Author Archives: Rebecca Harper

PALANA house

My Junior year I lived in the PALANA house which is the multicultural academic house.  Basically you apply to live in the house if you are academically interested in issues of diversity.  As a member of the house you are required to organize or produce a personal project related to Middlebury’s diversity.

The year I lived there, my house mates came up with a variety of great ideas.  One brought in the Dartmouth Gospel Choir to show the beauty of gospel and also allow Midd students to see how some celebrate their religion/beliefs.  Another house made a cook book.  Each house mate gave her 2 family recipes that exemplified their background or home life.  There was Portuguese food, Mexican food, Indian food, southern food and much more!  My roommate made a video which featured each house mate and their experiences with diversity.  It was a very personal look at who lived in the house and also a showcase of the diversity within the house.  Each of us have such different lived experiences, like everyone at Midd.  We also held monthly dinners which had a discussion topic that we would all talk about and unpack while we broke bread with anyone who came to the event.  For example, around the Latin American celebration of “Day of the Dead” we held a dinner to talk about death in different cultures; we looked at how death was celebrated or not, rituals, traditions, beliefs etc.

This year, a successful PALANA event has been “PALANA Uncensored” where they pick a topic, like beauty, and unpack the meaning of it as it relates to the U.S., various regions, and even Middlebury.  Every event, programming, project that comes out of PALANA highlights the diversity of Middlebury.  We aim to display Midds diversity to the rest of the campus and the community in order to celebrate diversity.

I am currently involved in picking the next PALANA residents and I am so very excited to see what they come up with next year.  In my senior fellows profile under “Fondest Memory of Middlebury” describes some of my time in PALANA.  To this day it is my best living experience at Midd.  The 7 other people I lived with quickly became my family and today we will always carry that bond.

I strongly suggest looking into living in PALANA; plus the house is gorgeous.  Just another perk. 😉

for more info on PALANA click here —->

Senior Project-Studio Art

Since the fall I have been working hard preparing for my Senior show, in May, which will be culmination of my Studio Art career here at Middlebury.  Its been quite the experience.  I spent a lot of fall semester with “painter’s block”.  Most people are more acquainted with “writer’s block” but both are equally frustrating especially when faced with deadlines.  However, my professors were amazing.  Just as friends comfort a friend who is stuck or feeling like they’ve lost their talent, the art department continued to lift my spirits and told me to keep pushing through.  “Soon, I would find my groove” they assured.  Finally, I got out of the rut during J-term and am in full swing.  Man I feel good.

Let me tell you, nothing feels better than whipping out a painting with ease and satisfaction.  My main focus had been graffiti which has shifted somewhat to compositions that focus on graphic art and lots of bold color–one of the two characteristics of graffiti I’m most drawn to.

This is just the beginning and I am excited to see else I come up with.  I also cannot wait for the rest of the seniors final shows as well.  We have all been working so hard and are all like a little family, living in Johnson together in our studios.

I was also asked to do a mural in Stewart Hall for Brainerd Commons.  Crossing my fingers that project will begin soon too!  Last year I worked with four other students to make a mural in Proctor Dining hall.  Here’s the section I worked on…

This is the first mural to go up in a public place created solely by students.  I, along with the rest of the art community hope that this mural is just the beginning of more student art around campus.  Let the creative juices flow!

Viva el arte!


Anticipating J-term

Christmas was an amazing time this year.  I spent tons of time with my family talking, eating, laughing, watching movies, and just hanging out.  With less than a week before we return for J-term the anticipation is in the air.  My Midd friends and I have already begun planning what we are going to do over what we call Yay-term.  Not only is J-term a time where you only take one class for the month of January, but it is also a time to explore, to use the extra time to do things you’ve never done before and have fun.

I didn’t go abroad and after this J-term will have taken four J-term classes.  All of them were courses I was interested in from art classes to writing classes. Click here –>J-term Courses This year I am working on my Independent Project preparing for my show in the spring.  I get to come and go as I please to my studio aka I will be there the majority of the time doing what I love most, art.  But when my artistic juices stop flowing or I’m beyond frustrated with my work (all part of the process) I know that I can take the day off and watch all three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (already marked in my suites calendar).  I also will be filming the Men’s Basketball team’s home games, gotta get my bball fix.  Can’t wait for Pepin Gym to be packed with cheering, screaming, Midd students while Midd wins…of course.

As a suite we have declared Thursdays as game night, Fridays as dance party night, Saturdays as movie night where we are going to take out a projector from the library and screen a movie on our huge white walls.  I’m beyond psyched!! Atwater dining hall is opening up every Monday to host dinner for the first 200 people that respond to an email, the first dinner is Greek themed.  There are tons of workshops being offered with a wide range of topics/subjects/activities.  There is pottery, all types of cooking, learning basics f Hindi, knitting, dancing, log rolling, learning how to DJ, and SO much more click here –> J-term Workshops (Just sounded like an info-mmercial there oops) Plus, usual student organizations host parties, panels, and other activities.  For example, the Martin Luther King Jr. week always promises exciting speakers, panels, read-ins. etc.  This year Dr. Antwi Akom,Professor of Urban Sociology and Africana Studies at San Francisco State University, is coming to give the keynote address MLK Jr. Celebration.  More on Dr. Akom

All of that might have seemed overwhelming, but for me it is just so exciting.  There is no way I’m going to try and do all of that, it is actually impossible, but my plan is , go crazy with my friends especially my suite mates, to have plain ole good fun, and work on my art  during my last Yay-term at Middlebury.  This time next year I am sure I’ll be dreaming about J-term and how amazing it was and all the memories.

Happy New Year to everyone and for all you Midd Students Yay-term here we come!!! 🙂

Family Tree

Back in the day when I was a little elementary school-er I remember having multiple assignments about “family”.  One in particular was creating my family tree.  For me, that usually included my immediate family and my extended family (i.e. grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins).  Once, I got super into the assignment and traced my lineage back to ALL the European Royalty of the 11th century (lots of incest back then), boy did I think I was cool after that.  Since these assignments I haven’t thought much about my family lines. Of course, I still joke, as I always have, about my “brotha from anotha motha” which is one of my best friends from home, along with my “adopted sister” who has been my best friend for 16 years and counting.

But only recently, has my family really grown.  Now, what am I talking about? It all started with a picture taken at a retreat for Freshman earlier in the school year.  One of the retreat leaders and I posed for the photo along with two freshmen, both much taller and of different complexions than I.  Immediately after the picture was uploaded to Facebook, comments popped up.  “Look mami, papi, baby and baby,” one read; and so it began.

Quickly, the family grew adding sisters, parents, cousins, a family pet hamster named Pepito and even a “niece-n-law”, which included a very long conversation including diagrams and even charades explaining what that was to my suite-mate/sister.  My “daughter” even drew me a picture of our family tree which now hangs on a wall in our suite for all to see.  Our suite’s refrigerator even has my “kids'” assignments hanging to showcase their good grades.

Last weekend my friends came up to visit.  Both my worlds, the people that mean the most to me, combined.  My friends from my hometown were integrated into the Midd family tree.  My best friend became my children’s god mother and my other two friends became the “cool aunts.”  (Have I gone overboard yet?)

It has always been hard for me to be away from my friends back home, yet as I went from year to year here at Middlebury it is clear that not only are my friends here just as special, but they also are willing and wanting to add to “the family”.  You don’t find that everywhere.  I am so lucky to be here at Middlebury sharing my time with my family.  I look forward to our time together and seeing my family continue to grow.