Go Homemade For Heartfelt Gifts

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Years ago, my mom started a tradition where everyone our family has to make a homemade Christmas gift for someone. At Thanksgiving, we draw names to see who has who. I didn’t think much of the tradition when I was younger; it was just something extra I had to do. I eventually saw the value in exchanging something homemade, but moving away from home and starting college made me really appreciate it.

Like any student, I always feel short on time. Making gifts can be so time consuming—yet I’ve found I’m always more excited to gift something I made than something I just went out and bought. Plus, knowing how difficult it can be for me to find the time to sit down and make a gift makes me appreciate receiving one all that much more. Money is replaceable, but time isn’t.

When it comes to homemade gifts, there’s no competition. It’s simply the fact that someone is willing to spend their time on making a gift that makes the receiver feel special. On top of that, homemade gifts don’t have to look or be perfect because regardless, you’re giving something away that’s absolutely unique.

One Stretch At A Time

nc1By: Naela Cabrera

When you have constant terrible pain in your leg, walking through an urban campus with hills and long distances between places is not fun! That was my struggle this past year until I finally decided to help myself.

At the start of the year, small leg and hip discomfort lead to unimaginable pain, which led to numbness all the way down to my toes and the inability to even get out of bed. By the summer I was on crutches! After a long time with pain, I learned I was a victim of sciatica, a pinching of spinal nerves that affects the back, hips and outer part of the legs. A lot of damage to our spine and nerves are caused by bad habits such as poor posture or excessive sitting, or a lack of good habits, such as walking, stretching and exercising. This experience taught me that the pain was there only because I wasn’t doing enough to help myself. I could have stopped the pain myself with small habit changes.

A physical therapist helped me learn more about things I could change in my daily routine. Water sessions taught me how a simple back and forth walk from one end of the pool to the other could really make a difference. Land sessions taught me about powerful workout machines that only take 10 minutes of my day to really help the pain. Five simple stretches a day also keeps the pain away!

The pain has slowly lessened over time, but when I feel it coming back I quickly hit up Campus Rec to follow the therapy routines on my own. My access to Campus Rec has been a game changer. The facility has a ton of equipment that I used during my PT sessions, and the pool couldn’t be better. I realized a lot of the free aquatic fitness drop-in classes are very similar to my pool PT sessions, so I’ll definitely be taking advantage of those to help myself! It’s amazing to know how much you can do for yourself to overcome pain and keep yourself healthy.

 

Scared but not alone

WechatIMG12  By Qin Xia

I don’t know if you have the same feeling as me, but if I am scared of something, I will force myself to face my fear until I am not scared anymore.

When I was a kid, I forced myself to get used to hearing the iron scratching sound outside my window, but it left a lump in my throat. I have checked under the bed three times before going to sleep to make sure no monsters were hiding there. And I stared outside to make sure my place was free of ghosts.

But not this time.

On November 7, it was almost 1 o’clock in the morning when I woke up to two “bang, bang” sounds. I was not sure if the sounds came from my dream or from outside my Park Blocks apartment. But when it was followed by screaming, I knew something was wrong. I was too scared to move. I just lay in my bed. I felt like even a slight movement would cause the attention from the shooter, even though I was in an upstairs apartment. This time, I didn’t force myself to open the curtain, because I was so scared something bad would happen.

The next day, I had to get up and continue my daily life. But I felt safer when I saw the yellow cordon tape. And I felt warmer seeing the memorial candles when I got back home. I felt even better when people around me kept checking with me to see if I was ok.

I know, I will be scared of something now and for the rest of my life. Danger is never very far away, and I will have to deal with it and not always know how. But also, I know fear might be a good thing when it keeps us together.

 

PSU Vanguard Bridges Campus Gaps

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.31.14 PM By Andrew Jankowski

Portland State University is a unique college in that it is a commuter college in the heart of downtown Portland with a vibrant on-campus community. Off-campus students are within walking distance of PSU buildings, or they drive from out of town or even out of state. Whether we are immigrants, refugees, natives or nationals, we together make PSU a diverse community.

Sometimes, though, on campus we develop insular communities that don’t interact with each other. It’s normal. Think about it: engineering students, how often have you attended an art reception at one of PSU’s six art galleries? Art students, how often have you attended a history lecture? History students, how often do you attend literary events? English majors, how often do we attend science lectures? And how often do we engage with cultural resource centers that don’t center on our identities? And truly, for that matter, who is attending sports events or voting for ASPSU?

Portland State Vanguard, PSU’s de-facto journalism program, is a learning lab that connects students of all majors and ideological viewpoints in the common goal of informing PSU students, as well as our non-student community partners like city hall and local professional journalists, about events that impact their lives. We’ve done it for over 70 years, and now that we’re in control of our own distribution, we’re now on racks and tables in almost every PSU building, and a few off-campus spots like McMenamins, Pizzacato and University Pointe. Based on our print circulation, social media interactions and story comments on our site, more of you are picking up papers or clicking on our content to find out what’s affecting campus. Even more encouraging, when I’ve heard that print is dying for almost two decades, we’ve seen a surge in contributors for writing, photography and videography.

The best part is, we’re still seeking new people to come aboard. We’re now hiring for most of our editorial staff (hiring as in money!), and we’re always seeking contributors for #VikingVoices, our op-ed section open to whatever you’re passionate about in 600 words or less. We recently featured one of our ASPSU senator’s letters as a dialogue for how to engage students on campus and have talks about ideologies we may disagree with personally.

Perks of working at PSU Vanguard include:

  • An impressive addition to your resume.
  • A fast way to develop a comprehensive writing, photography, video, design and/or art portfolio.
  • Connection to numerous professional, academic and social circles, including ASPSU, campus clubs & student groups, resource centers, city hall, CPSO, and more.
  • Opportunities to interview celebrities, elected officials and public figures.
  • Meeting people who can become important professional contacts or really close personal friends.

More than calories

img_4856 by Steph Holton

Food is the one great unifier. For starters, it quite literally sustains life. But the importance of food goes beyond mere calories.

In a world with such remarkable cultural diversity, it is sometimes difficult to find common ground. Every single culture has customs surrounding food, though, and therein lies an opportunity for shared experience. In the simple act of preparing a meal, one is communicating a willingness to expend energy nourishing a companion, and also a desire to share what is potentially a meaningful aspect of one’s life—a favorite food, a traditional mode of preparation, even the excitement of acquiring a new culinary skill.

Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and households around the country are already prepping for that magnificent turkey-centered feast—making grocery lists, contacting all the relatives, delegating side dishes. We’ve made Thanksgiving primarily about gorging ourselves. (Don’t get me wrong; I too purposely wear bigger pants to Thanksgiving dinner.) But I also think that on a day so dedicated to food preparation and sharing, we have an opportunity to do something more, like expressing awe for the unique story and the genuine care that goes into every dish on the table.

College students often don’t have the luxury of traveling home for Thanksgiving, so I think this message rings even more true among us who, perhaps for the first time, are spending the day with friends and bringing together a multitude of traditions into a new shared experience. Personally, I’m greatly looking forward to the experience.

RA’s Face the Pros and Con(frontation)s

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Confrontation is an art form. Like any artistic ability, some people just have an innate knack for it. Others work at it until they seem like naturals all, and some try it out only to decide it’s just not their thing.

A year ago, I definitely would’ve fallen into the latter category. This year, however, I’m a Resident Assistant (RA), and conflict is an inherent part of my job. Confrontation was definitely one of my biggest fears coming into this job, but so far I’ve gained an appreciation for it and new confidence in my approach. Of course, RAs go through training on conflict resolution, but the most valuable training happens on the job. Being an RA has forced me to live—on the daily—outside of my comfort zone. Not only have I had to act as the confronter, but also as a facilitator for residents confronting others to resolve issues internally.

Even though being an RA has given me more confidence in dealing with conflict, that’s in no way saying I look forward to it in the slightest. The only secret I can let you in on about RAs is that we hate confrontation as much as anyone else; we just have to hide it.

 

Small Body, Big Dreams

nc1-e1509748844344.jpg  By: Naela Cabrera

Being a first-generation college student is hard. Being the oldest sibling is also hard sometimes. When you are both, it gets even harder. Having a role like this can come with a lot of responsibility, but mostly pressure. For first-generation students of color, the pressure to encourage the younger generation to receive a higher education is something many experience due to our community’s circumstances. In my experience, having a 15 year gap between me and my only other sibling makes my job a little more challenging, and the pressure a little higher. Yet, there has never been a day when I don’t feel appreciative of my little brother and the opportunity I have to encourage his future higher education goals.

The start of my college journey was very challenging for him. I was the only other person he counted on to be a friend, playmate and sometimes parent, which made me realize that it was extremely important to stay close and connected to my family. But although visiting my family only involves a 50-minute drive, I found balancing classes, work, and extracurriculars while making time for him was, at times, physically and mentally challenging. I then thought to myself, what would be easier to do? If I can’t continuously go to him, he could come to me! I quickly took advantage of all the fun, kid-friendly things to do on campus and in downtown Portland.

What is the best way to get kids active and ready for a midday nap while you catch up on homework? Take them to Campus Rec. One of our first spots was Campus Rec because working there taught me about their Youth Program. During a fall term, for six straight Saturdays he would spend the day with me getting active, catching up on play time, and taking a cool down walk through the farmers market afterwards. The days started with an early morning youth swim lesson, then sometimes lead to hours of rock climbing and court activities like soccer, basketball, and his favorite – table tennis. Soon enough Campus Rec became his spot! My coworkers would see him come up the stairs and immediately cheer him on, greet him and make him feel appreciated much like they do with a lot of the youth that come by our facility. Another favorite activity has been Spooky Saturday, which just went on this past weekend for kiddos in the Halloween spirit.  

Thanks to resources like the Youth Program, on and off campus activities and my willingness to take time and appreciate my little brother made it possible to bring a part of home and family values with me to my experience at PSU. Not only does this help cool down the pressure of making my first-generation experience valuable for my family, but it also allows my little brother to have exposure to the college setting and what it means. Just last night we continued our campus visiting routine when he attended the Day of the Dead annual cultural celebration with me, a very important family tradition for both of us.