A new perspective

October 25, 2013 | The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

I check my mailbox twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Usually, I'm most excited to receive a package, but receiving an invitation to a luncheon was even better. The invitation was from the Connecticut College Alumni of Color group and the Trustees of Color, for students of color to network with alumni of color. As a student, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to learn something about previous members of our campus community and how their experiences could positively influence mine.

Of the many things I learned from the alumni in attendance, one thing really stood out. Everyone tells you to get good grades while having a social life. This time, the entire Connecticut College experience was stressed. Taking advantage of every resource and being involved on campus really makes a difference. It is very easy to be the student who goes to class, does their homework and hangs out with a few friends on the weekend. To be the student who, at the end of the day, experiences the college, requires effort. Conn has so much to offer its students.

I was encouraged to find something I'm passionate about and stick with it. Doing everything on campus is one way to experience the college, but another is make your own unique path. Find what you enjoy and take it where no one has before. It's all possible, you just need to make it happen.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Alumni  |  The Experience, Career & Internships  |  The Experience, On Campus

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What makes a strong liberal arts education

October 25, 2013 | The Experience, Oliver Ames '17

I recently worked on an essay for a theater class questioning what makes a strong liberal arts education. This really made me think about the history of the liberal arts and where we are today.

The liberal arts came from classical antiquity and was considered to be the education any informed and responsible citizen must have. In the fifth century, there were seven basic areas of study: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. These areas connected with each other and provided a student with advanced critical thinking skills as well as a broad understanding of society. Today, these values haven’t really changed although the topics covered have been renamed.

In 2013, what makes a strong liberal arts education? To me, it’s an education that challenges our preconceived notions and educates us as to the complexities of our world, all while pushing us into new social situations.

Not surprisingly then, I think a lot of what makes a strong liberal arts education can be boiled down to one word: stress. Your mind is stressed in class, your body is stressed in athletics, and your identity is stressed as you go through social situations. Having to study so many areas, many of which may not be your calling, is very stressful.

You should be pushed to your limits and you should be allowed to fall so that you learn to get back up; only then can a strong liberal arts education truly teach us how to navigate the complex world we live in today. This is the way engineers build bridges and rockets and the way scientists test theories.

After all, if there was ever a time to think about who you are, what you want and where you will go, such a time is in college. Not only are classes supposed to teach you life skills, but the simple act of being social in a college situation, especially one where there is such a diverse spread of ideas, helps define who you are.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Academics

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The funniest/greatest college talk I’d ever been to

October 23, 2013 | The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

On October 15, I was seated in Evans Hall waiting to hear from one of my favorite writers. As soon as someone mentioned in my English class, weeks earlier, that David Sedaris might be coming to Connecticut College, I immediately began getting fan-girl-excited and geeked out a little about his arrival.

What transpired in Evans Hall can only described as “hilarious.” David Sedaris opened with a never-before-read story about being an unpopular thirteen-year-old who would do anything to get out of gym class. Sedaris also read from his new book, "Let’s Talk About Diabetes With Owls," including an essay in which he describes the characters he meets while waiting in a standby line at the airport.

At the end of the night, I waited in line to get two books signed. (Students were still in line at 11 p.m., as Sedaris is notorious for waiting patiently until each person has been greeted.) This was one of the most amazing opportunities the College has given me.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Wake up and smell the coffee

October 23, 2013 | The Experience, CJ Robinson '16

I hated open house in high school. Mom always had to come with me to all the classes I really didn’t want her at, and it was super boring. All I can think of is disgusting stale cookies, and cold coffee. Things have changed… at Connecticut College’s open house this year, I was chosen by the admission office to give an opening address.

So I sat down and wrote my speech, corrected the grammar, and asked my best friend to read it a couple times before I sent it back to the admission office. After a short time, I got a very calm reply from them asking for me to come in and talk about my speech. I had a very eye-opening conversation: “It wasn’t me,” they said. I had written a story that was out of my character, and had a lack of my personal charisma. I wasn’t surprised. I had lied to myself. They asked me a couple questions about my experiences to pick at my brain, and I began to talk. I spoke of love, laughter, happiness, all my friends, and the tears began to flow. I had written my speech in real time.

I didn’t immediately write what was the second, revised edition of my speech. I waited a while for the emotions to cool, and I began again, this time alone. I didn't ask my best friend to read it for me, but instead I read it to her. I had to trust myself that what I had written was my voice.

All weekend, I read my speech over and over to myself to draw out my tears, and make sure I didn’t cry on that stage. The last thing I wanted was pity from the crowd of parents and prospective students with whom I wanted to connect in a much deeper way.

By Monday morning I was ready to speak. I was very nervous leading up to the moment of performance, but I know it didn’t show during the speech. To get myself through it I just imagined no one was in the crowd. I just wanted to get on that stage and tell my Conn Coll story. I’m not perfect. I’m no superstar. I learned a lot about myself, how I deal with my emotions, but most importantly, I learned that open house now means something else to me; even if the cookies aren't great.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, On Campus

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Between Old Saybrook and New London

October 18, 2013 | The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

As someone who does not mind travel, (and as someone who likes seeing her family,) I find myself on the Northeast Regional trains between Connecticut College and Philadelphia quite a lot. It’s only for breaks, but we have four in total, which equals two four-hour trips four times a year… or 32 hours on the train every school year.

While on these train rides, you often meet people and make small connections with them. My most recent trip was on Sunday, October 13. After an ungodly 45-minute delay at Penn station, the train began to move again and, as I started working on some Italian homework, a young couple sat down across from me.

The couple and I didn’t really interact besides an occasional eye roll at each other when the train lights flickered on and off.  Only when we had left Old Saybrook, the stop before New London and Conn, did I talk to the couple. They were talking amongst themselves about where they were and how far through Connecticut the train was. I politely told them we had left Old Saybrook and were headed to New London.

We began chatting, and after establishing that I was a sophomore at Conn, the man and I realized we were both from Philadelphia and knew each other’s neighborhoods. At this point he gave me a fist bump and declared: “Any one from Philadelphia is alright by me,” which is such a Philly thing to do: anyone from our city is automatically cool.

It’s a treat to meet someone from your hometown; it makes the train rides a little less lonely, even if it was only the twenty-minute bit between Old Saybrook and New London.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Miscellaneous

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Fall Break in real time

October 18, 2013 | The Experience, CJ Robinson '16

Oh fall break, how we were excited when you arrived. I have waited for the day when we would have our first break from classes, a break also from society. Classes can really take it out of you. Fall break, from Wednesday evening through Sunday, was amazing to say the least. It’s the time when people have some serious life changes.

The number one question on Monday is definitely “So how was fall break?” Some went apple picking, got haircuts, visited family, dentist appointments, traveled, held Netflix marathons and indulged in fast food.

Of course, not everyone can do life-changing things over fall break. Like me: I  just sat around with my best friend, ordered food, and let fall break go by without a care in the world. That is why we love fall break so much in the first place, right?

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Tags:  |  The Experience, Miscellaneous

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Rugby

October 14, 2013 | The Experience, Miguel Salcedo '14

This is a Rugby game that I attended during fall break. Rugby is a club sport on campus, but the team practices and treats the sport as a varsity team. Similarly, rugby is the only club sport that stays on campus during Fall Break along with the rest of the varsity sports teams. About 95% of the team had never touched a rugby ball before playing for Conn College. With great coaching and mentoring from experienced players, the rookies catch on pretty quickly to a sport that was foreign to them months before.


Tags:   |  The Experience, Athletics  |  The Experience, Clubs & Orgs  |  The Experience, On Campus

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10 perks of joining the Knowlton knighthood

October 14, 2013 | The Experience, Alexis Cheney '16

Though I transferred to Conn a mere month and a half ago, it already feels as comfortable as home thanks to the royal wonders of Knowlton House.

1. Community
Running upstairs and knocking on Joanna’s door for that much-needed dose of chitchat and chick-flicks (most recently, "27 Dresses"), gabbing with Peruvian Gabby (in between brushing teeth) at 7 a.m. about our intended morning workouts, and cooking crepes in Knowlton’s pantry to prep for French Club with club co-head and floor neighbor, Emily.

2. Lunch
Personal faves include the baked mac n’ cheese and pork dumplings. Not to mention those chocolate chip toffee Heath bars... Mmm...

3. Language Lunch Tables
Gotta love discussing French popular films and joking about the stereotypes of northern Frenchmen with Professeur Chalmin. En francais of course!

4. Roommate Amanda (Jixuan)
A sister to come home to, though an ocean divides our hometowns.

5. Location: South Campus, on Temple Green
Classes a minute’s walk across the Green, delicious soup and artisanal bread in Freeman dining hall a few doors down, the start line of women’s cross country practice at the tree out the back door.

6. Architecture
A grand staircase fit for a cliché ballroom entrance, crowning bedroom ceilings, rich hardwood floors, a fireplace. Not surprisingly, Knowlton began life as the campus hotel for the (once all-female) students’ male suitors.

7. Traditions

Mustache Dinner
Perhaps honoring Knowlton’s historically male guests, Knowlton Knights attend a dinner sporting mustaches and fancy attire.

Halloween
Across the street from Gallows Lane, Knowlton conjures up its spirits to throw down a killer haunted house. For those easily spooked, pumpkin carving’s also a golden option as part of our Fright Night series.

8. The Piano
A trusty friend when the time comes to plunk out that music theory homework. A godsend when the lunch hour pianist (a talented and surprisingly consistent Conn student) lays his fingers on its ivory keys.

9. Juan
Juan saves the day with his cheery “good morning,” spotless cleaning, and spare set of room keys if one helplessly finds oneself locked out of one's room. Not that I have ever been locked out ;) ;)

10. Wit
Who won the Camelympics chant? KNOWL-TON! Who won? KNOWL-TON!  Frankly, who else?

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Tags:  |  The Experience, First Year Experience  |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Traditions

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Camelympics, where there’s an event for everyone

October 10, 2013 | The Experience, Marina Stuart '16

CAMELYMPICS: a dorm versus dorm competition that takes place every fall at Connecticut College. The events include soccer, Jenga, dodgeball, Bananagrams and quidditch, to name a few.

This year I was determined to represent my dorm, Windham, in at least one event. Luckily, my best friend also lives in my dorm so we decided that we would sign up together.

Our issue? I am an athlete; my best friend Natalie… is not. But amongst the many contests we found a happy medium and signed up for the photo-scavenger hunt.

When we arrived at the scavenger hunt meeting place in Cro, the student center, we were pleasantly surprised to see pairs of freshmen; as sophomores we thought we’d have a leg up in knowing where certain things were located. We immediately sprinted off to the health center to take our first picture.

The competition proved fierce as the scavenger hunt led us to four different dorms, searching for various Connecticut College memorabilia. In one dorm, we took a picture of a Floralia bottle, part of another Connecticut College tradition.

Other items to find and photograph included the unusual members of the College community, the loveable Larrabee cats. (A pair of cats who live outside Larrabee dorm.)

The hunt culminated with a picture of us wearing three protective items, and then we ran as hard as we could back to Cro. We were proud, but a little frustrated to find that we’d won third place.

We actually should have gotten first, but it’s okay, we’ll be back next year to win first once and for all.

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Tags:  |  The Experience, On Campus  |  The Experience, Traditions

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Gender binaries, cultural oppression and protests

October 10, 2013 | The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Unity House hosted a dinner discussion about how gender roles and stereotypes present themselves in the Latino culture. This dinner was one of many events to honor Latino Heritage Month, and as an attendee I was pretty excited to learn more about this culture that I knew very little about. The discussion started off by addressing intersectionalities of identity and how gender, race and socioeconomic status play an important part in how we, as Americans, view Latinos/Latinas.

America is a country rooted in binaries (black vs. white, rich vs. poor, able-bodied vs. disabled), which doesn't leave much room for those who do not easily fit a binary. Those who fit in multiple groups may experience identity in a more complex way. For example, when someone assumes that those with Latino/Latina heritage aren't educated because America is exceptional and Latin America is "backwards" in the context of a nation (the U.S.) where many women are intellectually oppressed, how does this affect women from Latin America?

Issues of class complicate this even more. The issue of an assumed lower socioeconomic status comes into play in a culture that prides itself on wealth. How do you address gender issues without discussing race and class issues? What becomes more relevant, culture or color? Does sexism/racism become a driving force for interactions and experiences?

I don't quite know what I was expecting when I engaged in this deep and powerful discussion, but as ideas were exchanged and opinions were shared, a student felt comfortable enough to share a story about how her culture impacted her experience in a classroom. This student shared a time when she felt a classroom was not a safe space, and we all felt like we were a part of her experience. Touching on stereotypes, oppression and gender inequalities, we all agreed that an injustice had been committed. After sharing possible solutions, the groundwork was placed for a student movement to create safer spaces on campus.

To me, this is one of the most beautiful things about Conn: The fact that we could all come together in support of one another's feelings and experiences to improve our community, shows our strength and compassion. A student protest was held several days later outside of Olin to commemorate a new movement. While I couldn't attend the protest, a fascinating discussion turned into something that the whole campus could learn from. Once Camels get going, there is no stopping them. 

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Tags:  |  The Experience, On Campus

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