The Extras: Archipelag-a

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Hello, Brunonian family! I’m Jacklyne Vargas, nice to meet you all *insert imaginary handshakes here*! I’m here to be your compass (well, that sounds heavy, doesn’t it?) in everything extracurricular here at Brown. If you’re reading this, send help you are a magnetic force of your own and I’m simply helping you figure out what attracts you. In all The Extras, in all the magnetic forces here at Brown, you can easily be pulled in countless directions, but I’m here to help! If anything, we’ll go crazy together…

There is no doubt that one of the common traits about Brown students is their way with expression. When filling out our Common Apps, we had to be able to demonstrate who we uniquely were to people we had never even met before. We had to stand out, not only be another statistic in the pile of over 30,000 highly-qualified students.

Whether it’s through words, song, dance or instruments, Brown students know how to use various mediums of expression to reflect their thoughts, emotions, passions, etc.

One of these mediums is spoken word! I have to say, I really admire those that can do spoken word, because 1) I love poetry and 2) stage fright is real, guys.

My friend Gianna Uson ’18 is one of these immensely talented individuals and she, so graciously, decided to share her experiences with you all!

Some beautiful words from the Archi Anthology:

Archipelag-a has provided us with a forum – a space to write together, re-read old scripts, and re-perform 19 years of storytelling – to truly appreciate the uncanny similarities and timelessness of our experiences, as well as the beauty contained within the patchwork of our differences. We write to, for, and because of each other.  Most of all, we write because we have each discovered a profound connection through poetry and performance that inextricably ties us to one another, to those that came before us, and to those whom we hope will follow.

The ladies of Archipelag-a during a spoken word performance

On what drove her interest in Archipelag-a:

I heard about Archipelag-a through another group that I’m a part of — Brown’s Filipino Alliance. I’ve had some experience with spoken word in my church during high school and knew that I wanted to continue in college. I saw some of Archipelag-a’s performances on YouTube and a lot of the things they said resonated with me and my experiences as a Filipina living in America. Although my experience with spoken word has been pretty limited, I believed joining Archipelag-a would be a great opportunity to not only grow as a spoken word poet, but also explore my identity as a Filipina and voice my perspective.

On the people in Archipelag-a:

Archipelag-a is made up of the women of the Filipino Alliance at Brown so anyone who identifies as Filipina and is looking for an outlet to have their voices heard, express their thoughts, or simply just learn more about spoken word are welcome to join! The members of Archipelag-a definitely create an amazing and supportive environment — it’s a safe space to talk about anything and everything… and it’s very empowering to be surrounded by Filipina women who are navigating college and life just like me!

On how to join Archipelag-a:

There really isn’t an audition process, so anyone who identifies as Filipina and has some interest in spoken word — writing, reciting, whatever it may be — should join!

On Archipelag-a’s presence in the Brown community:

Archipelag-a is actually the oldest spoken word group on campus and it was started in 1995! Each semester, the members of Archipelag-a collaboratively write, edit, and perform new scripts. We perform in different universities for Filipino/Asian events and spoken word events on campus! Among the many events the group performs at are Legends of the SEA during Southeast Asian Week and Kamayan, an annual Filipino cultural show for schools in the Northeast.

On Archipelag-a’s participation in spoken word competitions:

The club doesn’t participate in spoken word competitions, BUT next year is our 20th anniversary and y’all should look out for more details to come!

On what makes Archipelag-a stand out among other groups at Brown:

Archipelag-a is made up of a bunch of strong, empowered, independent Filipina women not afraid of offending an audience. We say it as it is, never sugar-coated, and we always bring the house down. LOL. But in all seriousness, Archipelag-a is very unique in that it’s an all-female spoken word group that celebrates the multiplicity and diversity of the Filipina culture and experience and we are all very supportive of each other. Sometimes our meetings don’t even need to involve writing or practicing — we’ll cry with each other, rant about life and schoolwork and whatnot, and we don’t ever have to worry about being judged.

On who should join Archipelag-a:

Filipinas should definitely consider joining Archipelag-a because it provides a very healthy and strong support system. It’s definitely helped me break out of my shell a little bit more and really explore my identity as a Filipina — and I don’t have to do it alone! I found a group of empowered women who have become my sisters.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Gianna!

Until next year readers! Stay safe, don’t freak out too much about your applications (psst.. it’ll be okay, promise!) and enjoy the wonderful holiday season!

As always, all my love.


Don’t hesitate to leave any questions, comments, frustrations, tirades, rants, chocolates, inquiries or suggestions (I’d love your input) either below or in my email,! I’m seriously excited to interact with you all… Seriously. Have a delightful day!


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