Scarlet & Brown Stories

Hana Bushara '21

November 08, 2021 St. Lawrence University Season 1 Episode 6
Scarlet & Brown Stories
Hana Bushara '21
Show Notes Transcript

This month Hana Bushara ’21 shares her love for music and the St. Lawrence community all the way from graduate school in London. In addition to chatting about her memories of her time at St. Lawrence, Hana also plays a bit of her original music for us.

Hailing from Bermuda, Hana Bushara '21 made waves during her time at St. Lawrence, driven by her love of music and community. At various times a member of the Laurentian Singers, SLU Funk, and the Singing Sinners, Hana majored in Global Studies and minored in both Sociology and Music. She is currently at the London School of Economics pursuing a master's degree in Strategic Communications.

[Theme Music]

Beth: Hello, everybody. I'm Beth Dixon, and welcome back to another edition of Scarlet & Brown Stories. I am of course joined by my co-host Amelia Jantzi. Amelia, how are you today?

Amelia: I'm so good. How are you, Beth?

Beth: I'm doing super well as well. This is such a fun time of year. We're starting to see the leaves really change. Of course, by the time this podcast comes out, they'll probably be on the ground.

Amelia: Certainly here in the North Country they will. I don't know about New York City, but-

Beth: I was just saying to my sister-in-law the other day, I was like, "You know, this is the first time I've looked out when I'm on the roof of my building and can see various different colors from the trees," which this is the only time of year I'll see something like that.

Amelia: Oh, yeah.

Beth: Because even spring, most of that stuff is on ground level. You don't see it from the roof. So this is kind of a cool time of year to be up on the roof, looking around at those trees changing. So I'm excited about that. You know what I'm also excited about is this interview with Hana Bushara, class of '21, that we are going to have a little bit later. She is a recent graduate, who is honestly, she's just amazing. She was an international student from Bermuda. She also has a wonderful background in music and global studies, and so she has a lot of wonderful perspectives about her St. Lawrence experience that I can't wait to hear a little bit more about.

Amelia: Yeah. And she's just so thoughtful and grounded, and I got tons out of this interview.

Beth: She is definitely going places. So I can't wait to keep up with her career, both in terms of globally thinking, and her strategic communications degree that she's pursuing right now at the London School of Economics. But I'm also really interested to see how she does with her music career, because she is a live musician.

Amelia: Before we jump into that, though, you mentioned that Hannah right now is in London-

Beth: Yes.

Amelia: ... and that reminded me, you studied abroad when you were at St. Lawrence in London, if I remember correctly.

Beth: I sure did. Yes. In 2008.

Amelia: There you go. And so it had me thinking about the study abroad options that St. Lawrence has, and how cool it is that St. Lawrence has eight signature programs in seven locations, including London.

Beth: Yup.

Amelia: So it has the London semester and a London FYP, which sounds super cool, not going to lie. And there's also a program in Kenya, and Spain, and the Adirondacks, and France. We have our sustainability semester, and of course, where you are, in beautiful New York City.

Beth: Yeah. New York.

Amelia: But yeah, and if I remember correctly, these programs all allow students to either have some hands-on work experience or independent research, that really combines that liberal arts perspective of study with future thinking, and sort of allowing students to pursue their passions as well as their future goals, and so that sounds pretty neat.

Beth: Yeah. It very much is. I remember having my work experience at a small fringe theater in London, and now I get to work with students who are pursuing an internship full time here in New York City. There's plenty of opportunities, like you said, for independent research, which would help either with maybe their senior capstone experiences, or potentially help inform on where they're going to go to grad school or what they're going to do in grad school, or what they're going to do in their first job after they graduate. So what a wonderful fun fact about the eight signature programs we have. Obviously we offer more international-

Amelia: Right.

Beth: ... and off-campus programs, but those are the ones that are owned and operated by St. Lawrence.

Amelia: Wow. Without further ado, let's turn it over to Hana, shall we?

Beth: We shall.

[Music Plays]

Beth: All right, everybody. We are here with Hana Bushara, class of 2021, and we are so excited to have such an amazing young alumna join us. We have a lot to talk about with Hana, and to hear not only about what she currently doing, but what her St. Lawrence experience was like and what her plans are moving forward. Hana, welcome to the Scarlet & Brown podcast.

Hana: Thank you so much for having me.

Beth: I'm so excited.

Amelia: You're welcome.

Beth: I'm joined by my co-host as always, Amelia Jantzi.

Amelia: Oh, hey there.

Beth: How are you doing?

Amelia: Oh, I'm so good. How are you?

Beth: I'm doing super well. So Hana, first thing is first. When people hear class of 2021, they're obviously going to be thinking, "Oh my goodness." What was your experience like at St. Lawrence, especially in the last couple of years, and how have you navigated graduating, and what are you up to now?

Hana: Well, I think each year of my St. Lawrence experience was very, very different. If there's one thing that COVID taught me, or being a university student in the context of COVID, the importance of community, and friendship, and togetherness, and it's kind of juxtaposed, because you'd think in the age of social distancing, you'd be further apart from people, but I think my senior year was one year that really instilled that value in me, and I felt most at home and closest to people and the SLU community during my senior year. So I'm very, I don't want to say I'm grateful for that circumstance, because I think a lot of people suffered and still continue to suffer, but in my personal experience, there are a lot of really beautiful things that came out of just being closer together and focusing a little bit more on those around me, and in turn, focusing on myself, to check in with myself to see how I was doing.

Hana: But my St. Lawrence experience is a bit of a rollercoaster, in the best of ways. And I learned a lot about myself, and I think it was interesting, because my journey into learning more of myself was informed by things inside the classroom and outside of the classroom.

Amelia: Sure.

Hana: I majored in global studies, and I minored in sociology and music, and those things really informed each other. I was really in involved with three really incredible departments on campus. Also, I'm from Bermuda. I forgot to say that-

Amelia: Oh, yes.

Hana: ... so I am also part of the international student community, and the international student community was my bedrock on campus. I am so grateful to be part of a community. We were just a constant exchange of value, and life, and experience. There was a lot of life concentrated into these past four years, but my academics really informed my passion for people and my love for communicating.

Hana: And so things that I learned in global studies, for example, why things work in the way that they do, how economic systems and cultural systems are in interaction with each other, how these things we deem as coincidence are not coincidence at all, but are the product of structural inequality, or just the economic or cultural conditions in which we are embedded. In the same way that I think we think of things as coincidence, I think understanding that coincidences don't exist as much as we think they do-

Amelia: Sure.

Hana: ... it also made space for the possibility of change, or it made me feel like I was able to be a change maker in the context of various things that I was experiencing and also witnessing in my life. That's a super long winded answer.

Beth: To be fair, I gave you the most general, "Tell us about your experience, and then also this and such." But I think that everything that you've said there, I think so many people can identify with. I know that I do.

Amelia: Yeah. I find it really interesting what you said about learning about community in a time of social isolation. And I think that that's a really profound lesson for all of us to learn. And so I'm just sort of curious, that community that you had, because you were mentioning to us earlier, before we started recording, that you are now in London. And so have you found ways to retain that community, even though you are a little bit further afield now?

Hana: It's definitely a little bit more difficult, and I have called a lot of my SLU friends while they're in class by accident. But yeah, I try my best to maintain connection with people, because I think of myself as a good friend, but I'm also horribly inconsistent, so I'm trying to be more intentional in the friendships that I create and also maintain. But yeah, I think the people that I met and encountered at St. Lawrence are genuinely golden people. I feel very lucky, because going to SLU for me was so unexpected, and I've told myself oftentimes in situations where I didn't expect to be in those places that wherever you go, it can be golden. You just have to do some digging. And SLU for me, at least people-wise, was a place where I didn't actually have to dig that much to find good people.

Beth: Wow. Yeah.

Hana: I was very lucky in various facets of my SLU experience, and we can go into this later, but through the various singing organizations I was a part of, and again, the international student community. I worked in admissions all four years of my St. Lawrence experience. So many interesting people and stories that I picked up along the way, and so now I carry a lot of that with me in London now. And it's a little bit harder because of the time difference, but the sentiment is very much still there, and I hold St. Lawrence very near and dear to my heart. I called my friend Nikita yesterday, and he walked me through campus, and it felt so bittersweet seeing the squirrels running around on campus.

Amelia: Oh, yeah.

Hana: And he brought me to the North Star Cafe, and-

Amelia: Aww.

Hana: ... I ended up talking to Chris Christian, who's one of the workers in the pub, who I love so much.

Amelia: Aww.

Hana: So yeah, I definitely am making an effort to maintain those relationships, because they helped and molded me so, so much.

Beth: I think that's a really interesting thing to say. I share so many similar experiences to you in so many ways. I studied abroad in London, so even though I didn't go to London post-graduation, I understand the trying to maintain your relationships with people back on campus while being abroad, specifically in London, which is funny. You and I were both Laurentian Singers in our respective times on campus, and both worked in admissions and such. So I can identify, and I know that there are many who have had similar experiences of engaging with these various different groups. There are some colleges where you go to college, and you find your one group of people, and that's all. That's the only people that you really interact with. And I love this idea that you're talking about with community, because I think one of the best things about the St. Lawrence community is that it's not just limited to one thing that you're engaged in. It kind of bleeds into all these other different facets of your experience, both while you're on campus, and then after you graduate.

Beth: So I know that you're just kind of in the beginning of your St. Lawrence journey, but it's only going to continue to get weirder and grow. You're going to be like, "Oh my gosh." I had coffee yesterday with an alum where we realized that like our roommates were best friends, but we never met on campus.

Hana: Yeah.

Beth: It's those kind of relationships that I think will be fascinating to continue to hear your stories.

Hana: For sure.

Beth: So one of the things that we know that you are a part of, like we just mentioned, was the Laurentian Singers, and you were very involved with music, and also this idea of building a community. And obviously those that are involved in sports, or music, or these organizations that require a lot of teamwork and coming together have their own bits of community involved with it. Can you speak a little bit to why being a part of all the various music groups potentially helped you form these communities? Was there something about being in the Laurentian Singers or any of your other music groups that you think really informed how you made bonds on campus?

Hana: Sure. I mean, I'm a big metaphor gal. I think I'm going to write my dissertation for my master's on organizational metaphors, but I think being a part of Laurentian Singers in itself served a purpose, which I will speak to, but also in a metaphorical sense. The idea that vocal parts do not exist in isolation, and in order to actualize the beauty of a song in a choir, you have to work together, and you have to carefully blend a song. It's not all about you. It's not all about the Altos. I mean, it's never all about the Altos.

Amelia: Exactly. Exactly.

Beth: It never is. [crosstalk 00:12:30].

Hana: But you know what I mean? In order for a song to sound beautiful in the context of a choir, you really do have to work together and recognize that each part serves a purpose. And I think being in Laurentian Singers and exercising that metaphor actively, and then thinking about what that meant for me in the context of my life, when at times I felt very selfish in my existence, being like, "Oh my god. The weight of the world is on my shoulders. I'm consuming my existence, and everything is toppling over." I had to take a step back and be like, "I'm one vocal part. The picture is much, much bigger." And then I guess taking away the metaphor, and actually thinking about my time in Laurentian Singers, it was in many ways my lifeline, being in a choir and hearing voices blend together. And again, just realizing that you are a very small part of a much bigger piece.

Hana: There were times where I just did not want to go to class, or I did not want to do anything, and then I'd go to Laurentian Singers reluctantly, and then after rehearsal feel 100% uplifted. And I'm like, "This is what I'm doing this for." Or when we'd strike a chord in rehearsal and I'm like, "This is what life is." And we'd get so frustrated at Barry, who's our vocal director, for making us do things over and over again.

Beth: Yup.

Hana: But by senior year, I recognized why. He's like, "If you want to reap the beauty of a song, you have to do it justice." And I've taken that lesson with me in various facets of my life. If you want to reap the benefits of something, or if you want to truly actualize the beauty of something, you have to give it your all, and you have to pay it its respect where respect is due. And so when he'd tell us that our dynamics are horrible, I'd be like, "Barry, we've done it five times." But then when we'd get the dynamics right, I'm like, "I understand why he's made us do it again."

Hana: So I think being in a group of equally disciplined people that love music just as much as I do was the most beautiful thing, because music for me is a very, very personal thing. But to be able to share that in a group of people, and to have it personally affect me, but personally affect me in the company of so many other people, and to share that with other people, was so beautiful.

Hana: And then I was also part of SLU Funk. I was a vocalist for SLU Funk, and I was the gospel choir vocalist my senior year. And I also sang in Singing Sinners for my freshman and sophomore years, so I dabbled in a lot of different musical scenes on campus, which yeah. Yeah. It was amazing.

Amelia: I so love what you say about singing in a group of people, and how that's a metaphor for community and life, and a shared experience. Because creating art with your voice together is a really profound, intimate experience. It's a really beautiful thing. I think that that's such a beautiful picture of how life and community should be, of sort of uplifting and supporting each other, and together producing something more beautiful than we can on our own.

Beth: Yeah. I share a lot of your sentiments, that there would be times where I didn't want to go to rehearsal, and then I left and I felt rejuvenated, or I felt like, "Okay, this was worth it." Or, "Okay, I'm back. Let me go to dinner now, and I'm good, and we're refreshed for the rest of the day." But I can't imagine, how difficult was it during the pandemic when some of this was stripped away from you? And what was it like to try to perform music with people, with the COVID restrictions?

Hana: I mean, we were actually quite lucky in that we were able to do socially distanced rehearsals, and so compared to a lot of people on campus who didn't get to do the things that they loved, I felt very, very lucky to engage with this activity that I needed. And I'm so glad that that need was fulfilled, because I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have music on campus. And I'm so grateful for Larry Boyette and all of the music department, and Barry Torres, for pushing to make sure that music was prioritized on campus. Because it could have easily been something that if they didn't try to make it happen, it wouldn't have happened. But I think a lot of people recognized the importance of the togetherness fostered through music.

Beth: You know what I'm most excited for you, and I know this is slightly in the future here, I am so excited for you, even if you can't come back to experience this this time, I can't wait for you to come back and experience a Laurentian Singers reunion-

Hana: Oh, I can't wait.

Beth: ... where you see make music with people from all generations. I've sat next to Barbara Phillips, who is this wonderful woman from the class of, I believe, 1956 or 1958, and she and I are the altos that just get in trouble with Barry the entire rehearsal. There's 60 wonderful people singing, and she and I are poking each other, and having fun, and laughing. But it's that really true sense where it's like an equalizer, where everyone's just there on the same page, and there to have fun. And for those that don't know, this year, they will be celebrating the 75th reunion of the Laurentian Singers, which technically should have been this past year, but we'll be celebrating this coming year. But I can't wait for you to meet some of these Laurentians throughout various different eras of the Singers, and have those kind of bonds as well.

Hana: I'm very, very much looking forward to a reunion. But also it's so beautiful to me, because being in a choir was ever on my radar coming into college.

Amelia: Oh, interesting.

Hana: I had never done choral singing before. It was my freshman year, they did a dorm storm, where they were singing, I think it was Can't Help Falling in Love.

Amelia: Aww.

Hana: And they knocked on my door. I was like, "What is going on?" But then I decided to join-

Beth: Like, "Who are these choir nerds?"

Hana: I literally, I was like, "I am not joining this nerd choir." But I tried it out, and also my freshman year coming into St. Lawrence, I really wanted to be on the soccer team. I grew up playing soccer, and it was, I guess, a pipe dream for me, because I did make the team. But it's also crazy how much this thing that I thought was going to be my SLU trajectory, being on a sports team, dedicating my time to practice or whatever, it ended up being 10 plus hours of singing per week, which is something that ... I had a guitar in my room, and I was fiddling with writing songs, but I'd never sung in a disciplined way. And that was really unattractive to me at first, because I was like, "Singing's supposed to be fun. I don't want it to become this commitment thing."

Hana: But the more I was learning in Laurentian Singers, the more it informed my own music making, and like I said, I also picked up a music minor in the end. I thought the context of music in an academic sense, that was also super unattractive to me. I was like, "I don't want to learn theory, because I want to be an organic, natural singer who on their Wikipedia page, it says they were self-taught or whatever." But again, in the same way I love understanding things work in sociology and through my global studies career, learning theory, or learning music history informed the way that I approached making music. It helped me to understand more about myself when I gained more vocabulary to use so that I could describe what was happening in my life instrumentally and through my words.

Beth: Did you often find that, especially being an international student and having the international student community with you, that music and global studies, in all these wonderful ways, were a means of finding the words, of finding the connections, in order to connect with people? And just to take a step back too, I'd love for you to speak to this. I think that there's always a misconception that, "Oh, because students are international, they always have something in common." You're talking about people from all different corners of the world, who have very different positionalities and perspectives, and yet come together in this really tight-knit community. So I guess what I'm trying to ask is, do you find that your work in global studies and in music really helped you to better connect with not only the international student community, but the other students on campus?

Hana: To a certain degree, yeah. Like in global studies, you have the two sides of it, which is I guess the political economic side, which is learning how things work, why, when, who gets what, why, when, where, how? And then you have the cultural studies side, which is looking at global systems and phenomena from a critical perspective. So again, having the vocabulary to understand why things function in the way that they do, it definitely gave me more vocabulary to engage with these incredible people that I was a part of the same community with.

Beth: And probably more context too, right?

Hana: Yeah.

Beth: So you see the same thing, where I read about something, and then I'm like, "Oh, this is really interesting." It's something I've never had to experience or think about before, and then all of a sudden, I feel like I better understand somebody who has this context. Not that I will fully ever understand, but I have a better understanding of the context of maybe why they have a certain opinion, or the manners in which they speak.

Hana: Yeah. I think also being confronted with difference, interacting with people from various cultural economic backgrounds, and it's not only specific to the international student community-

Beth: Of course.

Hana: ... but I think doing global studies in sociology, it provided me the openness and the willingness to engage and to learn from people of difference, recognizing myself as a person of difference as well. We all have our unique backgrounds and perspectives, and I think at the heart of global studies is gaining an openness and a curiosity for those things. So I'm grateful for those disciplines for instilling me with the confidence and the desire to be like, "Yeah, this is what living is supposed to be like. You're not supposed to be an island. You have these wonderful people around you. Go learn about them, and they can learn from you as well."

Beth: Amazing.

[Music Plays]

Amelia: We're taking a little bit of a break from our delightful conversation with Hana. Hana's been talking a lot about the Laurentian community and how much that impacted her as a student, and how meaningful it is to her. And so I thought, what a perfect time to talk about our platform, Laurentian Connection.

Beth: Yes. Laurentian Connection is a platform that we launched about a year ago, and it's an opportunity for Laurentians over the world to sign up not only to help keep their most up to date information with the university, but you can also network, and connect, and have your community right there on the platform. You can connect with different groups of people, so whether you want to connect with people who did a similar kind of major or in a similar field now, people who have been in the Peace Corps, there's just so many different kinds of groups that you can connect with. You can also connect with individuals. So there's a lot of things that you can do to engage and connect with Laurentian community on Laurentian Connection, and the way that you access it is to go to connect.stlawu.edu. Once again, that's connect.stlawu.edu. And I hope to see you on there, because there's some pretty cool conversations happening.

[Music Plays]

Amelia: Well, it's clear that music was such a key part of your experience at St. Lawrence, and in your understanding of the world too, of sort of that song of life. And so I'm curious, what role is music playing in your life today now that you are no longer at St. Lawrence?

Hana: I mean, it plays a huge role. It's weird to call myself a musician, because music for me is a medium through which I can express myself and kind of grapple with things that I don't really understand that I want to understand, but I'm not a full-time musician right now. I'm doing a full-time master's, so I'm a part-time musician. I'm studying strategic communications at the London School of Economics, so for me, music is an opportunity for me to decompress and to think about the things that I'm learning in class right now. But also personally, if there's something happening in my life, I let music be the space where I reflect on those things.

Hana: So what does music mean for me right now? It is still the safe, warm blanket that it has always been, but I have more opportunity now to share that with people, because I get to play on bigger stages, and I'm gaining a little bit of a larger following at the moment. And I say a warm blanket. I should take that back, because I think music for me is interesting, because it's not always a nice thing to engage with, but at this point it's just a necessary thing. I need it.

Beth: It's like air.

Hana: It's like air. Exactly.

Beth: Sometimes your lungs are on fire from breathing and such, and other times you need to take those deep breaths in order to calm yourself down. And I totally identify with the frustration of what it could be to be a musician, and I want to say something. You said you don't really like to maybe call yourself a musician, but I think everything that you said is exactly what a musician is. It doesn't mean that you are a quote-unquote professional or whatever, but I do think that a musician is somebody who needs music in order to make sense of the world, who uses music in order to make sense of the world, and their selves, and their emotions, and their connections. So in that way, I say, "No, you are a perfect definition of a musician."

Hana: Thank you, Beth. Thank you, Beth.

Beth: Of course. So obviously you did a little bit of songwriting when you were at St. Lawrence. And I know that you continue to write a lot of songs. Where does your inspiration for writing songs come from?

Hana: It comes from all over the place. Honestly, again, it's people. It's me living life, figuring out how to live life. Once I have lived life, what do I think about the life that I have been living? So it's me forward thinking, it's me backwardly looking. But my music, for the most part, I'd categorize it as mostly observational, and that's why I'm so influenced by folk music, because of its storytelling capacities. So I'm not a folk singer, but I love telling stories and listening to stories. And when you have so much life concentrated into four years, in this thing that we call this SLU bubble, or the St. Lawrence experience, there's obviously a lot of stories that will come out of that. And so I had a really wonderful opportunity to reflect on those things as I was experiencing them at St. Lawrence.

Hana: So I was quite prolific during my St. Lawrence experience, because there were just so many things to say. And in those moments where I had writer's block, it was, I think, my brain letting things marinate a little bit, because my senior year I wrote so many songs, things that I didn't know I had the capacity to say, but then after I wrote them, I was like, "How? How did you know?" But yeah, again, it's just meeting people, embracing those people, embracing those experiences, and then thinking of something or having something to say in response to them.

Amelia: Do you have any sort of musical influences, or other musicians that have influenced your style or your process over the years?

Hana: Yeah. I could list famous singers, but for the purposes of this, I think it's important to recognize musicians at St. Lawrence, because there's so many like famous people I could point to, but there's also so many incredibly talented people at SLU that I was like, "Wow, I get to go to school with you. And we're not in a music school, but this is so cool." Nikita Krakhofer, who is my dear friend. We actually made a song together. Harlow Anderson, who I think is one of the most talented people in the world. We also made a song together. Liv Hart, Amina Tasilla, Rahel Midexa, Larry Boyette, Graham Branch, Zach Effman, all of these people that I got to play music with while I was at St. Lawrence who made a lasting impact on what music means to me, and also just in my heart in general. And I thought it was really cool to have such talent at a school that isn't a music school. To have people as dedicated, if not more dedicated and disciplined than I was. It was really inspiring.

Beth: Before I came to St. Lawrence. I mean, my whole goal when I went to St. Lawrence was I did aim to be the choir nerd. I said, "I'm going to be in Laurentian Singers. That's one of the reasons why I want to go to St. Lawrence." And as a part of my accepted students packet, because they knew who I was and they knew music was part of my jam, they gave me, I think it was a student's senior project, but it very well could have been some research that music faculty were doing in collaboration with a student, but it was the history of music at St. Lawrence, and how music is an important part of the history of St. Lawrence.

Beth: And I don't have it anymore, because I've since moved like 15 times, but I kept it for a little while because it was always interesting to look back and see how exactly what you're trying to say, is that St Lawrence is not a conservatory. It's not a school that you have to audition to be a music major. You can declare it, and you're still going to get a liberal arts approach to music. So you're not just going to have to take a performance track or a music theory track, but you're going to learn about music of the world. You're going to learn about cultural and historical aspects of music. You're going to learn music theory. You're going to ... I took a class in music video with David Henderson.

Beth: I mean, there's many various different types of things that you learn with music, and you've become so overwhelmed with how much talent, and knowledge, and life experience in music there is at St. Lawrence with the people around you. And I know that there's plenty of people who could say the same for fine arts, or for performance and communication arts, or for English, or for geology, or whatever the case might be. And I think when you find your niche, you sometimes get blown away at the minds and the talent that are around you.

Hana: I wholeheartedly agree.

Beth: So we've been talking a lot about music here, Hana, and it would behoove us to ask if you would feel comfortable at all potentially sharing something that you have either written about St. Lawrence, or from St. Lawrence, or something that you said, "I was on SLU's campus when I wrote this." But we would love to hear a chorus or two of any of your songs if you're interested in sharing them.

Hana: Sure. I don't know how good the sound quality is going to be.

Beth: You know, we had you perform for the Laurentian Celebration. So any people were blown away by your talent, had such a good time, but the quality was really good. It really was, over a Zoom call. It was great.

Amelia: You were nervous. I won't lie, but it worked out really well.

Beth: It was awesome.

Hana: Okay. So I wrote this song in between my first year and sophomore year. It's a song that I wrote called Seeds, and I watched an interview of a musician. I really love who said, "Struggle is a seed." And so I wanted to extend that by saying, "If struggle is a seed, we must plant that seed and see what comes of it." I was going through a bit of a difficult time, and now the song has become quite the mantra for me. So I sing it to myself, and I hope you enjoy. I'll just sing a little bit.

Hana: (singing)

Hana: Yeah.

Amelia: Fantastic.

Beth: Yay!

Amelia: Thank you so much. That was beautiful.

Beth: I remember you performing that, and for a good week after that, I was going, (singing), to myself.

Amelia: It's great.

Hana: Thank you.

Beth: It's fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Hana: Of course.

Beth: After hearing everything that you've said about how you kind of process your feelings about life and such, you can really hear and see that in your songwriting. So thankful to have that.

Amelia: Yeah. There's just such a wisdom in it. I think that there's so much insight that you showed at that time in your life, and I think that that's a message that I'm like, "Oh, that really touches me."

Hana: I appreciate that.

Amelia: And I think that that's the importance of this kind of storytelling, and this sharing human experience through music that's both deeply personal and unique to each person, but yet touches on a theme that is universal as well. And so it was beautiful

Hana: Oh, thank you for listening. You know, music, I hold it as such a near and dear thing to my heart, because honestly, most of the time I feel very, very in my head, and I overthink so much, and it's so consuming. And when I'm writing these intricate stories, it's like putting my overthinking to work, and it turns it into such a refreshing thing. So that's one of the reasons why music is so important to me, because it makes me feel most like myself in a way that doesn't feel like a problem. And so I feel so blessed to have music, and it feels me with such joy when I see people doing the things that they love, and doing things that make them feel like them.

Amelia: Sure.

Hana: And I'm glad to have tapped into that so early into my life. And my hope is that everybody who I encounter has that thing, because it truly means the world to me and more.

Beth: You know, it's becoming so apparent to me why you have chosen to study strategic communications.

Amelia: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Beth: So just in the interest of hearing a little bit more about what your career goals and such are, why the London School of Economics, why strategic ... I mean, I think we've been able to figure out, "Okay, well, strategic communications, this is the most strategic communicator I've ever come across in my life, talking about Hana Bushara." But what in particular attracted you to this grad program?

Hana: Honestly, my senior year, I took two classes with Dr. Steven Barnard that were about media and culture and the digital age, and then another one was called media and power. And I was just so fascinated by how modes of communication are impacted by shifting technologies, and emergent technologies, and understanding how the specificities of culture create these very specific constraints that impact the ways in which we communicate, and having a more vast understanding of these bridges and chasms of communication can help you to devise new ways of thinking about how to effectively communicate with people within an organization or on a national level.

Hana: In my case, coming from a small place like Bermuda, I have been blessed to experience the power of community and the power of proximity, but I also think oftentimes that proximity is taken for granted, and I think Bermudians are such interesting people with such illustrious stories to share, and we don't always have the platforms to share those stories because of the industries that we've prioritized on the island.

Hana: And so my goal, and I don't know how I'm going to practically make this happen, but I'd love to work for the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs in some capacity or the Bermuda Tourism Authority, but in a way that is more inwardly looking than it is outwardly looking. I'd love for tourism in Bermuda you to serve the purpose of, yes, attracting visitors to the island, but also in a way that serves Bermudian people, so we can showcase who we are. Because you hear, there's so many hilarious and wildly intelligent people that I've encountered over the dinner table, like aunties and uncles, but these things aren't part of the larger Bermudian narrative. And it may be because of things like, we just don't understand the power of communication, or we don't understand how economic conditions are impacting this in this industry, and thus making us make these organizational or cultural decisions. And so I thought a necessary next step for me was to learn more and to engage more with theory so that I can then put it to practice when I go back home, which will hopefully be sometime soon.

Amelia: Fantastic. Amazing.

Beth: That sounds like Bermuda is going to be very lucky to have someone who is looking out to make some significant changes in the best of ways, in a way that celebrates the island, its people, its history, and its culture. So that's really exciting to know. How can the SLU community support you in your goals, whether it be through music, or through your graduate program and beyond?

Hana: Honestly, St. Lawrence has supported me so much already. So I just want to say a big shout out to everyone who has helped me along the way. It has not gone unnoticed or un-thanked. I still have some thank you letters to send, actually. So stay tuned for those. But yeah, I've felt very supported already. If anything, if you have friends, family, music lovers in London that love to see live music, come support me by coming to one of my gigs. I don't really have anything on platforms yet, just because of certain philosophies that I have about streaming platforms, but for the most part, live music is where it's at for me.

Amelia: Sure. Fantastic.

Hana: I also just love talking to people. If there's a story that you'd love to share with me, I hope that I can share one in return, but again, I've been so supported and blessed by the St. Lawrence community. So I'm just grateful that you've given me the space and time to share a little bit about myself.

Beth: We're so thankful you came and joined us.

Amelia: This has been really quite a powerful and touching story. And we are so lucky to have you be a part of the Laurentian community, and to be, I think, really changing the world in the way that you think about things, and through this gift of music. So thank you.

Beth: Absolutely. We always love people who are empathetic communicators, and you clearly are one of them. And I can't wait to see all that you achieve in the world and keep up with it, but thank you so much, Hana, for joining us, and we're so excited to see what you do next.

Hana: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Amelia: Bye, Hana.

Hana: Bye.

[Music Plays]

Amelia: Well, everybody, there you have it. And speaking of, "There you have it," I think that almost every single episode, no matter which one of us is concluding things, that's how we end.

Beth: "Well, there you have it."

Amelia: "Well, there you have it." So be on the look out. Listen for that. That's how you know things are wrapping up.

Beth: Yeah. That's how you know, besides the many times that we say goodbye to our guests a few seconds before. When you hear that phrase, "Well there you have it, you know it's done."

Amelia: It's done. Anyway, so now that we are officially in the conclusion, what do you think?

Beth: Oh my goodness. I had such a good time talking with Hannah. I had a lot of very similar experiences as somebody who ... Well, I studied abroad in London, and she's currently there, but mostly coming from the Laurentian Singers. Anybody who's had that experience, I'm sure it's similar to people who have been on different athletic teams, or in clubs and organizations that meet as often as Laurentians do, but that kind of commitment, that teamwork, the individual gain that you get from it as well is really just a highlight, and I was so excited to hear her perspective, especially having been through a pandemic as a student, to see, "Did that change at all?" It seems like it really didn't. They actually did a lot of really great strides to make sure that music was happening even in the middle of COVID.

Amelia: You know, the love that she has for the community, and her importance that she puts on giving back to the world, I'm just really excited to see where she goes and what she does.

Beth: I'm really excited too. The strategic communication degree, I was like, I couldn't think of anybody else who would be more perfectly suited for that kind of program. Based off of the very limited interactions I've had with her, it just screams that she's meant for this kind of work in her life. So I'm excited to see all that she accomplishes, and how the Laurentian community will continue to uplift her.

Amelia: For sure.

Beth: So once again, thank you all so much for listening on in to yet another episode of Scarlet & Brown Stories, and the next episode won't drop until December, so we are super thankful for you all, and we want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Amelia: Thanks for listening.

[Theme Music Plays]

Beth: Scarlet & Brown stories is edited and produced by Amanda Brewer, Megan Fry-Dozier, Dennis Morreale, Beth Dixon, and Amelia Jantzi.

Amelia: Our music was written by Christopher Watts, inspired by Eugene Wright, class of '49.

Beth: Subscribe to Scarlet & Brown Stories on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Amelia: If you have a story you'd like to submit to us, you can email us at [email protected].

[Music Fades]