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 14, 2014
This past weekend, I went to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, a museum of Native American culture that is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and located only about 20 minutes from campus. Despite its close proximity to Conn, I had never been to the museum before. Unity House, the multicultural center on campus, sponsored the day trip, so I decided to go and check out some of the museum's exhibits on the Pequot War, life on a reservation and the contemporary Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
The day of our visit, the museum was also hosting a Veterans Powwow to honor those who have served in the armed forces. There was music, dancing and feasting. One of the dances was performed by the "tiny tots" — the children of the tribe. Audience members were invited to learn the steps and perform in the Powwow, but I was mesmerized watching others. Being able to witness another culture's traditions is a valuable and precious thing, and I feel privileged to have been part of this day.
November 13, 2014
Turning down a dark and graffitied alley in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City, I saw a bright light. There, tucked away in a freight elevator, was a museum. And on its shelves were collections of oddities: plastic spoons, Saudi Arabian pool toys, business letters, plastic eggs and bacon, a leather shoe supposedly thrown at the head of George W. Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, and jars with rubble/dirt/ash from Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, and someone’s father. All of this was a mere sampling of the variety of strange objects the museum hosts. This experience was one of many during my sophomore research seminar’s field trip last Saturday. We began with the Museum of Sex, worked our way to Chinatown for a very tasty lunch and a tour with Chinese takeout menu collector Harley Spiller, and eventually to this tiny museum. All three events had a thematic connection: the invisible. Each hidden in their own way, these places connected to my class’ studies of secrecy, power, privilege and the invisible.
November 12, 2014
As the two senior staff members of The College Voice, Connecticut College's student newspaper, Editor-in-Chief Ayla Zuraw-Friendland '15 and I attended the American Collegiate Press' annual National College Media Conference. This conference allowed us to meet journalism students and professors (as well as many professional journalists) and gave us new insight into how we can continue to improve all aspects of The College Voice.
November 10, 2014
I'll admit, my title is a little misleading. Restaurant proprietor and College Trustee David Barber '88 and Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish, hosted a discussion about what they envision as the ideal future of the fishing industry in the United States. While they both explained what they are working toward — fostering a culture of sustainable fisheries — what stood out to me was the appalling state of the current system of commercial fishing. David gave an explanation of how, due to tariffs and working costs, it's cheaper for a company to fish in local East Coast waters, freeze and ship the fish to China for processing, and ship the fish back to the United States, than it is to process in the same region where the fish was caught. Even with all this travel, the fish can still be legally called "locally caught." It's certainly reassuring for me to know that people like David and Sean are working to change this model by supporting and buying directly from fishermen who prepare the fish in the same local waters from which the animals are found.
November 7, 2014
On Oct. 29, Connecticut College students stood in solidarity with Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student who is protesting the way her report of sexual assault was handled on campus. Students from the SGA Public Art Task Force, the College's Think S.A.F.E. Project, and the sophomore seminar class “Art of Protest: Occupy ___” collaborated to carry the mattress to different locations around campus every hour and students were encouraged to sign it.
Learn more: Read "#ConnCollCarries: Bringing the #CarryThatWeight movement to campus," a guest blog post by Bettina Weiss '15.
November 6, 2014
Last Saturday, the Hispanic Studies Department hosted a trip to visit the new Goya exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Francisco Goya (1746-1828) is a well-known Spanish painter and printmaker. While I originally associated him with the stiff portraiture of the royal court, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide variety and versatility of his art. Court culture was merely one aspect of society reflected in his paintings. The influence of the Enlightenment, the Peninsular War, the War of 1812, the American and French revolutions, the church, the Inquisition and much more can be seen within his art; he lived at an extremely interesting time in Spanish history. My favorite is his series of prints, Los Caprichos. A satirical critique of Spanish culture and society, they have a dark humor and informality that contrasts with his paid portraits. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed at the exhibit, but I thought this 7th century glazed earthenware camel from the Sui Dynasty exhibit would make a nice replacement.
November 5, 2014
In my 18 and a half years, I had never been to a gym.
That finally changed this past month. My friend Brion needed a gym buddy, and I obliged. I was a little hesitant about going with a gym aficionado; in fact, I was a little hesitant about going at all. I've always heard that gyms are intimidating, and I certainly don't know how to use any of the equipment, except the treadmill and exercise bike. I was afraid that I'd walk into the gym and immediately be pegged as a fish out of water.
I was surprised to see a number of students and College staff doing different exercises at their own pace. There were probably a few washboard abs in the room, but it actually wasn't that intimidating. Everyone was paying attention to their own things, and I didn't feel like I was being watched or judged. There was a lot of equipment that I didn't know how to use, but Brion helped with that, as did the handy-dandy instructions on every machine. There was also a lot of empty space in the complex, so it was easy to find some privacy when needed. I also got to use the pool, which was great because I love swimming.
Another bonus element to working out: The gym offers a gorgeous view of the Thames River, so you can try to focus on something pleasant while your pores cry with sweat.
I've come to appreciate our gym in many ways. One of my friends that goes to school in a city was given a membership to a gym a few blocks away as a consolation for the lack of a complex at her school.
Overall, my first trip to the gym was not a terrible experience. Although, for about a week afterward, I could barely walk ... but that's another story.
November 3, 2014
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."