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My Freshman Hell

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As I walked, biked and pushed myself over my limits for about 350 kilometres from Leon to Santiago de Compostella as I did Camino de Santiago, I learned what God truly meant to me.

I had always known that God was part of me and I was part of God. Pushing over the Spanish hills and mountains, sick, sweaty, challenged beyond my strength, I learned that God was at all time present in my life- I learned to see God in the eyes and faces of my fellow piligrims who offered me their water bottles, their words of motivation, their food or money. God for me, you know, is Love.

In 4 days I hitchhiked alone from Spain to Bulgaria.  I was alone and profoundly vulnerable, yet I felt no fear. I had unshakable trust in human beings. I knew my Love was my strength, my “weapon”; my tool for change, for advocacy, for exchange. And I was in a process of constant exchange of love, ideas, warmth and kindness which I knew transformed not only me.

There were some rear occasions when people tried to take advantage of my energy in ways I could not appreciate, yet I learned to accept and view them as simply instances of deprivation of what is so important for us, human beings- love and human connection. Nothing could hurt me. I was powerful in my vulnerability.

*

I came to college trusting that I had nothing to hide, trusting in the community I was being introduced to as I trusted the strangers I met on the highways across Europe, who often went out of their way to help me be safe, hitchiking.

I came to college in the United States of America to learn that women are, indeed, marginalized.

I learned that as a female writer tackling sexuality and polyamory I was inherently making myself a subject of discrimination and sexualization.

What’s worst I found out that people think it’s fair. If I can choose not to write about sexuality, yet I pick the alternative, than I must be searching for it…

There was this point in my second semester… I had even stopped writing my “Love and sexuality” column, which I otherwise saw as an opportunity to share my views and contribute for the diversity of alternatives, of ideas, of philosophies, and even educate, in a way.

My guy friends. My girlfriends. My gay friends. They just all wanted to explore their boundaries. With me. It was sickening.

The idea that people reduced me to just one array of my knowledge and experience was sickening.

It was sickening  to see how IT WASN’T ABOUT ME.

It was sickening to realize that in this environment I had to watch out for myself.

When instant gratification is the ultimate aim of a certain body of people, everything translates into sex. Kundalini becomes sex. Love distorts into sex. Intimacy, connection, all of that is lost for the sake of sex.

And yes, I am sex positive, but in my mind, in my life and in my writing sex is only one of many paths to human connection.

**

I learned that no one goes on dates in college and that if you are “lucky” to go out with someone, then the person will simply assume they have the right to your body by the end of the night as a prize for the extra effort to even take you out…

I learned that relationships are conditional. Relationships work as long as it’s fun, as long as you don’t have to work at it.

I remember being at New York, couchsurfing during Feb break, and just realizing how fearful I’ve become of truly expressing myself and expressing what I am and I’m not comfortable with out of pure fear not to lose any more people…

I learned that I’m “too much”.

And that the ideal relationship in college consist of no more than 3 things: partying, watching Netflix together and having sex.

I learned that both romantic partners and friends alike will not acknowledge my existence once the relationship transforms/ends. That it does not matter how much laughter, tears and secrets we’ve given to each other, people can treat you as an absolute stranger without a blink of the eye.

Do people forget THAT FAST?

HOW?

How do you sleep next to someone night after night and then treat them as shit?

How do you see your “best friend” you have pushed away and not at least tell them you appreciate them and your past even if you need something else at the moment?

How do you forget that there is another human being in front of you and that the Other is not an inanimate object, but a living being with emotions and feelings just like you?

In my freshman year at college I learned that no matter how present I am, I may still be invisible. That I can hold a “friend”‘s hand as she cries and tells me she’s all alone and I may still not exist.

I learned what it feels like to feel used. I genuinely care about people. I try my best to be available for people. I believe in the power of sharing. I believe human connection can heal even very deep wounds. But as I was listening to people and experiencing their pain with them, I found out people stopped asking: “How are you?”.

I told myself it was me. I must be presenting myself as “strong”, as not needing support. I probably just don’t give people an entry to myself, no matter how open and approachable I see myself, it probably just isn’t enough… But when after a terrible night I went to the counselling center feeling worse than I’ve ever felt (with all my past) and shared that with some people I believed I was connected to, there was nothing… NOTHING.

And we just kept on the conversation…

***

I have learned a lot in and out of the classroom this year, at college, in the United States of America.

And while I receive full financial aid and don’t really pay anything monetarily, my education is already overpriced.

I have lost so much over this year. It’s been a very high price.

I have not stopped trying to stay true to myself and Be love and Give love, no matter if there’s any return.

It’s been SO hurting. So difficult to see how nothing is working.

For me this is crucial. I learn through my relationships with people. I grow and transform through my putting my love into everything that is important to me.

I can not put aside my heart to educate my brain.

And If I waste my time writing this it is because, apart from helping me stay sane, I still hope there are people out there and on this campus who might share a similar vision with me for an education and a world that does not require you to be either happy or successful and that we can stay grounded in our humanity and make the extra effort to connect and build reationships based on honesty and love and consideration for the other.

 

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Little Daily Insight: A Boston memory

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Panoramic_Boston I’m on the metro, leaving the city to go to New York, squeezed by the bodies around me, sweating in an effort to keep my luggage out of people’s way, trying to stick out my face from the pulsating mass of people in order to breathe. Across me is a young man. He has nice features. He smiles to me, but I gaze to the side- my hair’s WAY TOO messy!
Then again I look back, he smiles again (but he probably laughs quietly from the inside) and I smile, too. At the next station people get on and off the train and we get pushed even closer to each other. He has paint all over his jacket. He’s probably a construction worker.
–The metro is the most unfriendliest place to be in- he says and I look at him again, this time holding on to the eye contact: how often do you find yourself so close to someone and never say a word?
I smile again. We talk. I leave.
We should have hugged… Or haven’t we?


In Their Own Words: Alice Oshima ’15

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Alice Oshima ‘15 interned with the Harlem Community Justice Center in New York City.

What did you do?

This summer, I interned with the Harlem Community Justice Center, which is part of the umbrella organization the Center for Court Innovation. Inside the Harlem Community Justice Center, there is a housing court, a family court, a re-entry court, and a youth court. The housing, family, and re-entry courts operate as legitimate New York State courts, but with a specific focus on restorative justice. The youth court on the other hand, which is the program I was working with, works outside the court system and relies of referrals from precincts, the law department, and schools. For my internship, I worked with my supervisor and two other interns to facilitators the trainings of the youth court members. I lead ice-breakers or warm-ups before most sessions—one of the most popular of which was the Enneagram personality test. I facilitated the introductory training, as well as trainings on appropriate sanctions, perceptions and assumptions, and jury deliberation. These lessons were based on the youth court training curriculum created by the Center for Court Innovation, but I was encouraged to make any changes or additions I saw fit. In addition to these curriculum-based trainings, I helped facilitate a session on feminism and gender roles created by a fellow intern. I also began developing curriculum for workshops on mental health and teenagers, and race and the criminal justice system, but was unable to finish and facilitate them due to time. I researched and compiled a list of suggest videos for the training sessions or for the coming year—this list included TED talks, spoken word poems, and documentary clips.

What did you learn?

Before this internship, I had very little knowledge regarding the logistics of our criminal justice system, as well as the flaws with this system. From leading training sessions, and watching my supervisor and fellow interns lead sessions, I learned a great deal about how the court system works and the possibilities offered by restorative justice, but also about some of the shortcomings of the current restorative justice projects available. The internship also gave me experience modifying curriculum, teaching lessons, and in general, working with young people. These experience was very educational, as well as fun! But it was also my first time doing any of these things, and so with time, I think I would have gotten better at making the lesson plans even more dynamic and fully engaging all of the youth. Although I feel I made progress, as a teacher, there is still a lot a lot of work for me to be done.

What are your plans for the future?

In terms of my future plans, I do not plan to specifically focus on restorative justice as a career, but I plan to be involved in social activism for my lifetime and engage with the mass incarceration of predominantly black and Latino men in this country, and the major flaws in our criminal justice system in general, are issues that I hope to continue to be work with in the future. I also am highly considering either being a New York City public high school teacher, or working with high-school aged youth in some other capacity, and so the experience I gained working with that age group will definitely be valuable.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

In Their Own Words: Lelise Getu ’13

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Lelise Getu ’13 interned doing Immunology Research at the NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

What did you do?

I interned full time as a research assistant with the B-Cell Immunology Laboratory at Alexandria center for life sciences for NYU School of Medicine. During my nine weeks stay at Silverman’s laboratory, I worked on three main research projects related to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients. My first research project aimed to reason out the causes for the increased rate of cardiovascular disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients when compared to healthy controls (a person without RA). I used a common biological methodology called Elisa (Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) to analyze the patient’s blood samples in order to deduce different hypothesis. This methodology can be very hectic and time consuming if one wants to test different hypothesis at the same time. Hence, my second project mainly focused on developing a standard Luminex (LumAvidin) protocol that helps to test all hypotheses at the same time. My third research project on the other hand focused on finding the etiology (cause) of RA in relation to proteins called citrullinated peptides.

What did you learn?

This internship experience showed me how significant science is in solving real life problems. Through this internship experience, I have developed excellent organizational skills, including the ability to multi-task and prioritize efficiently; ability to work independently on assigned projects; excellent understanding of statistical calculations involved in data analysis: strong analytical, problem solving, organizational, and presentation skills. I also met and networked with renowned health care professionals through different lectures and journal clubs that consequently helped me to expand my knowledge on immunology and microbiology. The most exciting part of the internship was working with real RA patient’s blood sample. These brought the significance of school work to solving real life problems.

What are your plans for the future?

The research experience has made me rethink my post-graduate plans. At the moment, I am doing pre-requisites for pharmacy schools. However, from last summer internship experience I found pharmacy not that challenging. I liked the challenge and the learning process involved in doing research. Hence, upon graduation I plan to take a year off to do research and then most probably make my doctor of pharmacy degree research focused by doing PharmD/PHD.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

In Their Own Words: Catherine Charnov ’13

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Catherine Charnov ’13 interned with Universal Records in New York City.

What did you do?

This summer, I interned in the A&R department of Universal Records in New York City. I had previous experience in music marketing, publicity and management but really wanted to understand how musical decisions are made and how artists are found. This internship was the perfect opportunity. Every day, I researched unfound and upcoming talent using online resources and sales charts to present, with a formal report, to my boss for review and the possibility of further research or analysis. I was also in charge of compiling airplay charts and lists of top artists world wide, monitoring sales spikes and online fan bases. I also got to help with miscellaneous tasks such as making CD labels and inserts, setting up instruments and stage equipment in their showcase lounge, and creating manifests for disc filing. We were also sometimes allowed to watch artists’ showcases and critique unreleased singles in listening sessions. Every Friday, representatives from different departments, such as digital marketing, the TV sync team, international dept., sales, etc., would come and speak to the interns for around an hour about what their department was and how things worked. This was extremely helpful in terms of solidifying my understanding of the company as a whole and how each piece of the larger whole fit together. Middlebury prepared me for this internship by teaching me to be timely, responsible, and eager to learn. Not much of what I did this summer could have been acquired in a classroom setting because everything was so hands-on and practical.

What did you learn?

An example of what made this internship meaningful to me was when I got to congratulate Florence + The Machine on her newest album going platinum. She came into the office and we got to present her with a gold plaque etc. It was great for me to realize not only the side of an artist’s manager, AIR representative, and sales team but also how much time and hard work the artist must put in to achieve such great successes. I was honored to be a part of Florence’s celebration. The thing I learned the most from this internship was how hard you have to work and how much you have to really want it to get anywhere in the music business. In A&R in particular— if you are behind the signing of one top-selling, amazing artist, you are golden and automatically promoted. However, if you do not get that lucky, it seems that only persistence and patience are the keys to success.

What are your plans for the future?

I think this internship will greatly impact my future career plans because before this summer, I was wondering if A&R would, after my experiences in other parts of the music business, be a better fit for my interests, and it turned out to be perfect. I would be very happy to get a job after graduation working at Universal Records of for the A&R department of another record label. I love working directly with the musicians and the music they create.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.