The frontrunning men and women of Wooster’s cross country program took to the roads and trails of Holland, Michigan with a collective goal of competing and running their hearts out in the Great Lakes Cross Country Regional Championships. Although the brisk air and untimely snow provided an extra challenge for the runners, their resolve would end up guiding Wooster’s women to a 28th place finish, while the men managed a slightly better position, capturing 25th place.
When it came time for the women’s team to run, Isabelle Hoover ’22 was the one to watch. Hoover, a true athlete, demonstrated the importance of finding inspiration in the little things, sharing a quote by William McMicheal ‘22 that she claims has aided her personal success as a competitor: “Today, you may be an acorn. Tomorrow, you may be an oak tree.”
While most might not find significant takeaways from this quote, Hoover used the wise words of McMichael as fuel to drive her final championship race for Wooster. When all was run and done, Hoover’s legs had guided her to a 46th place finish, with a time of 22:40.8, a mere 13.7 seconds short of an All-Region placement.
Following Hoover in the top 200 contestants came Inga Mendez ’25 who improved her previous 6000-meter race time by almost two minutes, with a finish in 24:57.7 for 152nd place and Isabelle Dwyer ’25 whose time of 26:01.5 allowed for 192nd place finish.
In a final reflection of the 2022-23 cross country program, Hoover cleverly compared the season to a timeless treat saying, “this season really ran by quickly, much like the lifespan of an ice cream cone — short but sweet, and a little bit messy at times.”
Will Callender ’25, a name that frequents the men’s cross country headlines, had yet another impressive showing and in the process, the sophomore Scot added an All-Region honor to his resume. Callender improved his personal record for a championship-length time by a whopping 27.2 seconds, completing the course in almost exactly 25 minutes (25:00.7). This commendable finish was just enough to sneak Callender into a 30th place finish – a significant improvement from the year prior when he placed 111th.
Each time something went poorly, I’d just keep my head up and get back on the horse
-Ben Nichols ’25
After Callender’s exit, all eyes turned to fellow classmates Ben Nichols ’25 and Drew Robertson ’25. Both men ended their season running side by side, adding a little drama to Saturday’s race. Nichols was a step ahead of Robertson one second, but their position changed with every single stride through the snow. As the finish line appeared before the Scotsmen, no one could have predicted who would break the barrier first and if not for laser technology, we might have never known. However, according to the machines, Nichols edged Robertson out by one seventh of a second, achieving a time of 26:31.1 and finishing 135th, while Robertson recorded a new personal best with a time of 26:31.8 landing him in 137th place.
In response to the trials and tribulations with which the season burdened him, Nichols inadvertently provided us with a personal definition of what it means to be gritty, saying, “there were a few times where I was knocked down in one way or another and had to get back up.” Nichols expanded on this by saying, “each time something went poorly, I’d just keep my head up and get back on the horse.”
With the season now over, join us in congratulating the members of the 22/23 cross country team for completing another sweet and messy season.
Transport yourself to a Sunday morning as a kid. Maybe that means cleaning the house with mom, maybe that means cartoons and cereal. When I was growing up, my parents would always play music on Sunday mornings (at least that’s my perception now). On these mornings with my brothers and parents, with the smell of coffee in the air, my mom would put on “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones. This album is one I reflect upon very fondly. As I listen again now, 20 years after its conception, I remember my childhood and those sweet Sunday mornings.
“Come Away With Me” opens up with “Don’t Know Why,” one of Jones’ most popular songs. Its laid back brush-beat drums, soft guitar and sparse piano create an atmosphere of pure coziness which persists throughout the record. As she sings “My heart is drenched in wine / But you’ll be on my mind forever,” we are eased into a calm yearning for someone since gone. “Come Away With Me” is a record infused with nostalgia and introspection by the flame of Jones’ lyrics.
If you have ever felt that you’re living the same day over and over again, Norah Jones has been there too. On “Feelin’ the Same Way,” she aches with the soreness of monotony and a scrambled mind. Submitting to this familiar feeling of being lost is part of the journey that Jones takes us on and I am all for it. We are gently led under a quilt of soothing sounds as she eases us to come away with her.
Jones’ smoky voice hovers above the slight lilt of “Come Away With Me,” the album’s title track. This is one of my favorite songs of hers as she reveals the firmament of a life speckled with stars of a lover. “Come Away With Me” is a glimpse into a romantic mind, one rich with a need for closeness and comfort. With lyrics such as “So all I ask is for you / To come away with me in the night,” all I want is to be whisked away in a warm whirlwind of love.
Heading down to track eleven, we reach “One Flight Down.” This song looks you in the eyes through a haze of memories, broken and seen in a new light. As Jones takes our hand in hers, she tells us of a love that was always present but never realized or nurtured. The clock has ticked for years, but until this point, one flight down was where that love never quite made it to someone who never quite felt it. Now it is too late, as “There’s a song on low / And it’s been there playing all along.” There’s nothing to be done but to carry on.
This record is close to my heart with its humbleness and tenderness, just as I felt on those Sunday mornings with my mom. It is real, yet embraceable and embracing at the same time. Norah Jones is truly a poet of a worn soul, stamped by time and creased like an old baseball mitt. “Come Away With Me” is a smooth masterpiece that hugs you from the inside out and brushes dust from idling or lost memories.
In 2013, the City of Wooster partnered with quasar energy group, a Cleveland-based waste-to-energy company, with the goal of retrofitting its pre-existing water-waste facility into a virtual water resource recovery facility. Construction finished in 2014, transforming the waste-water plant into a fully energy-self- sufficient operation capable of generating an annual 5,256 MWh of electricity and 1,650 gasoline gallon equivalents per day in renewable fuel generation. Through this partnership, the City of Wooster was able to reduce energy-related costs by over $300,000 per year, as well as achieve Ohio EPA compliance.
Water resource recovery facilities promote sustainability in a number of ways. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, classic water pollution control facilities often account for 30% to 40% of total energy consumed in a municipal government energy budget. And for the facility itself, electricity costs alone can constitute 25% to 40% of a wastewater treatment plant’s annual operating budget. The EPA estimates that “by incorporating energy efficiency practices into their
water and waste-water plants, municipalities and utilities can save 15 to 30 percent, saving thousands of dollars with payback periods of only a few months to a few years.” In total, quasar energy estimates that treatment plants consume 3% of the total US energy demand.
However, retrofitted waste-water facilities significantly cut energy costs and general operating costs. For the City of Wooster and other municipal governments, all construction costs of the retrofit are eventually offset by the massive reduction in energy and operating costs. Beyond this, excess energy can be redirected to the local area, once again cutting total municipal energy costs.
A technique of energy recycling commonly employed when retrofitting these facilities is called anaerobic digestion. The EPA defines anaerobic digestion as the biological degradation of organic matters in the absence of oxygen, converting the chemical energy in organic carbon to biogas. In this way, wastewater functions as a renewable resource when properly processed. In Wooster, a quasar generator was installed at the municipal sewer plant, capable of producing an average of 1,100 kilowatts of electricity,
as well as natural gas. Since this is significantly more electricity than is needed to power the sewage plant, the rest of the energy was directed to the water treatment plant, enabling it to achieve energy-self-sufficient status.
The benefits of such green- energy technology are evident. quasar energy estimates that biosolids have the potential to produce 12% of the US electric demand. But a 2013 study by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies found that federal funding allocated to address these challenges has decreased 90% since the 1980’s. Although partnerships with private companies like quasar energy can be incredibly beneficial for the municipal districts they partner with, federal initiatives are necessary in ensuring large-scale national success.
The most recent and ongoing initiative was announced in 2016, when the Department of Energy launched Phase 1 of the Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future (SWIFt) Initiative, a three- year partnership between 25 state, regional, and local agencies. During this time, partners were able to reduce their total energy consumption by almost 7%. Due to the success of Phase 1, SWIFt Phase 2 was introduced in 2020, expected to run until 2023. Phase 2 engages 100 additional facilities, as well as shifting focus to renewable energy, resource recovery, and advanced data management in 25 of those facilities. Such initiatives are key in ensuring that national sustainability efforts will be maintained long-term.
For the City of Wooster, the partnership with quasar energy proved to be a real solution for its municipal treatment plant. But unfortunately, the municipal water-waste plant is no longer energy-neutral.
“We were bringing in lots of third-party waste,” says Chad Frank, Wooster Water Utilities Master Operator. “It generated a lot of workload on a piece of equipment…and if we would lose a piece of equipment, we had no ability to keep running. The biggest reason we stopped was the engine was at its useful service life. So we needed a new engine, which is very very costly.”
But the city is hopeful to soon return to an energy- recycling model. “Currently, we are working with another group, looking into updating the digestors to move back to creating power again, or cleaning and selling gas back to the grid,” Frank says. “It’s in the works to upgrade our facility, but it’s still in the brainstorming phase. Once we get the permits, we want to move on it. We’re hoping to have the facility remodeled in the next couple of years so that we can bring in some third- party waste to start generating energy again.”
Robert Stark ’23, like many seniors at the College, is hard at work on his Independent Study. As a music composition major, Stark’s I.S. involves the creation of an original work, not dissimilar to his fellow students in the department. However, Stark’s I.S. departs from the usual route taken by many music composition majors. Typically, an Independent Study in the department involves students performing their own works in a recital-style format, but Stark is not planning for a recital; he is putting together an album.
Although not unheard of – in years prior, students have produced similar projects, like a contemporary gospel album – Stark’s project is unique in a number of ways. Not only is Stark producing an album that he describes as “rock…broadly,” he also plans to produce a series of artworks that correspond to each song. Formatted as an art book, Stark plans to showcase both aspects of the project at a listening party at the end of the year.
Titled “Missing Indigo,” which Stark explains is a reference to the cover art from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” the album is influenced by a wide variety of genres and artists. Although Pink Floyd is a major inspiration, there is also plenty of room for 90s alternative, jazz and electronic influences on the album. Ultimately, Stark is aiming for an experience that is “eclectic and diverse,” explaining that, “I don’t want any two songs to sound the same.” With Stark contributing the vocals, as well as keyboard, bass guitar and a little bit of regular guitar, “Missing Indigo” is an exploration of his musical talents while also pushing him outside of his comfort zone. Structurally, Stark pulls from bands and albums that he loves. Citing Björk’s “Homogenic,” as well as the collected works of Radiohead, Rush and Portishead, “Missing Indigo” will likely shape up to be an inclusive collection of genre and sound.
While the album features songs and lyrics that carry “personal and identifiable” meaning to Stark, the album also will include influences from outside of Stark himself. Currently, the album is set to end with one great musical collage. Inviting different musicians from the campus community that he admires, “Missing Indigo” will draw to a close with a communal collaboration.
Since an album is not typical for a music composition senior’s Independent Study, Stark describes the department as being slightly hesitant in supporting the project. However, he has received a wealth of support from both the department head and his own advisor, and so the project has begun to take shape.
When asked about plans moving forward, Stark honestly described the project as “intimidating.” Deeply meaningful, and with plenty of support from advisors and friends, Stark is glad for the opportunity to “leave Wooster with this memento.” Continuing, Stark says that “all of my friends are helping out with something that’s very meaningful to me… [it] helps me power through.” Although the creation of “Missing Indigo” can seem intimidating, it is, at the same time, something exciting.
“Missing Indigo” is an excellent example of the power of the Independent Study. Combining interest with personal experience and exposure to other musicians on campus, Stark’s album demonstrates that the Independent Study requirement can include creativity and originality. For those stuck with statistical analyses, human subjects and case studies, this seems like a faraway dream. For Stark, however, it is a reality. Most importantly, his project is interesting and fresh. Demonstrating the uniqueness of the College’s campus and its students, Stark’s “Missing Indigo” is a wonderful example of everything that Wooster students are capable of accomplishing.
Ask not what one might do for I.S., we remind you, and rather, ask what I.S. can do for you.
Science fiction is not just about science. While most of its famous works hinge on one or more advanced technology(ies), the genre is not so much about science as it is about speculating about our current reality and how it might be different. Science fiction has always been one of the best genres in making inroads on major political questions (“1984”, “Fahrenheit 451”, “Foundation”). Subgenres and smaller movements falling under the umbrella of sci-fi often explore how the status quo does not work for everyone– how there are people that live on the fringes of society. Examples include the pessimistic views of cyberpunk or the Victorian-influenced steampunk genre. Common to both is the idea of -punkism, a counter-culture that subverts typical societal norms and exists outside of a larger population’s discourse.
A new -punk is here. Solarpunk began as an aesthetic movement that depicted hopeful futures in which the built environment incorporated the natural environment and other symbols of progress such as public transport. Elements of the movement began to seep into literary works until now, with entire novels and anthologies being classified as solarpunk (“Sunvault,” “Green Mars,” “A Psalm for the Wild-built”).
The genre, or subgenre as it is often referred, has eluded a hard and fast definition. Many of its enthusiasts, however, identify solarpunk’s overtones as optimistic, hopeful and imaginative. Followers argue that this approach to fiction is necessary in, not just saving the world from authoritarianism and climate change, but also in saving the part of the human ethos inclined to imagine how things might be better.
In this regard, solarpunk shoulders the great weight of articulating exactly how humanity should change, the mechanics of collective action. Where cyberpunk shirks politics and space operas hegemonize, solarpunk urges readers to cut through the fog that is today’s political landscape. It encourages discourse surrounding political alternatives, advocating for expanding discourse for the sake of discourse; it offers a prognosis instead of a diagnosis for why things are the way they are.
If the great tragedy of our age is a lack of imagination in how its societies politically organize, then where else are they to turn other than fiction and art for imagining alternatives? A common theme in other -punks is that technology alone cannot remedy such crises as climate change or political extremism. Solarpunk embraces this idea, but where it diverges is in its making of conflict. The genre explores how new political structures, in conjunction with new, green technologies, give rise to unique internal struggles at the individual level. For example, in Becky Chambers’ “A Psalm for the Wild-built,” the main character seeks discomfort and challenge in an otherwise comfortable, utopian society. In other words, solarpunk is about the growing pains a person or society might experience as a result of political nuance.
Two schools of thought exist in the space of thinking about the place of politics in the subgenre. On one hand, some enthusiasts advocate for the overt politicization of its works, while on the other are advocates for the whitewashing of current problems for the sake of narrative cohesion. The trends observed in today’s world, overpopulation, a warming climate or urbanization, must be the foundation from which solarpunks build the genre, the first school argues. In becoming too political, solarpunk runs the risk of becoming too “un-optimistic” or detail-oriented as it tries to build its utopian settings.
This struggle, with politics at its heart, means that the genre is an evolving one. While it has amassed a following, it remains to be seen whether or not the once-aesthetic movement will flower into a genre of its own. In the meantime, some political philosophers and thinkers have put forth visions for going solarpunk now, arguing that “if solarpunk is employed in tandem with processes of deepening democracy, more in line with its original ethos, it can scaffold and guide the steps of transformations that are not just aesthetically superficial, but ones that will reshape the social structure, human relations and even our minds and emotions.”
A weekly inside look at the unique faces and personalities that make up The College of Wooster community.
Features Editor Emma Shinker ’24 sits down with Emily Mendoza ’23 to discuss the Culture Show, ISand Latinx community at Wooster.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Emily Mendoza. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I’m a senior political science major with an International Relations concentration from Chicago. I’m a member of Delta Theta Psi, Vice President of Finance for Latinas Unidas and I work at the Alumni Center.
Could you tell me about your involvement in the Culture Show this year?
Yeah, so this was Latinas Unidas’ first time performing in the Culture Show since my freshman year in 2019. I have to give a lot of the credit to the choreographers of our dance performance. My role was to show up to the practices whenever I could, just giving support, doing what I can and, you know, getting the shark costumes too, which I know our group had really set our hearts on. I was like, if there’s one thing I will do — I will get those shark costumes.
Even if you weren’t very involved in the planning, I’d still love to hear about your experience!
Honestly, I have to say, a couple of us were nervous the night before the show because, you know, we had put in hours of practice, and our first show in so long. But once we were backstage and we were hyping each other up, there was a good sense of unity with the rest of
the members. It was a really great bonding experience, during the practices and the dress rehearsal and just having goofy moments during practice, too. Right up until the show concluded, it was just…I don’t know, it was a “wow” moment for all of us.
Have you been a part of Latinas Unidas for all four years at Wooster?
Yeah, when I first came to school it was really important for me to find a Latinx community on campus. Latinas Unidas was one of the first groups I found. I remember going to a lot of the events and then meeting a bunch of people from different places, even other Latinos from Chicago, which was a nice surprise. I started taking executive positions my junior year before becoming treasurer this year. It was about wanting to provide that space for other Latinos that are coming into Wooster and continuing to uphold and maintain that space for them. It’s really nice to have thatcommunity here on campus.
Do you have any advice for younger students who are trying to find a similar community?
The first thing I’d say is to join any organizations or any clubs that spike your interest. You never know what kind of connections you can find. Try to be involved in anything that you have a passion or interest for, whether that’s for some
of your classes or an organization, because chances are you will find people that share those passions and interests with you.
Could you tell me about your IS?
My IS is looking at why truth commissions are more effective at promoting reconciliation in post conflict societies. It’s interesting for me to see how societies rebuild after a very violent conflict and seeing how they rebuild that trust and that sense of community, and what role the government plays in helping to promote and facilitate that process.
What is something that brings you joy?
Probably art. That’s always been something I love to do. I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to do it as often with my studies, but I do try to find time to draw or do art. I paint a lot, too. It’s something that I don’t need to put my entire focus on, and it’s just a big stress reliever for me.
Anything you’d like to plug?
Latinas Unidas events — we have our general meetings every Wednesday from 5 to 6. You don’t have to identify as a Latinx woman, we’re very open to accepting all members who want to be a part of the group and this community, so please come to our general meetings and show up to our events, too! We love seeing new faces.
The College of Wooster mummy. An elusive figure shrouded in mystery. Some say she roams the steam tunnels at night. Others say that students should rub her toes for good luck. Where, you may ask, has the mummy been all these years? Not roaming the steam tunnels, but rather stored away in the Ebert Art Center awaiting the next exhibit to emerge from the depths to educate a new audience.
Wednesday, Nov. 10, marked the first time Wooster’s mummy has been exhibited to the public in nearly two decades. As Dr. Marianne Wardle, director and curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum, said, “Many people have only heard rumors about a mummy in the museum’s collection, so our goal was to present Ta-Irty-Bai in a way that demythologized her existence.” Accompanying this public viewing was an interdisciplinary lecture that put the College’s mummy in perspective and educated students about the role it plays on campus.
Before the lecture, the atmosphere in the room had a palpable sense of suspense. Many students had the chance to see Ta-Irty-Bai before the lecture, which drove much of the conversation beforehand. Dylan Strickland ’23, said, “I was floored just by seeing the mummy. I started out flatly incredulous because of how forbidden it had seemed for four years, but once I clapped eyes on it there was a sense of shock. That she was still mostly intact, the sarcophagus beautifully decorated. You could see the craftsmanship of the thing and how much it must have meant. And that the mummy was here in Wooster of all places, for me and anyone else to see. It felt very special, but like I was somehow treading on dangerous ground, that the veil was thinning or something.”
Other students were a bit more hesitant, with Miriam Harley ’24 saying “Overall, just a strange and eerie feeling that I’m still mulling over.” Her discomfort came from the thought that the mummy “was a real person, she had family and friends and aspirations and now she’s dead in Wooster, Ohio.” While this may have been an eerie feeling for some, this is exactly why the lecture accompanied this exhibit, to humanize and contextualize Ta-Irty-Bai.
Dr. Monica Florence, chair of the classical studies department, opened the lecture discussing who was, or perhaps more accurately, who is, the Wooster mummy. Her name,Ta-Irty-Bai, means “the two eyes of my soul.” She lived in Akhim, Egypt during the third century B.C.E. and was likely a priestess and a member of the middle class, which allowed her to be mummified in death. Previous research has shown that she had no significant dental abscesses, implying that she had a healthy diet. She also broke the right femur in her leg and the distal radius in her arm which were both surprisingly mended in her lifetime.
The discussion then turned to Dr. Bhatki Mamtora, assistant professor of religious studies and South Asian studies. She began by discussing traditional rituals surrounding death from a global perspective. Her research, which specializes in Hindu traditions, did not directly dive into Egyptian practices surrounding death, but lent a frame through which outsiders can examine death rituals and practices from a respectful distance.
The final presenter of the evening, Dr. Wardle, spoke both about Ta-Irty-Bai on campus and how human remains are treated in museums around the globe. Ta-Irty-Bai has been here at the College since the latter half of the nineteenth century. She, along with two other mummies in coffins, were purchased by John Giffin, a Presbtyerian missionary, in Egypt. One was sent to Wooster, another to Westminster College, and a third to Erskine College. Ta-Irty-Bai first resided in Old Main, which was the college’s main academic center before it burned down in 1901, where students would rub her toes for luck on tests, which has caused some damage to her wrappings and feet. Strickland, upon seeing this, said that, “seeing the abused leg I felt a wave of actual pity for Ta-Irty-Bai and it really hit me that I was looking at a corpse.” When thef ire erupted in Old Main,Ta-Irty-Bai was rescued either by being pushed from a window or carried out the front door, the latter of which Wardle finds the more likely claim of the two. After this near escape, she resided in Scovel Hall until being transferred to the Art Museum in the 1960s.
More recently, debates surrounding the treatment of human remains have come to the forefront of museums’ minds. “Holding human remains in museum collections is really ethically complicated,” said Wardle. “Ultimately, most of us hope that our physical remains will rest undisturbed somewhere or that we will at least have some say in what happens to our bodies after death.” She went on to remind students and community members, “tThat Ta-Irty-Bai was a person from whom we can still learn, but keeping and exhibiting her physical remains is not neutral or straightforward.”
This idea of ethical treatment of remains came up repeatedly in the Q&A following the lecture. Dr. Wardle pushed students to continue asking questions and debating these issues.” She went on to say that the College presents a variety of ways to get involved in this process. “With a new museum studies minor and a museum and archival studies pathway,” Wardle says, “we should be modeling the ever-changing expectations and understandings of the museum field by engaging in authentic, gritty, complex conversations about ethics in our campus community.”
Many members of the campus have an interest in engaging with Ta-Irty-Bai more in the future. While Wardle acknowledges that many students attended out of curiosity, moving forward she noted that “I don’t know how often she will come out, but it will never be to simply satisfy curiosity. It’s important for us to cultivate a community of respect and learning and Ta-Irty-Bai can be an important colleague in that process.”
While this sentiment is important, many students viewed this as an integral learning experience that should be repeated in the future. “In any case, I do firmly believe that Ta-Irty-Bai needs to be made a lot more accessible,” claims Strickland, “so that more people can experience the sense of wonder I did, and to stop the creepy jokes and everything that hung around the mummy like a miasma until last week.”
In the end, this lecture provided students and community members with a unique experience to demystify and humanize Wooster’s mummy.
When I am angry, I look into the mirror and see my mother.
Her explosive emotions leave damage. So, I take my anger out on her and her alone. I guess, since I see my toxicity as a reflection of her, deep down I think she deserves it. But she is only a girl herself.
She has suffered pain, like I. She has failed… and tried again… and failed. She has felt the hot flush of embarrassment, the sinking feeling of shame. Her quick tongue only exists to protect her.
She sees me in the mirror too. She says I am manipulative. I am “not living up to my full potential”. I am lazy. I am messy. I am dramatic. I am depressed. I am overly anxious. I am emotional. I am angry for nothing.
But she has felt the breeze of autumn, the warm hand of a lover, the excitement of a new opportunity. I am terrified of becoming her yet run into her arms for comfort. We are told that angry women are evil women but… there is a lot to be angry about when you’re told that feeling angry is wrong.
A Thousand Words
Gianna Hayes ’26
A picture’s worth a thousand words
But every time I look in the mirror
I don’t recognize the person staring back.
Am I the wrinkles in my smile,
or the furrow in my brow?
Am I the longing in my eyes,
or the bags tucked beneath them?
The person in the mirror is a collection of parts,
The person in front of it worries too much.
A picture’s worth a thousand words,
But the polaroid I took won’t develop.
It wouldn’t have captured me anyway.
Every photo feels like a ghost;
If you squint, you can just make out the faint outline of my epitome,
A shadow peeking through between stale smiles and tired eyes.
It makes my hair stand on end,
Sends a chill down my spine.
What’s haunting is what’s not there.
A picture’s worth a thousand words,
But what about what it doesn’t say?
Those thousand words don’t tell you
How much I love to breathe fresh air on cold mornings,
How hard it is to fall asleep at night without my quilt,
How gently my sister rocked me to sleep as a child.
These are all the things that I am.
I am the kindness every stranger has shown me
I am every joke my father told me
I am the tears of joy shed at my brightest moments.
There is something so special about friendships. About the intimacy of platonic love. And the extension of someone’s being into your own, into who you are, what you believe in and even the choices that define you. Then there is something so tragic about imagining the loss of all of that. About the fear of the unknown, of being alone. And the realization that, as Rue Bennett states in “Euphoria,” “these states will wax and wane.” I often think about my closest friendships and how many of us have bonded over shared trauma. A dark reality, but a reality nonetheless. Although there is some beauty to this, there is also a lot of heaviness. Friendships often involve caring about other people well out of your control. And I have found myself wanting my friends to make decisions that don’t ultimately lead to their demise. I have found myself trying to be the friend who uplifts and upholds, and sometimes this is a very precarious position to find oneself in.
I understand the deep, immense and pure love I feel for my friends, and how if they disappeared the world would be a grimmer place
-Mudiwa Mungoshi ’24
When thinking about what to write for this Viewpoint, my co-editor mentioned “being there for someone who is not there for themselves.” And that is probably one of the most Sisyphean tasks of life. It is this condition of wanting people to take care of themselves, reach out for help and work on self-development… all while knowing they will not – most times because they cannot. The way I see it, people often start small in friendships and relationships. It usually begins with general information, shared interests, favorite books and movies. And then it becomes inside jokes, road trips, long phone calls and lifelong connections. Because that’s what we’ve been told, isn’t it? That’s the whole premise of friendships, having people who care about you and who you care about, people who make you feel safe and loved and happy. And keeping those people in your life. But this deeper dimension – this strange pang of wanting to see someone heal and wishing them protection from harm, even from themselves, is something we do not discuss as often.
I once had a friend. More than a friend, in fact. But we began as friends. When I think of her, I think of Edgar Allen Poe’s line, “we loved with a love that was more than love.” I think of Heathcliff and Catherine, of the pains and passions of young love. I also think of how much all I wanted was for her to take care of herself. To nourish herself and to seek professional help. And when she didn’t, well, I went from a friend to a caretaker. I checked in regularly, refused to sleep until she did (which usually ended up being 2 a.m.) and made sure we ate meals together. In many ways I loved the idea of being able to take care of my friend and to hold her hand literally and metaphorically as I watched her states wax and wane. Looking back, I was doing the both of us a grievous disservice. I was preventing myself from flourishing as an individual – I was Atlas and my support was the shoulders upon which she rested. It was weighing me down and I had neither the courage nor the sense of self-preservation to speak up at the time. On her end, there was no accountability. No pressure for her to try harder to seek help. I do not blame her, and neither do I blame myself. I know I did what I thought was best at the time.
Looking forward, I think about my friendships now. I understand the deep, immense and pure love I feel for my friends, and how if they disappeared the world would be a grimmer place. I also acknowledge that I am a friend. I can only do so much to help, and as saddening as that is, it is also a gratifying thought. Friendship is hard enough without adding the unnecessary bits. It is this convoluted, confusing, complicated mess of two or more people trying to fit their backgrounds and beliefs into one cohesive thing. But it’s also this eye-opening, important and magical experience that is integral to the human condition. I cannot imagine being who I am today without all the friendships I have ever had. And I know I am not a professional when it comes to the runnings of life and its complexities. But if you have a friend who keeps making decisions that are actively putting them in harm’s way, maybe having a conversation with them may help. Understanding them and telling them that you care. As simple as it may sound, care goes a long way in a world like this. And to anyone who also needs the occasional reminder: You are not your friend’s keeper.
On Sunday, Nov. 8, Wooster’s International Student Services (ISS) hosted a Mini-World Cup event for students at the Scot Center. Rayan Dos Passos ’25, the main organizer of the event, said that the goal of the Mini-World Cup was to “hold a sports tournament between international and domestic students…[and] to promote the opening of the International Education Week.” As Passos noted, planning the inaugural Wooster Mini-World Cup involved many different people on campus, and he took time to praise the “help and support of [Wooster] staff like Hannah Thomas, Jill Munro, Ebed [Sulbaran], students like Craig Akiri ’23, Bee Bi ’23 and some residential assistants like Mudiwa [Mungoshi] ’24, Jiho [Park] ’24 and Naol Hulufe ’23.” Wooster students from around the world played for one of 10 teams at the Mini-World Cup. After extremely competitive group and playoff rounds, Team Côte d’Ivoire emerged victorious, defeating Team USA in the championship game by a score of 4-0.
The 10 teams were divided into two groups. Group A was composed of Team USA, Team Côte d’Ivoire, Team U.S. Virgin Islands, Team Zimbabwe and Team Korea. Meanwhile, Group B featured Team Ethiopia/Ghana, Team Djibouti, Team Morocco, Team China and Team Vietnam. Each team was guaranteed to play at least two games against teams in their group and the top two teams of each group would advance to the playoff round.
In Group A, Team USA, Team Côte d’Ivoire and Team U.S. Virgin Islands emerged as the top three teams. Team USA stood out as a contender, defeating Team Zimbabwe by a score of 2-0 and then downing Team Côte d’Ivoire 3-1 in a fast-paced match. Throughout the group stage, Team USA demonstrated defensive intensity and timely scoring. As Team USA player Arjan Chahal ’26 put it, “we had high energy and high morale going into the first game against [Team] Zimbabwe, and after we won we kept the ball rolling for the next two.”
After each team had played two games, Team USA held a record of 2-0, while Teams Côte d’Ivoire and U.S. Virgin Islands stood at 1-1. To determine the second-best team from the group, Team U.S. Virgin Islands squared off against Team USA and Team Côte d’Ivoire faced Team Korea. When the dust settled, Team Côte d’Ivoire clinched second place and qualified for the playoffs by convincingly defeating Team Korea 4-0, while watching Team USA defeat Team U.S. Virgin Islands in a 2-1 nail-biter. Below were the final standings for Group A:
The matches in Group B were just as compelling as those in Group A. Team Ethiopia/Ghana was dominant, winning their group stage matches by a combined score of 7-1. In both matches, Team Ethiopia/Ghana showed off their athleticism and team chemistry on offense and defense to clinch the top spot in Group B. As was the case in Group A, there was intense competition for the second spot in the group, with both Team Morocco and Team Djibouti finishing holding records of 1-0-1 after their games. This required a play-in game between the two teams to determine which team would qualify for the playoffs. The high-stakes match began as an even, defensive struggle, but Team Djibouti eventually pulled away from Team Morocco, winning the game by a score of 3-0 and taking the second seed in Group B.
The first playoff match featured the top seed from Group B, Team Ethiopia/Ghana, against the second seed from Group A, Team Côte d’Ivoire. During the first half, Côte d’Ivoire dictated the pace of the game, possessing the ball in their opposition’s half and taking several shots on goal. However, Ethiopia/Ghana’s goalkeeper, Craig Akiri ’23, made several incredible saves to stave off the potent Côte d’Ivoire offensive attack. As a result, the 0-0 halftime score did not reflect Côte d’Ivoire’s superiority in shots on goal. In the second half, Côte d’Ivoire’s offense exploded, with brothers Louis Sehr ’25 and Jil Sehr ’25 each scoring two goals en route to a 4-0 victory.
Côte d’Ivoire’s opponent in the championship game would be determined by the outcome of the second playoff game, which featured Team USA, Group A’s top seed, and Team Djibouti, Group B’s second seed. From the jump, Team USA pressured Team Djibouti and asserted control in the game, taking a 2-0 lead. Chahal, who scored the second goal for Team USA, said, “I pressured the defender and stole the ball off of him, and slotted a finish into an empty goal.” Team Djibouti responded with a Noah McDonald ’26 goal in the second half. Unfortunately for Djibouti, they were unable to even the score against Team USA’s defense, eventually falling by a score of 2-1.
The championship match featured a rematch of Team USA and Team Côte d’Ivoire. During the group round, Team USA’s defense befuddled Team Côte d’Ivoire’s relentless offensive attack and defeated them 3-1. As a result, both teams knew each other and were eager for a rematch. For Team Côte d’Ivoire, the match was a chance to avenge their only group stage defeat. Louis Sehr ’25 noted that “after conceding a tough loss to [Team USA], we studied them and prepared accordingly, waiting for another chance to face them later in the tournament.” Sehr also said that Team Côte d’Ivoire “had a sense of revenge heading into the game, ready to change the narrative.” Team USA, meanwhile, was battling the injury and fatigue bugs. According to Chahal, “we had just lost one of our best players that played in that 3-1 group stage win due to injury and we were starting to get tired.” Despite this, Chahal noted that Team USA was “ready to give it our all and fight until the last whistle.”
Team Côte d’Ivoire’s preparation paid off in a big way, as their offense found an impressive rhythm during the first half. Louis Sehr ’25 opened the scoring by putting the ball past the goalie in a one-on-one situation. Later in the game, Sehr scored Côte d’Ivoire’s second goal after he “decided to switch things up and take [the Team USA goalie] on.” Loyd Djirosse ’25 tacked on another goal for Côte d’Ivoire before the halftime whistle blew, giving Côte d’Ivoire a commanding 3-0 halftime lead. During the second half, Team Côte d’Ivoire took a more defensive position, denying any and all scoring attempts from Team USA. For good measure, Moody Saadi ’23 scored a last-second goal to secure the 4-0 Côte d’Ivoire victory.
Sehr felt extremely gratified after Team Côte d’Ivoire’s victory, reporting that “it was an amazing feeling to win it for my country,” and that “it felt even better to be able to do it alongside my brothers.” Passos, who played for Team Morocco in addition to organizing the Mini-World Cup, was extremely pleased with the results of the event, reporting that “the [Mini-World Cup] went as planned, but [was] different from my expectations; the enthusiasm, joy and energy of all was what made this [a] special event.”
Thank you to everyone who planned and participated in this amazing event and be sure to check out upcoming events for International Education Week!