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A Brown / RISD Visual & Literary Arts Magazine Vol. XIX Issue I

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Letter from the Editors Dear Reader, It is our delight to present the Fall 2017 issue of VISIONS Magazine. This year marks nineteen years of VISIONS, and in preparing for the current issue, we certainly looked back on our history. In its initial volumes, VISIONS published articles featuring opinion pieces, personal essays, and current events in Providence, and it wasn’t until 2005 that the publication began to resemble what it is now—an art and literary magazine. Even though our form has changed, our dedication to providing a platform for the AAPI community on College Hill has not. In fact, our goal has become more important now than ever. While we wish to provide an opportunity for Asian-American artists and writers to tell their stories, our larger mission is to fight for equity for marginalized identities. In a time when reading the news is more devastating than eye-opening, we must stay aware and remember that we should not and cannot tolerate this. We cannot forget the shoulders upon which we stand. Remember the work that Asians before us have done in America to fight against oppression, hatred, and supremacy. Remember the work of our siblings of color, and fight for them as they have for us—tireless efforts by Black and other POC communities have allowed AAPI communities to enjoy the lives they lead today. It’s our responsibility and duty to recognize our privilege and work even harder to continue the fight for equity that our predecessors began. We hope that VISIONS as a platform can serve and empower our communities. In the company of each other, we hope you can find solace, courage, and strength. We are unbelievably proud of and grateful for our VISIONS editorial board, for our artists and writers, for the opportunities, for the new thoughts, and for you, Reader. Yours,

Eveline Liu & Sruti Suryanarayanan Editors-in-Chief 1

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Mission Statement

Table of Contents

VISIONS is a publication that highlights and celebrates the diversity of Brown and RISD’s Asian/Asian-American community. We are committed to being an open literary and artistic forum for Asians and Asian Americans, as well as other members of the university community, to freely express and address issues relating to both the Asian and Asian-American experience. VISIONS further serves as a forum for issues that cannot find a voice in other campus publications. As a collaborative initiative, VISIONS attempts to strengthen and actively engage Brown and RISD’s vibrant community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as the larger Providence community and beyond.

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“Cute” Erin Malimban

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2/28/1998 Emilia Mann

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Drift Jacqueline Qiu

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7 vs. 21,500,000 M. Chau

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Rule #1 Natalie Nguyen

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Float Noodle Place ( Zixuan Xu

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Untitled Yalda Foroughmand Arabi

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Wastelands Minsoo Thigpen

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Untitled Tiffany Ng

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Minus Eighty Jade Yixuan Wang

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City River Kathleen Wu Spatialized Protest Sophie Weston Chien

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Yoroi Alice McDonald

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Pamilyar Daven McQueen

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Water and Its Forms Theo Lau

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Words and Art Soo Joo

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HWUAAA Julie Benbassat

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떡이나 처먹어! Sel Lee

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alterations Emily Sun

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Hiragana Characters Yuko Okabe

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rush hour Solina Powell

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Iris Coffee Table Irene Wei

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Muscle Memory Sophia Meng

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Dried Fish Kathleen Wu

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of VISIONS’ sponsors. Editors-in‑Chief Eveline Liu ’19 Sruti Suryanarayanan ’19

Events Coordinators Hilary Ho ’20 Kion You ’20

Layout & Design Editors Sophia Meng ’20 Ryan Nguyen ’19

Copy Editing Staff Zander Kim ’19 Alicia DeVos ’18 Kristen Whang ’19

Art & Photography Editor Elizabeth Huh ’19 On the Cover REST | Graphite and digital Julie Benbassat ’19 is a gingko girl. Inside Cover Nian | Ink and digital Yuchen Horng ’19 will point out every single dog that they spot.

Literary Editor Claribel Wu ’19 Treasurer Kathleen Chai ’20 Web Editor Jiaju Ma ’21 RISD Outreach Tiffany Chiu ’19 Freshman Representatives May Gao ’21 Hannah Lee ’21

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Editors Emeritus Soyoon Kim ’19 Haley Lee ’18 Printer PrintNinja Brown Graphic Services A very special thanks to … Kisa Takesue Megan Long Undergraduate Finance Board Brown Center For Students of Color Contributors and staff Contact visions@brown.edu visions-magazine.org facebook.com/VISIONS.Brown @VISIONS_magazine

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Erin Malimban ’19 just wants to be rested, possibly mythical, and full of tea.

Drift | Oil on canvas Jacqueline Qiu ’21 laughs way too easily.

“Cute”

I am the girl of color I am the child of colors who runs around inside my chest, who darts between my ribs, in then out. She’s here on the grass, getting the same bug bites that constellate your legs and mine: Orange hair tie, orange slice, expected to be overly nice, overalls, overbite, eats her breakfast over rice Same distracted devil stare, dark and zooming head of hair, scraped-knee knee-jerk need to care that punctuates your mind and mine. Do not give her a cause to cry. Don’t seal her in your freezer bag: She can’t inhale the yellow sky. Don’t infantilize this childlike heart with your white palms and let her die.

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Natalie Nguyen ’19 hopped on the struggle bus and doesn’t know where her stop is.

Untitled | Oil on canvas Yalda Foroughmand Arabi ’18 is an Iranian artist making work about life and feelings.

Rule #1

If you find you have a bruise you must: Touch it. Press it. Poke your finger into your f lesh slowly but surely deeper and deeper Push Against the grooves of your bone Feel each shade and layer of pain Acknowledge your vulnerability Experience it eyes closed If you ignore it, it may go away but you won’t know The colors you turn or The way you heal

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婆婆 | Photography Tiffany Ng ‘18 is allergic to cheese and many other things.

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Jade Yixuan Wang ’18 will answer to either name and can generally be found in some quiet corner drinking tea or hugging cats.

Minus Eighty or Some Dispatches from the Organ Transplant Laboratory

you kept your distance, but you were still fassecond skin. there is nothing that quite compares to watch- cinated by the rockers and the vortexers and ing the violet-dyed rows of proteins march the electric pipettes and the red jugs of cell culture media. you conducted sneaky expedidown an agarose gel in perfect alignment—except may- tions to labs on other f loors and liberated cofbe the sky, except maybe a universe full of stars. fee and sugar from their break rooms, scribbled you pour blood and grind muscle and soak kid- drawings all over the empty seminar room neys in alcohol, pickle and powder them, freeze chalkboards, played games on the ancient midthem for weeks at minus eighty degrees celsius. ’90s macintosh desktop until it finally crashed you have seen mice with their stomachs slit for good. open and seventeen-year-old boys with their heads crushed in. in tube after tube after tube all that, and you never touched a single piece of you mix clear liquids with other clear liquids laboratory equipment. and heat them and spin them and aspirate them back out again, until meat becomes powder be- wax. comes water becomes you didn’t know this when you were little, but Light. after being frozen at minus eighty for months blue nitrile and white polyester are your second and slowly thawing, chunks of human abdomiskin. nal wall look like dark red boulders of muscle, streaked and draped in waxy yellow fat that grows steadiinterlude: touch. a third of your childhood was spent in biochem- ly sticky as it melts. your tweezers are too small so you grip the muscle underneath your blueistry labs. your parents were immigrant lab technicians with neither the money nor the time gloved fingers, feeling their resistance give way as the ice in them relaxes into water. sometimes to stay home with you on days off school, so they brought you to work instead. your parents your razor blade does not slice cleanly and long didn’t want to lose the precarious jobs keeping strings of tendon or fat spool out from the blade. them in this country. so they impressed upon you have to drag them apart to break them like you the warning that every humming plastic melted cheese. case, every glass syringe, every single blue- capped tube had the potential to Kill. 11

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interlude: round trip. it is nearly the solstice. you dye protein gels with imperial purple stains that reek of vinegar and watch it rock in this dark, astringent bath back and forth, back and forth.

you wish you could drift like that too. instead you are earthbound and heavy with what you’ve left unsaid. how far back do you want to go? this time three months ago you were losing sleep and losing hair and watching your brain turn slowly to mush. this time six months ago you watched the yellow leaves fall down and tried to swallow past all the ghosts in your throat. this time last year you went to see a bonfire on a beach in spain and watched the dark sea come in, back and forth, back and forth. you thought that if you wrote your thoughts down and set them skyward with the hot exhalations of embers there would be some result, some conclusion to the questions you didn’t know how to ask. instead, the ghosts accumulated.

after you turn off the light the darkroom is velvety black, except for the twin spots of pulsing red light from the x-ray film developer that match the red light on the ceiling. your eyes strain for images just outside the spectrum of their perception. the more you look the more the darkness writhes, thick and full of static, black-brownred-brown-black, and the little marshlight moons pointing the way back out are so dim that you wonder half the time whether you’re dreaming them. like a living thing, the developer breathes the hot, damp scent of developing solution at you every time you open the hatch to feed it another film. you offer film to it blindly in thirty-second intervals. you can’t see your watch and the light from your phone display would wreck the result so you stand there and listen to the machine gurgle f luid and wait and wait, still, still, still. the darkroom is a place that eats sight, eats time: a warm, gently purring loneliness.

this time two years ago you watched your family bury your grandfather’s ashes in a dry yellow plot of land just outside the most polluted city in china. and the last stop: this time thirteen years ago you were eight and probably sitting just outside another laboratory much like this one, with a stuffed animal and some snacks and a book. -

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infrared. at the very end of the two-day marathon of a western blot, when the boiled proteins have marched down their agarose ladder, it is time to develop the film. 12

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Yoroi | Knit Alice McDonald ’18 thinks it’s weird talking in the third person.

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Theo Lau ’19.5 prefers watching fish from below.

HWUAAA | Mixed media Julie Benbassat ’19 is a gingko girl.

Water and Its Forms

A few days ago I was walking in the blanket of humidity at some point past midnight, the blackness pitched spongy beyond the streetlights and their amber. I was thinking about, for whatever reason, my grandfather, the non-Chinese one who existed in that apartment on the hill in Walnut Creek, where the concrete was studded with smooth stones and the ivy was maintained like a lawn in the front yard. I saw his face and his corgi, Winston, watched him move simply around the house in a slim f lannel shirt and jeans, his lips moving. Where there should have been words, though, there was just the sound of rain, like static electricity, like an untuned television but the crackles were drops hitting the pebbled concrete. He stood away from me in profile, spilling uneven rain from his lips as the wrinkles underscoring his face caught and pressed darkness into their fissures.

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I rained once, seeing my Popoa, during her last days watching me, in the natural light of autumn in Los Angeles, like an obelisk staring into the space between itself and the sun. I opened my mouth to talk to her, slowly pouring my words into my palms, where they slowly leaked through my fingers, to be massaged into the carpet later on by many footsoles in various stages of callus. I didn’t have a glass to put them in, to offer to her. I’m unsure she would have drunk them even if I did, if she would have re-inf lated if she had, if the echoes between her wrinkles would have turned into the oppressively soft, opal humidity of the night once more. I wonder if my words were like a sapling, soaked branches dragging across the outside of a house during a fall storm. I wonder if grains of sound, without meaning to, touch the pendulums of death, like incense condensing heaven’s river in the black-gray humidity of clouds.

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Emily Sun ’18 wants to make a shadow out of light.

rush hour | Photography Solina Powell ’18 finds 68-72°F to be the ideal temperature.

alterations

lin comes home you don’t look like yourself they did something strange with your mouth. tongues thick, tv mute the summer we caught a bird who did not believe in glass who cut circles against our window undone by her own f light. at the cleaners, the woman returned us two silk contraptions from mothers we did not know, but maybe, like ours, raised children to understand their own loneliness. how big i turned in august, my pale blue mounds hills to lin’s dark thin planes. together we could have made the perfect human, one that could remember all of her pasts.

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Iris Coffee Table | Maple, Gampi Paper, PolyWhey finish Irene Wei ’19 says her favorite papermaking fiber is kozo and her favorite wood is a tie between ash and maple.

The intention of the bench design was to highlight the importance of the Shifu by putting it on a pedestal, centering the fabric in an upholstered slip seat. I used a traditional method of upholstery using jute, horse and hog hair, cotton, and muslin. In order to make Shifu, one must make numerous sheets of kozo paper, cut strips, roll them together and spin them into thread. For the Shifu I made, I pulled sheets of my own kozo paper that I soaked, cooked, and hand-beat. In total, I used 3lb of kozo fiber to make approximately 200 sheets of tabloid sized (11”x17”) paper of varying weights. I used only about 70-80 sheets for the final Shifu fabric that was 16”x30”. Each sheet of paper took around 15-20 minutes to roll and 20 minutes to turn into one continuous thread.

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Muscle Memory | Digital Sophia Meng ’20 is looking for nostalgic song recommendations.

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Kathleen Wu ’20 likes making noodles and potato slices in black vinegar.

Dried Fish

My tongue is not sharp Or strong like it should be—fists pumping bulgings out of my eyes It writhes, in the mud—like fumes of smoke powder — drugged into confusion, drugged into blithe acceptance A clear fish swaying its translucent organs to the sun The fish, that could not be caught That splayed, so arched, and so piercingly deep Was paralyzed, injected with the liquid promise of more, of better, of greater A college education—prestige—and power, more power than Toilet bucket under metal frame More power than two shirts and no underpants in a dirty river of sweat Say my parents A man working in a ruler factory his daughter, in the hospital The fetus in her body she wants gone. Like red handkerchiefs they blow into my eyes. Sleep eyes, collecting dust Fish eyes moving fast in bright puddles

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My grandmother walks into an elevator The words I wear so proudly around my neck— It’s clogged with the cigarettes—of a drink hap- were stolen py, dine happy nation—get together with And the characters you stitch onto your skin, family happy nation—glass facades that no one were stolen too recognizes — And to live blindfolded in a world of double a place where home resides on the surface back double back Back bent over for the polish Remember sitting around the table Fold yourself into a rubber-band to be max Raw lettuce and squid—balls stretched for centuries A family friend’s face drawn but happy—relaxed, Is a slow, slow kind of sadism. as she watches—her husband’s ruddy laugh Medicate my sister with mascara turning into And medicate me with poetry tip the cup to me chaos Anesthetize our pain until we don’t realize it and a couple highways and plane tickets away any more a couple parking garages bulging with car- Go on, go on—drugged—like f lowers swaying bon monoxide in the sun Move Swim Erase. But the polish comes with a sacrifice

Selling your soul to the white school computer screen shopping Malls

Selling your soul to the music stands, the Toyotas, Why is it that I can’t sit comfortable with and the carpeted rooms once you can afford it A Chinese exchange student Meant shutting the door ever so quietly on the Ashamed of their blitheness, their optimism, fingers of your people miles away their blind-lidded faith Meant shutting yourself in a net so fine you In this country would never notice it was there Why is it a struggle to plunge my hands into Meant becoming a ventriloquist for hardened that moon-smelt well courage different from anything you could ever To reach for myself why do I feel ashamed in produce front of my mom for being too degenerate Because your voids cannot be set so easily into a Stuttering when talking about my own race jeweled ring, or a painted storm and history because I don’t know the right dialects I do not feel free I am not free No matter how many revolutions come pulling down my head by its heavy-tip ends

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2/28/1998 | Acrylic paint, gouache, and found objects on paper Emilia Mann ’21 loves dogs.

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M. Chau ‘21 is learning goodness.

7 vs. 21,500,000 i. Beijing is a dark spot on the map. City of modernity! Where does it end? Where does it begin? We start on ground level. Music begins at 8pm but you know they always take half an hour or more to set up. Our fingers feel the city’s brick and mortar, touch the spittle on the pavement, bring nicotine to the underside of our lips. Blacken our teeth, nostrils, eardrums. More’s the pity we walk like ghosts in neon baths. The foreigner sunders the Middle Kingdom. The expatriate is some sort of messiah. There’s a vibrant punk subculture in the fertile darkness of this city, but who’s listening? 摇滚. Riotous din of nightclub altlife and smoketwisted concert venues. It livens the soul and cashstraps our life expectancy in the sinkhole of night-tonight, sunless day be damned.

Float Noodle Place (浮游麵館) | India ink Zixuan Xu ’19 likes a cool manbun.

iii. Beijing is a spoke upon which a quarter of the world’s people revolves. Is this our utopia? Development emblazoned in all caps, cornerstone of the race to gain grow grain, meanwhile serial news reports of X-rayed lungs like ossified brains, abscessed and ulcerous. Tape is eaten, artifacts manifest in the sky, hang like middle-aged clouds lined with siphon funds and decadent favors. Glitch in a system of malfunction retrolegitimated. Tiger meat on the banquet table, man and daughter claw throats to death in a nameless hutong. The deep end of the social net swallows all SOS’s. 救命! But nobody listens, thirty- second video clips are posted on Weibo, the law’s the law and kindhearts pay the price of the sins never committed.

iv. Beijing is our home. Twenty one point five million souls living and dying in this most popular of cul-de-sacs, strangelooped globalized economy with only one real beginning, one real end, and they’re one and the same. What is to be done? What cannot be said. What lives on in spirit and ii. Beijing disappears under coal pitch. The gold karma, what knows no end as long as its object farmers labor under fog of war both outside their of rancor lingers. Even now the injustices rendered bedroom windows and in their computer moni- upon the dispossessed are embodied by institutions tors. In black light office towers apartment com- that at daybreak play the long con as the exoskelplexes multinational corporate headquarters topple eton of fragile society. There is a forbidden map that into the thick sludge of the air. The sun is at shows the path, but we must make it ourselves. noon height, but stands pallid and invisible, ghost We must be our own cartographers every step of orb in disjunct with the present. Here it is like the way. This darkness permits little light, it’s night at the peak of day, where cold light spears true. Still. Our body fat is the fuel that lights the through the darkly folds and arcological stigma- flames of change. 闯路. Our stained lungs spit the ta. The dust and soot, mixed with the water and ink that draws these avenues and alleyways where pollen and lungkiller smoke, this particulate cloister dormant cells that yearn to right wrongs. poison, this coagulate miasmatic. This solid air. 雾 The scale of this map is 1:1. Eye for an eye, circa 霾. And the skeletons of architecture draw false the eternal present. Sunkissed, we might yet carve boundaries for the black sea of death called our out peace from war’s future carcass. energy, this lifestream that heats and lights and powers, and punches holes in our organs and scrambles the laddercode of our bodily schema. 27

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Wastelands | Oil paint and collage Minsoo Thigpen ’18 is looking for home in all the strange places.

Kathleen Wu ’20 likes making noodles and potato slices in black vinegar.

City River I. People there do not speak of love in the glowing terms that you all seem to They speak of the food—hot or cold, good or bad on the stomach They speak of sick from the cold, from wet hair, from drinking the wet hair cold; of buying new Nikes, and fold-up tables—and beneath these twists flows the river source My grandfather has sewn up the wounds that opened him. he wears his Ralph Lauren shirt now with shrug-shouldered pride he walks around the houses my mother dreams of living in in San Diego—and cries, muffled, summoning up his spit, gargling again and again II. The day before we both left to become scions of the great American cosmos we returned to the house of rain and of red date smells and listened to folk songs on your family room radio we sat in your room and I folded your clothes you sat on the ground collecting flash card boxes and markers and pencils and the sort you didn’t have to look at me Because I’d always be there for you I had said III. We grew two hours and four years away. “Your call has been forwarded Your call has been forwarded 29

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Your call has been forwarded, to an automatic voice messaging system. Please leave a message for four-eight-zero” My silence is not Your windfall I plead to you cut my lips open look inside for the dark rotting spots you refuse, deciding, firmly, to stay on the glowing surface Make me picture of blank picture of submission/ picture of somebody to be passed over bridge over troubled water IV. I remember when we were still friends somehow we had slipped passed the red velvet ropes that defined who we could be and sat on the fence together, swinging our legs, listening to the mournful gurgles of doves and lizards watching the clouds hang over our heads—that slow heat of what was to come Like a walk to the gallows I packed everything I had made of life and drove with my mom to the airport in the passenger seat— I sacrificed myself for ghosts. all of yours killed long ago killed in the city taken with alcohol in a beach a Pacific away. your grandfather: writing a book on lost wife, thinking of death right-to-left my grandfather: whispering of a stranger’s heaven to a wife quiet forever in hospital-laden smog. 30

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Spatialized Protest | Mat board and wooden dowels Sophie Weston Chien ’20 is a maker, strategizer, and activator.

I responded to unacceptable social conditions and the resulting unrest in my hometown through architecture. This project focused on designing for protest. Inherently disruptive and unsanctioned, the site was chosen to maximize exposure of the marchers. The building houses support services such as bathrooms, seating, translation, and health services to make protesting possible for people of all identities who otherwise would not be capable of attending.

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Daven McQueen a future dogacrylic, mom A Swimmer Stuck’19 in is a Room | Oil, whose hobbies include petting dogs, crying collage on masonite over dogs, and describing various Minsoo Thigpen ’18 is a dogs vast as middle. food items.

Words and Art | Ink on paper Soo Joo ’19 wants to help people learn without suffering pain in the process.

Pamilyar

Stockholm, Sweden On a side street of Vasastan Where trucks are parked Half on narrow sidewalks, Under a f lag spun half around its pole (red and blue, and a yellow sun), Inside a store front otherwise unremarkable She sits behind a counter with a phone to her ear And I hear her from the doorway k’s and ng’s in the back of her throat A surprise of the familiar Her voice follows me between aisles Of pancit and lumpia wrappers and biglang sinigang Patis and kanin and bagoong And I know the words on the packaging better than I know hers

It occurs to me as she rings up my items (still deep in conversation) That Sweden is familiar because I have spent my life Hanging onto every word of a language I do not understand She hands me my receipt And the first word in my mouth is one of the few my mother taught me (salamat po) But then she might respond And how would I? So I nod And I leave her Speaking a language that has always been on the tip of my tongue. This illustrated vocabulary book of popular SAT and GRE words aims to help young adults ages 16-30 learn useful vocabulary through illustrations and short stories. With its publication within the next year, it aims to use of alternative methods proven to aid learning such as humor, absurdity, and elements of surprise to slowly replace memorized vocabulary with memorable vocabulary. @words_and_art on Instagram.

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떡이나 처먹어! (The Moon and Sun) | Digital Sel Lee ’19 is crying over cat photos.

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Hiragana Characters | Ink and digital Yuko Okabe ’17 is waking up to the sound of bickering trees.

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the family

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Kathleen Chai ’20 was a teacup in a prior life. Tiffany Chiu ’19 has a secret superpower. May Gao ’21 vibes with banana club yellow. Hilary Ho ’20 only eats strawberry Pocky. Elizabeth Huh ’19 actually fulfilled her New Year’s resolution. Hannah Lee ’21 can’t stop eating sweet potatoes. Eveline Liu ’19 wants to go home again. Jiaju Ma ’21 is still happy that foundation year is over. Sophia Meng ’20 is looking for nostalgic song recommendations. Ryan Nguyen ’19 needs to stop. Sruti Suryanarayanan ’19 needs more striped socks! Claribel Wu ’19 wants to meet your inner child. Kion You ’20 is refracting.

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FALL 2017  

VISIONS Volume XIX Issue I

FALL 2017  

VISIONS Volume XIX Issue I

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