The Experience, Traditions
April 22, 2015
Spring has arrived! We have been blessed with sunny, high 60-degree weather for the past couple of days, and it's beautiful. Students have broken out their shorts, sunglasses and flip-flops and have flocked to Tempel Green for sunbathing, relaxing and sports. It feels like everyone has suddenly come out of hibernation. The Green seemingly transformed from a cold, snowy landscape to a lively hangout spot in just a short number of days. Yesterday, my friends and I took a study break to toss around a football one of us had won at Bingo Night. It’s important to note that none of us actually knew how to throw a football … it was great fun, nonetheless.
March 18, 2015
"As Told By Vaginas" is, without a doubt, going to spark serious conversations about how women are treated. Following the success of "The Vagina Monologues," the new show compiled a series of different stories from across the Connecticut College spectrum and presented them for $8 dollars to anyone who wanted to listen. Boy, did people listen.
I'm a floor governor in Branford House and I attended the show with all the residents from my floor, who are all first-year students. I wasn’t sure what the show would be like, and I could never have predicted the reactions I saw from my residents. Halfway through the show, right after one of the most intense monologues, I looked down the row of my residents and saw some ashen faces. The women in the row were happy their stories were being told but the men were stunned. One turned to me and said, “This makes me ashamed to be a man.”
At first I was taken aback by his statement, and because the show was about to begin again, I couldn’t attempt to unpack it any further. Later, as the floor walked back to Branford House in silence, I decided to try and spark debate and asked my resident what he had meant. As he began to explain, I started seeing his way of thinking. "As Told By Vaginas" shared some terrible experiences women have had with men, and what he had clued into was feeling ashamed that many men treat many women poorly. Don’t get me wrong — most men treat women well, but if one man treats one woman badly, we’ve got a problem.
The conversation continued and my residents stuck around. The rest of the night evolved into a conversation on masculinity, our role as men in the world, and what we can do to help change the definition of masculinity. We talked about the “Man Box," a term defined by Tony Porter in his TED Talk, "A Call To Men." We talked about how men are afraid to show emotion because they’ve been socialized that way. We talked about how many men see women as objects, because that is how they are told to behave around women. “Man up! Boys will be boys. Stop crying, son. Go over their until you are ready to talk to me like a man.” These are all phrases men are told to live by as they grow up that lead to the violent and dangerous behavior they exhibit towards women.
By the end of the night, my resident was still upset by seeing the effect men can have on women. But after engaging all the residents of our floor in the discussion, he had come to the realization that he could make change by changing the way he thinks about masculinity and femininity. Being a man should mean being sensitive, hugging it out when necessary, being friends to women, and standing up for both men’s and women's rights.
I had never dreamed that this kind of conversation would rise from "As Told By Vaginas," but because these stories were from Connecticut College women and told on stage to members of the College community, the stories felt relevant. I know that I’m a better man for seeing the show and so are my residents.
March 15, 2015
Everyone always says it is easy to find live music and productions on a college campus; you just have to look for them.
One recent weekend, however, I didn’t even have to look — they were staring me right in the face, so I indulged myself and took advantage of them.
In just three days, I saw a modern dance performance, which also included tap dancing and a pretty amazing dance to “All I Want for Christmas is You.” I attended Burning Camel and saw many student bands perform across campus. Finally, I was a guest at "James Joyce is Dead and so is Paris, the Lucia Joyce Cabaret."
As most know, I am a huge supporter of the dance community at Connecticut College — I lived with a student dancer for a year — so I am a usual show-goer at the Myers Dance Studio, but I don't remember a show being as impactful as this one. Additionally, I got to see my friends dance and see the dances that my friends choreographed — it was amazing to see their work come to life.
My attendance at Burning Camel was half support, half convenience. A friend of mine was playing in the show, but it was also taking place in Coffee Grounds, a café in my dorm, Katharine Blunt House. So I was able to listen comfortably to the musicians while lounging in my slippers and doing work at the same time.
My reason for going to "James Joyce is Dead and so is Paris, the Lucia Joyce Cabaret" was in support of a friend who was the stage manager, and another friend who was preforming. Upon entering the theater, I confronted with a most unusual scene and a most unusual performance: A group of institutionalized people, led by the amazing character of Lucia Joyce, on put on a memorable and slightly scary cabaret show.
It’s slightly overwhelming to be surrounded by so many talented students, but I love that fact that I can get so many different genres of art simply by living on a college campus.
March 13, 2015
The Think S.A.F.E. Program hosted its own version of "The Newlywed Game," pitting roommates, friends and couples against one another to see how well they really know each other.
While the overall message was fun, it also celebrated healthy relationships in all forms and continued Green Dot's efforts of sexual violence prevention. Green Dot is an organization that has become one of the most popular and beloved groups on campus. Built on the goal of fostering bystander action through education and the ever-popular training sessions, the organization has become a powerhouse in organizing events like Green Dot Week.
"So You Think You Know Me?" drew a huge crowd and I enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed seeing other people's answers and responses. My favorite moment was when two roommates were asked, "What is your roommate's pet peeve?" Each correctly responded: people. It goes without saying that when they flipped the boards over and showed each other what they had written, laughter erupted.
March 7, 2015
For the past thirteen years, the female students of Connecuticut College have performed "The Vagina Monologues," an episodic play written by Eve Ensler, to raise money for sexual assault survivors. This year, however, the students and community decided to create a production that better speaks to the experiences of women on our campus. They titled the new show "As Told by Vaginas," and the show is now comprised of student-written monologues from within our community. As I sat in the audience and listened to friends and peers perform these monologues, I appreciated the candor in which these stories were told. They were true, honest and real. Some were funny, some were serious, and others empowering. Most of all, I could feel the sense of community among the female performers. In the photo above, they take a group bow together.
February 23, 2015
If you're like me, you have a solid background in cooking, baking and such. If you're like my friend Emma, you might claim you do.
Freeman dining hall, one of my favorite places to eat, has weekly cook-your-own-food events. Tuesday nights are stir fry nights and Thursday nights are burrito nights. As of last week, Mondays are now grilled cheese nights! Obviously I attended the opening night because ... grilled cheese (YUM).
Emma, who's a vegan, made a grilled cheese using rye bread, a tomato slice, and vegan cheese — which, we learned, does not melt; it just burns. I, on the other hand, made a professional grilled cheese with bread and a nice helping of cheese and apple slices. Not to judge, but mine may have come out a teensy bit better.
Regardless of results, we both enjoyed experimenting with our sandwiches, and look forward to many more Mondays with this new tradition. It was really nice to be able to cook, even if all I made was a grilled cheese. There are kitchens scattered around campus, in a few residence halls and in apartment residences usually occupied by older students, but my opportunities to cook are infrequent (and I don't usually have many of the ingredients needed). Being able to prepare some food for myself, even if it's just a little bit, in Freeman is a nice change of pace.
Plus, if you bring a friend, there's a chance you can make fun of them for burning their sandwich, which is always a good time!
February 20, 2015
After 18 years, one sort of knows what to expect from Valentine's Day. You've got your icky couples spreading PDA like a contagious disease; single people who are proud of the fact that they are strong independent "plates of hot rice that don't need no side dish;" single people who are going to spend the day trying to forget that they're single; and some stragglers who sit somewhere in between one of these groups.
I guess this year I could be considered one of those stragglers. I'm not really sure where I fall, but I'm fully aware of the fact that whatever group I'm in, I have a different perspective than I've ever had before. I've spent my fair share of Valentine's Days in each of the aforementioned categories, but this year I'm just really happy to be able to spread some philanthropy.
About a month ago, I bought boxes and boxes full of Valentines in preparation for the day. You know, the kind of cards you used to give out to your classmates in second grade. Well, my Valentines are pirate-themed and spy-themed. Each kind comes with temporary tattoos and riddles to be decoded respectively, and I am SO EXCITED.
Being in college means that it will be so easy to force my affectionate crafts on friends. In fact, not only do I plan to give my Valentines out to friends, but I'd like to tape them to everyone's doors in my dorm, or at least on my floor. I'd also really like to give them out to random people, if I can work up the courage. I'm very in favor of the idea of random acts of kindness, and recently I've been trying to do more of that, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone to do so. College offers so many opportunities for this, and Valentine's Day gives me the perfect excuse.
So, no, I may not fit into any of the Valentine's Day archetypes exactly, but I'm super stoked for it. The couples will be off doing couple-y things; the strong independent men and women will be off declaring this independence; the lonely singles will be saying depressing things and counting all the cats they have; and the people in complicated situations will be confused. I will be happy in the spot I am in, whatever that spot may be, while handing out awesome cards. And, hopefully, I can make some other people happy in the process.
I'm also excited for our Valentine's dance and the potential for lots of free pink-colored baked goods — but that's beside the point.
February 19, 2015
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this is the beginning of the end.
Last Friday marked 100 days until graduation for the Class of 2015. To both celebrate (and commiserate) our upcoming entrance into the "real world," the 2015 Class Council hosted the traditional 100 Days party for seniors at Bulkeley House, a bar and restaurant in downtown New London. The evening was filled with dancing, drinks and desserts, all to celebrate the impending close to our senior year.
As fun as the night was, it is slightly terrifying to think that only a few short months separate us from our degrees. At least we've still got another 98 days ... not that anyone's counting!
January 27, 2015
Being from Vermont, I’ve had my fair share of sledding experiences. But sledding today in the Arbo has got to be one of the best. Students from all over campus congregated on the big hill, laughing and sharing the random objects brought for sledding, a variety of accessories that included skis, snowboards, cardboard boxes, trays borrowed from the dining hall and, or course, actual sleds.
We all worked together to pack the feet of powder down into a trail, and then took turns going down, giving each other pushes to gain momentum. People tried all sorts of techniques including standing up on trays and hooking sleds together to form a long train. It was most definitely one of my best Conn College experiences to date.
And the best part: it’s still snowing!
January 23, 2015
I declared my majors the other week. This is how it happens: You walk into the middle of Tempel Green, spin around in a circle 10 times, shouting your major and adviser while the registrar sits 10 feet away, ringing her bell, asking you to be louder.
The above is decidedly not true. It's just something a professor told me when I came to her with the declaration that I was finally, after months of indecision, declaring two decisive majors. She looked me up and down; I was excited, like I was declaring a big secret. It really is not that big of a deal. She sarcastically joked that I was making a ritual out of it; most students get so stressed about majors, they forget about classes. I agree with her now, I think.
After declaring my majors, I felt no difference. No history or art god descended from the heavens to bless me or take me into their secret society. On paper, I simply declared a major, which did make me feel better. I had goals to work toward.
I think the reason this professor said this to me is because she could see the fear in my eyes. Declaring your major sounds like such a big deal. It seems like you're setting yourself up in life for something so specific. Like now, I can't be anything but a historian, and I'm restricted. All these things are just untrue; I'm still taking classes I want to take, whether they relate to my major or not. I'm working with people I like working with, whether they fall into my department or not. This is what makes a small college like Conn special — because of the high number of professors, you really can, even within the confines of your major, blaze your own trail.
So I went up to Tempel Green, signed my declaration form and spun in a circle anyway, content in the knowledge that I was still free. Majors don't restrict you — fear does.
January 16, 2015
Here at Conn, Tuesdays and Thursdays are associated with one of our College's beloved traditions: "Soup and Bread Day." Taking place in Freeman Dining Hall, one of our smaller, more homey dining halls, Soup and Bread Day offers a variety of soups and fresh baked loaves of bread, in addition to the usual options. This means a stomach full of buttery, creamy goodness. Everyone develops their own soup and bread preferences. I, for one, think that the circular loaves with a thick crust are without competition. A slice of that with a bowl of butternut squash soup is magical. Others, however, disagree. Some of my friends, for example, prefer the whole grain breads, which I find ridiculous.
I've been going to Soup and Bread Day since nearly the first week of school. It's always nice to be able to take a break from Harris, the main dining hall, and be able to traverse campus a bit. My friend Anne and I generally head there after Latin class and, without a doubt, there are always crowds. Students from every corner of campus seem to flock to Freeman twice a week. There are a lot of regulars, like myself, as well as newcomers. It's always interesting to compare how many familiar faces there are versus how many new faces there are.
After a few visits, you'll find that more and more faces become familiar. Given the popularity of Soup and Bread Day and the intimacy of the dining hall, people often find themselves merging tables with strangers. It offers a great opportunity to make friends, or at least have interesting conversations with new people over a meal. Personally, I've met a couple of very close friends over soup and bread.
Now that it's getting colder, I can only imagine how satisfying warm soup will be in the winter.
December 26, 2014
December 24, 2014
I never meant to take this class.
I'm an art and history double major, and as I entered my sophomore year, I realized that I hadn't taken many classes in either. I told myself that I was going to make my requirements a priority, take classes I needed to, and expedite the process. No extra classes, no outstanding interests.
It didn't work out that way.
Last year, my friends took a class called "Narrative Non Fiction" with Professor Blanche Boyd; it's a creative writing class. Although I've been writing since middle school, I'd never taken an English class at Conn. I really couldn't envision myself writing stories; primarily because I'd seen some friends in high school do a much better job than me and I was scared. Plus, I kept telling myself, writing wasn't sustainable for me. Ironic, since I'm an art major, but we all delude ourselves sometimes. Through some weird twist of fate, however, the class I was planning to take filled up before I registered, and it was in the exact time slot as Blanche's short story writing class. I scrambled to send her an email, since a writing sample is a requirement for this class. A day before pre-registration, I got the email that I'd been accepted into the short-story writing class.
I had no idea what I was signing up for.
The class is more of a conference, with a lot of writing, critique and support. It's a very organic way of learning, where your brain begins to comprehend it's own problems. In many ways, it's more challenging than being told what to do, or what you're doing wrong. You have to realize it yourself. Blanche is always there to help you, and will nudge you, but she herself claims that you can't learn writing through someone else's efforts. It's different from information being disseminated, it comes from within. That's hard to confront, but it's so, so rewarding.
The one event we had to attend on the very minimal syllabus was the Klagsbrun symposium, which is an event Blanche has been organizing for a while. We've had great writers come to campus as part of the symposium, from Jhumpa Lahiri to Michael Cunningham, and Art Spiegelman to David Sedaris. This year, we got an extra; we had two writers join us. Conn alumna and professor Jessica Soffer '07 and her writing mentor, Colum McCann, spoke about their work and we had dinner together. Afterward, there was still half the symposium left, and I was sitting on a bus with my friends on my way to watch the premiere of Mockingjay Part 1.
I couldn't go. I thrust my ticket into my friend's hand, walked off the bus and went back into the symposium.
Colum McCann reads like a god. His reading is theatrical, interspersed with slight Irish brogue, emotions coming through like waves as he stresses and de-stresses some words, changing their meaning. One of the excerpts he read was a piece about a dancer in the '80s, and he wrote 40 pages without a full stop. Seeing that made my brain explode. Here we were, not knowing how to write with given structure, and this man sat casually on a stool, decimating every rule with absolute panache. Soffer's reading was more subdued; her clear, quiet intonation reflecting the tightness of her sentences, the sheer structure of her words. Everything counted. Emotions resonated from the words themselves, as she read everything at the same pace. In it's own way, it was as immersive as McCann's.
I left the symposium with nothing; no signed books, no selfies, no ticket stub, no name tag. But in my mind, a tiny dent was filled with possibilities, with ideas and with futures. I wrote well into midnight that night, and signed up for Blanche's non-fiction class the next day.
December 10, 2014
One of the things I absolutely love about Conn is the sheer disregard for class year by the student body. Let me explain; I was a first-year student last year, and by the end of my second semester, most of my friends were seniors. Frankly, I don't quite know how this happened, but it did. While I was attending their graduation, it occured to me that I'd be losing a lot of my friends.
Well, I didn't. Two of my best friends from last year are still around; one in Boston, the other in Waterford — one town away from New London. As I couldn't go back home this holiday (I'm from Pakistan; home is 8,000 miles away) and I've never really celebrated Thanksgiving before, one of these friends, Evelyn, invited me to her house. I drove there with another alum, Ben, and we were all seated around her table by 4 p.m.
Evelyn, like most people on Thanksgiving, had extended family over, and I got to meet some really amazing people. One of the perks of the night was us setting up a kids' table for those who were under 25; it was a riot. Amongst the amazing food (seriously, we don't have turkey back home and I think it ought to be a trend at this point; it was so good!), reconnecting with people I don't get to see as much, and laughing uproarously most of the time, I didn't at all feel the absence of my own family.
I got leftovers; it was great!
November 17, 2014
When I first learned about Conn's Arboretum, well before I became a student here, I thought, "OK, trees."
As someone with a tremendous fear of bees and a general dislike for a significant portion of things one might find in nature, exploring a forest didn't strike me as fun. Since becoming a student, however, I have become more comfortable with the idea of spending time in the Arboretum. After all, it's kind of hard to avoid: the 750-acre Arbo encompasses the entire campus and expands for acres in each direction — nearly a mile to the north — as a natural land preserve.
Entering the wilderness proved to be a slow process, like dipping your toe in a cold pool to test it out. The first time I went inside the natural land preserve-portion of the Arboretum, I saw a giant bee and ran away. The next time I went in a little further. I made it to a little gazebo, where I sat with some friends for a while. The next time, I didn't venture any farther, but I did stay longer to do some landscape drawing.
Then came Arbofest, our annual student-organized bluegrass and country music festival. I knew it was kind of a big deal, and I knew there would be food and music. The food was really the selling point, plus it was a stunningly beautiful day. I had to go.
So, I made my way into the Arboretum, going deeper into it than I ever had before. There was indeed music and food, as well as a giant crowd of students lounging on the grass. The bands were playing right in front of the water, and it was actually very lovely ... despite some close calls with bees.
Near the end of the festival, one of my friends asked if I wanted to take a walk with her. I agreed, and we walked along a path that led us deeper into the Natural Plant Collection (the area of the Arboretum most frequented by students and the community, just across Williams Street from campus.) To my surprise, it was actually a very cool walk. Hidden in the Arboretum are all sorts of paths, gazebos and benches, along with a cabin, Buck Lodge. I found myself wanting to explore deeper when my friend was ready to turn back.
I've also heard there are cliffs and a small waterfall hidden somewhere back there. So, that's something to look into for a future trip. In retrospect, I sort of wish that I had realized how interesting the Arboretum is before, since it's starting to get chillier now. I'll resume my exploration in the spring.
Lesson learned, though: the Arboretum is not just a bunch of trees.
November 3, 2014
Each semester, the College's chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society of Psychology, inducts new members. The mission of Psi Chi is to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellent scholarship and to advance the science of psychology as a whole. Psychology students here are invited to apply for Psi Chi membership if they have achieved a certain level of academic excellence in psychology and have demonstrated a true commitment to the field.
As a member of our chapter's six-person executive board, I assisted in this fall's Psi Chi induction ceremony. Nine psychology students were accepted. During the ceremony, inductees signed a pledge to symbolize their commitment to both our campus chapter and the national Psi Chi organization. New members then lit a candle and recited the organization's mantra: "Honor is the reward of merit."
October 24, 2014
Each year, Harvestfest is one of the most anticipated events at Fall Weekend, Connecticut College's annual parent and family weekend. More than 70 student clubs, academic departments and athletic teams set up shop, selling a wide array of Camel- and Connecticut College-inspired clothing, gifts and treats in a bazaar-like atmosphere. We asked the ConnCollegeLive Experience photojournalists to fan out and find the best and most interesting items for sale.
Laura Cianciolo '16
- I first stopped at Coffee Closet’s table and purchased a caramel apple dipped in sprinkles — it was the perfect snack for the fall weather.
- Every year, I purchase a poster from The College Voice’s table, and this year I loved the hand-drawn map of campus.
- I stopped by Miss Connduct’s table and bought a few of their handmade cards for my friends who have fall birthdays.
- Conn’s chapter of Oceana was selling adorable keyboard protectors covered with fish and other sea creatures.
- Launch, Conn’s entrepreneurship club, was celebrating its first Harvestfest with brightly colored, delicious cookies shaped like spaceships.
Kirsten Forrester '17
- Slavery Ends Today homemade cards: Simple and thoughtful, the cards have positive messages such as "You are beautiful." It's nice to have a few around for future gifts.
- Ski team flannel: Two words: so cozy! They're the perfect attire for Connecticut winters.
- Ski club winter hats: One, they complement the flannel for the complete New England winter look. Two, I love pom poms.
- Relay for Life Elephant frame: So cute! My favorite animal is an elephant. Images and statues of them cover my walls at home, so this frame makes for a great addition to that ever growing collection.
- The College Voice posters: You just can't go wrong with the image of a camel in a turtleneck sweater on your wall.
Jordan Thomas '15
- Cadenza, Conn's literary magazine, sold prints and shirts with a one-line camel design. The artist, senior Jennifer Jackson, drew the camel logo without ever lifting the pen from the paper. It's inspired by Picasso's famous work.
- The campus newspaper, The College Voice, had customized camel M&Ms — in Conn colors, of course!
- The Dance Club sold cute and functional tank tops with an adorable Camel in the corner — great for workout clothing!
- Forest Justice, the resident treehugger club on campus, sold tie-dyed t-shirts with the logo of a tree hugging a Camel. What's not to love about that?
- The college's chapter of Psi Chi, the Psychology National Honor Society, had brain-themed coffee mugs for sale. Since this is my organization and this one was my idea, I'm a bit partial to it ... but who wouldn't want a blue and yellow brain on their morning cup of coffee?
Mike Wipper '17
- After hearing the faint sound Mariachi, I found myself at the club's table, more than happy to snack on some "chicharones," a traditional Latin American dish made from fried pork skins.
- Sprout! set up a free sample booth complete with hot sauces made from Conn's very own organic garden. My favorite is the spicy mango salsa.
- The campus chapter of Slavery Ends Today sold delightful greeting and birthday cards, which ended up being perfect as I still needed to buy my girlfriend a card for her birthday. All proceeds went to the organization that's committed to ending human trafficking.
- At the Men's Hockey team table, I purchased the perfect gift for my father, a hockey player himself: a bottle opener made from old sticks.
- All around Harvestfest, I saw people wearing awesome friendship bracelets. I wandered around until I found the Dance Team's booth with bracelets covering the table. I must say, they were pretty stylish ... and they're hand-made!
October 20, 2014
Music was in the air last weekend.
Fall Weekend kicked off with a Musicians Organized For Bands' Rights on Campus (MOBROC) concert. The event gave student bands an opportunity to show off their musical abilities and gave the audience a chance to show off their '90s grunge-inspired dance moves. The lineup included student groups Canopy, the SB's and Montreal Protocol, but the real treat came at the end of the show: We got to hear our beloved President Bergeron sing. When she and her husband, Butch Rovan, got on stage, the audience began to chant "Queen B" and bow down.
It was quite the experience. Needless to say, "Queen B" gave a flawless performance.
It was interesting, although not very surprising, to see a lot of faces from MOBROC groups performing one night later during the weekend's other huge musical event — the annual Fall Weekend a cappella shows. For years, the seven a cappella groups have performed together during Fall Weekend, and the crowds have grown so much that two shows are needed. The pinnacle of the night might have been when the ConnArtists performed "Fix You" by Coldplay. It was so moving that the audience was completely silent.
Other groups lightened the mood with some humor: Vox Cameli performed a zealous Lady Gaga mashup, the Williams Street Mix drew inspiration from SpongeBob and the ConnChords pulled out some unexpected dance moves.
It was such a musical start to the weekend, with tons of talented Camels involved.
October 7, 2014
As part of my two-dimensional art class, I recently participated in the Art Department's seventh annual charcoal drawing marathon this past Sunday. Our assignment was very broad: We were told to use a variety of shapes, color tones and depth to fill the very large, intimidating blank pieces of paper in front of us. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., we drew without stopping. We had no specific subject to work with, we simply had to respond to our environments and the music that was playing.
The presiding art professors encouraged us to think of our pieces as completely mutable. We were encouraged to draw over things, erase our work and paint over large sections of our pieces to work, then rework, the charcoal. As someone who has taken many art classes, the process was a challenge. I'm used to crafting my pieces carefully, focusing on intricate shading and minute details. Inevitably, I get attached to my art and I'm reluctant to change anything more significant than those tiny details.
This experience made me explore a very different technique: a "kill your darlings"-type of technique, where you have to get rid of some of the bits of your work that you're attached to in order to improve the piece as a whole. While this was difficult, it helped me loosen up and go with the flow of things.
By the time 4 p.m. arrived, it seemed that there was more charcoal on my face, hands and arms than on my actual canvas. Despite the mess and a very sore drawing arm, I was very happy with my piece. Looking around the room, I was pleased to see that others found the process — and final results — to be successful.
September 23, 2014
I recently attended my first Camelympics. You may be wondering, "What on earth is Camelympics?!" Imagine if the Olympics were held on a college campus and included activities like board games and hula hooping. That should give you the gist of Camelympics. Different houses compete in games to get points and, at the end of the day, only one house is declared the winner — a coveted title.
Of all the activities I found myself participating in — including Apples to Apples and Catch Phrase — Quidditch was certainly my favorite. I lack the coordination usually required for sports but, as a huge Harry Potter fan, I volunteered to play. I was the Keeper (basically, a goalie) for Johnson House, and our house ended up winning fourth place.
At the beginning of the game, no one was quite sure how the game would work when the brooms did not begin to fly. The confusion was brief and, after the first round of games, people started getting very into it. There was a lot of cheering, a lot of running, a little bit of tackling and a dash of screaming to distract opponents. Players also started growing attatched to their positions. The passion for Quidditch that developed over the course of roughly 20 minutes was pretty surprising.
The most entertaining part about Quidditch is how the role of the Snitch is adapted when playing without magic. In Harry Potter, the Snitch is a little golden ball that, when caught, ends the game instantly. In Muggle (non-magical people) Quidditch, the Snitch is a bystander who volunteers to wear a yellow shirt and run around campus to avoid being tagged by the Seeker. In one of the final games, as the Snitch was about to be caught, he tripped and fell. As others jumped over the Snitch to avoid landing on him, the opposing Seeker snuck up from behind and fell onto the Snitch, winning the game. It was surprisingly intense.
Camelympics may be about fun and games, but there was true competition amongst Camels. There was a very strong sense of community. As houses came together, there was a chance for students to intermingle and meet one another, and the traditional event also gave me the chance to act out my favorite, magical sport.
September 29, 2014
Each year, Camelympics pits residence houses against each other for a day of spirited competition. There are so many different ways to participate, and I decided to represent my house, Windham, by playing Connect Four. I came in second place. Windham came in second place in the overall competition, ending the daylong event in style.
September 28, 2014
Camelympics is a Connecticut College tradition that pits residence houses against one another in friendly competition. House residents compete in events that range from volleyball to Quidditch and from Apples to Apples to Bananagrams. All houses have a theme, a cheer and a team shirt. It's a great event that promotes both house and Camel spirit!
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 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 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 10, 2014
In the middle of November, the first semester of my first year at Conn, TEDxConnecticutCollege reached out to students who had expressed interest in getting involved with the organization. TEDxConnecticutCollege has become an inspiring example of student involvement on campus. A few meetings in, I found myself loving the team and the process.
I am honored to be on the organization’s executive board. Gearing up for our April 12th conference has been a wonderful learning experience; my education at Conn would not be the same without it. Fundraising into the greater New London area has shown me the importance of community outreach and collaboration, while my time doing marketing projects have brought me vital skills in communication. This learning experience can be said of many clubs on campus, and I’m glad Conn has made such a valiant effort to acknowledge how important extra curriculars are in a the 21st century liberal arts education.
This Saturday, I’ll be backstage with an assortment of students, professors, and speakers who have traveled from near and far. From astrophysics to deep sea exploration and the discovery of the Titanic, the TEDx theme, “not all who wander are lost” attempts to encompass “adventure, exploration, discovery, and everything along the way.”
TEDxConnecticutCollege will stream their conference live on Saturday, April 12 beginning at 10 a.m. on their website.
April 8, 2014
In preparation for the Inauguration of President Bergeron, we were asked to create a video to help welcome our new president, on behalf of the student body. We interviewed some of our friends who are involved in a wide variety of activities to find out how what sort of messages they would send. The was one of the most exciting days of the year so far, and our aim was to capture the students' feelings leading up to the event.
-Matteo Mobilio '16 and Dana Sorkin '16
March 27, 2014
This morning in Cro’s Nest, the Inauguration Committee hosted a campus-wide coffee break. Students, faculty and staff all gathered together for an informal celebration of President Bergeron, who will be inaugurated on Saturday, April 5. President Bergeron said a few words to the crowd and then made her way around the room, chatting with students about the college and their experiences.
March 13, 2014
The perfect end to midterms week came last Thursday at Taste of Harris. Independent food vendors visit campus once every Spring and serve everything from sausage ravioli to margarita pizza. At the end of the meal, students vote on their favorite items and the dining hall staff try to include the winners on the regular menu. Black bean burgers are now available in Harris after they made an appearance at last year's Taste of Harris.
March 11, 2014
Some friends and I headed down to Dayton Arena to catch the annual Club Hockey vs. Coast Guard game. It always proves to be one of the most exciting games of the year.
February 26, 2014
On Friday night (and then twice on Saturday), more than 100 students performed Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”. Many had never set foot on stage before. Their black and red-accented outfits ranged from sexy to sporty, and all participants added to the spirit of female empowerment. Monologues answered such bold questions as, “What would your vagina wear?” (a sundress) and “What would you call your vagina?” (“The Camel Van” got laughs.) I applaud those who had the courage to be on stage, speaking honestly and openly. As Sara Bareilles’ fitting song, “Brave,” bumped, performers bowed, and we gave them a standing ovation.
February 16, 2014
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.”
February 12, 2014
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.
February 3, 2014
Do you remember in high school when you were finally old enough to understand what made the "big kids" so cool? Those secret after-school festivities and late-night parties…
Every spring, the annual student-directed, all-inclusive dance show, Eclipse, takes place at Conn. It is one of the highest attended dance events, and it showcases underrepresented art forms, specifically African American and Latino art. This year the theme is “Basement Party,” drawing from high school memories of those “big kids” and the music they listened to.
After my first rehearsal, I am more excited than ever to be a part of this annual production. My group is dancing to Katy Perry's Dark Horse, 23 by Mike Will Made It and Flawless by Beyonce, among other songs. Working with such an energetic group of Camels to produce something amazing has proven to be fun, but also challenging. Sometimes an hour and a half in the studio doesn't seem long enough. Once everyone starts dancing, you can't help but want to continue. I can already imagine the greatness to come, and I am thrilled to be a part of this tradition.
The 38th annual Eclipse takes place April 26 at 7 p.m.
November 15, 2013
In elementary and middle school, Halloween meant dressing up and trick-or-treating with friends. In high school, it meant passing out candy to our neighbors’ children. At Conn—at least, in Knowlton House—Halloween means an evening with friends.
On Halloween, Knowlton raises money by transforming into a haunted house. This year, a concoction of black trash bags, caution tape, skulls, red paint, sheets, prosthetic legs, mattresses, black lights, neon paint and Jell-o did the trick. That, along with a dedicated team of Knowlton Knights.
Mayra and Kevin, our fearless house leaders, summoned us for costumes and makeup long before tours began. While other students hopped into their cute bunny and cat costumes, dabbing a few whiskers on their cheeks, we swathed our bodies with “bloodied” sheets among other garments and slathered red and black paint on our faces. Having nannied in France over the summer, I took on the persona of a mad (folle) French maid.
My role consisted of lying across the table in the conference room while Alicia—playing my revenge-ravenous roommate—“devoured my guts.” (That’s where the Jell-o came in.) When Mayra led the tour groups into our room, I pretended to shriek in pain, thus urging the group towards their next fearful destination. With the last group member out of sight, Alicia and resumed our chit-chat only to repeat our act at the sound of Mayra’s horn.
I doubt I will ever again participate in a fundraising campaign as creative or fun ever again. Then again, there’s always next year.
November 8, 2013
Every student and faculty member seems to find the Halloween spirit, and this year was no exception. It's a favorite holiday for Kurt Reinmund '15, and in this video, he shares a glimpse into this year's celebrations.
October 25, 2013
This year we had one of the biggest Fall Weekends that Connecticut College has ever seen, as we celebrated the completion of our $211 million Campaign for Connecticut College that President Higdon started publicly in October of 2008. The weekend started off with the bright blue illumination of the tent, complete with the College’s tree logo projected on it. The first event of the weekend was ONE.EPIC.NIGHT, which was a night filled with exciting performances by the a cappella groups, dancers, two very funny MC’s, a speed painter and Fighting Gravity. This was followed by food trucks of all sorts and a dance. Day two started with Harvestfest and brunch under the tent where clubs and organizations on campus got to sell all sorts of great stuff including t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, phone cases, raffle tickets and baked goods for the clubs to raise money. This was followed by an exciting soccer game against Bowdoin College on Harkness Green. The night culminated with a green-screen photo booth, performance by Bear Mountain and a dance under the tent.
November 4, 2013
Kurt and I are taking you behind the scenes of an annual Connecticut College tradition: Fall Weekend. It's a weekend complete with athletic matches, the annual all-group a cappella concert and HarvestFest, an open market of Connecticut College swag sold by clubs and teams.
October 28, 2013
On Friday the 18th, on the cusp of Fall Weekend, I jumped in the car and drove to the train station to pick up Emma, one of my best friends from high school.
We had decided over the summer that she was going to come visit me over Fall Weekend at Conn, in part because I knew my family wasn’t going to come visit me, but also because I knew there would be plenty of stuff for us to do.
Plenty doesn’t even begin cover it.
On Friday night the festivities began with lively a cappella concerts from the seven groups on campus. These were followed by a jaw-dropping performance by America’s Got Talent finalists Fighting Gravity, a black-light dance troupe displaying (wait for it) gravity-defying illusions. A dance ended the night in the giant tent. I asked Emma if she had fun as we walked back to my dorm, and she replied with an enthusiastic “Of course! How could I not?”
On Saturday we took a tour of the campus, watched the soccer game, and explored Harvestfest, where all the clubs on campus set up tables in the giant tent to sell merchandise as a fundraising opportunity. After dinner at the dance, I introduced Emma to other friends from around campus and also took several priceless pictures in the photo booth.
Sunday, after walking back from a lazy start in Harris dining hall, I asked Emma about her impressions of Conn. As a student who lives in New York City, she was awed by the fact that even on our small campus we remained busy, how there was always something to do.
At the train station I hugged Emma good-bye and she told me to come visit her in NYC. She then said that she hoped to come back to Conn and visit again, maybe next semester. I said, “Yes! Totally!” but I’m not sure how I can top another visit as great as this one.
October 29, 2013
What role do designers play in social movements? I dashed from my cross-country meet to hear Lee Davis ’88 give an answer.
Davis majored in studio art and his passion for design has led him around the world and through various careers. He studied alongside design gurus in Switzerland and Japan through a Thomas J. Watson fellowship, worked as a graphic designer for CARE (a humanitarian organization which fights global poverty), co-founded NESsT (a business which stabilizes and grows social enterprises), and traveled to Eastern Europe to conduct projects related to NESsT.
Davis now works as a Fellow at Yale School of Management and as a scholar-in-residence in the Center for Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). At MICA, his students design for social causes such as the urban Real Food Farm of Baltimore, which improves residents’ access to healthy food and boosts Baltimore’s local economy.
He flashed us photos of their flashy work: a decorated vegetable truck that brings produce to the people, gorgeous graphic logos, top-notch t-shirts.
Evidently, design brings social causes into view; design sets them ablaze. If I learned anything else from Davis’s presentation, it’s the value of a versatile liberal arts degree to give its holders freedom to enter (and — as Davis has done — combine!) various fields. Before we left, he fed us more explicit design-related wisdom: “Increase the size of the Connecticut College diploma.” The diploma design must, after all, reflect the quality of the degree.
October 14, 2013
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.
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.
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 Tempel 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.
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.
Perhaps honoring Knowlton’s historically male guests, Knowlton Knights attend a dinner sporting mustaches and fancy attire.
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.
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 ;) ;)
Who won the Camelympics chant? KNOWL-TON! Who won? KNOWL-TON! Frankly, who else?
October 10, 2013
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.