Sister Leaders in Dialogue

woc_logoDr. Fareeda Griffith and Dr. Karen Powell Sears reactivated a mentoring group – Sisters in Dialogue – on campus last fall with the support of the Office of the President, Sociology and Anthropology Department, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. The group “seeks to provide a forum for underrepresented young women to discuss emotional, academic and social issues relevant to their lives at Denison and beyond. Through monthly, informal gatherings we aim to create a faculty/student support network that promotes student success.”

The first session will be a panel discussion led by faculty in Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry. Topics of discussion include time management, expectations of the courses, and effective study strategies. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 9th, 3-5pm in Knapp 307.

Please come prepared to engage and join the discussion. Refreshments will be served. Please use this link to sign up for the event.



Harvard Public Policy and Leadership Conference

The 16th annual Harvard Public Policy and Leadership Conference will take place February 18 – February 21, 2016 in Cambridge, MA.

The Public Policy and Leadership Conference is an annual conference that prepares students of underrepresented and underserved backgrounds to pursue graduate study and careers in public policy. Each year, the conference invites 50 exceptional first and second year students from colleges and universities across the United States to participate in a fully-funded weekend conference at Harvard Kennedy School. Participants learn how to strengthen their candidacy for top graduate schools of public policy through interaction with current graduate students, Harvard faculty, and distinguished alumni. PPLC is an outreach initiative of Harvard Kennedy School’s Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Admissions.

The online application will be available through the PPLC website in September and the deadline to apply will be in early November.

For additional information, including eligibility requirements, please visit the conference website.

Interviews with previous PPLC participants can also be accessed there.


Paving the Way: Each One, Reach One Pre-Orientation Staff Announced!

ptw crop

Sponsored by the Office of Multi-Cultural Student Affairs (MCSA), the Paving the Way: Each One, Reach One Pre-Orientation encourages all entering students to participate in this program, although its primary focus is to assist traditionally under-represented student populations in transitioning to the academic, cultural, and social climate at Denison University.

This program begins three days before August Orientation and extends throughout the academic year. Sessions address academic success, ethnic and cultural identities, personal development and an exploration of resources to build stronger relationships with Denison University.

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Featured blog post – Living the Liminal

Last week, a good friend and constant collaborator of C3 and the CCCE office published a fantastic post about his experience as an international student. Please enjoy this piece by Rex Cao (’16) reflecting on his challenges, persistence, and new meanings in the five years of adventures that he’s had since coming to America (and you can check out the original post on his tumblr blog here).

My 5 Years of Abroad Experience – Living the Liminal

(Liminal: the space in between) 

Tiredness is weighing down,

Lackadaisical efforts are seen on my footprints everywhere,

From the half-finished reading that I put down due to my temporarily-suspended ability for comprehension; from that half-hearted conversation I just had with a friend; from that lackluster basketball game I came back from; and from my long-suppressed feeling of home sickness…

Head is spinning, heart is aching, hand is shaking, and the “peace” that I so desperately wanted, is dangling. I need to elude, for a moment, from this tumultuous internal state that I am in.

What happened? What is wrong with me?


Imagine moments when things continuously fall short of your expectations one after another like the domino effect. How many times have we been in the cycle of gaining, losing and regaining the courage and confidence to tell ourselves “no stumbling-over-the-same-stone” ever again? Gradually, I find my fervor of turning over a new leaf wanes, and the feeling of defeat weighs just a little more each time I fall.

Maybe I shouldn’t have tried so hard to fit into American culture in the beginning by disassociating myself with my roots, my fellow Chinese peers;

Maybe I shouldn’t have felt obliged to help other Chinese international students with their cultural adaptation on my own terms – discounting my Chinese peers’ individualistic differences in priorities, preferences and ideologies;

Maybe I shouldn’t even have entertained the idea to explore what it means to be the bridge between two cultures, two distinct social groups with two sets of contradicting value systems and social norms…

I thought I had grown a lot since my first day in America. I thought I had gained enough language and cultural understanding of America throughout the two years at McNick (my high school in Cincinnati) to not end up exactly where I have been throughout my 3 years at Denison…

I thought I had gained enough confidence through successfully blending into American culture, befriending many non-Chinese students, and distinguishing myself from the Chinese community yet being able to remain as one of them.

And I thought the combination of all these things would have given me everything that’s needed to stop feeling alone, in-between, ambiguous, uncertain, and confused when being abroad.

In retrospect, the struggles, pains, discomforts, self-doubts, emotional breakdowns and confusions over my future… were the biggest obstacles I’ve ever encountered in my life thus far, but they are also the biggest blessings in disguise that predicated personal growth and a better future.

If there’s one thing that I did right throughout the course of 5 years in America, it would be RISK TAKING.

By taking risks, I don’t mean that every decision I made or everything I did involved absolute clarity, certainty and vengeance – but rather, it was my lasting commitment to continuous self-growth and the promise I made to myself about a better future self that, again and again, resuscitated me on this bewildering path of living the liminal.

I persisted to take small risks: from speaking up in classes, to befriending intimidating football players or attractive females, to joining a fraternity and holding leadership positions in campus organizations. Gradually and unintentionally, I was able to cultivate an intuition to trust in those first small baby-steps of risk taking to grow into the build-up of my courage and skills for greater risks, and ultimately lead me to finding my own path.

Walking the roads in-between two worlds; speaking the others-oriented rhetoric that permanently puts others’ needs above mine; listening and subscribing to the contradictory cultural appropriateness and social norms disseminated by both Chinese and non-Chinese peers, both my Chinese roots and American lived experiences.

This liminal path I am on is so confusing, yet the cumulative refreshing sense of gratification that comes with each challenge conquered, each risk taken and each goal accomplished keeps the abroad experience enchanting just enough for me to not give in to the peer pressure of comfort zone, nor to completely succumb to American assimilation, or Denison assimilation.

However, this statement by no means overshadows how much my abroad experience hurts, bites, twists, shatters, and wrecks my self-consciousness and self-esteem over and over. 

Nevertheless, the beautiful and positive side of things do reveal themselves  once enough time has passed, and enough risks have been taken: new meanings are constructed to replace the negativities of being away from friends, home, food, and everything that’ s familiar and comfortable; the birth of self-assertiveness and self-empowerment ultimately transpires with enough pain and difficulties endured; 

and the long-craved joy, pride, confidence, certainty, clarity, hope for the future, in addition to the light-heartedness and playfulness that’s unique to American social expectation finally stop contradicting with my original attitude and outlook rooted in Chinese confuciunism and Maoist paranoia.

I became aware that I don’t have to fit into either categories, nor could either cultural standard police my identity and who I want to be.

I started to look at my life at Denison differently, and sometimes even grew to indulge in the ‘results’ I have gotten from the endured tough times: leadership skills, social skills, expanded open-mindedness; reservation of judgements of others; cultural adaptability, and multicultural competence…. Nonetheless, living the liminal and permanently being entrenched in in-betweeness is still a reality that I have to choose to embrace everyday.

I still encounter difficulties as the new ones and, of course, the old ones keep finding their way back: language barriers, lapses of cultural misunderstandings, pressure to live up to both cultural expectations. And this is where the importance of making the choice of approach comes into play; do I choose to succumb to pressures from expectations located on either side of the China-US spectrum, or do I choose to embrace the in-betweeness. 

Living the liminal, then, is a beautiful thing. For the practice of familiarizing myself with discomforts, disorientations, confusions and ambiguities expands my comfort zone, and through which I learned to become resilient to external environments that impose on me meanings, ideas and interpretations of the reality. I also learned about the fluidity and continuation of self-evolvement and self-realization through being constantly denied by both cultures, both identities, while remains steadfast in finding the meaning in-between.

More importantly, I learned to embrace the contradictions that have resulted from influences of competing ideologies: extraversion vs. introversion; teeth-revealing laughs vs. shy and bashful beams; outgoing deemnor vs. reserved gentleness; self-sufficiency and competition vs. family-oriented harmony; individualism vs. collectivism; free speech vs. self-moderation of speech; instant gratification vs. abstemiousness…….. the list goes on and on

Ultimately, I learned that living the liminal means seeking from within myself to not alter and bend what makes me me in order to compensate for the discrepancies between the asymmetrical US-China cultural expectations in the liminal space, but rather being clear and taking ownership of my intentions, my motives, my reasoning, my knowledge, my wisdom, my hopes and dreams that are constructed by my past, while knowing they remain open to changes in the future.

And I have to continue living the liminal by making the same decision everyday: to embrace the in-betweeness and OWN it.

So let’s take a break, recalibrate, meditate, recuperate, and rejuvenate my passions and re-sail from where I just debarked.



致与我同舟共济的 Denison 中国学生以及更多的遍布于美国各地的你们:





二是期望通过我的声音,我的故事来鼓励和我一同在 liminality 中挣扎的同学,





Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship


The Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship provides financial support to high school students as well as undergraduate students entering college for the first time. The purpose of the scholarship is to help under-served students who may not be eligible for other scholarships.

Students who have either graduated from high school or earned their G.E.D. may apply. Minimum grade point average is 2.0. Students must have a strong desire to go to college and earn their degree. Students must also have a desire to give back to their communities.

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C3 Workshop – O.N.E Pre-conference


On Friday, February 20th, I had the pleasure of attending my first C3 Workshop – a O.N.E Pre-conference.

C3 stands for Cross-Cultural Communities, a group of Denison organizations that meet monthly to discuss campus issues, events planning, collaborations and so on. O.N.E is a half-day leadership conference centered on Organizing, Networking, and Empowering. It aims to enhance students’ leadership understanding and skills to apply in Denison community and the real-world. It is, essentially, a platform for leaders and members of different organizations on campus to meet to discuss activism, effective leadership and campus issues.

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WSGT Nan Nowik Awards

The WGST program annually offers the opportunity for students to submit their work to the Nan Nowik Memorial Awards. These awards are open to any and all students who may have done work relating to women’s and gender issues. Please see the attached poster for more information.