Campus Conversation

One Arabian night

On Friday evening, students were temporarily transported from New England to an exciting Arabian night filled with entertainment and delicious food. While its exterior remained the same red brick style, Newport’s interior was filled with beaded curtains, sarongs and colorful fabrics and was lit in an orange hue provided by cloth enveloping the chandelier.

“The food was catered by a French/Mediterranean/Moroccan res-taurant from Northampton,” said Alexandra Bloom ’04. “We served couscous with vegetables, tagine and mint tea.”

Franco-Arabic music filled the students’ ears as they enjoyed the evening. “Two of the [musicians], Faudel and Cheb Mami, are played quite often in France and some are specific to Morocco,” said Bloom.

Students also decorated their bodies with Henna art. “Henna was really popular,” said Bloom. “Traditionally it is at weddings for Moroccan and Middle Eastern women. It is thought to predict things about marriage dependent on how long it stays and how dark it gets,” she said.

The highlight of the evening was the belly-dancing performance provided by a group from Hampshire College. “Their costumes were really nice,” said Cristina Morales ’06. “They had their sashes with little metal coins on them so that they would jingle with their movements.”

“They knew how to shimmy their belly-jelly,”said Bloom. “We had about 30 people watching the belly-dancing which lasted for most of the evening. When they performed again, people volunteered themselves to dance with the dancers and others joined in.”

“It was an amazing night,” said Suzanne Markman ’05. “We are thinking of doing it next year, maybe with drumming.”

Random acts of junk mail

Random acts of junk mail

Over the weekend, students seeking to catch up on the usual barrage of Amherst mail and occasional letters from home found something much more mysterious in their campus boxes. Little colorful strips of paper-not package slips, but something else entirely-found their ways into students’ boxes.

Written on these small slices of paper were little sayings, almost like overgrown fortune cookie fortunes. “I got one that said, ‘Brush your friend’s hair,'” said Kirsten Carleton ’05. “I guess it’s a good idea, but I probably won’t do it.”

“Mine was, ‘You should help your friend clean your room today,'” said Caitlin Farrell ’04. “I won’t be able to do that; my room is dirty enough! I really need to clean it.”

For many students, the whole mailbox mystery quickly slipped into distant memories, abandoned just like the slips of blue, pink and yellow paper as they piled up on the Campus Center floor. “The whole thing was kind of odd without any background to it,” said Farrell.

That was, apparently, the point. “They were meant to by mysterious,” said Assistant Director of Health Education Gretchen Krull, who heads the Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect (PAs), the group responsible for the canvassing. “We just wanted people to start talking.” In that, they certainly succeeded.

“They were sent out as part of the Healthy Relationships Week to inspire everyone on campus to do random acts of kindness,” said PA Lauren Wong ’04. “Even if people didn’t act on the specific suggestions, we hoped that the messages would get people to think about doing something nice for their friends.”

“I like them,” said Dorothy Lee ’06. “I think they’re surprisingly original and I think that Healthy Relationships Week is a wonderful, stupendous, terrific idea.”