On December 5, 2013, the toll of bells pierced the air everywhere, each tremendous vibration reverberating lament and respect in the ears of millions and the hearts of billions. On that day, one of the most prominent leaders of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela, died of respiratory complications, leaving behind a legacy so great that people across the world bent their heads in awe and mourning. Heralded as the Father of South Africa for his efforts to dissolve institutional racism, Mandela's most extraordinary feat was the manner through which he attacked the unjust form of government in South Africa: he didn't march across the country with a powerful military and take the government by force, he didn't kill, and he didn't destroy. He wrote, and he spoke.
Nelson Mandela showed that sometimes the two most powerful weapons in an arsenal are writing and speaking. Mandela broke the status quo, instigated social change, and helped start a revolution in the minds and hearts of people across the globe, all from a small cell where he was incarcerated for 27 years, armed with nothing but his ideas, his words, his voice, and a pen. The power of Nelson Mandela's words was rooted in the events and experiences that transpired throughout his life.
This is true for all of us; every person has a unique lens, molded by a specific history and a wealth of experiences, through which we view the world. Our individual viewpoints allow for the creation of novel and powerful works of art and ideas that can leave a lasting impression.
We see this novelty and power in the undergraduate population here on DU's campus. Every student who comes and goes adds a little flavor to the rich history of the University of Denver, layering dimensions onto the character of this institution that we call home. Each of the pieces in this year's issue of WRIT Large represents one of the many faces that make up the character of DU's student body. These essays struck a chord with us and with the faculty editors.
We are pleased to bring you these 11 pieces from writers with unique perspectives. Whether or not you are aligned with an author's position, we hope you will allow these engaging works to start a conversation and, perhaps, to inspire you to speak and to write.
Celia Smits, Stella Swartz, and Jack Thomas
ABOUT The editor: celia Smits
I was born and raised on the eastern plains of Colorado, in the “city” of Fort Morgan—the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and getting stuck driving behind a tractor is a legitimate excuse for tardiness. When I arrived at DU, I was disconcerted by the lack of cows and cornfields, but I quickly became accustomed to all of the cafes and chain restaurants that city-folk seem to have instead. I am a sophomore working toward a major in molecular biology, though I have considered dropping out to pursue my true passion of stick figure art. In all seriousness though, when I try to imagine my favorite instance at DU, all I can picture is a competing meshwork of a snowball fight, a camel ride, the late-night meals, the Frisbee games, and all of the people that have made my time so far absolutely fantastic.
About the editor: stella swartz
I am Colorado-born with a competing love of exploration and love of home. When I was choosing a school, I envisioned myself somewhere far away (from my parents). After months of debate, I realized I wasn’t ready to leave behind the Rocky Mountains just yet. I’m a Socio-Legal Studies and English double major with a minor in Italian. I’m a member of Alpha Phi, an honors nerd, and a tailgate fan. One of my most cherished memories here at DU was driving to Winter Carnival last fall. My friends and I, not the best at directions, were trying to figure out an alternate route to Keystone due to a major blockage on I-70. We blindly followed Siri’s confident voice until we realized we had no idea where we were and began to get nervous about the heavy snowfall. We checked the estimated time of arrival and found that we were seven hours away from our destination, in the middle of an unmapped mountain town, with minimal reception. It took me months to be able to laugh at the experience, but in hindsight, that journey from Denver to Keystone was one heck of a ride.
About the editor: jack thomas
Though I was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the majority of my life was spent in Dallas, Texas. After spending 14 years in Dallas, I have a fresh appreciation for all things Colorado. Skiing, hiking, fishing, hiking-to-fish, all my hobbies found a new spark in Denver, and I still gape like an idiot every time I approach the Rockies. I once asked a friend who is native to Colorado, “do you ever get tired of seeing the mountains?” He replied, “No, they get better every day.” I am a Psychology and English double major with a minor in History. I am Vice President of the Men’s Club Soccer team and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. My favorite time of year at DU is late winter/ early spring. Snow on the ground and sun in the sky: it doesn’t get much cooler than that.