Second Book in Generation Now Series: “Our Stories…Can You Hear Us?” Now Available

The second book in the Generation Now series, published by co-leader Dr. Christine Henseler and featuring a collection of narratives written by students at Union College, is now available on Amazon for only $9.50. All proceeds are donated to C.O.C.O.A House, an after-school mentoring program in Schenectady, New York.

More information about Generation Now and Dr. Henseler’s Call for Social Change project is available on the Call for Social Change website.

Here is a preview of the narratives that appear in the collection:

Suleydi Betanbourt: Repping Bad Neighborhoods  

If you are from a “bad neighborhood” or have worked in one, then you are most likely aware of how wrong that label is. Most often, these neighborhoods are not bad, they are impoverished and the issues related to poverty are instead associated with the community. In this piece, Suleydi addresses the reality of poor neighborhoods and the importance of representing where you came from, without romanticizing the hardships

Athena Bo: No, We Are ‘Just Friends.’ 

What if we were to live in a world where men and women had genuine platonic relationships equal to those that someone would have with a member of their same-sex? What would it be like if men and women sincerely enjoyed one another’s presence without seeing each other as sexual beings? If you are a person like Athena who likes to hang around the opposite gender, then this phrase must not be unfamiliar to you. Athena is interested in the issues of the gender dynamics. She believes that the gender segregation we create as a part our social construct contributes to most of the gender problems we face today. As our society enables men and women to see the opposite gender as only potential sex partners, she suggests that the reason we “objectify” each other is because we don’t really “KNOW” each other. In her story, she shares her platonic friendships with 6 of her male best friends to prove that boys and girls can really be “just friends”.

Caitlin Buchanan: Becoming Me: My Self-Love Playlist 

Caitlin wrote about her journey to self-love through the healing powers of music. This piece touches upon self-esteem, body image, and other relevant topics affecting young people. Healthy and confident adults grow stronger from body-positivity and high self-esteem in our youth. Music has guided her throughout her self-love discovery. Music is a centerpiece in every culture and community throughout the world. So, why isn’t self-love too?

Elizabeth Cilia: Wasting Away…And Wasting It Anyway 

We live in a terribly wasteful society. Americans dispose of 40% of the food that we produce both on the micro and macro level. Not only are we wasting food, but 1 in 7 Americans live food insecure, meaning they don’t have daily access to sufficient, affordable, and nutritious food. This narrative dives into the work of social entrepreneurs who are bridging the gap between food waste and hunger. Elizabeth argues the importance of an immediate reevaluation of our current food systems. She shares a story of her relationship with nature and how her education and experiences offered a greater understanding of our world’s resources.

Marika Contompasis: When Life Throws You a Curveball, Hit a Homerun 

Some of us grew up finding a purpose and shaping our lives by sport. Marika shares how losing soccer was like losing a part of her identity. In her story, she emphasizes how meaningful athletics are to people, focusing on how retiring from sports can affect their mental well-being. Sports shape who people are in many transformative ways, and losing them can make you feel like you lost a part of yourself. By telling her story, Marika hopes other retired athletes realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Kelsey Cox: Read Between The Lines 

Kelsey’s piece centers around her personal experiences with preconceived opinions and gender expectations. Specifically in academia, she shares how an image of her social life does not always coincide with her all-encompassed self. She uses real world examples to illustrate how judgment can lead to pressure to fit in, as well as how gender stereotypes can limit our true potential. Both of these aspects are discussed in light of how they can act as obstacles to personal growth and change. Kelsey challenges her readers to be more thoughtful in the way they interact with others, striving to move towards a world where a book does not get judged by its cover.

Sophia Gebara: Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Can Art Stop Humanity’s Fall?  

As society faces challenges of human rights and equality, can art provide us with thoughtful introspection and guidance to begin to mend the gaps in our social systems? Sophia’s story confronts the reader with difficult questions, re-evaluating assumptions of one another: both consciously and subconsciously. It asks the audience to reflect on their lives with specific attention to hierarchical thought, stereotypical behaviors, and societal constructs. Creating interesting discourse around the confining concept of “labeling”, this narrative examines how art can stimulate change around the world.

Grace Huebschmann: Happy Father’s Day, Mom! 
Is any family really “normal?” Is a divorced family a “broken family?” As a child surrounded by endless opinions of what family means, Grace struggled to find confidence and courage to live her life the way it was. Suffocated by an unhealthy relationship with her father, it took her years to finally rid her life of toxicity. And when she did, she still had all the people who love her standing beside her. This is her family. She calls for a normalization of non-traditional families in an effort to provide support and hope for the children affected by divorce. We are not just statistics, we are people lost in society’s downplay of our realities. The effects are real, the support is there; we just need to speak up and reach out to find it. There is no “normal family,” and Grace is proud to share her journey to realizing that.

Nancy Lopez Ramirez: Me, My Hair, and I: A Negrita Perspective 

How do you feel about your hair? Do you consider it an important aspect of your identity as a woman? Has anyone tell you that you are ugly because of its texture? Length? Maybe you cannot respond or even relate to these questions. If that’s the case, Nancy still invites you to read her piece to educate yourself about a topic that you have probably never thought about because it does not pertain to your identity. Nancy dedicates this to you, Black Dominican woman. This is for the times you have been told your hair is “bad” because it is not straight. This is for the times you have been told by your relatives to “fix” your hair because the roots coming out of your head are not “presentable.” This is for you to embrace your Blackness. Your. Hair. Because. You. Are. Beautiful.

Catherine Nakato: You Have to Work Twice As Hard, To Get Half Of What They Got 

Have you ever tried to wear someone else’s glasses? If you have, you’ve noticed that you can see clearly through some frames, but through others you cannot see what is directly in front of you. Catherine encourages you to see through the lens of education. Her story explores what it means to work hard for your education, as well as the education of others. She discusses how the development of empathy can influence the relationship and success of many students. She encourages you to try on a pair of glasses, to see students as the human beings they are, with feelings and experiences that affect their academic endeavors.

Emmanuela Oppong: Courageous Empathy Under Fire 

We are all born with an innate beauty. Yet, somehow as we move along our respective journeys, it becomes lost and buried under social constructs that make it difficult to see, to really acknowledge, and to take action against the unfairness and injustices around us. But this beauty, this inherent empathy, is still and always within. It is brimming with positive power and an untapped potential. If we allow courage to meet this beauty, we will form an interconnected team that will unleash a storm of fire sparked by rays of goodness, to overturn and overthrow inequitable, painful, and harmful systems, and rebuild ones that are right and fair to all.

Lily Reale: 21st Century Career Girl 

Have you ever heard of or seen a woman trying to be successful in her career or prove herself to men? “Career Girl” was a common and debilitating stigma that was used many years ago. It negatively described women who had careers in the professional realm. . Unfortunately, this connotation still exists.. In this piece, Lily speaks about how her female role model has constantly guided and influenced her life despite experiencing workplace-adversity. Her mother’s personal interactions in a male-dominated career affected her life drastically. She consistently worked to prove herself, make her voice heard, and gain the authority and respect she deserved. Lily hopes to empower women who also want to pursue careers in male-dominated fields. We are important. We are all humans. Although we have made progress in the past, it is the 21st century, such an out of date divide should not still exist.

Hana Young: “It’s Just the Hormones” 

It’s the 21st century. We have complex prosthetic limbs and life-giving pacemakers. Yet we still shame those who talk about something we all have: mental health. Those with depression and other mental illnesses who choose to speak out and talk about their struggles are often quieted and scoffed at when they tell their stories. How is it that we are able to talk freely about our physical injuries and no one bats an eye, but when the words ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ are mentioned, we cringe? Hana shares her own story of mental illness, by challenging the status quo and refusing to hide behind the stigma of mental health. She discusses things we can do to end the stigma, such as integrating mental health education into school systems.

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