Each term, one participant from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Maya Ulrich (she/her) is HECUA’s student blogger for Inequality in America Fall 2020. She is student at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, majoring in Art and Psychology. Read on for her next post!
Dear Inequality in America Folks,
This is a love letter of sorts. It is open to be read by anyone and everyone, but it is specifically for you . . .
We are more than halfway through the semester. Virtually, we have become familiar with each other’s voices; the way that they sound milky and thick from tears being held back; the dry hotness of anger in the back of the throat; the soft, patient metronome of explanation and empathy; the caffeinated cadence of hope ringing through both clear and cautious. While most of us have never met in person, it feels like sharing and creating this space together throughout the week has been one of the most intimate and vulnerable classroom experiences I have ever been a part of. Zoom has been a difficult place to become accustomed to, especially in the sense of creating new connections. However, in my opinion, we have managed to learn about each other and check in with one another in ways that would have been unusual in most other classroom settings. We have had to pay particular attention to the body language and the tone of voice coming from each other’s virtual boxes because we have no other tangible forms of knowing how that person is holding space otherwise. We have few ways to touch or comfort, but through our words, our song, our wiggling hangs, or our facial expressions which —for some of us — may be masks as to how we are truly feeling.
How, you may ask, is a virtual space capable of being so many things at once? In my last blog you may remember that I touched on the loneliness and complexity of existing both virtually with you and alone in my own room. You may remember a few weeks ago — at the time of writing this — I cried on screen while reading my essay for Julia’s book assignment out loud to all of you. I think that while these moments have been hard, they have been moments that I am not likely to forget anytime soon, made so by you. You all have inspired me to be more open and sure of myself. You have made me think in new ways about how to view the world and how to think about creating and co-creating. In the past, I have thought about being birthed from other womxn and the wisdom they impart upon me. What touch, words, and insight do they give as gifts that become parts of me? How does that create a new me?
I am a mosaic of all of the womxn I have ever met, and you all are a part of that. I hold such reverence for all of you, and I am excited to keep writing love letters to myself and to you. Thank you Julia, for creating the inspiration and space for this love letter; I know this is not thanks enough. Thank you Marie, for your (always) thoughtful insight and incredibly impactful, beautiful poetry. Thank you Rachel, for your warm demeanor and compassionate words. Thank you Phil, for checking my biases, asking the tough questions, and for your vulnerability. Thank you Theresa, for humility and perspective. I see so much strength within you. Thank you Leslee, for your passion. You constantly inspire me. You make me wish that I could find the right words in the way you always seem to be able to. Thank you Lori, for your willingness to learn and ask questions. Thank you Hallie, for the calm, quiet presence you bring and the depth of your intellect. Lastly, thank you Nadia, you have been my friend since our freshman year at the University of Minnesota and I am sure we will be friends long after. I see so many beautiful things in you: your quick wit, artistic eye, ability to call things as you see them, your solidarity, and your commitment to justice and equity. You hold within you all of these things and more.
May we continue to inspire and bathe in the medicine of the people.