Zorah Sarwari speaks on terrorism and Muslim discrimination

by Brittney Mace// Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College hosted Zohra Sarwari, international speaker, March 4, at 12:30 p.m., in the Carpeted Dining Room.

According to her website, Sarwari is the author of ten books, a life coach, a business coach and an entrepreneur. With her time at Vol State, she chose to discuss what it means to be a member of the Islam faith and how her fellow Muslims are targeted when discussing or referring to terrorism.

“I want you guys to think of terrorism globally, not just outside the U.S. All of us know at least one person in our life who has been terrorized through domestic violence and all these other cases,” said Sarwari.

Sarwari said that every religion has crazy people in it, but that she doesn’t believe all the members of that religion should have to pay for that one person and their mistake. She said this issue is especially common for the Muslim community.

“Why is it when a Muslim commits a crime, his religion is labeled for it, but for anybody else, they are just an evil person? . . . What [has] happened in the last few years is that our media keeps saying that ënot all Muslims are Terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim’. It’s an oxymoron,” said Sarwari.

Sarwari said that she wants society to stop focusing the backlash of terrorism on a certain group of individuals.

“Terrorism is happening all around us. There is no race to terrorism, there is no religion, there’s no age, there’s no gender. It’s an individual, making bad decisions, and taking it out on whoever is unfortunately going to suffer from their hands. . . . I want you guys to think of terrorism in that sense; globally, because truly, that’s what it really is,” said Sarwari.

As for the Vol State community, Sarwari said it was very welcoming.

“Honestly, I didn’t feel like wasn’t welcomed. Some students did look a little like ‘oh, you look out of place’ but that’s okay and that’s sometimes what they need to see [in order] to actually want to be involved in it. . . . I didn’t see any hatred or anything and if people had it, they kept it to themselves, which I think is very respectful,” said Sarwari.

Tabitha Sherrell, coordinator of student activities, attended the event.

“She did an amazing job. I’m a very structured person, so I really liked her PowerPoint. She stayed on task really well, she made it fun and not so hard and tense of a topic,” said Sherell.

Sam Hunt, a Vol State student, was also in attendance.

“The ignorance that people have, not just for [Sarwari] but for anyone, burns my butt, because nobody educates themselves on how not everybody’s like that or not everybody does that, whether it’s African-American, White, whatever. Not all of us are that person. Education is where it’s at. That’s how you stomp out ignorance,” said Hunt.

For more information on Sawari and her services, visit ZohraSawari.com.

Practice living in the moment for a more peaceful mind and life

by Brittney Mace// Assistant Editor

I often find myself thinking about two main things; my past and my future.

Being a college student and working towards my planned life goals, I tend to spend the majority of my time thinking about what I will do when those goals are met and I do not fully appreciate the journey I am taking in order to get there.

I often dwell on what I will be doing a year, five years, even ten years from that moment. As a result, I don’t fully enjoy the time in my life that I currently reside in.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. This is something I have been attempting to change in my life.

Yes, it is important to have goals and yes, it is important to plan the steps in order to achieve them, but one should not deem any part of their life unnecessary or less important than another.

If you find yourself in the same issue, take a deep breath and relax.

Quiet your mind of life planning and fully embrace the uncertainty that life brings.

“Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation of the future is to live as if there were none,” said Albert Einstein.

Both you and your plans will change, but there will only ever be one present.

The same way of thinking goes for ones’ past.

Do not become stuck on the “what ifs” of your existence.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

You may feel like you are not on the right path, that you made too many mistakes, or that you want to go back to the past where you believe you once thrived.

I too, often have these thoughts.

Recently new to adulthood, I still catch myself wishing I was back in my childhood, a victimless child with no worries or adult responsibilities.

I remind myself to not waste any more precious time thinking about regrets or how things could have been different.

I choose instead, as should you, to focus on the person in the present.

Are you a better person as a result of your past?

Are you living your life, each day, to its full potential?

Are you taking one step at a time, to achieve this?

Do not use your incredible mind to overthink where you came from or where on this earth you will end up.

Personally, I would rather live a life of chaos that gave me unexpected pleasures, than strictly scheduled plans that I am uncertain I even want.

I constantly have to remind myself that I have the honor of living in a great country, I have the option of a great education, I have a vast amount of resources to make my life the best that it can possibly be and that I should celebrate every single day just the way it is.

I have never been much of a swimmer, but I have found bliss in the choice to go along with the waves of life instead of fighting against the current.

So whether you believe that detailed planning, fate, karma or some other higher power is the key to a happy life, I advise you to take chances.

I encourage you to try things from a new perspective and don’t hold yourself back from experiences that seem uncertain.

If all else fails; when the worry starts to set in, just remember that you are okay.

You have time.

And you are right where you are meant to be.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly,” said Buddha.

Transfer tips from a Vol State Alumni

by Sherayah Witcher// Guest Writer 

Some of you are probably in your last semester or two here at Volunteer State Community College and have your next college already in mind.

Transferring from community college to a four-year school can be exciting, but it can be a daunting process as well.

There is enough paperwork to make you wonder if you are a signing up for school or to donate an organ.

Here are just a few tips that can make this process a bit easier.

Look for, or ask, an admissions advisor at your new school if there is a list of everything you need for your initial application and then also a list of everything you need to submit after you get in.

This is essential, so that you do not keep getting emails that you are missing another piece of paperwork.

When you have this list you can get everything together and submit it all at once.

Get multiple copies of your official transcript.

You will need to submit a final transcript to your new school and these have been known to get lost in the shuffle, so I suggest getting two or three to be on the safe side.

This also helps if you want to get into another program later.

Apply and get your paperwork in as early as possible.

Paperwork is going to take longer to process at a bigger school, so get it in early because you will want to make sure to have enough time to register for the classes that you need before they fill up.

Orientation might be the last thing you want to do, but most universities require it.

Get all that you can out of it.

It is also another incentive to get your paperwork in early so that you can choose a day that works best for you.

Use this time to talk with an advisor.

This is a few hours that your advisor has set aside to see the people specifically at orientation and it is going to be more difficult to see them later.

Either while you are at orientation or at least before you begin classes make sure to take a good look at the building that is going to house your majorís department.

For example, if you are an English major make sure that you look at the building that the English department is in and get familiar with it because you are going to be in that building for the next couple of years.

The last piece of advice I have for you is that once you get into your new school, make sure you check to see when you need upper level advising.

If you graduated from Vol State or at least accumulating a lot of credit hours you are going to need to get started on that your first or second semester at your new school.

These are just a few tips that I hope help to ease your transition from the wonderful halls of Vol State to your next endeavor.

I wish you all the best in your new adventures!

What color is this dress?

by Jim Busha// Staff Writer

Social media, news media and a lot of students here at Volunteer State Community College were all buzzing with the question, ìWhat color is the dress?

The photo was originally posted to social media by Caitlin McNeill, a 21 year old singer, who lives on a Scottish island named Colonsay.

The photo of the dress was sent to McNeill by a friend who was getting married, whose mother sent it as a color idea for the wedding.

However, the bride and groom couldn’t agree on what color the dress was.

When McNeill saw how popular the photo was on her Facebook, she then added it to her Tumblr account and from there it spread throughout the Internet.

YikYak.com did a poll on Thursday night asking, ìWhat color is the dress?

Tens of thousands of people voted.

The results of their poll were 53 percent said it is black and blue and 47 percent said it is white and gold.

The truth is that that there are different factors that affect each of us differently when it comes to our perception of colors.

Your eyes try to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis. People either discount the blue side, and see white and gold or they discount the gold side in which they see blue and black, said Bevel Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College.

What color is the dress to you? We may never agree on what color the dress is, but there is one thing we may be able to agree on; that is one ugly dress!

Police and the African-Americans discussion for “One Book, One Community”

by Brian Ferrell// Staff Writer 

Volunteer State Community College hosted the Wes Moore Police and Black discussion in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room (CDR).

The event was one in a series inspired by the book ìThe Other  Wes Moore by Wes Moore and discussed many topics on police officers in the community.

On the discussion board was Paige Brown, mayor of Gallatin; Donald W. Bandy, chief of Gallatin police for 23 years; Bill Sawyer, Gallatin police officer; and  Carl Jenkins, retired police officer after 37 years of service.

Each person commented on questions asked by Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, director of the office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and the audience on topics such as body cameras, relationship with the community, how to bridge the gap between police officers and people of color and how to build trust in the community.

On the option of having body cameras being placed on their uniform, Sawyer said that Gallatin Police are working on getting cameras placed on their uniforms but have yet to figure out how to properly go about using the technology in the community with protecting the citizens rights to privacy.

Bandy spoke about building relationships in the community.

I want to remove the mindset of us against them but for us to all come together making it a better place to live, said Bandy.

The officers talked about wanting to get more personal with the community, improve quality, show up to events that the community is holding and to even sponsor their own events so that they themselves can get to know the community better.

I would love for the community to have a better understanding of making the community safe for all people,î said Brown.

The Gallatin police officers talked about how even police officers are just as much a human as the next person.

They said that sometimes their emotions can take over and that is why it is important for when stopping someone for whatever reason that they should be respectful and try not to start an altercation with the police officer just because you feel wrongfully accused.

ìPolice officers are not machines, they are humans,î said Jenkins.

Bandy said Gallatin offers a 24/7 police line that people can call and file a complaint with, if they feel they were mistreated.

On March 2, there was a discussion in the Pickel Field House over the effects of Hip-Hop on society at 9 a.m.

The next Wes Moore event will be on March 19, about the fear of young African-American males and possible solutions at 12:30 p.m. in the CDR.

Black History Luncheon encourages open dialogue

by Cynthia Hernandez// Staff Writer

The Volunteer State Community College Campus invited students, faculty and staff to attend the Black History Luncheon last Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The event took place at 12:30 p.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room (CDR).

The event featured Dr. Joelle Carter as the keynote speaker and recognized members of the Vol State community for their excellence.

The event began with a speech by Ashlyn Challenger, president of the African American Student Union (AASU).

Carter was introduced by Heather Harper, director of Retention Support.

Dr. Carter was appointed as Western Kentucky University’s first assistant vice-president for Retention Support Services . . . (she) has received several awards and acknowledgements for her contribution to higher education and development fields,” said Harper.

Carter said she encouraged open dialogue as she explained the relevance of celebrating Black History Month at this moment in time.

Carter said the purpose of celebrating black leaders, athletes and actors during this month is because “these people were a lot of the firsts; groundbreakers… how we make meaning of what they did, means for us, is the reflection and conversation,î said Carter.

It does symbolize a history of freedom, equality, and just, is denied. It happened. It happened and guess what? That’s ok. How do we grow? What’s the next step?”

Carter said what it came down to was, “strong lessons of leadership, community and love… that love, that respect, that humility, of just, a person. Good grief.

Who am I to say that you’re not beautiful, and you don’t deserve to be respected, and that I should look at you some kind of way or treat you in some… I mean, it is not my place,” said Carter.

Awards were given to Carter and Vol State’s “homegrown heroes” which included Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of history; Mary Malone, Retention Support Services; and James Story, chair of the department of performing and visual arts.

Bucy was awarded by Jasmine Cook, a Vol State student.

Cook said Bucy has been a professor of history at Vol State for many years.

[Bucy] is a speaker, writer, researcher and philanthropist and has been active in promoting African American heritage throughout the region,î said Cook.

Malone was awarded by Andrea Boddie, director of Student Support Services (SSS).

Boddie said Malone is currently a Trio SSS Counselor, was born and raised in Sumner County and graduated from Union High School, Sumner County’s first African American high school.

Boddie also said Malone has worked in the Sumner County school system as a counselor and a teacher for 31 years and co-authored two books; Generations and African-American Life in Sumner County.

Story, the final recipient, was awarded by Pedro Martinez, Vol State advisor/counselor.

Martinez said that Story is a professor of music and department chair of visual and performing arts, directs the choir at First United Methodist Church, presents at international conferences, and has taught music in the Sumner County school system since 1977.

Martinez also said that Story and has also produced over 100 stage productions throughout his career and was recently nominated for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation, of which he received ninth place.

Honestly, I liked the whole thing, especially the speaker. I like when she talked about what we can do to interact with each other throughout the year,î said sophomore Tamara Thrower.

ìMy favorite part was the speaker Öshe really does have a dynamic personality, said Matteen Mansoori, Vol State student.

“Those of us that continue to engage in these conversations will be the individuals that conduct the action to make change. It’s not about the month. It’s about the competencies we possess to make this place better than it was, when we were here,” said Carter.

“Getting to know you” presentations hosted by VISA

by Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, at Volunteer State Community College in the Rochelle Center  at 2:30 p.m., Vol State International Students Association (VISA) club hosted an event called ìGetting To Know You.

Margarita Perez Torres, president of VISA, spoke about her native country of Peru; the landscape, cuisine, culture, and agriculture.

Some of our teachers they really enjoyed it. And they didn’t know so many things about our countries like for some about the variety of potatoes in my country,î said Torres.

Amanda De La Paz, vice president of VISA club, talked about Michoacan, Mexico.

She moved to Tennessee from there when she was 11.

Michoacan means place of the fisherman.

It is the same size as Belgium.

Twenty million Monarch Butterflies migrate there from North America every year.

Selena Cortez, secretary of VISA club, was born in Gallatin but talked about Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.

The most produced product in town is their ceramics.

I thought it was amazing. I liked it when my big sister Selena talked about our dad î  Yesvenia Cortez, Selena Cortez’s eight year old sister who attended.

Oky Arguello, advisor, was born on the plane to Costa Rica.

The money goes toward improving the education of their populace.

Costa Rica is considered one of the most literate countries in the world.

It also has two of the best hospitals in the continent.

Pedro Martinez, advisor and counselor,  is from Puerto Rico.

The American dollar is used there and the country is the size of Connecticut.

I feel happy that everybody enjoyed it,î said Torres.

There were cookies and lemonade provided.

Zohra Sarwari to visit and discuss tolerance and open mindedness

by Lauren Cieler// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College is hosting Zohra Sarwari on March 4, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. in the Rochelle Center, across from the Learning Commons in the Thigpen Building.

Sarwari is an inspirational Muslim speaker, author and consultant.

She is the author of nine books and has been on ABC News, Fox News and has been interviewed on multiple radio shows.

Sarwari said her personal journey began at age six when she came from Afghanistan to America.

She said her passion is to educate others about diversity using humor and personal experiences that she said leaves audiences transformed.

Tabitha Sherrell, coordinator of Student Activities in the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives (SLDI), has seen Sarwari in person.

“I liked her tone; it was not tense. She has a good conversation with the audience using humor with her knowledge,” said Sherrell.

Her speeches promote dialogue and foster tolerance towards people of all races, religions, and backgrounds.

“No, I am not a terrorist.

“My mission is to serve God by teaching others how to live effectively and productively and to benefit the communities with the gifts that they are blessed with,” said Sarwari.

“I would attend her speech to see how her stories would relate to women’s diversity of this time,” said Nathan Smith, a Vol State student.

Chinese New Year celebrated at Volunteer State

by Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Chinese New Year was celebrated in the Ramer Great Hall of Volunteer State Community College from 1 ñ 2:30 p.m.

Qi Yang, Chinese instructor, led her Chinese class who performed and recited in traditional dresses from China.

They sang songs and recited greetings and poems in Chinese.

ìI think the girls did a wonderful job. Especially what made me impressed was that they could recite and read the Chinese poems, which are usually for educated Chinese careers not for people who can know a few basic things. So thatís something made me feel very much impressed,î said Yiping Cui, official director of the Confucious Institute of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

Cui sent Yang to Vol State to work for the Chinese language program last year.

ìThis [Chinese New Year event] was coordinated primarily through Qi Yang. . . . She coordinated it through International Education and then we had several classes that came and supported it, said Anne-Marie Ruttenbur, coordinator of International Education.

Vol State’s Chinese language program is in its second year and growing.

Another thing that made me feel so much impressed [with the presentation at Chinese New Year] is their pronunciation.

And usually a lot of non-native Chinese find this very much baffling to pronounce the Chinese because Chinese has different intonation, which is very foreign to people like you. But the girls’ pronunciation [was] so good, I can understand perfectly what they are reading, said Cui.

It’s very inspirational to me to see students at a community college have the opportunity that students at universities have to have the exposure to international activities that I’ve seen happen at other universities and it’s a big thing to have right here in Gallatin. It makes me very proud, said Ruttenbur.

At the Chinese New Year Celebration there was hot tea, dumplings and egg rolls afterward at the reception.

Ruttenbur estimated 70 people in attendance for the event.

ìIt was really nice. It was very creative. It had nice energy and good atmosphere. I loved it. It was my first time experiencing the Chinese New Year,î said Nzingha King, a Vol State freshman.

One Book, One Community discussion began with a film shown in the library

by Cynthia Hernandez// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College and the Gallatin community have simultaneously read the book “The Other Wes Moore.”

Vol State is partnering with all Sumner County Public libraries and high schools on the “One Book, One Community” project.

The community-wide book read will be accompanied by a special lecture series aimed to reflect and relate about what is relevant in the book and in current society.

The series began Tuesday, Feb. 10, with a feature film that was shown twice in the Thigpen Library.

The documentary “American Promise” observes the lives of two young black men as they grow up in the American school system.

For those that missed the film, the library has added it to their collection.

“We’re hoping for a better turnout at our other events,” said Julie Brown, a Vol State librarian.

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, director of the office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, was scheduled to lead a discussion on “deadbeat dads” in the Wemyss Auditorium Monday, Feb. 16, but due to the inclement weather which closed the Gallatin campus for three days, the deadbeat dads discussion has yet to be rescheduled.

Vol State will host a panel discussion today at 12:30 p. m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room (CDR) of the Wood Campus Center.

The panel will consist of faculty and campus police and will discuss the tense relationships between the African-American community and the police and possible solutions.

Dr. Michael Torrence, assistant to the vice president of Academic Affairs, will lead a discussion on the ìEffects of Hip-Hop on Society” on Monday, March 2. at 9 a. m. in the Pickel Field House.

Various Sumner County high schools will be on campus for this event.

There will be another lecture focusing on low expectations of young African-American males on Thursday, March 19, at 12:30 p. m. Bill Ligon will lead this discussion in the CDR.

The final discussion will be on the selected book, ìThe Other Wes Moore.î

The community is invited be a part of the discussion to reflect upon the themes and learning points found in the book.

The culminating event will take place from 6 – 8 p. m. on Tuesday, March 24. in the Rochelle Center and Gallery.

The event will include discussion, spoken word artists, music, and student art exhibits said Yarbrough, the project manager.

Apart from these Vol State events, the Sumner County Public Libraries have book clubs that will discuss the book.

Host, Sally Ream, said that Gallatinís book club meets this Wednesday.

The Portland Library is offering a lunch/discussion on March 21.

The Vol State Library has several copies of the book available and offers a two-day rental. The Gallatin and Portland Libraries still have copies of the book available.