Reflecting on Campus Speakers

Reflecting on Campus Speakers

March 8, 2020 Reflections from Changemakers 37

At the end of February, two distinguished speakers came to campus – environmentalist and activist Winona LaDuke and UAlbany psychologist and professor Alex L. Pieterse, Ph.D. All Bonners attended one or both of these sessions. To reflect on the event, please respond to the following questions:

  • Which campus speaker did you attend?
  • What was your biggest takeaway from the event? What stood out to you most?
  • How does the topic of the speech you attended connect to something you’ve learned in one of your academic courses?
  • In what ways can you connect something that was discussed to your service or another topic we’ve discussed in a Bonner meeting?
  • If you could ask the speaker one question, what would it be?


37 Responses

  1. Pierre Dalce says:

    I attended the black key notes speaker Alex Piestre. He had some wonderful insights about topics such as mental health, privledge and how we as a community can effectively change and offer more opportunity for less privileged individuals. One aspect in particular that stuck out to me was his notion on attacking “whiteness” this can be misunderstood and misinterpreted as attacking whites people which is not the case. What this actually means however is trying to reduce the GAP between Caucasian individuals and people of color. One of which is providing more mental health relief for people of color. Not only to reduce the stigma attributed to mental health but to also provide more care in this area. This can be implemented in my sight by outreach to the parents who have children that attend the school and also out reach of our surrounding area in order to build awareness around this topic.

  2. Kate Callery says:

    I attended both lectures and I found them both excellent! I believe that both speakers took a unique perspective on topics not always discussed. For instance I think Winona LaDuke’s innovative ideas for environment was really great to hear. It was great to see that conversations opening up and new solutions being discussed. I took away this idea that when we see issues within our community it is important to go about finding solutions by understanding res pieces and being creative about the approach. This was both with Winona LaDukes presentation and Alex L Piertese. I like Alex Piertese as a speaker was powerful because he broached a topic not always discussed. I think that I Winona LaDuke has a really great insight on how to balance economic needs and environmental needs. And I think Alex Piertese speech gives us an important mindset that should be brought into all service opportunities , we should all understand that all individuals could be going through several different things. Never assume! I think my general question for both speakers is what started you passion in these fields?

  3. Kylie Gilbride says:

    I attended Winona LaDuke’s speech for my campus speaker event. What I appreciated most about Winona’s presentation was that she made sure to make it so that everyone was able to follow along and see the change that she’s made thus far. I wasn’t particularly sure if I would be able to truly connect to her because the topic was completely out of my realm. Winona’s presentation was filled with light-hearted humor as well as more serious parts. Through this, I learned that just about anyone and anything is connectable, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. Changermakers connect to fellow changemakers.

  4. Jack McKenna says:

    I attended Winonna LaDuke’s presentation. My biggest take away was, as cheesy as this sounds, anyone can make a difference. It’s not about how many resources you have, it’s about how passionate you are, because someone who has passion and deep seated motivation will find five different ways to use one tool to get their message across. Winonna LaDuke is one of those people, and she was able to take an issue like clean water, which is widely ignored by our government, and really make a difference. I’m an environmental science major, so clean water is something I’m very passionate about. In my first environmental science course last semester we learned about water scarcity across the globe, and it came as a big surprise to everyone that this issue isn’t isolated to developing nations. It’s something affecting everyone, in nearly every country on the planet. Especially those in low income, inner city areas, that aren’t as cared for as other areas by the state and federal government. In Bonner we were taught about redlining, and how that leads to low income neighborhoods being at a significant disadvantage, which allows for issues such as polluted water, like Flint Michigan. If I could have asked our speaker one question it would have been, how do you get people to listen to and follow you the way you did?

  5. Hayley Pij says:

    I went to the Black History Month speaker, Alex L. Pieterse. His discussion was around mental health and racism, specifically relating to students of color and a predominately white institution. I found this topic especially fitting for the Siena College campus climate, which is predominately white. He went in depth around the needs of students of color. He acknowledged that a lot of people in the room were white and how this has an impact on resources available for students of color. My biggest takeaway was that he acknowledged that there is only so much students can do, and that the majority of work needs to be done from the administrative level, it has to be intentional, and he discouraged multiculturalism for the sake of inclusion. I really enjoyed this speaker! If I could ask him one question, it would be to be an adjunct professor at Siena.

  6. ecli vazquez says:

    I attended environmentalist and activist, Winona LaDuke. She spoke about her role as a “water protector.” I think the story that stood out the most to me was her story of how she stop the pipeline from being build on her land This really showed how much she cared about nature. This topic related to my social movements class where we talk about activism. This event can be related as we talk about nature within Bonner. I say this because if the pipeline were to be build. it would have destroyed the ecosystem that LaDuke and her people used to live.
    If I had a question it would be what type of awareness makes people talk the most.

  7. Sydney Maughan says:

    I attended the speaker Alex L. Pieterse. I had several takeaways but my biggest takeaway was when he spoke about that to be able to discuss the mental health needs for students of color, you first need to discuss and understand racism. What stood out to me most was when he spoke about his sons. He talked briefly about how his son, who attends high school in Albany was walking home from school and instead of walking by the police department he took the long way to get home. He spoke about how peculiar it is that the people who are to protect us and enforce the law, his son was going out of his way to avoid. The topic of speech connects to things in learned in my first year seminar class, when talking about white men and privileges.
    I can also connect how at bonner meetings we have talked about the mental health of college students, just as he was talking about the mental health of college students for people of color.
    If I could ask the speaker a question it would probably be what he would do differently if he were to have raised daughters rather than sons.

  8. Marykate Del Gais says:

    I attended the session with the privilege psychologist and professor Alex L. Pieterse. My biggest take away his presentation was the idea of “attacking whiteness.” It was something I never considered before, but I understood why it was being preached. In order to achieve the goal of equality in society, it is important to look deeper into whiteness and try and see it under a different light. This can correlate to my First Year Seminar class. We have been discussing the idea of white privilege and people have very strong opinions on the topic. With my class being predominantly white, all of our opinions tend to be the same. However, we have opened up our minds to seeing the other side of things and learning to acknowledge and understand the idea of privilege. This topic does not particularly relate to my site, but it can be related to my day to day life on campus. With Siena being a predominantly white campus, I never realized what students of color may be facing because of this. Are they not receiving the things they need to be a successful student at Siena? If I could ask the speaker one question it would be: What steps can I take, as a student to ensure that everybody is seen under the same light through the eyes of the community at Siena?

  9. Tristan Hunzinger says:

    I attended Alex Pieterse and I really enjoyed his presentation, he had a really cool personality. I would say that my biggest takeaway from his presentation was how African-American students and all students of color are affected differently on predominantly white campuses. Regardless of our race, we are all aware of the stress and anxiety and feelings of uncomfortable when it comes to being a college student. However, these problems can be further compounded by feeling isolated or alone. Often times, students of color experience these feelings on predominantly white campuses and it is a problem that more people should be aware of. I would say that this connects to discussions we have had about systemic racism in First Year Seminar as well as in Bonner meetings. If I could ask Alex Pieterse one question I would ask him more about his own experience as a student of color.

  10. Grace Harris says:

    I had the opportunity to attend both of the speaker of campus and I was so impressed with both. The first speaker Winona LaDuke spoke about her experiences with the environment as well as being a native american women in this current climate . Her words on climate change crisis the the need to act NOW really resonated with me and reminded me that environmental justice is truly the core of all social justice. Likewise the other speaker Alex L. Pieterse also resonated with me greatly. Mental heath on campus is one of my biggest passions in both someone who promotes it as well as someone who has had personal experience. However as someone who is white I never really got really hear in dpeh what it like for a student of color to experience. His talk was enlightening and really drove home the point we need to do more for students of color

  11. Aedan says:

    I attended Dr. Alex L. Pieterse and I absolutely loved his talk. My biggest takeaway was that mental health is a critical issue for college students, in general, but for students of color in college it is far more pressing. Daily worries that do not reach white college students cause serious concerns in the mental health of black students, especially on private campuses. I liked that Dr. Pieterse challenged the idea of multiculturalism in his talk and addressed the importance of diversity. I also liked how he stated that black students do not have the responsibility of educating white students and faculty at college. This connects to plenty of discussions at Bonner meetings that we have had about racism and how it plays a role in day-to-day life. I would like to ask Dr. Pieterse what the best resources are to educated myself as an ally so that black students do not have to.

  12. Maura Lynch says:

    At the end of February, I attended the presentation by environmental activist, Winona LaDuke. My biggest takeaway from the event was the connections LaDuke felt towards her land as it was untouched by industrialization. I felt bothered that there are so few places like that in our world today. This isn’t an academic course, but I felt that LaDuke’s presentation related to the Arizona Borderlinks trip I went on over Spring Break. There, I learned about the Standing Rock Pipeline and the struggles that native people encounter when dealing with the US government that took over their land. This connects to Bonner in regards to what we learned during diversity training and how Native people are mistreated. If I could ask her one question it would be what laws would she put into place to protect reservations like Standing Rock.

  13. Chandler Edbauer says:

    I attended Alex L. Pieterse, my biggest takeaway from this event was that so many students of color struggle with mental health issues and the resources that they are seeking are few. I have learned about how stressful college is for many students of color because they face disadvantages that many people do not face. In my first year seminar class I learned about how students of color are affected because of college. In many Bonner seminars it was important to understand your privilege and how other people are affected without it. It is important to realize that many people face different situations and that can affect the view from which they look at the world. At all of our seminars it is important to understand privilege. I would have asked the speaker how he dealt with college and stress and how he will prepare his children for it.

  14. Erin Spence says:

    I attended the speech given by psychologist and professor Alex L. Pieterse. His speech was full of shocking and interesting information, but my biggest take away was the number of students of color who struggle with mental health issues compared to white students and the resources that they are seeking and being provided with to help with these issues. I also found it interesting that most of the patients he sees are people of color. The topic of this speech relates to the discussions that are had frequently in my social epidemiology course. In this class, we look at how social factors impact health, which is exactly what Dr. Pieterse did through this presentation. It was interesting to see the connections between the information he was presenting and the topics we have covered in class, including stress and the life course, social mobility, and the effects of inequality on health. This also connects to the work that Capital Roots does because many of the people who use the resources that the organization provides are people of color and may be of a lower socioeconomic status, which can ultimately affect physical and mental health. If I could ask him one question, I would ask what drew him to choose psychology as a career path and what led him to this decision.

  15. Amelia Butler says:

    I attended the MLK lecture featuring Winona LaDuke. I found this lecture to be incredibly inspiring as an environmental science student and as someone who is passionate about social justice. The biggest things I learned is about the importance of being educated on the issue at hand and how important it is to get involved and fight for whatever you are passionate about. Obviously, a lot of what she spoke about related to what I learn in my academic courses, but this lecture acted as a bridge between my academics and service. Her lessons also directly tie into what my site works to do through environmental appreciation and participation. If I had the chance to speak with her one-on-one, I would love to ask her more about opportunities to do more work in environmental advocacy in terms of human rights.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      It sounds like you really got a lot out of this speaker being involved with environmental science and at Capital Roots. Hopefully she sparked some interest on how you can continue to work towards social justice!

  16. Kayla says:

    For this blog I attended Professor Alex Pieterse lecture on the effects of racism on mental health on college campuses. The fact that the Professor came form South Africa stood out the most to me as it made me think of my time in SA and allowed me to better understand what He was saying. The cancellation of the multi cultural center reminded me of my sociology courses at Siena and the breaking down of larger societal structures. This makes me think of the effect of racism on my clients mental health at RISSE. All of our clients come from such diverse area that a shared opinion about the single topic of racism would be powerful. I would like to ask the Professor where in South Africa he was born!!

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      It’s so cool that you had the opportunity to spend time in South Africa to better understand his experiences!

  17. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    I attended the LaDuke Seminar, my biggest takeaway is how there are people like LaDuke out there doing all that is possible to keep our earth alive, and how we are slowly and surely killing our planet, that we have to take drastic measures to save it now because we don’t have much time. It relates to my first year seminar class, where we talk about the planet and globalization and what it has done to our planet.
    Nothing from our bonner meetings really relates to this topic, but we definitely have talked about how environmental justice can be social justice, because without a planet, who are we?
    I would ask her to let me attend their camp where they do a lot of volunteering and fight against the system

  18. Michael Averill says:

    I had the opportunity to attend both speakers.
    Winona LaDuke gave a phenomenal speech about environmental justice issues facing our nation today. As a two-time vice-presidential candidate for the Green Party, LaDuke has plenty of experience in the public field. She lives on a Native American reservation in northern Minnesota which she described as a natural haven in comparison to most of the world currently. What impressed me the most about LaDuke is that she works on environmental issues not only domestically, but internationally as well. Winona fights against big gas companies as well as overreaching governments that are attempting to exploit Native lands by building pipelines on them. Much of what she discussed relates back to my political science class Environmental Action, as well as various Bonner discussions over environmental racism. LaDuke’s work is impressive to me because it shows how environmental issues have no borders and that environmental degradation impacts all living beings. My one question for Winona would be; how do you deal with discouragement due to the apathy of people on environmental concerns? I enjoyed Winona LaDuke’s talk immensely and I was happy to see such a great turnout at the event.

  19. Andraya Perez says:

    I had the opportunity to go to both speakers. I really enjoyed both the talks and the topics which the speakers discussed are very important. The biggest takeaway from Winona LaDuke’s talk was how we need to act now and dramatically against climate change. I agree, her talk really made me think about the energy systems we use in America and how they could be more effective. Alex L. Pieterse talk really resonated with aspects I talk about in my classes. Being a psychology major and education minor, we talk a lot about how mental health affects vulnerable populations. I think it was our second meeting this semester when we talked about redlining, and I think both speakers addressed how these issues affect people effected by redlining. My question would be to Winona LaDuke’s, What is the best way to make individual difference in my life to be more environmentally friendly?

  20. Tori Mangelli says:

    I attended Winona LaDuke’s lecture. My biggest takeaway from her speech was that we all have to unite to preserve the environment, and so far we aren’t doing a great job. LaDuke said that we believe that we can do anything to do the environment just because we have the power to do so, but this power comes with responsibility. Thus, just because we can do something does not mean we should. This connects to my First Year Seminar class because we talk about privilege and how to correctly handle our privilege instead of abusing it. The topic of privilege is also something that we talk about in Bonner a lot and how to use it to empower people. I would ask the speaker what she thinks the first step in uniting a massive amount of people to save the planet would be?

  21. Samantha Gisleson says:

    I attended both campus speakers, but for the purposes of this discussion I am choosing to write about Winona LaDuke’s speech. My biggest takeaway from this event was the importance of water and the need to protect our planet and its resources. The one thing that stood out to me the most was the fact that much of the land in the United States is indigenous land that was taken from the various tribes that inhabit this country. The topic of this speech related to topics discussed in the Intro to International Studies course I took last semester. Within this course we talked about environmentalism and the impacts that humanity is having on the planet. One thing we specifically talked about is oil, which made me think of all of the pipelines that are ran under indigenous lands, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline. One way I can connect this topic to service is to the trip that I recently took to Arizona and Mexico with the Franciscan Center. While on this trip I was able to meet a trans-woman named Valentina who attended Standing Rock during the resistance of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. Valentina spoke to us about water protectors, just as Winona did when she came to Siena. Winona’s conversation really made me want to learn more about water-protectors, which is why I was so glad to get to speak with Valentina and ask her questions as this was a more intimate conversation than that with Winona. However, after both discussions, I have decided that one question I would ask Winona is: how can Siena students support the work of water protectors, and how can we each be water protectors in our daily lives?

  22. Sarah Ahmed says:

    In what ways can you connect something that was discussed to your service or another topic we’ve discussed in a Bonner meeting?
    If you could ask the speaker one question, what would it be?
    I attended activist and environmentalist Winona LaDuke. My biggest takeaway from the event was how so much can be done in terms of resolving environmental issues today yet none of these solutions are well known or bring implemented. Solutions that could also help our country such as making most textiles and materials here or cutting down on the production of nuclear weapons can be certainly achieved if we want it to. Most importantly, in my opinion, she discussed how this creates unification. Individuals will come together, communities will be formed, and I think a kinder environment will emerge from that. The indigenous people live in harmony with one another; they do not think of how they can gain more money or tangible things but live off what the earth provides them. In my Social and Global problems class, we discussed how the need for wealth and power drives much of the inequality and injustice in this world; the need to feel superior to another person or group. The world needs more selflessness and less selfishness; one needs to not always think about how things can benefit them, but how they can use what they are provided to help others in order to create peace in this world. The topic of selflessness is what the Bonner program is about. All throughout the years, we discuss social injustices and develop methods in which to solve these injustices. I am just one person, but as a group or larger entity, we can create awareness and create solutions to these issues in order to solve them. Winona LaDuke stated this perfectly in her lecture and it fits perfectly with the mission of the Bonner program.

  23. Dana Wakeman says:

    I attended the event with environmentalist and activist Winona LaDuke. She discussed how we as a community have to work to create sustainable change to protect water and she described how she has worked as a water protector. My biggest takeaway was when she said that just because we can do something does not mean we can, so just because we can obtain natural gas from fracking does not mean we should. This topic connects to multiple of my Political Science classes including U.S Congress and Presidential Nominations because she discussed getting the attention of public officials to get them to support legislation to protect the Earth. I think her topic of water protection can connect to our meeting last year about civic engagement because LaDuke encouraged us to get involved politically by reaching out to our elected officials and encouraged us to protest for what is right. I would ask LaDuke how we at Siena can make our Siena and our Albany communities make our school more sustainable.

  24. Mara Golden says:

    I attended environmentalist and activist Winona LaDuke. The biggest takeaway from this event was how she explained the issues but focused more of her time on the solutions to these problems. Her topic connected to my FYS class when we talked about environment. Not taking care of our environment can cause so many overwhelming situations. If I could ask Winona LaDuke one question I would want to know how we can take the things she has done and bring them to our campus. I think there are many things that Siena College could work on to better our surrounding environment.

  25. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    I attended the Black History Month speaker, UAlbany psychologist and professor Alex L. Pieterse, Ph.D.. My biggest takeaway from this event was the issue of people of color not seeking out mental health assistance or working with professionals who do not understand because they feel they do not relate. This stood out to me because it made me realize that individuals in our society are not getting the proper help they need, and our efforts to do so are not enough. This speech connects to issues we’ve discussed in my Catholic Social Teachings class in which we focused on issues of racism and the injustices that people of color may face in regard to lack of access to resources. This relates as Pieterse discussed the issue of lack of effective mental health care. This is also an issue on our campus as students of color may not be receiving the help they need and deserve to be successful. If I could also Pieterse a question, i would want to know what action steps we as students could take to help on our campus specifically as well as on all college campuses.

  26. Abeer Jafri says:

    I attended the presentation by Winona LaDuke. My biggest takeaway from the event was how focused she was on finding solutions, rather than just stating the problems with the environment. The topic of the speech connected to our Environmental Unit in First Year Seminar, because we discussed how money is often a priority in the modern world over the environment. Another thing that stuck out to me from her presentation was the fact that she was arrested and she was okay with it, because she knew she was standing up for what she believed in. This reminded me of how in our Bonner meetings we discuss being allies and having integrity to speak up for what we believe in when we see something wrong happening. One question I would ask her would be what can we do as individuals to prevent the environment from worsening?

  27. Nia Colon says:

    I went to listen to Winona LaDuke. I thought she had such an powerful speech. She is an activist for environmental change. She spoke about the environment and how we are the ones who should protect it. One thing that stood out to me was identifying her self as the water protector. She emphasized that the nature should be protected and respected. The story about how her and a group of people fought against the pipeline and she said the reason as to why it is not there is because of the fight the put up. This has connected to my FSYM class (the topic of nature) because we always talked about how we have to appreciate what we have. One question I would ask would have to be when and why did she become so invested in the environment?

  28. Jamie del Rosario says:

    I attended the Black History Month speaker, Dr. Alex L. Pieterse, who spoke about mental health and people of color. The biggest thing I took away from his lecture was his main conversation about attacking whiteness. This is more than just a privilege check, it requires careful examination of the institutions that give white people power and the imbalance that is plaguing global society. In my Deviant Behaviors class we discuss the idea of “outsiders,” which are individuals or groups separated and generally looked down upon by those higher up. In this scenario, black people are the “outsiders,” and the consideration of mental health is no exception to that. Dr. Pieterse even said that as a mental health provider he sees more clients of color because they are more comfortable going to him. What does it say about society that any group that is held together by a shared identity cannot go to a member of another group in a time of need and understanding? Why does skin color hold so much power still?

  29. Marlie says:

    I attended the presentation given by Professor Alex Pieterse on mental health in college students of color. One of the most impactful topics coming out of this presentation was the importance of “attacking whiteness”. It was an entirely new concept to me but it made complete sense. In order to equalize the playing field, we need to look at and analyze whiteness in a completely different way. This topic can correlate to some of the topics in my classes, particularly “Introduction to Global Health”, where we learned about how important healthcare is and the vast differences in access people around the world have. Pieterse furthered this point by highlighting the general lack of mental health services to people of color. This can further be brought into my service site because WY provides a sliding scale for patients and provides services to people of various socioeconomic statuses and ethnicities. If I could ask him any question, I would ask him to elaborate more on some of his statistical slides, since he was short for time. It was an extremely interesting presentation and I appreciated learning about it.

  30. Taylor says:

    I attended Winona LaDukes presentation. She spoke of the struggles of Native Americans as well as the need to end use of fossil fuels. The portion of the presentation about how Native Americans are still taken advantage of by the US government connects to discussions of targeting minorities which is a main topic of my FYSM class this year. It also relates to many discussions on the same topic we’ve had as Bonners. If I could ask LaDuke one question it would be how she stays so positive and motivated even when it seems like all odds are against her.

  31. Samantha Lunt says:

    I attended environmentalist and activist, Winona LaDuke. She was very captivating and I could tell everything she talked about meant so much to her. One thing that stood out to me was the work she has done as a “water protector” and how important it is to her. The stories she told and what she has done to protect the water in her area is what captured me most. I would say the topic of her speech connects most to my first year seminar class because she talked a lot about diversity and that is the current topic of my first year seminar class. I could also connect her talk to my service site because we talk a lot about the importance of the environment and protecting and the kids have grown vegetables, which has shown them what good can come from our environment and why we need to protect it. If I could ask Winona LaDuke one question it would be: What is one change that you hope to see in the future from the work you have done and continue to do as an environmentalist?

  32. Kiara Woodward says:

    I attended the Black History keynote speaker Alex Pieterse. My biggest takeaway from his presentation was the barrier to entry to mental health services for people of color. Pieterse mentioned that in his practice he sees a large amount of people of color which does not reflect the statistics. He believes this to be because people of color are more comfortable seeing a psychologist of color. I also liked his view on creating an inclusive campus environment. To reach this goal he suggested attacking whiteness. The concept still challenges me as I can see problems arising from individuals thinking attacking whiteness means attacking white people. That misunderstanding would do nothing to move forward an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. My site is at an all boys high school in Albany with a predominately African American population. Most of he boys at Green Tech will graduate and attended a high education institution. I wonder what the speaker would suggest introducing at Siena to create a space that is more accepting and inclusive.

  33. Cody Romani says:

    I attended the talk done by Winona LaDuke on February 25th. I was amazing at her determination and perseverance as an environmentalist and an activist for change. What stood out to me was how much she talked about the reservations. It was great to learn about her way of life and how much she has done as a “water protector”. She really cares about the people around her and takes great measures to help her community. I think this course connects to my First Year Seminar class because it talks a lot about diversity. LaDuke talked about the different types of food in her culture. This made me think about if my service site thinks about different cultures when providing food to families. If I could ask Winona one question it would be: before starting your work on the environment, what do you think you would be able to accomplish? What has helped you overcome obstacles in your life?

  34. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    I attended environmentalist and activist, Winona LaDuke. I thought she was a wonderful speaker. She captured her audience’s attention from the beginning, and she held that attention throughout her speech. She spoke about her role as a “water protector.” I think the story that she told where she got arrested stood out to me the most. It showed how passionate she is. This speech topic about protecting the environment connects to the nature portion of my FYSM class last year. We emphasized that nature needs to be respected, and that is exactly what Winona LaDuke did in her speech. Her speech also connected to my service site last year. At Girl Scouts, we taught the girls the importance of the environment. Finally, if I could ask Winona LaDuke one question it would be: what sparked your passion to protect the environment?

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      This speaker sounds really awesome! I’m glad to see that you were able to connect her speech to different aspects of your life as a student and in Bonner.

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