USF student’s unusual phobia keeps her avoiding yellow menace: Bananas

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Laura Slack, a USF humanities major,  may seem like an ordinary college student, until you pull out a banana. She’s been terribly afraid of them ever since she can remember.

“As a baby, my mom said I refused to eat the bananas in baby food,” Slack said. states that bananaphobia tend to rise from the smell and texture of the banana itself.

“Everything from the way they look, to smell, to touch, to taste, the way that they sound when someone is eating them, it freaks me out,” Slack said.

Aside from the overwhelming fear of the yellow fruit, Slack said she mostly fears “real” bananas.  When bananas are featured on TV or if someone is dressed in a banana suit, she will not run in the other direction, but will feel a bit uneasy.

Growing up, Slack said her friends and family always found a way to tease her once until they found out about her phobia.

Once a friend went into her room and covered her bed with bananas. Unable to touch the bananas, Slack had to ask others to remove them.

According to an article by the Daily Mail, in 2011, John Bruce, a therapist working at Renfrewshire, Scotland, was able to cure a woman’s fear of bananas through Neuro-linguistic programming. In this technique, a therapist talks to the patient and tries to get him or her to separate the bad memories associated with objects and exchange them for positive memories.

“I took her mind back to a time when she didn’t have the phobia and taught her to associate those calm, happy feelings with bananas,” Bruce said in the Daily Mail.

Even though she  cannot touch, smell, or taste bananas without a jolt of fear, Slack said her fear of bananas has subsided slightly.

“I can actually sit at a table with someone eating a banana now,” Slack said.

Slack admits that she will never fully get over her fear of bananas. Just the other day, she recalls finding a banana sitting in front of the microwave in her apartment. Whether it was put there on purpose or by mistake, she does not know.

“All right, I guess I’m not going to use the microwave today,”  Slack said, as she continues her daily battle against her yellow-colored enemy.




USF students volunteer in community for MLK Jr. Day

More than 2,000 students at the University of South Florida woke up Saturday morning to give back to the Tampa Bay community during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Since 2006, the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement has hosted the school-wide annual service program “Stampede of Service” for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Stampede of Service, USF’s largest service program, allows students to serve the community through their personal interests and abilities, in return for lifelong memories and connections.

“Our goal is to help educate and empower each student to be a catalyst for change,” said Mallory Trochesset, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

At 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, student participants met at the USF Corbett Soccer Stadium and were grouped by their interests toward specific social issues, which included community issues, disabilities, education and literacy, health care, homelessness, senior citizen care, hunger, youth, and environmental.

“Especially with the new structure this year, it provides students with the opportunity to do service that they really want to do and to connect with community departments that they have never known about,” said Francis Gelormini, Days of Service coordinator on the Civic Engagement Board.

Maxon Victor, a USF student and founder of SOS, was one of the guest speakers who opened the event. Victor founded SOS for students to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with their fellow peers and community partners by making a positive impact in the community.

“It was cool to have the guy who started it there to kind of talk to us and help us begin our day,” said Kristi Martinez, USF environmental biology major.

Each volunteer group was then sent to work with local companies and organizations at different locations around the Tampa Bay area. The service tasks ranged anywhere from picking up trash around USF to restocking shelves at the Community Food Pantry.

“This year we had 168 different organizations that have registered,” Trochesset said.

One environmental group volunteered for the City of Temple Terrace by planting trees in the newly built residential community. The City of Temple Terrace collects and plants new trees for these new communities, parks and other various sites each week and is always eager to have an extra set of helping hands whenever possible.

“Today we planted bald cypress trees as a part of the ‘rebuilding community’ efforts, because when they have to do construction sometimes they take down a lot of trees,” Martinez said. “So we are replanting them.”

By digging, replanting and watering the trees for these new homes, students realized their actions were significant for not only the community, but the world as well.

“If you don’t have enough trees, there will be a lack of oxygen and the whole ecosystem will be out of balance,” said Abigail Nicholas, USF computer engineering major. “It [SOS] helped me be more aware of everything, like how trees don’t just pop out of nowhere and people actually work on it.”

After completing their service activities, students met up at USF’s Greek Village at about 12:30 p.m. to enjoy free food and entertainment as a thank-you for their time and efforts bettering the Tampa Bay community. Students left the event not only with a free T-shirt and volunteer experience, but with new connections in the community and new found knowledge about the environment in which they live.

“They can establish relationships for the future that have great opportunities for anything,” Gelormini said.