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.
April 15, 2014
Slavery Ends Today, a student organization at Conn, is protesting to end human trafficking. The organization has partnered with the International Justice Mission for a 27-hour-long standing protest. Conn student Olivia Dufour ’16 is one of the 27 million participants.
April 14, 2014
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.
April 11, 2014
Since I was a kid, I have loved writing. Originally, I wanted to write fiction and would come up all these different characters and settings. (Plots were not my strong suit.) I had all these notebooks filled with lists of characters, their ages, likes, and dislikes, which, I guess, explains why I was so excited when my English professor approved my idea for my final class project. In fact, I found myself with a sense of giddiness that college student’s rarely have before attempting an 11-page paper.
Our final English paper involves comparing The Canterbury Tales, which we are reading in Middle English, to modern versions of the stories. I was struck, however, with an idea in class about setting Canterbury Tales as a movie about college kids on spring break who get into a storytelling contest. My paper would outline the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales as modern college student stereotypes and then explain how they relate to their Middle Ages counterparts. It might well turn out to be a paper in which I get to do exactly what I love: develop characters, decide what they look like and choose their interests. It’s wonderful that even when your academic interests change (as I’ve become more interested in science writing in recent years,) there are times when college classes afford you the opportunity to just do what you love, what inspires you.
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 10, 2014
I try very hard not to take night classes.
Not that there aren’t good classes being held at night, but as a track athlete whose practice regularly goes to 6 or 6:30, the added stress of having to get to class afterward is one I try to avoid for my mental health. However, when I joined the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, I was signed up for a seminar that takes place 7-8:30 pm.
Now, you might wonder how I can leave practice, change, eat, get my books and get to class in under a half hour, but luckily, the College has a nifty system for athletes whose practices end after dining hall hours, or for those athletes who also have night classes. We call it the “Cro Pass.”
With the Cro Pass, you get certain items from Oasis, our snack shop, for free. (Cro Passes are only redeemable on the day you were given it, and has to be signed your coach.) Because of my night course schedule isn’t typical for athletes, it’s pretty infrequent that others from my team are eating in Oasis. I try not to eat alone, and I certainly don’t want to be seen eating a whole pizza, solo, on a Tuesday night. So, I decided to use my Cro Pass as a way to befriend my classmates in the Goodwin-Niering Center.
One of my classmates, Maia, is also involved in tons of activities, including dance, so she occasionally hasn’t had the chance to grab dinner before class. She has become my regular Cro date for post-Goodwin Niering seminars dinners, and through this, also a very close friend.
Just this week, she texted me saying “Are you living that Cro Pass life today??” After all, aren't all good friendships are based on food?
April 10, 2014
Pictured here is a performance by Reflexion, the spoken word group on campus. Apart from putting on shows every semester, Reflexion runs writing workshops on weekends. It's a great opportunity for students who are interested in poetry and spoken word to get their creative juices flowing and work with a great group of writers, mentors and peers.
April 9, 2014
This past weekend, Student Activities Council organized a free trip to New York City. At 8 a.m., sleepy Camels made their way to Cro to take a bus to the city. It was a day filled with lots of walking, lots of food and like any good visit, an unexpected pillow fight in Washington Square Park.
I went on this trip with three friends. One is from New York, as am I, and the other two are from Boston. We wanted to give our Boston friends a general idea of what the Big Apple is like, so we tried to go to all the tourist spots, including Times Square and Soho. When you live near the city, you often forget how amazing it is, especially for someone who has never have visited.
Of course, the city is full of surprises and we stumbled into a massive pillow fight in Washington Square Park. It looked like everyone in the city had come outdoors to join in.
Trips like this are not uncommon for Camels. The Student Activities Council and the art history department often offer free or cheap busses to New York, Providence and Boston. It was a nice change of pace to be able to experience a dose of city life with my fellow New London Camels.
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
April 7, 2014
Birthdays at college are fun, but it’s not often you get to celebrate a milestone like turning 21. The day started out like any other Wednesday: breakfast with my roommate, three classes, track practice. Following a long day, I had a birthday dinner with my friends in Harris Dining Hall, complete with birthday cards and gifts. We chatted and laughed for over an hour. When I came back to my room, I found a gift and a beautiful and thoughtful card from my roommate on the desk.
After I did a couple hours of homework, I joined my friend Melody at the Cro Bar, our on-campus pub. Entering the Cro Bar for the first time, I proudly ordered a glass of wine and then settled into a booth with Melody. Little did I know, Wednesday nights are trivia nights. In between our conversation, Melody and I guessed the answers to such questions as: “Which Beatle was barefoot on the cover of Abbey Road?” (Paul McCartney) and “What are the three longest rivers in the world?” (The Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze.) Luckily for us, we were joined by two other trivia-skilled friends and we had fun guessing answers and singing along to such throwbacks as Kelly Clarkson’s “Break Away.” Since I had a 7:30 a.m. track workout in the morning, I did not stay too late. I had a terrific birthday all the same, and I can’t wait for the next trivia night now!