Last Friday, Psi Upsilon (Psi U) launched a website that archived talks from A Penny For Your Thoughts, their initiative for University students to share personal stories about their experiences, academic endeavors, and other things. The website was launched after people who were unable to attend the event asked the organizers for a way to see the talks.
“We believe that everybody has a story and that there is something to be learned from every experience,” the website reads. “Wesleyan is full of passionate, unique, and bright people. When we give students a platform to speak about their experiences, we don’t just give them an opportunity to speak. We give them an opportunity to give back to the community by collecting optional donations for a local charity of our choosing.”
The event, held in Oct. 2015, was a TED-talk style event that also invited donations to local charities from their attendees. The event was co-organized by Linsin Smith ’16, Joseph Nucci ’16 and Tim Israel ’16.
“There are many people on this campus who have interests and hobbies that we don’t get to see in the classroom and this provides people with the place to share those passions with the rest of campus,” Israel wrote in an email to The Argus.
The event is also unique as it gives an opportunity for students to speak and share their thoughts about topics they would not have done in other settings.
“As far as I know, there isn’t an event on campus that gives students a platform like we do to share their story or studies,” Nucci wrote in an email to The Argus.
Through the event in October, they were able to raise nearly $150 for the McDonough Elementary School, and people will have the option to donate to the charity through the website as well.
Nucci’s reasoning behind launching the website was to extend the reach that A Penny For Your Thoughts had garnered in October.
“This is essentially a digital archive of the talks, assuming the speakers want their talks to be uploaded, and a way for people to donate online,” Nucci wrote. “A lot of people approached me last semester asking if there was a way to see their friends speak because they couldn’t make it so we also created this to make the talks accessible to everyone.”
Israel also elaborated on the website being an archive for the student talks.
“Even if someone can’t make the event, they still have a way to listen to all of the talks they missed,” Israel said. “The five talks in the first event were incredible and for anyone who missed them, I recommend going on the website to listen.”
Creating a website is also an avenue for parents to get involved in the A Penny For Your Thoughts event.
“I just thought that we could raise more money if there was a way for parents to donate which is why putting it online makes sense,” Nucci wrote.
Additionally, according to Nucci, A Penny For Your Thoughts is an extension of two of Psi U’s values—service to others and the pursuit of wisdom.
Becca Winkler ’16 was one of the people who spoke at the event, and her talk was called “Walking With Elephants: Studying Captivity & Co-Existence in Thailand.” Based off her thesis and work that she was doing with an NGO, she was eager to share her story on this platform.
“I talked about how I got in that world which was pretty unique and odd,” Winkler said. “[I also talked about] my experiences doing it, and a little about the research I was doing, and what I’ll be doing next year with the non-profits.
Winkler said that she was passionate about her topic and was excited that her talk will now be available online to look back on.
“I think it’s awesome that there will be a website now that’s an archive of different things students are passionate about, passionate enough to do a presentation on,” Winkler said. “It would be cool if it keeps going, [as in] looking over the years what people are interested in at different times.”
Israel said that the launching of the website could help advance their future goals regarding A Penny For Your Thoughts.
“We’re hoping to make A Penny For Your Thoughts an event that Wesleyan students look forward to every semester, and we think having a website will help accomplish that,” Israel wrote. “People can listen to past talks, read about why it was created, and also donate to the charity which the organizers of the event picked.”
The organizers hope that the Penny For Your Thoughts event can become an annual event and they encourage people to apply to speak at the events. The website provides both a place for students to apply to speak and a place to nominate peers that students believe would give insightful talks.
“What I’m hoping the website does is encourage students around campus to send applications in to speak at one of the events this semester or in the future,” Israel wrote. “There are so many interesting people on this campus and I know a lot of them would love to have a platform to speak about something they love. This is their opportunity to do it in front of their peers, while also supporting a great cause.”
Everyone is encouraged to check out their website at www.apenny4yourthoughts.org. Those looking to apply for the next series can contact Nucci directly.