November 18, 2013
Last Sunday night, I left my appointment in the Writing Center at 10:30 p.m. with hours worth of revisions left to make on an English paper due the next day. Nevertheless, I was thrilled. Inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” I just had a conversation with the student writing tutor about the similarities between art and people and the value in treating art like a human beings. Fortunately, conversation in non-academic settings (such as Knowlton Dining Hall) is equally as fresh, real and juicy. In non-foodie terms, the conversation is equally as courageous.
“Courage” stems from the word coeur meaning heart in French. In her TED talk, sociologist Brené Brown defines courage as the act of telling one’s story with one’s whole heart. My friends at Conn embody courage. They make themselves vulnerable by spilling their stories, even the shameful chapters. By sharing our whole selves with each other — the good and bad alike — we connect authentically.
November 17, 2013
I can’t really explain the experience in such a short post, but I’m going to try. Last weekend I went to Harvard University. No, I’m not going to transfer, in fact I’ve realized I actually like where I am even more after this day. I was invited by the V-Day Organization, along with Alia Roth ‘14 and other members who worked on the V-Day: 100 Men Rising project, to the “Speak Up and Take Rape Culture Down” conference.
To openly speak about difficult issues in a room full of people that actually, professionally understand the topic was a very different experience from what I normally encounter.
Often, the point of the conversation is to carefully and calmly educate and inform on a surface level. At this conference, we moved past the basics, diving into more complicated models, examples and stories.
After listening to speakers like Jaclyn Friedman (who has an amazing story of her own,) we had lunch and prepared ourselves for the upcoming workshops. Our whole team was to attend the V-Day session which would feature the the Connecticut College contingent as presenters! Afterward, we would break up and attend different workshops.
In the V-Day session, Alia and others spoke about the 100-men rising video project and the “1 Billion Rising for Justice” campaign in which countries around the world will make video submissions on their promise that 1 billion will rise to end violence against women.
After all our workshops, we all came together and a microphone was passed around to share reflections on the day. As nervous as I was, I spoke. I spoke about the day, my experiences, my hopes, what I felt, how I wanted things to change, what made me happy and what I’d learned that I would bring back to Conn. My heart almost jumped out of my chest by the time I was done and I felt like I had just run a marathon.
The day was spectacular. It brought things into perspective for me and reminded me that, yes, there is a long way to go in the world, but that we as a college are really very far ahead when it comes to activism. We often forget that. I’m glad I have the peers that I do... they bring about amazing opportunities for all of us, and this year on February 14th, 1 billion will rise for justice.
November 15, 2013
Sustainability at Connecticut College is much more than "going green." It's part of the academics, the student organizations and the big-picture mentality on campus and I got to talk with students who are leading the charge.
November 15, 2013
In elementary and middle school, Halloween meant dressing up and trick-or-treating with friends. In high school, it meant passing out candy to our neighbors’ children. At Conn—at least, in Knowlton House—Halloween means an evening with friends.
On Halloween, Knowlton raises money by transforming into a haunted house. This year, a concoction of black trash bags, caution tape, skulls, red paint, sheets, prosthetic legs, mattresses, black lights, neon paint and Jell-o did the trick. That, along with a dedicated team of Knowlton Knights.
Mayra and Kevin, our fearless house leaders, summoned us for costumes and makeup long before tours began. While other students hopped into their cute bunny and cat costumes, dabbing a few whiskers on their cheeks, we swathed our bodies with “bloodied” sheets among other garments and slathered red and black paint on our faces. Having nannied in France over the summer, I took on the persona of a mad (folle) French maid.
My role consisted of lying across the table in the conference room while Alicia—playing my revenge-ravenous roommate—“devoured my guts.” (That’s where the Jell-o came in.) When Mayra led the tour groups into our room, I pretended to shriek in pain, thus urging the group towards their next fearful destination. With the last group member out of sight, Alicia and resumed our chit-chat only to repeat our act at the sound of Mayra’s horn.
I doubt I will ever again participate in a fundraising campaign as creative or fun ever again. Then again, there’s always next year.
November 14, 2013
Recently, I joined an improvisation group and it’s been an amazing experience. The games we play and the conversations we have are truly uplifting. Being able to open my mind and just say what first comes out - while also incorporating comedy - has to be one of the best things I’ve done so far at college. It relieves stress, too. No matter how long the day or how stressed I am, I always look forward to meeting with the group to do some improv. I’m part of a group that’s willing to help me improve my improv, no pun intended.
Speaking of improving, we just gave our first show last week following many weeks of preparation. I was really nervous, but the auditorium was packed with friends I knew. After the show, we got an amazing round of applause and raving reviews from everyone... It was an adrenaline rush throughout the entire show. Overall, improv has been a stress relieving experience that I’m so happy I spontaneously auditioned for at the beginning of my sophomore year.
November 13, 2013
In the past, I’ve never referred to myself as a feminist. I certainty act like one, and I’m all about the empowerment of women, but I’ve never used the term “feminist” to describe myself.
This is mostly because I didn’t have an exact definition and didn’t want to get into arguments when I didn’t have firm reasons to back up my claims.
But now I do.
I recently discovered the kind of women I wanted to emulate while I was writing a paper for my English class. As we read Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid, we looked at the book through a feminist lens. When it came time to write the paper, however, I did not want to write about how the book was feminist, but instead how just one of the characters was.
While describing the feminist character, I realized that I wanted to be just like her. The character, Lucy, does not care about social norms and how a woman “should” act. Instead, she understands that women don’t need to be on one side or the other: they can act girly and romantic yet at the same time be strong and independent.
Even though I usually already act like this, figuring it out and finally putting it in words was a moment of self-definition for me.
November 12, 2013
In the context of human development, a few questions arise. What impact did his/her culture have? How did this affect his/her experiences? These are a few topics that are often discussed in my first-year seminar. We analyze cultures and how people develop as a result of them. To create a more enriching lesson, our professor assigned an oral history project: each student was to cover a different region in the world, and, essentially, capture an immigrant experience. With people from all over the world coming to the United States everyday, learning about their now-bicultural experience would add a new layer to our analysis.
I interviewed a student who I now consider to be a close friend. The act of interviewing led me to a lot of self-reflection. As she told me about her family's journey from Colombia, I saw a different side of her. There was so much pride in her tone, in her story. I was able to learn about her perspective as someone who grew up in two different cultures. After the interview, I started to analyze my own family's history. Where was my deeply rooted pride? Why didn't I have the same bicultural perspective and sense of understanding?
College is where many people say that they discover a lot about themselves. They become more interested in the history behind who they are. They wonder more about what this history means to them and how it has impacted who they have become. These questions we are asked in class are the same questions we ask ourselves throughout our lives. We find the things that make us happy, the things we really enjoy doing, but only after we have found many things we don't like. Every new experience becomes a way to explore and figure out more of where we would like to go in life. If people say they do a lot of this soul searching and finding in college, then I have one question: At the end of all of this, what will I say was my college experience?
November 10, 2013
Spencer Francus '14 handing out pamphlets at the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht event in Evans Hall. Kristallnacht literally means "night of broken glass." It comes from the shards of broken glass from Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues following attacks throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938. Spencer, like many other students on campus, is an active member of Hillel, the Jewish community here at Connecticut College.
November 10, 2013
This week, we talked about hate crime culture in my deviance class. I’m not going to go in details about the topic, however, because I found something else in the class to be important. The conversation, on its surface, was about hate crimes based specifically on sexuality, ethnicity and religious affairs. As the discussion continued, there was an awkward silence after the professor would ask the class for their thoughts. I am a LGBTQ student of color, and I found myself speaking out a lot more than I expected on the topic of hate crimes. I didn’t mind at all.
What piqued my interest was the realization that some students thought (or at least I assume they thought) I would be uncomfortable talking about these matters. I enjoy being able to be the first person to speak up on many issues, providing a highway for other students to travel, leading to interesting and engaging class discussions.
Overall, these are just classroom discussions about problems found around the world. Often, a class will be faced with an awkward silence that some students don’t want to break. After this class, I know there is definitely a reason for people to feel uncomfortable, and I’m just satisfied with the fact that this discomfort is not concrete. You can make people feel comfortable by opening up. When you’re willing to discuss topics openly, even ones that may pertain to you personally, you become even more interested in what your classmates have to say.
November 9, 2013
This is Niles. I got him at a Connecticut College men’s water polo game.
How? The coach tossed him up into the stands for anyone to have. He’s only one of many free items I’ve gotten at sporting events, including a t-shirt and sweatshirt.
This is a really good incentive to go to water polo games.
I’ve noticed this happens with a lot of sports teams.
My track coach, for example,often draws rewards from “the prize box” for trivia night winners, or for those who get the highest score in bowling, a team activity during the season. Last year, my friend was the bowling tournament champion and got a Connecticut College Camels track & field t-shirt from a few years ago. The surplus swag sometimes piles up and it’s a win-win.