Atlas Magazine: The Bold Issue

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Editor-in-Chief: Allie DiGennaro Managing Editor: Shafaq Patel Creative Director: Emma Cox CREATIVE Creative Team: Somari Davis, Grace Cosgrove, Tripp Rams Design Director: Kristen Cawog Designer: Grace Cosgrove Fashion Director: Elise Sanchez Stylist: Brynn Rhodes Art Director: Micaela Dix Art Team: Natasha Arnowitz, Olivia Kelliher CITY Editor: Grace Griffin Writes: Diti Kohli, Andrea Williams, Dani Ducharme CAMPUS Editor: Hannah Ebanks Writers: Kerry Bates, Abigail Amato, Jennifer Petrilli GLOBE Editor: Carly Thompson Writers: Lily Hartman, Harriette Chan, Stafania Lugli HEALTH Editor: Monica Petrucci Writers: Dana Gerber, Abigail Michaud STYLE Editor: Lily Bump Writers: Abbrianna MacGregor, Morgaine Mcilhargey, Megan Ellis, Allison Hoag PHOTO Director: Stella Drews-Sheldon Photographers: Diana Troper, Jonah Higaonna, Cameron Kingdon, Estefania Martinez MARKETING Director: Victoria D’angelo Staff: Emily Mcmann, Megan Ellis, Diana Troper, Molly Goodrich COPYEDITING Head: Anna Moon Editors: Amanda O’Connor, Kyle Eber, Abigail Michaud, Abigaol Amato BLOG Editor: Victoria Stuewe Bloggers: Emma Goodwin, Lily Doolin, Emily Cardona, Zenebou Sylla, Caler Martin (photo) 2


PAGE 6 By Stefania Lugli




By Harriette Chan



By Abigail Amato


A profile on Emerson students Alyssa DeVries and Anna Dannecker

PAGE 14 By Kerry Bates

PAGE 16 By Jennifer Petrilli


By Morgaine McIlhargey



By Megan Ellis

Cover: Eileen Polat photographed by Stella Drews-Sheldon, Makeup by Lexi Leap Bold | 3

Shafaq Patel Pakistani American

Tianya Guo Chinese

Photo by Stella Drews- Sheldon

GLOBE Ximena Delgado Mexican

Kristen Cawog Palestinian / Syrian American Nik Olak Ukranian

Photo by Diana Troper

SURVIVING THE CUT. THEN LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST IT. By Stefania Lugli Trigger Warning: this article contains detailed accounts of female genital mutilation, please be advised. Mariya Taher considers herself a survivor. Her family used to fly to India from California every other year to visit relatives. One summer, when she was seven years old, she visited a stranger’s apartment in India with her mother and aunt. Inside, her dress was lifted, her underwear was pulled down, and she felt a sharp sensation on her genitals. Taher was cut. She is a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC), commonly referred to as female genital mutilation. “Mutilation has a connotation of intent of harm,” Taher, 36, says in an interview, sitting in a cramped cafe in Cambridge years after her experience. “People aren’t intending to harm. It was what was called a social norm so it was justified.” She adds that while she tends to use FGC as a neutralizing term, she repeats what ever term the community she’s working with uses. “It was something I grew up with. It was normal. I never questioned it,” Taher says. FGC, a practice defined by the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non medical or traditional reasons, is an act of gender-based violence with a global prevalence in every continent. The act is classified into four major types, including lacerations to the clitorius, the labia minoria, the sealing of the vaginal opening, and all other harmful procedures (pricking, piercing, cauterizing, etc). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 200 million girls and women have been or will be subjected to forms of FGC, with another estimated three million girls at risk of undergoing the practice every year. “When you research it, you get these certain figures, but you don’t really recognize how prevalent it is,” Taher says. “That data only includes thirty countries around the world. There’s probably a much higher number. It’s an underrepresentation.” For example: Taher, born in the United States, is not counted within the WHO’s estimation. FGC, a manifestation of gender inequality, has been defended with claims of perceived social benefit, such as a boost in femininity, neutralizing a woman’s sexuality, or as a form of religious upkeep. While no documented evidence of the Quran, Bible, or Torah permitting or endorsing FGC exists, many religious leaders and followers defend the act as a form of allowed religious maintenance. The defense of religion then gets exploited, leaving women who have the option to opt out of the practice refuse to out of fear of stigmatization and community rejection. For Taher’s family, it was the religious thing to do. She grew up in a small Islamic sect named Dwaoodi Bohra based out of Mumbai, India. This Muslim community includes roughly two million followers worldwide. “It’s a very small minority community,” Taher says. She referenced a 2017 case when a U.S. doctor, also from the Dawoodi Bohra community, was discovered to be secretly performing FGC on young girls in Michigan.


“The U.S. case just really shows that [FGC] is a global issue,” she says. “The kids that it was happening to were born here. There’s all these misconceptions that are being broken.” After growing up into the realization that she was violated, and indeed, a survivor, she turned to storytelling as an outlet for advocacy. She is considered an expert on FGC, has been awarded several accolades, and currently works with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association (MWBA) to legally criminalize FGC within the state. Taher also co-founded a nonprofit with four other women one of them also a survivor of FGC, to engage communities on the practice. The organization, named Sahiyo, strives to empower Asian communities to end FGC and create positive social change through dialogue and collaboration, according to the website’s mission. “We use storytelling methods to bring dialogue and discussion to communities. Our definition of storytelling is pretty broad,” Taher says. Amongst the founders are a writer, a journalist, and two documentarians. Part of the difficulty of eradicating FGC, as Taher states, is how deeply entrenched the practice is in tradition. “Some people don’t want to be identified as a victim. The fact is, generally it’s happening to young girls who aren’t old enough to consent and have no idea what is happening to them,” Taher says. “In any other context, removing genitalia would be considered child abuse. Some [girls] are very traumatized by it, some are not. There’s a range of psychological, emotional, and physical consequences to it.” Survivorship may feel like wearing a target on one’s back, trying to retreat from trauma while also weighted by the stigma attached to it. Taher, despite following every instinct to remain respectful to her childhood community, has suffered the consequences of being an outspoken survivor. “My family gets affected by it. My parents are part of the [Dwaoodi Bohra] community, and so they’ve gotten talked to and taunted and things like that,” Taher says. “‘There might be trouble for you because of the things your daughter is doing...’ I’ve heard other things with relatives that they’ve been warned and things like that. That pisses me off.” Besides the threats, a campaign opposing Taher and the nonprofit Sahiyo’s advocacy has emerged on Instagram. Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom (DBWRF) operate an active social media presence, using sophisticated graphics to resist against the idea of FGC harming girls and women. One post, showing a line drawing of a Muslim woman, has #SahiyoIsNotMyVoice scribbled underneath the feet. Taher glanced downwards towards the table when discussing DBWRF. Her frustration, shown by furrowed eyebrows, was obvious. Her cousin, a close childhood friend, was a follower of the organization and hasn’t spoken to Taher in years.

“For me, it’s a little bit of human nature. No one wants to be seen as a monster. I think that’s what it is. A lot of people are like, ‘Well, it didn’t harm me, so how could it be wrong? You’re making it out to seem like it’s this terrible thing but you’re lying,’” Taher says. The Dawoodi Bohra sect practice the least severe form of FGC, according to Taher. “A lot of the opposition is distinguishing between it. A lot of [supporters of FGC] are saying ‘Oh the most severe form … that’s mutilation. That shouldn’t be done. But what we’re doing is fine, it’s not harmful.” Taher said she believes the distortion of reality is a commonality in gendered violence, referencing both the #MeToo era and the Judge Brett Kavanaugh trial last year. However, survivors can not be pushed into a situation where they could feel uncomfortable and then refuse to share their stories. Taher encourages the survivors she encounters to think about the consequences of FGC. “That’s when social norms change. When people start realizing. Allow survivors to tell their stories, but in a way that gives them agency,” Taher says. But, flipping of the issue continues. Taher has been accused of ruining the reputation of the Dawoodi Bohra community, with members angered at the idea that they would ever deliberately harm their own children by FGC. “There are times where I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and I think, ‘Is it worth it? Is it not?’ I have self-doubt. Yeah it’s hard. At times I can’t really separate from that because I do have this personal connection,” Taher says. Her hesitation has not prevented her from testifying. Taher continues to work closely with the MWBA as the association prioritizes the criminalization of FGC. A FGC bill was presented in January for the third consecutive legislative session in a row, after failing to move into a floor vote twice before. At a legislative breakfast hosted by MWBA, Marian Ryan, the Middlesex District Attorney, spoke before a crowd of state senate interns and city attorneys. “All of us here get a little bit uncomfortable when we start talking about the actual details of what happens,” Ryan says. The bill states that offenders, including those who commit FGM on a child or takes a child outside the state to commit FGM, face a punishment of a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum sentence of ten years in state prison.

Other guidelines of the bill include the administration of an educational program for prevention and outreach in communities with FGM prevalence, training medical professionals to recognize FGM risk factors or signs of a victim, and allowing an individual to pursue civil action 10 years after the plaintiff turns 18. “There are 14,591 women in the state who either have had this practice committed on them or are at risk of having it committed,” Ryan said in her speech. “The majority of them don’t live in some place far away. They live in two towns in my district: Cambridge and Newton. And in Boston.” For Taher, it is a small step forward for eradicating FGC. When prompted what eradication is defined as to her, she spoke firmly. “It means ending all forms, regardless of type. Or the cut. Or the extensiveness.” At least 200 million girls and women are walking as survivors. Mariya is bold enough to eliminate what made her one.

Art by Somari Davis

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: DATING AROUND THE WORLD There’s no standing on a balcony and calling down to your Romeo in American dating culture. In this country, we rely on “casual dating” through matching websites and dating apps for quick hookups or flings. It’s common to plan a date with someone that you meet at a bar or over a social media app, such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. Since people in this country often struggle to communicate face to face, they often rely on liquid courage or messaging someone on social media to make their first move. These are common ways to start a relationship in the US. First dates in America are usually casual and will often occur in places such as a coffee shop or a small restaurant. n his dating blog WOOSA, Ethan Hunts writes in his post, “How is USA Dating Different from Other Countries,” that most first dates in America are set up like an interview. The couple usually exchanges information about themselves, such as what they do for work, where they grew up, where they live, and what their hobbies are. Men are also expected to pay, although woman will sometimes offer to get the bill. Gender has always played a major role in American dating, since men usually dominate the bill, conversations, and first moves, although I know of many girls who have asked the guy out first. Bumble has made this much easier for girls to do so, which is a dating app similar to Tinder, only the girls message first. So, how long do couples in America wait to take their clothes off? “10 Countries Around the World and their unwritten Dating Habits,” an article on the dating website Jaumo claims that when it comes to sex, Americans will follow the “three date rule,” usually knowing after if they want to continue the relationship. Although, there are many others that still choose to wait until marriage before having sex with someone in the US. The dating culture in other countries is quite different than America’s, and such norms may come as a shock to American daters. England takes dating a little more seriously than those in the US. People here don’t go scouting for a significant other, nor are they likely to date someone that they don’t know. Many people meet their partner in places among their daily routines, which could be at work, the gym, or while grocery shopping. “The most fun place is probably at the supermarket,” says James, a 27-year-old man from London I met recently at a bar in Boston. A typical American date will not be seen in England. You won’t be projected with millions of questions because the conversations are much more relaxed. English people do not force the “getting to know each other” stage. They just see where things go on their own. “Instead of thinking, you should feel,” explains James. Unlike Americans who are allowed to date multiple people at once, Insider writer Chelsea Greenwood tells us in her article, “The 20 biggest differences between dating in the UK and the US” [3] that in England, a single date means that both people are looking for something more serious. Ironically, English people are more laid back about how long they wait to be physically intimate with someone, which could be as soon as the first date. “If you wanna do it, then do it,” says James. “I think now for people it’s not a big deal.” There is ultimately no timeline for sex in England. According to Greenwood, dates without alcohol are unheard of in England. English people seem to fancy Americans just as much we do the drinks. From a personal observation, I noticed that they are quite persistent with engaging in conversations with the people around them. Although, my friend noticed that the guys do not offer to buy girls drinks like men in America do. However, English people will most likely take you somewhere nice and order drinks on a date. According to James, it “depends how much I like her and what my intentions are.” 8

By Lily Hartman

The social norms for dating in China are very structured. Since their culture places a high value on family and careers, it isn’t shocking that they look for partners who best suite their future goals. Parents will usually push to be involved in who their children intend on marrying. “The concept of family in China is really, really important,” says Raine Pan, an international student at Emerson College from Shandong, China. Pan also claims that parents “won’t allow their children to start dating as young kids,” therefore most of their relationships do not start until they attend university. “A lot of people cannot find their ‘Mr. Rights’ in university,” Pan continued to explain. This puts a lot of pressure on people since in China, still being single in your late twenties isn’t ideal, which may lead to blind dating. “If you don’t do that, you might be regarded as a strange person.” Pan laughs as she explains how some parents will try and set their daughters up with their friend’s sons. Men are expected to make the first move when asking a girl out, and according to Pan, a typical first date is similar to the ones we see in the US, such as fancy dinners, casual walks and attending games. She also says that the partners are “not afraid to express their emotions the first time,” and will do so by bringing each other gifts. “The most common thing is flowers and lipstick,” Pan says. Dating standards in China are much higher than most other countries, which puts a lot of pressure on both people in the relationship. Charles Custer says on the digital magazine ThoughtCo in his article, “What Is Different About Dating in China?”[4], that most people in Chinese culture will be up front about the career or income they expect their partner to have. The waiting time for marriage averages around one year, according to Pan; and unlike traditional Chinese standards, Chinese women are now more involved in the workforce and not just solely on taking care of their children and husbands. “A majority of women discovered that they played a more important role in society,” Pan explains. “They would like to make a balance between family and career.” Dating norms in India are quite strict and tend to stick to traditional roles. Marriages, for example, are often set up by one’s parents. Pursuing someone on a date could likely mean that you will be married to them in 3 months to a year. “Arranged marriages are still pretty valued in terms of culture,” says Shruti Rajkumar, an American-Indian whose parents are from India. Although organized relationships are common, they are not the only option. “You can marry for love, it is an option,” Rajkumar explains. “My parents, I know they married for love.” Lori Gorshow writes in LoveToKnow article, “India Dating Traditions and Websites,”[5] that it is looked down on to have your relationship fail. This makes it difficult for Indians to date casually. “It’s not something where you can just have fun with it,” Rajkumar outlines. She describes how this may cause children to be secretive about their relationships. Her cousin who lives in India, for example, has very traditional parents. “My uncle doesn’t really want my cousin dating and she keeps it very private,” describes Rajkumar. Even Rajkumar herself did not inform her parents about her previous relationship, especially because she identifies as bisexual and did not want her parents knowing that she was dating a female. “In India they aren’t very liberal compared to the United States,” she says. According to Rajkumar, Indians also “have to be financially stable for both you and your companion.” She says that it’s important for the significant other to connect with the family and be capable of supporting their own. According to Gorshow’s article, some families value keeping many traditions alive throughout generations in their family,


By Harriette Chan

BACKGROUND: According to the United Nations, there are over 65 million refugees in the world. In 2016, the United States took in nearly 85,000 refugees. Over the past two years that number has waned and President Trump says that the US will be capping the amount of refugees taken in during 2019 at 30,000, A decrease of 15,000 persons from Trump’s 2018 refugee cap. A refugee can be defined as any person who was forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Under refugee conventions, persecution is defined as violence against a specific social group, so people can flee if they are being prosecuted for their religion, race, or sexuality and gender identity. The latter is important because there are currently seventy-two countries where homosexual relations between two consenting adults is illegal, including Uganda, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and more. For many LGBT refugees, coming to America is a chance to escape persecution and start anew. THE LGBT ASYLUM Task Force in Worcester, MA is a ministry of Hadwen Park Church which specializes in housing and offering resources for LGBTQ asylum seekers. Since the mission’s conception, they have helped about 200 asylum seekers through their various services. The church holds a community dinner once a month for asylum seekers and people interested in volunteering or learning more about the task force’s mission. Since it is open to the public, I went to one and spoke to some of the asylum seekers. There were people from all over the world at the dinner. Volunteers and asylum seekers sat around at folding tables inside the church. They were serving jerk chicken with rice and had a great apple crisp for dessert. I met a guy in a very nice striped sweater named Sal. One of the asylum seekers pointed him out to me, “Looks like a GQ model, this guy.” Sal is from Saudi Arabia and came to America as an international student. When he finished graduate school, he knew he couldn’t go back. “LGBTQ rights are nonexistent. If same sex couples were to be caught by the government while being intimate, they would face prosecution. Either beheaded, thrown in jail for a lengthy time, whiplashes, stoned to death, and sometimes they apply financial penalties as well”, he says. He continues and begins to explain the asylum seeking process to me saying,“The

first step is to secure an immigration attorney.” “Second, provide all the necessary documents to your lawyer. After that, it’s all waiting patiently, or impatiently. Some wait for over 3 years to be interviewed by an immigrant officer,” Sal says. I also met a man waiting for asylum. He asked me not to use his real name, so we’ll call him Joe. He is a film maker from Uganda. He was making a film about LGBT people in Uganda and their families. “In most cases, no family would want to associate with a gay person. They might even kill you, they don’t know what would happen,” he says. “When I was home I was doing a story, just like you. My film covers the government’s endeavors to disenfranchise the LGBT community with laws as the masses decide to take the law in their own hands with impunity.” In 2014 Uganda implemented the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that enforces a life sentence in prison for anyone that is gay or supports gay people. Over 160 LGBTQ people were victims of hate crimes in Uganda in the following months after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was signed. The bill’s signing and the subsequent violence that followed it led to hundreds of LGBT people fleeing Uganda. Joe’s films landed him in trouble with the law for LGBT activism. He came to America on a business visa a few years ago.“Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, one of

which explains Rajkumar’s point that “for the most part they want you to marry an Indian, especially if you live in India.” Although these traditions are still followed, a lot of American influences have changed expectations in India. In terms of arranged marriages, Rajkumar says that “it’s not as common as it used to be with the next generation, but it’s still culturally an accepted thing.” Although relationships based on love are more common than arranged ones nowadays, there is still an expectation of staying committed to that person entirely.

the worst countries for LGBT persons. Homophobia is at its peak with state sponsored violence against [us].” The government and police consistently raid and attack events for LGBT people. In December of 2017, Ugandan police forcibly raided and closed a queer film festival in Kampala and offered no explanation as to why. Last year, Simon Lokodo, a politician working under the Ugandan President, ordered police to shut down all Pride events, stating that, “No gay gathering and promotion can be allowed in Uganda”. As of November 2018, there are currently 809,000 pending immigration court cases in America. One of these cases is for Joe, whose future in America is completely uncertain. “Seeking asylum is also a difficult situation with so many challenges, the only good thing is that at least your life is not at risk of the angry mob, family members, etc.” Joe looks at me solemnly and says, “I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to seek asylum. When you are seeking asylum, life automatically goes into a survival mode … This jeopardizes your life, your career. As of now I am not certain of my future, but I am trying so hard to practice my film production skills.” Joe has aspirations to go to college in the states. He tells me that he wants to go to Emerson for its film program. He plans on working for a year before applying, as he just got his work permit. “You know, it’s pretty expensive”, he says.

Casually seeing someone in America is the norm, and it is never a shock if this becomes only a temporary thing, but this is not the case in Indian cultures as well as many other countries around the world. “Now she’s doing friends with benefits which here is pretty much accepted [in America]” Rajkumar says about her cousin. “If her dad found out that would be really bad.”

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Bean Vega, Aria Middlemen, Medelyn Mulreaney, Evelyn Hernandez, and Pat Adams photograohed by Jonah Higaonna Makeup by Lexi Leap and Victoria D’Angelo




Art By Natasha Arnowitz 12

WITH THE 2020 election rapidly approaching, college students find themselves at a pivotal point in their political decision making. While some remember voting for their first time in the 2016 election, others are experiencing voting in a presidential election for the first time. For some, this feels like a hefty and daunting responsibility, while others embrace their ability to make decisions regarding their country. Here at Emerson, students have ample opportunity to get involved. Along with the Political Communications major and minor, students from any department have access to a range of organizations and off-campus opportunities to immerse themselves in political activism. David Fadul, a junior political communications major, is an Emerson Polling Society Ambassador. Although he remembers voting in the 2016 election, he believes there is more his generation can do this time around. “The detriment of our generation is we idolize the presidency to the point where we view the president as the end-all-be-all, when in reality it’s a constant fight,” Fadul said. He cites former President Obama and the Democrats’ complacency following his victory that resulted the the Republicans flipping the House of Representatives as an example of the dangers of a false sense of security. “Our generation sees one victory as enough when politics is a constant fight, a constant pressure that you have to apply,” he says. Fadul, a self-described “strong progressive,” thinks that Bernie Sanders, who formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination in February, aligns best with his personal viewpoints. While he sees the diversity in the candidates so far as an overall positive thing, he does not believe that that is the most important indication of a good nominee. He believes it is instead important to focus on policies. “We should focus on what they’re actually going to do for the marginalized communities [they represent],” he says. Fadul hopes that whoever wins understands the importance of engaging people, particularly young people in politics, as he feels Sanders does. “I hope whoever wins the primaries understands that they need to form a coalition and keep that coalition engaged through constant contact and outreach.” Even with new candidates appearing seemingly one right after the other, some students feel that they need more time and that it’s too early to decide who they’ll be voting for. Samantha Kelley, a senior marketing major, has been working at Elizabeth Warren’s office in Boston since before Warren launched her campaign. Kelley provides constituent services specifically for the people of Massachusetts within Warren’s office. Despite working closely with much of Warren’s staff, Kelley says that she hasn’t yet come close to reaching a final decision on whom she will be voting for. “I like to think of [my political views] as my personal view and then what I think as an analyst,” Kelley said. “I think it’s important to sometimes to separate yourself from your personal views to think about politics. I think that’s how some people get too caught up in it.”

Kelley says that her plans for moving into campaigning are still up in the air. “Going into campaign stuff, I think more people are walking on eggshells just because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “Iowa and New Hampshire are a year from now.” Kelley feels that this election is important to young people as more of them step into the spotlight to voice their concerns for their future. “If you get pressure built up on things that we care about and issues that will affect us and our children,future generations, things like healthcare and the environment, things that are immediate, people like us need to get involved.” With a lot of focus on Democratic candidates, some attention should be directed to the Republican Party and its supporters. At Emerson, sophomore Political Communications major Allison Payne has recently reinstated the Emerson chapter of the College Republicans, a national organization with chapters across the country. Payne describes herself as a “moderate Republican with the understanding that in order to get anything done, Democrats and Republicans have to work together.” She has experience working across party lines, formerly working for a Democrat and now working as an intern in the press office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who has also been described as a moderate Republican. The College Republicans have the ability as an organization to endorse candidates for 2020, both locally and nationally. Payne sees any actual campaigning through the club starting early next year, as the club works to get off the ground here at Emerson. Payne personally plans on supporting whoever best represents the Republican Party, though she is unsure what that looks like right now. “I support someone who’s going to do, not necessarily what’s right for the party, but right for the country, and if that means voting for a Democrat, then I’ll vote for a Democrat,” Payne says. “It comes down to policy and character and who I believe best represents my political views.” Though she’s uncertain now who she will be voting for in the election, she feels strongly about many of the core Republican beliefs, such as keeping government small, as well as keeping the economy deregulated. Payne also feels that college students should practice getting involved in politics as early as they can. “I don’t think that students realize how much power they have with their vote. I think our vote as college students matters more than we think because there’s a ton of us,” Payne said. “I think starting right now and practicing your right to vote and getting involved in politics is so good.” In a time of extreme political divisiveness, the younger generations know that now is as important a time as ever to get involved. They’ve proved they could do it before, with the 2018 midterm election resulting in a record-breaking youth voter turnout. Arguably, the most important thing for anyone to avoid in the coming election season would be complacency. Actively immersing themselves in the issues that affect their day-to-day lives is something that each first-time and veteran voter alike could carry with them into the polling booths in 2020.

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MOVING TO A NEW, unfamiliar place can be daunting, but imagine traveling 7,286 miles away from home to live in a completely different country. That is a reality for Emerson freshman international student, Liza Xiao, who is a part of the 16 percent of international students that make up Emerson’s student body. Xiao is from Shanghai, China. Because the communist government keeps a strong control over everything, Xiao says that people generally avoid talking about politics or speaking up about issues. “In our culture, silence is valued. If you don’t agree with someone, remaining silent is something good,” Xiao explains. For all of her life in Shanghai, Xiao had to endure this censorship. When she chose to come to Emerson, she was happy that she was able to discover a new freedom and way of life. Boston is a liberal city, a trait that Xiao knew she would enjoy. The cultural atmosphere back in Shanghai was drastically different and Xiao believes Emerson provides a sense of freedom in contrast to living in Shanghai. Xiao immersed herself in Emerson’s culture with relative ease, but there were still challenges. “I do feel kind of left out, especially in classes where I’m the only person of color. It’s kind of intimidating,” Xiao says. She also worried that it would be hard to make friends due to these contrasting cultures. However, Xiao quickly became close with her suitemates, who gladly brought her into their friend group. Xiao’s friends helped her to feel comfortable during this transition by answering questions she had or showing her around Boston. She was excited about the new opportunities that Emerson provided. One of these prospects that she didn’t have back home is getting involved in clubs and volunteer work. With her newfound freedom, Xiao joined Emerson’s Student Government Association as the service learning commissioner. The SGA has monthly commissioner councils in which commissioners, each in charge of different parts of student life, meet with the Executive President, Jess Guida, to discuss problems within the community and brainstorm solutions. Xiao’s title allows her to communicate between organizations dedicated to community service and the SGA, then relay any issues on campus that students tell her about. “I’m just sort of using my position as a platform so people will open up and tell me about their concerns,” Xiao says. Xiao feels engaged with the community through SGA because she is able to make changes and address conflicts, something she wouldn’t be able to do in Shanghai. As the service learning commissioner, she has been working on finding organizations dedicated to community service. 14

However, Xiao came to the realization that Emerson doesn’t offer any clubs focused on community service. This is when she decided she would start one. With the help of her friend and President of the organization, Eryn McCallum, the pair decided to start a Circle K chapter at Emerson. Circle K is the college level service leadership organization sponsored by Kiwanis International, a global community of service clubs, and Xiao serves as the vice president. With McCallum, Xiao is working on reaching out to volunteer organizations. “We want to do the Greater Boston Food Bank and maybe go to St. Francis House. We’ll just start small for now and hype it up a little bit next semester,” McCallum explains. The team wants to share and express their passion for community service through starting this new Circle K chapter. “I want to use Circle K to gather all the Emerson students who are interested in this kind of work so we can do it as a group,” Xiao says. Xiao and McCallum are working together to share their love of community service and what it means to give back to people in need. “It’s more about wanting to give back to communities that we have probably been taking from for a very long time,” McCallum says. Organizations like this are especially important to Xiao since she wasn’t able to address these community problems back in Shanghai. In Boston, Xiao is able to raise her concerns to the SGA and other organizations so people can actually work on those issues. “It’s a way for me to be really engaged within the community and actually make changes to the community. It’s something that I never had the opportunity to do,” Xiao says. When she sees the positive changes on campus, it reminds her of why she joined these organizations. Although Xiao was thrown into a new environment at Emerson, she now has the freedom to voice her concerns and get involved in the community without the same restrictions of Shanghai. The more that Xiao was immersed in Emerson culture, the more she realized the opportunities Emerson presented and that this was the place she belonged.

Photo by Diana Troper

Kerry Bates interviewed Ruoyan Chen, the model featured in this photoshoot. Chen is a junior visual media arts major from Beijing, China.

Kerry Bates: What is your passion and how are you working toward it at Emerson? Ruoyan Chen: Ideally, I want to do TV production, but I do find difficulties because I’m an international student. Especially for TV directing—that requires fast reaction and perfect language skill. For me, I find it hard to reach toward a higher position as an international student. I’m really passionate about this and might continue doing this, then go back to China after I graduate. At the same time, this major is going to be hard to find a job with, so I’m also minoring in marketing. I hope that will help me have more options after I graduate.” KB: Were there any challenges adjusting to life at Emerson? RC: For me, I would say language and writing skills. It’s hard sometimes when I don’t know how to order food and looking at the menu is the hardest part for me. There are so many words I don’t know and some are even from Spanish or French, so sometimes I need to secretly look at a dictionary before I order. Writing is also difficult. We took writing tests during orientation for international students. I think I got a low grade, and I got a letter from the writing center for the international writing class. I think getting into that class was a good start for me to adjust to the culture. KB: How are you involved in Emerson outside your classes?

To read more about Chen, read the full interview on the Atlas website.

RC: This year, I’m a community ambassador for off campus student services. I’ve lived off campus since my freshman year, so I feel like it’s important to make the connection especially because there’s a lot of international students who want to live off campus, but once they do, it’s so easy to stay in their circle or within their own language. They’re losing the opportunity to meet more people. I want to do something for those students.” *This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for style.



Sophomore Alyssa DeVries sat in on of her comedy classes, listening to her professor talk about the role of a director. Her professor, attempting to show that anyone can direct, alternated between pronouns. After using the pronoun “she” to note a director, a classmate retorted, “She?” He proceeded to laugh at this idea. “It’s little things like that, you see them everywhere,” according to DeVries. Being one of many women pursuing comedy at Emerson and being as present as she is in the comedy and film environments, DeVries is no stranger to the acts of misogyny that occur in their classes. DeVries, an active member of the Comedic Arts major, star of Emerson Independent Video’s Judgy, and Vice President, writer, and member of sketch comedy troupe, Emerson Comedy Workshop, is working as hard as ever. DeVries said that at open mic nights, women get less applause, even when they photo by Cameron Kingdon are more prepared and have better material. “Men can usually go up and not have a set prepared or have a notebook, but it’s more frowned upon to do as a woman,” according to DeVries. She noted her admiration for other women in her major, as well as the other women practicing comedy on campus. She also addressed her concern that women are not getting hired for their talents, but just as numbers to balance out the gender ratio of their crews. “You shouldn’t focus on that, you should be focusing on who’s doing the best job. It’s hard to know if you would to be able to do more if you were a man,” said DeVries. DeVries is far from the only one with these worries. Sophomore Anna Dannecker said she has not experienced acts of misogyny, but has heard plenty about them. “It’s a lot of microaggressions, like a male not showing up to your stand-up when he said he would or men not inviting more women out to open mics,” according to Dannecker. 16

Dannecker is a Comedic Arts major and member of the comedy troupe, Flawed Comedy. She knew from middle school that she wanted to pursue comedy. “I boldly told people in middle school that I was going into comedy and that Bill Cosby was my inspiration.” It was nothing short of devastating for Dannecker to find that her initial inspiration for entering comedy was not the man she thought he was. However, she acknowledges that there has been an upside to the exposing of several male comedians and their vile actions. “It’s interesting, I think this exposure has made people accept women in comedy more,.” said Dannecker. DeVries, on the other hand, found that these occurrences to complicate how she participates in the comedy sphere at Emerson. “It’s made me notice more what my peers are doing. A ton of people that we all know have done bad things are still holding higher up positions. It’s hard because, do I want to do a TV show and slightly compromise my morals, or do I want to not do anything?” DeVries feels conflicted in how to navigate conversations, concerned about being active in speaking out against the problems while still being someone that others admire. “It’s hard to find a balance, because you want to be cool and want people to want to be around you, but if your constantly speaking out, which I do, it’s hard not to when you’re dealing with it every day. You don’t want to be seen as crazy.” So what is the answer to all this? DeVries and Dannecker proposed a few different ideas. According to Dannecker, the answer is simple. “Just being themselves.” Dannecker believes that women do not need to take on a task any more complicated than continuing to write, act, and perform their material, not allowing the frequent injustice they face to get in the way. “Females everywhere have their own stories to tell that are not centered on the male point of view, but their own thing, and that is genuinely funny,” said Dannecker. DeVries believes the solution is more complicated. “It’s not our responsibility, but most of us feel the drive,” according to DeVries, in reference to other women in the field speaking out against inequality. “I think it’s speaking out in your own way, at least when you feel comfortable, and educating others when you feel safe. You can’t always tell someone at an open mic to stop telling a rape joke. But when you are with your friends and they say something wrong, tell them. Because it’s often not from a place of hate, but ignorance.” There is no clear answer to how women can stop misogyny in comedy, but no matter the circumstance, women will continue to use their voices in comedy, whether it is to speak out against abuse, or as all of them hope for, to get a laugh.

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Christopher Henderson-West photographed by Stella Drews-Sheldon, Makeup by Daysia Tolentino



Photo by Estifania Martinez



FAMOUS MODELS HAVE always had influence over their fans, whether their street style inspires new looks or their diet plans cause one to toss all carbs in the trash bin. Audrey Hepburn popularized the little black dress, Cara Delevingne the thick eyebrow, and Kylie Jenner the plump lips. With the increasing popularity of social media, models have the opportunity to directly address their following, rather than rely on paparazzi shots or tabloid magazine articles to speak for them. They can share their personal lives with others with a click of a button, posting anything from fitness tips to political opinions. But is this necessarily a good thing? Celebrities in all fields have received criticism for expressing controversial beliefs online. This past year, Kanye West’s tweets supporting Trump have brought him negative publicity. After the 2019 Super Bowl, CeeLo Green was forced to apologize for his fiery tweet against NFL boycotters. It seems as though celebrities often make mistakes on social media, so should they stick to what they know, or should they exercise their 1st Amendment right? The same question arises for models. Fashion can make a political statement, but can those who show it off make statements of their own? One model known for her unfiltered political opinion is Chrissy Teigen, whom Twitter has dubbed the “unofficial mayor of Twitter.” Her political tweets are anti-Trump, and she was blocked on Twitter by President Trump in 2017 after she tweeted to him: “Lolllllll no one likes you.” Her tweet received many supportive comments. A Twitter user responded to Teigen: “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.” But, her tweet also stirred up Trump supporters and users who did not agree with her approach. One woman commented, “Many people don’t like you either. Go take a class in CLASS!” Arianna Shaghaghi, a model studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, says she likes to stay out of the “drama side” of politics, but sees a benefit to Teigen’s opinionated tweets. “She has a right to say what she feels, just sometimes she may take it a little too far for some people,” Shaghaghi says. “But I like how honest and open she is. It shows people that they have a right to their own opinion.” Other high profile models share their political opinions in less confrontational ways than Teigen. Karlie Kloss has also expressed her opinions on Twitter, supporting equal pay and backing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. However, her opinions do not incite as much conflict as Teigen’s. Regardless of how they present their views, 19-year-old model Laura Reyes stresses the importance of models knowing the facts before stating an opinion. Reyes has experience with both modeling and politics as an independent model in Costa Rica who also studies political science and international relations at the National University of Costa Rica and the University of Costa Rica. “I think models capture a lot of attention, so if you’re going to give an opinion, it’s going to have an impact on your followers directly,” Reyes says. “If a girl saw you like a role model, and you give an opinion and she’s 10 years old, she’s going to think you’re saying the right thing. You have to be very careful in that respect because followers are followers, and they maybe sometimes don’t study what you are saying and they only repeat it, so that’s why we have to be more careful about it.” Reyes encourages other models to explore interests outside their career and stay updated on current events. “I always tell [my followers] ‘you have to be very cautious and study,’” Reyes says. “It’s not like, be a nice face and the end. You have to see CNN or news because if you have a client and he wants to talk more about other things, you can’t only talk about makeup and hairstyles.”

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IN[JEAN]IUS By Megan Ellis

IN THE LAST few years, denim has pulled a complete 180 and became a staple as well as a statement piece. A cool pair of jeans can completely make or break an outfit when a few years ago we just wore skinny jeans to finish a look. Denim was originally invented in the late 1800s with LeviStrauss, as workwear for men, who exhibited a need for heavy-duty wear for jobs such as mining and truck driving. According to, it wasn’t until the 1950s that blue jeans entered the world of fashion — with Levi and Wrangler creating the “bad boy” image. Women adopted the trend in the 60s, with flared jeans, denim jackets, and hip-huggers. Many also personalized their jeans with embroidery, patches, rhinestones, and anything that made them look groovy. Denim skirts and vests arose in the 70s, designer jeans in the 80s—with acid wash and ripped jeans being the biggest trends— evolving into the baggy jeans of the 90s and the bootcut and skinny style of the 2000s. In short, people have worn denim in a vast variety of ways throughout the years and this year is no different. Anna, the owner of the Etsy shop RVVL (Revival), says that “There have been a lot of different reconstructions of denim popping up in stores the past couple years, which has gotten the public more interested in wearing denim and seeing it as more than a staple item.” It’s true, denim trends have been making statements throughout the last couple years. Today, jeans can still be a mainstay if you play your cards right—but if you need some help, here are some great and easy ways to transform your outfit from the bottom up. Wide Leg Hip-huggers are back and better than ever and are perfect for days that tight pants may be a no-go. This style does a great job at accentuating the leg and if paired with a heeled boot, can really lengthen the leg. Although this style is taken from the 70s, it can modernize any outfit. Painted Jeans This new style of jean is so great because you can do it from your own home, with your own jeans, at very minimal costs. You can go as simple as painting flowers or as intricate as your favorite album cover on the back of a jacket. If you happen to be a little artistically-challenged, grab some painters tape, cut it into squares, and create a simple checkered pattern! Embroidered Jeans This is another style that can be done from home with a pair you already own-simply grab an embroidery hoop, thread, and needles, pick a simple style, and copy it onto your jeans! This style can be pretty cheap to accomplish if you do it yourself, as embroidery tools are not particularly pricey. Animal Print This one may take a little bit of convincing, but animal print jeans are definitely coming back and making bold statements. Paired with a vintage tee, a solid top, or even a hoodie, this style of pants can make any outfit a little more exciting. Not to mention that most people ditched these pants a while back, so you can probably find a pair at your local Goodwill. Flare Jeans This style has been in for a while, and it’s definitely not going anywhere. If anything, the classic bell-bottom style has been modernized in a great way, by making the jeans cut shorter (which is perfect for wearing boots)! Tops that go great with this style are short sleeve button-ups or a turtleneck. Bold | 23


Photos by Stella Drews-Sheldon Art by Micaela Dix Makeup by Sabine Waldeck

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Taylor Thai and Alfonso Mateo Photographed by Stella Drews-Sheldon Art by Natasha Arnowitz and Micaela Dix Makeup by Lexi Leap