Sunday I went to visit my sister at her college. When I got to her suite she calmly told me to beware of their “cockroach problem,” as I looked down at the floor and let out a slight scream, my jaw opened wide and my eyes popped. There were at least 10 cockroaches on the floor. She laughed and picked one up, it’s plasticky sheen shined in the harsh dorm overhead lights—they were all fake. I asked to take one; I couldn’t wait get back to my apartment to prank my roommates. And this I did. When I got back I placed it in my bedroom and pretended to be frightened when I “found” it. They all screamed and immediately ran away when I frantically pointed it out; it was priceless.
This semester I’ve been regularly contributing reviews of shows on campus to The College Voice, the College’s student-run newspaper. I’ve been a regular contributor to The Voicethroughout my time at Conn ever since a friend from my hometown encouraged me to join during first-year Orientation, and I’ve written a wide variety of articles. I like writing reviews because it’s a way of giving back to the arts community at Conn by highlighting performances on campus. Reviewing is challenging as it’s one of the most opinionated forms of journalism; it’s up to the reviewer to decide whether to express a favorable or unfavorable view of a performance and justify why that’s the case.
The first thing I do each morning is check my e-mails. Oddly enough, I get a feeling of anxiety combined with eagerness as my mail app refreshes with 10-20 new emails each morning from professors, school announcements, Amazon, and other retailers I don’t even remember subscribing to. This particular morning, one of my professors sent our class an email saying he was canceling class for the day, which granted me a class-free Thursday morning. My only class for that day was at 2:45 p.m., and I could not have been happier.
Recently, a senior came up to me and asked “How did you get a room here? Did you have an amazing number?” I laughed because in my first experience with the housing lottery I initially did not receive a room. In the first round of the housing lottery students receive a housing number. I was given the number 1266, incoming sophomores’ numbers normally span from 1000 - 1500 meaning I was about in the middle of the lottery. The numbers correspond to a time when the housing portal will be open for you to select a room. Higher numbers receive earlier time slots. I did not find housing that was right for me in the first round in December so I participated in the second round: the summer lottery. During the summer lottery, I was asked to indicate my top choices for where I would like to live allowing Residential Education and Living (REAL) staff to place me based on my preferences. I indicated Abbey House, which a lot of sophomores do not know is an option for housing, because my friend, a senior who was placed in Abbey House, recommended that I give it shot. Abbey House is an independent living option for upperclassmen who want to live in “The Village.” The Village consists of Abbey, Winchester Apartments, River Ridge Apartments, 191 House and Lazarus, most of which are located across the street from main campus.
I’m writing this entry from one of two perspectives that I occupy within The Coffee Closet: I am either a customer or a barista. Last year, I could be found in The Coffee Closet at least once a day, considering I practically run on coffee and lived in South Campus (where this shop is located). I was hired at Conn’s newest student-run coffee shop last spring and began working there this fall.
Perhaps the passage I felt most at home within this summer’s Connecticut College reading, Yaa Gyasi’s graceful historical fiction novel “Homegoing,” came in the very last chapter of the book, which focuses on Marcus, a graduate student working on his doctoral thesis at Stanford University. A few pages into the chapter, the narrator explains that “Originally [Marcus had] wanted to focus his work on the convict leasing system that had stolen years off of his great-grandpa H’s life”. However, the narrator goes on to explain that Marcus felt he would also have to write about the Great Migration, which his grandparents participated in when they moved from Pratt City in Birmingham, Alabama, to Harlem in New York City. Writing about the Great Migration would in turn make Marcus feel he should also write about histories that had affected his father’s and his lives, specifically the effects of heroin, crack-cocaine and the war on drugs in Harlem.
As I sat with my feet shoulder-width apart, Rabbi Susan Schein led our Hillel group in meditation. As Jews, we are in the midst the month of Elul. Elul is the month leading up to the High Holy Days, of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is also during this time that I am drawn to exploring meditations and thinking about the year ahead of me even as I reflect on the past year. At our most recent home-cooked Shabbat dinner, I took a liking to a unique part of the Shabbat service. After all, the Shabbat meal is the beginning of the day of rest and I wanted to explore my spirituality within Judaism. This meditative exercise came from Psalm 27 in which, the kingdom of G-d is proposed and challenged.
As I drive back onto campus for the first time in the new academic year, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of familiarity and of returning home. It feels strange to be back. I have been away for an entire summer but it feels like I never left at all. I park my car and pick up the key to my room this year. I live in Smith House, which is in central campus across the street from Shain Library and the College Center at Crozier-Williams (Cro).
It was yet another bright and sunny Friday afternoon at Conn, and the annual club fair was in full force on Library Green. I was running the Ski Club booth given my new position as president for this academic year. Along with the other club members, I had been recruiting new members for about an hour before I took a break to say hi to my friends at other booths. My friend and fellow blogger, Dani Maney ‘20, was running a booth at the fair for her improv group N20.
With each year that I’ve been at Conn I’ve continued to discover natural landmarks that surround our campus and make our living here even more exceptional. It wasn’t clear to me before I came to college how having a beautiful campus along with wonderful natural resources close by would be an essential part of my experience. These natural aspects of the College are perhaps not advertised widely enough. Conn is located right next to two fantastic beaches, Ocean Beach Park and Waterford Beach, and is home to the Connecticut College Arboretum, which runs throughout campus. I could go on and on listing our vast access to nature, but what I really want to touch on today is a special little island called Mamacoke.
This past month, one of the most driven members of our student body, Shameesha Pryor ’17, organized the second Black Women’s Conference hosted at Conn with the assistance of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Board. Although the first conference was held in 1969, the need for this event has not diminished, just as the injustices and double standards black women face daily certainly have not. It goes without saying that the Earth is fortunate to be graced with the melanin of black women, but this is also a group often pushed into archetypal roles not representative of their humanity and actual experiences. Instead, they are viewed as the angry, strong, or sassy black woman. This conference shattered those narrow perceptions and stereotypes of black womanhood, and provided a space for people to discuss the complexities that come with being a black woman in today's world.
The Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den has served as my home away from home since my very first day at Conn. Living in Harkness House, I have the luxury of being able to leave my room and be right at the entrance of the Walk-in, located on the first floor of my building. The Walk-in has been my lifeline. They serve (in my opinion) the best drinks on campus, and they have a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and snacks that are always there for me when I don't feel like walking to Harris Refectory, the largest dining hall on campus. The Walk-in is also one of my favorite places to study because the atmosphere reminds me of my favorite coffee shop at home, and they have the comfiest chairs on campus.
After receiving my acceptance to Conn, I was extremely excited and completely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that needed to be completed before Move-In Day. My biggest priority was to fill out the housing questionnaire about living preferences. It seemed like where I lived was a do-or-die situation. I thought there could definitely be some wrong answers, but I also did not know which ones those would be. Now I understand that there is a place for everyone on campus, and each building/location has specific benefits.
There are moments when I look back with amazement at the many performances and lectures I have been to in my short time at Conn. Recently, I saw three powerful performances on campus all in one week: on Monday the Ammerman Center sponsored a visit by famed performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña. On Friday, I saw the theater department’s production of Mark Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock,” and on Saturday I went to the Women’s Empowerment Initiative performance of their 2017 show “She is a Tempest.” These three performances dealt with difficult themes, such as dividedness, inequality and oppression, and inspiring ones, such as effecting change, empowerment and living life to the fullest.
Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.
I was asked to purchase six books for a single class my first semester at Connecticut College. Being overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of assignments in my first week of classes, I decided to purchase the books for that class one-by-one. A couple of weeks later, I walked into the bookstore and discovered that the lovely piles of books had transformed into empty shelves featuring a couple of incredibly tattered, used copies and many order forms. I’m always a little averse to used books because I want my books to look nice; I don’t like having books that have been marked by other people or treated roughly. I chose to buy new copies of most of my books for that class online, which only cost a few extra dollars, something I could afford.
“You must be the change you wish to see.” – M. K. Ghandi
I live my life by this quote because it challenges me to take action to make the world a better place. Its philosophy is also a driving force behind Green Dot training here on campus, which I recently completed. Green Dot is a national organization that works to prevent power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking, in communities throughout the country. I’m glad that Connecticut College has a robust Green Dot chapter, with about a quarter of students who have undergone training. My friends who completed the training encouraged me to do it for months, so when I got an email about a session that worked with my schedule, I signed up for it.
Before I arrived at Connecticut College, I had never really been interested in hearing the sound of my own singing voice, perhaps because my older sisters never hesitated to tell me it was similar to a cat in heat. Even so, I decided to audition for an a cappella group last year, just for fun. I must say that I was EXTREMELY surprised when I was accepted into the amazing group that is Vox Cameli. I didn’t realize that a cappella is sort of a hot commodity on the East Coast, with groups frequently being the entertainment at Conn’s events. While I’m quite confident that only one-third of the notes I sing are ever right, that hasn’t stopped me from getting on a stage yet, and our performance for Green Dot Week was no exception.
My Sundays start like every other Conn student’s, with moving sweaty clothes from a large blue bin to a slightly smaller washing machine—only they’re not my clothes. How did I get myself into doing other people's laundry? The summer before my first semester at Conn I knew I was going to be involved in the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students who receive financial aid get jobs on campus to further reduce the cost of being a college student. I emailed Kelsey Lengyel-Jacovich, the manager of the Athletic Center, and asked her about available jobs for the upcoming semester. There were multiple jobs open so I decided to take on three different positions: ID checker, equipment room staff, and game crew. In my three roles, I work at the front desk greeting people and checking them in. I wash practice and gameday clothes for in-season athletes, and I assist with setup and other miscellaneous tasks to keep the games running smoothly.
Most of the student body heads home for Thanksgiving, but since I’m from Chicago I tend to stay on campus and enjoy the comforting isolation. Some might find it a bit creepy to be the only person living on their floor for four days, but due to my being a hermit in training I look forward to this time each year more than I do Christmas. I get an immense feeling of liberation from inhabiting large spaces entirely alone, leading to many hours of singing as loud as possible and dancing in my undies, and maybe once without, in the hallway during my one-man parties. This year, however, I wanted to focus on developing some of my more socially acceptable skills. So whenever I wasn’t having my private bachelor parties, I found myself picking up my long forgotten flute.