With Newcomer 19 packed full, women, non-binary students and allies joined together for a night of performance and chocolate on Saturday.
Chocolate House, the informal talent show hosted by the Goshen Student Women’s Association, provided a way for students to celebrate and support the talents of the women and non-binary students on campus, while allies brought snacks to share.
“This year in particular, Chocolate House was an incredibly loving and supportive environment for all of our talented women and non-binary students, both those who performed and those who have talents outside of what was on stage,” said Elizabeth Franks-North, a senior and one of the GSWA co-leaders. “The support and love was palpable all night.”
The night showcased talents including poetry readings, dancing and singing, and there was also visual art on display. Olivia Ginn, a senior, danced to a song by Beyoncé.
“I love dancing and have wanted to perform that ‘Yonce’ piece for a long time,” she said. “This was the perfect opportunity. It was also a great event for women and non-binary students to show their talents and be in the spotlight.”
Franks-North said, “In all honesty, all of the performances blew everyone away.”
Riley Mills, another GSWA co-leader said, “It’s such a fun event with so many diverse acts. We celebrated all individuals: women, men and non-binary students.”
Despite the fear of performers and bakers not turning up to the event due to it being so informal, Chocolate House featured about 15 performers and two tables full of all kinds of desserts.
“The food was delicious, and the performers were great,” said Ginn. “The leaders did a great job with setting up and planning everything. It was so fun.”
Franks-North credits that to the supportive atmosphere.
“All of this was indicative of how much support the event and the people involved had that night,” said Franks-North, who estimated that there were 130 students in attendance.
With all of the people who were there, Ginn said, “It seemed like all of the seats were full and that a bunch of different people came.”
Mills said, “Overall, there was a fabulous turnout of students from all walks of life.”
Chocolate House was started in the 80’s and has continued to provide GC with the opportunity to show its support of the women and non-binary students on campus.
“My favorite part of Chocolate House is always the love people show for each other,” said Franks-North. “The cheering, enthusiasm and encouragement exudes from the audience. I’m always blown away by GC’s student body. The love that we are capable of showing for each other and the support we give each other is phenomenal.”
While Mills feels that initially Chocolate House was “a gender-swap notion: men do the baking instead of women,” she thinks that it now “is more a way to make everyone feel included.”
“One thing about this year’s Chocolate House that really stood out was the enormous support for everyone who showed up, performers and attendees alike,” she said. “It really was amazing seeing the crowd be so united and energized by one another throughout the whole event.”
A number of people helped to pull this event off. Students like Mills, Prashansa Dickson, a senior; Megan Eigsti, a sophomore; and Anya Slabaugh and Ardy Woordward, juniors; along with Franks-North, all of the performers and bakers made Chocolate House happen.
For those who were unable to attend, Franks-North said, “They missed an event that felt equal to Kick-Off in talent, but more intimate. They also missed a great opportunity to support and celebrate their peers and eat wonderful food prepared with lots of love.”
Dechen Tuladhar, a senior, said, “[People who didn’t come] missed out on a little piece of heaven. There was lots of chocolate, rocking dance moves, empowering poetry and angels singing. I left Chocolate House feeling empowered, encouraged and just happy.”
Franks-North noted the importance of Chocolate House.
“It gives us, as a community and campus, an opportunity to love on our women and non-binary peers,” she said. “I wish that love was shown and felt more, but these kind of nights are always worth it for that reason. Celebrating the diverse and unique talents that [these women and non-binary students] have is really important, especially when it can feel like we have to fight for that spotlight sometimes.”