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.
November 9, 2013
This week, I attended a dinner with author Julia Alvarez, which brings my count of famous-authors-I’ve-met-in-the-past-month up to two.
...That’s pretty darn impressive.
Julia Alvarez is a renowned Latina writer who was speaking at Connecticut College on the topic of sustainability. I have read one of her books and seen a movie adaption of another. She also embodies the type of writer I hope to be, so having a chance to eat dinner with her was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
Upon meeting her, I found out how fun, tenacious and humorous she really is. During dinner, she regaled us with stories about her two years at Conn and her father’s strictness concerning boys. She told us how her father would visit early on Sunday mornings, “so you know, we couldn’t do much the night before…” leaving us giggling to ourselves.
She was intrigued about the sustainability programs we have on campus today, especially the Sustainability Representatives Program that I’m part of. She was interested in the diversity representatives we have in every house and declared that she’d have to talk to people at Middlebury (where she is a writer-in-residence) about implementing a similar program.
I came away from this dinner knowing more about Julia Alvarez, the person, instead of Julia Alvarez, the writer, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
November 8, 2013
Last year when I arrived at Connecticut College, I lived in Burdick House, the “quiet house” on campus. Throughout the year I lived there with my closest friend, we were somewhat loud ourselves. I guess it was just too quiet for me. No one on our floor made much noise though. I love to listen to loud music and that isn’t allowed in Burdick. When choosing my room for sophomore year, I wanted to move somewhere else on campus so I chose to live in Hamilton House.
In this dorm, I can’t be as loud as I want all the time, but I have fewer restrictions depending on the time of day. I bought some new speakers, and I love love love to play them loudly. A lot of people on my floor have often said that they have “mini dance parties” when they pass my room, which is really cool.
This week, however, I found myself studying for the one thing that turns me white in the face: an organic chemistry test.
It’s really convenient to have a single room, because there’s no one else to bother you. That doesn’t mean, however, the entire floor is quiet. While studying for this test, I found myself noticing my neighbors' music, people having small gatherings, and even a quick game of ball-bouncing in the hallway. In short, I was going insane. It’s really cool to live in a quiet house sometimes, but at other times… not so much. Now that the tables have been turned, I’ve realized that studying can be a little bit rougher. No matter though, because after this test the volume is going on max, and I’m going to fist-pump in my room to my favorite songs.
Editor’s note: All houses set hours at which noise should be kept at a minimum. Residents are expected, at all times, to be courteous and must ensure that their noise does not disturb the studies or sleep of their neighbors.
November 8, 2013
Every student and faculty member seems to find the Halloween spirit, and this year was no exception. It's a favorite holiday for Kurt Reinmund '15, and in this video, he shares a glimpse into this year's celebrations.
November 7, 2013
At Conn, every new first-year student enrolls in a first-year seminar. I am taking a very interesting course on culture and human development, but I find myself doing the work of two classes.
My best friend is in a seminar about feminism and, although I’m not enrolled, I love it. I do the homework for my class and then, for fun, I do the homework for her course. I get the experience of two different seminars just by doing the readings and analyzing them with the assigned questions. How did this all start, you ask? Let me explain...
After doing her own homework one day, my friend asked me my thoughts on something she and classmates had read. She and I ended up having a very long discussion about feminism and how it relates to us on a personal level. This made me even more curious and I began to read the books she was assigned for class. Now, I think I might be more excited about her coursework than she is. My interest in this class even led me to attend a lecture and performance by Sabrina Chap, an author being studied by the class. Anyone who has read Chap’s “Live Through This” can attest to how amazing the compilation of stories about self-destruction is.
Call it a little weird, but I consider myself to be in two first-year seminars … and it is awesome.
November 6, 2013
This past summer, I ran while in France, nannying for a family. I’d dash out before the seven-year-old woke up, taking narrow dirt roads to the 17th-century castle at the top of the village, passing the lines of people waiting outside boulangeries for their pain chocolat, glimpsing vineyards, farms and tree nurseries. Training wasn’t always so picturesque: The family’s guests would gawk as I did grapevines and exercises in the yard, the boy would jump on my back as I did push-ups and the family’s bear-dogs would paw at my legs as I switched to sit-ups. In spite of my spotty summer training and complete inexperience running cross-country, I decided to give it a go at Conn.
10 reasons why I’m thrilled I did:
- Coach Bishop
He’s constantly cracking jokes, calling out “hit it” when we begin speed workouts, all the while creating a positive and productive athletic experience.
- Pasta dinner at Coach Bishop’s mom’s house
Coach Bishop’s mother kindly opens up her home to us the evening of our first race of the season. Seniors take charge of a pasta and salad dinner and she provides the scrumptious desserts.
- Beautiful running routes
Sunlit foliage on forest trails, prayer flags on Mamacoke Island, sunsets over the beach at Bluff Point, glistening creeks on the Airline Trails...
- Voyages to meets
Meets occur in Maine, Indiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut. We occasionally stay in hotels but consistently enjoy academic, social, and scenic bus rides and a change of scenery.
- Our home course
No course beats our own. The course at Harkness State Park follows the ocean, surrounds gardens and passes a mansion.
During the first week of practice, while out on our long runs, conversation topics run wild. Everything is discussed: the joys of traveling and making international friends, parenting concerns, psychological disorders, favorite recipes, racism in the U.S. and occasionally some taboo thoughts. These girls keep it real.
- Pool workouts
We duel water polo matches and compete in swim relays. The winning team receives prizes (team gear!)
- Improved focus
The mental outlet at the end (and sometimes beginnings) of each day rejuvenates me and helps me return to my studies with renewed interest and energy. Not to mention that exercising helps those time-management skills...
- Morning workouts
There’s nothing like catching the sun rise while running, lifting weights and eating a hearty breakfast… all before 8 a.m.
Sometimes we leave campus before 8 a.m. for meets, but the thrill of race day is worth it. I recite our cheer to motivate myself while racing: “C-A-M-E-L. We’re the camels, run like hell. Ahh CC!”