December 17, 2014
Joe Standart is one those success stories: a self-taught photographer who pursued his dream of taking photos and made it big. While I’ve never aspired to be a professional photographer — it’s just a fun hobby for me — it was still wonderful to hear about the steps he took to become one. Standart came to campus to speak about his project, “Portrait of America,” and portraits of our very own New London. Beginning in 2004, he pulled individuals off the street as they were and took elegant portraits of them. Photographing his subjects from all walks of life in the same studio setting served as an equalizer. Their profession or income was of no matter; each person was photographed the same way. The description of the project explains, “The Portrait exhibitions hold a mirror up to a community to reveal what's already there — the inherent dignity and promise of its people.” The exhibition was not held in a museum, but rather the streets of New London. Large portraits were hung on the sides of buildings and in windows, thus providing a “mirror” for the community. Looking through his photos, I see New London in a new way. I get a glimpse into the lives of its residents.
December 15, 2014
A week ago, I went to work at 9 a.m. in Ruane's Den, a coffee shop located in Harkness, one of the College's residence halls. I work the opening shift on Mondays and after a long, tiring Sunday filled with homework, I wanted nothing more than to escape into the warmth of the coffee shop and make myself a chai latte.
Turns out, I didn't have to. As I walked up the steps to the patio of Harkness, I encountered a strange sight: two open boxes of Dunkin' Donuts and a large box of coffee on a table. A student was sitting in one of the chairs and a slightly older man was sitting in another. They were chatting and laughing, but the scene looked strange still; why would two people need 20 donuts? I then saw random people coming by, conversing with the older man, grabbing a coffee or a donut, and leaving for class. I had to investigate.
The housefellow of Harkness — each residence hall has a "housefellow," a student in charge of the house — had decided to throw a surprise breakfast for the dorm custodian. With the help of the Office of Residential Education and Living (REAL), she'd gone down to Dunkin' early in the morning and brought donuts for all her residents, and she'd asked the custodian to take a few minutes off and just relax with the students. As sappy as it is, I couldn't help but feel a warmth inside me; I didn't even care that people would skip my coffee shop to get free coffee from the table — the custodian looked so happy!
Last year, another student at Conn filmed a short video asking students if they knew their dorm custodians, and quite a few did. I remember leaving notes outside the door of my first-year custodian, and I remember friends going out of their way to clear rubbish just so there would be less work for our friendly, resident custodian. Sometimes, simple acts of caring can really make a difference.
I sipped my coffee and was 10 minutes late to work. My manager didn't care.
December 12, 2014
I've enjoyed ice skating ever since my friend invited me to the neighborhood rink in middle school. We had to go with her mom, and I almost died at least 20 times, but it was fun. By the end of middle school, I was taking figure skating lessons. I towered over the other, younger skaters, most of whom only came up to my knee. Surprisingly, I moved up in the skating world faster than my small, youthful friends. Once I finished the basic skating levels, and a few figure skating classes, I quit.
I haven't skated much since, so I was excited when I found out that Conn has an ice rink. Many of the schools my friends attend don't have rinks on campus. On a recent Friday, I went to my first open skate here. It was only $1 to skate for 3 hours, and all profits went to the College's Relay For Life chapter.
I was eager to skate again, but a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to do the things I used to be able to do. Most of my friends were having trouble just staying upright, though, so there wasn't much pressure. After I got accustomed to the ice again, I started trying to do some of my old tricks. Some were rough, but others went pretty well.
I was in the middle of the rink practicing when someone skated up to me and asked if I was in the figure skating club. I said that I wasn't, and she told me that I should be, and that she could give me more details if I wanted them. I haven't agreed to anything yet, but I'm definitely considering joining. I really miss ice skating regularly, and it was flattering to be spotted as a possible member. I've already signed up for the email list, and we will see where things go from there.
I think the highlight of my night was when my friend Brion joked that he wasn't impressed by my tricks, and then, seconds later, face-planted on the ice. If he had gotten hurt, I wouldn't be able to note it as the highlight of my night, but he's fine, so I can tell you that it was HILARIOUS.
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!
December 9, 2014
With final exams only a few days away, Conn students are busy scouring research materials for projects and papers. (It will be open when we return from Spring Break!), so we aren't able to browse the stacks like usual, but all the library's books and resources are still available. I went behind-the-scenes and into the construction zone with library staff to see how our book requests move from Shain to the temporary circulation desk each night.
December 8, 2014
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous this semester. Right at the end of November, the weather was still lovely. Friends and I have even been studying outside without coats to soak up the last of these sunny days before snow. Polar vortex this week? Nah, I'd rather it stayed in the mid-50s.
December 4, 2014
Occasionally, The ConnCollegeLive Experience will invite guests to blog about their experiences as Camels. Today, Chelsea Preston '16 contributes to the guest blogger series. Chelsea was a member of the 2014 Connecticut College women's soccer team, which won the College's first NESCAC Championship and played in the NCAA Division III tournament. We asked Chelsea to capture, firsthand, what it was like to head into the national tournament.
Friday, Nov. 14, 2014
We boarded the bus at 1 p.m. after being sent off by a group of students and fans, including President Bergeron, at the entrance to the Athletic Center. After a three-hour trip, we arrived at Montclair State University to practice on the turf field where we'd play our game on Saturday and, hopefully, again on Sunday. We only had an hour to practice before the next team would need the turf, so we quickly went through our typical drills. The energy was high. We were playing music and were just happy to be there, in the national tournament. After practice, we headed back to the hotel, watched some film on Swarthmore — the team we would play the next day — and headed to bed.
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014
In the morning, the team boarded the bus to go to teammate Leah Salituro’s house for breakfast. Her house is only 30 minutes from where we were playing, so we had a great team breakfast there. On away games, Coach Riker likes us to take a walk to clear our heads for the upcoming game, so we walked around the neighborhood before going back to the hotel. We had some downtime to catch up on homework, then it was time to leave for the game. We arrived at Montclair's athletic center and started to prepare for the game. We played our usual music to get us pumped up and we were ready to go. We were excited, but nervous to play a team we had never seen before. It was a new challenge we were ready to face.
Game: Conn College vs. Swarthmore
The game, the first round of the NCAA tournament, was exciting as we pulled ahead with a set-piece goal from my teammate Becca Raymond. Swarthmore came back and tied it with a goal. In the second half, we got another goal from Livi Block and, to finish it off with a minute left, Mitchy Medina scored to make the final 3-1. We were so excited to have made it through that game and to be able to play on Sunday. It seemed like a never-ending season.
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
We woke up, had team breakfast, and hung out at the hotel until we left for our game. Two games in two days is never easy, especially when you are playing teams you have never seen before. We gathered up all our energy in the locker room like we had the day before and were ready to play. This day was different because we weren’t as nervous as we had been on Saturday.
Game: Conn College vs. Montclair State
Montclair put up a fight, and so did we. It was a tough game and we made it through regulation time without a score. It seemed as though we were going to make it all the way to penalty kicks with 50 seconds left in overtime. Unfortunately, Montclair got a shot off that ended up in the back of the net. Our season was over.
The historic, long, exciting season we had worked so hard for was over, in mid-November. Not many teams can say that. We are so proud of our season, for being NESCAC championss and for having made it as far as we did. We went from the bottom of our league to No. 1 in one season and won our first NCAA tournament game. This season was certainly one for the books!
Chelsea Preston '16 is an art major and a forward on the 2014 women's soccer team.
December 3, 2014
December 1, 2014
College can be a stressful time. There are tests, homework, athletic obligations, etc. Right now, it's midterm season. The midterm bells are ringing in the streets, and professors are singing carols of molecular biology and behavioral neuroscience.
This week in my psychology class, however, we've been discussing health and wellness. We talked about the effects of stress and some ways that we can lower stress levels. One way: sleep. My professor reminded us to prioritize sleep, but she also reminded us that it's sometimes OK to put fun, social activities ahead of work, because those are the things that we'll remember in 20 years.
On Saturday, I decided to follow this advice. I had an overwhelming amount of work to do this weekend, but I told myself that I was only allowed to work on Friday and Sunday. Saturday, I would leave to myself. It was during this day of relaxing that my friends and I attended a "Destress Fest," an event developed and run by my floor governor, Sarah, and her friend, Brenna. There was ornament-making, cookie decorating and a Gak station. Yes, Gak; apparently, a strange rubbery concoction that helps your mind wander and spark creativity. And, of course, there was also food.
I, personally, did not make any Gak, but I did try my hand at ornament-making and cookie decorating. My ornament was a bit of a disaster, but my cookies were pretty awesome. I made a sunset cookie and a cookie that looked like Earth, which I'd like to think was to scale. My years of art classes served me well.
After the Destress Fest, I hung out with friends and took a breather from the stress of school. On Sunday, I still managed to finish all of my work, which served as a good reminder that a break once in a while is always a good idea.
November 29, 2014
On Wednesday, I drove more than two hours to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., for a four-day student conference entitled, "The Politics and Policy of Crisis Management." Connecticut College sends two students every year, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the conference this year. We spent each day discussing policy with students from across the globe and West Point cadets, ambassadors and policymakers.
My group focused on coups and constitutions in the developing world, and we made policy recommendations based on our predictions. For our nights at the conference, we stayed in the barracks with cadet hosts and started our days at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of Taps. We ate nearly every meal in the mess hall and learned about the various rules each cadet has to abide by. For instance, freshmen, or "Plebes" as they're called, are not allowed to talk when outside, must hold their hands in tight fists when walking and, when eating, must stare only at the top rim of their plates.
Learning about cadet life and acting as real policymakers was incredible. Working with such a diverse group of students from around the world — one student in my group took part in the protests in Egypt during the Arab Spring — gave each of us new and valuable perspectives to bring back to our home campuses.