When I graduated from high school in New York two years ago (yikes!), it never occurred to me just how far my closest friends would be traveling for their respective undergraduate educations. Some of my friends committed to schools as far as California, while others (like myself) decided to stay a bit more local to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In my senior year of high school, as I was receiving responses to my college applications, I logged once more into the Common App website and used the download feature to save copies of all my applications for future reference. Looking back at my application, I see a very different person than I am now. Perhaps the most dramatic change came from my answer about my top two choices for my major. I said I was interested in majoring in government and English although what I really wanted to say was undeclared and undeclared.
Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.
Saying “I am a social person”, and “I can turn into an iridescent flightless dragon” are very similar sentences in that they are both substantial lies. I can’t draw a dragon nor fathom how extroverts stop themselves from screaming every time they feel obligated to say hi to acquaintances they encounter. Oddly enough, I sometimes like inhabiting social spaces, acting as a silent observer, and after 21 years of observing I feel confident saying that I’ve perfected the art of people watching. While my hobby may seem boring to most and creepy to the rest, I always enjoy myself and love that I can do it anywhere either by myself or with a fellow creepy friend. For this reason alone, I decided to get gussied up and leave my room to watch the members of my class year party into the night at “100 Days.”
“You must be the change you wish to see.” – M. K. Ghandi
I live my life by this quote because it challenges me to take action to make the world a better place. Its philosophy is also a driving force behind Green Dot training here on campus, which I recently completed. Green Dot is a national organization that works to prevent power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking, in communities throughout the country. I’m glad that Connecticut College has a robust Green Dot chapter, with about a quarter of students who have undergone training. My friends who completed the training encouraged me to do it for months, so when I got an email about a session that worked with my schedule, I signed up for it.
It’s my theory that growing up in an urban environment causes people to have an inherent connection to music and dance, although not everyone is blessed with the rhythm to match. As a result, while I may walk and run with stiff, questionable posture, I can bust quite a few unexpected moves on a dance floor. It could also happen to be in my room, kitchen, a hallway, while running on the treadmill; anywhere I can listen to music doubles as my shameless stage. Generally, I avoid doing so in front of large groups of people, but last weekend I had to power through my anxiety to audition for Eclipse, the largest student-run dance show, for my final year at Conn
There’s something special about the closing of the semester and the beginning of finals coinciding with the most wonderful time of the year. As I write this post, it is beginning to snow and campus feels wonderfully quiet—a silent beauty has taken over as finals season takes hold.
Tempel Green is never more crowded than #CCFallWeekend. Connecticut College’s Fall Weekend, otherwise known as “Parents’ Weekend”, is one of the most exciting times of the school year for students, faculty and parents alike. My mom drove down for the event and we spent some time cheering on the men’s soccer team, watching the faculty-directed production of “Hedda Gabler,” and strolling around Harvestfest.
The mens’ soccer team played Tufts on Tempel Green:
The Theater Department staged an adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”:
That’s me reppin’ my new Connecticut College sweatshirt at Harvestfest:
Even President Katherine Bergeron and her husband, Butch Rovan, came out for Harvestfest:
Conn’s transformation underneath the blanket of fall:
(pics from Julia Neumann, ‘20)
Fall Weekend proves to be a highlight of the season. It was awesome to see my mom for a few days before being left to my independence once again. I was sad to see her go, but excited to get back into the swing of things come Monday! For more pictures from the weekend visit: (http://ccfallweekend16.pics.io/)
Something almost magical whips through the air each fall, and it is always most prominent in October. At Conn, this time of year is celebrated with the return of alumni as well as the welcoming of parents, family and friends all coming to enjoy the exceptional beauty of the season. Though the changing colors of the trees alone is enough of a reason to visit campus, people flock from all over for a different reason: Fall Weekend.
Last week, I went to see the Women’s Empowerment Initiative’s show, “Coming from the Beast.” It was a performance written, produced, and performed by women at Connecticut College. Because it was probably the most badass feminist show I have ever seen, it made me question why I had never attended the annual show before.
My freshman and sophomore year, the College produced The Vagina Monologues. Last year, they put on their own rendition of The Vagina Monologues called “As Told by Vaginas.” This year’s show had a similar format to previous years, with all of the pieces written and performed by women at Connecticut College.
Fall Weekend at Conn has a lot of fun events. There’s Harvestfest, where a variety of campus clubs sell food and memorabilia; a cappella and music department concerts; Green Dot sporting events, which raise awareness for our domestic violence and sexual assault prevention program; and, this year, a keynote speech by Sloane Crosley, author of “The Clasp.”
If your parents are unable to visit, though, it can get a little lonely as friends are off with their families. Conn always hosts a dinner for those of us whose parents don’t attend. The meal was Jasmine Thai and Mirch Misala takeout for those of us in this situation, which is great. (I mean, who would turn down free Thai and Indian food?)
But I lucked into an even better deal: My friend Miranda and her mother invited me to hang out with them on Saturday. The highlight was a classy meal at the Norwich Inn and Spa. I was treated to a decadent dinner of green salad, tiramisu, filet mignon and molten chocolate lava cake. We sat for hours taking about art history, life in Portland (they’re from Maine), and our latest romantic interests. It was nice to dress up, get off campus and catch up with a good friend. So, an utmost thank you to the Shinns for taking me in for the weekend — I had a lovely time.
As my father and I finished unloading our packed SUV in early September, I began to get rather nervous. My dad was getting ready to leave and then I suddenly shouted the words, “I’ll see you in October!” Was it really going to be October when I would see my family again? I grew rather upset because I am very close with my family. We have always been tight-knit, and what partially drew me to Conn was its proximity to New York City, which meant an easy trip home. Except, this semester, I haven’t gone home once!
Fall Weekend at Connecticut College is a time for celebrating the fall and seeing your parents, all while trying to attended every event the College puts on. This year was only the second time my family came for Fall Weekend; their first visit came during my first year.
During my first year, I was craving some mothering and TLC while also trying to prove to my family that I was a successful college student. This year, I was trying harder to savor my last Fall Weekend by balancing my event attendance with time spent simply hanging out with my family.
When you attend Connecticut College, it's impossible to escape the buzz surrounding Floralia. The crescendo of excitement becomes contagious as the number of days to Floralia decreases. So, what is Floralia? Think of Floralia as Conn College’s Coachella — Connchella, if you will. It is a music festival and a favorite annual tradition. Rain or shine, Floralia looks good on everyone. Students wake up early, set up canopies on the library green to claim their spots, bring out sofas and folding chairs, dress festively, dance and hang out with friends. In other words, Floralia is to Conn students what Christmas is to children. In fact, on the day of Floralia, everyone greets each other with a "Happy Floralia!"
My Floralia experience started on Floralia Eve. I had some friends stay over in my room in Harkness House. I told everyone to arrive at my place with their Floralia regalia so that we could all see what everyone would be wearing for the next day. I smiled at my friends' creativity — a bit of something borrowed, something new and whole lot of Floralia! As I looked around the room, I realized how far I had come from being a transfer student who, just a few month ago, knew no one. Suddenly, the people in my room were friends. As the early Floralia wake-up crept closer, we found ourselves exhausted but excited for the big day.
With only four hours of sleep, I jumped from my bed so that my friends and I could set up our canopy. It was only 7 a.m. when we arrived behind Crozier-Williams, but already there were canopies set up all around us. As we struggled through the embarrassment of not knowing how to set up our canopy's legs and attach its fabric roof, our group’s effort and tenacity prevailed. Lo and behold, we had ourselves a lovely canopy.
Everyone migrated back over to my place to get ready for the busy day. We all dressed up, had breakfast and finally arrived back at our canopy. There was so much happening around us. We stuffed our faces with cotton candy and freshly baked donuts, took rides down the inflatable slides, got ourselves airbrush tattoos, danced by the stage and enjoyed the sun. As the day was expiring, so was our energy. The sun set and the featured performers took the stage. After so much socialization and dancing, I went back to my place and fell quickly asleep.
This past weekend was one of my favorite meets as a track athlete: the Silfen Invitational or, as I call it, the Conn Home Meet! Conn only puts on one home meet every year and it also serves as a chance for our families and friends to see us compete. Also it means no travelling, which is awesome.
This meet is always especially important to me because I am from Philadelphia. Like many Conn students, it's hard for my family to attend my regular meets, but they make an effort for the Invitational. In addition to my immediate family coming to this meet, some of my extended family comes as well. This year, I had one aunt, two uncles and my grandfather to cheer for me as I do what I love.
I also had friends who came to support me. I was pleasantly surprised when they came because there was another all-day event happening on campus and I wasn’t sure they would make it. With competitions all over the East Coast, it's unusual for my friends to see me compete, but this weekend was a great exception. There were many alumni who visited as well, friends who I'd competed with in years past.
This was my third home track meet and it is different every year. (It was actually the first year we competed at home with decent weather.) It was so sunny that I actually got a bit of a sunburn. It was worth it.
Recently, I found this photo of President Katherine Bergeron facing a crowd of students, staff, faculty and administrators sharing opinions and suggestions in March, while the campus engaged in dialogue about racism, equity and inclusion. I think this photo best captures the spirit we’re striving towards at Conn: groups coming together and discussing tough issues, reflecting respectful dialogue that can lead to great change. At what other school will the president join an informal meeting and hold such a candid discussion for hours on end?
This year, Connsider, the group that produces TEDxConnecticut College, put on a number of events during the weeks leading up to the full conference. Partnering with GreenDot, “Bystanders Love Company," a play on this year's theme of “Genius Loves Company,” invited students to think about what it means to be a bystander and how we can shift these normally “passive” roles into active ones by changing the climates of sexual assault, violence, discrimination and hate speech. Here, my friends Jasmine Massa ’17, Alissa Siepka ’17 and Natalie Boles ’17 all create a list of goals and ways they can work to improve the social climate at Conn and beyond.
You may have heard of TED talks. Technology, Entertainment, Design is a global conference series and "Ideas worth spreading" is their slogan. You may not have, however, heard of TEDxConnecticutCollege.
Every year we hold our own TED conference. The idea behind the TEDx program is for individual organizers to spark conversation on a local level. It's entirely student-organized and brings together speakers from within and beyond our community. This year, the theme was “genius loves company.” Upon entering Cummings that morning — and after enjoying the Panera bagels and homemade donuts — we each received a nametag featuring a silhouette of either Sherlock or Watson. I was a Watson and the goal was for me to find a Sherlock to converse with. To help with this, each person wrote a topic of conversation on his or her nametag. Some people wrote “talk to me about anything,” while others wrote “arts and museums” or “traveling.” Mine was “ask me how to pronounce my name.”* I was hoping it would be an interesting conversation starter. The talks of the day were great. Among many, we heard from a mushroom-foraging student about understanding where our food comes from (as featured in the above photo), the editor of Fast Company about technology and digital media, and an art history professor about the mythologies of the “Artist-Genius.”
*Kirsten is pronounced Kur-sten. It is often mistaken for Kiersten, which is pronounced Keer-stin, or Kristen, which is pronounced Krihs-ten.
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.
"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.