The hero’s journey and the limits of physical endurance were among topics discussed at Steinhardt’s New Student Convocation on October 6th. The event brought together 800 undergraduate students and a panel of Steinhardt faculty members for a celebration and discussion and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, this year’s required freshman reading. Wild tells the story of Strayed’s soul-searching journey on foot across the Pacific Crest Trail.
Steinhardt Vice Dean Beth Weitzman moderated, “Journey as Challenge,” an interdisciplinary panel discussion with Professor Rene Arcilla (Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions), Professor Okhee Lee (Teaching and Learning), Assistant Professor Kathleen Woolf (Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health) and alumna, Kate Weigel, (BA ’14) (Art and Art Professions).
Arcilla and Lee offered perspectives on Strayed’s memoir, interpreting it through a literary lens, as well as through the point-of-view of a non-native speaker in a completely new culture. Woolf, a physical therapist, and Wiegel, an alumna who pushed herself to the limits of her own physical endurance on a cross-country cycling trip, offered insight into how the body can adapt to stress and how the mind adapts to life-altering experiences.
“The truth is, if an experience doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you,” Woolf said.
The convocation also celebrated the creativity of Steinhardt students who presented original art, music, and a video inspired by Wild. The work of Emily McNally (Music and Performing Arts ), Rachel Li (Art and Art Professions), and Tyler James ( Music and Performing Arts), can be viewed at Express Steinhardt!