A Fresh View: TWTP and Brown’s Culture

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Hello friends! I am Yuzuka Akasaka, the ineffably ecstatic first-year blogger for A Fresh View. As I happily stumble through the beautiful hot mess that is the first chapter of my college life, I hope y’all will enjoy the Brown experience with me through the blog posts. I am sending love and good vibes to every single one of you from my new home, Providence, Rhode Island. 

I had the opportunity to attend one of the pre-orientation programs (August 26th-29th) offered at Brown, the Third World Transition Program (TWTP), which is hosted by the Third World Center (now the Brown Center for Students of Color). When I signed up, I did not know much about it, except that its participants would learn about forms of oppression in society, and that I would be able to move in several days earlier than my peers (avoiding over one-thousand freshmen moving in on one day was definitely the right move on my part).

According to the TWTP webpage, the program, “welcomes new students to Brown and provides an introduction to the support structures and resources available to them. Another focus of the program is an exploration of systems of oppression that exist in our society today, including racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and heterosexism. Through an examination of the problems that divide our society, we seek to break down the barriers that separate us in order to build understanding and community. We also call on all participants to reconsider their history and aspects of their identity in order to better understand themselves and the similarities and differences between themselves and their peers.”

The program included engaging workshops lead by the fabulous TWTP staffers on sexism (discrimination based on gender, especially against women, with a focus on how the patriarchy affects women of color), classism (discrimination against individuals in certain social classes), heterosexism (discrimination against queers on the belief that heterosexuality is the norm), cissexism (discrimination against non-cis people; cis-people are people who feel that their sex assigned at birth line up with their gender), religious discrimination (discrimination against those who believe or do not believe in a certain religion), racism (discrimination based on race or ethnicity), and imperialism (way in which countries utilize systems of oppression to maintain control, with a focus on the U.S.). I greatly enjoyed the workshops, the icebreakers, and the Class Spirit Competition at the end of TWTP (so much fun, yet bittersweet).

TWTP taught me about the importance of leaning into discomfort, and having discussions about topics that society often avoids. I was interested in thinking and conversing about these topics before, but the program allowed me to expand my knowledge.  There is a culture of political correctness and activism at Brown, which is often not the case in the communities that many students grew up in, and TWTP allowed participants to transition into this culture by creating a safe and educational space for questions, discussions, and personal narratives. The creation of this space facilitated bonding among us participants, and knowing familiar faces and already having friends before the rest of the class of 2018 moved in made me feel significantly more at ease. I believe the program influenced participants to become more willing to listen to marginalized voices, continue these conversations throughout college and beyond, and work to create a more equitable world. When I was a prospective student, one of the many aspects of Brown that I found attractive was the attitude of awareness for societal issues, and I am glad that I was immersed in this the moment I stepped onto campus for TWTP. I am thankful that Brown provides this program, and that I was able to attend it. Even though I was mortified by one icebreaker in which I had to dance inside of a large circle comprised of my fellow TWTP-ers, TWTP staffers, and Minority Peer Counselors, I could not have imagined a better way for me to begin my college adventure at Brown.

xoxo,

Yuzuka Akasaka

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for my next blog post, feel free to email me at yuzuka_akasaka@brown.edu. Have a lovely day!

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