Tide Talks XXXI lifts student voices in time of isolation

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CW / Tomia Teague

Jamarii Hooks | @jamarii16, Contributing Writer

Tide Talks was founded in the spring of 2013 to provide a platform for students all over campus who wanted to share their revolutionary ideas. In a time of isolation, Tide Talks leaders hope their platform can uplift student voices and encourage a dialogue on campus that will foster new relationships and outlooks.

Megan Friend, a senior majoring in creative media, is the president of Tide Talks. 

“Tide Talks is a great organization because of the opportunity it gives to everyone around campus,” Friend said. 

Friend said she considers herself to be in a privileged position because she gets to see behind the scenes and work “with a group of amazing people that use their skills and talents to help others.”

Each Tide Talks session opens the floor to four speakers and a few performers who engage with an audience by sharing their personal stories, experiences and talents. 

Samuel Reece, a senior majoring in political science, was the first speaker of the night. Reece opened his talk by proposing the idea of telling “yourself a story every day.”

“Telling yourself a story, and framing it in that way, of creation and practice, lets you understand what is essential to yourself,” Reece said.

Reece mentioned wanting to visit all the deathbeds of presidents before he died. Those historical sites bring people together by communicating specific moments in history through different narratives, Reese said. In his talk, Reese encouraged the audience to seek critique and attempt to find a deeper meaning for life. 

“Ask what it all means,” he said. 

Noah Haynes, a sophomore majoring in creative media, was the first performer of the night with a performance of  “Dream a Little Dream of Me” on his ukulele. In a sharp segue away from the whimsy of Haynes’ song, Davis Silver, a senior majoring in marketing and psychology, started her talk with a serious question: “Do you have compassion for individuals with mental illness?” 

Silver, the founder and president of Tide Against Suicide, educated listeners on the struggles of mental illness through a familiar example: The Joker. The character’s quotes were used to explore the existing stigmas surrounding mental illness. 

“You wouldn’t get it,” Silver said, quoting from the Joker to show how people struggling with mental illnesses sometimes are not understood, are stereotyped or are not given adequate care.

Silver wanted everyone who is struggling with mental illness to know that there’s always hope. She ended her talk by encouraging and cautioning everyone to be more empathetic and less judgmental to people with mental illnesses.

“Find compassion – it could be you,” she said.

Another speaker, Kennedy Morgan, a senior majoring in public relations, highlighted her personal journey of self-worth through two spoken word poems called “Dear Self” and “Surrender.”

“Your worth is far too expensive to give discounts,” Morgan said to the crowd, reading the rest of an excerpt from “Dear Self.” “Add tax, shipping, and handling, because you’re too fragile and deserve to be treated with care.”

Nicki Arnold Swindle, a graduate student studying social work, continued the conversation of self-care, discussing the importance of taking care of your needs for the betterment of life. This could mean eating healthy foods, getting the recommended hours of sleep each day, or even studying for a test properly. For Swindle, self-care isn’t just necessary, but a lack of it is outright “unethical.”

Swindle discussed the importance of taking care of not only the physical aspects of one’s health, but the social, intellectual, personal, spiritual and emotional parts as well.

Sophie Causie, a sophomore majoring in biology and the final performer for Tide Talks XXXI, dazzled with a baton performance to the song “Heartbreaker.” 

Causie set the stage for the last revolutionary speaker of the night. Anna Kutbay, a junior majoring in political science and economics, wants language to stop being a barrier.

“A language unites us,” she said.

Language barriers make it difficult to communicate with others, Kutbay said. She argued that language barriers should be approached with an open mind instead of fear. 

Kutbay also wants language to be defined not only by the traditional view but by using more metaphorical ideas. Communication can be achieved through art, food, or even math as Kutbay explained through the love story of her parents.

With students from all walks of life at the University, Kutbay said her revolutionary idea can help improve campus culture by helping students “find common ground.” 

“Go beyond words to build relationships,” she said.

Nominations and applications to be a part of the next event can be found on the Tide Talks website.