Monthly Archives: November 2011

Home Stretch

The end of fall semester for a Middlebury student typically parallels winter season sells. Thanksgiving Break = Black Friday. We get a couple days off to relax (or make some final-year purchases at a discounted price). But just as shopping malls restock their inventory in preparation for christmas sales as soon Thanksgiving is over, students returning from the Thanksgiving holidays have one thing on their minds: Christmas break.

The end of the term is not far away. In less than two weeks, classes will have ended. In less than a month, most students will be back home. For some, that means a relatively short drive away from campus. For others, that means getting on one (or a few) flights over a period of hours or even days. In any case, before we know it we’ll be gone and another semester will have ended. Of course, fourteen days doesn’t seem that long until you start factoring in the amount of work that needs to get done before we are free.

As all my fellow students would agree, finals week is tough. Starting next monday the library will be open 24 hours. So exciting! Its my favorite time of the year. Really. Not. Well, it depends I guess… For any prospective students reading this, I’m sure its going to be a stressful few weeks as well. Not only do you have to prepare for school finals, deadlines for college applications are right around the corner. I understand. I was there once too. In fact, I’m doing the same thing for graduate school right now.

Sometimes there’s an urge to give up, convince yourself that you dont want it, and watch hulu. In some cases, this impulse is right. Its time to reevaluate priorities. There isn’t much time left so start thinking about what you wan’t most. Be smart about how you tackle these upcoming weeks — a little planning can go a long way. Be attentive to details, but focus on the big picture. As you probably already know, its always worth it in the end (in some way or another).

Good luck to everyone. The reward is waiting.

Eclectic. Relaxed. Informal.

So you’re probably wondering where Midd kids hang out when they are not busy with their studies or extra curricular activities.

There are various places on campus where we sit back and enjoy being stress-free, such as the Grille and/or Crossroads Cafe in McCullough Student Center, the comforts of the common room in our respective dorms, the Wilson cafe, or the quads, but there are times when we find ourselves wandering around the town of Middlebury.

51 Main is an obvious choice for many of us. The dim lights, delicious food, numerous board games, and the live music draw a large crowd every night it is open.
The live music varies from mellow singer-songwriter types to a full blues-jam night, showcasing Middlebury students, local acts, and musicians on the rise from nearby areas. Trust me, you want to get there on the earlier side if you want to be guaranteed a seat.

The menu is phenomenal. It consists of food items to fit every budget ranging from hummus and pita chips to Brazilian Skirt Steak and weekly soup/salad specials. But make sure you leave some room for dessert because the chef is known for his fabulous “51” Chocolate Mousse, described as a decadent dark mousse with a hint of vanilla and essence of lush Cabernet Sauvignon, topped with seasonal fruit and whipped cream.

You never know who is going to be sitting at the table next to yours. It could be Julia Alvarez, the writer-in-residence who has published many novels and poems. The director of Admissions? Perhaps it’s your future sociology professor. Maybe it’s President Ron Liebowitz himself.

The next time you’re in Middlebury, be sure to swing by for a delicious meal (lunch or dinner) and say hello to the chef!


Thanks and Snow

When I told my mom I was planning on staying on campus for Thanksgiving break, she was really worried: “but will the dining halls be open? Wont you starve? Will there be anyone else there? Wont you be lonely?” I had to laugh at her questions. The truth is, there are a LOT of people here for break. It’s always really relaxing to be on campus when there aren’t too many people here—you can just spend time with friends and sleep a lot more than usual. My roommate and I are planning to watch a lot of movies and eat a lot—the International Students Organization organizes and funds dinners for everyone staying here.

And the best part of this break? Last night, it started snowing!!! Our first real snow of the year—it’s still coming down, 20 hours later. I love snow. Even after years of it, I can still sit and watch snow fall, mesmerized, for hours. This break provides the perfect opportunity for my favorite activities: running around in snow and snuggling in bed with a mug of tea. What could be better? This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I get to spend the day in one of my favorite places on earth.


Final Registration!

I am still grappling with the fact that I just registered for my last semester of classes at Middlebury College. It is quite surreal as I vividly remember the first session of registration and the first weeks of school that followed and know that I will soon have an even stronger memory of receiving a diploma, donning a cap and gown. I don’t want to accept my nearing departure or come to terms with the idea of leaving this utopia and entering the harsh confines of the big old world. While I am distressed at the simple thought of leaving, I have an equally calm sensation knowing that Middlebury has aptly prepared me to go. I am at ease knowing that I have experienced Middlebury in a true liberal arts fashion and can leave feeling fulfilled.  This satisfied sensation stems from experimenting in arguably too many activities, exploring Middlebury’s extensive programs and saying yes more often than saying no.  My best 10 tips for current students who have an expiration date that is not as pressing as 2012 are to

10  Explore Vermont in every season

9      Eat at restaurants in town or cook meals with close friends at least once a week

8      Go to lectures, especially outside of your major

7      Pick classes that truly excite you (makes reading much more enjoyable)

6      Get a good coat

5      Meet as many people as you can, low acceptance rates make for pretty outstanding individuals

4      Take advantage of all the great social options but don’t forget to have some alone time

3      Go abroad

2      Live in large, communal housing for at least a semester

1      Call mom and dad more than you want to



Thanks, Middlebury!

By committing to Middlebury College, we, the students, have decided that this institution was the place where we’d trade in $200k+ and 4 years of our lives in exchange of its stellar undergrad experience. Sure, we all expected to take ECON105 and maybe discover a new passion for History of Africa, or even take part in a theater production but personally speaking, I think I have grown exponentially during my time at Middlebury far beyond the academic setting.

People have referred to our campus as a ‘country club’ in its remarkable facilities and general easygoing atmosphere. I won’t deny that we attend an institution that runs like butter but I think sometimes the  tangible aspects get in the way of realizing the little things. So I will take a stroll down memory lane of all the things I am thankful for as an attribute to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

1. Perks of traveling abroad as a Midd student. 
a)I was never afraid to travel alone because I knew that if I ever got lost, I would have contact information of someone who can help me. I cried tears of joy when my friends came to my rescue when I was lost in Gare du Nord with severely limited French comprehension skills.
b) I literally ran into a Midd student when I went to visit Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Talk about a total coincidence!
c) I was able to receive personal recommendations from students studying in various parts of the world while planning out trips.

2.  Meaningful internships
I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in Costa Rica by partaking in an arts/literacy program in San Jose, Costa Rica during my sophomore year J-Term. Funding to participate in this program was available by the Middlebury Arts Council, who provided a generous stipend to help cover traveling and living costs.

This past summer, I secured an internship through the Career Services Office and I spent time in Louisville, Kentucky as a summer school teacher for at-risk youth. It was probably the hardest I’ve worked and boy, did it make me appreciate my teachers a whole lot more, but the outcome was well worth my efforts.

3. Good school-sponsored activities
Middlebury is the farthest thing from identifying as a metropolitan city. The school realizes this and makes a strenuous effort to ensure that students are entertained. There are numerous guest lecturers, LNDPs (late night dance parties, duh), small and large venue concerts (can we bring Kid Cudi back please?), comedians (Judah Friedlander, you are the MAN)—-and these are only activities that are sponsored by MCAB! Each campus organization is given a budget to have fun and events are open to the entire Middlebury campus. I love that I don’t have to make a huge effort to figure out what I’m doing this weekend; I can just open up my email and see what all is happening.

4. (lack of) meal plan
I am extremely thankful that this institution does not make me pay for every food item that I consume on a daily basis. We also do not have a swiping system and it makes this place feel more like home, as I can walk into all three dining halls and eat as much as I want. Already looking forward to the next Breakfast for Dinner!

5. School spirit
I love walking around campus and seeing everyone displaying their Midd apparel. Even more so, I enjoy seeing them off campus.
Midd hockey opened up its season last night against Colby and I must say, I have never been prouder to be sitting in the Student Section with my best friends cheering for our boys. (special shout out to PRESCOTT HOUSE)

Shankin’ My Fanny Muscle

No We Can’t !
YES, You can!

Oh crap. I really can’t. I can’t sing. Why I am just thinking about this now? Mona you knew you were going to be auditioning for a musical! But I thought they would just need back-up dancers and if it’s one thing I can do it’s shake my Von-tusle! Well what are you going to do now? The door is too far away and the director looks so excited. Well, let’s hope there is another tone deaf soul in the room. Here goes nothing.

        Such was the internal turmoil I experienced when I auditioned for Hairspray. I was soooo excited over the musical that I forgot the obvious. You have to know how to sing, dance and act. The latter two I have experience with, but singing. Let’s just say when I sing solo’s I sing so low no one hears me. In fact I am so skilled that I was actually part of the original Milly Vanilli. I am someone who sings at the top of my lungs when I am right in front of a speaker, but when other are in my presence I try to practice social cues and not embarrass others.
Needless to say I made it in. We were told we would be given voice lessons and have group practices. So far what I have learned is. When you have 25 people who can sing and 7 who can’t. The majority do a stellar job of drowning out the rest of us. I have slightly improved however. If I stand next to an alto, I am pretty talented and mimicking their pitch. However if a tenor, or bass or soprano get to close. I get thrown off and attempt to see all the tones. I try though. I am truly excited for J-term though. This is when we will begin to learn all the choreograpy and the script and if it’s one thing I will perfect it will be the hussle. This J-term, my final J-term at Middlebury I have decided to do something a little out of my comfort zone. In the past I was nervous to use J-term as a time to do something just for me. My past three J-terms I have taken  Micro-Economics, Living with Illness(Best class I have ever taken!) and last year I became a certified Hospice volunteer.  All have taught me something about myself, but have truly been classroom based. Hairspray will afford the opportunity to be in Town Hall theater everyday from 1-4 pm then from 7-10 pm. I await J-term with sheer happiness and anticipation. Get your tickets early! They go on sale January 8th. For Middkidds. Look it up at go/obo!


Friday afternoons have always been a magical time for me here at Middlebury. I’ve been fortunate over the years to only have class on Friday mornings, so that by the time lunch rolls around, it really feels like the weekend is here. Over the years, I’ve gotten into specific Friday afternoon routines (and as someone who generally dislikes changes and loves a schedule, routines work well for me) that have always signified the beginning of the weekend for me. During my freshman year, I went to a fabulous yoga class during the lunch hour, then ate a late lunch at Atwater dining hall with friends, and then spent my afternoons hanging in Battell and attending the weekly Friday snack provided by our CRA (something to look forward to if you’re lucky enough to live in Cook Commons freshman year!). Sophomore year, a friend of mine got me hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, so we would use our Friday afternoons to catch up on the previous Thursday’s episode. During junior year, Friday afternoons usually consisted of a long lunch in Proctor dining hall, catching up with the newspaper and with various friends as they floated in and out of the dining hall. And now, senior year, Friday afternoons are particularly sweet. I usually head to Atwater around noon and enjoy a classic Atwater Friday lunch of hearth bread (like pizza, but way better and the toppings are usually always veggies), Caesar salad and today in particular, a curried lentil soup, and catch up with various friends as they trickle in after morning classes. On Friday afternoons, everyone seems relaxed and excited for the weekend and whatever stress or worries of the week fall away.

Today also happens to be a gorgeous day in Middlebury, a bright and crisp late November day that shows off the absolute beauty of our campus. The Adirondack Mountains far in the distance are already capped with snow, the last of autumn leaves are swirling around campus, but the bright sun still adds a warmth and glow to the campus. As we head into the Thanksgiving break and the final weeks of the semester, I can feel myself dragging my feet, wishing for time to slow down. And every time we get a beautiful Friday like this, all I really want to do is sit for a leisurely lunch in Atwater, catch up on some Grey’s Anatomy, and look forward to the weekend.

So happy Friday from Middlebury and all of us Senior Fellows!

But you’re American…

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’m sitting at my Senior Fellow desk, as always, nervously watching the hours pass as the Cultural Show put on by Middlebury’s International Students Organization (ISO) approaches.  The event is often touted as the best show of the year, and as the emcee for this year’s show, I’m beginning to feel the pressure.

I am currently in charge of ISO’s social events as a member of the Executive Board.  And being the outgoing person I am, was volunteered to host the organization’s biggest shindig of the year.  After several late nights spent writing scripts and sitting through dress and tech rehearsals, the day has finally arrived.  Tonight, I get to help showcase one of Middlebury’s best attributes – internationalism!

I know, I know, I’m not an international student.  But it’s all about countries from all over the world coming together to share their culture.  To me, it’s important for Middlebury and American culture to be incorporated, too.  I’ve grown up in America, but surrounded by people from around the world.  When I was little, my best friend was my Korean downstairs neighbor.  In high school, I was surrounded by students from Germany, Korea, China, and Taiwan at my rural Alabama boarding school.  And at Middlebury, it would be impossible to list the countries my friends come from.  When I went abroad, my best friends in Paris were Middlebury students from Peru, Malaysia, Canada, and the Philippines.  Then I moved on to China in the Spring and spent my summer living and working with Romanians in Bucharest.  Now, at Middlebury, I’ve found my international niche.

That year encouraged me to become more involved in the international scene at Middlebury, so I applied for a spot on ISO’s exec board.  And here I am!  The ISO show is only hours away, and I have the honor of being one of the main faces of the organization.  The evening’s two shows will be followed by an after party in the on-campus dance club “The Bunker” (an intimidating concrete basement venue known for ragers and techno beats).  By 2 am, I may be all international-ed out for the day.  But the work with ISO continues.

Thanksgiving break is fast approaching, and I’ve been collaborating with the student-run Crossroads Café to plan a home-style Thanksgiving Dinner for the students who have decided to stay on campus.  Dinner will be followed by pie, tea, coffee, and a screening of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, as well as a poker tournament.  I’ll also be grocery shopping and hosting more casual group dinners for the ISO throughout the break to make sure people survive off of more than Ramen noodles and Easy Mac (although they’re both delicious) while the dining halls are closed.  The remainder of break will probably be devoted to catching up on movies, work, and hanging out with friends who have decided to stay on campus.  I’m looking forward to a few days of calm and solitude and to celebrating the holidays with my very international Middlebury family!

Waiting for Godot

Walking home from the library this weekend I looked around and said out loud, “There is something missing,” without missing a beat my suitemate said, “The leaves, we’re missing the leaves.” Ah yes, the leaves. Normally walking around we always have some visual obstruction. Whether it is the plush green leaves or the lightly layered snow on the bare tree branches, weather transitions here at Middlebury are blunt. It’s warm and then it’s cold. Yet, this year Mother Nature has been playing with our emotions and Old Man winter has been a uncharacteristically absent. (Something I honestly do not mind.) As Middkidd you know two things: (a) You are either cold or (b) Surprised you are not as cold as you thought you would be.

My freshman year at Middlebury was a doozy. We had freeze warnings like it was no one’s business. And it was always worded so nicely. If I recall correctly they went a little something like this *ahem*

“Please minimize time spent outdoors as a freeze warning is in effect.  The temperature is 2 below, but the wind chill makes it feel like -20.”

Just reading that makes  me cold. Thinking about to my fist freshman winter, there was snow, there was ice and there were plenty of falls. 

Sophomore year I prepared for the worst, increasing my fleece arsenal, gloves, hats and prayers. And we got 1 big snowstorm.  Technically we had two. The first was the day before we were supposed to return to campus, so I will not count it. (Although my friends and I had an adventure seeing as our 5 hour drive turned into a 36 hours ordeal…but that is a story for another day.) But the 1 big storm we had (in March or April) only knocked out power for 3 hours, not enough to cancel class, but just enough to make you bitter you had to walk in it. Overall it was a pretty easy winter. Nice enough where some days I could keep my window open and let the sun shine into my room.

Junior year hmmm…I think people in Antarctica were colder than usual last winter. I spent my Fall in Atlanta, Georgia at Spelman College so I had a real transitional season. A true Fall. With brisk winds, a light jacket and gradual shift to the cold. Coming back to Middlebury in January was a complete slap in the face. It seemed like every day it was snowing. I mean it was as if Old Man Winter’s snow blower was stuck in the “On” position. I would wake up and there was a new level of precipitation to battle with. But I made it.

Yet this year, no one knows. It was uncharacteristically warm in September. We have had a quick wintry mix, where everything was evaporated by noon, but that has been it for snow. I am weary of being too optimistic as at any time we could just be hit with freezing rain, but I will say this. Whatever the season brings I will embrace it. As this will be my last year of first snows in the Green Mountain state.

Just. Ask.

The question: “What does she look like?” is a normal question one would ask when trying to identify another human being. However at Middlebury I have learned it can turn into a game of 21 questions.

Is she short? Kinda

How long is her hair? Um shoulder length…

What is her style? I dunno, depends on the day

Does she play a sport? No…

Does she hang out with any athletes? I’ve seen her at a few games…

Does she do any clubs? Yeah, I think she is in Riddim and does other orgs too…

What  is her major: I think she is in the sciences

Well what does she look like!? Um she is kinda short, black hair, brown eyes…

Oh, is she black? (Long Pause.) She’s African American, I believe…

The topic of race is one that many like to approach with deliberate ambiguity. I could tell you that Middlebury has 22% U.S. students of color, but what does that mean? What does that truly tell you about our institution?

I have realized in the past 4-years that Admissions counselors have one of the best jobs on campus. Not only are they able to meet prospective students, but their job provides them the medium to truly gain a more holistic view of each student. They have the luxury of looking at a student’s academic history in relation to their character. In the fast-paced academic bubble of Middlebury we rarely make the time to learn about each other outside of the classroom. Based on our majors, friends and personal assumptions we sometimes create artificial boundaries and stick to them for our four years. I thought I would take the time in this blog entry to shed light on a touchy subject.

Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m proud! (Did you say it?) Probably not, and simply reading it I know it made some people uncomfortable and wary of reading further. But bear with me as I flesh this out. I bring the race topic to the table with humor because I feel it is one of the few ways to address the issues without causing conniptions or heart palpitations. Let’s start with a basic fact.  We all have varying levels of melanin that cause our skin color to be different shades. So to all those folks who like to say they are “color-blind”…Please leave that to the folks who really have that genetic condition. You see me, and surprise, I am black.

The whole topic of race is something subjective, so I will leave that for each person to individually define. But I can speak for myself…and I shall. Ethnicity-wise my parents are Grenadian. Grenada (pronounced GREN – NAY – DUH) is an island in the West Indies (not to be confused with Granada, the city in Spain.) The national language is English (as we used to be a British colony) and one of our major exports before Hurricane Ivan was nutmeg. If you ever have a chance to visit, you will experience views such as these everyday.->

The Spice Island


Now, just who is Mona? (I’m getting there…)

I was born in Suffolk, England. (Gasp, What?  And she has no accent?) Sadly, no, I was teased and the Queen’s tongue left me faster than you can say PIPPA.  I am a military brat and it is a title I hold near and dear to my heart. I am an American and I am very proud of my parent’s dedication and service to this country. That being said, I also identify heavily with my Grenadian and British roots. My house is always filled with Cream Crackers, Marks and Spencer’s products and nutmeg. To throw another hook in there, I also identify as a southerner as I lived in Sumter, South Carolina for 8 years. And Before Midd I lived in Brooklyn, New York for 10 years. My life is a mezcla of Urban, Southern West Indian cool with a hint of English austerity. I go through all this to prove a simple point. Get to know me. Don’t assume by my clothing, my surroundings or my skin color that you know all there is to know about. In the words of the artist Mateo, Just get to know, I’m here… Till May, that is  🙂