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
May 1, 2014
On Monday, hundreds of sophomores attended the first ever Sophomore Pinning Ceremony. The night was filled with dessert, speeches and recognition of sophomore achievements. The ceremony opened with addresses by Class President Sal Bigay and Class Vice President Kristina Harrold. A performance by a cappella group Miss Connduct followed, which included John Legend's "If You're Out There."
April 30, 2014
Last week, the East Asian studies students hosted a poster session -- where students share their research and answer questions about their work. I went to support a friend, to cover the event for The College Voice and, in large part, because of my own personal interest in studying abroad.
Two East Asian studies classes presented posters about their spring break trips to Okinawa and Taiwan, respectively. While in Asia, each student conducted an individual research project.
As I wandered around the room, notebook in one hand and sushi in the other, I asked students about their experiences. I was struck with how much these students were impacted by their trips abroad. When I asked a friend what her favorite part of the trip was, she responded with, “Can I say the most profound part?” She went on to describe the moment she met a survivor of the Battle of Okinawan who worked as nurse in caves that were constantly being bombarded by bombs and gunfire.
These stories make me even more excited about my own study abroad plans for next fall. The stories also remind me that opportunities like spring break trips allow students who might not spend a whole semester abroad to experience life-changing opportunities around the world.
April 29, 2014
Sometimes it is easy to forget what life was like before college. Once you're acclimated to college life and get a schedule going, the past is a distant memory.
The past few weeks have been full of tours and overnight visits for both accepted and prospective students. Having spent this spring hosting some of these overnight visitors, I’ve been reminded of what life felt like for me just a few years ago, as senior in high school. I remember the stress of high school report cards and college applications like it was yesterday.
With all these flashbacks come memories of the many people who helped me along the way. Friends who were already in college gave me advice about ways to improve my essays and relax for interviews. My college counselor, teachers and family members made sure I handed everything in on time and wrote my recommendations.
To be honest, after it all ends, you forget about the stress you felt. You only remember the excitement and relief of it all. You remember how happy you were to finally be done with the essays, tests, and applications. You remember senior spring because you were finally free and just waiting for responses.
The most important memory from last year is the day I chose to attend Conn. In that moment, all my hard work had finally paid off.
These past few weeks have been a very nostalgic time. While I wouldn't choose to do the process over, it certainly feels good to remember those days. To the Class of 2018 who will be on campus next year, congratulations!
April 28, 2014
As an arts editor for The College Voice, our campus newspaper, I work closely with both my writers and my fellow editors. The Voice is a resource for students on campus to vocalize their opinions from everything from a favorite event or concert to more serious concerns. I sat down with other staff members to see what advice they would share with incoming students.
April 24, 2014
With the year coming to an end, the studio art majors, like myself, must prepare for the Senior Thesis Exhibition on May 2, 2014. When art majors reach senior year, we spend the year producing a cohesive body of work that explores a central theme. Seniors work on their collections at all hours of the day and night and, as such, we are provided with access to a private senior studio where we can work and store pieces throughout the year.
As the Senior Thesis Exhibition nears, here are some scenes from our recent days in the studio:
April 23, 2014
As most people know, Connecticut College has an arboretum. Sometimes, however, guests and even students don’t realize the whole scope of what we lovingly call the “Arbo.” The protected lands extend across Route 32, along the side of the athletic center. The arboretum even includes an island -- Mamacoke Island -- and it’s where I spent most of my Friday afternoon hiking.
Glenn Dreyer, director of the Arboretum and executive director of the College’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, led an informative hike around Mamacoke, telling us about it’s history and geology. I had been to the island once before, for a geology lab, but I attended on Friday afternoon because I was interested to learn more about the history of the island.
I had no idea that, many years ago, Native Americans lived on Mamacoke. Students in the Anthropology Department are currently mapping out areas where they may have lived. Just a few years ago, two Native American skeletons were found in the area. They’ve also found places where they Natives shucked and cooked oysters.
There are also deer and various animal predators on this island, and during our hike we were being scouted by some turkey vultures, and we even found the wing of a turkey — maybe their lunch?
Overall, it was great to get out of a classroom and just walk around, talk to my friends and professors and learn about an important part of our campus history.
April 22, 2014
It has been a long winter, but Spring has finally arrived and students are ecstatic. On days like these, you will find Tempel Green filled with students relaxing under the sun, hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing sports, eating, doing homework and so much more.
April 21, 2014
I joined the women's club rugby team my freshman year, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of practices, games and team bonding. This year, along with the men's team, we hosted two fundraising games to benefit breast cancer research. While the two games were just for fun, we hope to help raise awareness on campus and make a difference in the fight against cancer.
April 18, 2014
Last Wednesday, I woke up at 5:20 a.m., destined for the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Giddy with fatigue and excitement, a group of us from Knowlton House met in the foyer and jaunted over to our bus, complementing one another on our business-casual attire on the way.
I sat with my friend Leela. Both French fanatics, we chatted in French as we ate a breakfast of bagels, muffins and croissants. A snooze and a few traffic jams later, we arrived at the United Nations.
We first entered the building for the United States mission to the U.N. There, we met with Alexis Wichowski, a Connecticut College alumna from the Class of 1993. She transitioned from a Chinese major in college to a graduate program in information technology to a job at the U.N. related to IT diplomacy. She also works as a professor at Columbia University. In addition to describing her career path, she quizzed us on the U.N. How many member states compose the U.N.? 193! When was the U.N. founded? 1945! She insisted we understand the U.N. as a collection of entities that include its six deliberative councils and non-governmental organizations among others.
Isaac, an intern at the U.S. mission to the U.N., left us with a final note: “Don’t start at the bottom, start at the top.”
Some people took Isaac’s advice when attacking the buffet at the Delegates Dining Hall, starting with dessert and ending with lunch. No matter our dining approach, we ate more like kings and queens than like delegates.
Fortunately, a grand tour of the U.N. helped us work off the decadence. A Swedish tour guide led our group, which pleased Julia, a Swedish Conn student studying human rights and the media. Our guide showed us the rooms where the General Assembly and other branches of the U.N. convene. In fact, we witnessed the Economic and Social Council in action!
We also had time to engage in conversation with delegates while visiting the Iranian Mission to the U.N. After an informational video and some Iranian snacks, we showered the Iranian delegates with questions: How does Iran portray women in the media? What is Iran’s stance regarding the war in Syria? What would Iran prioritize in a security council meeting? Do women participate as actively in society as men? In response to our questions, one of the delegates urged us again and again to visit Iran and to discover the answers to our questions first-hand and individually.
After collecting food-for-thought at the Iranian mission, we headed out for a delicious French meal and met up with some NYC-based Conn alums.
After a day like Wednesday, Conn’s commitment to an international education certainly takes on a magic meaning for me.