Sumaiyah Tasneem Author

Simple steps to improve mental wellness

Written by Uncategorized

2017 has so much in store for us, with the sudden and surprising flow of good movies (moonlight, lion, Logan *ahem ahem* go watch them NOW), and the simultaneous memes piling over one another, that new year resolution list(even though its march already) keeps expanding and of course, university/school. A whole another year of it! Yay!! (Definitely sarcasm.) So that just means life is busy, and it only get busier. However, one thing to ask yourself in the midst of this amazing chaos called life is whether or not you have put any thought on how to manage your mental health? Have you? No? Well you can start today!! It’s never too late to add some habits of self-care and self-love into your life. Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference. I’m sure you’ve heard that almost everywhere. That only means that it’s true! I have saved you some trouble and gathered some ways to mentally help yourself. These are things that are easy to conduct and can simply be trained into being a habit.

  • Don’t force or feign happiness.

While it’s okay to maintain a bubbly exterior if you like bringing joy to others or lifting the spirits, it is not your duty to do so. Life isn’t that easy on anyone. Things happen from time to time. Disruptions occur and they give you this roller coaster ride of feels. A.K.A emotions. Emotions are a natural reaction to our circumstances. Feeling sad, angry and vulnerable, are perfectly normal and in no way are they anything to be ashamed of. Supressing them with positive thinking or pretending that there is no problem at hand can create a disconnection form our emotions, which is what makes us human.

You don't owe the world your happiness

You don’t owe the world your happiness

 

Danish psychologist Svend Brinkmann says that the constant implementation of happiness has made it an obligation, therefore turning it into an insistence rather than a simple pleasure of life. You can read more about that here.

Instead of covering up every other emotion with happiness, learn to be manage them and be mindful of them, which brings us to the next point.

  • Managing emotions and mindfulness

When managing emotions, first you should figure out what you’re feeling. Is it sadness, anger, or something else? Identify the emotion. And then break down the reasons as to why you would be feeling this way. Sometimes even the smallest of incidents can subconsciously affect us. After working that out, simply allow yourself to feel it. Don’t pass judgement on yourself, don’t blame yourself, simply accept it as normal, let it course through your veins. Don’t act like they don’t exist. Meditate, rant, box a punching bag, scream into your pillow, do what you must to vent it out.

Another thing that is similar to managing emotions is mindfulness. Basically, mindfulness can be described as the practice of directing attention to the present, identity what they are feeling in the present moment and accepting this feeling, and their surroundings without judgement.

  • If fights and conflicts happen, resolve them.

Be it small or large, when anger boils our blood we may say things we don’t mean or someone could hurt us even if they don’t mean to. Unresolved conflicts constantly haunting us never lead to anything pleasant. If problems occur, speak to the other party, try to reach a common ground, apologise if you did something wrong, but don’t leave it to pile up. That will cause pent up frustration, resentment and even relationship problems. Such factors disrupt mental wellness. By finding solutions you promote positive change, stronger relationships and a pace of mind. So kill that pride, fester up the courage and go do it. It’s for the best.

  • Keep track of your mental health.

Squeeze out at least 20 minutes or so from your day to meditate or have some quite time to yourself. If not meditation then just self-reflection. Break down what made your day good or bad and how you reacted to it. Write it down in a journal. This way you can find patterns between events and behaviour to it, therefore increasing your self-awareness. Self-awareness is very helpful in managing mental health.  Additionally, if you wish to get more creative than a journal, then check out this buzz feed article with creative ways to do it!

No matter how busy life gets or what changes, both your physical and mental health are a priority. So slay every day, live your life and look after yourself!

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Romance, suspense and plot-twist- Murder 3

Written by Entertainment

Since exams are over, its finally time to seek or some real entertainment, which basically is like procrastination except there is no work to worry about and you have no sense of guilt whatsoever. So if you are in the mood for a different sort of experience, then I have just the movie for you. Murder 3 is probably a bit of a misleading title as it has very little to do with murder or a third one. (My jokes are top notch eh?) This film, starts off as a typical Bollywood romance. It proceeds with the same cliches and seemingly predictable plot which is likely and expected in Bollywood. But wait. Just give it time. As you keep watching the movie, it transforms from an ordinary love story to something different with an unpredictable plot twist.  The suspense and tension will induce continuous adrenaline and keep you at the edge of your seat. The only setback of his movie would be that it shows too much of the uninteresting plot and drags on unnecessarily for too long until it gets on with the good juicy bits. So this is one of those films that start off boring and the plot progression is a little slow. But trust me, when you get to the absolute peak of it, you’ll be glued to your screen. A must watch for people who love dramatic plot twists. But if you aren’t a native Hindi speaker, watch the movie with subtitles! Have a great post exam movie/TV drama marathon/binge!

Murder_3

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Time to break the taboo – World Mental Health Day

Written by News, Student Life

                                                              “Mental Health begins with me”

World-Mental-Health-Day

Mental illness is a real thing. It exists. Unfortunately, most people pretend like it doesn’t. A stigma has been created by society surrounding this topic. But what’s most bizarre is that society suffers such illnesses yet the non-acceptance of it comes from society itself. The world seemingly creates its own problems and taboos.

#nofilter

But why do taboos exist? Let’s break this down:

When someone has a mental illness, it means there is a problem in the brain or psychological system. With that being said, everyone assumes that if something is wrong with your brain, it means you are not in control of yourself and that is viewed as a lack of discipline or lack of control of self, which is ultimately viewed as a weakness.

Our brain is an organ, just as our heart or liver is one. If something is wrong with any other organ of your body, you get it treated. The same goes for your brain. Mental illness is an issue with your health, NOT a part of your identity. It is something that requires assistance and there is no shame in reaching out for help.

With that being said, World Mental Health Day is of 10th of October, which focuses on education of mental health, tackling the stigma around it. This day encourages people to take a step looking after their own mental health and well being which they deserve.

You can do this by making a promise to yourself that breaks down the steps in taking care of yourself. You can post this post this promise on the promise wall, social media or just to yourself.

Not the only oneThis promise is yours and yours alone, and you’re doing this for yourself and no one else. These are small goals you set for your general mental wellness all in the way, you can reach out for help or try to improve yourself. Its the small steps that matter when walking towards the bigger picture which is your life. So set those goals, have faith in yourself, help yourself, love yourself and give yourself all that you deserve.

Feature image credit: http://www.sensoryoasisforkids.com.au/october-2015/world-mental-health-day/ 

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De-stressing during stressful times: How and why its good for you.

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

Do you have those days in which you are at your lowest moods? Sure you do. We all do. The workload and the stress are enough to drive us insane. However, we should not let it get to us. Because firstly, you are like a fire-breathing dragon whose on top of their game. However, once in a while, it is good to calm down and recharge your battery. You know so that you could breathe out fire better. So not metaphorically speaking, it is crucial to know when to give yourself a break and de-stress. De-stressing can help you rejuvenate and help you get right back into the plan. It is something you can do after stressful periods are over. e.g. after exams or in between breaks of stressful days, just don’t overdo it in short breaks, or you will get too relaxed to get back to work.

Small walk

Find a nice little place like a garden or a park and just pace back and forth or in circles. Anything that changes the view for you. It is annoying to remain crammed in the same place with study notes that hit your nerves. So do go out for a walk but keep it short or you will tire yourself and might take more time than necessary.

WALK

Visualizing

This one the fun one. Visualizing basically, is like day dreaming. Literally. Close your eyes and imagine yours on a beach, a fantasy land or a cute little date with your favourite celebrity. The point of this exercise is that it sets a positive mood and lifts up your spirits. Who would not feel above the clouds after having a coffee with Ryan Reynolds?

DAY DREAMIN

Listen to music

No this ones the fun one. It can be any music. Uplifting, upbeat or slow and relaxing. With music, you can either get your heart beating or calm yourself. Both whats are great to de-stress.

MUSIC

Jam to your favourite beats

This one is the most fun one. Period. Put on some of your favourite beats and dance to it like you it is the best clubbing of your life! At home….by yourself….with juice instead of drinks. Nothing to be ashamed of, we have all done it. Moreover, if you have not…..what, the hell do you do when your home alone?! It is the best feeling in the world, do it.

DANCE BOI

Have a snack(healthy snack)

I could tell you to have an avocado or plain fruits but ew who does that right? So instead mix them up to create weird and wacky meals. It makes a difference. Yes, it does. So my personal example would be to take lettuce, apples, corn and kidney beans (I am so healthy eh?) and mix them all together to make this weird salad. It tastes great, though, trust me. You can completely randomise and make your snacks. However, make sure they are something portable and easy to just much on or you might end up going on a master chef quest. (It happened to me, sadly enough)

HEALTHY EATING

Play with animals

If you have a pet, aside from being super lucky, you can have some time out for your furry friend. It is not an unknown fact that playing with animals decreases stress. So go over to the pet store take your dog for a walk, cuddle with your cat or talk to your parrot, bond with them and in the process help yourself too!

Please play with me?

Please play with me?

Warm shower

In a cold day, warm showers are the best. Even in hot days too actually. No one likes to have an ice cold feeling pulverising them. If you do, that is fine. You do you.

Exercise(ones that you enjoy)

Exercising means endorphin, and endorphin equals to a triumphal you! Then again if you do not want to work out just dance to your favourite music. Nothing is more happiness-inducing than letting yourself free and moving to a musical rhythm that makes you want to work those moves! Do the whip! Do the nae nae and dab so hard you get a headache(Don’t).

JOONIE 2

When exam periods or other testing times are over, you deserve this me-time. So take some time out for yourself to relax and calm down after such adrenaline inducing times.

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Travelling for the soul: When children are better teachers!

Written by Student Life

“I never saw life the same way.”

Personally, travelling has always held a sense of fascination for me. You can unlock your mind and think of different possibilities, just by physically moving yourself to another place, experiencing its culture, living in its pulse and movement.

It’s usually true for most people, and this change might be more divine than words can explain. However, listening to other people’s perspectives has given me a glimpse of what it might be like. I came across an individual who went through this particular transition – Griffith, an Education student who went to volunteer in India as a volunteer teacher.

Roof thing

“I never saw life the same way,” replies Griffith. I had asked him how the journey changed his mindset. Such an experience must have made him see the world in another light.

The children previously lived life in poverty, something that he found different to what he was used to. He found it hardest to turn away beggars. Even though he wanted to help, it would just cause more beggars to crowd around him. Being there in person, Griffith realized that poverty is more than hashtags and powerful photography. Poverty is very real, and it made him resentful of the injustices people faced. He began to think how spoiled and ungrateful people in developed countries could seem in comparison.

What really affected him were the conditions the children live in before they managed to get help. “They had a really slim chance of making it into the world. It really broke my heart,” Griffith said as he recalls the children’s stories – abusive parents, abandonment, neglect.

However, Griffith says he felt warmth and generosity from the community, even if they had less than he did, and it was the same in the academy he taught at. It made him really happy that the children were in better condition now that they had shelter and food.

Cute Kid

Despite the children’s traumatic histories, there was a sense of happiness and peace. He didn’t feel distant even if he used hand gestures and sign language to help and interact with them. Even being able to buy the children gifts was another moment of happiness for him. It was something special regardless. And, after a while, they became a part of his world.

“They loved it. It was a chance for me to show them my world after they showed me theirs.” It was then that Griffith realized happiness really is in the smaller things. The children showed him the true meaning of “less is more”. Their laughter and delight was the simple joy he shared with them.

Jenga

However, with joy comes sadness as he also came to a realization. Realistically, Griffith knows that there are more children in such terrible situations. What troubles him most is that time and life will continue. The stories of these children in pain will be left behind and forgotten. “I believe, as a teacher, education should go towards everyone. But, these kids couldn’t get it. And what really saddened me was life will move on. These kids will be a memory one day and…I cannot play another role in their future. That’s how life works.”

Although Griffith had the opportunity to teach, it was the children who had taught him an important lesson. When he returned home, he realized how much better it was for him to live simply and without luxurious materials. There were the little things to be grateful about and seek happiness from.

Lunch
I found that his realisation really hit a nerve for me. It is so true that daily there are many children who suffer. Once in a while, an image of a child crying or starving might get media attention and cause an uproar. Maybe it’s an iconic symbol of their pain. But, eventually it becomes something of the past. It’s forgotten that such images are real people with names, dreams and aspirations. They cannot walk away from it like we can. Unfortunately, deciding which image to publicize does not get these children the help they need. But being able to help in any little way that we can will.

Despite all that has happened, they still smile

Despite all that has happened, they still smile

After listening to his story, as another local student experiencing life in another country, it encourages me to one day travel and venture out on my own too. It seems like there are so many lessons to learn from other people, like appreciating what you already have.

Where would you want to go next?

#nofilter

#nofilter

“I’m grateful for the experience. I highly recommend people to travel, outside your mama’s love.

It’s food for the soul.”

Photo credit: Griffith

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7 Heart-Touching Moments At Rio Olympics 2016

Written by News

This year’s Olympics, like every other, has been beautiful and significant. However, this time, it has hit many amazing milestones that show the world’s desire for unity and peace. Many instances have made historic achievements, fought against stereotypes and inspired all of us to push harder and reach the goals we want to achieve. With Rio now over, let’s look back at 7 instances which had touched the hearts of people world-wide.

rioolympics

1/ The first Hijabi to represent USA
Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first female athlete to represent the USA while wearing the hijab, a traditional Islamic garment. Muhammad has battled many cases of Islamaphobia in her daily life. However, she did not want such things to get her side tracked and lose hope in diversity, stating that she wants her team to be “as diverse as the community I grew up in.”

IbtihajNot only did she compete in the Olympics but she is also a part of a progressive movement that addresses a sensitive issue: Islamaphobia. She may not have won gold (she won bronze), but she has made Olympic history and won the hearts of a million.

2/ Unity in diversity 

In a display of Olympic sportsmanship, this picture shows two women, clad in two different attires, playing the same sports in the same field and with the same level of hard work and determination. They have different values, yet their value is measured by their will and spirit. This picture has become one of many iconic images of the Olympics, and that shows the symbol of unity everyone wishes to have in the Olympics.

2 cultures same achievement

3/ Winning Gold
When it comes to wishing to compete in the Olympics, it is a massive burden to reach Olympic state level and represent your country. However, one promising swimmer makes it look so easy. Joseph Schooling, met his idol, Micheal Phelps when he was only thirteen.

Little Schooling

Little Schooling

That day must have been fantastic for him back then, but not as amazing as the day he beat the idol himself. Schooling took first place with a Games record of 50.39 seconds while Phelps scored 51.14 seconds.

Annnd upgrade!

Annnd upgrade! It was Singapore’s first gold medal!

Getting inspired by your idol to work hard is cool, but winning gold against them is just another level of amazing.

4/ Sportsmanship between North and South Korean athletes
Despite the controversial history North and South Koreans , Gymnasts Lee Eun-Ju and Hong Un-jong did not let it get in the way of an adorable friendship.

NK SK GYMNASTS
Another incident was when the North Korean competitive shooter, Kim Song Guk, who won bronze said something that caught the hearts of millions. After South Koreas Jin Jong Oh had won gold, he said, “If the two (Koreas) become one, we could have a bigger medal”. “If both the gold and bronze medals came from one Korea, it could have been a much greater win.” A perfect example that politics should not divide people. This is another example of the united spirit of the Olympics.

NK SK COMPETITIVE SHOOTERS

5/ Saudi Arabia’s first female athlete to compete

Kariman Abuljadayel is the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the 100m track field in the Olympics, creating history for the Middle Eastern world.

MY GURL

Many have praised the lady for the effort she put in and for aiding breakthroughs in stereotypes surrounding women in Saudi Arabia.

6/ Egypt’s first woman to stand on the podium

Sara Ahmed has also made Olympic history as the first Arab woman to win a medal in weightlifting and for being the first Egyptian woman on the rostrum. The 18 year old won bronze in the woman’s  69-kilogram weight class by lifting a combined weight of 225 kilograms.

gurl power

Ahmed is another inspiration to women all around the world, competing in her hijab and unitard, winning bronze and a spot in Olympic history wearing her religious identity proudly. Moreover, like Muhammad, she is a part of a progressive movement that fights against Islamophobia.

7/ The first-ever Refugee team

“Being a refugee does not mean you are not a human being.”

– Rose Nathike Lokonyen

For the first time, in the Olympics, there was a refugee team on the list. With the increasing political unrest around the world, this team is a symbol of hope for those who have fled home in order to save themselves. The members each have an inspiring story to share about their determination for survival from their dire circumstances. This comes to show that everyone just desires to live and wish to have a place to call home.

march

The crowd gave the 10 member Olympic refugee team a standing ovation as they marched into the Maracana Stadium for their first time. Regardless of whether they won a medal or not, they won the fight of their lives. And that, is simply amazing.

refugee team

The team consists of Yusra Mardini, Popole Misenga, Yonas Kinde, Rami Anis, Yolande Bukasa Masika, Yiech Pur Biel, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, James Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen

Congratulations to all participating countries. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more amazing moments to come!

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4 lessons for First Years at University

Written by Student Life

You’re in the last year of school. Everyone’s thinking the same thing: you’re about to leave a place that has spoon-fed you for the last 6 years. And now, you’ve been told to “go face the real world”. Yes, the transition is quite dramatic. Yes, it might be the most strange and daunting but most meaningful experience. Yes, it might force you to think differently. However, you’ve made it through semester one, and finally got a taste of the awaited “university life”. Now, it’s time to reflect and apply the lessons we’ve learnt.

Lesson 1: Constant effort is required

University is not someplace where you show up for lectures “just because”, procrastinate and nick off your lecturer’s notes. That’s called “slipping through the cracks” and that only works in high school when our teachers were always there to push us. However, in University, around ninety percent of studying is done by individual research and note taking. It’s almost impossible to earn a decent mark through our high school ways.

UNSW EDSOC President Emma Tang phrases her advice as “University is not a place where things are given to you on a silver platter. It is challenging and requires a plethora of critical thinking, and if you want to make the most out of it, you have to carve out your own opportunities.”

it gon be hard werk

Lesson 2: Making friendship circles are important

In high school, did you ever have a friend who was just your friend because you saw them five times a day? Well, that’s only because you had an easy way to get into contact. In high school, class times and break times were fixed, allowing you to bond with your friends without much effort. However, it’s different in university. It’s so important to make friends in university and keep in touch with the high school friends you truly love. In times of hardships or trouble, your friends are your pillars of support who know what you’re going through.

FRENZ

Lesson 3: Having a balance through time management is so so important

If you are one of those students who balanced school life with work and extracurricular activities, this might be a bit easier for you. However, for most people, it’s crucial to know that university is not all about placing your mind, body and soul into study. Working, socializing and time management are essential and important. They are the center of your university life. Unlike school, you’ll now need to handle more “adult stuff” which could range from more work shifts or trying to find financial stability, moving out and so on.

LILLY

Lesson 4: University broadens your outlook of the world

Even though you’re one in an ocean of students, it’s less restrictive than school. It allows you to expand and grow your mindset. It’s all up to you to spread your boundaries and explore what is beyond your comfort zones. It’s all about moving forward even if you don’t necessarily want to, but need to in order to grow.

Many times in my high school years and from current high schoolers, I regularly hear “Will I be good enough?” “What if I can’t cope?” “What if it’s too hard for me?” Students always worry about not being able to put up with the pace because of constant assurances of people claiming that “University is much harder” or “After high school, get ready for ‘the real world'”.

What is “the real world”, anyway? It has a very broad definition and that’s for you to decide. Of course, in university you’re required to be self-sufficient and independent. However, after experiencing a semester, is the “real world” that terrifying? Not really. It may be harder, but that’s what makes you stronger. University brings on many challenges foreign to you. But, stay in your lane and keep pushing forward. It may be hard, but it’s not impossible.

Bruce the legend Lee

Everything falls into your own two hands after graduation. It’s up to you to take control of your situation since no one else is held responsible for it neither will they take responsibility for it. Don’t get paranoid or afraid. Make an effort to reach out to as many opportunities as you can, stay on top of your game and when things get hard take it one step at a time and you will be fine.

Believe in yourself!

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Pokemon Go: what’s good, what’s not and what’s ugly

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

2016 is a year that will leave its footprint in history. Our future generations will look back at our legacies and think “They had nothing to do, did they?” All jokes aside, this year has fulfilled the dreams and wishes of every Pokemon trainer in the world.

POKEMEN 2
Pokemon been a major part of our childhoods and each of us has wished to have their own unique Poke-squad to challenge and venture with. Thanks to technology we can now do exactly that! Niantic has made a fantastic game which allows players to live a fictional virtual world where we can play as our fictional characters.

The Good:

It forces people to exercise. For real, has there ever in history, existed a game so good that it accidentally makes players exercise? (Emphasis on the unexpectedly).

Tom Yates, a researcher at the University of Leicester, suggests that the new game can ‘ease type 2 diabetes burden.’ He further says that the risk of type 2 diabetes is “widely associated with physical inactivity obesity” and that Pokemon Go “could be an innovative solution for rising obesity levels”. Click here to read more about their findings.

20160731_132630

Photo credit: Sumaiyah Tasneem

Pokemon Go is not a game that you can play walking around your house. (Unless you use a drone, that is some next level stuff). A player must walk to Poke Stops to collect Poke balls, potions and step outside to catch Pokemon. This results in lots of exercises. Walking is one of the best ways to get healthy. Additionally, people get the chance to explore new places and areas too. Families have found a good way to bond with each other through the game, proving that both the younger and older generation can enjoy it. In fact, a nursing home in Florida is using the game to unite and connect their senior citizens. It helps them maintain physical activeness and freshen their minds. 

giphy (3)

On a Facebook page titled “Pokemon Go Stories” many people posted stories both positive and negative regarding the game, however, the positive experiences posted by individuals is noticeably larger in number.

Apart from all the benefits listed above, many people happen to find mental health benefits from the game. Many people feel a sense of community while playing, finding an easier way to socialise with people and expand friendships. In an article by Nathan Grayson,the author speaks extensively on how Pokemon Go has assisted him in dealing with his social anxiety. However, it is important to note that Pokemon Go is not a substitute for mental health treatment but just a tool of assistance in dealing with it.

giphy
One more thing, as silly and fairy-tale like it may sound, it unites people in a world where division threatens unity. This game has made people more united, created a community where people feel a sense of belonging. It is the most fun way to put aside differences and just be friends enjoying the same things.

However, hold it right there. As wonderful as the game is, nothing is perfect. We must know that with incredible technological advances, we have some people who may be careless or use the advancement for harm rather than good. Although Pokemon Go has provided many benefits, it has also attracted some negativity due to various reasons.

The Bad:

The possibility of accidents while playing are very high, many people have reported injuries, car road hazards, trespassing and more dangerous situations, examples ranging from car crashing into a cop carsomeone being shot at for trespassing, and even a man getting threatened at knife point while playing the game. What’s worse about robberies is, the game has the perfect device to lure in unsuspecting players and find themselves victims. The game has a certain feature where setting an “incense” can attract players and Pokemon. However, robbers have invited players into isolated areas and robbed them while they look for that rare Pikachu.  

13925235_1070078096412555_2958579731012906875_n

The Ugly:

Moreover, finally, what’s the most strange and odd thing about this game is the privacy policy. Pokemon Go has access to your entire Google account. Yes. On top of that, they have the right to provide your information to government officials at any given time and place.

The ugly abt Pokemon GoOne can argue that they collect information for statistical purposes. However, to have access to information of many many people and to have the right to provide whatever information to third parties, one cannot help but wonder why exactly they hold onto the information and if they truly use it only for statistical purposes. I’m not a conspiracy theorist! I just find this something to get suspicious over. I cannot be the only one worried and slightly paranoid by this piece of information.

giphy (1)

So finally after reading on about that, do enjoy this game! Be the best Pokemon adventure destiny calls you to be. However, please do be careful! Happy hunting!

 

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Eat Like A Refugee for One Week: Ration Challenge

Written by News, Student Life

My name is Sumaiyah Tasneem, and I have attempted the Act for Peace Ration Challenge of 2016. If I were to write this article talking about every minute of my experience, I could go on writing forever. But, let’s start with:

What is the Ration Challenge?

From the 19th until the 25th of June, contestants are challenged to eat the same rations as a Syrian refugee for a week and raise donations for them. In doing so, the participants will experience a small part of a refugee’s struggle and contribute awareness about refugee life. Through the power of compassion, we can show refugees that “we are with them, not against them”.

act-alliance-logo

The idea of the Ration Challenge is an initiative of The ACT Alliance, a network of 140 organisations and 130 countries. This foundation works to help communities threatened by conflict and disaster. Together with the Act for Peace, they hope to achieve easier lives for Syrian refugees. Act for Peace is an agency focusing on international aid which belongs to and is governed by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) which consists of 19 member churches.

NCC

 

My experiences before the Challenge:

Initially, the primary focus for me were donations. As soon as I opened my fundraising page, I told friends, family, acquaintances, cat and dogs, anyone who would give a donation. Personally, the page had felt like direct access to help to the refugees, so I considered this challenge as one of the easiest ways to help people in need. I was busy encouraging everyone to donate to the cause in general, but I didn’t really sit down to think about what the Challenge would be like. I hadn’t fully comprehended how hard it would actually be. Logically, I knew that it would be painful as my Challenge Kit contained basic rice, flour, lentils, and oil. However, I didn’t know how painful exactly. I never knew food had such a significant impact in my life, and that hunger could change so many things. 

RATION PORTIONS

During the Challenge:

So, how does it feel doing the Challenge? To put it frankly, there is solid hunger involved. Usually, you only think about physical pain. You’re trying not to get side tracked and lose your focus (which is against the challenge’s rules of course). 

Whenever it was time to eat, I was baffled by the satisfaction I felt after simply having bread or lentils. I also found it extremely hard to sleep in such a state. On the first night, I slept on my stomach, but woke up numerous times because I felt my torso twist and turn painfully. 

aaahhhhh

Apart from the physical pain, there are many other obstacles involved when it comes to battling hunger. My mood was never fixed. I was always either happy or sad, angry or hungry, but mostly dull and sullen. Focusing on work or study was almost impossible. My mind was all over the place. One thought led to another, and at some point I realised that it could have been a refugee. This is what life is like for a refugee. It was terrifying to imagine their life in a war-zone additionally, constantly threatened by the potential loss of friends and family. It was almost too surreal even to consider. 

CONTRACT

After the Challenge:

I have realised that before doing the Challenge, there was a certain extent of ignorance about the experiences of refugees. But, if I hadn’t done this challenge, I wouldn’t have known how hard it is for them to live on such small rations. Residing in Australia, a developed country, I had the chance to live their hunger and a little part of the pain that comes with it.

tears of joy

Now, I see that life is incredibly complex when hunger is involved. And it’s not just food or physical hunger. It’s also the emotional suffering when having to bear these tribulations all at once. Not only do they have minimal food and no security of a home, but must also cope with the trauma of a war zone. These people are facing their lives now with raw vulnerability and an impending sense of doom. Being completely in the shoes of refugees is a lot harder than we could ever understand. I wasn’t acutely aware of the reality of the refugees. Perhaps no one truly can be until they have experienced it themselves.

The power of humanity is winning

I would encourage everyone to try this Challenge at least once as I believe we can ultimately help one of the most marginalised groups in the world. By understanding the experiences of the refugees, we can use our power as a society to change laws and sway governments in their favour. In participating in the Challenge, you can also help the organisations who can provide them with more food rations. If we don’t help, then who will?

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As of now, the current statistics on the Ration Challenge page show that $2,023,952 has been raised. That is enough to feed 7,254 refugees for a whole year! You can view the changing numbers here. If you wish to donate to the cause, you can sponsor some of the participants of the Challenge. Or, if you wish to attempt it in 2017, you can pre-register here.

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Photo credit: Sumaiyah Tasneem & ChiPheo & Huu Trong Nguyen

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Unity in the community: My experience in Art Week at The University of Notre Dame

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

Mental health is a growing issue in today’s society. One in four of the population suffers from mental health related issues. With all the taboos surrounding it, it has become a challenge to discuss mental health openly and well-being. However, it is an ongoing battle and between students of all ages and backgrounds, spiritual healing is an important aspect of de-stressing and mental peace. To shed light on mental wellness week, Art week was held the University of Notre Dame Australia, on the Broadway campus. It was a week long event dedicated to focusing on the mental well-being of students. My experience in the event was enlightening and opened my eyes to the possibility of art as a coping mechanism for the mind.

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Art Week was organised by Students Association of the University of Notre Dame Australia (SAUNDA). In previous years, it used to be a global themed event, in which they had performances such as singing, dancing, etc. However, this year, they turned it up a notch, organising a week-long event, where students displayed their artistic talents while others took part in the interactive art lessons set up my members of SAUNA. It was a set theme, which was art. The goal was to heal mental spirituality through a medium which isn’t commonly used. “It was a collective idea within the team,” said Rian Galliot, the education director of SAUNDA. “The reason we used art was that Notre Dame was full of artistic students who needed an outlet to express their talents.”

suds

Suds and soaps made by Jenny Chen

glowly suds

They glow when you put them through the sunlight!

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Art displays made by students across the green wall looked like a unified masterpiece

“The initial start was hard.” said Christian Santos, president of SAUNDA. “but when it gets going, when people join in, its great. People love being involved in it.”

The student body perhaps wished for something different, and the event delivered successfully. In my opinion, using art as a theme was perfect as it was vague in itself. “Art” was a way of expressing emotions in different ways. Through music, through voices, through drawing/paintings and knitting. There were many amazing singing performances which created a calm, blissful and beautiful environment with musical instruments backing their raw vocals. Other students performed magic and illusion tricks, walking around the courtyard and interacting with students and blowing their minds away (mine included). As for the art displays, many statements were made through the artworks and the viewers related to them. It made me realise that us students go through similar instances and art we find such similarities, connect to each other and be more unified. This was an ice breaker to get more acquainted with students, creating a stronger community. While being in the event, I felt the community spirit, and many participants agreed with me.

“This event is different, unique and brings the community together.” said Christelle Santos, the club director of SAUNDA. 

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sing       gurlss

Additionally, to promote students to get immersed in art, there were art tables set up, where everyone could paint, draw or knit. I was fortunate enough to witness a masterpiece come to life.

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On Thursday of the week, there was a petting zoo in the courtyard. SAUNDA collaborated with The Law Society of Notre Dame to bring us beautiful animals! Everyone present loved it. Staff members and students alike dropped by for some precious moments with the beloved little creatures today.
baby lamb

 

 

baby bunny

And of course, a great event is never complete without great food. Sausage sizzle and crispy Nutella toasties were served for a dollar each.

king grill

And since this is an art event, there were some amazing artists who I was fortunate enough to meet. Talking to them and discussing the statements, styles and subjects of their works was insightful and inspiring. To look at their works, follow them on social media:

Jenny Chen

Instagram: One_Eye_Deer

Facebook: Suds ‘N’ Sparrow

“I get to focus on nothing but the brush strokes, its like art therapy.”

JENNIE

Julie Tabouli

Instagram: Jodie tabouli

“When exams pile up, I procrastinate, and art is the result.”

JULLIE

Marie Carydis

Instagram: aquarellaart

Facebook: AquarellaArt

“I am an Australian artist residing in Sydney. I predominantly draw and paint fantasy or nature-based art using watercolour.

MARRIE

Rian Galliot

Deviant art: Astaldour.deviantart.com

“Art is meant to be an expression of beauty, and I like to express what that means. For me, as a Catholic, the topic of God is the source of beauty.”

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I would like to thank everyone who came to the event, participated in it, enjoyed it and mostly, the Student Association and everyone else who was involved in organising it. The event was very well planned and executed. Many students and I included would love to see this event happen again. I encourage everyone to join in on the fun next time, submit their art, perform and get involved! It’s all worth it, I promise you. 🙂

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