Tag Archives: ISO

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.


Middlebury’s International-Ness

One characteristic that distinguishes Middlebury College from other small liberal arts colleges is, I believe, its “international-ness”. Middlebury is a great fit for students interested in foreign affairs and international “work” in general. Not only does the college admit 10 to 13 percent international students in every class, but its decidedly global perspective is reflected in its academic departments and programs.

The Monterey Institute for International Studies is a leading provider of international graduate education. As of July of 2010, officially became affiliated with Middlebury College. This affiliation means that Middlebury students can spend their fifth year getting a graduate degree in translation, interpretation, language education, international policy studies, international business, or international environmental studies at Monterey. Monterey is also known for its James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

International Studies (IS)
and International Politics and Economics (IP&E) are two of the most popular majors at Middlebury. The interdisciplinary approach of these two areas allows students a profound understanding of their chosen regions. There are three main requirements for an IS major. Students first pick a regional focus: Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Russia and East Europe, or South Asia. Students also study a language spoken in the region, and may be placed according to their existing knowledge of that language. The third choice is a disciplinary focus: politics, religion, history, geography, or anthropology. IP&E’s structure is the same except that disciplinary focus is always regional politics and economics. Both of these majors require students to spend at least one semester in their chosen region of the world.

Study abroad is a major component of the Middlebury experience for all students. More than two-thirds choose to study abroad during their junior year whatever their major. Middlebury has around 40 schools in universities abroad, and is affiliated with more than 75 English-speaking universities abroad for English-speaking studies. This commitment to facilitating student study abroad is perhaps the strongest reflection of Middlebury’s global focus.

Middlebury has prestigious and rigorous summer programs for language studies, offering intense instruction in ten languages. It also offers masters programs in language and doctorates in modern languages. Language immersion is taken very seriously during summer school, as is learning about cultures. Professors bring their families with them, and family members become important players in exposing students to other cultures.

Another element of Middlebury’s commitment to language is its ten on-campus language houses. Teacher assistants (TA), usually native speakers, live with students who observe language ‘pledges.’ Beginning level non-resident students visit to watch foreign movies and cartoons and enjoy cultural food. Language students have to sit at language tables, where an invisible line of “No English Spoken Here” is observed. Third or fourth-year students greet newcomers and explain menus before students order food in the language of instruction. Language professors and TAs also attend language tables and introduce students to new vocabulary, creating a fun environment.

Of the more than 150 active student-run organizations on campus, the International Student Organization (ISO) is one of the largest and most vibrant. ISO holds cultural dinners, parties, poetry reading, and other regular events, as well as a major annual cultural show also attended by townspeople. Students represent and share their culture with the community through singing, dance and theater performances. Sitting in an auditorium at a small liberal arts college in a small American town, you can watch the world perform in front of you. It’s an absolutely amazing experience! My pleasure mixed with regret as I attended my last ISO cultural show the Friday before Thanksgiving break.

Enjoy some clips from previous ISO shows at Middlebury:

ISO show just around the corner

The International Student Organization (ISO) show is finally almost here, this Friday!… International middkids are getting overly excited by the day, brushing up on rehearsals and ordering those colourful costumes online or from their home country, sending strings of emails to friends and host families. The theme for this year’s show is “Middleburied in the world” wacky but exhilarating– the excitement is spreading across campus like a bush fire in the harmattan.

Unfortunately, I am going to miss the show as I will be away for an interview in Boston on the same day! (Terrible I knw). I tried to reschedule but it didn’t work – it is one of the downside of being a senior– always faced with choices that have high opportunity costs… Anyway, after being up stage shaking my limbs for the past few years, this year I was hoping to be one of the MCs for the show. But now I cannot….I just hope that I get invited in the future, as an alum, to come act as the MC.

The ISO show is not only popular among students but also among faculty, staff, host families and their friends, and townies (short for people who live in the town). I just bumped into one of our dining hall staff this morning who is a big fan of the ISO show, and she is super excited about it. She was excited to tell me that she had already bought her ticket and was looking forward to seeing my moves again this year. But she was dumb founded when she eventually learned that I will not be present for the show…
Hold tight for another update

The dawn of snow! The ISO show and registration…

The dawn of snow! The ISO show! J-term & spring term Registration…! Woops, I couldn’t find a suitable word that rhymes with snow and show 🙂

Just few days ago, we were getting our jackets and winter coats ready, and excited to start building snow men across campus. But today we were taken back to those beautiful summer dayz in Midd. what’s up with you snow? are u coming or not? i wish she could hear me and just respond coz some Middkids are patiently waiting to start skiing it up right away!!

Well for now, registration for classes is upon us again—and as always, that means I am, like many others, spoiled for choices. The dining hall conversations are dominated by discussion on cool classes, tough classes, cool professors and so on…

Registration for spring semester started yesterday and as expected, seniors get to register first, then juniors etc. I happily got the classes I wanted. This is the time when our professors’ offices get invaded by students who need that last minute advising, unsure about what to take. Professors even extend office hrs to accommodate the demand of their students…

Just last week, during the winter term registration, I was thinking abt registering for a class called “world of Winston Churchill,” really. Yep, the description of the class captured my interest… I wanted to learn more about how one man (Churchill) was instrumental in designing the political landscape of Post-WWII Europe and the contemporary Middle East. Who knows? I might steal and reform his idea and end up one day redrawing the (political) map of Africa :). hmm that sounds like an imposing dictator huh?

Oh lest i forget, one of the interesting aspects about the registration process for the winter term is that seniors are the last to register for classes. It makes sense coz first year students are required to spend their first winter term in Middlebury and so registration priority is given to them…In fact most juniors and especially seniors end up i) taking a break in the winter just to relax or travel around the world ii) doing an internship (or independent research) iii) working on a thesis / independent project, as in my case…the list is long.

Anyway, I’ve now decided to just stick to the conventional approach for thesis writers—only work on my thesis in the winter term which is what is expected—a three-term long (fall, winter & spring) thesis, and then have some fun doing other extra-curricular stuffs rather taking a class. I could also audit the class if i choose to…

But I am a thinking about trying out cricket for the first time this winter, hoping to count it as a PE credit… I am trying to talk my Pakistani friend into teaching it as part of the winter term activities…we’ll see if I’ll be able to handle that “bat”, or is it called a “racket”? Sorry, but cricket is pretty much a foreign sport in the part of the world I come from (West Africa) 🙂

k my break is up! back to using these few mins to wrap up my problem set for tomorrow. The post on ISO show is coming up in the morning… are u wondering what ISO means? hold up there. see you in a few!