by Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik ’02
Earlier this year, I was honored with the Outstanding Recent Alumna award. It meant so much to me to have been selected by my peers, because I know Scripps alumnae to be fierce, passionate, committed, and intelligent. At Scripps, I was a driven, hungry student in search of answers to questions I didn’t yet understand. I still remember trying to make sense of the words “paradigm shift” on my Core I exam. Now, my life’s work is all about fighting for the kinds of change that I had trouble articulating during my first year of college.
In the words of writer Jeff Chang, “Progressives have to make people believe in a world they can’t yet see. The other side just needs to maintain the bad old status quo.” The combination of imagination, courage, and criticality it takes to change the world is endowed in the promise of a liberal arts education. It is what gives me hope in my own students, and it is what is at stake in the present-day culture wars.
Through my own lived experience, in the Scripps women who have become part of my family, in the writings of Grace Lee Boggs and Octavia Butler, I have come to understand that community is necessary for survival. I often say that the reason to work together— whether with loved ones or strangers—is to make something possible together that is not possible alone. Collaboration, with all of its challenges, enacts the world we want to live in. I am an individual, and I am not interested in working alone.
In 2015, I cofounded the People’s Kitchen Collective, an organization working at the intersection of art, food, and justice. We believe that hospitality can be radical and that diversity and community are critical to our cultural and physical survival. We work in museums, galleries, warehouses, parks, schools, and in the streets. And in each of these spaces we consider: What is our power? What are our privileges? When are we bridges? How do we open doors for others?
I also ask these questions of us, as alumnae who care deeply about each other and Scripps. How can we truly support future generations at Scripps? How can we hold doors open for black and brown, working-class, queer, trans, disabled, undocumented, and first-generation college students at Scripps? These are the questions that Scripps taught me to ask, and our collective survival depends on it.
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