May 19, 2014
The year has now ended, but those last few weeks are arguably the most busy moments of the entire school year. With finals looming, deadlines for next year’s leadership positions arriving and beloved friends preparing for graduating, the last weeks of the year beg great balancing acts. Though I am no acrobat, I have found a way to keep my sanity: by singing.
Before the semester ended, I reflected on how important singing has been for me during this entire year:
I sing on Mondays and Thursdays in Chamber Choir. We begin our rehearsals with massage trains (very relaxing) and warm-ups. Then we sing. Whether classical or modern, the music relaxes and rejuvenates me. For example, when the choir sings “Ubi Caritas,” a beautiful Gregorian chant, in Harkness Chapel, I can’t help but feel at peace. The livelier song “Wanting Memories,” also helps me let loose. Accompanied by African drums, we move to the beat while singing. Last Sunday, we showcased our talents at our Spring Choral Concert, “Vive l’Amour”. Before we performed, Professor Moy, our choir director, compared singing in a concert to taking the SATs: at a certain point you have to stop practicing, trust yourself and go for it. We went for it and the audience loved it.
On Tuesdays, I enjoyed singing individually. This year, I took voice lessons with the amazing Jurate Svedaite-Waller. Voice lessons are free at Conn for students. I am happy I’ve taken this opportunity because Jurate has revolutionized the way I think about singing. Just like running, singing is a sport. One must exercise muscles throughout the body to produce a beautiful sound. Similarly to running, singing helps me relax and enjoy the moment.
May 16, 2014
As we come to the end of this amazing year, many of my graduating friends are preparing their theses and final projects, showing the campus what they’ve put so much hard work into all year long. I have seen quite a few projects in the sciences and in the arts.
Although the chemistry department seminar series usually features visiting faculty or professionals from other colleges and businesses, the final event of the year featured our very own students presenting their research. It was quite interesting to finally find out what my senior tutors do in their off-time, when they’re not helping me learn the ins and outs of chemistry. I’m excited to see myself in their shoes, completing research with a faculty member, when I am a senior.
On the completely other side of the academic spectrum, I also attended a senior capstone project in our very own Tansill blackbox theater. I’m not normally one to dabble in theater, but last Friday night I heard that a friend’s senior, independent project was being performed, so I gave it a shot. I can honestly say it was time well spent. The performer, my friend Jacob Rosenbaum ‘14, performed the entire 45 minute play, “Barely Naked,” entirely by himself. He humbly graced the stage every moment of the show. By integrating dance, theatre, vocals, and witty humor, Jacob captured my mind with this theatrical story.
Between science and theater, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see what my friends have been up to all year. It’s amazing to witness their hard work come to life.
May 14, 2014
The heavier my workload, the earlier I wake up. In the midst of finals, I wake up around 6:30 a.m. Others are up early in the dorm, too, some exersizing to work out videos, others already studying or meeting with classmates. I find myself often studying in the same, cozy corner of Knowlton, at the end of the corridor near Knowlton Dining Hall. Because the dining hall only opens for lunch, I can count on the hallway to be quiet.
Last time I studied there, a wonderful member of the kitchen staff noticed me, still in my PJs, sprawled out on the ground with my books. When she approached me, I expected her to ask me to move since I might be obstructing the hallway. To my pleasant surprise, however, she offered me tea and coffee. She even opened the dining hall to me and invited me to eat some breakfast. When I entered the dining hall, a wave of calmness rushed over me. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the normally bustling room. I sat at the Russian language table even though I speak French just because I could. After eating, I slowly sipped my coffee while reading “The Turn of the Screw” until the time came to head, with renewed calmness, to class. It was a gentle, caring staff member from the dining hall who made all the difference that day.
May 12, 2014
When I came to Conn, I didn’t know what to expect at Relay for Life. Here, it’s an event spearheaded by students, but open to faculty, staff and the New London community. In fact, many of the walkers are teams from New London.
I have participated in Relay for Life for the past three years and, although I was away at college for the first time, I continued walking with the same mission. I walked for my grandpa, my friend’s mom, for those I don’t know personally, for those who survived and for those who did not.
It's more than just walking; our Relay has dance workshops and live music to keep people upbeat and energized and snacks to keep us fed. My favorite concessions included Chipotle and Girl Scout Cookies. The local food trucks also made appearances.
To see so many people walking was wonderful. This was my first Relay experience at Conn and I really enjoyed it. I'll be back at it next year, too.
May 9, 2014
Floralia, our spring festival, kicked off a day earlier than usual with a 5K color run last Friday afternoon. My friends and I threw on our white T-shirts and met at the back of Cro, the student center. We joined a giddy, lively crowd as music pumped-up the runners. Clouds of colored chalk powder already floated through the air as we dipped our hands into buckets and threw globs of it at each other.
Moments later, the race began and we were off on a course that took us all around campus, even to places I hadn’t known existed. (As we looped around the Lyman Allyn Museum, on the south end of our campus, I realized there was a stone mushroom garden. Who knew?!) As we ran past different intersections on campus, members of campus organizations, including Student Health Services, the Think S.A.F.E. Project, Student Activities Council and others, threw colored powder at us. We blindly ran through the clouds of color, which added to the thrill of the run.
My friends and I were having so much fun that, before the run had even ended, we talked about our plans to do it again. We had to pause our conversation, however, when we encountered obstacles such as low-crawl nets, hurdles, and a stone wall. Though the quirky, unexpected obstacles bore no resemblance of my usual 5Ks from the cross-country season, the hills certainly did. My friends and I agreed that the color run would beat a cross-country race any day. There’s just no competing with color.
May 7, 2014
This past weekend was the track team’s annual home meet. Each year, we host one meet -- The Silfen Invitational -- and it’s always a big day. For once, we don’t have to wake up early and take a bus somewhere. Instead, eight other colleges travel to New London! By having the meet at home, it’s an opportunity for our families and friends to see us compete and support our team.
I had more family at this week’s meet than I would have ever expected. Since the Invitational coincided with Easter, my Philadelphia-based family was visiting and they were able to spend time in New London cheering me on. One of my cousins had never been to a meet before, so it was a great experience for her.
I just loved that my family could see me pole vaulting, doing something that I love. Best of all, they got to see Camels win!
May 7, 2014
Eclipse is one of the longest-running student-produced events at Connecticut College. For over 40 years, students have been coming together to showcase their talents as a means of raising cultural awareness. This year, Eclipse returned to its roots by taking place over the course of an entire weekend. As a new student on campus, being a part of something so historic was empowering and felt quite amazing. I have quickly found myself helping to pull off a spectacular weekend.
Thursday: the cast dinner
On the Thursday leading up to the big weekend, the entire Eclipse cast took over Harris, our main dining hall. The tables in the dining hall were covered with information and music filled the room and set an upbeat mood. Yes, there was even a flash mob which was surely my favorite part of the dinner. I was tasked with controlling the music. When you have a full dining hall and you are the one who cuts the music playing to change the song, everyone notices you. They also notice when you fall off of your chair trying to find the right track. As an Eclipse member, I certainly felt ready for what the weekend had in store.
Friday: the fashion show
For the first time in many years, a fashion show was reintroduced to the Eclipse program. Although 120 seats were set up, almost 200 people attended. They cheered for the models who -- let me tell you -- looked better than the models from New York Fashion Week. Clothes were made, donated and borrowed for this show and all of the collections were flawless. The fashion show also included the Kporma Collection, a cause that works to better educational options in rural Liberia. From our one event, Kporma representatives raised enough money to start building schools.
May 5, 2014
Napkin Notes at Conn are a unique way for students to let know how they're feeling about the food. Almost every note gets a response from the staff. While Dining Services can't always accommodate everything, like my friend's request to have our famous chocolate chip cookies at every meal, but the staff is usually able to find a way to make sure the majority of the requests are met.
May 5, 2014
Being able to engage in conversations with other students about critical worldly topics is something that I have learned to appreciate here at Conn. I am a student who has educated himself since freshman year about domestic violence and sexual assault awareness through training offered here at the College. It has been an eye-opening experience that I’ve been able to share with my peers through dinners, outings on the greens and just conversation in passing. This week I added even more training to my skillset, in part because April is sexual assault activism awareness month.
I completed training for the 10x10 program, by Safe Futures, a New London-based program that works with the community on sexual assault education. The training helped me start conversations with other men about activism and gave me the courage to act in situations where it can be tough to speak up. Programs brought to the College, like 10x10, also create safe spaces for learning about difficult issues from various perspectives. Ultimately, by having access to these moments of activism, I find opportunities to give others the same courage I now have.
May 2, 2014
Kurt Reinmund, a videographer for the ConnCollegeLive Experience, is currently spending this semester abroad. He is studying at the CET Film Production program and producing a movie through the FAMU film school in Prague. Kurt took a moment to write about his experiences away from campus.
“Dobrý den. Jsem Kurt. Promi?te, nemluvím ?esky.” In case you do not speak Czech, I just said, “Hello. I am Kurt. Sorry, I do not speak Czech.” After living in Prague, Czech Republic for the past three months and taking Czech language classes twice a week since my arrival here, I’m embarrassed to admit that those three sentences are the extent of my Czech speaking abilities. I did not come to Prague to learn a language that only 10 million people speak; I came here to make a film.
As a film studies major with a concentration in production, I knew I wanted an abroad program that allowed me to make film. It turns out, making a film in a foreign country whose language I don’t speak is extremely difficult and often times awkward. My film is titled Jirí, and the actors and crew in my film spoke about as much English as I speak Czech. Luckily, I’m a master of the “point-and-grunt” technique when trying to tell Czech people what I want, so I found a way around the severe language disparity. For example, if I point and grunt at the couch while making eye contact with an actor, that means I want him or her to walk to that couch. The “point-and-grunt” technique is universal; Francis Ford Coppola used it when filming Apocalypse Now.
I have not spent all of my time relentlessly working on my film; between my numerous meetings with very important film people, I have found some time to explore the city in which I live. Upon first arriving in Prague, I noticed that no building, church, park bench, traffic sign, nor playground was safe from the copious amounts of graffiti that plagued this once-Communist city. But as the weeks flew by, I realized that the graffiti is what makes this city so delightfully unique. While some people may see the graffiti as vandalism, I choose to believe that the graffiti serves as a rebellious reminder to the Czechs that they are no longer under Communist rule. While this belief may just be one of my pretentious theories, there must be some reason why the city does not clean up the graffiti, and I do not think it is out of laziness.
I only have a few weeks left here in Prague before I return to the States, and I must say that I am going to miss this city. Prague may be a permanently overcast city with people who never smile, but there is an irrefutable energy here unlike any I have ever seen. Founded in 1993, Czech Republic is still a new country. I know I’ve only lived here a few months, but I can tell that the Czech Republic has a very bright future ahead of it. I’m just glad I was able to capture its culture on film.
Kurt poses with his star actor, Miroslav Hrabé