Posts Tagged ‘community’

Connections Through Creativity

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Having a creative outlet is something that I believe is essential for everyone, but especially college students. The route memorization and endless readings that all students suffer through for the sake of their degrees can be incredibly draining, and it is so helpful to both take a break and exercise a different part of your mind through creative activities. Granted, I am a film student, so all of the creative stuff is a pretty integral part of my degree as is. However, that’s not to say that I don’t find ways to express my creativity in other ways outside of film.

For me, music has always been a core way for me to express myself, for myself. I started playing piano at age 5 and absolutely adored the way that playing music could express emotions in a way that words are not capable of. At first, it was a private way of showing up for myself and working through things through a creative medium. However,  the summer after 4th grade, I started my journey with the cello.

My very first cello recital

I think what first attracted me to the cello is how human-like its register is. The warmth and depth of the tones that can be produced on the cello are just so reminiscent of the human voice,  which gives cello pieces an extra layer of complexity and emotion. Starting cello is what finally helped me bridge the gap between finding my voice through music and sharing that voice with others. 

From elementary all the way through high school, I was able to have so many amazing experiences through playing the cello. I got to perform with the amazing trio Time for Three, play a movie-themed concert, and participate in the pit orchestra for two school musicals. By the end of my senior year, it was difficult to imagine a life without the cello and orchestral music. However, I wasn’t sure how to incorporate cello into my college life.

Going to school in Ireland definitely complicated things. If I wanted to bring my cello from home, I would have had to buy a whole extra plane ticket for it. With a connecting flight and a lot of baggage, it just didn’t seem like a viable option. The other choice was looking to buy or rent a cello in Dublin, but the research I did at home yielded very few results. So, with little choice to do anything else, I flew to Dublin for the first time without knowing the next time I’d play the cello.

Thankfully, with the help of fate, it didn’t take long for me to find out. My school had a society fair, and I went straight up to the orchestra’s booth to enquire about auditions. I was hoping they would have auditions later in the year, so I could have the time to look for a cello, but unfortunately, they were holding the only auditions of the year in just a few days. 

I booked an audition slot, and the panic to find a cello set in. I traversed all over the city, going from one music shop to the next with no luck. Finally, I made my last stop for the day at a music store that was set to close in twenty minutes. To my surprise, they had a single student cello for sale. It was in my price range so after sending a few photos of the instrument to my teacher back home to make sure it was okay, I bought the cello and brought it home.

I didn’t have much time to practice, but thankfully the audition went okay and I got into the orchestra! (It would have been pretty awkward if I didn’t…having just bought a cello and all). I was a little intimidated by how talented the other players were, but after a few rehearsals I settled in and found myself looking forward to the weekly rehearsals as a break from my classes and an exciting way to continue playing cello.

I had a number of incredible experiences through the cello my freshman year of college as well. I played Beethoven’s 5th and 9th symphonies, performed in the pit for the musical “Sweet Charity,” and even got to play some ’90s music for Trinity Ball, the largest private party in Europe held right on my university’s campus!

The Trinity Ball crowd!

Overall, I am so grateful that I was able to continue playing cello in college. It has given me a community and so many memories that I wouldn’t be able to imagine my college experience without. I would highly recommend to anyone starting out in college to find their own creative outlet, whether it’s an instrument, visual art, creative writing, or anything else. There are so many opportunities to connect with the arts through your school, and once you find the thing that’s right for you, you’ll be so happy for both the outlet and experiences that it will provide.


  • I started playing piano as a musical outlet, and eventually switched to cello
  • I had amazing experiences in high school playing cello, but wasn’t sure how to continue in college
  • Thankfully, I was able to get another cello and join my university’s orchestra
  • The orchestra has provided me with a strong community and unforgettable experiences performing
  • Having a creative outlet in college can be an amazing way to establish a community and take part in new experience

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By Bella Littler

Bella is a second year film student within the Trinity College Dublin / Columbia Dual BA program. She grew up in Iowa, but is currently living and studying in Dublin. On the average day, you can find her watching obscure movies, going on aimless walks around the city, or raving about any and all Taylor Swift lyrics.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


At the Dining Table: Chapter 1 – Creating Community and Unity in new Spaces

Monday, July 12th, 2021

In the center of my yellow house in Chicago’s north side sits a large wooden table. My parents bought the table, riddled with holes and cracks, from an Amish farm in Wisconsin. Over the past 26 years of owning it, it has seen family dinners, rushed science projects, conflict, resolution, and divorce. 

Growing up in a Mexican-American household, my parents made sure we understood one thing: unity. In the age of cellphones, reality television, and the internet, it is easy to ignore reality and constantly distract yourself through entertainment. As a result, values have changed family dinners are no longer regularly practiced. This is where my wooden table comes into play. 

Fridays were for everyone, not just family. Fridays were for lessons on politics, religion, culture, and music. Fridays were for bowls of gumbo made by my Uncle Andrew and his brother Chris, two Cajun men that my parents met long before I was born. Over bowls of mussels simmered in a butter, shallot, and white wine sauce, I quietly listened to conversations on how things “used to be.” I even learned about my father’s immigration story, following his father from Mexico City to Chicago at the age of eight. It is around the wooden table that my dad told us of the meals he shared with his family: small bowls of rice and beans, pigeons caught from the street and stuffed, and on special occasions, mole a labor-intensive dish made from a plethora of ingredients like hand-peeled almonds, bread, avocado leaf, and chocolate that were all simmered into a thick sauce. 

My father and I preparing Friday night dinner.

On these Friday nights, my parents exposed me to communitynot one you are born into, but one you establish for yourself. Sitting in the black wooden chairs around our table was the community my mother and father created over time: It was with the help of experiences and long-lasting memories that built this sense of community. They ranged from childhood on the gang-ruled southside, law school in Wisconsin, and having to blend in with the affluent, white neighborhood they tried their best to blend into. 

Essentially, unity came with community. The people sitting at my table with a range of skin colors and accents, as well as coming from diverse places they called “home”, became my aunts and uncles. They would stay by my side as I became old enough to cook the Friday night meals by myself, and held my hand as the meals slowly stopped. 

In the end, some things are not made to last forever. The teenage love my parents once held for each other grew cold and moldy, sitting in the back of the refrigerator waiting to be thrown out. Along with the expiration of their marriage, our Friday nights became but a whisper of the values they instilled in my brothers and me planted into the back of our minds. 

Ultimately, moving away from home is hard. You leave the people that know you best and are forced to find your own community your chosen family. I saw my father do this as he left the house and the wooden table, searching again for a stronger sense of family after walking away from the one he already had. I saw it again as my brothers left for college, searching for a community far away from home and parental guidance. Then I experienced it for myself, packing my bags to cross the pond, where I hoped to find some connection back to my life in Chicago in an unknown city.

Using what I learned around that hole-riddled, brown, wooden table, I created my own community almost 4,000 miles away from home. Over bowls of rice made with seasonings I smuggled in through my luggage, my roommates and I came to love each other, like how my parents loved the neighbors they took in as family. With the right amount of food, I am sure you can find your community, too. 

Start building your community today over some delicious empanadas from Gourmet Empanadas on Avenue B!

By: Allegra Ruiz

Allegra Ruiz is a junior at New York University and she is from Chicago. She studies English and is minoring in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading books and essay collections, and cooking for her roommates. Currently, she lives quietly in New York. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Giving Back: Research Organizations

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

In my opinion, working with kids is fun and not usually nerve wracking, so the most stressful step of deciding where to volunteer is the research process. Back in high school, volunteering was easy because teachers seemed to always have good suggestions about organizations, but now that you are out on your own, figuring out where to start can be stressful and confusing.

As I stated before, recognizing your strengths is a critical step towards volunteering, but put that on hold for a minute. Researching: this is THE most important step to volunteering, at least in my humble opinion that you should take, if you want to succeed, ever. Okay maybe not, but a step that most people forget is to research organizations before simply jumping in. We are constantly fed information all day long, what to wear, what to eat, and as much as we think we are rebels (which we clearly are not) we accept the norm. Don’t let this pattern apply to where you choose to volunteer. Research each organization. If you are clueless about where to start, just simply follow these steps to ensure that you will find a trustworthy company.


  1. Question Why
    Ever have someone come up to you on the streets of Manhattan asking if you are 21 in order to sign a petition? Of course you have! If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to lie every time, awkwardly responding with, “nahhhh sorry I’m twenty”, giving your best childlike smile and breaking away. So when a disaster strikes and a number pops up on the screen demanding your donation, put down your phone. Don’t you dare text a dollar amount to that number without researching first. Ask yourself, why? Why should I donate to you? Many people each year become victims to unreliable companies. Last summer CNN teamed up with the Tampa Bay Times in order to investigate “America’s Worst Charities”, charities that waste a huge percentage of their donations on wages and solicitors. During this investigation they discovered that many people were donating to the Kids Wish Network. At first glance you might think, “oh yes I heard of this, they send children to Disney blah blah”- No! That is Make-A-Wish Foundation. Many companies similar to the Kid Wish Network camouflage their name and purpose in order to sound identical to a more popular organization. After CNN posted this article many people who had donated to the Kids Wish Network started retaliating against the group. In the study, CNN realized that the Kids Wish Network only donated 3 cents of every dollar to the cause. This means that when you donate, only 3 percent of your donation goes toward helping children. Which leads me to the next tip.
  2. Question How Much
    When working with an organization you should know where your money is going. Don’t settle for a roundabout answer. Investigate the details of your contribution. Charity Navigator is a company created to assist with this issue. You are able to search for an organization, leaf through the charts and facts to find out where every cent of your donation goes. It even displays feedback from people who have donated to the specific cause and their experience with the company.
  3. Question How Often
    As important as it is to investigate the percentages, sometimes it is just as essential to watch how consistent a company is.  For example, the Red Cross gives about 90% of the donation towards their purpose, but they are not always consistent. After 9/11, the Red Cross was getting backlash from many contributors because the people realized that only one third of their donations were used for the victims in New York. Because of this backlash, the Red Cross made the decision in November 2011 to donate the whole amount to the cause. The issue with donating is, as a contributor you don’t always know what your money is specifically going to, but the positive note, in the Red Cross’ instance, is that the company is so large that it is always under close watch. In order to help eliminate this problem you can donate to specific companies that are based on a fixed amount or product.  For example, the popular One for One program with Toms or the $7 fixed donation at Sevenly. Most people have heard of Toms, but honestly, how many shoes do you need? Sevenly is an organization that sponsors different causes each week. They design t-shirts and posters for customers to grab, and with every purchase you make $7 is donated to the cause. Whether you spend $10 or $35, seven dollars is always donated.


If you can't decide on a style just pick a Grab Bag, 3 uniquely designed shirts from earlier causes. Select your size and the price is less than buying 2 shirts!

Obviously, it is vital to stay up-to-date with organizations and find one that fits your passion. Although we are all poor college students, we need clothes. So why not buy clothing with a purpose? Check out Sevenly today or sign up for weekly updates and support an organization that matches your passion! Remember, before you reach for your cash, debit card, or sign in to your PayPal account, ask “Why? How much? And How Often?”

Click here to learn about Sevenly and change up your wardrobe


Oh and I forgot to ask, where do YOU like to donate?


Samantha Bringas

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2 Broke Girls: Solidifying Racial Stereotypes

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, the nationally-syndicated show on CBS, 2 Broke Girls, manages to transcend the thin line that constitutes political correctness. It wholeheartedly—for cheap laughs, nonetheless—embraces ethnic stereotypes and sexism and, by doing so, further solidifies it in the audience’s consciousness.

King was in a heated debate with the show’s creators in a panel discussion about the racial and sexual overtones used throughout the show:

“The big story about race on our show is that so many are represented,” King said. “The cast is not only multi‑ethnic, including the regulars and the guest stars, but it’s also incredibly not ageist. We represent what New York used to be and what is currently very much still alive in Williamsburg, which is a melting pot.”

On the show’s Asian character, Han Lee, King said:

“I like Han. I like his character. I like the fact he’s an immigrant. I like that he’s trying to fit into America. I like the fact in the last three episodes we haven’t made an Asian joke, we’ve only made short jokes … Would you say the ‘blonde rich bitch’ is a stereotype? Would you say that the tough‑ass, dark, sarcastic‑mouthed waitress is a stereotype? I like all of them.”

King uses his sexuality to try to defend his use of stereotypes, saying, “I’m gay! I’m putting in gay stereotypes every week. I don’t find any of it offensive, any of it. I find it comic to take everybody down.”

King conveniently forgets, however, that Asian stereotypes were extremely hateful up until the 1960s, when both black Americans and Asian Americans were finally given the right to vote and participate in civic duties.

There were a string of riots against the Chinese in the early and late 19th century by Americans. In Los Angeles in 1871, seventeen Chinese were massacred in broad view of public eyes. In fact, the public enthusiastically took up violence along with the perpetrators. “Hang them!” was a common phrase exclaimed by the bystanders and “as the Chinese were hauled up, a man on a porch roof danced a jig and gave voice to the resentment many Americans felt over the Chinese willingness to work for low wages. ‘Come on, boys, patronize home trade,’ the man sang out.” Seventeen Chinese men were lynched in front of men, women, and children. (Scharf, J. Thomas, “The Farce of the Chinese Exclusion Acts,” The North American Review. Jan. 1898. Volume 166, Issue 494, pp. 85-98.)

I’m surprised that the show doesn’t have Lee wear some “traditional” Asian attire and have him speak in a farcical “Chinese” language to further drive him from the realm of the American. When King says, “I like the fact in the last three episodes we haven’t made an Asian joke, we’ve only made short jokes,” he means, Asians are short, so we’re going to run with that. The New Yorker called the show  “so racist it is less offensive than baffling.”

Look at successful comedies out on television now: How I Met Your Mother pokes fun at contemporary social life with complex characters (Barney Stinson is an enigma), New Girl shows character-layering while still allowing Zooey Deschanel be her bubbly self, Modern Family portrays all likable characters who, although they may follow some stereotypes, are able to present complexity, and the cast of the long-cancelled Arrested Development consists of diverse characters all with their own specific personalities, not just a quick scheme to establish what’s already known in our collective consciousness.

Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter probably put it best:

“Every time Han gets to say something on 2 Broke Girls, the undercurrent is that it’s funny because it’s broken English. Plus he’s really short and geeky and non-sexual (there may have been other stereotypes to plop on top of him, but maybe creators Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King thought too much was enough, which would certainly stick with the general theme of the show). In any case, what CBS is doing every Monday night is trotting out one of the most regressive and stunning racist devices a network has produced in five or more seasons.”

King does admit that he wants to flesh out the supporting characters, but that’s what stereotypes create—one-dimensional figures for the sake of cheap, unwitty and predictable laughs. Count the number of times you hear the laugh track played throughout the show—you’ll understand what I mean.

I’m surprised the show hasn’t ended up yet as two broke writers. Michael Imato and Michael Anderson call the show “creatively bankrupt” and “just bloody awful.” I also found a comment on Grantland to be very poignant:



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Think About The Big Picture | Victoria Rossi: A Photographer in Motion

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Growing up, I thought the only combo better than peanut butter and jelly was a pen and paper. I have always had an affinity for writing and using it as a tool and an art form. However, I didn’t see my writing as a talent until I started writing poetry, performing in open mics, and participating in talent shows. Once I discovered my immense passion for poetry, I knew I had to reach out and get others involved in their own talents. When I first started writing, I saw poetry as my salvation. It introduced me to new people, new experiences, and taught me that life exists beyond the L train. This post is about how you can use your talent to help others see that their life can change, as well as how to use your talent to help your community.

Looking for people with the same affinity for using their talents to help others, I found Victoria (also known as Vee) Rossi, a 20 year-old photographer/college student.

“I started doing photography after my aunt passed away my senior year of high school. She used to own a photo lab in Barrington, Rhode Island and was the relative who always had her hand attached the camera at any family function. She loved looking through pictures, collecting pictures, taking pictures, and I guess I picked that up from her after she passed away, sort of paying homage to her. I do photography because I love creating things and I especially love creating images and having the capability of manipulating emotions and making people feel one way or another or see something or realize what they haven’t seen. Some of my favorite things or people to photograph are the dancers in my mom’s dance studio in Cranston, Rhode Island. Not only are they brilliantly talented but they’re willing to push limits photographically and also in the areas of dance. It’s always nice to photograph them also because they’re so eager to create something beautiful. I help them and they help me. I also will go to the dance competitions and photograph them while they’re in their prime competing because that’s when you really see the intensity. I not only see photography as an emotional outlet, but also as a possibility to make a career. They always say that you should do something that you love and something that makes you happy, and I think that I may have found that for me.”

Here are some recent photos Victoria has taken of her mother’s students:


Victoria has also done shoots for her school, Simmons College, and some of their drama productions including The Vagina Monologues. From first position to on pointe, the dancers and their art are captured via Victoria’s own art.


Check out Victoria and her Facebook Page and Photography Blog

Now that you’ve seen how Victoria gives back to her community, here are some ways that you can help your community with your talents:


Host an Art Show:

If you are an artist, painter, sculptor, metalworker, etc., go to your local YMCA, community center, or even a friend’s back yard and host an art show. You can sell your art by donation or fixed prices, or you can even just have your art on show for viewing and charge a small admission fee. Then, the proceeds can go to your local YMCA, city program, etc.

Have an Open Mic:

Taking the same idea as the art show, you can find a space to have poets, singers, musicians, and even actors come and perform. You can sell drinks or charge a small admission fee and raise money that way.

Get some friends, and direct a small play in the neighborhood:

Gather your actor, musician, dancer friends, and host a play or opera, or even a concert!

Is a local business or store you frequent looking a little dusty?:

If you have a way with the paintbrushes or even organizing, offer your services in exchange for promotion of your talent!

All of these are inexpensive and help in many ways. They help you meet more talented people, polish skills as well as gain new ones, and most importantly, they help the community.

Now that you’ve read about how to get involved, go out and do it! Here’s a great coupon for art supplies! Click HERE for a printable version!

Joanne, Simmons College ’15. Read my personal blog!

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