Cultural Awareness Presentation on the Refugee Experience

Last Friday, students and faculty gathered for a Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” on campus. The event featured representatives from “The Center”, a non-profit organization that offers resettlement resources to refugees in Utica, New York (aka my hometown and home of the world’s best pizza). Focal points on the discussion included an overview of how The Center supports refugees in their transition to a new culture, a real-life account of the relocation process, and how we as the American public can support refugees as they become part of our communities. 

Shana Pughe Dean, a translation and training manager from The Center, opened the discussion with the mission of the organization. “Our goal is to lead and build a community with many cultures, or our signature tagline is ‘many cultures one community’” she expressed. Pughe Dean explained that The Center, in its 41 years as a formal establishment, has examined what support systems refugees need outside of the core elements of relocating. “We offer interpreting, translation services, immigration and citizen assistance, we have employment opportunities, and also a traffic safety program.” Half of the staff at The Center are former refugees that came through the programs offered by the organization. Pughe Dead stated that her staff “understand the experience, but have also shown what it means to be willing to open your doors to people from other places.” The discussion emphasized how challenging the refugee experience can be, yet how positively refugees impact their communities and others going through the relocation process.

Following Shana Pughe Dean was Nan Han, a medical interpreter, college student, and former refugee from Burma. As a young child, Nan’s family fled from political persecution and lived in a refugee camp for 4 years. “Refugee camp was no joke, it was terrible. I don’t want anyone to have to stay there for the rest of their lives” she remarked. After years of waiting, Nan’s family was finally approved to start their new life in the city of Utica. As a non-English speaking elementary student from a family unaware of how to navigate the American education system, Nan was subject to bullying early on. She struggled to accumulate the to American culture. However, with aid from The Center and kindness from her some of peers, Nan was able to overcome adversity and helps other refugees today. 

Nan Han discussing her experiences as a refugee

Nan expressed that she and her family never wanted to be refugees and that they were forced into relocating. The hardships that she endured in having to learn a new language, culture, and way of life took years to overcome. She emphasized that when the community embraces refugees, it makes the massive transition much easier. When asked how people can act as advocates for refugees in their daily lives, Nan responded that we need to “just be kind”. 

The Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” was sponsored by First-Year Seminar, the Education Department, International Programs, the Franciscan Center, the Women’s Center, and the Damietta Center. If you want to learn more about the resources offered by The Center in Utica, be sure to visit their website. As always, follow our social media pages @sienaliberalarts to stay up-to-date on other events happening on campus!

“Oceans or Landfills?” Plastic Pollution Presentation with Expert Judith Enck

“Get active on these issues while you are still a college student” -Judith Enck

On the evening of Wednesday, February 12th, guests overfilled the Norm for “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastics”. The lecture featured Senior Fellow & Visiting Faculty member at Bennington College and Founder of Beyond Plastics at Bennington, Judith Enck. Judith delved into the dirty and devastating realities of the extreme increase of single-use plastic in the U.S over the past two decades. The presentation emphasized the urgency of this matter as the clock is ticking on how long the world still has to fix this issue. As Judith described the crisis, the Earth may be soon facing the irreversible effects of climate change and, at this point, “recycling is not the solution.” 

The event was sponsored by The Fair Trade & Social Justice Committee, CURCA, and The Stack Center and was opened by Dr. Vera Eccarius-Kelly of the political science department. Beyond Plastics at Bennington College in Vermont is an organization dedicated to ending plastic pollution through policy and societal change. During his presidency, Judith was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, she was in charge of overseeing the environmental protection of various regions across the nation. Judith was also Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the NY Governor’s Office. 

Judith Enck with former U.S President Barack Obama

Through her discussion, Judith expressed concerns regarding the continued increase in plastic production. “8.8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year” she noted. In explaining this unimaginable amount, Judith helped the audience conceptualize how generating this much pollution has been possible. A timely phenomenon, she stated that half of all plastic that has ever existed has been produced in just the past two decades. Judith indicated that the millions of tons of plastic in the ocean are not going away or even decreasing anytime soon with this rate of increase in plastic production. Furthermore, she noted that plastic in landfills will remain there until they begin to breakdown after roughly 500 years.

Judith explaining plastic pollution in oceans

At this point, the audience was left to wonder, what can we do to stop plastic pollution? Judith’s answer- produce less plastic. 

While she drove-home the point that this issue requires significant systemic and policy changes, there are ways that individual consumers can help. Judith urged the crowd to partake in eliminating what she referred to as the “Plastic Trifecta”, or single-use plastic straws, bags, and polystyrene, in their everyday lives. While it may seem like a small effort, Judith emphasized that change in plastic pollution can occur when a lot of people get on-board. Substantial progress can occur if the masses begin to reduce their daily plastic consumption.


Judith Enck closed out this event optimistically in saying she is “hopeful for the future because people are paying attention.” If you missed “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastic” be sure to check out the Beyond Plastics website for more information on the organization and how you can make a difference in ending plastic pollution. As always, be sure to stay up-to-date with what’s happening on campus by following Siena’s SOLA InstagramTwitter, and Facebook pages! Hope to see you at the next event, Saints!

The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY Brings “The Niceties” to Campus

Welcome back, Saints! As the Spring semester starts to unfold, the Creative Arts Department is already bringing new theatrical experiences to campus. 

This past weekend, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY presented The Niceties, a play by Eleanor Burgess, directed by Jean-Remy Monnay, and assistant directed by Steph Saint Germain, in Foy Hall’s Beaudoin Theater. The troupe is dedicated to promoting artists of color through the performance of theatrical pieces. Through their work, the Black Theatre Troupe aims to generate a greater understanding, appreciation, and participation in the performing arts within communities of color. 

As Siena enters our 3rd Annual MLK Week, the performance served as an emotional and thought-provoking kick-off to the week’s scheduled events. Dealing with race, American history, issues of social injustices, and politics all within the walls of a professor’s office, The Niceties captures the drastic differences in perception between a White Ivy League professor and her highly-motivated Black student. Comprised of both Siena students and faculty as well as local community members, the audience could not turn away from the mesmerizing performances of the show’s stars; Monet Thompson & Christina Reeves. 

The Niceties takes place solely in a casual office hours meeting of a history professor (Christina Reeves) and her student, Zoe (Monet Thompson). After reading over Zoe’s paper on the American Revolution, her professor provides Zoe some simple grammatical feedback. However, the tension between the two builds as the professor proceeds to question Zoe’s sources, thesis, and eventually, her mentality regarding race and American history. Zoe stands by her thesis, arguing with the claims that her professor makes. The audience was on the edge of their seats, watching closely as the intensified situation turned into chaos. I will refrain from spoiling anything, but I will say that both the professor’s and Zoe’s lives were forever changed in the end.

Although showings of The Niceties are over on campus, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY does have other productions, such as The Meeting, Camp Logan, and The Mountaintop, coming up soon. Anyone interested in seeing what other performances the group has to offer can find upcoming events on their website.

If you missed out on The Niceties, keep up to date with all of the other Creative Arts Department’s Spring semester events as they are sure to be just as entertaining! Make sure the check out our School of Liberal Arts’ Facebook page to stay updated on the MLK Week events as they occur from January 29th through February 5th! 

Sociology Film & Speaker Series Features “The Isis Trial- No History of Violence”

Last Wednesday evening, the Maloney Great Room was filled to near capacity as students and faculty came out to attend The Sociology Film & Speaker Series. This segment of the series featured a film screening of the documentary The Isis Trial-No History of Violence by filmmaker Ellie Bernstein. The film followed the journey of a group of young American-Somali boys, all with no history of violence, who were convicted of terrorism in 2016. After the screening, attendees held a lively discussion with expert panelists about their own experiences with preemptive arrest and imprisonment. 

The event was opened up by Tarik Shah playing the base as the audience situated themselves for the evening. Once the film began, the room grew silent as the story of controversial FBI investigations on Somali Americans unfolded. The main focus points of the documentary included the backstories of the individuals that were arrested, how community efforts to decrease ISIS affiliations were flawed, and an analysis of the tactics used by the FBI throughout the case.   

Starting off the discussion was attorney Steve Downs of Project Salaam who has a great deal of experience dealing with such cases. He gave the audience a brief overview of what preemptive arrest and imprisonment looks like from a wider legal context. This idea of being arrested without committing a crime is not new to panelist Abu Horayra Hossain whose father was preemptively arrested when he was just a child. Similarly to the Somali boys presented in the film, Abu expressed that, in his dad’s case, “There was not really any evidence because he never really did anything.” Both Steve Downs and Abu Horaya Hossain provided the crowd a small look into the issue of Muslim Americans being targets for being accused, investigated, and incarcerated without committing any crimes. 

Set up in an FBI sting operation, the next panelist, Tarik Shah, spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to provide aid to a terrorist group. He discussed the horrors of living in solitary confinement such as always being under surveillance and enduring freezing cold temperatures in his cell. Expressing that he never had any intent to join a terrorist organization and was a victim of entrapment, Tarik noted that he is not bitter about his wrongful conviction. He wants to see a change in what is occurring and stated that “Change can only happen through a lot of brave people.” 

The director and producer of the film herself, Ellie Bernstein, was also on the panel but made it clear that she wanted the real-life experiences of the other speakers to take priority. She did conclude the night by letting the audience know that how completely daunting the specific case showcased in her documentary still feels to her to this day. 

If you missed out on the Sociology Film & Speaker Series and have an interest in the criminal justice system, human rights, or community development, I highly recommend checking out the film The Isis Trial-No History of Violence. Co-sponsors for this event were the Sociology Department & Criminal Justice minor, the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, The Fair Trade and Social Justice Committee, the School of Liberal Arts, the Education Department, and the Multicultural Studies Minor.

Faculty Research Symposium Highlights Professor Karin Lin-Greenburg

On the afternoon of Monday, October 28th, Siena’s School of Liberal Arts hosted its annual Faculty Research Symposium. The event serves as a celebration of faculty members’ accomplishments post their return from sabbatical. Sharing one of her stories, “Housekeeping”, from a collection of short stories she recently completed, titled “Lost or Damaged”, was Associate Professor of English, Karin Lin-Greenburg

Before sharing her work with the audience, Professor Lin-Greenburg provided background on how her surroundings have influenced her writing. She explained that, in her recent collection, all of the short stories take place in the Capital Region as she has lived here since she began teaching at Siena in 2012. “One of the things that has been great for me with my job at Siena is that is has allowed me to settle down in one place and to use that place as the setting for my stories” she expressed.

Besides geographically, the stories in her collection are connected through “acts of unkindness”, as Professor Lin-Greenburg put it, and focus often on conflicts between women. “In the stories, I try to show the motivations for the characters’ actions” she stated in discussing how she hopes listeners can perceive problematic characters as sometimes sympathetic or rounded. The stories in the collection combine lost or damaged characters (hence the title) with a sense of humor to better understand the heavy topics.

I won’t give any spoilers, but once Professor Lin-Greenburg began reading “Housekeeping”, it was clear to see that the main character was a perfect example of the noted “problematic-yet-sympathetic” character. The story focuses on two sisters living in upstate New York whose modest lives get turned upside down after the suicide of a celebrity in their small town. The younger sister is extremely bright but tends to also be pessimistic and critical of her legal guardian/ older sister. The older sister continuously sacrifices her own wants and needs to meet those of her little sister.

Professor Lin-Greenburg decided to share “Housekeeping” to read not only because it was the first story she wrote while on sabbatical, but also because it was recently accepted by The Southern Review. The literary journal has been a favorite of Professor Lin-Greenburg’s for over a decade and after hearing many “no”’s from them in the past, she was excited to finally hear a “yes”.

Once Professor Lin-Greenburg had finished reading “Housekeeping”, she was met with the applause of the audience. After attendees had their apple cider and cider donuts (perfect for the story’s upstate NY setting) on their way out, the Faculty Research Symposium came to an end. If you are interested in other upcoming SOLA events, be sure to check out this week’s Greyfriar Living Literature Series featuring fiction author Jaimee Wriston Colbert. Visit our Facebook page, @sienalibarts, for more info!

“Echoes of my Mind” Opening Reception

Siena’s various departments consistently invite engaging and entertaining guests to campus. Between performances, discussions, workshops, etc., special visitors are always appreciated in sharing new experiences and knowledge with the campus community. However, when an event is solely based on the creative accomplishments of someone from our campus, there is a communal sense of pride that comes along with the entertainment. This past Wednesday, Sergio Sericolo of Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office, showcased his artistic abilities and was met with the amazement of faculty and students alike.

The “Echoes of My Mind” art exhibition’s opening ceremony encouraged guests to enjoy mixed media artworks and to meet the artist, Sergio Sericolo, himself. Outside of being an art director for Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office and an adjunct drawing and painting instructor on campus, Sericolo is also an experienced exhibiting artist. With all of his Siena involvement in mind, it only seems fitting for his work to be shared right here on campus. In Yates Gallery, located on the second floor of the Standish Library, attendees were invited to refreshments as they enjoyed the afternoon. Sericolo was present during the event and freely engaged with guests as they moved from throughout the exhibition. 

“In my work, I incorporate pictures taken from anatomy, biology, and other natural history texts and books” Sericolo included in his displayed artist statement. He focused on layering his work to give more texture and depth to the pieces. He went on to explain that he “begin(s) each work with no plan, no preconceived notion of how the final product might look.” With themes in mind but no set plan for how his art might turn out, Sericolo was able to create pieces that could both stand on their own and complement one another in a collective display. 

Sericolo’s pieces embodied so much detailing that the longer I viewed them, the more complex the stories they told became. I had to make a few rounds of all of the displayed pieces to fully take in the unique the elements in each one. A few notable themes throughout the exhibition were human anatomy and nature, which seemed to be used to create completely new narratives. In many of his pieces, Sericolo utilized contrasting black and white patterns with bold colors to act as either the centerpiece or border of the piece. His use of pictures from textbooks humanized the work while still leaving it very abstract. Sericolo best expressed his work in the final line of his artist statement as a “natural abstraction.”

If you missed out on the opening reception of the “Echoes of my Mind” art exhibition, don’t worry! Sericolo’s artwork will be on display now through the end of the semester in the Yates Galley in the Standish Library. And while the previously mentioned “communal sense of pride in a campus member’s accomplishments” won’t be in the air, Serigio Sericolo’s pieces are still breathtaking, nonetheless.

Annual Clare Center Lecture Focuses on Relational Love in the Mayo Clinic

The 26th installment of the Clare Center Lecture Series brought Dr. Amy Koehlinger to campus on the evening of Wednesday, October 2nd. Each year, the lecture series aims to engage the Siena community in learning about a contemporary or historical aspect of the Franciscan tradition. This year’s lecture highlighted the Franciscan value of relational love in the developing of and revolutionary medical practices in the Mayo Clinic.

“I’m coming from Oregon so it may seem raining to you guys, but for me this is just an average Wednesday” Dr. Koehlinger joked about the dreary night as she began her presentation.  Dr. Koehlinger, an assistant professor of history and religious studies at Oregon State University, focuses her research on the culture of American Catholicism, the intersections of social reform and religion, and gender roles within American religious traditions. For her visit to Siena, it was only fitting that she discussed the historical connections between the  Franciscans and the Mayo clinic since the college announced it’s new dual-nursing program with Maria College last month.

As Dr. Koehlinger explained in her lecture, the Mayo Clinic is a premier medical center located in Rochester, Minnesota. While today it is currently ranked as the number 1 overall best hospital in the United States by the U.S News and World Report and is home to one of the top medical schools in the nation, the clinic had very humble beginnings. After a tornado struck the small town of Rochester, many individuals were left in need of immediate medical care. As they both realized their community was in desperate need of aid, a partnership between a physician William Mayo and Catholic nun Mother Mary Moes was born.

Dr. Mayo and Mother Mary Moes  would go on to lay the foundation for  “one of the most unexpected and enduring institutional partnerships in the American medical profession” as Dr. Koehlinger referred to it. The duo recruited local physicians and the sisters from Mother Moes convent and got to work healing their community members. Years later, Mother Moes and Dr. Mayo would go on to open up St. Mary’s Hospital, a Catholic facility fully staffed with Catholic sisters, but open to people from all religious backgrounds. 

“(The Franciscan  sisters) worked back-to -back shifts and slept on the floor when the hospital was filled to capacity, as it almost always was” Dr. Koehlinger stated. In her discussion, she explained that the sacrifices the sisters made were what made the hospital so revolutionary at the time. Patients were never turned away, measures to insure conditions were sanitary were being implemented like never before, and most importantly, the staff treated the entire being of a patient, not just the part of their body that most obviously needed care. Throughout the years, the Mayo Clinic never lost its core Franciscan values, as Dr. Koehlinger expressed in her closing. While eventually the nursing staff would no longer only be made up of  Franciscan sisters and the  Franciscans would let go of legal and financial control of the hospital all together, the core values that started it all still live on in the organization to this day.

Today, the Mayo Clinic has a sponsorship board dedicated to making sure that  Franciscan values are still embedded into every department. Dr. Koehlinger ended the 2019 Clare Lecture Lecture Series by telling the audience that the original  Franciscan values are still alive in the clinic as every new employee to asked to follow in the original sister’s footsteps by “treat(ing) every patient and every colleague with respect and dignity.” It was the Franciscan value of relational love that made the original medical partnership, the care patients received, and Mayo Clinic, so exceptional.

LGBTQ Discrimination and Sex Rights Discussed by Constitution Day Lecturer

On Monday, September 23rd, the Siena community came out to attend “Constitution Day 2019: Sex Rights and the Liquor of Bureaucracy” featuring guest lecturer, Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis. A national holiday, Constitution Day exists to commemorate the signing of the Constitution in September, 1787. Here on campus, Constitution Day serves as an annual opportunity to discuss a relevant concern regarding constitutional law. This year’s Constitution Day took on a question that has been recently creating turmoil in American legislation: who really is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? 

The discussion was opened by Professor of Political Science, Dr. Leonard Cutler. Dr. Cutler elaborated on the relevance of this year’s theme, “A few weeks ago, the Trump administration took it’s staunchest position to date in legalizing anti-gay discrimination..” he continued  “..when it asked the supreme court of the United States to declare that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act permits private companies to fire workers based on their sexual orientation.” 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As explained by Dr. Cutler, the current presidential administration has taken on the stance that members of the LGBTQ community are not protected under Title VII in regards to private employers discriminatory practices. Following Dr. Cutler was Professor of Political Science, Dr. Jack Collens. Dr. Kreis and Dr. Collens attended graduate school together at the University of Georgia and after sharing his accolades with the crowd, it was time for Dr. Collens to invite Dr. Kreis to the stage. 

Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis currently teaches legal writing at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He authored the Illinois state law banning gay and transgender panic defenses in murder trials in 2017, which is the second of its kind in the U.S. Dr. Kreis opened by discussing how the accidental discovery of gay and lesbian bars during the Prohibition era sparked an ongoing dispute of the LGBTQ, immigrant, and working class communities versus American law-makers and private groups that wanted to maintain the social norms of pre-Industrial Revolution times. 

“If you had too many feminine men in your bar, they deemed it a place of disorderly conduct. And they put pressure on wholesalers to deny those establishments of liquor” Kreis stated. “In the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s the state said ‘If we see too many feminine men in a bar, we’re assuming it’s a gay bar and we’re shutting it down” he said about the determination if establishments could remain open post-prohibition. Basically, the battle between the LGBTQ community and American law-makers has been occurring for over a century.

At this point in the lecture, the question still remained, what does all of this mean for today’s concerns surrounding a new interpretation of Title VII? “The idea here is that you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation without also discriminating against them because of their sex.” He elaborated that the stereotypes surrounding gender roles used by employers to justify discriminatory practices against LGTBQ employees directly plays into sex discrimination. 

Dr. Kreis closed out his discussion by stating “Title VII is ultimately supposed to reflect our constitutional values and the law has been shaped by an understanding that sex stereotypes are dangerous..” Following the lecture, Dr. Kreis opened the floor for Q&A and soon after, Constitution Day 2019 came to an end. After all was said and done, attendees walked away from the event with a greater understanding on a topic that Dr. Kreis referred to as, currently, “the greatest civil rights case of our time.”

Siena Holds 6th Annual Hip-Hop Week

From Monday March 18th to Friday March 22nd, 2019, Siena celebrated its sixth annual Hip-Hop Week, a week-long celebration of the social and cultural impacts of the music genre. The week is coordinated by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center and Dr. Todd Snyder, associate professor of English, as well as the professor of a popular, upper-level writing class, “Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop.”

Hip-Hop Week kicked off on Monday with a visit from hip-hop pioneer, Biz Markie. Born Marcel Theo Hall but better known by his stage name, Markie has been working in the music industry for over thirty years and is well-known for his unique musical style, beatboxing skills, and DJ performances, as well as a brief dabbling in an acting career. When he took the stage in the Sarazen Student Union on Monday, he performed his hit single from 1989, “Just a Friend” and the audience sang loudly along to the familiar song. 

In Dr. Snyder’s introduction, he proudly shared that Siena is “the only college in the United States of America that has an annual Hip-Hop Week.” The event has become a staple not only in the Siena community but in the larger Capital Region, as Markie’s visit drew an impressive crowd of students, faculty, and community members. Dr. Snyder then lead a Q&A with Markie, asking about his initial interests in the hip-hop genre, as well as some of his personal influences with music. Markie was an engaging speaker, and his entertainer personality shown through in his responses; he would beatbox throughout his answers and crack jokes with the audience.

The events of the week also featured Hip-Hop Karaoke on Wednesday night, where students could win prizes by performing and dressing as their favorite artists, as well as a Hip-Hop Trivia Night on Thursday. This Friday March 22nd, Hip-Hop Week will conclude with “Expozé: Evolution of Hip-Hop” at 7:30pm, presented by Siena College’s Black & Latino Student Union. The event is a talent showcase that will feature a number of performances by Siena’s dance clubs. Tickets cost $3 for Siena students & faculty and $5 for outside guests, and all proceeds will be donated to the Coalition for Homeless Youth. 

Hip-Hop Week is sponsored by the Black & Latino Student Union, the Diversity Action Committee, Damietta-Cross Cultural Center, the English Department, Greyfriar Living Literature Series, Community Living, and Student Activities & Leadership Development.

If you’re interested in reading more about Markie’s visit, I covered his performance and keynote lecture in the 3/29 issue of The Promethean, which can be read here.

Greyfriar Author Speaks with English Class

Each year, the English Department hosts the Greyfriar Living Literature Series in which they invite a distinguished literary writer to hold a workshop, discuss writing, and read from their work. This year’s Greyfriar author was Anand Prahlad, a published poet, memoirist, and professor. Prahlad visited my African American Literature class on Tuesday March 5th in the afternoon before his lecture and shared some of his insights on writing with our class. 

As part of our assignment for the day, my professor, Dr. Wilhite, assigned selected passages from Prahlad’s 2017 memoir, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie. His memoir discusses his experience with autism spectrum disorder and describes the way he sees the world. Prahlad kicks off his memoir with a bold statement: “Before I start telling you about my life, though, I should share with you a secret: I don’t remember most of it.” He admitted to our class that it was a line he wasn’t sure if he should keep in the memoir, but decide that there is an important, distinguished relationship between memory and life writing. “Everyone remembers differently,” Prahlad said.

Dr. Wilhite started off the class by having us read one of Prahlad’s poems, “Grind,” from his collection of poetry, As Good As Mango. The poem, written with extensive enjambment and impressionism, narrates an observer watching young black boys skateboarding in Harlem. Students discussed some of their observations from the poem, including Prahlad’s use of bright and positive imagery with darkness. Prahlad listened to student’s comments, then explained his own intentions with the poem, specifically how it was meant to capture a sense of percussive choreography. It was a great opportunity to hear an author speak about his own work. 

The class then transitioned into talking about the selected passages from Prahlad’s memoir. Students were able to ask Prahlad questions, and many of their inquiries centered around his writing style as someone diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. “My relationship to memory is kind of rooted in sensory experiences,” he explained. Prahlad shared an anecdote about a time he was asked to describe the autistic experience in order to best understand how to work with someone with autism. “Imagine everything is alive,” he said. “Everything is an aura. Everything is vibrating.”

Hearing Prahlad speak about his memoir and poetry was a valuable opportunity as an aspiring writer and an English major. I was unfortunately unable to attend his reading and Q&A due to a class conflict, but I was fortunate to have the chance to hear him discuss his own work. If you’re interested in learning more about Prahlad and his publications, you can check out his website at https://prahladauthor.com.