On Feb. 9 and 10, Wellesley College Botanical Gardens (WCBG) presented their annual light show in the Global Flora Greenhouse, entitled “Healing Me Softly: An Evening with Healing Plants!” A revival of a pre-COVID-19 tradition, this year’s event highlighted plants with healing properties with displays of tea and fairy lights arranged around the greenhouse and signs explaining the origins and traditional uses and names of each selected plant.
The event featured performances by student organizations, including BlueNotes, Wellesley Widows, Yanvalou and Blue Jazz, as well as open mic time. DIY stations in the visitor’s center included stations for making Aloe Vera hand/foot scrub and Yerba Mate face masks, aromatherapy and a coloring station.
Nafisa Rashid ’23, a WCBG Student Assistant who led organizing efforts for the event, explained her excitement to revive a Wellesley tradition she had not experienced since her first year.
“It was really nice to bring a part of the Wellesley community back because, especially since we started off a second semester with COVID-19, there’s been a lot of Wellesley traditions that have been lost, and I feel like it’s only been recently that some of those … traditions and events are coming back,” Rashid said.
Marcela Hernandez ’23, another WCBG student assistant who helped organize the event, explained that a lot of the work to create the light show was based on trial and error.
“Because we’re the first class to do it [since COVID-19] … we didn’t have people that had done it before, to give us tips or [tell] us how things had happened in the past,” said Hernandez. “It was a lot of looking at photos, seeing what was done before, and starting from scratch. … But it was really cool. … I think it also gives [sic] us a lot of liberty as well.”
Rashid said that part of the event’s goal was to create a tranquil environment for those visiting the greenhouse.
“We really wanted it to be a night where people could hang out … or just come and look around and feel relaxed in the space, whether that was doing the activities or just walking around … I feel like it’s a really relaxing and calming space, and I wanted people who came for the first time to be able to really see that and feel that,” Rashid said.
Rashid also expressed her feelings seeing all of the planning and work come together.
“It was nice to see people enjoy the space and get to see the plants at night, and sometimes for the first time. … And people who were working for the Botanic Gardens seemed to really enjoy … seeing the greenhouse at night. … I think one of my favorite parts was when we put lights in the fish tanks and the ponds. … We thought people would probably enjoy seeing other parts highlighted in the greenhouse, other than the trees,” Rashid said.
Hernandez explained that the event was part of a longer-term initiative to reconceptualize how the greenhouse is utilized, especially after being closed for so long.
“Since we’ve started working here … the Botanic Gardens has really wanted to … reimagine the greenhouse … making it more inclusive and showcasing the cultural aspects of plants and really emphasizing the idea that plants have so much meaning outside of just being nice to look at. … Having this place be like a communal spot for all Wellesley students to come in was really important. … And that’s work outside of the light show that we continue to do here,” said Hernandez. “Making this place seem approachable for all Wellesley students because it was so closed for so long. … It’s really an open space for Wellesley students to come and hang out with plants.”
Corrected on Feb. 24, 2023. A previous version of this story misspelled Nafisa Rashid’s name. The News regrets this error.