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The Experience, CJ Robinson '16

CJ Robinson

C.J. Robinson blogged for The ConnCollegeLive Experience during the 2013-14 academic year.

The ConnCollegeLive Experience is on summer break!

Summer Break
Happy Summer! And congratulations to the Class of 2014!

It's summer at Connecticut College! Our fantastic blog team has left campus for the break. They're off to internships, jobs and a few months of well-deserved relaxation. Although our team may share photos or quick updates over the next few months, the ConnCollegeLive Experience will be taking a break for the summer. We'll be up and running again in September.

In our inaugural year, our team of nine students produced over 130 posts. Through photography, words and video, our blog team captured their experiences in classes, with their advisers, meeting their roommates and making their mark on campus.

Highlights of this first year include the following posts.

The ConnCollegeLive Experience also included guest posts by Oliver Ames '17 about his involvement with TEDxConnecticutCollege, Yumi Kovic '14 about her science tutoring and Patty Shields '14, who reflected on her week at ESPN during the Super Bowl.

 

Have an idea for a guest post? Interested in writing, photographing or making videos as a Class of 2018 Camel? Send an email!

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Intramural throwback

When you revisit an old passion, you often can’t help but throw your all into it. It makes you feel alive. For me, that passion is soccer -- the best sport on the planet.

I started playing soccer in middle school, as an ambitious player who was on on two or three teams at once. While I didn’t continue on to play the sport in college, I’m still getting the chance to play frequently -- this time with less competition.

Intramural athletics at Conn are a way for students like myself to continue playing sports they enjoy, but more for fun than for competition. We make our own teams of friends, and we play two or three times each week against other teams that students have formed. It’s exciting for me because, of course, I get to get back out on the field and, with that, comes a rush of adrenalin.

Playing soccer and meeting new people is what it’s all about. We bond through sweat, hard work and the passion to win. Even more important, though, might be the grace of losing. In fact, other teams have told us that, even when we’re losing, we still look like we’re having fun. While no one particularly likes losing, everyone loves being together and going for the goal. Yea, that’s right-GOOOALLLLLL.

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Using capstones to capture an audience

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.

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Working a room

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.

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Keep calm and rock on

Student band Canopy performs
Canopy, student band, performs (Photo by blogger Miguel Salcedo '14)

It’s always lovely watching your hard work become something enjoyed not only by you, but also by others, too. After weeks of planning and meetings, the concert I helped plan came to life, and it was amazing. The late-night student performances were part of the festivities for the Inauguration of our new president, Katherine Bergeron.

With the Inauguration weekend in full swing, a student band, Canopy, opened our 11 p.m. show in Cro’s Nest, a performance space in our student center.. The late night show followed “An Evening of Voice and Community,” a public concert and celebration for our president that I was also involved in planning. Canopy played a full hour of songs, but when they played “Magic” by Coldplay, I couldn’t believe my ears. (It was that good.) The second student band, Montreal Protocol, went on stage around midnight and once the band got going, the audience’s jumping signaled they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. It was around this time when President Bergeron dropped by the concert, only hours before the big ceremony that would follow on Saturday morning.

Both Canopy and Montreal Protocol put everything they had into this event, and they thanked me for choosing them to play. I thanked them for sharing their insane talent with all the students who came out on a Friday night. These are the moments I cherish the most at Conn.

Everyone has talent, but sometimes it takes a little time to figure out what those talents are. For me, it turns out the talent is pulling off a successful concert and making sure everything goes as planned.

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Less stress by dancing

In recent days, I’ve been planning my next semester and it seems that I will have an absolutely crazy schedule. My life will be pretty busy but I’ve got a plan.

Dance Professor Rosemarie Roberts and I were speaking the other day, and I mentioned how much I’ve wanted to take a dance class here at the college. I told her that I was waiting until my senior year. After mentioning my hectic schedule for the next semester, Professor Roberts suggested I take her Afro-Caribbean dance class. Rosemarie told me how Afro-Caribbean dance can connect the mind and the body through writing and cultural dance. It will help with stress and bring together many of my other classes.

I can imagine there will be times next year when I just won’t have the time to go to the gym and de-stress as often as I want. Life will be busy. After my conversation, however, I also have confidence that Rosemarie will lead an interesting cultural experience that will be engaging and inviting.

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Cooking ahead

- The Experience, CJ Robinson '16 

In college, cooking is all too often equated with ramen noodles. Fast food and microwaved leftovers aren't exactly gourmet food groups, either. I want to learn how to cook, but I don’t want to do it alone. My solution? Apply to live in an apartment-style residence for junior year, with a kitchen for gourmet experimentation.

Last week, I did just that. My friend Alex and I applied to live together in one of the apartment-style options available to upperclassmen. These are campus housing options, but have kitchens and a little more independence. I can’t explain how excited I am to learn to cook my own meals in preparation for life after College. Alex and I are both peer educators on campus and living together will give us a way to plan and help run the organization.

Most importantly, I will certainly be buying an apron.

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An ode to Smith Dining Hall

Have a favorite place in your town where you just love to eat? Conn is like a small town and we’ve all got our favorite places to socialize and get meals. For me, it’s Smith Dining Hall.

I can go on and on about why Smith is my favorite place for breakfast and lunch. I mean, if you can find one bad thing about Smith, let me know.

Let me take you on a Smith adventure: It all starts with cheese and veggies! Spinach, lettuce, beans, corn salads, tomato salad... basically everything and anything you need for a salad. (Oh, did I forget to mention guacamole? Yeah, that just happened.)

Next are the famous flavored sauces and mayos that you and your friends will come here for. Chipotle-mayo is definitely my favorite, but others are partial to the sundried tomato and pesto spreads.

Toward the end of the line are the meats, should you choose to accept them. (Who doesn’t like a zesty chicken?) I love a zesty chicken, and Smith knows what I love, so they have a zesty chicken.

What makes Smith really special, however, is that I haven’t run into a single rude person in all my afternoons here. Admittedly, Smith is one of the smallest and most popular dining halls, yet there’s never a “Move!” Instead, I always hear “Excuse me”. Never a “I was using that,” always an “Oh sorry, after you.” Smith allows us to create all types of wondrous sandwiches and salads. In the dining hall’s simplicity, it creates a space of unity. That’s what I love about Smith.

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Direct, delegate and distract

A photo from the third annual Green Dot Hockey Game

A journey is something that you don’t always take alone. The Green Dot program here at Conn has truly been an amazing journey for me and my friends. We signed up for Green Dot training during our freshman year together, as a group. Ever since, we’ve gone to athletic games, events and discussions focused on Green Dot’s mission: bringing about an end to sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking.

As Green Dot graduates, we have been trained to recognize “red dots,” like dating violence and escalating situations at parties, in the world around us. We can then step in, a healthy way, to protect others and ourselves. Amongst other graduates, we share our experiences, and we’ve developed a community from which my friends and I learn more and more every year.

Recently we went to the Green Dot hockey game and it was quite spectacular, to say the very least. For the last three years, members of the men’s hockey team have been dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence prevention and initiated this tradition. Darcie Folsom, the College’s director of sexual violence prevention and advocacy, is doing amazing by leading the charge of cultural change here at the College but the journey surely hasn’t been just her. There’s an entire community devoted to the improvement of a culture we don’t condone. To me, that does not sound like a journey one must take alone. Like the Green Dot slogan says, “no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”

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Opportunities on the sunrise: the Inauguration

When you’re a student, many opportunities will be offered to you. What you do with them is up to you.

In my case, an opportunity came about that I just couldn’t resist. President Bergeron, the new president of Connecticut College recently started her new role, and I have met with her on one occasion. I was truly inspired. By luck, I’ve been invited to serve on a sub-committee helping to plan her inauguration, which will blissfully tie together my time here. I accepted the offer to be a part of the sub-committee, which is charged with the planning of an evening and afternoon event for the President’s Inauguration. What’s so stellar is that this sub-committee is composed of faculty and staff of the College, and I’m the only student. We recently had our first meeting, and I got to contribute a few ideas and concerns I had.

I was somewhat caught off guard. Usually, when I first enter a formal situation or a new class, it takes me a bit of time to get comfortable before I can express my ideas and concerns. After being asked what I thought about a specific topic in our first meeting, all eyes fell to me. I told them what I thought -- me, a student among a handful of adults. We efficiently planned, organized and brainstormed about ideas for our future events … I’ll leave those for a later surprise.

For now, I just want to give a sneak peek on how things here at the College really work: Students, faculty and staff work together to formulate and execute ideas that we brainstorm together. Shared governance is real, and requires both parties.

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Terraforming nightmare

Think of your worst nightmare. Maybe it involves a dangerous, scary or intimidating situation you find yourself in.

I’m sorry for making you envision that, but I recently faced a similar fear in my new class, “The Soviet Union and its Legacies.”

In the first five minutes of class, my professor placed a blank map of the eastern hemisphere in front of us and asked us to fill in as many countries as we knew. When my face turned white, it was probably a dead giveaway that geography is my worst topic of study by far. I probably know more about quantum mechanics.

After the short quiz, in which I could only locate a few country names, my professor reassured us that we would learn this entire map in just a few weeks. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom to realize that there is somewhere to go and more to learn. Taking classes like Soviet Union excites me and gives my brain a welcome break from my usual science courses.

At the same time, I learn more about places I’ve never studied, and I learn to look beyond the cultural misconceptions about these foreign countries and their people. Pretty soon, I’ll know what the true history of the region was like, but for now, I’m comforted to know that my fears, fears of being put on-the-spot and fears of geography, aren’t always as bad as they seem in my nightmares.

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