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Challenging Society’s Definition of Happiness

Paul Brown and Intef W. Weser encourage personal empowerment in workshop series

Find your inner music

KristineHall.com

Find your inner music

Janice Peregrina, Staff Reporter

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It can be difficult feeling confident about yourself in college. You can be bombarded by choices, well-meaning but misplaced advice from friends and family, and all the while, doubting your career path and future. When you make college your whole life, all other aspects tend to fall to the side. Paul Brown and Intef W. Weser are looking to change this mindset.

Brown, an EOP counselor, and Weser, A.S.I. Executive Director, organized “Empowering the Self: Changing the World From Within” – a workshop series from about fourteen years ago. These men have been dedicated to helping students find their inner happiness and strength throughout the tumultuous college experience through participatory lecture sessions and  activities. The sessions are meant to get students talking about their hopes and fears in a safe environment. The first of four workshop sessions began on March 7 in the Student Union.

The importance of the self and personal expression is key to the workshop. According to Brown, he and Weser want to provide “an opportunity for students to ‘express’ themselves about college, careers, and I think most important values and priorities.” He believes the college experience and the eventual career choice is not the be-all end-all of life. “We live in a society that promotes college, family, etc. as a ‘means to an end,’ but in reality nothing is a means to an end. Life and living is an on-going process and one thing does not signify that we’re done or have arrived so to speak in terms of developing or growing as unique persons.” Brown cites a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes as their overall representation of what they’ve wanted to provide to students since day one. “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

You can tell the founders of the workshop are passionate about what they do. Paul Brown spoke about what he hopes to achieve with these sessions. “So this workshop, started some fourteen years ago, was designed to empower students to get to know themselves and investigate ‘who am I’ and to suggest that some things such as culture, beliefs, etc. may not be serving you in the best possible way.” He went more in depth with these issues in the first group session, defining empowerment as “choosing for you,” and how doing things for other people and putting yourself second will ultimately bring you down. “This is not to say that it is all bad,” he qualified, “but as we grow older and experience life in a variety of ways, we do have to let go that which is not serving us.”

Brown and Wesef initially wanted the experience to be available as an undergraduate class, as they provide discussion materials, like  workbooks, handouts, as well as personal and professional experience working with individuals. Through counseling and administration, they were able to convert it into a workshop. Brown laments the fact that the workshop is not provided as a requirement because he feels “we need to empower students to allow themselves to see beyond money, things, etc. and check out what is more important to them….being HAPPY from within, not from without.”

Confidentiality is strictly enforced in these sessions. With this safety, students can be confident talking to someone about their school issues in a neutral, judgement free environment. “Empowering the Self: Changing the World From Within” will be held Tuesdays throughout March in the San Gabriel Room from 2 to 3:30p.m. Students are also entered into a raffle for a free parking pass and gift certificate for attending the sessions. The actual drawing will take place at the last session on March 28.

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Challenging Society’s Definition of Happiness