The Magic of Words

It's only Wednesday and the week has already been a rich and busy one with the importance of words taking center stage—the power of words, the magic of words, the need to use just the right words. Our undergraduate seminar, Language, Information and Power, continues to be filled with fascinating and thoughtful reading and conversation. Last evening, we grappled with the difference between intentionally or non-intentionally using words to harm others. If one has good intentions, but the outcome is negative, are we culpable nonetheless?

Prior to the class, we had the honor of co-hosting Haitian poet and song-writer/singer Roosevelt Saillant (aka  B.I.C.) who is one of the best known and most creative and prolific artists in Haiti.  According to two of B.I.C.'s hosts, Michel Anne-Frederic DeGraff and the Director of the MIT Haiti Initiative and MIT Professor of Linguistics and Director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative, MIT Professor of Linguistics and Nick Montfort, MIT Professor of Digital Media,  "His songs—a mix of hip hop, rap, folk and traditional Haitian rhythms—express a profound love for his native Haiti, along with an active engagement for the defense of human rights." During his concert and the discussion that was woven into the performance, B.I.C. said that words were his soldiers; that when he needs to express his feelings and ideas, his soldiers are always with him. I loved that imagery: words as soldiers for expression, as a means to build bridges, create community and bring about social change.

Tomorrow, we co-sponsor a program with the PKG Public Service Center called Back-Date Your Resume!  Organized by Alison Hynd, Director for Programs and Fellowships Administrator, this workshop encourages participants to consider the experiences, goals, skills, and passions they had as children and teens that aren't typically represented on a professional resume. Students reflect on what they valued and were excited about when young. We explore how these experiences can guide a student's sense of direction and find the right words to express passion and purpose—having your soldiers at the ready!

Finally, we had a wonderful meeting with Alison and the new Staff Associate for the MIT Women’s League, Kirsty Bennett. Kirsty is launching a campus-wide story-telling initiative that invites "all members of the MIT community to come together and share stories from their lives. Our mission is to connect the diverse populations at MIT through storytelling events, encouraging dialogue between social groups and build an audience for the art of spoken word on MIT’s campus." The first meeting is on Monday, October 16th at noon in the Emma Rogers Room. More to come on that.

Here's to the magic of words!






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