Sorry, what’d you say?

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Here is an op-ed I wrote for my communication writing course:

How social media is ruining my communication skills

RHIANNON BERG ’18

social media photoMy friend was sitting across from me, trying to tell me about her sister’s school in Los Angeles being closed because of a threat, but I was too busy reading about it on Twitter to listen. My generation is losing valuable listening and in-person communication skills because of our dependency on cell phones and social media.

Social media enables me to connect with my friends and across the United States and the world. It gives me a unique and uncommitted way to keep in touch with them on the big events occurring in their lives, but it also tempts me to spend hours looking at other people’s lives rather than focusing on my own commitments and the people who surround me.

In a USA Today article, Jasmine Fowlkes argued, Too often at events or parties, guests are attached to their smartphones tweeting or texting, but no one is truly engaging or interacting with the people around them.”

As a college student I constantly find myself checking Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media to find out about how my friends are doing rather than walking down the hall to talk to them in person.

After watching young people struggle to hold an in-person conversation for more than a few minutes I imagine a scary future. A world where the next generation of college students only interacts through their many devices and forgets how to have real life interactions.

A junior at Pacific Lutheran University, Elise Anderson, said, “I notice I’ll be talking to someone and they’ll be on their phone and I can tell they’re not paying attention to what I’m saying.”

I want live in a world where I have conversations with people and fully focus on them,  not worry about what the rest of the world is doing while pretending to pay attention to their thoughts.

The Telegraph reported, “One in four people spend more time socialising online, using sites such as Facebook, than they do in person, according to research.”

Stepping away from social media and the world within cell phones allows people to focus on life and the world around them. It gives them time to appreciate the many small, but beautiful, details in life and to be productive and contributive members of society.

We need to consciously acknowledge and appreciate the importance of in-person communication so the art of conversation is not lost with the next generation.

 

Racial Inequality Talk Article

Articles, Portfolio

Here is an article I wrote for the Mast:

RHIANNON BERG

News Writer

bergau@plu.edu

 

Colleges across the country have been featured in the news with images of upset students and apologetic administrators because of the privilege and oppression that is intertwined with race. Pacific Lutheran University students held conversations Dec. 7 about racial inequality at after presenting research on the perceptions and experiences of more than a hundred PLU students.

 

While PLU prides itself on being ethnically diverse and welcoming to all people, it is not immune from racial inequality. Students from Sociology 332: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity surveyed PLU students about topics such as affirmative action, the success of minority students, drug use and awareness of racial diversity on campus.

 

“I’d like to see more dialogue around race and its importance to student’s experiences,” said the instructor of the course, Dr. Teresa Ciabattari. “We have a lot of education to do at PLU so a broader group of the student body, as well as the faculty and staff, are aware of how salient race and racial identity is for students of color and how much it does affect their experiences.”

 

At the event, students presented research that showed minority students experience isolation within their major at rates higher than non-minority students. Dr. Ciabattari said she analyzed data reported from last year’s first-year students and found students of color also report a lower sense of belonging than their non-minority peers.

 

“Having more conversations like these is important,” said Dr. Ciabattari. “We need to do more to change the culture of PLU so that all students feel like they belong.”

 

The PLU Factbook reported PLU’s student body is made up of 27 percent students of color and 14 percent of faculty are non-white.

 

The Dean of Students, Dr. Eva Frey, said PLU strives to have the greatest pool of applicants to ensure that they’re diverse on a variety of levels, including gender and race. She was the first ASPLU director of diversity in 1993 while pursuing her undergraduate degree at PLU.

 

“PLU is more conscientious about racial diversity today than they have ever been,” said Dr. Frey. “We’re doing all that we can and I appreciate that.”

 

Multiple faculty members declined to comment on the topic of racial diversity amongst PLU’s faculty for this article.

 

The current ASPLU director of diversity, senior Maya Perez, presented her findings on how confronting whiteness effects and perpetuates racial inequality at PLU during the Dec. 7 event.   

 

“I really have faith that PLU will continue to complexify it’s hiring practices in seeking out a more racially diverse staff and faculty,” said Perez. “I think that it’s something that as students we’re holding them accountable for and that they’re learning to hold themselves accountable for as well.”

 

Dr. Ciabattari said she hopes events like this one will promote more conversations about race and ethnicity at PLU.

 

“Be open to the conversation and hearing stories and experiences that might challenge what you have know or experienced about the world and PLU,” she said. “See it as an opportunity for intellectual growth as well as personal growth.”

Read more here: http://mastmedia.plu.edu/2015/12/14/student-research-highlights-racial-inequality/

Gig Harbor author aims to help readers find peace

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Here is an article I wrote  for the Peninsula Gateway in Gig Harbor, Washington.

RHIANNON BERG

From a cozy meditation hut nestled in the woods of Gig Harbor, a local author offers her readers a window into themselves.

Jody Doty — yes, it rhymes — is not a psychic or a mind reader. She doesn’t have a crystal ball or tarot cards.

But Doty is a cancer survivor, an ordained minister, a writer, dreamer and self-proclaimed “soul reader.”

“I see beyond the physical and right to the beautiful part that a lot of us miss that’s there within you,” Doty said. “I like ‘soul reader’ because that’s what I do. I see what’s beyond this, the pictures and the symbols in lives.”

Doty, who has been in remission from breast cancer for six years, said her experiences have given her significant insights.

“I’m a survivor in a lot of ways. I have had a lot of physical issues, and I think in some ways I had to redefine what beauty is because of that,” said Doty, who has also had skin cancer and undergone 14 facial surgeries.

“We’re not just this,” Doty said, gesturing to her body. “We’re the beauty within us, too.”

Doty said the challenges she has faced proved to her that there is a definite connection between the body and the soul.

“It really made me value my body and appreciate that life is short,” she said. “Something happens when you don’t pay attention to your soul and do what you’re supposed to do.”

Her cancers taught her how to let others help her, which allowed her to become closer to her soul and emotions.

“I think the lesson in that was that I was giving to a lot of people and not myself,” she said. “I was so used to giving I didn’t let myself receive. If we don’t deal with it on the inside, it tends to happen on the outside. That’s why I think reading the soul is so important.”

Doty, who holds a full-time job at Kitsap Mental Health Services, balances her professional day job with many other passion projects.

For instance, Doty is a featured writer for a newly launched national website, www.faverie.com, and is a co-author of a new self-help book titled “Beyond the Loss: Breaking the Stigma of Depression and Suicide,” which was released in early November.

In addition, Doty’s meditations are featured in another new book, “365 Ways to Connect With Your Soul,” also recently released.

“I let go of creative limits and the words just came,” Doty said of her entries on Faverie.com. “It’s a pleasure to share a little piece of Gig Harbor with the world on Faverie.com. I feel like a small town girl sharing herself with the world.”

Doty says she has developed her gifts through nature and nurture. She attended classes at the Church of Divine Man (CDM), which helped clarify and strengthen her spirituality.

“It’s a gift I’ve always had. It’s in my family,” she said. “I took classes and that was key to me being open to my gifts and really being able to help people with them.”

Often, clients want Doty to tell them about the past or future, she said. But helping people find their own way is what brings her the most joy.

“I like to bring people to their center and assist them in that calm place,” Doty said. “I love ‘a ha’ moments when people actually experience who their spirit is.”

In the future, Doty hopes to travel, finish a children’s book on which she’s working, and perhaps begin to do some teaching.

“I want people to know that there is beauty within them,” Doty said. “There’s so much beauty that we miss. I like to help people to see that and to see where they are and to let them know that they’re not just their body. They’re their spirit and their body, and how beautiful that is.”

Rhiannon Berg, a freelance writer and member of MediaLab at Pacific Lutheran University, can be reached at bergau@plu.edu.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/community/gateway/g-living/article47823325.html#storylink=cpy

Stressing work-life balance has helped Gig Harbor-based Allovus succeed

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