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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Treasure hunt helps build understanding

Published: April 15, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

The treasure is the knowledge you gain, said BBSO Co-President Kyle Turner.

Last Sundays Hillel- and BBSO-sponsored Treasure Hunt, with its 20-odd participants, was hardly the most crowd-drawing event of the year. Yet it stands out in its originality of purpose, as articulated by Turner, also an event co-coordinator: To foster a link between the Black and Jewish communities on campus. For this reason, both its purpose and process merit respect and thoughtful consideration by next years student leaders.

As a participant, I was privileged to go on the hunt on a summer-like day after we all got to enjoy some pizza, soda, and plenty of chat. I understood the activity, but the mystery question for me was: What would the treasure be? I decided to ask the others.

Herschel Hartz 07 said that the action lay in the process of walking and talking together. Co-coordinator Joanna Drusin 06 would echo the same sentiment later. These were great goals, I thought, but did they amount to a treasure?

We split into several groups of three or four;

each was given an envelope and a task to accomplish in an hours time. Each groups envelope contained five clues (which werent hard to figure out) directing us to look for some particular area in a building, such as the music room in the Farber Library, or the Hillel office in Usdan.

At each stop we picked up some brief material to read or topically relevant music to hear. We also received cards with subjects to talk about on the way, such as What clubs did you join this year and why? Not too relevant on the surface, but the meaning would be felt once we realized how much our answers surprised each other. It was also surprising to find out how the Intercultural Center got its start, and where its precursor was originally located. (I wont tell you. Dig! Inquire. Find out…)

We arrived back at the Shapiro Great Lawn, and since the afternoon was made for Frisbee and suntans, we didnt bother to get too heavily into debriefing.

Brandeis sees its share of multicultural activities, but this one had the vision to venture beyond mere diversity and focusing on relations between specific communities. It accomplished this by simply getting people together to have fun and become at ease with each other, rather than merely sitting down to discuss problems.

Event co-coordinator Shakiva Wade 07 was eloquent in stating the purpose of the event: To be the start of something;

of dialogue and action. The process: By looking at our past and toward the future, we might get a sense of what we can do in the present.

Drusin said she wanted people to reach outside of their own cultural communities, taking time especially to think about Black-Jewish relations.

The event, in my opinion, was a success, but the hardest part was to understand what treasure we were seeking. Knowledge? Understanding? A new beginning? Yes, of course. The real treasure, however, is none of those. It is something we have had all along, and yet it can be the most elusive prize to discover.

We have each other.