Last Friday evening, a plain student backyard became a magical setting for Her Campus Western’s first event of the 2017-18 academic year. Transformed with twinkling fairy lights and an intimate makeshift stage, about forty people—past, present, and prospective members—mingled through the low hum of indie music. The diverse group of people came from all different faculties, ethnicities and years, but were unified by their interest and compatibility with HCW’s mission statement: “to raise a mosaic of student voices.”
A modern take on a traditional tea party, the Garden ParTEA offered specialty iced tea, fresh fruit and mini sandwiches that broke the ice and eased conversation between the attendees. As the night progressed, the guests, grouped together with whom they arrived, slowly amalgamated with others until the separations were indistinguishable—the audience had become one, just as HCW strives to be with its team and members.
The evening was sprinkled with a variety of performances and presentations. Among them were: moving and passionate spoken-word poetry by Sydney Brooman (the fourth-year Student Writer-in-Residence), Nadine Alaloul (a returning HCW member), and Maggie Gauthier (HCW’s current Blog Editor); honest and ethereal music by Kendra Miller (a singer-songwriter and student in the Don Wright Faculty of Music) and Bryn (a local singer-songwriter and student in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies); and an inspiring speech by Alexie Evans, a HCW alumnus.
Evans gave an emotional speech about her experience with HCW: “I look around and see how big the chapter has gotten, it’s crazy,” she began as she reminisced on her first welcome party, consisting of only three other members. “It’s changed who I am today,” she admitted, as the experiences helped her land her current career at Arcane, a local digital marketing agency. Evans also emphasized the value and supportive nature of Her Campus, describing it as an organization “by women, for women, supporting women.” As an alumnus, pride emanated from her, encouraging those around her to make their experiences just as fulfilling.
When asked about the success of the event, current president Ella Purtill said: “I was so, so happy with the success of the event. The Garden ParTEA really marked an effort to bring culture and music from Western’s community into Her Campus’ events, and it succeeded massively. We were also super happy with how much everyone enjoyed the event itself!”
As for Purtill’s goals for the Western chapter this year, she outlined them with confidence: “My goal for HCW this year is to continue our upward trajectory, expanding and solidifying our role as a women-led, alternative digital media experience on campus, while also fostering community, collaboration and growth among our writers. In addition, a goal for HCW this year is to elevate and lift marginalized voices and provide a platform to express alternative opinions, facts, and stories.”
If the diversity, teamwork and sense of community represented at this first event are any indications of the chapter’s future endeavours, we can definitely look forward to great things from Her Campus Western.