Left to Right: Madison Farina, Sarah Barainyak, Calistha Gunawan

It can be hard to focus on personal projects while balancing a full course load of classes. It can be even harder when you are fresh into college or about to enter the workforce and have to navigate your new normal. Nevertheless, three communication studies (CMST) students have persisted and answered some questions for us about their experiences.

·  Freshman Madison Farina is studying CMST and is working on a collection of poetry.

·  Senior Sarah Barainyak is studying theater with a minor in CMST and produced a full-length play over Zoom in fall 2021.

·  Freshman Calistha Gunawan is studying CMST and is interning at Modero and Company where she participates in Angklung classes.


What have you been working on?

MF: I have been working on a personal creative writing project. I have been writing a chapbook - which is a shorter collection of poetry - revolving around my feelings as a growing adolescent. 

SB: The play itself is called As I was Not As I Am, and it was written by a Temple Theaters alum, Alice Hakyaag, class of 2019. It's about a group of four roommates and they're all members of the LGBTQIA community and they're living in Philly. The play deals with everything from relationships and love-life difficulties to healthcare coverage and wondering if you're gonna have enough money to pay your bills. It's a really brilliantly written story and the characters are so well-written. I proposed it for my student org, of which I'm the president, Temple Theaters Side Stage. The board voted on all the proposed plays that we got from different students, and they chose this one. I ended up producing it and we had a great time. It's a lot of work when you're a producer, but it's so worthwhile.

CG: Right now I'm working with Modero and Company, which is an Indonesian creative initiative. Before, Modero and Company was mainly a dance company. There's an instrument called Angklung which is an instrument from West Java, I believe, and the Indonesian embassy wanted to kind of spread this learning about the Angklung over the United States, so there's a lot of these classes across America and the one that I'm working on is in Philadelphia. We have classes every Wednesday on learning how to play the Angklung. It's really crazy 'cause I'm Indonesian and I actually never knew about this instrument before; and it's crazy there's different people, different cultures, and different ages that come to classes. You don't really need any musical experience to play it, but having musical experience definitely did help a lot when I played.


Why did you decide to start this project?

MF: I started this project because I have always found writing therapeutic and a way to express my emotions freely. While writing these poems, I have found myself becoming more in tune with myself and my emotions, and honestly, finding them easier to deal with. 

SB: One of my goals as the new president was to reinstate our student proposals. I'm really happy that we were able to get that going again and we're actually going to have another round for spring 2022. I proposed this show because, um, a lot of the shows that we were getting were all really wonderful shows but weren't necessarily viable for Zoom production. I found this play and I was reading it, and I was like, 'wow, this is so great, so awesome.' I didn't even catch it until after I had read it, but I saw that it was by Alice who had graduated my freshman year at Temple. She was part of Side Stage a couple years ago. Our mission statement is to produce student work, so I thought it would be totally amazing if our published play that we did was also by a Temple student, just a Temple alum.

CG: I started working for Modero during an Indonesian festival in the summer for Indonesian Independence Day. I just started working with Sinta, who is the founder of the company, and I just really loved it. She asked me if I wanted to work as an intern and she told me about the Angklung classes and I was like, 'this sounds really awesome,' so I just decided to continue working for them.


What was/has been the best part of your work?

MF: The best part of my work is getting to share it with my friends and see how many people relate and see these poems as therapeutic. This gives them the sense that they are not alone, and when they can't find the words to express themselves they can find it within my writing. 

SB: I think the team. The people who we had on our team were so amazing. I really could not have asked for a greater production team. Our technical design team was just phenomenal. And then our actors were also super great people. We had some bumps in the road, but I think we really made a great final product and I'm just so proud of them.

CG: I think the best part of my work is seeing the people show up to these classes and seeing people committed to learning this instrument has been, like, very exciting. Whenever I come in every week, I'm excited to see familiar faces and just learn how to play instruments with other people. It's just really cool to see different ages and different people that show up to these Angklung classes, and they're just interested in learning about this Indonesian instrument. That's been my favorite part.


What was/has been the hardest part of your work?

MF: The hardest part for me is my need for perfection, I feel as if I always need to make the poems flow and alter them to their best potential, when that can indeed take away from the therapeutic and natural elements.

SB: For me, the hardest part about producing is communication, which is crazy because, I'm in communication studies, you'd think I'd have a handle on that. But it's just really hard to maintain, like, a steady form of communication through this virtual environment. I found myself having to, like, triple email some people or send an email and a text like, 'Hey did you get my email? Can you respond to my email?'

CG: The hardest part probably has been just song selection. We have a combination of traditional Indonesian folk songs, but we also are playing a couple Beatles songs and then Dvorak's New World Symphony, so it's a unique plan. Selecting certain pieces for us has been a weird process but we did decide on five, which was great.


How has your time at Klein affected your work?

MF: My time at Klein has affected my work in a most positive way; I have gotten the chance to meet many wonderful people who have taught me valuable lessons. For example, Dr. Scott Gratson has mentored our class on how to write better essays, and even though essays and poems are divergent, the techniques he expressed can help in any form of writing. I also was lucky to meet Lu Ann [Cahn], even though I spoke to her once during KleinFest. Her genuine interest in me stating my hopes for future writing made me feel secure within myself to continue on, and look up to her as a successful author. 

SB: Being a communication studies minor is actually really flexible, so I've been able to kind of shape my minor around the courses that I like. I actually took this one class called Intro to Art Direction and that really helped me, personally, because when you're an actor, you have to also market yourself. Not to toot my own horn but I think my résumé looks pretty nice. I'm working on a website. And Klein has really helped. 

CG: It is pretty early on being in Klein, but I would say just learning in Dr. Gratson's class. In the essays we write we get to explore topics that we are interested in, and one of the essays I wrote was about how music communicates more than you think. I think that has helped me with the work that I do. It's also just generally what I enjoy outside of class. I think learning communication has made me realize a lot more about the world around me.


What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a similar project?

MF: My advice for someone who wishes to start a similar project would be to stay true to your words and yourself, and if you feel your writing is not good enough, rough drafts are titled rough for a reason. 

SB: My advice is do it. That's what we're all about. We always — on our posts and emails and all that jazz — we always say 'no experience necessary' really highlighted, bold, italicized, underlined. We really value our organization as sort of an educational organization, in that we will work with you to make sure that you have a great experience and you're really learning on the way. You can submit a proposal for the spring 2022 season, and we can work with you to develop and produce that. Or, we will be accepting applications for the board in the spring as well. If you've always wanted to try producing, come join our e-board and you'll have that opportunity.

CG: My advice would be just to go for it. If you're interested in something there's always opportunities available. If you see an awesome initiative that you're really interested in, offer your help. If they see you're passionate about it, they will definitely want you to help them out.


What is next for you?

MF: I will continue to work on my personal creative projects and I hope to take courses here that will aid me in bettering my writing.

SB: We are working out how to start doing shows in person again, which is super exciting and nerve wracking, but I'm excited to do it with my e-board. I think they're all a super awesome, capable group of people. I'm pumped to do some in-person theater again. I'm focused on my grad school applications, also.

CG: So, our concert was December 15, 2021. But also, because I'm still working with Modero and Company, there's still the dance aspect of the material. On my part I'm not involved in the dancing, I don't dance, but I do love helping Sinta with all that and just witnessing the performances. They do really great things. 


Responses were edited slightly for length and clarity.