Confronting Adversity Head On: Queer Alliance President Temashengu Litchfield-Tshabalala
Temashengu Litchfield-Tshabalala hails from South Africa and Eswatini. She grew up in Pretoria, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. She is majoring in Communications and English Literature and minoring in Creative Writing. Temashengu is a Student Ambassador and President of the Queer Alliance club.
What brought you to Rome and JCU?
My mom was the one who found JCU online and encouraged me to apply. I was excited to come here because the prospect of change has always been exciting for me. I have interacted with various cultures and communities my whole life, so it made it easier to accept Rome as my new home.
What made you decide to combine Communications, English Literature, and Creative Writing in your studies?
Majoring in Communications and English Literature and minoring in Creative Writing helped me combine all my passions into one. English Literature teaches me to analyze texts in depth. I have learned a lot about the value of writing. This brings me to Creative Writing. I always admired the works of the authors that I grew up on or encountered in my classes: Chinua Achebe, Markus Zusak, Frantz Fanon, Emily Bronte, and Toni Morrison. How they told stories about culture, history, nationalism, family, friendships, loss, love, and grief, and captured it in words. Literature is a way to share your culture and I hope to add to that with stories of my own. Communications teaches me how literature has changed in the digital age. Before we had novels, now we have films, we had the radio and newspapers, now we have apps, social media, etc. Visual and digital culture are the Shakespeare of the modern age. I want to use the lessons I’m learning about the mechanisms of digital culture, semiotics, journalism, and film to produce videos and documentaries of my own.
You are a Student Ambassador and have collaborated with the Marketing office at JCU. What have you learned from these experiences?
These experiences have been highly enriching. Being able to participate in prospective students’ journeys and guide them as someone who has been in their place is so fulfilling. I love when I get to form relationships with students that last for years to come. With the Marketing Office, I learned a valuable amount about how much marketing influences society’s choices. I helped to form relationships with our audience and maintain engagement with brands, events, or ideas. I was also able to actively implement what I was learning in communications.
You’re also the President of the Queer Alliance. What are some goals that you have achieved with the club that you’re proud of? What future projects are you currently working on?
Yashashwi “Yash” Shahi (VP), Lorenzo Polverari (Social Media Manager), Isabella Arguello-Matoi (Treasurer), Ash Harper (Events Coordinator), and I wanted to display, encourage, and actively practice cultural understanding. As a diverse board, in terms of culture, religion, personal identity, and general outlook, we understood the value of people who are different working together and expanding on the knowledge of each other’s identity expressions and politics. We have organized a few events that I am very proud of. Last semester we had a presentation on Queer Culture and History in POC/formerly colonized countries and how that impacts inclusivity within queer spaces. This semester we collaborated with the Film Appreciation Group and the Black and African Student Association for the screening of the 2016 Oscar winner for best picture, Moonlight, which explores black masculinity, queer identity, addiction, and relationships with parents. The Queer Alliance is a safe space to have uncomfortable conversations. I think that it is important to know the value of confronting adversity head-on. The Queer Alliance is about love, happiness, generosity, community, and broadening knowledge.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Accept the change, the only way out is through. By that, I mean embracing the growth that comes from moving to Rome and studying at JCU. It is a rewarding and wholesome experience that won’t always be easy, and that’s okay. When you fail, get back up. When it gets difficult, remember what you’re here for. Most importantly, stay true to who you are. Accept change but never lose yourself.