With final exams only a few days away, Conn students are busy scouring research materials for projects and papers. (It will be open when we return from Spring Break!), so we aren't able to browse the stacks like usual, but all the library's books and resources are still available. I went behind-the-scenes and into the construction zone with library staff to see how our book requests move from Shain to the temporary circulation desk each night.
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous this semester. Right at the end of November, the weather was still lovely. Friends and I have even been studying outside without coats to soak up the last of these sunny days before snow. Polar vortex this week? Nah, I'd rather it stayed in the mid-50s.
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as Camels. Today, Chelsea Preston '16 contributes to the guest blogger series. Chelsea was a member of the 2014 Connecticut College women's soccer team, which won the College's first NESCAC Championship and played in the NCAA Division III tournament. We asked Chelsea to capture, firsthand, what it was like to head into the national tournament.
Friday, Nov. 14, 2014
We boarded the bus at 1 p.m. after being sent off by a group of students and fans, including President Bergeron, at the entrance to the Athletic Center. After a three-hour trip, we arrived at Montclair State University to practice on the turf field where we'd play our game on Saturday and, hopefully, again on Sunday. We only had an hour to practice before the next team would need the turf, so we quickly went through our typical drills. The energy was high. We were playing music and were just happy to be there, in the national tournament. After practice, we headed back to the hotel, watched some film on Swarthmore — the team we would play the next day — and headed to bed.
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014
In the morning, the team boarded the bus to go to teammate Leah Salituro’s house for breakfast. Her house is only 30 minutes from where we were playing, so we had a great team breakfast there. On away games, Coach Riker likes us to take a walk to clear our heads for the upcoming game, so we walked around the neighborhood before going back to the hotel. We had some downtime to catch up on homework, then it was time to leave for the game. We arrived at Montclair's athletic center and started to prepare for the game. We played our usual music to get us pumped up and we were ready to go. We were excited, but nervous to play a team we had never seen before. It was a new challenge we were ready to face.
Game: Conn College vs. Swarthmore
The game, the first round of the NCAA tournament, was exciting as we pulled ahead with a set-piece goal from my teammate Becca Raymond. Swarthmore came back and tied it with a goal. In the second half, we got another goal from Livi Block and, to finish it off with a minute left, Mitchy Medina scored to make the final 3-1. We were so excited to have made it through that game and to be able to play on Sunday. It seemed like a never-ending season.
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
We woke up, had team breakfast, and hung out at the hotel until we left for our game. Two games in two days is never easy, especially when you are playing teams you have never seen before. We gathered up all our energy in the locker room like we had the day before and were ready to play. This day was different because we weren’t as nervous as we had been on Saturday.
Game: Conn College vs. Montclair State
Montclair put up a fight, and so did we. It was a tough game and we made it through regulation time without a score. It seemed as though we were going to make it all the way to penalty kicks with 50 seconds left in overtime. Unfortunately, Montclair got a shot off that ended up in the back of the net. Our season was over.
The historic, long, exciting season we had worked so hard for was over, in mid-November. Not many teams can say that. We are so proud of our season, for being NESCAC championss and for having made it as far as we did. We went from the bottom of our league to No. 1 in one season and won our first NCAA tournament game. This season was certainly one for the books!
Chelsea Preston '16 is an art major and a forward on the 2014 women's soccer team.
College is all about preparing you for the real world. It's a time where you can explore who you are and what you believe; a place where you learn about the world and those around you without the intense responsibility of being an adult. What better way to discuss real world issues, analyze them in the context of our campus and even simulate solutions.
Recently, there has been a nationwide discussion of race in the United States and how we are treating each other in a racial context. With people comparing our modern day society to segregated societies 40 years ago, discussions on campus about segregation and racial equality have emerged. Along with many of my friends, I took part in a discussion about the dining halls. With excerpts from the book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race," we dove into an intimate discussion about race. We analyzed where we sit and why.
Where do we sit in Harris and why do we sit there? If you sit with your friends, who are your friends and is there any reason that students consistently sit in the same area? How much of your decision is based on race or a presumed racial boundary? Is there a racial boundary?
After a long evening discussion, we made a plan to mix things up on our own campus. Later in the semester, students interested in the initiative will lead discussions throughout the dining halls, encourage their friends to sit somewhere different and meet new people, and help raise awareness on current national racial issues. It was empowering to be able to participate in the planning of such an event and I can't wait to see how everything turns out.
College can be a stressful time. There are tests, homework, athletic obligations, etc. Right now, it's midterm season. The midterm bells are ringing in the streets, and professors are singing carols of molecular biology and behavioral neuroscience.
This week in my psychology class, however, we've been discussing health and wellness. We talked about the effects of stress and some ways that we can lower stress levels. One way: sleep. My professor reminded us to prioritize sleep, but she also reminded us that it's sometimes OK to put fun, social activities ahead of work, because those are the things that we'll remember in 20 years.
On Saturday, I decided to follow this advice. I had an overwhelming amount of work to do this weekend, but I told myself that I was only allowed to work on Friday and Sunday. Saturday, I would leave to myself. It was during this day of relaxing that my friends and I attended a "Destress Fest," an event developed and run by my floor governor, Sarah, and her friend, Brenna. There was ornament-making, cookie decorating and a Gak station. Yes, Gak; apparently, a strange rubbery concoction that helps your mind wander and spark creativity. And, of course, there was also food.
I, personally, did not make any Gak, but I did try my hand at ornament-making and cookie decorating. My ornament was a bit of a disaster, but my cookies were pretty awesome. I made a sunset cookie and a cookie that looked like Earth, which I'd like to think was to scale. My years of art classes served me well.
After the Destress Fest, I hung out with friends and took a breather from the stress of school. On Sunday, I still managed to finish all of my work, which served as a good reminder that a break once in a while is always a good idea.
On Wednesday, I drove more than two hours to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., for a four-day student conference entitled, "The Politics and Policy of Crisis Management." Connecticut College sends two students every year, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the conference this year. We spent each day discussing policy with students from across the globe and West Point cadets, ambassadors and policymakers.
My group focused on coups and constitutions in the developing world, and we made policy recommendations based on our predictions. For our nights at the conference, we stayed in the barracks with cadet hosts and started our days at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of Taps. We ate nearly every meal in the mess hall and learned about the various rules each cadet has to abide by. For instance, freshmen, or "Plebes" as they're called, are not allowed to talk when outside, must hold their hands in tight fists when walking and, when eating, must stare only at the top rim of their plates.
Learning about cadet life and acting as real policymakers was incredible. Working with such a diverse group of students from around the world — one student in my group took part in the protests in Egypt during the Arab Spring — gave each of us new and valuable perspectives to bring back to our home campuses.
TEDxConnecticutCollege, a student-run organization, organized the first TED Youth Event on Saturday. As a precursor to the main TEDxConnecticutCollege, local middle-schoolers were invited to give a presentation on the theme "Worlds Imagined." Some took on the role of technology in our lives and the detrimental effect it can have, while others discussed the continuing problem of racism and discrimination present even in a middle school setting. Having given my own presentation at last year's TEDxConnecticutCollege, I loved seeing younger speakers taking on the same challenge I did, asking themselves how best to convey a message in a creative and entertaining medium. After the conference, the kids took part in activities and workshops supervised by the TEDx staff. There were tables full of Rubik's Cubes and plenty of paper available for painting and drawing.
The College's Physics Department is home to one of the largest telescopes in New England, a state-of-the-art wave fume and a one million-volt particle (ion) accelerator. It's one of just four at undergraduate schools in the United States. We have many science resources at Conn, but the accelerator is the one thing that most are unaware of.
Students who study physics, geophysics and chemistry, however, know the particle accelerator well. The machine is currently processing a program called PIXIE. It analyzes the chemical composition of objects without having to use traditional chemistry techniques that could damage or destroy artifacts. By firing a beam of protons at an object, the resulting X-rays are analyzed to decipher the exact chemical composition of an object.
At Conn, PIXIE is helping professors and students study historical Native American trade routes from the New London region. By analyzing the chemical composition of historic clay pots discovered nearby, my classmates have been able to track where these clay pots were made by comparing them to mud samples. On Mamacoke Island, part of the College campus, classmates have uncovered large collections of clay pots, preserved by time. Of the many that originated on the island, some were found to have originated in Hartford and Long Island. By using PIXIE, we have found concrete evidence of intertribal trade between Native Americans in Connecticut. So far, more than two research papers have been published in scientific journals as a result of PIXIE, both written by undergraduate science students at Conn.
One of the hardships of coming to a college so far away from home (I'm from Pakistan) is the strange limbo I find myself in during holiday time. I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hannukah, and I knew my peers wouldn't really celebrate Eid or Diwali, which is the Indian festival of lights.
Well, I was wrong.
This year, ATLAS, the international student organization, organdies a Diwali celebration in The Pink House, which is home to the Gender and Women's Studies Department. Religious studies professor Dean Accardi explained the festival and ATLAS provided Indian food for everyone to enjoy — some of which was home-cooked, the rest ordered from a nearby restaurant in Groton. I ran into the most unlikely professors there: from Sunil Bhatia in human development, to Priya Kohli from mathematics (whom I had never met), to Blanche Boyd, my fiction teacher this semester. The event seemed truly familial. The students argued loudly — in Hindi and Urdu and Punjabi and English — on who had to serve the food, who could lounge around and who got cleaning duty. It was a truly south Asian experience, with multi-linguality, camaraderie and a good amount of fun bickering.
On Nov. 11, 2014, outside Harris Refectory, the Connecticut College Chamber Choir and Orchestra gave the community an unexpected treat. Passersby were invited to try their hand at conducting the Hallelujah Chorus, a preview for the choir and orchestra's concert that weekend.
Video edited by Dana Sorkin '16