Posts by Stephanie

What is Mindfulness with Kara Thomas ’21

Kara Thomas ’21

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Kara Thomas ’21.

What does mindfulness mean to you?
To me, mindfulness means being present, which includes being aware of changes in your emotions. This also means each task you do is with a purpose. This can mean something as simple as being aware when you sit down, or stand up. It can also mean acknowledging when you feel sad, or angry — not trying to shove the emotion away, just recognizing that it is there.

How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation?

Calmness and relaxation are an aspect of mindfulness for sure, but I would put them more in category of meditation. Meditating, which typically puts one in a state of relaxation, can help you be more mindful through the day while completing simple daily tasks.

How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious during this unpredictable time. Being mindful can help you not let these emotions completely wear you down. Mindfulness helps us realize that some things are out of our control, and we just need to stay present, active, cognizant of how our reactions and emotions may be affecting those around us. Additionally, being mindful may help us find new outlets for our frustrations, anxiety, or worry that we may be feeling during this time.

What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time?
I got really into yoga and meditation a couple years back, but find it hard to keep to a consistent schedule at school. So I’m really trying to meditate at least 15 minutes a day, and do yoga at least every other day. Both are great activities to do during this time because for yoga, all you need is access to YouTube, where there are plenty of free videos, and meditating you just need yourself and a quiet space. I also find coloring and doing puzzles to be very therapeutic, as your mind gets completely distracted and focused on the task at hand.

What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now?
Being mindful does not come easily — I’ve been struggling for years to implement mindfulness into my daily life. Just as any hobby takes time to learn, so does being mindful. I would suggest starting with meditating for five minutes a day, then slowly work your way up to 10 minutes, 15, etc. But no rush! We have plenty of time right now, and practice will make mindfulness pay off in the end. It also may be hard to see “progress.” Sometimes we are so focused on seeing results, we lose sight of the goal. Being mindful is about being OK, and accepting, not “seeing” anything change in you. Over time, you will realize you listen more to your emotions and recognize when strong emotions overtake you. But the process is not the same for everyone, and may not be linear. Try not to stress too much about being mindful in the “right” way. If you miss a day of meditation, or yoga, that’s OK. Pick it back up tomorrow.


What resources does CC offer that can help those right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?
There is a great new adjunct course being offered for Block 8, Mindfulness and Social Action in the Context of COVID-19, which I think is a great class for anyone who wishes to be more mindful during this pandemic. I also believe the Bemis School of Art is offering online (Zoom) art classes, which could be helpful for certain students, if art is how they embrace being mindful. Additionally, the Wellness Resource Center is always coming up with new creative ideas that they are taking online, such as their journaling series. I also believe “Morning Meditation and Muffins” (Thursday mornings when school is in session) is still going on via Zoom. Creativity & Innovation and the WRC I would say are the two go-to places for mindful resources for students, but I would honestly also check the Daily Digest, because the school comes out with different creative activities every week!

What is Mindfulness with Isabel Lanzetta Marshall ’22

Isabel Lanzetta Marshall ’22

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Isabel Lanzetta Marshall ’22


What does mindfulness mean to you?
In my mind, mindfulness is the embodiment of my most authentic self. To me, this necessitates a certain depth of understanding both my inner and outer worlds: how my physical, spiritual, and mental health are impacted by the external and how my inner world, in turn, affects those around me. Mindfulness is not only a choice to be conscious of the way we make ourselves a part of the world around us, but also one to tune into the world inside of us — to pay heed to our very human experiences. It necessitates slowing down, reflection, and most importantly —kindness.


How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation?
For many of us who live in an environment hyper-focused on “what comes next?”, the practice of mindfulness sometimes does go hand in hand with calmness or relaxation, if only to give us enough space to absorb the moments in our life that are already fleeting. However, mindfulness asks that we do more than binge watch “Tiger King” or take a long bath (although both of these can be remedies in their own right). Mindfulness asks for us to practice presence in our lives. To be mindful, many of us need not only to slow down, put away our phones, and take care of ourselves, but we must also make a conscious effort to pay careful attention to the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we are exhibiting. Not with judgment, but in an effort to understand the very complex and profound experience of being human in a sometimes joy-filled, sometimes painful, world.


How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?
How can we process suffering in the world? Not only during a time when COVID-19 has impacted communities across the globe, including our own, but especially during the times when we find our communities safe from the crossfire. I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but I do know that we all experience uncertainty and worry differently. And right now, some of us may be undergoing especially difficult challenges. It’s important to remember that we don’t have control over what is happening or what may happen in our lives because of the COVID-19 crisis, as with many other upheavals we may face in our lives. Practicing mindfulness allows us to focus on what we can control, and to shape the people we will be when this is over. It is the greater awareness of ourselves and our interactions with others that mindfulness cultivates which will help us bring compassion into our communities. Remember that your physical, mental, and spiritual health is important, even during a global pandemic, because taking care of ourselves gives us the strength to take care of others. What’s more — mindfulness in all moments of our lives brings awareness to the suffering of others, so that we can hold space for their experiences with compassion, let go of trivial matters, and heal. I would summarize this with the help of the Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh:

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”


What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time?
As a writer, journaling is one of my favorite mindful practices. Reflecting on not only the events that happen each day, but also the emotions and thoughts that follow has taught me to be attentive to the conversation happening inside and to recognize that my voice is valued. Movement is also what sustains my practice. Yoga, dance, running are all meditative for someone like me, who tends to be stuck in my head. I don’t think I really realized how the strength of my physical body could empower my subconscious mind until Heather Horton from the WRC made that connection for me. Really honing into the strength and perseverance of our bodies can remind us of our fortitude, especially in our most vulnerable moments. That knowledge has been transformative for me.


What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now?
Be gentle with yourself! Mindfulness is not a perpetual state of happiness, nor is it a cure-all. Maybe you are feeling frustrated at yourself because of how you are coping with this crisis, maybe you are feeling bitter about the turn your life has taken, and maybe you’re feeling lonely and terrified. Mindfulness is not trying to eradicate these emotions to create a somehow superior state of consciousness. Mindfulness is making the conscious choice to sit with yourself, no matter what you are enduring or experiencing in this moment, to really uncover what is going on inside of you and embrace it with compassion.


What resources does CC offer that can help those right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?
The WRC hosts a virtual Mindful Stress Management every Wednesday at 4 p.m. MDT and a journaling series on their YouTube page CC Wellness Resource Center. The Chaplain’s Office hosts a virtual morning meditation every Thursday at 8 a.m., MDT, as well as a Qigong practice and other mindfulness workshops you can look out for on their Facebook page. And finally — asking counselors, chaplains, and campus support for help is an exercise in practicing compassion to ourselves.

What is Mindfulness with Cosette “Coco” Turvold ’21

Cosette “Coco” Turvold ’21

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Cosette “Coco” Turvold ’21

What does mindfulness mean to you?
Mindfulness is grounding, appreciative practices that help you connect your mind and body. The most successful way to practice mindfulness is breathing and sensory awareness activities.

How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation?
Mindfulness is not being calm/relaxed, because you are still breathing, using your senses without paying attention to them. Mindful practices emphasize conscious sensory practices, ones that you focus on breathing or senses while deliberately controlling or noticing them.

How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?
Mindfulness can help at a time like this, because it feels really good to forget about everything going on for a few moments. It helps me take my eyes off of electronics too, which has been a struggle for me during this time. It can change your mindset for the day, putting a bit of positivity in your life when you’re having a bad day.

What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time?
One of my favorite practices is Tangerine Meditation. Before you open a tangerine, imagine the tangerine tree it came from with all the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Visualize the growth process; this tangerine grew on a tree and it ended up in your hand! What a miracle! Tear off a small part, close your eyes and smell it, appreciate the energy the smell stirs within you. Is your mouth watering? Take mindful bites, noticing the texture, the shape of the fruit, the way the juice spills into your mouth, the things you enjoy about this experience. Enjoy the tangerine with your eyes closed; you can see the universe in just a tangerine. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy. This practice can be applied to any meal, be sure to turn off music/tv other distractions in the background. If you can be present with any activity you’re doing! Get into your warm bed, lay there for two minutes, close your eyes and notice your breath. A moment with yourself is always a mindful moment!

What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now?
My suggestion is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to practice mindfulness in a specific way! You can create your own version of mindfulness. Take a walk in the grass with bare feet, close your eyes and breathe for a minute before a lecture, close your eyes and really appreciate your food, feel into the warmth of the blanket that you have wrapped around you. Mindfulness is about being present with your breath and senses, get creative with it to find what works best for you!

What resources does CC offer that can help those right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?
CC offers the Wellness Resource Center and the Counseling Center with lots of online resources! Outside of CC, you can find endless online resources like books or websites that specialize in finding the right practice for you. My favorite book about mindfulness is “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh, I’ve learned so much from it. Best wishes to everyone reading this, and I hope you find the right mindfulness practice for you!

What is Mindfulness with Heather Horton

Heather Horton

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Heather Horton, director of the Colorado College Wellness Resource Center.


What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness practices are about being present in the current moment — whatever that moment is. Our observations of the here-and-now offer us so many gifts that we miss if we’re too busy moving on to the next moment or worrying over the last. The old adage about stopping to smell the roses is really about mindfulness. When we are mindfully present, we might get pleasure or joy from that smell, or from the light on the rose petals. But of course, sometimes stopping to sniff the air brings less pleasant smells. Regardless of what I’m sensing, I find taking the time to really notice it is very grounding; it allows me to take perspective about what is constant and what is changing in the world, and in myself. Stopping to be in the moment and paying attention to my thoughts and feelings helps me recognize the cues my body and mind are giving me, and allows me to be responsive. I also think that mindfulness is a very important component of strong interpersonal connection. Being mindful in our interactions with other people, allows us to truly listen with curiosity so that we’re not making assumptions or judgments. Mindful interpersonal engagement allows us to be tuned into ourselves and to that other person. I find that when I’m able to do this, my interactions are more meaningful and satisfying.


How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation? 

While the non-striving and non-judgment that are key parts of mindfulness can indeed be liberating and relaxing, mindfulness also allows us to be present for our profound grief, fears, and anger. These are emotions that we often try to avoid really feeling, but they are simply signals to us about things that are happening in ourselves and in our worlds; when we avoid them we stifle our own growth. I’ve always loved the way May Sarton puts it:  “To close the door on pain is to miss the chance for growth . . . Nothing that happens to us, even the most terrible shock, is unusable, and everything has somehow to be built into the fabric of personality.”  Being mindfully present to ourselves in these moments of pain and suffering helps us move forward — by allowing ourselves to be compassionate and loving to ourselves; by revealing how those feelings shift over time; and by revealing to us our own humanness.


How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?

As human beings, we like to feel like we’re in control all the time. Events like the Coronavirus pandemic offer daily (many times daily?) in-your-face evidence of how little we actually control.  “Letting be” is an important component of mindfulness practices. We simply bring our awareness to what is happening in this moment, and accept it as it is. There is something incredibly liberating about being able to say, “what is, is” about the things we can’t control and re-focusing our control instincts toward the things we can actually control — how we respond to our feelings, how we fill our time, proven strategies for reducing the spread of illnesses like washing hands and social distancing. If we’ve done that, at the end of the day, we can say “I’ve done what I can, and I’ll do the same tomorrow.”


How are you cultivating it at this time?  

I’m finding that the current moment is offering me lots of moments to let go of things I cannot control! Whenever I hear myself saying something like “this is not OK” or “I have to make X happen,” I’m using that as a cue to stop and engage a mindfulness practice. Often when I’m responding to my own worry and uncertainty, my mindfulness practices are focused on seeing the shifts over time in my thoughts, feelings, and sensations that help me take perspective and be responsive to myself. Also, because I’m spending so much time looking at screens, I’m really trying to make sure that I’m engaging with analog, tactile things in my world in a mindful way.


What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time? 

These days I mostly find myself using a body scan practice, or sensory-focused practices like alien object, which is where you engage with an object as though you are an alien who has just landed on earth. You explore the object through your senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, taste). It’s great for practicing approaching objects (and other things) without assumption or judgment. It allows me to recognize that even with something that I might have seen and interacted with many, many times, there are often aspects that I have overlooked or forgotten about. It opens me up to curiosity and creativity, and it helps ground me in my sensory world.


What resources does CC offer that can help students, faculty, or staff right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?  

The Wellness Resource Center is offering a weekly Mindful Stress Management workshop (Wednesdays at 4 p.m.), and we’ve been building more online resources on our webpage and YouTube channel, too. We continue to be available to consult with folks and connect them to resources and skills that will help them thrive. The Chaplain’s Office offers many mindful meditative and contemplative practices each week, and they have also developed an online resource repository. Chaplain Kate Holbrook is a wonderful resource for people trying to build meaningful mindfulness practices into their daily life. Our colleagues in the Counseling Center are a great resource for students.  The folks in Outdoor Education are great resources for engaging mindfully with the natural world. Creativity and Innovation has Mindful Thursdays as well as some fantastic online resources.  It’s wonderful to be a part of a community that offers so many opportunities and supports!


What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now? 

It’s important to know that mindfulness practices don’t have to be big. We can build mindful moments into our lives in so many ways.  For instance, as you take your shower, you can spend just a few moments noticing all the sensations — the smell and texture of your shampoo, the warmth of the water hitting your neck, the feeling of your feet planted on the shower floor—and you can say to yourself, “I’m grateful to myself for taking this time to ground myself in this moment.” It is a gift you can give yourself, and you are worth that investment.


Thanks Heather, for taking the time to answer our questions, and may you be well.

What is Mindfulness with Jane Hilberry

By Jennifer Kulier

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Professor of Creativity and Innovation and Schlosser Professor in the Arts Jane Hilberry.


What does mindfulness mean to you?
Mindfulness basically means paying attention, knowing where you are and what you are doing.  If I’m lost in my thoughts, miles away from the current moment, I’m probably not being mindful! I spend a lot of time in that faraway place — I’m having an imaginary conversation or reliving a moment from class or thinking about what to make for dinner. And now, with the Coronavirus happening, it’s easy to be swept away on a wave of fear: one night I woke up coughing and within seconds I was imagining myself dying alone in a hospital for lack of a respirator.

Our minds travel all over the place, and that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, that ability to think ahead and imagine hypothetical scenarios is part of our brilliance as human creatures. But getting lost in my head separates me from my actual, immediate, physical experience. It generally feels better to be embodied and connected to what’s actually happening, if I can manage it. But it also doesn’t help to get angry or frustrated when we can’t manage it. Right now, kindness toward ourselves is the most important practice of all.

I’m also a proponent of occasional mindlessness. At times, the best thing you can do for yourself is to wrap up in a blanket, break out the Doritos, and watch Netflix. We just need a break sometimes.


How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation?
That’s a complex question, because sometimes being mindful means becoming aware of how uncomfortable you are. It can mean noticing that your back hurts or that you’re really tired or that you’re upset about something. Being mindful means noticing whatever is actually going on with you, whether pleasant or unpleasant, and trying to make room for those sensations or emotions.

So it’s not necessarily calming or relaxing. At the same time, though, I have to say that I usually do feel better if I’m able to get in touch with what is going on. If I’ve got some buried fear or grief and I can actually feel it, I usually feel relieved and calmer. It’s like when you finally have a good cry about something you’ve been carrying — afterwards you can feel very peaceful.


How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?
I remember something a CC student, Ananda Gear, told me once after traveling abroad on her own for a long stretch. She said that when she would get scared — maybe she was lost or in a situation that didn’t feel safe — she would ask herself, “Is anything bad actually happening right now?” It’s so easy to get lost in worry and fear, and it can be reassuring to come back to what is actually happening. For example, if I’m getting anxious listening to the news about Covid-19 deaths in New York, I can come back to the fact that I’m actually sitting in my backyard on a beautiful spring morning watching my cat. Seeing that, rather than being swept up in fear, makes it easier to do something constructive.

If you are ill or someone you love is ill, it’s harder, of course, to stay with that reality. If you can be mindful and connected, even for a minute, that’s good. If not, just be kind to yourself about how hard it is.

And mindfulness of course also means having awareness of what’s happening on a large scale too. It means recognizing that the virus disproportionately affects those who can’t work from home and those who have lost jobs. And it affects racial groups unequally. For example, I read that in Michigan, 40% of the people who have died from Coronavirus are African Americans, while the state’s population is only 14% African American.


What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time?
I feel like I need more shoring up than usual, so I’m doing yoga online and watching workshops with the qigong teacher Mingtong Gu, which always restores me. And I’m spending a lot of virtual time with my Heart Centered Meditation group.

Creative practices are another profound way to connect with mindfulness. If I’m making something, I’m not worrying — I’m just immersed in the process. And I always feel ridiculously happy when I have just made something, whether it’s a birthday card or a poem or a blind contour drawing. Staying at home can make the world seem small, but getting connected with creative energy makes me feel expansive.


What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now?
Practice with others. I’m not always great about practicing every day on my own, but if I take a class or join a group, I do it.

There’s a virtual mindfulness event almost every day of the week at CC now, thanks to Spiritual Life, the Wellness Resource Center, and Creativity & Innovation. You can attend Creative Mondays and Qigong Sound Healing on Mondays; Tranquil Tuesdays; Mindful Stress Management on Wednesdays; Morning Meditation and Muffins on Thursday mornings and Mindful Thursdays in the afternoon. These are all great ways to get support for mindfulness and connect with a larger community.


What resources does CC offer that can help students, faculty, or staff right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?
Creativity & Innovation offers two regular events.

I lead “Creative Mondays” from 3 to 5 p.m. on Zoom and everyone is welcome to join.  We hang out together online while drawing, painting, knitting, etc. It’s like an old-fashioned sewing circle or something — we’re working with our hands, just being together and talking at the same time. It’s a nice, nurturing way to be together.

Creativity & Innovation’s Mindfulness Resident Barbara Bash offers “Mindful Thursdays” from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Zoom. Barbara draws on a variety of practices, including a deep check-in in the form of circle work. The sessions are very grounding.


Thank you Jane, and may you be well.


Hilberry’s home studio.

CCE Continues Work With Remote Engagement Opportunities

By: Miriam Brown ’21

For staff and students continuing engagement through the Colorado College Collaborative for Community Engagement, the term “community” is taking on new meaning.

Civic leadership paraprofessional Sophia Pray ’19 says the CCE staff has been working to accommodate student schedules and help find them meaningful remote engagement opportunities.

“These times are completely riddled with uncertainty, so we are trying to prioritize making sure that students have financial security for those who work for us, ways to meaningfully connect with their communities and our staff and peer groups, and ways to show up remotely for their values right now,” Pray says.

Students in the Community Engaged Fellows program are wrapping up their credit with Facebook discussions and a cumulative reflective essay, and graduating students in the Community Engaged Leaders program are still working remotely on their capstone projects with CCE staff. And for others looking for ways to continue engagement remotely, the CCE staff compiled an 11-page document of engagement and learning opportunities.

Pray says some students have even been finding new communities in this time. The CC chapter of Sunrise Movement, a national organization advocating for political action to combat the climate crisis, has amped up their engagement at this time, Pray says. The group has been hosting biweekly Zoom meetings to connect and coordinate activism efforts, and The Colorado Sun recently ran an article by member Isabel Hicks ’22 about the group, headlined, “When coronavirus prompted my college to quickly close, it brought me to tears. Then I found my community.”

Examples of other individual students continuing their work through the CCE are wide-ranging. To name a few, Community Engaged Fellow Heba Shiban ’21 has been making paintings to be delivered to her local nursing home. Fellow Tamar Crump ’23 is continuing tutoring with the Refugee Alliance, teaching English via Zoom to a family from the Congo. Community Engaged Leader Natalie Sarver ’20 is working on the front lines as a nurse in Colorado Springs.

“It’s definitely been a hard transition for a lot of folks feeling like they’re losing community, but also I think more than ever, our students are feeling a call to action,” Pray says.

Pictured, Heba Shiban ’21 displays some paintings she has made for her local nursing home.









Colorado College’s Collaborative for Community Engagement creates and supports community-engaged learning experiences for CC students as they apply their liberal arts education and connect with our campus community and beyond. Hear from Director Jordan Travis Radke, Community Partnership Development Coordinator Niki Sosa, and Civic Leadership Program Coordinator Sophie Pray ’19 as they reflect on community engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic.

From Home, On Air with Abigail Beckman

91.5 KRCC's Abigail Beckman

By Shannon Zander

While for many of us working from home means sitting down anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection, not all jobs are as easy to transport home. Take Abigail Beckman’s job as Morning Edition host/reporter at 91.5 KRCC. Beckman was kind enough to let us in on what her transition to working from home has been like. She noted that the transition was initially overwhelming due to the lack of the usual technology and resources she is used to, but she commended the engineers and 91. 5 KRCC staff members for banding together to make the transition “as seamless as possible.”

A particularly challenging aspect of Beckman’s shift to working from home was finding a place in her home to do interviews and file stories without too much background noise and interference. Beckman mentioned that many reporters resort to “weird places in an effort to absorb sound—closets, under blankets, etc.” She was able to repurpose her guest-bedroom closet by hanging a blanket to absorb noise and placing a towel under her laptop, commenting, “it is not glamorous, but it works.”

But Abigail has found perks to working from home. She mentioned her appreciation for being able to eat breakfast together with her husband for the first time in two years — hosting a morning radio show means that Beckman usually departs long before he wakes up. She has also enjoyed watching her cat, Tikka, fall asleep on her laptop and spending time with her dog, Moose. Her two, furry “co-hosts” have mostly been well-behaved: “There have only been a few occasions where I’ve had to kick them out of the room for making too much noise. I think they are taking their new roles as radio hosts very seriously!”

91.5 KRCC has several new exciting projects underway in response to the pandemic. “Shortening the Distance” is a project that focuses on how individuals are keeping connected despite isolation. She commented that she believes these stories “will serve as great records of the historical moments we’re living through.”

Beckman even mentioned how she’s been coping with the isolation. Though she views herself as an introvert, the pandemic has opened her eyes to how much she needs the human interaction. Although she’s been able to participate in Zoom calls with her family and see them from a distance, Beckman expressed a sentiment that many of us are feeling: “I wish I could hug them. I wish I could meet my mom for coffee and just chat. I won’t ever take time with loved ones for granted again.

Pet Kitty Tikka

Bring Your Family To Class Day

By Shannon Zander

Kathleen Greene, visiting faculty member in the Education Department, discovered a unique perk to distance learning: she was able to host “Bring Your Family to Class Day.” Most of her students were able to coax at least one family member into joining the Zoom call for the special topics class, Immigration Stories in Education.

Kyle Zinkula’s ’22 younger brother, a senior in high school, was able to attend and view a Colorado College class for himself. Colleen Campbell ’23 was able to bring her two sisters, mother, father, and even her dog, an experience she noted was “delightful, albeit a little bizarre.” The oddity of the moment was due to the fact that, according to Campbell, “it definitely felt like a worlds colliding kind of moment where people I never thought would all be in the same room (kind of) were all together and able to talk,” and it “had a sort of alternate universe feel.” Pardes Lyons-Warren ’22 was unable to bring anyone because her parents were working. But she found a humorous way to feel included in the Zoom photo by holding up a photo of her sister.

This unusual perk, however, does not override the challenges that arose in adapting the course to distance learning. Much of the course that Greene initially designed was involved with local organizations in the Colorado Springs community. Initially, Greene planned to have the students work with Brittney Carroll Hatcher at Lutheran Family Services and to volunteer with Chris Hawkinson’s “newcomers” class in the ESL program at Palmer High School.

Although COVID-19 interfered with certain portions, Greene was able to make the best of the situation and redesigned the course to involve students in their own local communities. Zinkula mentioned that the class was tasked “to research our local area for immigrant resources as well as our local libraries for books that can be useful and informative for immigrants. I was not aware of what resources my home state, Iowa, had. There are far more immigrant resources available for family development, English learning, and legal help” than he initially thought. Lyons-Warren remarked that she “was pleased by how many resources there were, though, and especially by the programs targeted at specific languages or nationalities because that can be good for community building.” Because of distance learning, students were able to relate the course to their hometowns in a way that would not have otherwise occurred.

Additionally, the class was able to adapt some of the planned engagement with Lutheran Family Services and the ESL program at Palmer to an online medium. Representatives from both groups attended Zoom classes as guest speakers. The list of guests also included Eric Pavri, a Colorado Springs immigration lawyer. Zinkula mentioned that he was a particularly moving speaker because he “was open enough to delve into the emotional side of being a person in his position… He does very hard, challenging, draining, and necessary work. Knowing that people like him are fighting for immigrant families gives me hope that the immigration issues in the United States can improve.”

Adapting to distance learning has been challenging, but Greene commended the way the students have met the challenge, especially with synchronous three-hour classes, and morphed into such a dedicated community of learners. Students have stepped into leadership roles such as a two-person “continuity committee,” tasked with finding a Zoom alternative should there be technological issues, and a two-person “communication committee,” tasked with keeping the class apprised of necessary updates. All students have risen to the challenge of selecting images and news articles on education to share, volunteering to review the daily video, and volunteering to act as scribe for the questions that the class develops to send to class guests.

Greene addressed the family members at Bring Your Family To Class Day to thank them for sharing the students with her for this block, and “applauded the impressive resiliency, agency, and flexibility of their students.” Greene has glowing praise for how her students have adapted: “I am beside myself with gratitude for this group of students.

CC Seniors Sew Masks to Support Fight Against COVID-19

By: Miriam Brown ’21

When Georgie Nahass ’20 learned how a friend from home was making masks to help fill a gap in the Coronavirus pandemic, he and his housemates Max Pil ’20, Hugh Alessi ’20, and Cat Gill ’20 joined the efforts by learning how to sew. The four have since made and given away around 90 masks, and they’re not done yet.

Nahass’s friend from home is a professional seamstress, so after they expressed interest in starting a small mask-making operation at their house in Colorado Springs, she sent them instructional sewing videos, along with a box of elastic and 400 pre-cut pieces of fabric. They then borrowed one sewing machine from their landlord and bought another online, borrowed an ironing board from their neighbor, and borrowed fabric-cutting equipment from Cathy Buckley, assistant director for community connections at Colorado College. In a day or two, they were in business.

“That was kind of the impetus behind it,” Nahass says. “You have so much time on your hands, you can learn to sew, which is a cool life skill, and you also get to make a difference in the community.”

With 90 masks, they were able to outfit the whole CC Sodexo custodial staff, some members of Campus Safety, a couple residential life coordinators, and some CC professors and alumni. The rest of the masks they plan to donate to a local hospital.

Now, the group is waiting for a new shipment of elastic to begin making more. Other CC students still living in Colorado Springs have since expressed interest in also making masks, so for the next round, the group hopes to sanitize and distribute materials to expand operations.

“We’re just going to keep making them until we leave I think,” Nahass says. “It’s a pretty low time commitment, and it’s a pretty easy way to help others.”

If you would like to donate elastic material, a sewing machine, or an ironing board to the group’s mask-making efforts, contact


Storytelling During the Time of the Plague: New Block 8 Course Added in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Decameron 1916

By Miriam Brown ’21

Assistant Professor Amanda Minervini originally planned to teach a gastronomy class in Italy during Block 8. When the coronavirus pandemic forced her to make new plans, she created a course specifically with the pandemic and online format in mind — Storytelling During the Time of the Plague: Boccaccio and ‘The Decameron.’

“I wanted to teach a topic as relevant as possible to the current situation, and I wanted to tailor the new course to online teaching, instead of adapting an existing one,” Minervini says.

Set in 1348, “The Decameron” by 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio is a collection of 100 stories told by a group of young adults sheltered in the Tuscan countryside after leaving Florence to escape the plague. For the group, listening to and telling stories is more than just a way to pass time.

“The first line of “The Decameron” says: ‘It is human to have compassion on the afflicted,’” Minervini says. “So first of all, this is a course about compassion.”

The course is inspired by the digital humanities, and much of the course material is already online through The Decameron Web, a project curated by a group from Brown University. Students will have a flexible online schedule and will have multiple options for assignments and ways to explore The Decameron Web, which Minervini hopes will give them room to be creative and tie content to their own personal interests.

Minervini says the Block Plan is one-of-a-kind in being able to adapt courses to changing circumstances.

“There is no other system that would allow me to develop and teach a whole course in response to a rapidly changing situation like this,” Minervini says.

Students can still choose to sign up for the course online. It satisfies one unit toward the English major, and no knowledge of Italian is necessary.


Narration of Decameron