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Reflections on Values Day

What Do You Value?

By Kalee Ball

The need for Values Day arose when the university felt the need to "increase awareness and understanding of Stetson University's core values" (www.stetson.edu). These values are personal growth, intellectual development, and global citizenship. By having a day set aside to learn about these values, the Values Commitment Steering Team hopes to create more well-rounded students--a quality that Stetson University is known for. Since I'm a freshman, Values Day 2013 was the first one I attended. It was a truly eye-opening and inspirational experience. I attended three seminars: Life is an Adventure, Learning from Maya Values, and Positive Global Change for All. Because they all focused on different aspects of Stetson's core values, I feel that I am leaving Values Day as a more rounded and learned individual. Not only that, but Values Day also caused me to feel connected to my classmates; in such a way that after these workshops we would all leave with the intention of becoming better global citizens.

Life is an Adventure was given by James Kelly and Colleen Price, who both work in Wellness and Recreation. They were both loud, talkative individuals whose specialty is adventure education, which is the encouragement of learning through adventure-centered experiences. Through the experience of risky situations, one can learn to build trust, teamwork, communication, critical thinking, leadership, empathy, and so much more. Learning about adventure education has caused me to learn that taking risks is necessary for a wholesome life. Without the ability to do this, few personal goals would be accomplished.

Robert Sitler, the man responsible for Values Day, gave a seminar on Learning from Maya Values. He found his passion for Mayan culture when first visiting Ch'ol villagers in Chiapas, Mexico. From then on, he has studied Mayan culture and published several works on them. During the seminar, Sitler talked rapidly, as if he couldn't wait to share the knowledge he had found. It seemed as if he could go on forever, talking about all the great and wonderful things found only in Mayan culture. He seemed to be one of them, inserting Mayan words into his diction, having to remind himself to tell us their meaning, and calling every person pictured in his power point "a close friend." The presentation was purely authentic. It caused me to be more aware of my surroundings and of other cultures. Sitler was also extremely inspirational, causing me to want to find something, anything, that I could be just as passionate about. He made me want to share my knowledge with the world, so that maybe, I too, could inspire someone as much as he inspired me.

In Positive Global Change for All, a workshop given by Ana Maia and Nate Burke, the problem of social justice elitism was addressed. Most of us are unaware of this epidemic, including myself. It is the belief that some individuals who form an elite and specialize in social justice training, are those whose influence is greater than others. In order to create positive global change, we must learn to recognize our own and others' elitism. After this step comes this ability to embrace different journeys toward social justice activism. Through this acceptance, it is possible to form a smoothly operating team that fights social injustice.

Experiencing, not attending, all of these workshops has inspired me to, as a true Hatter, dare to be significant. I want to become the best that I can be and create positive global change. Values Day gave me knowledge on not only how to improve myself, but also how to improve my world. Bigger houses can't be built without strong foundations. I can contribute to a stronger foundation by spreading these ideas. Values Day is a grassroots movement that can be spread simply with one question: what do you value?

Values Day explored ‘Post Racial' world

By Maurie Murray

Stetson University's Values Day emphasized current moral and ethical issues regarding race in the session on "Confronting and Exploring Racism in the ‘Post Racial' World." The ALANA-IA faculty presented the discussion concerning implicit bias towards people of different races and ethnicities.

The workshop was the longest session of the day, lasting from 1-3:50 p.m., and was held in the Stetson Room at the CUB. Faculty members and students discussed the effects of implicit bias and prejudice towards people of color in contemporary American society.

Anthropology professor Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, Ph.D., posed the question, "What does it mean to claim membership in a post-racial society?"

The discussion centered on whether or not America is truly living in a society free of prejudices and racial hierarchy. The ALANA-IA faculty facilitated the discussion with their opening statements concerning their own views and experiences with implicit bias and racism.

"We're looking at various conditions, and we're finding something beautiful," stated philosophy professor John Rust, Ph.D., on the importance of diversity.

During the second session, students were asked to take Harvard's Implicit Association Test on race online.

"Members of the ALANA-IA faculty caucus invited students to take an online survey which tested for implicit racial bias," Rust stated. "This was a courageous thing for our students to do, especially when the test revealed the presence of less than flattering racial bias."

Afterwards, philosophy and gender studies professor Susan Peppers-Bates, Ph.D., discussed the implication of implicit biases. Students held discussions with faculty members concerning their results on the test and their opinions on presuming characteristic qualities based on skin color.

Values Day serves to increase awareness of core values, including personal and social responsibility. For Rust and the Stetson community, opening an honest and in-depth dialogue on race contributes to understanding these values.

"Stetson's values are most on display, not when they are fodder for self-righteousness, but when they make us a little uncomfortable and so, hopefully, a little less complacent."

Values in Art

By Courtney Allbee

The part of Values Day that interested me most were the art exhibits at the Hand Art Center. Being a former art major, I thoroughly enjoyed looking at art pieces. The Hand Art Center had a variety of different mediums that were both visual and interactive, which made the experience a lot more engaging and exciting.

One of the exhibits included a series that incorporated jack-in-the-boxes. The first piece of this series immediately catches the viewer's eye the second you walk in. The piece consists of a large, white ceramic clown sitting criss-cross on the ground with a jack-in-the-box on its lap. Inside the jack-in-the-box, there is a variety of bluish-grey, glazed ceramic birds coming out of the box in a huge flock. These birds are shown flying away from the clown, through a window, out into the open. I interpreted this piece as a symbolic representation of fear and evil. The clown seemed to represent some type of evil character, judging by the flock of birds that appears to be escaping from the clown's presence. Displayed throughout the Hand Art Center was a variety of ceramic/mixed media jack-in-the-box pieces to go along with this series. Each of the jack-in-the-box pieces included random objects and body parts coming out of the box, giving it an abstract style, while also allowing the viewer to interpret each piece differently.

The other exhibit that interested me was the digital arts series. One in the series included six flat-screen TVs lined up horizontally, each displaying a looped clip from a first-person shooter video game. The idea of these clips was to eliminate the narrative content of the video game and allow the viewer to interpret and reflect on the violence of each clip. Another part of this exhibit that I found interesting was a small, square-shaped dark room with red curtains. This room was able to fit only one person. Inside this small room was a large flat-screen TV that displayed the inside of a large, mysterious building. There were also buttons that functioned as a way to move around the building and view each of the rooms. As you would enter each room, an ominous, dark voice would describe a scenario that the viewer would imagine was happening in that very room. The stories being told were very dark and sexual, which I found a little strange and uncomfortable. Although I found the stories a bit odd, this art exhibit was very hands-on and interactive and made me picture the stories being told, constantly keeping me engaged. The weird quality of the narration actually grabbed my attention and peeked my curiosity to hear more of the stories, which could have been the artist's intentions.

In all, the Hand Art Center was my favorite part of Values Day because it had a lot of interesting visuals to offer and digital arts pieces that I was actually able to play with. The audience was forbidden to touch most of the art pieces, but the viewers were able to get involved in this particular digital exhibit, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Close-Mindedness of Racism

By George Salis

One of the more interesting events I attended at Stetson's Values Day was Elisabeth Poeter's "African and German? What an interesting mixture." Looking at Racism in Contemporary Germany. The event focused on the core value of intellectual development; for, as we should know, racism is born from a lack of education and of an awareness of other cultures. In short, it is the product of a closed mind.

With Poeter's extensive knowledge of German history and society, she presented the case for a specific problem that is far-reaching: racism and xenophobia of Afro-Germans. Afro-Germans are dark-colored German citizens with familial connections to Africa.

In contemporary Germany, terms used against Afro-Germans, such as besatzungskinder (brown babies) or mischling (half-breed), demonstrate the mental inability for racist Germans to understand that one can be both German and African, and that the idea of a "pure-blood race" is scientifically unfounded—it is the delusion of pseudoscience.

Poeter sparked thought and discussion through interesting art mediums such as poetry and film. The title of the presentation was taken from a poem by May Ayim, which addresses the stereotypical thoughts of a German racist. As Poeter explains, literature from the 18-20th century largely portrayed or described Afro-Germans as savages, sexual predators, immature, uncivilized, and (ironically) uneducated.

The lecture and discussion ended with the short film Schwarzfahrer (Black Rider). It depicts a German spilling the poisonous discourse of racism while a dark-colored German sits next to her on the bus. Throughout, the Afro-German eats his snack and ignores her, until the time comes for tickets to be shown to the bus attendant. As the racist ceases to close her mouth (but not her mind), he quickly takes the ticket from her hand and eats it. No one decides to say anything in defense of the racist as the bus attendant fails to believe her ridiculous accusation (as ridiculous as her racism) that the "animal ate her ticket." She is promptly and embarrassingly escorted off the bus.

As it has been said, the first step to solving a problem is to know and admit it exists. From that, education can begin to stifle the illiteracy, the close-mindedness, the uncultured nature of racism and xenophobia.

Having Fun While Learning- A Snippet from a Stetson Values Day

By Viviana Vasiu

Forget about learning being something that has to do only with textbooks, hard exams and sleepless nights.

Consider learning re-loaded. In other words, there's fun in learning and learning in fun.

Say what?

Yes, that's what Stetson is about, and Adventure Education is just the thing to get you started.

Adventure Education is a component of the Stetson Wellness Center and focuses on developing all the values in you that Stetson prizes, such as intellectual development and social engagement.

As you probably know, Stetson moves beyond the typical four-wall classroom setting and takes the learning outside. It's an education without boundaries. That is precisely what the Adventure Education Stetson Values Day workshop emphasized.

Let me introduce you to the seven essential steps for Adventure Education: icebreakers; dehibitors; communication, problem-solving, and trust activities; low and then high elements.

To show everyone how this Adventure Education works, we actually DID an activity called Aliens. We all had to close our eyes and not speak at all. The speakers would then gently tap some people to be aliens. After that, we would have to walk around the Rinker Lecture Hall and see who winked at us. The wink person would be one of the aliens, and after 15 seconds, we had to scream "Oh, no!" and go back to our seats. Another rule of the game was that when somebody wanted to de-mask the alien another person had to corroborate the person's claim. In the end, some were caught, and some became aliens.

You are probably thinking…how would this game make us learn anything? Look at it this way: we went through an experience.

Then, we reflected upon it and realized how much we trust or don't trust people, how we can strategize to protect ourselves or find the main culprits, and how we can bond and be members of a team for the same purposes.

In the end, we bonded, laughed and realized more about ourselves regarding trust issues. In this regard, we began to understand how sometimes people do not have our own best interests at heart while also realizing how we test a person's credibility. This cycle is more formally known as experience leads to reflection leads to generalizations, which ultimately leads to translation.

So, go out there, have fun, take strategic risks and learn. Be social, get those interpersonal skills, be a good leader and team member, and remember the most important thing: LIFE IS A JOURNEY.

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