By WILSON WOOTEN and ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
Valentine’s Day has slowly become a global, commercial holiday. Despite the widespread appeal of heart-shaped candies, flowers, and romance associated with this holiday, many of our students were still unsure of the value this holiday could have for them personally, especially since many are single or in long-distance relationships. Nevertheless, New Mind Education hosted an event for students to celebrate their friendships, enjoy some activities, and learn about both toxic and healthy relationships in general. The event began with a presentation by Dr. Stephanie Francis, a representative from InterAct. Her presentation was then followed by several fun classic Valentine’s day games and activities.
Interns and staff decorated the location, Poe Hall on NCSU’s main campus, in an explosion of reds, pinks, and purples. Hearts adorned the walls and activity stations, balloons framed the entryway, and glittery garlands enveloped the podium where Dr. Francis spoke. The speech focused on the components of a healthy relationship, good relationship practices, signs of an unhealthy relationship, and how to support those who are in an abusive relationship. InterAct is a private, non-profit, United Way agency that provides safety, support, and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault. InterAct fulfills this mission through the support of its volunteers and community, and through reaching out to the community via presentations like this one. Students discussed how there are many signs of an abusive relationship, and how they can sometimes be subtle or sometimes very obvious. These signs include some of the following: emotional abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation, sexual abuse, and economic abuse. We also talked about signs that signify a healthy, thriving relationship. Some of these signs include communication, trust, and not taking advantage of one’s partner. Students got involved in the seminar by asking and responding to questions. “It’s interesting and helpful, ” Wenting Li, a student of UPP, said about the presentation. “During the lecture, I learned how to avoid conflicts, like don’t intend to change another person, don’t pressure him and learn to keep personal space for each other,” Esther Li, another student, said. Overall, it was a helpful presentation that the students learned a lot from.
Directly following the presentation were several Valentine’s Day themed activity stations and games that the students cycled through as a group. These activities included pinning the arrow on the heart, guessing how many candy hearts were in a jar, playing Valentine’s charades, Valentine’s day card making, and positive note giving. Pin the arrow on the heart is a game derived from the popular American’s birthday game, “Pin the tail on the donkey,” in which the player is blindfolded, spun in a circle, and then attempts to put the tail in the correct location on a poster of a donkey on the wall. This was a very difficult task and it took some of the students a few tries to do well. Our variation of this game gave students an arrow to pin on a big poster of a heart on the wall with a heart-shaped bullseye. In the end, Lingchao Mao’s arrow was the closest to the bullseye, so she won a Valentine Heart pillow.
The next activity involved a jar full of candy hearts, 1220 candies to be exact. The students all had a chance to guess how many were actually in the jar. Yuquan Cui won with a spectacular guess that was only 50 candies off, and she received a plush Valentine’s Day doughnut pillow as a prize. The last station, which was most of the students’ favorite, was the classic American game “Charades,” where participations must silently act out prompts on cards. For our Valentine’s Day themed deck, the cards were separated into 5 categories: What Men Like, What Women Like, Relationship Advice, What Couples Do and Share, and Nicknames. For many students, this was an interesting challenge to their presentation and acting skills and was a great exercise for the shyer students. The students enjoyed this game so much that students played until the event ran out of time. “Love is to go straight forward, following your heart, and pointing to the right place with eyes closed,” Lingchao Mao said.
Valentine’s Day is most often thought of as a couples-only holiday. However, there are other forms of love that ought to be celebrated, such as that between friends and colleagues. And although many of the students sulked about not having a date for Valentine’s Day, the night provided relationship advice for the future, fun games, and a lot of candy! On the way out, everyone was given a goodie bag full of typical American Valentine’s sweets, giving students the little pick me up they needed to finish February strong.