Category: Reflection

Think Global: Part 1- Made for More

Think Global: Part 1- Made for More

This afternoon, I sat down with Jennifer Lund, the Associate Dean for International Education at Agnes Scott College. In less than four weeks she and 14 other faculty members will soon be leading small group of students across the world as part of Agnes Scott College’s Global Journeys.  As a Senior, the Summit initiative and Journeys trips is all new to a lot of us. (If you listen closely, you may still hear upperclassmen joke around and ask “What is Summit anyway?”) The new direction for Agnes came abruptly, although I’m sure there are years of work and planning under it all.  As of 2016, 100% of first years have had travel experience and it will continue to be this way from now on thanks to Summit. Many upperclassmen have already taken a semester off to study abroad and a high percentage of our students are international, coming from countries such as Zimbabwe, South Korea, the UK and Ghana.

As the first years prepare to pack there bags and depart on their journey of their lives I feel like it’s important for all of us to put on our Global lenses and see the world for more that what it is. If you’ve already experienced different states and countries then you are probably already aware that even a three-day trip can change your life. You realize that where you currently reside isn’t the entire world. You’ve experience different cultures, dialects, food and architecture. And once you return home, wherever that may be, you’re hungry for more. More high end experiences. More struggles between languages. And more of finding out who you really are. If you’ve never traveled much before you’re probably filled with a lot of questions. Or maybe you’re content with whatever you’re about to experience, like I was when I took a semester off to study Spanish in Costa Rica. One thing that we all have to remember is that Agnes Scott has prepared us as much as Agnes can only do. It’s up to us to do the rest. If you are preparing to take off in the next four weeks, start preparing mentally today. List your goals and what you want to get out of your new experience. Journaling and scrapbooking may just become your new best friends. For those of us who have already traveled and returned, continue to share your story! In class discussions bring up your experiences so that people can see how life differs across borders. While you’re giving others a vision of a different world, your’e also encouraging them to travel as well.

Imagine this: A world where everyone who has the opportunity to travel actually took it. Can you picture the new diversity, deeper conversations, more acceptance among different cultures? One thing’s for sure, us Scotties are already one step ahead. We’re setting the example for the world before us and we’re not to be messed with.




Getting “there” with your blogging

Getting “there” with your blogging

If you’ve been around a kitchen for most of your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils”. A few days ago I stood in my residence hall kitchen with a resident who slowly became angry as the water in her pot did not start to bubble. She stood right over it, face planted in the hole of the pot, begging for even the slightest bit of steam to appear. In reality this is how we always feel when the results we want in life don’t come when we want it. The process and the journey seem long and annoying and we often forget the joy that will come out of waiting, such as my resident being able to eat her spaghetti with soft noodles instead of crunchy ones.

When we start our first blog, the blank white page looks hopeless compared to our peers around us who have the perfect theme, 7 different pages with 30+ posts, and moving photos and words. Breathe. The process is a long journey that will be worth it in the end. Just as a watched pot never boils, our blogs will never become what we want it to be if we focus on the outcome instead of the small everyday details. So what are these steps to becoming known by the world?

  1. Work on your website everyday. This doesn’t have to be for hours! Working on your website could be writing a post that sparked your interest, uploading images, changing your them, learning about about coding or even learning the background of working with WordPress
  2. Have someone look over it. Feedback, whether it’s good or bad is always good. Through this process you’ll learn how other view your site and what could be done to make it better.
  3. Stay consistent with what you post. You are your own person, so try to stick to themes that are relevant to you and your passions. Don’t upload things that are not your best work, unless you are showing your progress.
  4. Make it attractive. Browsing through themes can be addicting and you’ll probably even change it more than 3 times until you find the one right for you. Just make sure the theme fits what you’ll be posting on your site, whether it’s more text based or imaged based.
  5. Share Share Share! Once you’ve become confident in your work, and others agree, start sharing your site like crazy. Post on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even your resume. This will allow others to browse your site and share to their community as well.

In the end, many of us were not made to become internet famous and that’s okay. You still want to make sure that your work is creative, inviting and can make an impact on others. Keep sharing your work no matter how discouraged you are. Who knows who may stumble across it!

If Tomorrow Was Never Promised

If Tomorrow Was Never Promised

A few weeks ago I sat in my living room alongside my nine-year-old brother. He had convinced me to watch TV with him almost everyday over the holiday break, something I’d never do on my own. During the commercials he told me that he getting a cellphone for Christmas. Not just any cellphone, but a Samsung S7, the most recent phone out at the time. As a kid I didn’t have access to a cellphone until I was 12, and even then it was a tiny flip phone with limited texting and an extremely slow internet. “For emergencies,” I was told. Today it’s so common to see elementary and middle school children walking around with the latest iPhone, tablets and name branded headphones. These kids know how to work the internet better than most common adults. I was in shock that a nine-year-old was truly convince that he needed a cellphone to survive these days. Have I missed something? As I glanced back to the TV the commercials were full of advertised products that were never thought about when I was younger: Robot vacuums, hands-free speakers known as Echo, Google glasses and automatic cars. For a person who never watches television, I was in awe at what the world was coming to.

Recently I wrote  a blog explaining the importance of having your own website seeing that most of what the world needs today is accessed online. Yes, technology has many pros, but as we all know too much of anything can be hurtful not only to you but to those around us. For example, the excess use of our cellphones and the undivided attention that we give to others. Over the past few years my relationship with my phone has changed drastically. I was the one who never left anywhere without her phone, even to the restroom (gross!). During a conversation you’d have my attention for a little while, but once a notification went off my entire focus went to social media. It changed after the many times my (now) 20-year-old brother would yell at me for not paying attention to him during our conversations, and of course after the many times I felt hurt when a friend would pick up their phone while I was talking to them. Was this how others were feeling? When did a screen become more important than the person standing next to you? My nine-year-old brother did get his cellphone for Christmas and my fear was worse than expected. He’s glued to it every moment, always checking his notifications and browsing the internet. If you try to take it away, he screams. If you try to ask him a question, you have to wait. Family has become insignificant and his life has been embedded in a 4.87 oz rectangle.

The world is not going to stop creating new technology. It’s up to us to decide how we are going to use it and how we are going to stay grounded to humanity. Many don’t see cellphones as a conflict and have never thought to think how others feel when they are replaced by a screen. But what if tomorrow never came? Would the conversations with your grandmother still be insignificant? Would you seek to look everyone in the eye instead of browsing their profiles? Would you drive to see a loved one instead of sending a quick text? It’s time for a generation who never looks up to finally see what’s in front of them.

If tomorrow was never promised…would you finally look up?

A Word of Encouragement: Why Do I Need to Create My Own Website?

A Word of Encouragement: Why Do I Need to Create My Own Website?

Each day the world is rapidly moving towards more technology and having everything that we need at the click of a button. All of this easy access is not only allowing people to progress more quickly in their fields and lifestyles but it also allows is allowing us to showcase our talents to reach a broader audience. The internet is a very convenient way to showcase your work, no matter if you’re a writer, dancer, artist or world traveler. People want to know you more.

I didn’t understand this when I first heard about creating my own domain. At first it seemed like a lot of work and I saw nothing good that could come out of it. But I decided to give it a shot. Themes… Coding…Blog posts… it was a lot.  It took almost four months before I got the hang of it. What was I supposed to post? Should it be private or public? What was a theme and a category? Did it matter? What if no one sees my posts? Was it all for nothing? All of the questions flowed through my mind everyday and I’m positive that some of these may concern you as well. But these questions don’t take away from the fact that having your own website is so rewarding. After four long months I still have a messy blog, but now I’m up to something. I have so many topics that I wanted to dive deeper into. I’m learning about the many themes of WordPress (solely because I change my theme almost every day) and I even learned a few coding tricks.

With this new SUMMIT initiative, Agnes is placing their students way ahead of the game. All of the incoming freshman are being required to be challenged a lot, more than the Scotties ever have been, but it’s all for their best benefit. Required websites, required study abroad trips and global classes… pretty soon even the top schools will have a hard time trying to catch up with the scotties.

So why is it so important to have a personal domain?

If you use your domain to showcase your work, your process of reflection and growth throughout your journey will be able to show others what you’ve learned and how much you’ve changed as you become better at your skills. As students we learn very quickly that the growth we experience changes each year. Eight months pass by and we are full of knowledge that we never thought we’d have. Why not share this with everyone else in your circle? As you share your work you’ll become more encouraged by others around you. Not to mention the art of reflecting upon yourself and your journey becomes deeper, allowing you to become a better student and person as a whole.

Another important reason to have your own domain is to prepare you for your careers in the future. Like I mentioned earlier, having your own website that showcases your talents can set you above all other applicants. Job interviews only last so long, so sending them your resume along with your very own website sets you up for more success. Businesses and corporations will be able to see how much work you’ve done and where your passions and strengths are. And with WordPress you have the absolute freedom to make your site look however you want. You can browse the thousands of themes and make post that are interesting to you, alongside uploading some of your profound work assignments that are due for class.  

It’s only been five months since I’ve started working on my domain and I could only imagine what emotions you are going through. If it helps, we’re all in this together and you have an innumerous amount of support around you if you just ask! Your website could come out of Agnes looking stunning and full of potential if you truly work hard with it. The pain is now, but the possibilities will be endless.


For any questions or help needed regarding your personal domain, contact a tutor at the D-Center @


Bullet Journaling 101: Your Life Just Got Easier

The 21st century can be so demanding. Our schedules are filling up by the hour and the random sticky notes can be found on our laptop, fridge and all over the house. As a college student my to-do lists are never in the same place. Typically my important reminders are scribbled in my Biochemistry notebook, my planner (after I search for it for the hundredth time that week), and let’s be honest sometimes my body becomes a jotting place as well. But in reality, how many organization methods can we have without our lives falling apart? Planning gets overwhelming and most of the time we just hope that we’ll remember everything. It’s time to drop the useless methods and discover the lovely world of Bullet Journaling. At first it only seems useful for the soccer moms with 10 kids and 3 jobs. There are extreme bullet journalist who seem to track their every breath and thought, but there are also those who make it as effortless as possible. Bullet Journaling can be  as simple or as creative as you want. It’s all about staying balanced on your own level.


Why Bullet Journal?
Bullet journaling is different from your typical calendar  and sticky note method. Everything for your daily life is in one place and you’re using bullet points as your main organizational tool. In this one journal you can keep all of your hourly, daily, monthly and yearly task in one place, along with important things not to forget. There are no full sentences in your journal, just quick phrases to get the job done. (Instead of saying Write Anthropology Essay on Humans Across the World you can just say ‘Write Anthro Essay’ or ‘Anthro Essay’. It’s your task, you’ll know what it means.

Continue reading “Bullet Journaling 101: Your Life Just Got Easier”

6 Things Every Team Player Should Know

6 Things Every Team Player Should Know

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves working in a group to accomplish something.  Group projects and collaborations are becoming more and more prevalent in academia and the professional sector.  I played basketball growing up and joined the Marine Corps after high school. Many of the teamwork and collaborative skills I picked up during my formative years are super useful to me today in academia and the professional work setting.  Here are some pointers:


Get to know your teammates. I can’t tell you how many times ‘personalities clashed’ in a collaborative work environment.  The funny part is, everyone in the group generally wants the same thing: the successful completion of a task.  Getting to know your colleagues means learning their personality traits, their strengths, and weaknesses. It’s here when you learn the most effective (or ineffective) way to communicate to them.

We had a new person join our D Center tutoring staff. This individual was generally quiet in a group setting. One on one this person opens up and shares new ideas and asks question. I am an outgoing and loquacious person. I know that because of my personality I have a tendency to talk over others. Listening was one of my weaknesses. By working on my weakness, I was helping my teammate with hers. In a group meeting, I made it a point to engage her directly three times. Whether it was a question for her, her input, or check in with her I made it a point to talk to her and actually listen to what she had to say.  This, in turn, made her feel more included and part of a team. It can be difficult joining a team late in the game that is already close-knit.

This interaction not only benefitted the individual and me; it benefitted the team as a whole. This person brought new ideas and perspective, and a fresh set of eyes to the group dynamic. This ties into my next point:


Think beyond you, think about the team and the goal. What happens when the team doesn’t go with your plan or idea? What happens if they don’t take your advice or suggestion? Move on. The will of the team is not always the will of a particular individual. Understand this and moving on becomes a bit easier. As along as the team is headed toward the goal, does it matter if they chose a different way of doing the same thing? No? Then move on.


Group disagreements are natural. This is the fundamental nature of groups. How you work through a group disagreement is what makes or breaks a group.  Read the group, listen to your colleagues. Don’t over-talk or disrespect anyone. Remember the goal as a whole, and remember that disagreements are supposed to happen. Negotiate and compromise.


Everyone one should have an assigned task or job with a clear deadline.  How the tasks are assigned is just as important as assigning them.  It’s probably not a good idea to bark orders at everyone in your environmental science class or your internship.  First, as a group, identify all the tasks that need to be done. If you’re writing a paper as a group, the outline should suffice. Then ask everyone what they would like to do. Make sure the tasks are evenly distributed. When people pick their duties, that is a form of ownership and accountability.  When you ask them ‘When do you think you can have that done by?’ that is another kind of accountability and ownership.


When do you leave the group?  Sometimes groups formed to complete a specific goal, i.e. volunteers for an event or convention or school project. Once the goal is met and the project is over the group naturally disbands. What about organizational committees, work, and other group settings where goals change but the collaborative element doesn’t?  A thriving group is one that is always adapting and growing. Each individual contributes something to the whole while simultaneously getting something in return; i.e. developed skill, compensation, network connections, joy, personal satisfaction, and growth, etc. When an individual is no longer contributing to the group, that person is sand-bagging or dead weight.  When an individual is contributing the to the group but is not getting anything out of it, address it. After careful evaluation and reflection, perhaps the needs of the individual and the needs of the group has changed, in any case, it may be time to leave.


You shouldn’t have to compromise who you are to be a team player.  If you’re an introvert, you don’t have to be suddenly outgoing to be a ‘well rounded’ team player. Someone with a bubbly friendly disposition shouldn’t have to shrink themselves in a group setting. The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. You are what the team needs.



What WordPress Can Do For You: A True Story

What WordPress Can Do For You: A True Story

So, It’s 2am, and I have to wake up at 8am, and I cannot sleep. You might laugh, but it is because I’m thinking about the D-Center. It is true, the CDVL thinks about digital literacy 24/7. But it’s not just about WordPress, it’s my summer and how lucky I have been to work with the people I’m working with because, genuinely, I love my job. The hours are great, the pay is great, I have no real bills to worry about, I have a casual dress code, the coffee is good, and best of all, I work with creators. I’m really in a sweet spot of my life.

Now, you may be asking ‘What does this have to do with this weird title?’. Well let me introduce Naomi Smith (’18). Naomi and I met to talk about setting up their domain and building a website, and what came out of it was great.

You see, Naomi and I didn’t just have a ‘I teach you everything there is to know about building your website’ type of session. We had a conversation about digital literacy. It started off with me asking if they knew a lot about WordPress. When Naomi said no, we then went to ‘Well, what do you want your site to look like?’ and instead of some version of a shrug or 20 minutes of us staring at one another, we talked. We made a plan and I curated the meeting’s outline to what the end goal was. Naomi was very engaged to what I was saying and same vice versa. We ended the meeting, emailed each other a couple of links to great resources, and Naomi now has a really dope website. I really can only take credit for helping build 0.5% of it.

I write all this because that meeting and what came out of it is a prime example of great collaboration. There is a paradigm shift from high school to college about how humans interact and our social responsibility. In high school, everything is very structured. Assignments are given out with a clear rubric and guidelines. The social structure is also very set and after-school-special-ey. Where the students are not friends with teachers, and tutor meetings work as a bulleted list. The word peer means the same as taxes. It exists as a concept but in reality no one really gets it. So collaborative work is doomed and/or dreaded. But now, in the ever-changing land of College, the system of power is changing from ‘power-over’ to ‘power-among’ and ‘peer’ is something we can grasp and mold. “Which is pow-wer-ful.”(Nell Ruby).

When we get here, there are conversations like the one between Naomi and I, where collaboration is not shied from. Where no one really cares about looking dumb or maintaining a level of authority. Because each person involved gets out more than what they put in. Learning from one another is powerful.

So I strongly advise taking a look at WordPress, and thinking about what you don’t know. Take advantage of resources, especially us at the D-Center. You don’t have to have a plan, you just have to have a drive to get something done. Even if you hate everything technological, don’t know what ‘Digital Literacy’ is, or believe everything I’m saying is stupid. Ask questions, listen to each other, and learn something you didn’t know before. Make connections!

Anastasia Owen 18′

P.S. Did I mention go check out Naomi’s Site? I mean honestly, it’s great.


Facebook & Accessibility

I’m quite fascinated by Mark Zuckerbergs usage of Facebooks “Live Video” feature. These videos to show the inner workings on Facebook campus, pictures of Mark & Priscilla’s newborn daughter Max, as well as showing off latest technologies and social initiatives. I came across a video of Mark discussing with Engineer Matt King on creating an AI that will allow blind users (and anyone) to use Facebook in a way where the image would be “read” by the software and then vocally read via the computer to the user. This was groundbreaking and fascinating to me! I’ve always had an interest in how technology can assist disabled users, and this video made it clear to me that, I am in a position to do something about that. This video was the catalyst for various discussions and collaborations on what we can do to increase technology and accessibility on Agnes Scott’s campus. Check it out!

Summiyah A. Siddeeq
D-Center Coordinator

Do You Speak Visual?

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.40.16 AM

Do You Speak Visual? – This question is posed by the Toledo Museum of Art in their in-depth Visual Literacy brochure and website. The ability to read and interpret and construct meaning is visual literacy. Being visually literate means that you have the ability to construct meaning from everything you see. We are traditionally educated using Textual Literacy, where we read and interpret the meaning. Yet, images are all around us and even more in our current social culture where we create and use visual content daily. So how do we approach visual literacy even-though it may seem subjective or illusive? Here are a few points on how you can be visually literate:

  • Take an inventory of what you see in the image. Those concepts include: Space & Texture, Principles of Design: Emphasis, Balance, Proportion, Rhythm, Movement, Variety, Unity and Harmony.
  • Use Visual Thinking Strategies: Ask yourself: What is happening in this image? How can I find out more about the image? Analyze the image by using the principles that you’ve seen in the image and think about how all of those elements can create a story surrounding the image.

Here are some resources on Visual Literacy:

Toledo Museum of Art Visual Literacy.

The Art of Seeing Brochure

Artist Toolkit

Principles of Design

Summiyah A. Siddeeq
D-Center Coordinator

“Home Gallery.” Toledo Museum of Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <>.
images via

Tracking Changes: Why Process Matters – Guest Post by Dr. Lauren Upadhyay

Tracking Changes: Why Process Matters
by Dr. Lauren Upadhyay, Instructor of French

The 2013 film Jobs tells the story of one of the most innovative technology companies of our century: Apple. The creation of the Macintosh computer in the1980s and its mass marketing in the 1990s changed the way we communicate and live, and yet we don’t really see much of that in the movie. The main focus of the movie is what happened before all of that happened, the lead-up to the paradigm shift. The movie gives us a glimpse of something we rarely think about or even care about: the how of the final product. How did Steve Jobs even get the idea to create the Apple computer? It didn’t just come to him in the middle of the night – it was the result of years and even decades of collaboration, trial, failure, and reformulation. It required thinking not just in terms of a final product, but also imagining how to exceed that final product, almost as soon as it was “finalized.” The story of one of the greatest pieces of technology of our era is not the story of sheer, magical genius, but rather of a simple human being and a relentless creative process.

If we don’t keep track of our process, it can be hard to recall how data fits together when dealing with a large volume of information. I learned this the hard way while doing archival research in France. At first, I was so focused on collecting as much archival data as possible that I failed to record the thoughts and ideas I had along the way about the information I was collecting. Oftentimes, after a few days’ or weeks’ absence from the archive, I would return to find that I couldn’t remember where I’d left off. Very quickly, I began to understand the importance of a research journal. I opened up a separate Word file and began to record everything that came to my mind as I was collecting data. I entered the date in bold and underlined it so that I would easily be able to find my thoughts from a particular visit to the archive. I usually didn’t worry about spelling errors or style, just about how the data I was collecting from the archive fit in to my dissertation project and to the research I had already completed.

Guest Blog Poster Image

To my surprise, I ended up using this journal much more frequently than even my transcriptions (my data) while I was writing my dissertation. It was my road map to the more than 1,500 digital pages of archival materials that I transcribed over a four-year period of numerous trips back-and-forth to the archive. Without it, so many of those ideas would have been lost, and I wouldn’t have known how everything fit together because there was no way to go back and re-create the process I had followed.

There is also another reason why it’s important to pay attention to our process, and this is one I’m sure every tech company has learned the hard way. If we place too much emphasis on the final product, it is easy to lose sight of some of the critical elements along the way that have contributed to “getting it right.” Imagine an iPhone upgrade that is missing a key feature of the previous model, one that engineers neglected to include in their new version because they didn’t realize it was so important. Luckily the previous model would still exist so that engineers could re-trace their steps and see where they went wrong. Our own work – writing, digital creation, invention – is no different, but so often we don’t keep multiple drafts, or think about the steps we make along the way. That is why I ask students in my French 201 and 202 classes to write their journal entries using Google docs. By clicking on “see new changes” at the top of the document, students can view the record of changes to their journal entries, including my corrections over two drafts and their own responses to those corrections. Students who started studying with me last fall and continued on this spring now have seven journal entries that they can compare, allowing them to literally track their improvement in French from beginning to end. Since it can be hard to realize the progress one makes along the way while learning a foreign language, these drafts provide written proof that their language skills are improving through this process. It validates the efforts students have been making over the last year.

It can be tedious to go back and study our process to see if maybe a previous version was better, or to understand how we have improved. But this “meta-data” – information about our data – can save us time in the long run by linking the progress we make with the thoughts and ideas we had along the way, and by helping us to understand that there is no such thing as a “final product,” just a point at which we decide to stop in the creative process… for now.

UPADHYAY-Chateaubriand-photoLauren Upadhyay teaches French language, literature, and culture in the Department of French and German at Agnes Scott College, and at the Alliance Française d’Atlanta. Her favorite French expression is, “rien ne sert de courir,” which loosely translates as “slow and steady wins the race.”

To learn more about Lauren, visit her website.
Lauren Upadhyay onLinkedIn
Lauren Upadhyay on