What Happened at the Creative
A Report by Noor Alam
On Friday, April 22, 2022, Avenues Online hosted its first Creative Coffee House led by Noor Alam. Striving to create more opportunities of engagement within Avenues Online, Yehuda Zilberstein and Noor Alam worked with WIP teachers Wei-Ling Woo, Danielle Codey, and Linda Kimbrell to organize a space for people to share different forms of creative expression that would otherwise go unnoticed.
The Creative Coffee House’s purpose was explained as being a safe space for both students and faculty to build a sense of community and engagement with one another through various forms of art. Moreover, it was evident that this space was meant to shed some of the formality of day-to-day classes and meetings, encouraging participants to sit in a relaxing place, enjoy their favorite beverage or snack, and come and go according to what fits their schedule. At first, tensions were high because of the uncertainty of what would unfold as the meeting progressed. Students and faculty were sitting in anticipation as participants awaited the presentation of the first piece.
The event began with submissions that were collected before the start of the event, including poetry, singing, short stories, and photographs. So many hidden talents were uncovered within the AON community including the powerful voice of Alethea Tsoumpas and the moving words of Stella Heckman among many others. The bravery of these first few students and the presentation of their creative pieces were truly astonishing and joyous to see. The chat was filled with positive comments, many people unmuting themselves to clap and cheer in appreciation and admiration of the wonderful performances.
The energy that was created among all the participants in just a few short minutes was incredible. Students and faculty were engaging with one another through the recognition of other students and slowly becoming more and more connected as the event progressed. Some people even felt comfortable and safe enough to share their own creative pieces with the group spontaneously, which boosted the overall mood and gave everyone more confidence and encouragement to continue sharing until time ran out. We were presented with even more songs, poems, short stories, and artwork that left people wishing it would never end.
The first Creative Coffee House was a smashing success all thanks to its wonderful performers and supporters. It strived to be a place of excitement, safety, comfort, and creativity, and it is safe to say that all four boxes were checked. In the future, the Creative Coffee House design team hopes to hold more events frequently throughout the year, including both virtual and in-person spaces as well as including members from beyond Avenues Online. The desire to meet new people and engage in conversation lies in all of us; it is simply a matter of creating the time and space for it. Avenues Online is full of gifted students and faculty with immense creativity and passion, and the Creative Coffee House design team aspires to bring everyone together to showcase both.