On June 1, I had the pleasure of attending the Women of Color Gathering during Reunion Weekend. This was an informal conversation in the Pensby Center living room, which was mostly attended by alumni of the African Diaspora, along with allies and administrative staff. During this conversation I was able to learn about the lives of the alumni post-graduation, and also their experiences while at Bryn Mawr. It was great to hear their stories of being in Sisterhood, and living in Perry House. I had the pleasure of actually meeting women who organized the petition to have Perry House designated as the Black Cultural Center. They shared why Perry House was so significant to their Bryn Mawr experience, and what their hopes were in this time of transition. I was even able to get pictures from alums to add to the Perry House folder in Special Collections.
I was most inspired though, by the fact that these women of color faced some of the same issues as I am, but still continued on their journey here at Bryn Mawr. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are no alone in what you are experiencing, and that there is a network of women who care about the issues that are impacting undergraduate students. It was great to see how eager they were to share stories to help me with my summer research. I was even able to identify local alums that might be able to be a part of the oral history portion of my project.
Although, some time was spent sharing personal journeys after Bryn Mawr, a huge portion of the time was spent discussing Perry House. It was great to see that these alums were just as passionate about the Black Cultural Center as current students. They shared similar stories about Perry as current students and they even shared what it was like to petition the administration to turn this residence into the Black Cultural Center. This group was definitely comprised of people who were instrumental in trying to make Bryn Mawr a more inclusive community.
Throughout the summer, Lauren Footman ’15 and Alexis De La Rosa ’14, the inaugural Pensby Center interns, will blog about their research projects. The Pensby Center (formerly The Office of Intercultural Affairs) implements programs and activities that address issues of diversity, power and privilege, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and disability, with a goal of improving the campus climate and enhancing community life at Bryn Mawr College.