Author Archives: Cloe Shasha

Last Week of Classes

It’s hard to believe that my orientation trip with a crew of 12 freshmen, biking along the smooth roads of Vermont in the beautiful late summer, happened four years ago.

It seems like all of those clichés about time apply now more than ever before.

“Four years fly by…”

“In the blink of an eye…”

“Time flies when you’re having fun…”


Thankfully, after this action-packed last week of classes, we have finals week, and then senior week — time dedicated to seniors having fun. A team of seniors have gotten together to plan this week for us, and they have done an amazing job. Below are the events that are planned for that week:

3:00-5:00pm – Senior Carnival, Battell Beach
*Moon bounce, obstacle course, jousting, carnival snacks, music and more!

9:30-11:30pm – Bonfire, Ross Fire Pit
*acoustic music and open mic

Sunset Cruise on Lake Champlain

Lake Dunmore Day – shuttles from ADK to Dunmore, 11am-4pm

6:00pm – President’s Senior BBQ, Proctor Terrace

FRIDAY, May 20
10:00am-12:00pm – Mimosa Reception, Atwater Dining Hall

1:00pm-2:00pm – Class Photo, Mead Chapel Lawn

11:00pm-2:00am – Last Chance Dance: “Hello, My Name Is…”, McCullough Social Space

12:30-1:30pm – Solar Decathlon Open House
10:00pm-2:00am – Senior Tent Formal, Battell Beach
*Featuring live band Soularium

SUNDAY, May 22


The Middlebury Moth Up

Have you heard of the Moth? The Moth is a New York City based non-profit organization dedicated to storytelling. In multiple American cities, there are bars, restaurants, and other venues that regularly host Moth storytelling events. Often, the events revolve around a theme, and selected individuals (usually volunteers who sign up in advance) get on stage and tell a live, true story without notes that somehow pertains to the given theme.

The power of storytelling is something that has inspired me for a long time. Last year, two students here started Middlebury’s very own Moth storytelling event, called the Middlebury Moth Up. Since its founding, the event has become immensely popular and now attracts very large crowds that often spill out of the room.

This past Thursday, we had a Moth event which coincided with Campus Preview Days for the recently admitted class of 2015. The theme was “Experimentation.” It was wonderful to see the effect that the stories had on so many people in a room at once — students, prospective students, parents, and some faculty. The storytellers were students and one professor named Helen Young, who teaches biology. She told a fantastic story about eating a poisonous snake.

One reason that I find these events to be so powerful is that the storytellers, whether or not they intend to do this, end up being brutally honest about details of their story that they might not have otherwise mentioned in a smaller group setting. For that reason, every single person in the room can identify with the stories being told in some way, whether they’ve had a similar experience or a similar feeling.

To hear past stories from the Middlebury Moth, check out this link:

Awesome Speakers

Middlebury brings awesome speakers to campus… all the time.
The true challenge for all of us is figuring out how to go to more talks, because many Middlebury students are involved in time-demanding activities and projects, from a cappella, to sports, to all sorts of organizations.

This week, I decided to make some time for two fantastic talks. I am really happy that I was able to attend these two lectures — a lot of the issues that were discussed will stay with me.

On Tuesday, Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Farms Yogurt, came to campus to talk to us about why the world needs organic food now. His talk went beyond preaching to the choir — interesting issues of biology and toxins in newborn baby cord blood came up in a discussion.

Today, I went to an amazing talk by Jay Allison, an independent public producer and broadcast journalist. He is well known for his work on This American Life, The Moth, NPR’s All Things Considered, and NPR’s This I Believe. Since Middlebury has a relatively small student body, we have the opportunity to get into a conversation with speakers during and after their talks. Jay Allison spent a little over a half hour talking about the power of telling something true in stories and on the radio, and the audience, comprised of students, faculty, staff, and community members, was entranced by his sincere lecture and the sound clips he played for us. After his talk, there was time for questions and answers, but it felt more like a casual conversation — the room was small and almost everyone who wanted to speak got the chance to speak.

An energy brewed in the room as the lecture went on, and by the end of the talk, people were gathered in groups, talking and feeling inspired. At moments like these, I think about all of the lectures that I didn’t get the chance to attend. So much food for thought and so many valuable lessons can come out of a short talk. In many ways, these talks are as valuable to our college academic experiences as our courses are.

If you are going to be attending Middlebury next year, I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities. These speakers may change your perspectives on a fundamental issue, or may lead you to realize that you have new interests you’d like to pursue. It’s always worth the time.

Languages at Middlebury

Middlebury is famous for its language program for good reason. The language school in the summer is not the only linguistic claim to fame. Throughout the year, Middlebury students have the opportunity to learn Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Taking a language is a very different experience from taking any other course. It is a full-fledged experience. Although it would be impossible to have a language pledge during the academic year (the language pledge in the summer is signed by all students and stipulates that the students will hereby exclusively speak the language they are learning for the rest of the summer), Middlebury College students experience language learning in a similar way.

When we are taking the introductory level of a language, we meet with our small class and professor at least five times per week. In certain languages, such as Chinese, introductory languages can meet as many as seven times per week. Yes, I know that sounds really overwhelming, but it ends up being an incredible shared experience with your classmates and professor. Every day, students have the opportunity to eating lunch at language tables, where you are served by waiters in your language (who are other students who speak that language), and you sit with professors and students who are at all levels of speaking ability. You get to know the professor incredibly well, and you finish a year of a language with a conversational ability to speak!

At Middlebury, I have taken German. I grew up speaking French and Spanish, so I wanted to try a non-Romance language (granted, I did not venture too far away). It has definitely been more challenging than, say, Italian or Portuguese would have been. But I have come to love the process. It is a learning experience that requires building on the previous semesters of coursework, and it is also a cultural experience. Most of the Middlebury language professors are native speakers of the languages they teach, and they make an effort to incorporate a lot of their personal and national experiences into the classroom discussion. German courses will be one of my fondest academic memories of Middlebury.

Already Nostalgic

The reality of time hit when we returned for our final semester at Middlebury after February break.

I spent my break with eight wonderful friends from Middlebury, on a road trip from here to Savannah, Georgia. Six of those eight friends had just graduated as Febs, and the other two and I flew back to campus for the spring semester while the graduates continued the adventure and drove to San Francisco, California.

Watching the Febs graduate and then returning to campus without them made me truly acknowledge that this is our last semester. In the first week, my friends and I threw a potluck, went for walks, and talked about everything we want to make sure to do before we leave the utopia that is Middlebury College. Sure, there are stresses here at times, and yes, not everything is always perfect, but it is hard to complain about life here.

So I will use this week’s blog post to list my favorite aspects about this college — both the deeply meaningful and trivially glorious things — that I want to appreciate at all times for the next four months before graduation:

– Professors who take the time to get to know us, and remember our names.

– The beauty of Vermont in all seasons.

– Our amazing dining hall food and friendly staff.

– The beautiful, comfortable, and clean dorms.

– The ability to take courses in completely new areas while still deeply focusing on my major.

– Constantly meeting new and wonderful people who are passionate.

– Dance parties whenever we want.

– Cross country skiing around the golf course or at Bread Loaf.

– Singing with the Mischords (my a cappella group).

– Having someone willing to go on an adventure with me at any time.

– Hiking around Vermont.

– Apple picking in the fall.

– The Middlebury farmer’s market.

– The friendly businesses around town who remember us.

– Good Vermont cheeses.

– Road biking on sunny days.

– Running with friends around the golf course.

– Having amazing speakers and events available to me for free all of the time.

– Fresh air.

– The diversity of interests that my friends have.

– The cool accomplishments that people have made.

– The potential to get on board with a project anytime.

– Free dance and yoga classes.

– Subsidized music lessons.

– Hanging out on the lawn with friends in the spring.

– Learning a new language with an enthusiastic professor who is a native speaker of that language.

– Making brunch with friends on the weekends.

– Themes parties for no good reason other than to have a theme.

– The variety of activities that I get to participate in every day.

The Research Experience

Middlebury College is an amazing place for undergraduate research. Because there are no graduate students at this institution, any student here with a passionate research interest will likely have the opportunity to explore that interest either through a research assistant-ship, an independent project, or with a thesis. Furthermore, professors at Middlebury are incredibly dedicated to their students’ independent work. In my experience, working one on one with professors throughout independent projects has been invaluable — I have learned writing, research, editing, and analytical skills that have translated to my other classes as well as to experiences outside of academics.

My sophomore year, I was in a cognitive psychology class and really loved it. So I asked the professor if he could use any more research assistants for his work on memory. After a meeting, I began working on his research team, along with several other students, and have since attended two psychology conferences with the team to present posters of our research. One of the best parts of attending these conferences, aside from learning how to present work to professors and graduate students, is that we get to hear amazing research talks and learn from other poster sessions.

These conferences have been a highlight of my academic experience in psychology. Getting exposed to so much research from all over the country and the world has been eye-opening and inspiring for the cognitive psychology research that I am doing now.

From Left: Adam Dede ’11, Cloe Shasha ’11, Middlebury College Professor of Psychology Jason Arndt

Research Poster at Psychonomics Conference in St. Louis, Missouri

November 2010

Proctor Love

In response to Ben Weitz’s post about the food on campus, I want to talk about my affection for another spot to eat. Middlebury College has fantastic food options, and I eat almost every meal at Proctor Dining Hall, which is located near Mead Chapel.

My first year here, I fell in love with Proctor Dining Hall. At Proctor, we are blessed with panini machines, fantastic salad ingredients, homemade peanut butter, local maple syrup, Vermont apples, vegetarian stir-fries, wild salmon… the list goes on. It is hard to be bored by the food there. A large spice and dressing rack plays a major role in students’ creations of sandwiches and salads. And there are always great desserts and ice cream.

The spaces to sit in the dining hall are a big part of my love for Proctor. The dining hall has been renovated since my first year, but it has retained its cozy feel with the booths in the back, the outdoor tables, and the Woodstove Lounge (that some people refer to as the ski lodge) in the front. Depending on the time of day, these spaces can be very peaceful and quiet or full of energy and socializing.

Another factor in my affection for this dining hall is that so many of my friendships at Middlebury have developed over long meals at Proctor. From weekend brunches to weeknight dinners, meaningful relationships have grown out of our countless hours at booths and round tables. The atmosphere of Proctor fosters the shared understanding that work, obligations, and responsibilities can be put aside for some time while open conversations and bonding take precedent.


It was really great to see so many alumni back on campus during a beautiful fall weekend. There were lots of homecoming events: sports games, tailgating, a catered dance, parties, and concerts. Seeing the number of alumni who came back this weekend reminded me of how important Middlebury is for so many people after they graduate and move on! It’s clear to me that many of my senior friends and I will feel the same way.