The (Mawr)velous Adventures of Esteniolla

"…we got so caught up in school being a tradition that we stopped using it as a learning tool…" –Tupac

Inquiries about Silence

Today was the start of the 360 course cluster I am taking this semester! For those who do not know, the 360 program is a relatively new program that allows Bryn Mawr and Haverford students to take 3 interdisciplinary courses that engage 15 selected students on a relevant issue in today’s society. As a freshman, I was given the opportunity to take a 360 entitled, Learning and Narrating Childhoods, that explored culture, literacies and the effects of colonialism in childhood and education. Along with my 360 peers, I went on a educational trip to Northern Ghana where I observed early childhood schools and immersed myself in the Ghanian culture.

As a sophomore, I have the opportunity to take a second 360, Women in Walled Communities: Silence, Voice, Vision, that will explore the agency of women in confined spaces. Most exciting, and a bit nerve-wracking, is the field component to the 360 where my peers and I will visit, interact with and learn with incarcerated women at a correctional facility every week.

Although, all of the classes are mind-blowing and rich with conversation, I am particularly interested in the class that says very little. I am talking specifically about the course, The Rhetorics of Silence, which is one of the three 360 cluster courses focused on how silence can be used as a tool of empowerment. Today in class, we were asked to go outside, take ten minutes of silence and reflect on the silent experience for five minutes.

Although the task was quite unusual for the start of any class, I really enjoyed the activity. I wanted to share my thoughts from my 10 minutes of silence:

In silence…

I notice my body and how sore and exhausted it is from the stress of starting classes and perhaps life in general.

I notice beauty right before my eyes as a bright orange leaf gracefully flutters and twirls to the ground.

I noticeĀ  the soundtrack to my thoughts–unfortunately it is “Baby” by Justin Beiber

I notice that in silence, there will be noise: my thoughts, the rough singing of insects, the rustling of creatures unknown.

In silence…

can one grow with only thoughts for company?

From my reflection, I realize that silence is never void of noise (i.e. I can still hear things even though I am silent) and that silence heightens one’s senses (i.e. I am more you take the time to notice leaves falling?). However, in the context of walled communities, like prisons, I am eager to explore how silence plays out in these spaces. In confined spaces, is silence deafening or comforting? What is the impact of silence when it is enforced versus when it is chosen? In prisons where both men and women are shunned from society, how is silence used to limit and degrade inmates and what ways can it be used to empower them? Is silence feared? How do we define silence? Does it exist?

These are just a few of many questions to come.I am so excited at the opportunity to explore them in my 360! Until next time…