Category Archives: Student Life

Hints of spring?

This past weekend I traveled to Hillsborough, NJ to compete with Middlebury’s cycling team in the first race of the spring season. The forecast called for rain, but the minute we pulled up to Saturday’s race course, the sun came out and we jumped out of the van eager to catch some rays. The other teams thought we were crazy for running around in shorts, but after a Vermont winter, even one as mild as this year’s, 50 degrees felt like summer.

The group of us competed in a road race through New Jersey horse country on Saturday and raced around a park in a circuit race on Sunday. Winter is a tough time to be a cyclist-even if the ground is clear of snow, cold temperatures and the possibility of ice patches on the roads lead all but the most daring of souls to move training rides inside. After months of staring at a dorm room wall while pedaling in place, the open road was pure bliss. Driving back to Midd last night, I couldn’t wait to get back outside on my bike, but I woke up this morning to find a fresh dusting of snow. I plan on enjoying this last bit of winter then willing it away–it’s time for spring to come!

Boom goes the dynamite

Intellectual fireworks often go off at Middlebury. Generally, they are of the metaphorical variety: Two students are finishing off a marathon dinner and the conversation turns to the seminar they just attended. There, one student, for perhaps the third time that week, thought about an issue in a way he or she had never considered before. The dining mate commiserates, and then they argue, and things go from there—personal growth ensues.
Last Thursday night, I experienced fireworks of a different variety. I had curled up with Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic for the evening (a surly bed partner if there ever was one), gradually becoming enmeshed in the work. Suddenly, Weber’s points were hitting me with palpable strength. The walls shook with every “however,” each “therefore” boomed across the room. Indeed, there was a hue to the words, now red, now blue, now glittering silver. I looked up from the book toward my window to find the Winter Carnival fireworks in full force. Take away point? Weber’s pretty good. Relationship to this blog? Middlebury makes him better.


Last night was single handedly one of the greatest nights I’ve ever had at Middlebury.

Why, you ask?

It was the annual Winter Ball and those who haven’t been quite keeping up with our Senior Fellows Blog, read Sara’s explanation of what Winter Carnival is all about here at Middlebury.

Thanks to MCAB‘s Traditions committee Nelson Arena had been completely revamped for the special occasion and the place looked incredible! I loved seeing my friends all dressed up to the nines and just about everything about the night was perfect. There was delicious food catered by Cafe Provence (I am still savoring the taste of those perfect little salmon rounds in my mouth right now) and I’d be lying if I said that DJ Funkmaster Flex, one of NYC’s hottest DJs at Hot 97 radio station, didn’t have us all breakin’ it down on the dance floor. NO WALLFLOWERS HERE!



This was, of course, the party started.
These photos were taken from my trusty little Android.


Watch the master at play:



The Question

Where is the snow?????

It’s all anyone can talk about. This winter has been mysteriously snowless, with several flurries followed two days later by a spurt of rain. The rumor is that every twelve years Vermont has a snowless winter, but who knows? All we know is that the winter is warm and brown and somewhat confusing.

You’d think, being from North Carolina, that I’d love the respite from the snow and subzero temperatures. I’ve surprised even myself, though, by how much I miss Winter. Somehow making it to spring doesn’t seem quite as exciting or hardcore when the coldest I ever got was 30 degrees… and I miss the snowy playground that replaces campus for five months!

I hoping for at least a few inches before Winter Carnival this weekend, but if not, I suppose I’ll have to resign myself to my last Winter being non-winter. Unless we get another storm like the Valentines Day Blizzard (watch til the end, it’s worth it)…

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)

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!

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  🙂

Cheer Boys Cheer, Middlebury’s Here

This weekend I took the Middlebury fan bus down to NYC to see our team play in a very prestigious sporting event: the Quidditch World Cup. (Yep, you heard right. Quiddtich. Like from Harry Potter.)

Muggle Quiddtich started at Middlebury six years ago, with a bunch of freshmen who wanted to spice up their weekly tradition of playing bocce on Battell Beach. Those students have now graduated and moved on to bigger and better things–and Quidditch has grown up as well. I remember my freshman year’s World Cup, when Middlebury hosted nine teams on dorm room floors and were amazed at how huge a crowd we’s managed to draw. (That was also the first year it was an actual “world” cup, since McGill came down from Canada to play.) Last year, the World Cup moved to NYC because the number of spectators had gotten too big to fit in Middlebury, VT. This year, Quiddtich exceeded even my wildest, most outlandish imaginings. The IQA put together a tournament of over one hundred teams, including an alumni game and a high school bracket. When I first arrived, I spent half an hour walking around the complex of nine pitches in awe, amazed at how little MiddQuid has grown into a worldwide pheonomenon. (And I mean worldwide. This weekend Middlebury had the honor of playing the most far-flung team to date: Vassa, from Finland. I’m pretty sure they flew over in an airplane, not on brooms.)
Middlebury has been the reigning World Cup Champions since the beginning, which always sortof seemed like a given. This year, though, I realized that we would have to play really well to even have a shot at trophy–in Quiddtich tradition, a plastic vodka bottle spray-painted gold. (Nobody but the team knows if it’s full or not.) We played pretty well in pool play, ending up 13th seed in the 34-team single-elimination bracket. In pool play, we did experience our first loss in the history of Quiddtich, to Michigan’s VERY enthusiastic team.
We made it through to the semifinals and finals, held in the soccer stadium on Randall’s Island. The Middlebury student cheering section just managed to make ourselves be heard over the roar of the rest of the stadium–with the notable exception of Canada’s two teams, which graciously both cheered for us. I dont think I’ve ever been that nervous at a sporting event in my life. We cheered, yelled at the dramatically-gesticulating ref, and chanted for the two of our players that were carried off the field on stretchers (they’re both going to be okay, but be warned: Quidditch is a rough sport). We sang various Middlebury fight songs and found even the least Quidditch-enthused of us yelling things like “Nice beat! He was bludged, ref! Drop the Quaffle!!!!”
After a nerve-wracking game and some excellent snitching (The Golden Snitch: a human being dressed in all yellow for whom no rules apply. Snitching is a hilarious sub-sport that’s worth checking out on Youtube.), Middlebury caught the snitch and, just barely, defended our championship for the fifth year running. I dont know if we’ll be able to hold onto it next year–Quidditch teams everywhere are getting better and better–but I was happy to see us win, in person, for my last World Cup as a student.
The fan bus left NYC right after the final game, so we arrived back in Middlebury at 4:00 this morning. It’s a tribute to our fan’s enthusiasm that we didnt sleep the whole way: we spent the first hour or so reliving plays and singing the very intimidating and bloodthirsty  Middlebury victory song:
“There’s only one Middlebury / hey hey / one Middlebury / hey hey / walkin’ along / singin’ a song / walkin’ in a winter wonderland.”