This year WAM Collective has spent a lot of time evaluating who we are, who we represent and what we stand for. The theme we chose to guide our projects and programs was mindfulness and under this theme we focused on art as a resource for mental health and healing, art as a bridge between cultures and communities, and art as a tool for cross disciplinary learning and collaborative exploration. It is with these values in mind that the WAM Collective has chosen to endorse Abeer Syedah and Sam Marlow for the 2016 Minnesota Student Association’s President and VP (cast your ballots here April 6th - April 8th).
Abeer and Sam stand for inclusion, accessibility, mental health resources, arts on campus, affordable education, and sustainable practices. They are loud and clear about the ways they are going to improve the University of Minnesota for current and future students. They are intelligent, experienced and passionate. Abeer and Sam don’t just value these ideals, they live them.
We sat down with Abeer & Sam at the Weisman to hear a bit more about where they come from and where they are going. Here is what we learned.
Where is your hometown?
A: A little here, a little there. I call Minneapolis and Ft. Worth, TX home.
S: Duluth, MN
What are you studying?
A: Political Science, GWSS, and Sociology.
S: Finance and Management Information Systems
How do you practice mindfulness at work or at home?
A: I'm trying to transition into greater mindfulness. I do a lot of meditation and regular deep breathing to pull myself into the moment. I also try to cook when I can and eat without distraction in order to be fully within myself. It's hard, though, with the lifestyles we're all often pushed into. Sometimes it feels like mindfulness and self-care are medicinal band-aids to a bigger problem of wellbeing and balance, which is something I want to pursue for myself and for all students.
S: Whether I'm doing homework, having a conversation, or hanging out with friends, I try to turn off my phone when I can. I have found it to be incredibly distracting when I'm trying to balance being in the moment while catering to communication on my phone. Phones are such a problem in social culture today, and I'm cognizant of the lack of attention I give people when I'm always on my phone in front of them, whether it is coworkers or family.
Do you have any special stories, memories or thoughts about the Weisman?
A: I have been to the Weisman on many occasions but, of course, my fondest memory is last year! Joelle and I took some of our campaign photos at WAM because of the incredible colors and natural light!
S: I especially appreciate the arts programming and students that are involved in University arts - the Weisman creates such a sophistication and expression of character that any student can be proud of and also see as a value to their education.
What's your favorite piece at WAM?
A: Right now? The big fish/Fisch. The cloud exhibit is also pretty incredible. It made me feel things which, I think, is what art does.
S: I love all of the ceramics and pottery - I am obsessed with making pottery. Using a wheel is such a relaxing hobby, and I also enjoy admiring the design and historical context of other people's work.
What's your favorite memory at the U of M?
A: Fall evenings walking across the bridge to see the Mississippi and the skyline in front of me. Late nights in the student government office joking about how we would run the University if we could.
S: There isn't a specific memory, but my first year was incredible in the times I spent with my roommate Anna Hicok in T-Hall (T-hall best hall forever). Your first year in college is a really important time frame that defines you, and it's important to have positive humans around you. I also enjoy whenever I go to St. Paul - it is incredibly calming to chill there or read a book in McNeal.
What's the most important thing you have learned during your time at the U of M?
A: That, honestly, I don't know anything. It's easy to forget how ignorant you are until the right lessons present themselves.
S: Don't sweat the small things, or you will self-destruct.
What is the one thing you hope people take away from your campaign?
A: A takeaway from the campaign? Aside from a WIN, I would just like to improve how well I represent. I'm very critical of representation and really want to improve as much as I can. This campaign has helped me be innovative and think outside of the box about personal and organizational improvements.
S: Abeer and I are people with context - we live with different perspectives and represent certain populations. Our job is to make sure we bring every student to the table. We want to fill in the gaps of knowledge and experience that we don't have, and that's why we recruit a series of diverse people to our team. If a student ever has a story or perspective they feel like we're not hearing, Abeer and I want to hear it.
WAM Collective is proud to endorse Abeer & Sam for MSA 2016-17.