Popping the Dartmouth Bubble
Dartmouth is a generally wonderful place, but during the hustle and bustle of the term, it’s all too easy to get encapsulated in the “Dartmouth Bubble.” This is a term coined on campus to describe a sort of tunnel vision where students lose track of things happening outside the invisible walls of this campus. And the prevalence of this (often unintentional) mindset is why I think the “Inzaba Yetfu (Our Story), Stories of Migration” exhibit by Khulekani Msweli of Swaziland being displayed on campus is so important.
In my AAS 19 course, I had the honor of speaking to Mr. Msweli about his work. While his line of upscale clothing, furniture, and other pieces pay the bills, his overarching passion is spreading awareness through his art. He has created similar refugee-themed art installations around the world where he often mixed the clothing of refugee children, some of whom have died, with that of the resident city’s children to create patchwork refugee tents. He can still recall the faces of parents who looked at his first installation while realizing they couldn’t distinguish the clothing of the refugee children from that of their own. The Dartmouth version of this work included articles of clothing from Dartmouth students, including my own. It was on display at the Haldeman lawn (behind Baker-Berry Library) and acted as a catalyst for meaningful outside-the-bubble conversation.