Archive for the 'Blog Posts' Category

May 22 2014


Abroad at Home Discussion Thread

Filed under Blog Posts

A ton of people have asked me for a space to discuss my thesis.  Here is the video below:

 

 

Please comment in the comment section.  Please keep in mind that while it is important to be critical, it is also important to keep in mind that these are people’s experiences and they should not be disrespected nor invalidated.  On another note, the absence of other experiences does not mean this piece is stating that these experiences do not exist.  The people who have a voice and space in this short 20 minute spot were chosen intentionally.

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Dec 12 2013


Something Positive

Filed under Blog Posts

It is finals week and for some this is not the most pleasant time.  So I thought something a little bit more positive might be perfect for this time of year.  Something I did not realize until I reached my senior year is that there are some parts of Middlebury College that I love.  There are events and traditions that I have grown very fond of and look forward to every year.  Yet, in trying times it’s often easy to forget to see the shining light.  In the “Man, this Middlebury place isn’t what I necessarily want it to be” phase the positive and exciting might escape the forefront of your thoughts.  To combat this, I arrived at a list of my Top Ten Favorite Events and Things I Look Forward to at Middlebury Every Year List (In no particular order here they are):

The Top Ten Favorite Events and Things I Look Forward to at Middlebury Every Year List:

1. Homecoming (Black Pearl Ball)

There is nothing more wonderful than old people coming back and speaking about their experiences.  Alums have stories for days and from Thurs-Sun the last week of October you have the opportunity to shape your own perspective with some context from the past.  More importantly, this weekend just has fun events. I have at least four distinct Black Pearl Ball memories and instances that I can think back to that will produce a smile.   I can think to at least four conversations that I enjoyed with alums from each year and every fall I look forward to the coming weekend.

2. J-Term

I love J-term.  Who doesn’t?  The idea of J-term itself is enough to send shivers down spines.  Imagine this:  1 month, 1 class, free time to do whatever you want.  I got a P.E. credit for playing dodgeball twice a week and this all came after one long marathon of a fall semester.  If you had the opportunity to do something you really enjoy doing then what better time to surround yourself by it than during J-term?  Yeah, it is cold and it does snow a lot but you will never have trouble finding time to nap, party, hang-out or play video games.  J-term is my favorite time to be on campus because it creates a moment to catch your breath.

3. The DMC Block Party

Every first Saturday of May (Mark for Calendars for May 3rd 2014-shameless plug) DMC hosts its Annual Block Party.  Six or Seven years ago it was called the “Black-Out” because it rained and there was literally a black out followed by untold shenanigans (catch some DMC alums during Homecoming to figure it out). Two word: Plain fun. 3-on-3 basketball tournament, food for weeks, and some sort of music. Last year featured student Dj’s killin’ it on the one’s and two’s and the year before that Dead Prez came and worked the stage through all of the tech issues you could imagine.  Right before Spring finals we rally around good weather (or bad weather in the past), good music, good food and a little bit of basketball.  When it’s cold, snow on the ground and you possibly feel a little grimey (Specialist), it’s always nice to think back to the sun and fun that the block party created.  There are also talks of finding love at the DMC Block Party.  Alums at the last homecoming told us how they met at a DMC Block Party over 10 years ago.  So about those Ross Basketball Courts…You might wanna check out the movie Love and Basketball.

4. Midnight Breakfast

I love Breakfast.  I love Breakfast at midnight.  I love Breakfast at Midnight during Finals week.  It’s just fun.  Its chaos between 10:50 pm and 11:59 but around midnight it dies down and you can enjoy breakfast in between studying for exams and secluding yourself from the rest of the world in a tiny room somewhere that no one knows about to write a paper.  It’s a bright spot for many and I love waffles so I cannot complain.

5. Saturday and Sunday Brunch

I love Breakfast.  I also love sleeping.  So, being able to sleep in but still have time to get breakfast is fantastic. Waking up late on Saturdays and Sundays and still being able to have a Waffle (Which I love) all the way until 2pm in the afternoon is just winning.  Back in the day Ross had large Belgium Waffle Makers and it was an art to make a perfectly crispy yet delicately warm and fluffy waffle.   But if there is anyone strolling into Ross at 1:53pm on a Saturday or Sunday you can count on me because I enjoyed a long sleep and I am holding back exclamations of excitement to have breakfast.

6. 2am I should be working but I am having outrageous conversation with my friends

We all do it.  When we least expect it and when we most need to do work, be it a Wednesday or Tuesday night, but we actually walk into a lounge or a room (that may become our signature spot) and expect to do work.  It all starts with good intentions.  We come into that room after dinner so let’s say its 8:30pm and we buy snacks but suddenly it’s 2 am and we’ve done a ton of laughing, music playing, and even a little bit of random video watching.  The conversation as rages on and you guys have covered every topic from A to Z and laughed non-stop.  At one point or another you all acknowledge that it is late and that you SHOULD either get to work or leave but something about this moment and experience says that this is a valid part of being a college student.  We are supposed to meet these people and waste time together because we are building bonds.  So naturally, you will go to class the next day tired and without having our reading done but we smile because we know that the night before we enjoyed organic conversation and company.

7. Those 2 weeks of spring that feel like summer

In the spring semester for about a week and a half everybody flips a shit:  Because suddenly the sun comes out.  Temperatures reach the high-70s and sometimes the mid-80s and everyone is wearing salmon colored shorts, sitting in Adirondack chairs, and laying in grass.   Everything transforms.  Take your books outside and tan a little while enjoying a slight breeze.  WE ALL lose our minds.  Trips to bodies of water in Vermont, basketball at the courts behind Ross, and finding ways to procrastinate through the weather happen all over campus.  People who have spent full semesters locked away in their rooms now come out and play.  We take our meals outside, the proctor patio is packed and it becomes more okay to just be out and about for no real reason.

8.Going home for short breaks

As time wares on a Middlebury, it just becomes time for a break.  It happens to the best of us. The food becomes bland, we see the same people every day, and we haven’t been away from our work or the stress that comes with it so we get to a place of exhaustion.  Usually when that kicks in we have a break coming up very shortly and we have count-downs and use the upcoming break as motivation to finish all major assignments due right before that vacation comes. I love those breaks.  I love going home and getting the things that are not necessarily available here in Vermont.  Spending time with people I do not see as often is refreshing and it’s the perfect time to recharge before throwing yourself back into the fire.  But what I really like about these short breaks (See Thanksgiving Break) is that it makes me grateful for what I have back home.  I can appreciate the things that I have and can go back to.

9. Finals Week (?)(!)

My favorite week in the thirteen (or twelve…but who’s counting?)** week semester is finals week.  It is a chance to put a strong close and tie up all the loose ends in your semester.  It’s an opportunity to express yourself in different media.  Yes you are going to put in ridiculous hours at the Library and sleep very few hours but I think it’s a time to produce some of your best work.  It’s a moment when you have final projects, essays, presentations…you name, it you got it, but you also have nothing but time.  As a Film major I made remix video after remix video and some of my most creative and expressive works came out of Finals week.  Embrace the struggle because there might just be some closure and final products that you can look back at and feel proud of.

10. Friends

If you get anything out of your time at Middlebury it will be a strong set of friends.  These are the people you laugh with, eat with, and struggle with.  The group of people who all have their own quirks, flaws, and personalities and flaws and flaws.  They can be from your hometown or from all different walks of life and the reality is everyone on campus needs this team. This is your support system that keeps you strong.  When you are away from campus, these are the people with whom you look forward to hanging out when you get back to campus and these are usually the people who can keep you up until 2 am when you should have been doing your work.  One thing about Middlebury is that this team will consist of people who all study different things and have a diverse range of experiences at Midd and pre-Midd but come together and rally around each other.

During this tough week, if you get a chance, which you will because you will find time to not do work, maybe consider listing your favorite events at Midd and thinking about why you enjoy them.
________________________________________________________________________

**A question asked (Raised?)*** by Debanjan Roychoudhury

***An edit mentioned by Debanjan Roychoudhury

 

EDITED BY OLA FADAIRO ’15 From ESPAÑA

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Nov 05 2013


Speak Up. The World is Listening.

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Note from the author:

This week, I want to step away from the darker, more humorous side of my thoughts to transition to that which is more profound, yet more personal. This post, though from a place of frustration and anger, has a greater purpose.  After seven quick, but loaded, weeks, I have found myself very much in my own emotions.  Reflection, more times than not, is a result of isolation; Middlebury allows each student his own isolationist-bubble to reflect.  Like with any reaction to an environment, some are forced to reflect more often than others.  I attach to this privilege of frequency of reflection the seamlessness of your own Middlebury road, a road based on origin an upbringing.  Before you read ahead, understand this is an account of my personal experience. Finally, this post is an attempt to show, in my opinion, how Middlebury needs to acknowledge that it does not do a good job of creating spaces for people who do not come from the “stereotypical” Middlebury student background.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

It’s easy to be quiet.  It’s easy to sit in silence when something upsetting occurs.  Why speak?  Why speak when you know, for a fact, that no matter how articulate you sound, no matter how calm or level-headed you can be, there is this understanding that you don’t actually have a say in what is going on around you?  We cannot show emotion.  Anything above a whisper is already too much and the world immediately shouts: “Oh boy!  Another angry person of color going on about something that only matters to them.”  Thing is, I’m not usually this angry, promise.  It’s just that after six or seven weeks of seeing everyone around me say insensitive shit, I tend to lose my cool a bit.

Have you ever been so angry that you don’t even know what you are angry about anymore?  So angry that you aren’t sure if you are angry about the right thing? So angry that it doesn’t even matter if you are angry because you are in a place that does not caters to your demographic?

“Why not transfer if you hate it so much?”

“What do you mean you don’t like it here?  This place is the most amazing place in the world.”

I want to find the most comfortable sweater, put the hood above my head and put my head down in my desk.  I am tired, exhausted even, from attempting to do what I came here for…to provide diversity for the campus.  I’m not here to get an education and get a job (Like everyone else).  I am not here to take four classes a semester.  I am always taking five classes a semester because being of color is like having an additional job.  Being of color means I have signed a contract with the school so it can tell me that I shouldn’t be so upset when I hear that it’s okay to “other” groups of people in class.

You should be happy that you are here and you should not make noise. This place is welcoming.

Everyone preaches  political correctness and being liberal at a place in which there are few safe spaces.  There are even fewer spaces to be real and honest.  From the start, we are forced to identify ourselves because if we don’t then someone else will.  Once everyone chooses their personal identifiers (note: some identifiers cannot be just put on. For example, your sex, race and ethnicity are not identifiers that you are in control of.  So sucks to be you kiddo), then the readily available groups appear to you.  The campus compartmentalizes (and if you don’t believe me then peep the fact that there are two different homecomings.  There is one homecoming for “everyone” and then there is the “people of color” homecoming).  Some are fortunate because they can switch between identities on a regular basis.  Truth of the matter is, I don’t see why middkids make such a big fuss about dressing up for Halloween when we perform and dress up everyday on campus.

This is supposed to be my school.  I am supposed to be proud and happy to say I go here.  I love homecoming.  It’s my favorite weekend of the year.  However, once I graduate, how am I supposed to return to a place I cannot consider home?  Soon after I arrived, school was no longer about growth, but rather survival.

What do I tell my students when they ask me if they should go to Middlebury College?

Should I say it’s going to be the most fun experience of your life or should I say, “To be honest, you will struggle.  That struggle will make you stronger (Love the clichés.  Make everything worth while) and you will learn that the true meaning of being isolated.  You will be in the middle of nowhere feeling like you should put your head down and come up for air in May of your senior year.  Fake it ‘til you make it and hope nobody forces your hand.  Don’t show your cards because it hurts to be honest.  Truth is, it hurts to hurt.  It hurts to hurt even more when you are in the middle of nowhere and you are in a place where you might as well be talking to walls.”  I swear I only speak because I want to see change.  Real change.  I want to see responsibility.  I want to see accountability.  I feel like I am held accountable for every single step I take on campus. Why shouldn’t everyone else be held to that same standard?  If I hear another Pub Safe officer ask me if “I’m all set,” I might just ask them if they can escort me off campus because apparently I must be missing something or possibly up to no good if, God forbid, I wanted to get something to eat from the Grille.

What if your culture was sitting on your shoulders every time you walked in a room?  The weight of everything you grew up with just sitting right in front of you for everyone to see?  But don’t bring attention to it though, because if you do everyone else might be uncomfortable.  I am sorry.  I truly am sorry that everything associated with the way I look stares you in the face.  I am sorry that you don’t sit well in your seat because I never found a comfortable chair for me yet.  Yeah the trees and shit are beautiful.  Everyone wants to save the squirrels running around campus.  I’m really happy for you and I will let you finish but the real reason I seem uninterested is because I am still here trying to understand why I need to work extra hard to create a space where I can say “Hey Middlebury, Be Better.”

Yours in Solidarity,

Timothy Garcia ’14

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The onus of making Middlebury a place that is accepting and open for all students falls squarely on students who are othered. I feel like I am abroad at Middlebury because I feel like every aspect of this educational institution reminds me that I am not like everyone else. Moreover, because there are no spaces to feel comfortable, I need to swallow it on and work harder than the “normal” Middlebury student to create something that resembles the spaces that most already has access to.  My fifth class means I need to reach out for support constantly.  Although support systems exist for some, I must find my own.  Middlebury needs to make the classroom, the dining hall, the events, and every space on campus more inclusive and safe.

 

**Edited by Olamide Fadairo ‘15**

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Oct 02 2013


“Sex, Drugs and Higher Learning” (Title by Kenny Williams)

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I paused right before I entered the bathroom.  It was a Saturday or Sunday.  Pretty much the same day because I had no clue how this trip to the bathroom would result.  If it was a Saturday morning then that meant Friday was the night before and if it was a Sunday then Saturday night had just ended.  Before I opened the door, I prepared myself for whatever the night held (I lived on an active floor freshman year to say the least).

Some days it was shattered glass scattered across the ground.  I considered myself lucky when the bathroom stall door was on the floor instead the hinge because I wouldn’t have to walk directly on the casual (Peep the word choice, its intentional I promise) vomit that missed any sort of receptacle for the aforementioned vomit. However, once you saw it you took a deep breath and kept it pushing. So what? It didn’t matter! Acknowledge and move on.  Aren’t you supposed to party in College?

Pause. Let’s think about that. Why are you here?  You might be at college to learn how to write.  Maybe you want to analyze classic literature (Old dead White men).  Maybe you want to meet people and network.  It might have dawned on you that maybe, just maybe, possibly, you are here to learn a language, study abroad, and or overwhelm yourself with academics and extra curricular activities. At Midd you will get an opportunity to do all of the above and even more! But, what we really spend four years at Midd doing is learning how to cope. That’s right. Something useful. We are exploring coping methods and sometimes we never actually learn healthy coping methods for high stress environments similar to the series that Middlebury College produces.

Yes, we go to school in the middle of nowhere. Yes we get a ton of reading and even more difficult assignments.  Some of us add on a sport and extracurricular activities so when it comes to the end of the week, all we want is a distraction in the middle of a veiled bubble. Middlebury culture is not real life (sorry freshman!). We subconsciously adapt to this by using coping methods that are,

  1. socially embraced/acceptable or
  2. unhealthy.

Sometimes both options combine.

Drinking and Partying (let’s throw in a focus on sexual relationships somewhere in there) are topics that could be their own blog post and they probably will be but what we need to acknowledge is that binge drinking and partying are normative coping methods for Midd kids.  Not only do students use binge drinking and partying to cope and distract themselves, but the community also plays a part by welcoming these things.  In fact, Midd has a way of making someone feel alienated if he or she is not taking part in the common coping methods. “You’re not going out tonight? You don’t like drinking?”  The words themselves do not hold much weight but the shocked face asking the questions tells you just how odd you are.

(I am not saying we shouldn’t party or drink.  I am however, saying that we need to find more positive ways to distract ourselves. Drinking and partying, used properly, can produce positive experiences but I do not think Midd an environment in which that scenario can exist.  It is easy to do as the mass does and not think twice about it.)

Our weekly routine can become self-destructive and unhealthy. I did not realize until a week ago that I have stumbled upon healthy coping methods at Midd.  I noticed that for some reason I loved 7:30 screenings. No matter how long or how boring, screenings present the opportunity to get away from campus despite their location in Axinn. I am fortunate enough to delve into a new world once or even twice a week. I took my first film course my freshman year and it stuck much like that vomit does to that freshman bathroom floor.  Every semester since, I found myself in screenings for mine and those classes that were not mine. During screenings I could let go of the stress of the paper due in two days and the event I needed to organize. I could let go of the anxiety that comes with being a Middlebury student.

Going to screenings is not enough.  As I got deeper and deeper into my college career, I began to find other coping mechanisms. I started doing things for me. When I felt homesick, I would attempt to re-create some semblance home or home-based activities. These things did not need to be major because as time goes on, you tend to realize the small details make a space into a place (word to Martha Stewart). For example, I would find certain foods that I ate at home but were not necessarily in Ross dining hall and found ways to take part in activities that reminded me of home. Another example: last week I got highly upset and decided I needed to get a haircut.  The incident had nothing to do with my hair but once I got a haircut, I felt refreshed.

Another large section of coping is choosing with whom we surrounded ourselves.  A couple of friends and I organize small activities. Once a week we take a trip to Mickey D’s or purchase food that we eat in our dorms. The point of this activity is that we need to feel like we are away from the everyday routine. Once a semester, this same friend group and I get together and watch movies from our childhood or we’ll even have a ridiculous sleep over in a lounge somewhere. And that’s okay because we are in college. We find sanctuary in having strong personal bonds and noticing that we do not need a pre-game to enjoy ourselves in a tight room. (Yeah I did that on purpose)

While on the one hand, we need to find ways to cope and deal with the stress we put on ourselves at Middlebury, we cannot use these methods to distract ourselves from our responsibilities. I think it is easy to use mediated text to help us cope. Making time for sports or television shows might be highly effective ways to take yourself outside of the Middlebury bubble, but so could leisure reading and writing.  Exploring passions tend to provide us with an escape. But if we need to cope and find distractions might there be something fundamentally wrong with the system and institution itself or is it something we should accept?  We all must find an accurate answer to this on our own.

Editor:  Ola Fadairo, Currently Located in Madrid Spain.  Shout out to the big homie.

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Sep 04 2013


Delusions of Grandeur

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I remember coming into my freshman year excited and feeling like I had finally made it.  This was it!  I was going to the Promised Land.  A place to do all those things I dreamed of, heard of, and saw on television.  I looked forward to the partying, the freedom, and the fresh start. I wanted so badly to make connections.  This anxiety even applied to academics.  I could not wait to take classes and have deep discussions.  I might even read a book or two.  The options were endless.

The start of my college career was a chance to start over. I could be whoever I wanted and I had an opportunity to pick a path that was my own.  I could start developing habits of my choosing.  Whether bad or good, I had the power to try things I had always wanted to try. This new world was exactly what I wanted and prepared for.  As a result, there was this “energy,” that I believed I shared with a majority the incoming freshman class.

There is only one word to describe orientation week: overstimulation – a word I could now use to describe almost every aspect of Middlebury College.  The millions of names I learned each day but could not remember, the freshman energy (from every other freshman) that consumes you, and the buzz on campus was inescapable.  However, in retrospect, I could neither put my finger on how I felt nor could I diagnose what was going on. At the end of the day it’s pretty simple:  Midd is in your face.  From the start, Midd tells you, academically and socially; it’s in your face and its unapologetic.  It also seems like everyone is bought into being “In your Face.”

As freshmen, during orientation, we did not step into a total of 2 classes and we did not attend a Midd Party (besides the square dance and 80’s/90’s party) with the rest of the student body but we know everything.  We speak of our future majors, partying all year, and being life long friends.  I could pay tuition if I got any amount of money for the many times I heard, “Work Hard Party Hard” during orientation.  All of these expectations come before we even spend any substantial time on campus. Not only was everything in your face but suddenly everything was moving quickly and it seemed like life was now in the fast lane.

With all my peers seeming like they bought in, I was confused.  I was unsure of how I felt.  However, it seemed easy to buy in like everyone else.  Eventually I needed to decide if was going to pretend to enjoy campus or if I was going to make my own fun. I expected parties at midd to be fun, I expected everyone to be open and warm, and I expected classes to be challenging but not overwhelming.  To my surprise, everything was quite different from my expectations.  On top of that, everything was coming at me so quickly that there was not time to reflect and realize that the grand college experience was not as golden or squeaky-clean as I thought it would be. This was my experience: some of my peers knew exactly what to expect.  Some of my peers already had an in-group.  Some of my peers already experienced the culture that an elitist* institution produces.  Some of my peers were already aware of social norms that exist in this type of institution.  I had no clue what I walked into.  It did not click immediately for me.  I looked to upper classmen and hoped that with time I could be in their place and eventually it would all come together.

As soon as I felt like everything was different than what it should have been, “my world” (because when we are freshmen everything is bigger and badder** than it actually is) began to fall apart.  I fell behind in class and on top of that it seemed like no one else in the class was in the same predicament.  Everyone seemed like he or she were getting it.  I was drowning and no one else in the classroom was with me.  I was falling asleep in class.  I set an early bed time and was knocked out first thing in the morning. To make it worse, I sat in the front row every single day. It was so bad that during my Biology 0145 final someone in the back of the room shouted, “Is Tim up?”  I tried eating in class.  Brought apples everyday from the dining hall and nothing was working.  I sat next to people who I knew would elbow me awake but nothing was working.  I somehow survived Freshman fall and there were dramatic changes after J-term.

My biggest take away from my first year at college was that confidence is everything.  Being confident in your abilities changes your entire experience.  I noticed that when I was confident in my academic classes, I could speak up more often. I also noticed that once I found my confidence during J-term I felt comfortable in class and had more energy.  Once I was confident, I stayed wide awake in class.  I did not need apples or a strict bedtime.  Being confident and feeling like I could take this whole college thing on mixed with planning my schedule better helped it click and come together.

 

If I could talk to Freshman Me here is what I would say:

1. Take a step back.  Breath.  Everything in this bubble, everything in this campus, is magnified.  When you look back at it, something that might infuriate you on campus, might not even be that serious.

2. Speak up.  You are your only advocate.

3. Use your planner.

4.  Its okay if Friday night is just walking around (If you are walking around with people you genuinely like).

5. The CTLR is amazing resource.  Plan ahead and use that time wisely.

6.  Let experiences take you.  Expectations can be hurtful to your experience.

7.  College is a place to grow but that takes time.

8.  Adversity helps you grow.  Failure or feeling like you failed should be embraced.

9. Acknowledge your privilege and your surroundings. Notice who is around you and who you think you are.

10.  Enjoy the moment but realize that almost everything on campus is annual and you have at least 3 more opportunities to experience.

11. When you are in class, remember that college is about YOU! This is your experience and it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or how they seem to be doing.  Compete with yourself.

 


*Elitist (As defined by American Heritage Dictionary Online):

1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

2.

       a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.

       b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

 

** Badder:

1. Not a word.  It’s my blog I do what I want.


 

Editor:  Ola Fadairo, Currently Located in Madrid Spain.  Shout out to the big homie.

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