Beyond the Classroom
During Fall term of my third year at Oregon State, I signed up for the Honors colloquia, “One Small Ladleful: Poetry of Hunger”. The course title seemed intriguing because I enjoy poetry so I thought it would be a great fit for me, and on the bright side it was a 5-week course. Going into the first day of class, I did not know what to expect. I knew the course was designed to discuss poetry’s response to hunger, both locally and worldwide, but I had no idea how great of an impact it would have on me.
The first day was a bit intimidating as there were only seven people in the class and two professors, Dr. Larew and Dr. Coakley. Dr. Larew was teaching via Skype, a virtual classroom experience, which threw me off as I had never had a class where the professor was virtually present. The class began with an excerpt of poetry related to hunger. We learned about how prevalent hunger is in the world and the prominence in our community here at OSU and in Linn-Benton County. I did not realize that there was such a large population of students who did not have the means to eat appropriate meals a day. The statistics, facts, and details were shocking. As we read poetry that tugged at the heart, we began to understand what it felt like to be hungry. I always knew hunger was prominent in the world, but did not realize that so many people around me were affected by this.
The class continued to surprise me every week. Though we only met for two hours a week for five weeks, the topic made me feel connected to my student peers and professor. During the fourth week of the class, we met at the Human Services Resource Center in Champinefu Lodge. We toured the facility with Nicole Hindes, the assistant director, who showed us all the resources offered to students and families who are food insecure. The building had laundry rooms for those who do not have the means to wash their clothes, a textbook library for those who cannot afford the cost, a food pantry and kitchen that offered people with fresh and healthy meal options, and so much more. Following the tour, we met with the Vice Provost of Student Affairs, Dan Larson, who discussed OSU’s motives to relieve food insecurity on campus. There are so many initiatives that OSU has to offer for students and I felt so proud to be a part of this wholesome community.
Unfortunately, a lot of people do not know of the resources that OSU has to offer for students. I hadn’t even heard of them until I took the course. The great thing about the course was that the last week required us to suggest a potential project we could implement to incorporate poetry and raise awareness for food insecurity at OSU. The project presentation was given to the class as well as Dean of the Honors College, Toni Doolen. We were in no means required to implement this project in our short class time but I decided I wanted to take what I learned outside of the classroom.
I reached out to Dr. Larew and Dr. Coakley, who were very excited that I decided to take the project out of the classroom. I am currently in the process of organizing and implementing a “Chalk Walk” in the Memorial Union Quad. Excerpts of hunger-related poetry will be chalked onto the MU sidewalk which would draw people to a tent I have set up with brochures, snacks, and information about the campus resources for students. The event was supposed to be held on Dam Proud Day, April 30th, but due to the current circumstances the project had to be postponed. Even though an official date has not been established, I am working with the Honors College, Dr. Larew, Dr. Coakley, Nicole Hindes, and other Dam Proud Day executives to make this project happen. I want to raise awareness for food insecurity and hope that I will help students learn about the resources that OSU has to offer. I am so grateful for this class and what it has given me. I have built strong connections with the professors, reached out to countless people, and hope to make even more connections with students. I am proud to be an Honors student at Oregon State University because of “One Small Ladleful:” Poetry of Hunger.
By Shrida Sharma: Honors College Student