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Student Leadership at "Soup, Salad and Soul"

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

Students munch a tasty lunch while they talk about love and guilt.

Last week's "Soup, Salad and Soul" was led not by Dean Jennifer Walters, as is usual, but by Rachel Besserman, a graduate student in education here at Smith. One of the goals of "Soup, Salad and Soul" is to share leadership, a way of encouraging students to open up to each other and of varying discussion. Besserman commented that it was the openness of the group that made her want to share. "My role is to welcome everyone and make them comfortable, and to offer a theme for discussion."

Her chosen theme was twofold: love and guilt, and the connections between them. After going a round of introductions, during which participants offered something positive from their day, ranging from enjoying the warm weather to excitement about an upcoming tango festival, we got down to serious talk. A dominant theme was that of the difficulty of loving, and the labor that love entails. Where is the line between a positive sacrifice for loved ones and an unhealthy self-imposed martyrdom? Does true, unselfish love exist? Can you love someone and feel resentment at the same time? "It's important to remember," said Dean Walters, "that love is different from the emotions that are passing through us all the time."

Homework came up in connection with guilt. Students discussed their feelings of culpability when they chose fun over homework and traded tips on how to maintain discipline and also take time for themselves. The conversation ranged from laughing to serious, but the food was uniformly delicious: vegetarian chili, salad with roasted red pepper vinaigrette, and tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream. "If I had to say one thing about leadership," offered Besserman, "it would be that the kitchen is our prime example!"