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The life and legacy of Don Drumm

Don Drumm heads to his studios every morning around 9 am dressed in his usual outfit — blue jeans smudged with grease and paint, a button-up jean shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black suspenders and black velcro shoes. A clear nylon washer sticks out from his shirt to keep a button in place. Several different pens poke out of his right shirt pocket, and keys dangle from his jeans and clink as he walks up the gravel path.

His workshop is across the street from his galleries on Crouse Street in Akron. The Don Drumm Studios and Gallery stand out with the pastel pinks and purples of the eight houses.

He pushes open a gate with a “Beware of Dog” sign and walks to the door of his office, a pink house with purple trim. A long coffee stain zigzags down the gravel driveway next to the house as a result of a recent experiment, when he emptied an old pot and wanted to see how long the coffee trail could last. After turning the radio to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” he sits down in his workshop to work on his current project — small metallic sculptures inspired by ziggurats, ancient stone structures from Mesopotamia.

Full article published at The Devil Strip on Sept. 7, 2018. Read the rest of it here

Originally published on The Post on Feb. 27.

Athens’ trails from the Underground Railroad survive today

When Dane McCarthy first moved into the historical Daniel Weethee House in Millfield, he had heard stories about a secret stairwell connected to the attic where runaway slaves used to hide. It wasn’t until he started exploring that he began to learn about the house’s role in the Underground Railroad.

Athens, along with other towns in southeast Ohio, played a significant part in helping runaway slaves seek freedom. The city was one of the first stopping points runaway slaves made during their journey after leaving slave-state Virginia before West Virginia separated from it during the Civil War. The Hocking River provided transportation routes upstream for “conductors” in boats to carry fugitives, according to a book by Henry Burke, an Underground Railroad historian.

The events of the Underground Railroad that happened in the region were “fundamental” to ensure people’s journey to freedom, Akil Houston, an associate professor of African American Studies, said. A few of those sites that were a part of the Underground Railroad still remain today.

The Daniel Weethee House sits a 20-minute car ride from Athens, on top of a hill down the road from a water treatment plant and a chicken farm. Built the same year as Ohio University was founded, the house contains more than two centuries worth of history.

Before Dane McCarthy bought it in 1997, the house was decrepit. With no electricity, plumbing or bathrooms, it looked like an abandoned, haunted house. He had lived in the house as a renter during the ’70s when the rent was $20 a month. Since purchasing the house, McCarthy has been spending the past two decades making the house livable while also restoring it to its original look. He is currently excavating a room on the first floor where a wall had blocked off the original fireplace.

“I’ve always loved archeology, and I think it’s important to try to keep the original appearance of the house for historical reasons,” McCarthy said. “They don’t make them like this anymore. This is the real thing.”

The builder Daniel Weethee, an abolitionist, was one of the first pioneers in Athens who walked from New Hampshire and settled in Millfield, McCarthy said.

The house’s original wall paint and ornamental design on the ceiling are still visible. Two sets of stairs were common for houses back then, McCarthy said. One was for the family and the other for the servants.

McCarthy had not seen that second set of stairs when he first moved in. He had heard stories from his neighbors about the house once serving as a place to hide runaway slaves. He later talked to Weethee’s great granddaughter, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, a painter who lived nearby, about the house’s history.

When Shahn was little, she had found an iron ring on the floor of the attic that revealed a hidden set of stairs, which were blocked at other end by another hidden door. It was there, in that closed-off stairwell, runaway slaves once hid.

The Daniel Weethee House isn’t the only historical site near Athens that was once a station in the Underground Railroad.

White’s Mill, across the Hocking River and down the road from the Richland roundabout, was also used to help fugitives reach their freedom. Originally named the Herrold Mill, it was built in 1809 by Silas Bingham before his stepson Joseph Herrold bought it in 1840.

Tyler Schloss, the current co-owner of White’s Mill, said Herrold was also an abolitionist who had hid runaway slaves beneath the spillway, a water passage at the mill. Fugitives then would go to Chesterhill, the next town in the Underground Railroad, according to Burke’s book, Washington County Underground Railroad.

“It’s a kind of pride,” Schloss said. “Being an owner, I’m proud that the past owners recognized slavery as an evil thing and wanted to eradicate it and do their part just because it was the right thing to do. If we were in that situation, I’d like to think we’d do the same thing.”

Some places in Athens, however, contain more mystery and rumor than actual truth.

Mindy Heflin, one of the directors for Athletes in Action, and her husband had bought a house at 24 E. Washington St. after hearing about its history. She heard rumors that in the basement there was once a tunnel in which runaway slaves hid.

The story goes that a runaway slave named Nicodemus hid in the basement. Someone had found out about Nicodemus hiding in the house, and people came in yelling with torches. They dragged him out of the house and killed him in the yard. People have witnessed ghostly behaviors, like strange noises and doors opening and closing on their own, in the house, according to the The Oklahoman.

“I don’t know if there’s a shred of truth to it,” Heflin said.

A Southeast Ohio History Center historian told Heflin that those stories came about in the 1960s and were likely made up, as most stations in the Underground Railroad were outside of the main city. There is also no documentation of the story of Nicodemus ever occurring, but former professor and author of Ghosthunting Ohio John Kachuba told The Oklahoman that the story is plausible.

“Whether this house was used for the (Underground Railroad) or not, I think everyone hopes it was,” Heflin said. “Because everyone wants to be able to say they were a part of doing something that was so right.”


Down the Middle

Latino students reveal divided identities in two worlds

Originally published on The Post on Nov 8. (English Version)

Carla Triana wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wasn’t aware of her possibilities. Before she moved to Wauseon, a predominantly white city in northwest Ohio, she had lived in Colonia, Hidalgo, Mexico, a small town with only five streets where the houses were made of concrete and everybody knew each other.

Her father went to the U.S. to work when she was 4 years old and would send money back to them. Triana, her mother and her younger sister lived in a small house without a bathroom and would take baths with a water-filled bucket. She would help her mother go door-to-door selling homemade empanadas.

After moving to the U.S. when she was 5, Triana ran sprints for her track team in middle school. She was actually pretty good, she said. But when she would race, her teammates would comment, “There’s the Mexican running away from immigration.”

While visiting family in Mexico, she didn’t entirely fit in. She felt like she couldn’t pronounce certain Spanish words correctly; in the U.S., she would make mistakes pronouncing English words.

“I’m stuck in the middle. I’m trying to find where I fit in,” Triana said. “Society wants to put us in a box and label us.”

Like Triana, other Latino students have experienced an identity crisis as they juggle fitting into two worlds — their world of comfort with their own culture and a world of white at their university. Some Latinos have experienced microaggressions, subtle or unintentional discrimination, and they try to find how to fit in a primarily white school.

Latino Roots

Born in Mexico City and raised in Cincinnati, Gabriela Godinez-Feregrino would say she grew up “half and half.” Having moved to the U.S. when she was 2 years old, her family made sure it kept in touch with its heritage. She grew up speaking Spanish and visiting extended family in Mexico about twice a year. Godinez-Feregrino had a fun childhood, but she said it was hard.

“You’re never American enough, and you’re never Mexican enough,” Godinez-Feregrino said.

In the U.S., people would remind her she was Mexican and not fully American. Questions like “You’re Mexican, right?” and “Where are you really from?” would frequently roll off people’s tongues. And when Godinez-Feregrino would visit Mexico, her cousins’ friends would shrug her off, saying, “You’re just American, so you don’t get it.”

Godinez-Feregrino grew up in a bubble of immigrants in Cincinnati. The majority of her friends were also immigrants. Her best friend was a refugee from Burma, and she found they shared the same hardships, despite coming from opposite ends of the world.

She remembers one of the first times she ever explained to someone she wasn’t undocumented. When she was 10, she went to a Girl Scout event. She and her friends had been talking about visiting family during the holidays. A parent, confused, asked her how she was able to go back to Mexico. Godinez-Feregrino didn’t understand the question, but her mother jumped in and mentioned how they had just renewed their passports.

“Never did I … allude to the fact that I could possibly be undocumented because that wasn’t true,” Godinez-Feregrino said. “It wasn’t even on my mind. I didn’t know people did that. I was 10.”

When Godinez-Feregrino became a citizen in seventh grade, she experienced a spiritual transition. Before, her mother had felt uncomfortable with singing the national anthem. But once they finally earned citizenship, the national anthem and the American flag intensified in her life.

“Now it is yours. Now, legally, it is yours,” her mother told her.

Once she became an American citizen, bullying also started. People would tell her “go home.” She could not understand how a piece of paper that legitimized her right to be in the country and meant so much to her, meant so little to anybody else.

“It was definitely a miniature crisis,” Godinez-Feregrino said. “I was also at the same time coming to terms with my sexuality, with being queer, like bi or pansexual, so it also wasn’t very healthful that my racial and my sexual identity were colliding at the same time.”

Her mother tried hard to keep prejudice away from her daughter. Looking back, Godinez-Feregrino remembers when they were shopping at a mall, and a manager wouldn’t leave their side. Godinez-Feregrino wondered why the manager had followed them, and later, would realize the manager thought they were going to steal.

“My whole world,” Godinez-Feregrino said. “Everything just shifted because I realized that my mom was so good at hiding it from me.”

delfin bautista, the director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center, was born and raised in a Spanish-speaking household in Miami, Florida. bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, didn’t realize how much of a minority Latinos are in certain areas, first when they went to graduate school in Connecticut and then when they came to OU’s campus.

People would tell them that they don’t look Latino. And bautista would ask, “What am I supposed to look like?”

In 2016, Hispanic students made up 3.1 percent of the OU student body, compared to white students, who made up about 78.7 percent, according to the OU Factbook from the Office of Institutional Research.

“It’s just very lonely and isolating,” bautista said. “Where do you find community? And then, having to constantly justify and prove your Latin-ness.”

Triana remembers crying a lot. When she was 5, she and her mother and sister moved to the U.S. to meet her father. Her uncle drove them to a house, where they waited for coyotes, people who smuggle Latin Americans across the border. They stayed in the house for about a month, and crossed the border while hidden in vehicles on Thanksgiving in 2000.

Before gaining a green card through her family’s immigration lawyer, Svetlana Schreiber, and later her citizenship, Triana lived as an undocumented immigrant. Her grandparents died soon after she came to the U.S. Unable to return to Mexico, she never got to see them.

“I don’t have many memories of them,” she said, tears brimming in her eyes.

Living as an undocumented immigrant shaped her. She had to grow up fast, Triana said. At 7 or 8 years old, she was translating for her parents at banks and interviews — “big, grown-up stuff,” she said.

Triana would try to assimilate to her white friends’ culture and blend in. While she was proud, she also neglected her own heritage, as she couldn’t speak about it. She feels she has a divided identity that is split among two groups, sometimes referred to as the “1.5 Generation.”

Triana attributes her immigration status and her divided identity as one of the reasons why she has suffered from mental illness. It affected her academics, caused her to be a fifth-year senior and “infected” her relationships. Triana believes mental illness is a big problem in the Latino community — since religion is highly influential in Mexico, some people think they can just pray, and it will get better.

“Getting out of bed was difficult. Eating was difficult. Those were really hard times,” Triana said.

Coming to college

Gabriela Soto, an undecided freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences who is from Humacao, Puerto Rico, has felt very welcome at OU. Her first week, she made friends with people in her dorm and joined the Latino Student Union. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September, her friends in the LSU comforted her.

“I joined Latino Student Union because, even though I came here to explore new things, I knew that I was going to get homesick,” Soto said. “The Latino Student Union was the closest thing, I guess, to Puerto Rico.”

Godinez-Feregrino, a senior studying integrated media, however, felt like an outsider. Occasionally a classmate would say something underhandedly racist, and she wouldn’t feel comfortable standing up for herself, afraid her professor would take offense.

“I feel like I have to be playing a game on a board that was not made for me,” Godinez-Feregrino said.

Hispanics made up 17 percent of students (both undergraduate and graduate) enrolled in college in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And as of 2012, the Hispanic college enrollment rate surpassed that of white students, according to Pew Research Center.

So, the number of Latino students at OU is pretty “shameful,” Alicia Chavira-Prado, the special assistant to the vice provost for Diversity and Leadership, said.

“We need to do better,” she said. “If we don’t respond to those demographics, we’re missing out. We need to grow as the nation’s trends grow.”

When Triana, president of International Student Union, came to OU as a freshman, she didn’t know any Latinos and considered transferring to Ohio State University for that reason.

“I don’t think lonely even describes it,” Triana said. “How the emotion, the feeling, desperate for people to look like you. … I felt very unwelcome, like I didn’t really fit in.”

When Godinez-Feregrino was a freshman at OU, she had never experienced such physical isolation. In high school, if she experienced microaggressions, she could go home to her family — but in college, she was on her own.

Godinez-Feregrino toyed with the idea of a dorm for people of color, as it could be useful and make Latinx students feel safe and comfortable in their own space. Latinx is a term often used as a gender-neutral or non-binary way to refer a person of Latin American descent.

“But what are we going to do? Keep isolating ourselves? Keep segregating ourselves?” Godinez-Feregrino asked. “Having space for people that are of color, Latinx people where you can speak spanish and not get dirty looks is really nice, but that’s not how the world works.”

Programs and organizations like Latino Student Union exist, Godinez-Feregrino said, but those programs are not for her anymore because she is helping to organize and put them on.

“We’re all so tired,” she said. “Why is it our job to take care of ourselves … when it comes to visibility? That shouldn’t just be my job. That should be a university job to make other freshmen feel safer. Because honestly, I’m burning out.”

Godinez-Feregrino said it was also hard being intersectional, trying to fit in with both the LGBT community and the Latino community. SHADES, an LGBT group for people of color, has helped her a lot, and that’s where she’s made her best friends. Groups that focus on intersectionality are helpful, Godinez-Feregrino said.

Where to grow

OU works to promote diversity, but one area of growth is with Latinx students, faculty and staff, bautista, the adviser for the LSU, said. While recruiting and promoting diversity is crucial, it is equally important to not tokenize diversity, and genuinely care and celebrate Latino students. The university also should help create spaces where two or more identities can be recognized, bautista said.

“I think we are very quick to put people in boxes,” bautista said. “‘Here are the black students, here are the Latinx students, here are the gay students, here are the international students.’ But the reality is that those students are much more than that one box.

Additional funding to groups like SHADES and the Multicultural Center, Women’s Center and LGBT Center would help those organizations put on more events, Godinez-Feregrino said. Providing more diversity training and hiring more people who care about diversity can help Latino students, too.

“We may be few, but when we find each other, we really truly embrace,” Chavira-Prado said. “Our friendship, our camaraderie, and there’s lots of good people here that have sincere appreciation for multiculturalism, for minorities who are deeply committed to social justice.”

In February, Triana was one of 70 students arrested in Baker Center. She sat with the other students to protest national immigration policies, seeing a stark reality that if Schrieber, her immigration lawyer, hadn’t helped her family, she could have been one of the students in fear of deportation. Now, Triana has decided what she wants to be when she graduates: an immigration lawyer.

“I want to give other people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and goals and go to college, start their own business, without the fear of being deported,” Triana said. “I want to help change people’s lives. I want to be an advocate for immigration. That’s what I want to do.”

En el medio

Estudiantes latinos revelan identidades divididos

Originally published on The Post on Nov.8 (Spanish version)

Antes de que Carla Triana se mudara a Wauseon, Ohio, un barrio predominantemente blanco, ella había vivido en Zacatecas, México, un barrio pequeño con solo cinco calles donde todos se conocían y las casas eran hechas de concreto.

Su padre fue a Estados Unidos para trabajar cuando ella tenía 4 años y les mandaba dinero. Triana, su madre y su hermana vivían en una casa pequeña sin baño y se bañaban con una cubeta llena de agua. Ella ayudaba a su madre a vender empanadas caseras puerta-a-puerta.

Después de haberse mudado cuando tenía 5 años, Triana compitió en un equipo de atletismo. Corría rápido, ella dijo. Pero, cuando corría sus compañeros de equipo decían, “Ahí va la mexicana huyendo de la inmigración.”

Mientras visitaba a la familia, no encajaba. Sentía como si no pudiera pronunciar algunas palabras correctamente, y en los E.E.U.U., hiciera errores con palabras de inglés.

“Estoy atascada en el medio. Estoy tratando de buscar dónde yo encajo,” dijo Triana. “La sociedad quiere ponernos en una caja y etiquetarnos.”

Como Triana, otros estudiantes latinos han experimentado una crisis de identidad como si ellos hicieron malabarismos encajando en dos mundos — su mundo de comodidad y su propia cultura y un mundo blanco en su universidad.

Raíz Latina

Gabriela Godinez-Fregrino, nació en Ciudad de México, se crió en Cincinnati, “mitad y mitad.” Se había mudado a los E.E.U.U cuando tenía 2 años, su familia se aseguró de mantenerse en contacto con su herencia. Ella creció hablando español y visitando a su familia extendida en México dos veces cada año. Godinez-Feregrino tuvo una niñez divertida, pero fue difícil.

“Nunca eres lo suficientemente estadounidense, y nunca eres lo suficientemente mexicana,” dijo Godinez-Feregrino.

En los E.E.U.U, la gente recuerda que ella es mexicana y no completamente estadounidense. Preguntas como “tu eres mexicana, correcto?” o “De dónde eres realmente?” frecuentemente saldrían de sus lenguas. Y cuando Godinez-Feregrino visita México, los amigos de sus primos se encogen de hombros y dicen “Eres americana, entonces no entiendes.”

Godinez-Feregrino creció en una burbuja de inmigrantes en Cincinnati. La mayoría de sus amigos también son inmigrantes. Su mejor amigo fue un refugiado de Birmania, y Godinez-Feregrino descubrió que ellos compartían las mismas adversidades a pesar de venir de diferentes partes del mundo.

Ella recuerda una de las primeras veces que explicó a alguien que no era indocumentada. Cuando tenía 10 años, fue a evento de Girl Scouts. Ella y sus amigos habían estado hablando de visitar a su familia durante las vacaciones. Un padre, confundido, le preguntó cómo podía volver a México. Godinez-Feregrino no entendió la pregunta, pero su madre respondió que acababan de renovar sus pasaportes.

“Nunca aludí al hecho de que posiblemente podría ser indocumentada porque eso no era cierto,” Godinez-Feregrino dijo. “Ni siquiera estaba en mi mente. No sabía que la gente hacía eso. Yo tenía 10 años.”

Cuando Godinez-Feregrino se convirtió en ciudadana en el séptimo grado, experimentó una transición espiritual. Antes, su madre había sentido incómoda cantando el himno nacional. Pero una vez que finalmente ganaron la ciudadanía, el himno nacional y la bandera estadounidense se intensificaron en su vida.

“Ahora, es tuya. Ahora, legalmente, es tuya,” su madre le dijo.

Una vez que se convirtió en ciudadana americana, el acoso también empezó. La gente le decía “Vete a casa.” Ella no podía entender como un papel, que legitimó su derecho de estar en el país, significaba mucho para ella pero significaba muy poco para cualquier otra persona.

“Fue definitivamente una crisis en miniatura,” Godinez-Feregrino dijo. “Al mismo tiempo, también estaba aceptando mi sexualidad, y ser queer, como bisexual o pansexual, así tampoco era saludable que mi identidad racial y mi identidad sexual estuvieran chocándose al mismo tiempo.”

Su madre se esforzó por alejar los prejuicios de su hija. Mirando hacia atrás, Godinez-Feregrino recuerda cuando ellos estaban de compras en el centro comercial, y un gerente no las dejaba solas. Godinez-Feregrino se preguntó por qué el gerente las había seguido, y más tarde, se dio cuenta de que el gerente pensaba que iban a robar.

“Mi mundo entero,” Godinez-Feregrino dijo. “Todo cambió porque me di cuenta de que mi madre era tan buena escondiéndomelo.”

delfín bautista, el director de LGBT Center en OU, nació y se crió en una casa de habla hispana en Miami, Florida. bautista, que usa pronombres de “they/them,” no se dieron cuenta de la cantidad de minorías que los latinos tienen en ciertas áreas primero cuando fueron a la escuela de posgrado en Connecticut y luego cuando llegaron al campus de OU.

La gente le decía que bautista no se veía “latino,” y bautista preguntaba, “Cómo debo parecer?”

En 2016, los estudiantes hispanos constituían el 3.1 por ciento del cuerpo estudiantil de OU, en comparación con los estudiantes blancos, que constituían más o menos 78.7 por ciento, según OU Factbook de la Office of Institutional Research.

“Es muy solitario y aislado,” bautista dijo. “¿Dónde encuentras comunidad? Y luego, tener que justificar y probar constantemente tu latinidad.”

Crecer como inmigrante

Triana recuerda haber llorado mucho. Cuando tenía 5 años, ella, su madre y su hermana se mudaron a E.E.U.U. para encontrarse con su padre. Su tío les manejaron a una casa, donde esperaron los coyotes, la gente que contrabandea americanos latinos a través de la frontera. Se quedaron en la casa por un mes, y cruzaron la frontera escondidos en vehículos el Día de Acción de Gracias en 2000.

Antes de obtener una tarjeta de residencia a través de la abogada de inmigración de su familia, Svetlana Schreiber, y más tarde su ciudadanía, Triana vivía como inmigrante indocumentada.

Sus abuelos se murieron después de que ella vino a E.E.U.U. Incapaz de regresar a México, nunca llegó a verlos.

“No tengo muchas memorias de ellos,” Triana dijo, las lágrimas brotando de sus ojos.

Vivir como inmigrante indocumentada la moldeó. Ella tuvo que crecer rápida, Triana dijo. A las 7 o 8 años, ella estaba traduciendo para sus padres en los bancos y las entrevistas — “ cosas grandes y adultas,” dijo.

Triana trataba de asimilar a la cultura de sus amigos blancos y mezclarse. Aunque estaba orgullosa, también ignoraba su propia herencia porque no podía hablar de eso. Siente que tiene una identidad dividida que es separada entre dos grupos, a veces referido como generación 1.5.

Triana atribuye su estado de inmigración y su identidad dividida como una de las razones por las que ha sufrido una enfermedad mental. Afectó a sus estudios, le hizo ser una estudiante de quinto año e “infectó” sus relaciones. Triana cree que la enfermedad mental es un gran problema en la comunidad latina — ya que la religión es muy influyente en México, algunas personas piensan que sólo necesitan rezar y que eso la mejorará.

“Levantarse de la cama fue difícil. Comer fue difícil. Esos fueron tiempos muy difíciles,” dijo Triana.

Venir a la universidad

Gabriela Soto, una estudiante de primer año indeciso en el College of Arts and Sciences, es de Humacao, Puerto Rico, y ha sentido muy bien recibida en OU. En su primera semana, hizo amigos con la gente en su residencia y se unió a Latino Student Union. Cuando Huracán María golpeó Puerto Rico en septiembre, sus amigos del Latino Student Union la consolaron.

“Me uní a Latino Student Union porque, aunque vine aquí para explorar cosas nuevas, sabía que iba a sentir nostalgia,” dijo Soto. “Creo que Latino Student Union fue lo más parecido a Puerto Rico.”

Godinez-Feregrino, una estudiante en el último año estudiando medios integrados, sin embargo sintió como una forastera. De vez en cuando, un compañero de clase decía algo engañosamente racista, y ella no se sentía cómoda defendiéndose por sí misma, temiendo que su profesor se ofendiera.

“Siento como tengo que estar jugando un juego en un tablero que no hecho para mí,” dijo Godinez-Feregrino.

Los hispanos constituían 17 por ciento de los estudiantes (tanto de pregrado y posgrado) matriculados en la universidad en 2015, según la U.S. Census Bureau. Y a partir de 2012, la tasa de matriculación universitaria hispana superó la de los estudiantes blancos, según Pew Research Center.

Entonces, el número de estudiantes latinos en OU es bastante “vergonzoso,” dijo Alicia Chavira-Prado, la asistente especial del vicerrector de Diversity and Leadership.

“Necesitamos hacer mejor,” dijo. “Si no respondemos a esos demográficos, nos estamos perdiendo. Necesitamos crecer a medida que las tendencias de la nación crecen.”

Cuando Triana, la presidente de International Student Union, vino a OU en su primer año, no conocía a muchos estudiantes latinos y consideró transferir a Ohio State University por ese motivo.

“No pienso que aislada ni siquiera lo describa,” dijo Triana. “Cómo la emoción, el sentimiento, desesperado para que las personas se parezcan a ti. … Me sentí muy mal recibida, como si realmente no encajara.”

Cuando Godinez-Feregrino estaba en su primer año en OU, ella nunca había experimentado tal aislamiento físico. En secundario, si experimentaba microagresiones, ella podría irse a casa a su familia, pero en la universidad, estaba sola.

Godinez-Feregrino jugó con la idea de una residencia universitaria para las personas de color, ya que podría ser útil y hacer que los estudiantes de latinx se sintieran seguros y cómodos en su propio espacio. latinx es un término que a menudo se usa como una forma neutral o no de género para referirse a una persona de ascendencia latinoamericana.

“¿Pero qué vamos a hacer? ¿Nos seguimos aislando? ¿Continuar segregándonos?” preguntó Godinez-Feregrino. “Tener espacio para las personas de color, las personas de latinx, donde se puede hablar español y no tener miradas sucias es realmente agradable, pero así no es como funciona el mundo.”

Los programas y las organizaciones como Latino Student Union existen, Godinez-Feregrino dijo, pero esos programas, no son para ella no más porque ella está ayudando a organizar y ponerlos.

“Estamos todos tan cansados,” dijo. “¿Por qué es nuestro trabajo cuidar de nosotros mismos … en términos de la visibilidad? Ese no debería ser solo mi trabajo. Ese debería ser un trabajo universitario para que otros estudiantes de primer año se sientan más seguros. Porque honestamente, me estoy quemando.”

Godinez-Feregrino dijo también que era difícil ser interseccional, tratando de encajar ambos con la comunidad LGBT y con la comunidad latina. SHADES, un grupo LGBT para la gente de color, la ayudó mucho, y ahí es donde ha hecho sus mejores amigos. Los grupos que se enfocan en la interseccionalidad son útiles, dijo.

Donde crecer

OU trabaja para promover la diversidad, pero una área de crecimiento es con los estudiantes, el profesorado y los empleados de latinx, dijo bautista, el asesor de LSU. Si bien reclutar y promover la diversidad es crucial, es igualmente importante no simbolizar o “tokenize” la diversidad y genuinamente cuidar y celebrar a los estudiantes latinos. La universidad también debería ayudar a crear espacios donde se pueden reconocer dos o más identidades, dijo bautista.

“Pienso que estamos muy rápidos para poner a las personas en las cajas,” dijo bautista. “ ‘Aquí están los estudiantes negros, aquí están los estudiantes de latinx, aquí están los estudiantes gay, aquí los estudiantes internacionales.’ Pero, la realidad es que esos estudiantes son mucho más que eso.

El financiamiento adicional para grupos como SHADES, y Multicultural Center, Women’s Center, y LGBT Center ayudará a esas organizaciones a organizar más eventos, dijo Godinez-Feregrino. Proveer más entrenamiento de la diversidad y contratar a más personas que se preocupen por la diversidad también puede ayudar a los estudiantes latinos.

“Puede que seamos pocos, pero cuando nos encontramos, realmente nos abrazamos,” dijo Chavira-Prado. “Nuestra amistad, nuestra camaradería, y aquí hay muchas personas buenas que aprecian sinceramente el multiculturalismo, para las minorías que están profundamente comprometidas con la justicia social.”

En febrero, Triana fue uno de 70 estudiantes arrestados en Baker Center. Se sentó con los otros estudiantes para protestar las políticas de inmigración nacional y haciendo la universidad un campus abierto, al ver la dura realidad de que si Schrieber, su abogada de inmigración, no hubiera ayudada a su familia, Triana podría haber sido uno de los estudiantes con miedo a la deportación. Ahora, Triana ha decidido qué quiere ser cuando se gradúa — una abogada de inmigración.

“Quiero dar les a otra gente la oportunidad para perseguir sus sueños y metas y empezar sus propios negocios, sin el temor de ser deportada,” Triana dijo. “Quiero ayudar a cambiar las vidas de las personas. Quiero ser un defensor de la inmigración. Eso es lo que quiero hacer.”

Yemeni graduate student recounts experience in war

Published at The Post Athens on Sept. 16, 2016

Amal Abdulqader and her family were in the basement waiting for the bombing to stop when her 7-year-old brother asked if they could build a pillow fort to protect themselves.

The windows in their Yemeni home were taped to prevent shattered glass. They were hiding in the basement while a Saudi-led coalition conducted those bombings in early June 2015.

Yemen, an Arab country in western Asia located next to Saudi Arabia and Oman, has experienced extreme off-and-on violence for decades, causing residents to flee for their safety in large numbers.

Abdulqader, a first-year graduate student studying international development studies, is from Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. She fled from Yemen when the coalition attacked and crossed borders into Oman, before staying in Malaysia until Yemen grew safer.

“You will not believe … how people suffered there,” Abdulqader said.

Abdulqader had friends and relatives who died in the Yemen attacks. She said she was afraid she would die from fear before any bomb would kill her.

Being the oldest of her siblings, Abdulqader convinced her family to leave the country in June 2015 until it was safe to return. Despite the guilt and worry she felt for her family, she said she did not want to become another “number in the victim data.”

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 165,000 Yemenis fled the country. More than 8,000 civilians were killed from airstrikes, according to the United Nations News Centre.

Abdulqader said she knows people who left the country by boat and fled to Djibouti, though she and her family drove to the Omani border to escape the bombing. With her siblings and her mother, Abdulqader drove for 30 hours. The trip should have been 10 hours shorter, but they faced flooding en route.

While in Malaysia, Abdulqader said she had nightmares about bombs every night. She and her family would become scared when the wind would slam windows and doors shut.

Her family, missing Yemen, decided to take the risk to return home after five months.

Abdulqader traveled to the United States and has not seen her family since. She said when she came to Ohio University, she realized Americans did not know much about the conflict in her home country.

“In the beginning, I was sad because we are dying in another part of the world and nobody knows, or nobody cares because they don’t know,” Abdulqader said. “I can’t blame them.”

Ziad Abu-Rish, an assistant professor of history, said being aware of international news is part of being a responsible citizen in the U.S. He said the majority of OU students know “very little” about the conflict, let alone any U.S. involvement in Yemen.

“I’d like to emphasize that the US government has fully supported the Saudi-led intervention, which has been responsible for the largest share of civilian deaths, population displacement, infrastructural damage, and bringing Yemen to the brink of famine,” Abu-Rish said in an email.

Abdulqader said she partly blames such ignorance on the Yemenis outside of Yemen who are not lobbying for peace and spreading awareness of the issues.

She does not know exactly when she will be able to return to Yemen, as she is afraid she will not be able to fly back to the U.S. if she does, but Abdulqader said she misses her family and the city.

“I’m afraid when I go back, I will not find the same city I left,” Abdulqader said.

Alena Klimas, the vice president of International Student Union, said she knows about the events occurring in Yemen and thinks it would be hard to leave behind family.

“I think it’s easy to leave a place behind, and it’s not as easy to leave people behind when you know things like that are happening,” Klimas said.

Abdulqader said her family and other Yemenis are starting to adapt to the bombings. Yemenis are beginning to go to school and have weddings. When she calls them once a week, she hears explosions in the background, but her family just says, “What can you do? We have to live our lives.”

But Abdulqader said she and her family have had it easier than others. They have the essentials, unlike the 2.5 million Yemenis who are internally displaced without a home, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

“If you have something to eat, and if you still have a roof over your heads, you are fine,” Abdulqader said. “You are fine.”


Graduate student explains significance of attack on Afghanistan university she attended

Published at The Post Athens on Sept. 15, 2016

Salma Alokozai had just woken up and checked social media on Aug. 25 when she learned of the three armed men who took hostages at American University of Afghanistan.

As an alumna of the university, Alokozai was immediately worried about her friends who were still attending the school. For the duration of the attack, she sat in front of her laptop, attempting to find them.

Thirteen people were killed in the attack at the university, and dozens were injured. According to a report from NPR, the Afghan government suspected the Taliban was responsible for the attack on the university, which is one of many international institutions using the American education system to teach students.

American University of Afghanistan was not the first school to be allegedly targeted by the Taliban. In 2013, the Taliban organized at least seven attacks in Afghanistan, targeting girls attending school and killing more than 160 people, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

Afghanistan had the second-highest number of deaths resulting from terrorism in 2014, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

Alokozai, an OU graduate student studying public administration born in Kabul, Afghanistan, has been coping both with the aftermath of the event and the lack of sympathy she has found from other students.

“(The news) was shocking, and it was painful,” Alokozai, said. “I was in love with (American University), and every student was in love with it.”

Alokozai said she remembers her school fondly, and that American University taught her to think critically and look at topics from different perspectives.

“That kind of education is a threat to (the Taliban’s) religious beliefs, and to fundamentalism and extremism,” Alokozai said. “They know that the students in that school are going to change so many things in that society and … the way people handle terrorism.”

Seven of the 13 people killed were students, according to a news release from the Afghan president’s office. For some, it was their first or second day of school, Alokozai said.

“They were at an age where they had the right to live, the right to have a future, to see their dreams coming true,” Alokozai said. “But (the gunmen) killed them.”

Nobody offered Alokozai any sympathy, though, she said.

Because of a lack of global attention to the attacks in Afghanistan, she said she feels as though the lives of her and others are “not as valuable” to some.

“I didn’t hear anything from anybody, so I think no one even knows about it,” Alokozai said. “Especially in our country … it is (seen as) something normal. … It happens every day there. No one pays much attention.”

Hashim Pashtun, the president of International Student Union, said he thinks people are accustomed to terrorist attacks occurring in the Middle East, causing them to not care about further carnage.

“As a whole, I think domestic students can have a vital role and (should) be thankful for what they have,” Pashtun said.

Steve Howard, director of the Center for International Studies, said many young Americans only read or learn about the niches of news that are of interest to them.

“Expand your horizons,” Howard said. “Move out of your comfort zone. Go listen to a talk about something you don’t know anything about.”

Pashtun, a graduate student studying civil engineering, said his sister graduated from American University and planned to attend an alumni meeting the same evening the school was attacked.

“What if my sister was there?” Pashtun said.

Alokozai said she does not wish for anyone to experience terrorist attacks, adding that it is difficult to have a personal connection to such violence.

“I was there,” Alokozai said. “I wasn’t there physically, but mentally, my heart and mind, I was there.”


Worshipping from where you are

Hindu students worship without a house of prayer

Long-form feature published on The Post Athens on Oct. 12, 2016

Buddhists, Muslims, Jewish students and those practicing many other ideologies have a building to worship in Athens.

One spiritual tradition not represented in Athens is Hinduism.

Without a temple, students like Chinky Dhingra who are Hindu can practice their beliefs outside a formal institution.

“For me, I have a collage that has all the pictures of all the gods,” Dhingra, a graduate student studying computer science, said. “I framed it out and keep it in my home.”

Hinduism is not represented in a community center or place of worship in Athens, but some Hindu students do not think a local temple is necessary because of alternative ways of worship.


Hinduism is a set of traditions followed by people in India and Nepal and people of Indian descent throughout the world, according to BBC.

Many different sects of Hinduism exist, however, and it is difficult to find beliefs that all Hindus share, Brian Collins, the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande chair in Indian religion and philosophy, said.

“For the most part, all Hindus recognize the authority of the Vedas (sacred scriptures in Hinduism) as the ultimate authority of revelation,” Collins, who teaches Hinduism as well as other courses about religion, said. “For the most part, they all worship, engage and celebrate the festivals and the rights of at least one of the Hindu gods.”

Swati Roy, a sophomore studying international business, said Hinduism differs from person to person based on individual beliefs, and people pray by themselves whenever they need to.

“It’s a personal opinion,” Prashant Kumar Kuntala, the president of Indian Students Association, said. “You’re a Hindu, but it’s up to you how much you want to spend praying. It’s a personal choice.”

Roy said some Hindus do not believe there is a specific god or way of worship.

“Some just believe that religion is just a way of life,” Roy said. “You just do good deeds, and good deeds come back to you. You just pray to a divine energy. It doesn’t have to be a specific god or a specific idol that you worship.”

Roy’s beliefs are different from her parents, which she said is common among many younger people who are Hindu.

“I don’t know which Hindus are really religious,” Roy, who is from Dhaka, Bangladesh, said. “Because every time I meet someone, if they’re from this generation, it’s very hard to find someone who’s really religious.”

In 2014, 26 percent of Hindus in the U.S. said religion is “very important” to them, compared 45 percent of Hindus in 2007 according to the Pew Research Center.

The newer generation of Hindus does not have as many mandatory customs to pray every day as previous generations did, Roy said, which is why younger Hindus may not practice and go to temple as much as their parents do.

Roy said she knows many Hindus who worship or pray because their parents want them to, even if they are not personally spiritual.

Roy said she does not like labels but would consider herself more of an agnostic atheist, although her parents are still very religious.


Having no place of worship in Athens, Hindus have found alternate ways to worship.

“Hindu students are in and out, and the settled community here has not grown to the place where they’re investing in (a Hindu place of worship),” Collins said.

In Ohio, 12 Hindu temples have been established; the nearest ones to Athens are in the Columbus area.

“(In Southern India), it’s very common to have two to three temples within four or five streets apart,” Kuntala, a graduate student studying computer science who is from Hyderabad, India, said.

Dhingra said her mother would want her to go to temple at least once a week, but members of the younger generation typically just go to temple on festivals, ceremonies or their birthdays.

Hindu festivals are widely celebrated with a large group of people, Roy said. The Indian Students Association celebrates two main Hindu festivals throughout the year, Holi and Diwali.

“It’s just being with the family and the people in the festivals and the ceremonies,” Roy said. “It’s just, the aspect of being together and celebrating something. (The festivals are about) spreading more love and inclusion and spirituality.”

This year, the Indian Students Association will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 6. The celebration serves to get rid of Hindus’ sorrows, Roy said.

Holi, in honor of spring, happens in Spring Semester and is celebrated with two different events, Kuntala said. One will be solely for throwing colors, and the other will be a formal dinner.

In addition to celebrating festivals on campus, Hindu students have found other ways to worship without a temple in Athens.

“It’s not that we don’t believe in god,” Dhingra said. “It’s that we just don’t believe in going to temples in order to connect with god. … As long as you’re honest to yourself and do the right thing, that’s what really matters. And for us, I understand most of us, we do believe in god.”

Collins said having a temple or Hindu community center would be helpful for both Hindu students and people who are curious about the traditions.

“For (Hindu students), it would make it easier for them to stay in touch with their traditions,” Collins said. “For everybody else, it provides a place for you to learn about Hinduism.”

However, Nitin Luthra, a first-year graduate student studying English, said Hindu students would be missing the cultural aspect of going to temple.

“What they (are) missing is the social experience (and) celebrating the festivals,” Luthra said.

Luthra does not think a temple is necessary, however, because international students should interact with people outside of their culture.

“If you just have your own temple and your own group from your own country and religion … then you’re not actually making really good use of this wonderful opportunity that for many people, is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Luthra said.


In Hinduism, there are thousands of Hindu gods and idols — small statues or photos that depict gods — are a way for Hindus to worship in physical form, Collins said.

Roy said small idols that Hindus can carry are reminders that a god is with them.

“Even when you don’t have a space or you don’t have other people who are Hindus, you still have somewhere to turn to when you want to pray,” Roy said.

Roy’s mother gave her a small idol of the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati Ma.

“So it’s just a portrayal of strength and divinity and spirituality all into one,” Roy said. “And when you turn to that idol, it just makes you feel more safe (and) more stable in your life.”

Umamahesh Yellamraju, an internal medicine physician from Hyderabad, India, and his family built their own temple in the northeast corner of their home in Athens.

Yellamraju’s temple smells of jasmine, and the god Radha Krishna is displayed prominently in the middle of the room. Pink curtains flow down the wall next to pictures of other Hindu gods.

He and his family use the temple everyday and pray inside it before every meal. Still, Yellamraju said there would be benefits to having a temple in Athens.

“It would be nice to have (a formal temple in Athens) for my kids’ sake,” Yellamraju said. “There’s only so much we can explain to them about (Hinduism) unless they feel it and see it.”

Dhingra said one major Hindu belief is karma, the idea that if someone does a good deed, then good deeds will happen to them.

“We don’t have to go to temple to be religious, we just believe, like any normal good person, we should do good and good things will happen to us,” Dhingra said.



Published at The Post Athens

Indonesian consul general gets down on the dance floor at Indonesian Night

Not many can say they were in the same room as the Consulate General of Indonesia while simultaneously watching a dancer lure him and other men onto the stage to dance.

The 250 people who attended Indonesian Night on Friday, however, now have an interesting anecdote to tell at parties.

The Indonesian Student Association of Ohio University hosted the sold out eighth annual Indonesian Night on Friday in Baker Ballroom where attendees experienced traditional Indonesian cuisine, music and dancing.

“Right now, in my country, America is known as the melting pot of cultures,” Radityo Aryo Hutomo, a second-year graduate student studying Asian studies, said. “Ohio University has been very good at keeping diversity for international students, people from different countries. So it’s good that we could introduce our cultures and create discussion, have fun together.”

The two hostesses for the evening introduced honored guests, switching between English and Indonesian. The two honored guests were Alec Holcombe, an assistant professor in the history department, and Andriana Supandy, Consulate General of Indonesia. The Consulate General assists and protects Indonesians in the midwest region, and his offices are based in Chicago.

The event started with vegan appetizers — lumpia (spring roll) and klepon (rice cake). After everyone took their seats, a masked figure began to dance in the center of the room.

Nissa Rahma Aprilia, a second-year graduate student studying Asian studies, wore a mask with a long, red nose and a crown. She performed the “Tari Topeng Bapang,” which is the Bapang Mask Dance. Bapang is a beast who was a regent under the reign of King Klana Sewandana.

A second dance followed the first as another woman performed the “Tari Puspanjali,” a Balinese dance that is often performed to greet guests and start formal events.

The Indonesian Student Association performed the “Potong Tumpeng,” which is the serving of a rice dish to the honored guests. Tumpeng is a symbol of gratitude, and Indonesians usually serve this to celebrate important events. Holcombe and Supandy were served first.

The Indonesian Student Association then showed a video about Papua, one of the largest islands in Indonesia and the theme of this year’s Indonesian Night.

The third dance of the night was by far the most elaborate. “Tari Saman,” the dance of a thousand hands, is one of the most popular dances in Indonesia. Students from five different countries had been practicing the dance for one month, Hutomo said. Two people sang as 12 others danced on the stage. They stood in a line and used their hands to create an upbeat rhythm.

After the dance of a thousand hands, the final dance began. The “Seka Jepun” dance is famous in Bali and was inspired by Japanese flowers. The dancer walked around the room and put a scarf around guests’ necks, inviting them to join her in the middle of the room for a dance. One of those guests was Consul General Supandy, who happily danced with her.

“I always encourage the Indonesian community and Indonesian students anywhere under my jurisdiction of the 13 states in the midwest to start to promote Indonesia,” Supandy said. “I’m optimistic that we can get closer and (have a) stronger relationship between Ohio University and Indonesia.”

The event served dishes such as beef rendang, sate ayam (a chicken kabob), tofu and capcay sayur (vegetable stir fry). They also served es teler, a mixed fruit cocktail with sweetened milk.

“It’s a really nice opportunity for the students to show their culture with people who might not get an opportunity to travel to Indonesia in their life,” Annie Dievendorf, international student adviser, said. “It’s really a way … for the students to get a little taste of their home and to help with the homesickness they might experience.”


Published on The Post Athens on Sept. 13, 2017

Pawpaw Festival will feature new baby mascot, food vendors

Ohio University students, Athens residents and visitors will taste and celebrate a local fruit with an interesting history this weekend.

The 19th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival will be held from Friday to Sunday at Lake Snowden, where visitors will eat and learn about the pawpaw as well as listen to music, participate in different activities and try everything pawpaw.

The founder and organizer of the Pawpaw Festival, Chris Chmiel, plans to make the festival “authentically pawpaw.”

Pawpaws, a tropical fruit native to eastern United States, has long been a part of Ohio. In 1916, the American Genetics Association had a competition for the best pawpaw and most of them came from southern Ohio.

Athens and southeast Ohio is home to some of the best, “naturally-occurring” pawpaws in the world, Chmiel said.

The pawpaw became the official state fruit native to Ohio in 2009, and the Ohio Pawpaw Fest had an influential role in that, Chmiel said.

“Pawpaws are one of the coolest, native plants we have in the region,” Chmiel said. “(The Pawpaw Festival) is a great way to celebrate something that people can enjoy on a bike ride or on a hike. They can find them and discover their sweet smell.”

Pawpaws are also very nutritious, Chmiel said, containing more vitamins and nutrients than apples, bananas and oranges.

From every dish being served containing pawpaw to a pawpaw mascot greeting visitors, the festival will have different opportunities to experience the fruit such as pawpaw eating and cooking contests.

Chmiel also hinted at the possibility of a new baby pawpaw mascot this year.

The Pawpaw Festival will also have different food vendors, each offering a different pawpaw dish. Michelle Wasserman, the food vendor coordinator of the festival, will be selling jackfruit pawpaw tamales at Nixtamalized. Other food vendors, such as Chelsea’s Real Food, Mauvette’s, 100% Grassfed and Holy Guacamole will all offer different foods containing the pawpaw.

Stick It Concessions will sell pawpaw cotton candy, a new dish to the festival.

“When you have 18 different food vendors, and everybody is required to bring at least one pawpaw dish,” Wasserman said. “That’s at least 18 different pawpaw foods you can try.”

Beside tasting and celebrating the pawpaw, visitors will be able to participate in different activities, such as a new kayak slalom course on Lake Snowden. Recreational enthusiasts can participate in the Pawpaw Double Nickel Bicycle Ride that will go around Zaleski State Forest, or race in the 2nd annual Pawpaw 4 Miler and 1 mile fun run/walk.

The Pawpaw Festival will also offer pawpaw beer, made from nine different microbreweries, such as Jackie O’s and Little Fish Brewing Company.

Emma Raulinaitis, a senior studying exercise physiology went to the Pawpaw Festival and thought it was super cool. When she went, she was upset she wasn’t 21 and could not try the pawpaw beer.

“I had never had pawpaw before, never heard about it until the pawpaw fest so I liked trying that,” Raulinaitis said. “I also liked how they had all these informational booths with water treatment ideas, agriculture plans they had. That was cool to read.”

In addition to different educational booths, the Pawpaw Festival will also have speakers discussing different topics, such as how to incorporate pawpaws into a healthy diet and agroforestry, livestock and pawpaws.

Madison Sweeney, a sophomore studying education and integrated social studies has never been to previous pawpaw festivals, but is going this weekend.

“I’ve never been so I’m really excited. I know it’s a type of fruit, but I’m not sure what type it is so I’m interested to see what it’s going to be like,” Sweeney said.

Music will also be played during the festival by bands such as Almighty Get Down and other punk, reggae and folk music.

Tickets cost $15 for a one-day pass and $30 for the weekend pass. The festival is free for children under the age of 12 and discounted for guests older than 60. Visitors can camp for the weekend at Lake Snowden, costing $15 for one night and $22 for the weekend.

“I pretty much guarantee that people will have a good time,” Chmiel said.