Bowie State University's Student Support Services/TRiO Achievers took in dinner and the theater March 11 during one of the group's many off-campus events designed to broaden students' educational experiences.
Like usual TRiO trips, students gathered at the Center for Learning and Technology to make the trip to the University of Maryland at College Park for a quick bite in the school's cafeteria before heading to a performance of the stage play "The Bluest Eye" based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
"I think that TRiO's trips are always fun and worth my time. After every single one, there's always a new experience for me," said sophomore Rhonetta Brooks.
When the students arrived at UMCP, they headed first to the campus' cafeteria for dinner.
Some of the students had never been inside of UMCP's dining area and were surprised to see major franchised fast food stations at the meal options.
UMCP's dining area can be compared to the likes of a mall's food court than a school's meal plan selection.
After eating, the students and TRiO staff, walked over to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where the production was being shown at 8 p.m. "The Bluest Eye" is a story that follows Pecola Breedlove, an abused 11-year-old African-American girl in 1940s Ohio, who wants more than anything in the world to have blue eyes.
The setting of the stage was more intimate with the audience. It had very few stage props, and left many of the scenic details to the audiences' imagination.
The characters in the play ranged drastically, from pre-teen children, to middle class African-Americans, to abusive fathers.
BSU student Anthony Dinkins said he favored the character of the drunken, abusive father the most because "he played his character to perfection."
On the ride back to BSU, each student gave their rank of the play from one to five.
Brooks gave the play four stars, as did student Chrishana Heather. While TRiO director Monica Turner gave the play five stars.
Many of the students on the trip had never heard of "The Bluest Eye," while others have read the book, or seen the production at another location.
"The play was marvelous in comparison to the one at Georgetown University,'' Brooks said. "Overall it was a very interesting well-cast play."
When asked what TRiO trips meant to her, Turner replied, "It's just a great time to be able to share the experience with students. It's a good way to bond. I love it!"
Brooks stated again, that she was very glad she chose to come. "I needed some wind down time, she said referring to mid-terms."
SSS/TRiO always has many events planned for its students each semester. Their next off- campus event will be to Camp Tockwogh, a retreat where the students practice team building, and leadership skills, as well as a weekend camping experience.