Students create connection through grief
On Nov. 15, around 120 students stopped by Alliot around dinnertime to decorate a quilt square and reflect on grief. The project, called The Connection Quilt, was part of Global F.A.R.M., a campus initiative to celebrate the diverse cultures of the Saint Michael’s community through Food, Art, Ritual and Music.
“The Connection Quilt event was meant to reflect on grief and share a way in which your family, culture, or you personally do to overcome or deal with grief,” Rosemary Yargici said, who is the Director of International Student and Scholar Services.
The idea came from Bridgette Akins, Coordinator of Wellness Outreach and Education, and Noah O’Leary, Mental Health Counselor, at the Bergeron Wellness Center. Akins was investigating the ritual component for Global F.A.R.M and said there was collective thought that “it would be great to offer cultural rituals around grief and mourning and stuff that we sometimes don’t talk about.”
Around the same time that Akins and O’Leary were planning the event, world events transpired around the Israel-Palestine conflict. They decided creating a connection quilt would offer unity and comfort for the Saint Michael’s community.
“Regardless of how people identify, they could talk about or draw a way that they grieve,” Akins said.
She added, “We deal with grief in different ways. And we deal with different grief whether that’s over tragic world events, tragic personal events, event grief over injuries and failing grades and relationships that end. We know that those are things that weigh on students.”
In the end, 120 squares were designed. Some people created squares in their native language. Akins said a lot of themes revolved around nature or family. The project was held during International Education Week, which ran this year from Nov. 13 to 17. The annual weeklong celebration is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, with the goal of celebrating and promoting programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.
“It was important for us to integrate this activity during International Education Week as we advocate for global understanding, through the power of cultural interaction and education. We are stronger when we come together,” Yargici said.
The goal is to put all the squares together next semester to create a quilt to display on campus that includes encouraging words around the topic of loss.
“With so much going on around the world, taking the time to reflect on grief and uniting our voices through this connection quilt leaves a powerful sense of hope that hardship is unavoidable, but eventually will pass,” Yarigici said. “I think we got more squares than expected, and my hope is that one day, these powerful, touching, and also funny words from our students, help someone dealing with loss.”