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!
Watch the master at play:
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)…
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.
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
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)
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!
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.->
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 🙂
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.)
25% of our student body is a varsity athlete.
For a school of roughly 2400 students, this number is significant in that one in every four students plays a sport (or more if you want to be technical). I think this adds to the sense of community that Middlebury fosters within the campus. I love that these student athletes are not mere names with celebrity-status that are constantly reproduced in the school newspaper or announced over the loudspeaker at games—but in fact, they are our roommates, lab partners, the person who asked for the salt shaker at Proctor dining hall, etc. They are our friends.
The love and support we show to our fellow peers by attending their games and cheering as loudly as we humanly can adds another dimension to our community as students of all walks of life convene at these sporting events. It is not just other athletes who attend to support the other teams. It’s everyone. Perhaps they used to play in high school or they’ve never picked up a lacrosse stick. Whatever their views on sports is, none of it matters because for that time block of when they are sitting in the stands, their level of enthusiasm for Middlebury surpasses all else.
The athletic events adjoins Middlebury and its relationship with the town as many come to spectate the ‘college games’. There is honestly nothing cuter than seeing little tykes running around at a hockey game, wearing their favorite player’s jersey. Whether or not we are a college student or a townie, when we win, we all cheer triumphantly. When we cry, we cry together as one.
This weekend was a spectacular one for Middlebury’s wins as women’s soccer advances to NCAA Sectionals, field hockey makes it to Final Four, women’s volleyball heads to regional finals, football wins their final game of the season against Tufts, cross country teams qualify for NCAA Championships. Congrats, all!