Bittersweet Autumn

And in one instantaneous motion, fall break has passed and it’s now post-midsemester. I must admit that autumn is my favorite season on Haverford’s campus- the different color and complexion of each leaf is enough to incite a glimpse of happiness during the most stressful days. Plus, autumn is the season where almost every squirrel (black, brown, gray, and hybrids) on campus is active and seemingly elated, as well as the swift chipmunks, rabbits, and the occasional cordial community cat.
Yet, beyond the natural environment, the fall semester thus far has been exciting, especially academically. This semester I opted to continue to fulfill my last lingering major requirements, along with enrolling in the Teaching Learning Institute, a Bi-college education program, where students partner with faculty to enhance and improve learning as well as teaching inside and outside the classroom. I act as a student consultant, a conduit between the students and faculty, bearing the responsibility of expressing students’ concerns that may be a little more arduous to explain to faculty. I also offer my opinion to the faculty to member when they’re developing their various pedagogical strategies for the semester. This is merely one example of the many opportunities here at Haverford. It also highlights the benefits of being at a purely undergraduate institution since undergraduates subsequently fill these positions. While, this semester I’m a student consultant for an Introduction Economics course, which affords me access to an Economics course (since I’ve never taken a course in Economics), I am also learning about Economics in the process, which was one of my goals to do before I graduated.
This brings me to being a senior. Life as a Senior is well different. Besides the fact seniors shape and mold a lot of the culture on campus, there is a heap of work that constantly needs to be completed. In addition, to diving headfirst into the job search, there’s also the senior thesis. And as a double major in Sociology and Religion, my thesis will have to satiate both departments. This is exactly why only about five percent of each class decides to double major- because it often means two theses. As I wait to submit my religion thesis proposal and continue looking for jobs, answering a plethora of questions about the resources on campus for underclassmen, I occasionally remember this is my last autumn at Haverford. The last time where I will observe the leaves ever so peacefully swirl to the ground or the squirrels scurry pass me every morning on my way to class. Being a senior is bittersweet. Yes. Still, it’s great to complete my time here at Haverford, there’s so much to be missed about this campus even the subtle things, such as the leaves, and yet there’s so much to be desired outside of Haverford.

It’s good to be back

Being back at Haverford is such a lovely thing. Because I was abroad last semester (I studied at the University of Melbourne in Australia), coming back to the Ford has been that much more special. As much fun as abroad was (and seriously, I recommend studying abroad to EVERYONE), nothing quite compares to Haverford. It’s good to be back.

The beginning of the academic year is my favorite time because not only does it mean a reunion with old friends, but it also marks the start of soccer. I’m a co-captain of the varsity women’s soccer team here and when I’m in season, I’m having the most fun. Last year we won the Centennial Conference Championship for the first time since 1995!

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Winning the conference last year and going on to the NCAA tournament was such an incredible experience; one we’re hoping to repeat this year! Many of my fondest memories here at Haverford are from playing on this team. One of my favorites was when we hosted the first round of NCAA’s here and so many members of our community came to cheer us on. From students, to professors, to administrators, everyone present supported us and the noise was deafening. Haverford really emphasizes the importance of community; whether it be academics, athletics, or extracurriculars, everyone here supports one another. How many people can say that they can hear their professors cheering them on when they’re dribbling down the field?

Being a student-athlete at Haverford is truly a unique experience. There are no classes scheduled from 4-7, when practices take place, so it’s quite rare that I would ever miss class for an athletic event. When I was looking for schools, I wanted to attend a place where I would, first and foremost, be a student. As much as I love soccer ( I mean I’ve been playing the glorious sport for my entire life) my priority has always been to get the best education possible. If I’m able to play the sport I love while doing so, well that’s just the cherry on top. Haverford is a place where you can be challenged academically in the classroom and the physically on the field. I really feel as though I’ve been living up to my student-athlete potential here.

All in all, I’m super excited for this year. There’s so much to look forward to as you will all learn from the heaps of blogs we’re going to post. I can’t wait to tell you guys more. Until next time, cheers!

Oh! One more thing! This past pre-season, our team hosted a clinic for the Delaware County Special Olympics Chapter Soccer Team. We led the players in a warm-up, various drills, and even cheered them on as they scrimmaged. We’re being recognized by this month’s NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll. If you would like to learn more about what we did/want to vote for us and help us win $500 to go towards our next clinic please click the following link. Thanks!

Women’s soccer nominated for NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll

Senior Sentiments

Coming into my final year at Haverford, I anticipated feeling a bit of denial and overwhelming nostalgia. While not an untrue statement, the transition to this transitional year has been smooth and natural. Dare I say it? I’m relishing being a senior and the productive, exciting opportunities it affords.

My thesis proposal is in, approved, and awaiting remarks from my newly minted thesis adviser. I’m going to be working with Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger and exploring construction of character through geographic and mental spaces, as well as time and memory. This thesis topic draws on my established interests in perspectivalism and temporality, and allows me to reflect further on theories of identity in relationship to place, which I cultivated during my extensive travels during my semester abroad. The senior thesis experience is a space for culmination and reflection, as well looking forward within the discipline. Continue reading

Music Musings and More

By Damon Motz-Storey

The first month of the new semester is nearing its close, and things are starting to feel settled at the ‘Ford.  The Class of 2017 is getting their bearings and integrating into the Haverford community by putting down their roots in classes, clubs, and organizations.  Fall colors are beginning to tease the tips of the campus treetops and the air is turning clear and crisp.

For me, the new semester is all about new perspectives.  Sophomore year means getting a fresh look at the campus that I know and love, while simultaneously getting to see the freshman class climb the ropes that I very recently scaled.  Classes are getting past the intro level and into challenging and rewarding new dimensions.  And for me, a math major, sometimes I’m literally learning about new dimensions!

In my all-male a cappella group, the Humtones, we are rehearsing our new repertoire and teaching our group’s traditions to our four new enthusiastic members.  I’m helping plan our group’s Fall Tour, and since there are so many colleges and universities within a two-hour drive from Haverford, we’re getting very excited by the possibilities of collaborating with other East Coast a cappella aficionados!  For me, music has been one of the fastest and truest ways of forming bonds of friendship at Haverford.  My group is planning to sing with several of the many other a cappella groups at Haverford over the course of the semester.

And speaking of music, I’ve been enjoying getting the chance to explore the music scene in Philadelphia in recent weeks.  Last week, I saw Vampire Weekend and Sky Ferreira performing on the Skyline Stage of the Mann Center.  It was only a 15-minute drive from campus, and the view was incredible!

The Mann Center in Philadelphia.  That’s me on the left, along with two friends from Haverford: Sarah Moses ’16 in the center, and Nyrah Madon ’16 on the right.

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Being so close to Philly means that there are lots of opportunities to see famous artists like Vampire Weekend. Philadelphia has a big arts scene with lots of galleries, museums, and concert venues like the Skyline Stage (above).

Anyway, the semester is off to a good start, and I’m feeling excited for the new experiences that lay ahead.  This year, I’m living on a freshman hall as a Customs Person, so I’m getting to know a handful of the Class of 2017 in a really unique way.  I can tell that they’re going to be a really accomplished class, and I can’t wait to see what they, and the rest of my peers in the Haverford community, do in the year to come!

Until next time!

Unconventional Paths to Knowledge: Haverford’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities

Hello, and welcome to the Haverford College Admission Blog!  My name is Brandon Henken, and I would like to use my first official posting to talk about my exciting experiences with the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, an academic center on campus that seeks to enliven the artistic and academic scenes on campus by integrating disciplines in unique ways.  (Check it out here: www.haverford.edu/HCAH/.)  This semester, I have had two intellectual adventures with the Center, and I believe that they both are outstanding examples of the agency students have on campus to be creative and to pursue their interests.

The first experience was a presentation called “Demons, Witches, and Comets” that was presented by a student and a professor.  It was a discussion of evidence systems and knowledge centered on celestial events and accusations of witchcraft.  Of course, this presentation was on Friday the Thirteenth!  The cerebral pith of their presentation was that it is dangerous for a scholar to impose modern knowledge systems and epistemology on those of earlier times; rather than dismiss these older systems, scholars should seek to understand how people thought with them.  I loved the intimate atmosphere of roughly two dozen students and professors listening to a discussion and being able to ask questions to move the conversation forward, knowing that they had respect of their peers and professors.  It was truly a Haverfordian experience.

My second experience is a semester-long student-led seminar called “The Depths of Fear: Cross-Cultural Consciousness of Sea Monsters in Folklore, Mythology, and Popular Culture.”  A shared love of the sea inspired an English major and a history major to formulate and lead this class which will meet five times this semester.  I saw it advertised, and I thought it would be fascinating to use cultural, historical, and literary lenses to explore such an unconventional topic.  So far, it is!  The seminar is a great way to explore new subject matter as a break from my usual coursework.  Our first “voyage” on September 20 featured revelatory discussion of monsters and monstrosity, vastness and void, science and nature, and madness and personality in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  (Our reading list also includes Tales of the Cthulu Mythos, The Search for the Giant Squid, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, The Book of Imaginary Beings, The Odyssey, and The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep.)  Nestled in a cozy room in the library, each member of the seminar contributed a unique perspective to the discussion, and I was enlightened by the new concepts that my peers observed.  There were only seven of us, including the students leading the seminar, so everyone had ample time to share and debate ideas.  I was even able to integrate my knowledge from “Demons, Witches, and Comets” into a conversation about the science or attempt at science in Moby Dick.  Once again, this small group was ideal for discussion, and it was an embodiment of the Haverford culture of intelligent discourse.

The Hurford Center and Haverford College as a whole allow students to explore their passions.  Each semester, students can propose, design, and lead new seminars or make presentations with the support of the Hurford Center so that knowledge generated on campus never goes stale.  We have a thriving, vibrant community where students can showcase their own interests and share them with others, all with the support of the College.

Good luck with applications, and HAVER great day!  

City and Summer Livin’

Summer is awesome. The weather is beautiful, nectarines are in season, and the fireflies are enchanting. These lovely months also demand employment though; I’ve been lucky enough that my summer has been a trifecta of engaging work, great food, and regular firefly sightings (thunderstorms have unfortunately impeded on the weather requirement).

This summer I am working as an intern at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook through a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) grant. I’m essentially working as a reporter, covering the… dynamic, let’s say… state of Philadelphia public education. I’ve covered community meetings regarding charter expansion, hunger strikes, and profiled laid off teachers. Needless to say, there is a ton going on right now in the Philly ed world, and I am really in the thick of it.

Let me back up about the CPGC quickly. The CPGC is one of three academic centers at Haverford, alongside the Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center. All three of them are wonderful funding wells for Haverford students, and students use that money for research, student-led seminars, art productions, and more.

The CPGC, specifically, provides students with funding for both international and domestic projects related to social justice; projects can be either self-designed or take advantage of an existing relationship between the CPGC and an institution. Defining “social justice” is really difficult. And it should be, because the phrase means something a little bit different to everyone. That means that students have a ton of agency in deciding what sorts of projects they would like to present to the CPGC, and the possibilities really are limitless. I have had friends teach English in Ghana, conduct medical anthropology thesis research in Brazil, and film documentaries with professors.

All of these projects are fully funded. CPGC grants include: travel and transportation costs, food stipends, and housing costs. If you are on financial aid, they also cover your summer earnings expectation, so you can get the most out of your internship without worrying about making money on the side. Also, when a place doesn’t have to pay you to work for them, getting hired at incredible places becomes much more feasible.

Quick recap of a lot of information: CPGC has a lot of money and they fully fund Haverford students to have incredible internships related to social justice anywhere in the world. This is awesome.

With my CPGC grant, I am living in West Philadelphia, just off of the University of Pennsylvania campus, with two friends from Haverford. The commute to work is simple – just a regional rail ride away. I’ve enjoyed indulging in the excellent taco shop and popsicle joint in my neighborhood, and exploring different nooks of the city. My favorite adventures have been noshing at a food truck festival, and perusing the Barnes Foundation and its beautiful artwork.

Ultimately, I could not have asked for a better summer job. As an English major, Sociology and Education double-minor, this internship presents opportunities to engage with all of my disciplines. I’ve interviewed major players in the Philly ed world, from district officials, to councilmen, to CEOs of charter schools. I’ve also talked with community members, and met with high school students who have formed their own student activism groups. I’ve been able to think and rethink about my own views of public education — the field in which I would ultimately like to work — on a daily basis, and expand my own network of possible professional endeavors.

And, when I come home from a long day of writing and interviewing, I can grab a nectarine, sit out on my porch, and watch the fireflies dance.

Abroad Musings, Vol. 4

I got out of the taxi, massive suitcase in tow, and looked around at HCA. The orange brick of the Haverford College Apartments now contrasted against trees full of green, lush leaves; the trees were bare when I departed 5 months prior. Students were scrambling to put boxes into storage for the summer, and families reunited; in December, I was the one frantically trying to organize my life, while weathering one goodbye after another. Where had I been for almost half a year? Had I really been in 14 different cities in 4 months? I could envision Vienna’s Ringstraße and its beautiful buildings with clarity, but everything seemed to have a warm haze around it. I felt rather Rip Van Winkle-esque.

Before I left Vienna, the IES Abroad director sent out a long email about reverse culture shock, or re-entry culture shock. Essentially, he warned that we may experience some of the cultural shifts that we had experienced coming to Europe upon coming home. Our vision of home would, perhaps, have shifted. As I looked around HCA, a wave of emotions rushed: immense happiness to be back; ache for my friends from abroad, now dispersed throughout the world; a brief moment of Are you insane?? Why didn’t you fly directly home to Seattle?; and then, simple fatigue. Perhaps the most shocking, and the most wonderful part of my reverse culture shock, is that it hasn’t felt shocking at all.

On May 17th, I finished my German final, and technically became a senior in college (!). On May 18th, I flew back to Haverford, PA. On May 19th, I watched the HC Class of 2013, and many of my best friends, graduate. Jet lag? Please. Among the honorary degrees at graduation was Hunter Rawlings, a member of the HC Class of 1966. As he commenced his commencement speech, he said simply but emphatically, “I love this college.” I was still feeling a lot of feelings, but the most profound was that simple. Yes, I was still struggling to comprehend that I had been on a different continent mere hours prior, the bittersweet joy of friends’ graduations, and even the simple fact that the summer months awaited. But overwhelmingly, as I looked out at my friends, I just felt, I love this college too, Hunter.

I am so, so grateful for the time that I spent away from campus; all the cheesy stuff you hear about abroad is true. You do grow as a person, you do become more independent, and you do broaden your horizons. My reverse culture shock has manifested it most concretely in my severe cravings for European dairy products, but my definition of home hasn’t been altered, simply ratified.

 

Heimat (feminine noun). The direct translation from German is home or homeland. This is one of those cases where a lot gets lost in translation. Heimat is more than a home – it refers to the cozy and intense feelings of connection to a specific place, a community. I consider Seattle to be a Heimat, but my birth-town in Germany equally so. But Haverford is my current Heimat, and coming back didn’t feel shocking, but rather comfortable and easy, like waking up from a very enlightening dream.

Abroad Musings, Vol. 3

Indicatively, I find myself writing a blog in the Vienna airport once more. This time, it’s off to Deutschland for a family reunion. My flight is delayed, but only 10 minutes, which already puts me in a position about 10000x better than my last harrowing flight experience. To finish off that epic tale:

I ended up poorer, but 24 hours in Istanbul richer, after booking a last minute flight for the morning thereafter. Istanbul is the most incredible city I have ever seen, extremely eclectic, bustling, and simultaneously reminds me of times spent in Vienna and Viet Nam. My friend Hiba Dhanani, who is currently on her own study abroad excursion there, busted out her Admission skills and gave me a wonderful tour of the city.

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Next up on the ancient city tour, Athens. My friend and Haverford alumna Kat Wyly is teaching English in Athens on a now-Fulbright fellowship, so I had the incredibly good fortune of having a friend, hostess, and guide waiting for me when I disembarked my plane. It was so nice to see a close friend after almost a year, and surreal to do so in Greece! The Haverford network is seriously global. I spent my weekdays wandering ancient ruins and eating delicious gyros, and my Saturday with Kat on Hydra, a nearby Greek island.

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Life was good. Extremely good.

So in the end, as terrible as that rebooking fiasco was, the days that followed were just that incredible.

The following weekend I was in Rome, eating the best tagliatelle, gnocchi, gelato, cheese…

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After this trip to Germany, I’m off to Budapest, thereafter to Dublin and Copenhagen, and then I have a mere two remaining weeks in Vienna before flying back to Haverford for commencement. Life is currently beautiful insanity. I knew how quickly my time abroad would fly by; I remember thinking on the bus ride into Vienna, “at some point a couple of months from now, you’ll think back to this moment and be in disbelief that it’s already been so long.” Good work, Sonia from the past, that is absolutely true, but it doesn’t make the realization any easier to internalize.

Seniors at Haverford are finishing up theses, pinwheel day has come and gone, and I can finally retire snow boots to the back of my closet. My time here is waning, and that brings simultaneous anxiety and excitement. I’m sad to think of goodbyes to friends, Käsekrainer, and Kaffeehäuse; I’m a little scared but very excited to be thinking about my thesis, last year in college, and life thereafter; but I’m also looking forward to seeing my friends again, an incredible, paid internship in Philadelphia this summer (cue the next blog post), and reflecting on the incredible experiences I have had and will have in my time away from Haverford.

Abroad Musings, Vol. 2

Being abroad means a lot of things. It means having to adjust to living in an entirely new country, making new friends, and learning to live without a regular supply of peanut butter. It also means dealing with a lot of very annoying, very tedious bureaucratic messes by yourself and in different languages. Some of these things are more fun than others. I hope you all find some humor in this travel saga; as I write this from Berlin, I am only beginning to appreciate its future storytelling clout.

I’ll start by sharing a few excerpts from my journal, written as I weathered a 5 hour delay in the Vienna airport a few days ago: ‘No one conveniently told me my original flight had been cancelled, so lucky me gets to spend the afternoon in the Vienna airport instead of Berlin.’ and ‘[text has been altered to omit rather colorful expressions].’ Apparently I was feeling philosophical, because then this followed: ‘Patience and flexibility — I guess that’s something I’m really starting to take away from this trip. Miscommunication? Let’s try again. Oh, this operator only speaks Turkish? Who else can I talk to? Who can I go to for help? When should I and what can I accomplish by myself? What risks am I willing to take and when should I listen to my gut and back off?’ Philosophical it may be, but those are important questions that I do end up asking myself almost everyday.

I wasn’t quite so into introspective questioning after finding out that I had not actually been rebooked to Istanbul, as my rebooking confirmation stated, at 1 a.m. in the morning. I was less into the introspection after spending hours on hold, speaking increasingly tense and decreasingly polite English/German, after 4 hours of stressed half sleep. And after breaking down, cancelling my original booking with no guarantee of a refund, and calling my folks in Seattle at 4 a.m. Pacific time to figure out how I was going to get to Istanbul in time to catch my flight to Athens, I just wanted some peanut butter and a long nap.

I am now eating some stale rice and a rather mealy apple, and appreciating my family’s swift response. I am not writing exactly what my plans are because I am terrified of jinxing those too, but I’ll reveal the conclusion to this saga in my next blog post.

The last 24 hours have been the most stressful ones I’ve had recently, but there is a lot of learning to be had. Patience and flexibility are very valuable virtues that I am still cultivating; get receipts for absolutely everything every time; don’t be afraid to ask for help; apparently this is what being an independent adult is like (not actually, but at least at times); and if all else fails, there’s a lot of chocolate in Europe, and the new Justin Timberlake album works wonders on the nerves.

I promise more photos in the next post!

Life After Haverford

Who knew there was such a thing as life after Haverford…For the first 18 years of your life you are preparing to go to college, that is the obvious next step in life. You go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school, and then college. But here is the kicker, after college there is no universal next step. Everyone does something a little different and goes in a different direction. I have finally figured out my next step…AH. Starting in August I will be going to Georgetown University for graduate school to get my Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Last May I came to the conclusion that I wanted to go to graduate school and began this graduate school search process. The first step I took was to meet with the CDO (Career Development Office), which is wonderful, and they helped me formulate a list of programs and schools that interested me and I began my search process, just like all of you did at first.

After visiting schools and getting a feel for what it really was I wanted to study and where I wanted to go to school I turned to my professors. With the help of numerous faculty members, my advisors, and my professors, I was given guidance throughout this entire process and was always supported. The student to faulty ratio here at Haverford is 8:1, and let me tell you, the professors here really get to know you. I was able to meet with professors who knew everything about me and were really able to give me informed advice about where to go to graduate school based on what they knew about me. I had a strong support system to get me through this process and never felt alone.

Here I am nearly a year later after beginning this journey making a decision about where to go next. It is stressful even for me so I understand how all of you must feel right now. But, I really think I have made the right decision and I am trusting my gut. It is really hard for me to believe that I only have a few short weeks left at Haverford and am a little jealous of all of you who are about to embark on the journey to college. While I am super excited for my next step and getting the opportunity to go to graduate school to pursue what I am truly passionate about, leaving Haverford will probably be one of the hardest things I have ever done.