BY SARAH OLSEN ’18
The Thirsty Mind stage was in the spotlight Sunday as students celebrated Mother Nature with an open mic event. Hosted by the Mount Holyoke College International Student Organizing Committee (ISOC), the event, titled “Mother Nature,” featured students performing music and poetry that explored the topic.
Lydia Cheah ’20, co-chair of ISOC, said the event was meant to bring awareness to natural disasters and how they impact individuals. Cheah also noted how both domestic and international students could relate to the theme.
“What you’re reading or seeing online might be something someone in your math class is personally [being] affected by,” she said.
“Mother Nature” is the third open mic event put on by ISOC. These events began in Fall 2016 with “Mother Tongue” and continued last semester with “Building Bridges / Not Walls.” According to Marihah Idroos ’19, the event coordinator for ISOC, the events were created as a platform for international students to share their experiences.
“Everyone and anyone can tell or hear their stories,” she said.
The head of outreach for ISOC, Marium Alibhai ’19, organized the event and suggested the Mother Nature theme. Alibhai said at the time ISOC was trying to find a theme for the open mic that Puerto Rico relief fundraisers were occurring on campus. These fundraisers inspired the event theme.
“It just seemed in my head like Mother Nature was the most pressing thing,” she said. “All of the things that have taken place in our countries or this country. . . These are all things that are affecting us. There are problems that already affect us daily and these are the bigger things around us.”
The theme of Mother Nature was also expressed in the event’s poster, which features the words “Mother Nature” spilling out from an open hand. Alibhai said the poster was inspired by Canadian poet Rupi Kaur’s illustrations for her poetry.
“I thought we should do that because [in the illustration] with her hand things are falling from it, like you can’t control it and national disasters you can’t control so you watch things slip away from you,” Alibhai said. “So that was the idea behind the poster, things you can’t control but still very much experience.”
Shanza Noeen ’18 reflected on that lack of control in her performance of Faz Ahmed Faiz’s poem “Subh-e-Azadi,” which discusses the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan. Noeen read the Urdu poem while Eisha Khan ’18 read an English translation.
“I thought [the poem] went well with the theme Mother Nature because this specific poem highlights the sufferings of people and how so many of them had to leave their homes and land to move to their newly assigned land,” Noeen said. “MHC has a lot of Indian and Pakistani students and I guess I wanted to shed light on the fact that we are one in many ways, especially since we shared the same land once.”