Awna Besan, Fall 2013
Highlighting the experiences of recent Semester in Dialogue grads: Awna Besan, Conflict and Governance (2013).
What semester did you participate in?
Fall 2013, "Conflict and Governance" with Sean Blenkinsop and Geoff Mann.
What was one highlight from the semester?
For me, the opportunity to collectively step outside of a status quo reality and, as a class, bear witness to the life stories of individuals living in less privileged circumstances who, nevertheless, through their stories challenged us to reimagine notions of things like choice, opportunity, and healing. Most notably, a full-day visit to a women's penitentiary and a talk from a former survival sex worker were humbling and transformative in this way.
What are you doing differently now as a result of the semester?
I find I'm much more focused - and more eager - to get involved in activities and networks in my life that relate directly back to my passions. I'm having an easier time identifying what I feel most fueled by, and what I care to learn about, help with, and define myself alongside!
Tell us about one of your projects in the Semester and why it mattered to you?
For my final project, I made a DIY zine (i.e. a mini-magazine/flyer of mixed media, usually dealing with personal and/or politically themed topics not commonly published by mainstream publications). I challenged myself to write some personal essays, stories, and poems to help with processing my recent emergence into my own queerness - but, with that, I found myself reflecting on how I think of my identity as a whole, at times looking back into my childhood as an immigrant child sandwiched between two cultures. It was an important chance to situate my experience and further build a writer's voice that I hope to hone as my writing grows.
What are you doing now that you want to tell the world about?
I'm just a semester away from graduating!! So I'll be busy continuing to build my experience base, especially as the next chapter of my life unfolds. I'm exploring different frontiers of writing, contributing as best I can to social justice work, and gearing myself towards grad school on the not-so-distant horizon (with a likely focus on Rhetoric and Communications studies).