Brave Heart opens minds and shuts out stress

Brave Heart is back for their bi-monthly open discussions, and everyone can finally take a deep breath out, literally. On December 1, The Violence Awareness and Response Program is holding a healing activity event in the Centennial Student Union, giving students the option to release any pent up stress from life.

Headlining the discussion is MK Thao, graduate assistant on campus for the Violence Awareness and Response Program. Thao has been behind all of the Brave Heart discussions, and finds herself learning just as much as the students who attend.

“A lot of what I learned was just from a textbook, and from news and articles, but hearing peoples’ personal experiences really helped me. I feel like these events always help me check my bias and my ignorance,” Thao said.

This week’s Brave Heart event is serving as a means of unwinding and an opportunity to have a more relaxed discussion, contrasted to the event’s usual more pressing and heavy-weighted themes, such as domestic violence or sexual assault. 

Plans for the day include a meditation event with breathing exercises to soothe the soul, the making of custom door signs and open discussions on whatever the students feel they need to talk about. Unlike previous discussions, the topic for this week is up in the air, allowing coverage of any topic, no matter how big or small.

“Even if they just wanna rant about how their professor makes them feel frustrated, we don’t care. Come with what you want, it’s a healing activity, you can dump it on us and walk away, and we’ll collect your stress and burn it,” Thao said.

A major stressor for many college students are post-graduation plans. The uncertainty of a new graduate’s professional future can weigh heavily on their mind–and when family members are consistently knocking on the door asking what the future holds, it is  easy to feel empty handed.

For Thao, setting aside time in one’s day to take a mental break is essential. Whether that be reading a book, drawing or “cocooning in your bed” as Thao describes, taking time to let off steam is critical.

“Personally, as a young adult, there’s a lot of people telling you their expectations, and I forget about my own expectations sometimes. A healing activity could really help you figure out yourself, and who you need in your life,” Thao said.

Brave Heart was originally titled “Conversation Circle.” However, the name was recoined to “Brave Heart” this year, in an effort to eliminate the connotation of students feeling required to speak at the event in order to attend.

Next semester, Brave Heart plans to continue openly speaking on the unspoken issues in society in combination with the Women’s Center and their respective discussion series, “The F Word.”

 “The F Word” in question is feminism, a topic that scares many. Both conversations aim on tackling the topics deemed too taboo to speak on by the general public. The two hope to team up, tackling typical Brave Heart topics like domestic violence and sexual assault, while also discussing women’s rights.

According to Thao, students consistently leave the event more knowledgeable.

They appreciate that we focus on a wide range of topics, as well as a wide range of race and ethnicity. Each group’s experience is different. I feel like race and culture really play a role when we talk about these things, and we can’t expect everyone to experience the same things,” Thao said.

Header Photo: MK Thao, a graduate assistant on campus for the Violence Awareness and Response Program, works at the Women’s Center on campus. She is one of the driving forces behind the Brave Heart discussions, an event that has been occurring on campus in one form or another for years. (Joey Erickson/The Reporter)

Write to Joey Erickson at joseph.erickson.2@mnsu.edu

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