Elm Staff Writer
Last week the Student Events Board welcomed students back to Washington College through a number of events, including DIY bamboo decorating, breakfast bingo, and the performance of magician Anthony Grupido.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23 in Decker Theater, Grupido revealed the step-by-step process of freeing oneself from a straitjacket and chains. These items were only part of his presentation combining magic and advocacy for mental health awareness.
During Grupido’s presentation, he had an audience volunteer pick a card from a standard deck of playing cards, then sign her name on the card and put it back in the deck. He then placed the deck of cards in his mouth and pulled out sections of the deck, each time revealing that none of the cards were the one that the volunteer had chosen.
After going through the entire deck of cards, Grupido coughed and removed from his mouth a folded card that ended up being the card that the volunteer had signed and placed back in the deck.
Additionally, he performed a trick where he used two tubes to switch the positions of bottles and glasses on the table. Although he started with only two items, by the end of the trick there were at least ten bottles on the table.
Grupido incorporated magic tricks, mentalism, and mental health awareness into his presentation, including his own personal struggles with depression and suicide.
“I just really want people to know that mental illness is not a weakness. It’s something that a lot of people go through and we can be there for each other,” Grupido said.
Some members of SEB had the opportunity to watch Grupido perform before inviting him to campus.
“We thought he was really relatable and had an incredible message that went along with his act. Everyone has a different life dynamic and we wanted to make sure that students started the spring semester with a positive message and the magic of hope,” sophomore SEB member Jacklyn Russo said.
“I think SEB, Student Government Association, Psychology Club, Active Minds and PEAC made it a priority to deal with the issues that students are dealing with in their lives. One of the issues is the destigmatization and support of student mental health and wellness,” said Director of Student Engagement Elaine Grant.
Grupido shared this desire to engage in a dialogue about mental health.
“I think that if I can open up to that many people, I hope it will inspire other people to open up to others,” he said.
Along with sharing his own story, Grupido discussed the dangers of drinking to fit in, bullying, and cyberbullying.
“The world has too much hate,” Grupido said. He reminded the audience that everything we send is saved and words have the power to hurt, especially when they’re made inescapable by appearing on our social media feeds and cell phones.
As a 23-year-old, Grupido is around the same age as many of the students on campus. “He understands what people our age are going through without sugarcoating anything or being condescending. Although it may have seemed heavy at some points he kept his performance real and 100 percent heartfelt,” Russo said.
Grupido’s message of looking out for and caring for one another extends beyond his magic and performances, and into his personal life.
“I like to hang out with my friends; I really cherish the time I get with the people that I love so I try to do that as much as I can,” he said.
Grant hopes that Grupido’s message will invite students to not only reach out to one another, but also to available mental health resources.
“We [hope] his performance will start conversations about coping with stress and mental health and encourage students to look out for each other and use campus and area resources for help and support,” Grant said.
According to Grant, one mental health resource in Kent and Queen Anne’s County is NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, which can be contacted through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 443-480-0565.
She also directed students to the Counseling Center on campus, which can be contacted at 410-778-7261 or by emailing email@example.com. The Counseling Center is open on Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.