The Experience, New London
June 18, 2014
At the beginning of June, I was one of 40 students who returned to campus for Reunion 2014. As student hosts, Sam Santiago ’17 and I had the pleasure of working with 15 ladies from the Class of 1959 who returned for their 55th reunion. (For historical reference, it would be another 10 years after these ladies graduated before Connecticut College would accept men.) Sam and I also served as hosts to a 100-year-old member of the Class of 1935 who returned to celebrate.
At Reunion, most returning alumni stay in the residence halls. For the weekend, the Class of 1959 called Wright dorm home. With cookies, the 1959 yearbook, posters of celebrities of the era and decorations, Sam and I transformed Wright’s common room into a “hospitality suite” fit for reminiscing. Our alumni called us “house mothers,” a dated reference to the young, female professors who used to live in the residence halls and tend to the students.
Highlights of the weekend included a “blue-book quiz” that tested the ladies’ memories of their college years and a class dinner at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum that featured a vocal performance by the talented Nancy Savin ’59.
Most of all, I simply enjoyed talking with the alumni, learning about their lives during and after college. An alumna named Gail described how each student used to take a required final examination in their area of study. If they failed it, even if they had a 4.0 GPA, they could not graduate! Gail also described how the number of people in a particular class used to diminish greatly, as women left to marry men from the Coast Guard Academy, Yale, Wesleyan and other schools.
Members of the Class of 1959 have a deep love for their alma mater. Despite the College’s changes and renovations over the years, the 55th reunion class kept saying that what never changed about Connecticut College is the truly wonderful people.
May 23, 2014
During finals, it's easy to spend hours and hours in your room or the library studying, writing papers and completing final projects. May is one of the most beautiful months at Conn, and it's nice to step outside, even for a little bit, and enjoy the warm weather and beautiful trees. Matteo and I took a break from studying to drive into New London and spending some time by the Thames River, visiting our favorite spots in town before we head out for the summer.
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.
April 2, 2014
One of the most valuable skills I’ve learned this year is how to organize: how to organize an event, how to organize people and how to manage down-to-the-detail. I was responsible for organizing a community service day for 50 volunteers. It’s a lot more complicated than you might think.
The community service day I organized was part of a class project within the College’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, and the 50 people were my teammates from the Conn College Track and Field team. The job? Clearing invasive species and brush from two preserves managed by Avalonia Land Conservancy in nearby Mystic, Conn.
For my Goodwin-Niering Center project, an academic center at Conn that focuses on the environment, I’m working to broaden Avalonia’s member base and get more young people involved with the organization. Since the track team does a community service project every year, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. Since the team is large, we decided to split up and spend two days working at two different preserves run by Avalonia, both in the Stonington area about 20 minutes north of campus. The most challenging part of organizing the whole event involved gathering the equipment we needed to clear the heavy brush. To do that, I reached out to the geology department and the Connecticut College Arboretum; who each kindly lent me clippers, loppers, shovels and gloves.
Both days were great successes. The activity also seemed to provide a fun break for the athletes. I loved being able to connect two of my passions in such a productive way, and I look forward to using this new knowledge to create other such experiences.
March 21, 2014
Orientation isn't just for Conn’s newest students. A big part of what makes that week in August, the week before classes, so much fun is how students from all class years come together to help the newest Camels get to know campus. Student advisers are among the many student groups that return to campus early and help make the transition easy. Since I had a really good experience with my own student adviser earlier this year, I applied to become one for the Class of 2018.
When I found out that I was offered the position, I was thrilled. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ll play a part in a week so many students look forward to. I’m getting more and more excited for summer now, knowing that I’ll be back on campus earlier in August. I’ll be there to help the new Camels with orientation activities, picking their first classes, and getting to know campus. Welcome, 2018!
March 17, 2014
Ok, I’ll admit it...I’m a francophile. A “frenchie”. A French fanatic.
As such, I organize French Club events on campus. Andrea, a Conn student who volunteers in French classes at New London High School, asked me if French Club would be interested in hosting a class of New London students studying French.
"Absolutely!" So, on Wednesday, Madame arrived with a busload of her French students. Madame had already decorated the room to celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and served us jambalaya and a galette des rois (pre-Lenten Kings’ cake). While feasting, we watched the film “Cyrano” on a large screen. We were more interested in chatting with each other, however, than watching the film.
After exchanging the polite ca va? (how are you?), we launched into discussions about snow days, robotics, and the humorous connection between analyzing literature and trapping butterflies. I look forward to continuing the conversation at our next rendez-vous, whether at Conn or at the high school.
February 17, 2014
The cast of the Vagina Monologues recently initiated a flashmob as part of the global One Billion Rising Campaign. The flashmob was one of thousands taking place on around the world on February 14th to end violence against women. In fact, one billion people (both men and women) from 207 different countries rose to dance on this day. Events like these are constantly happening on campus by various clubs and organizations, and some are even collaborations between organizations. Not only are these kinds of events fun to participate in and watch, but are also for a good cause.
February 13, 2014
Pictured is my friend Gaby, a senior, working as a community service assistant in the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS.) OVCS is a great way for students to go into the New London community and volunteer at sites including day cares, soup kitchens, and senior centers. Apart from connecting students to the community and providing transportation to these sites, OVCS offers work study jobs to students in the form of community service assistants and community site drivers. The office is a professional yet relaxed setting. We are able to sit in the office and work on homework, read, or talk and joke amongst ourselves while we wait for our next ride.
January 30, 2014
With my love of creative writing and my interest in serving the community, I have begun volunteering at Sound Community Services, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with behavioral needs gain independence. It’s a place where I continue to learn about New London and individuals with behavioral health needs.
The College’s OVCS (the Office of Volunteering and Community Services) helps match students with volunteer opportunities and arranges for vans to transport volunteers to and from their sites. For the first time last semester, the van dropped me off at Sound Community Services. Cynthia, the program director, greeted me warmly. Having told her I intend to major in English, she suggested that I help out with Friday morning creative writing workshops.
I had no idea that, only one week later, I would lead the workshop single-handedly. Fortunately, I had arrived prepared, and I handed out a poem, “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, to the five participants. We read the poem aloud, then we each wrote poems describing where we come from, both literally and figuratively. These poems conveniently helped the group get to know one another. As much as I love learning about the backgrounds of the patients, I also enjoy hearing their fiction pieces.
On Halloween, I copied an exercise that Professor Boyd (an author and professor of English at Conn) uses in her creative writing courses. I prompted my students to invent the age, profession, and gender of an imaginary person, to write these traits on the page, and to share the page with a partner who would then write a story about the fictive person.
The stories that came out of the exercise were out of this world. Outer space, God, free weights, after-work rituals and, yes, a few ghosts all came into the mix.
The workshop took another festive turn with the approach of Thanksgiving. I prompted participants to make a list of what they were thankful for. Friday mornings at Sound Community Services made the top of my list.
January 28, 2014
I’ll forever remember March 16, 2013: It was the first time I pole-vaulted competitively. It was about 30 degrees, and snow started falling halfway through the meet. When I cleared the first height, I was surprised to see that among those cheering for me were two pole-vaulters from the Coast Guard Academy.
Our team practices at the Coast Guard Academy’s indoor track. The Academy is just across the street from campus, only a few hundred feet away. Sharing their track gives us a sense of camaraderie, even though we’re also hometown rivals.
Those of us who practice at the Academy get to know a side of the Cadets that many Conn students don’t see. At track meets, our Coast Guard rivals are also our supporters and friends with whom we chat with while warming up. As a first-time pole vaulter (and as last semester’s only female vaulter from Conn,) I especially appreciate the new friendships I have found with our neighbors across the street.
January 23, 2014
Every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fiddlehead’s, New London’s organic food co-op, sets up a booth in Cro, our student center. They sell all sorts of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables and sweets. (I’m known to buy their raspberries, apples and mangos.) Having Fiddleheads and other groups visit campus is perfect for stocking up on healthy food before finals or late-night study sessions.
December 18, 2013
I’ve read the Hunger Games series religiously and when my friends and I heard that Conn was sponsoring a trip to see the latest movie, Catching Fire, I do remember squealing loudly. We had already planned to buy tickets to the premiere, but going with Conn made it easier.
Seeing the movie through the College’s trip was really helpful. For starters, it made our tickets cheaper and guaranteed us entry. It is usually my luck that premiere tickets are sold out when I go to buy them… even in advance. Then, transportation was included to and from the theater, making our movie viewing experience tress free. I really didn't think I could be much happier about this endeavor until we showed up at Cro to board the bus for the theater.
As I got on the bus, I discovered several other friends were also signed up to see this movie, in addition to the friends I had purchased tickets with. For movies, a big group is always more fun. In my mind, this outing was going to be rated 7 out of 10 in terms of fun anyway, but between the Conn transportation, cheap tickets and additional friends, the rating scale just broke. It was incredibly fun!