
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Then, after attending two classes and basking in the beautiful sunshine, the scarf and I attended the welcome luncheon for the Busy Person’s Retreat on campus. This lasts for a week and participants meet with a spiritual guide for 30 minutes and then pray individually for 30 minutes daily. To my surprise and joy, my spiritual guide happened to be the woman that passed the scarf along to me last year. Another miracle!
I end my Mondays with Concert Band, a wonderful respite after two intense language courses in a row. I have played the saxophone for 12 years, and after taking a break for six months I returned to music this semester. Unfortunately, a joint in my right hand has become inflamed because of this six month break. Usually I wear a glove to relieve the pressure of the saxophone on my hand, but I forgot my glove that day. Fortunately, the scarf was there. I wrapped the scarf around my hand to support me, and you know what? My hand has felt infinitely better since that moment. Yet another miracle.
Tuesday filled me with joy as I wore the scarf on the most beautiful sunny day the city of Dayton has seen in a long time. Students flocked to KU field, and the campus felt so alive. I ran into many friends who noticed the scarf immediately and wanted to know its story. The consensus was that the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf was a “genius idea.” I, too, believe this to be true!
On Wednesday I passed the scarf along to Shannon who was such a pleasure to meet. She works in Communications and writes for several newsletters on campus just as I do! We could relate to each other’s experience. I think the most beautiful part of the conversation was when she came back to tell me that she is 15 weeks pregnant! The sheer joy on her face was beautiful to see – Congratulations Shannon! That, too, is a miracle.
The point of my blog post is that miracles are all around us. These miracles do not have to be large and monumental. Miracles can be the little things said or done or seen that bring a sense of joy or peace to the day. This semester I started keeping what I call a “miracle journal” where at the day’s close I reflect upon the “miracle of the day.” I urge each and every one of you beautiful women to become aware of the daily miracles that surround your lives. In the midst of our busy schedules, this kind of positive thinking will bring you more joy than you could ever imagine.
Peace and Blessings to all!
The scarf goes to March Madness
President Barack Obama wasn't the only entity making a debut at the NCAA Tournament at the University of Dayton Arena.
On Wednesday, March 14, the scarf went to the First Four.
My dates with the scarf were March 14-15, perfectly timed for the second day of the First Four at UD Arena, the opening round of the men's basketball tournament. I didn't have it in my possession the day the president was there, so my dreams of having the president notice the scarf were dashed. That's okay though — I didn't get anywhere closer than about 100 yards from him the day he was present for the game, so he wouldn't have had the chance to compliment the scarf anyway! But I could dream, right?
My first great experience with the scarf happened Wednesday morning, when student Kristina DeMichele passed it to me during a quick meet-and-greet at The Blend. Although we didn't have lots of time to talk, I learned that we shared a love of the Spanish language and Spain… she was planning to travel to Madrid at some point, and I lived there for three months when I was a college student. We laughed about how it could be difficult to maintain competency in a foreign language from day to day if we're not immersed in it! I hope she gets to Madrid soon, maybe even this summer.
I then went back to my office at College Park Center, where I wore the scarf for two days. Some coworkers asked about it and I explained the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf program to them.
After that, it was time for my work at the basketball game, where I tweeted for @daymag, the Twitter account for the University of Dayton alumni magazine, and collected quotes and observations for the UDQuickly blog (udquickly.udayton.edu). I also chatted with journalists from ESPN, the Tampa Bay Times and CBS Sports, along with the hardworking folks from our own athletics and communications departments.
Hopefully the scarf made an impression as it traveled through the Arena, and I hope it enjoyed watching the games that night!
-Shannon Shelton Miller
Assistant Director of Communications
Shannon Shelton Miller
Assistant Director of Communications
College Park Center 6th Floor
University of Dayton
Office of University Communications
300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469-2963
Thursday, March 15, 2012
I regret that Christina and I had little time to chat during our handoff since I was in the middle of a meeting. We made the exchange quickly and then she was gone. The unanticipated consequence of the timing of this swap was that my colleagues in the meeting were curious about the scarf and its story was again shared with others.
I wore the scarf over a hoodie the following day as I read articles and worked on an upcoming conference presentation. It was a rare quiet day and I worried that I had let my sisters and the scarf down by not having a more eventful day.
Monday morning I hurried to the Blend to meet Kristina and hand off the scarf. We got coffee and chatted about so many things. After Kristina hurried off to class, I smiled because I knew that the scarf was in for wonderfully busy and exciting day--one very different from mine. Not better or more important, just different.
Director of Information Acquisition & Organization