As the year comes to an end, so does my time in McDaniel’s Spanish house. For the past few days, my housemates and I have been celebrating the awesome year that we’ve shared together. On Friday we had a picnic with a few of the professors in the department and tonight was a surprise going away party for our house director, who is from Argentina.
The picnic was fun because, like all of our other parties, it involved food from all over South and Central America. I live with seven native Spanish speakers, so throughout the year I have learned a lot of new recipes from various countries. At the picnic we had dishes like horchata, which is a creamy drink, and platanos, or fried plantains.
After eating we played some games and made a big pyramid that lasted for about a second before we all fell on the ground.
Tonight, two of my housemates planned Karina’s surprise party and invited several McDaniel professors and students. There was a ton of food and Karina got to hang out with the friends she has made and the students she has taught.
Living in the Spanish house has not only improved my spoken Spanish skills, but also given me the chance to learn about the Spanish speaking world and make some great friends. I’m always sad to leave McDaniel for the year, but I think this year will be particularly hard because I’ve had such a great living situation for the past year.
After posting about my plans for Palabras to Words next year in a recent entry, I figured that I would do the same for Contrast, our literary magazine. I recently met with this year’s editing team to learn about what putting a magazine together entails, and we discussed some awesome initiatives for next year, including:
Doing a reading with a guest author. Public readings are a great chance for authors to share work, practice flow and rhythm, and gain feedback from others. We were thinking that next year we might invite a spoken word poet to come and read some work along with inviting students to read what they’ve been working on.
Implementing themed workshops. During the fall, Contrast club members will meet on a bi-monthly basis to participate in structured writing sessions, which could be on topics such as character development, setting, conclusions, etc. Workshops might also involve writing activities such as “found objects” writing in which club members would draft solely based on objects (quotes, pieces of art) that we’d bring in.
Having a fall writing contest. This has been an element of Contrast in the past, and I’m looking to bring it back. Students would enter toward the end of the semester, the top three would win cash prizes, and those winners would be published in our magazine in the spring.
If you’re interested in becoming involved with the creative writing community at McDaniel next semester, be sure to stay tuned for meeting dates and sign up for our mailing list at the fall Involvement Fair!
I have recently committed to being Co-President of Palabras to Words, our ESOL tutoring club, for next year, and I am incredibly excited to strengthen the organization’s presence on campus. Right now, not a lot of people know that the organization even exists, and I plan on launching a campaign to attract both community members and student tutors next year. Some specific ideas that I’ve been turning over for next year include:
Making the club more accessible to women. Right now, we meet on Sunday nights and only have male students learning English. My advisor suggested that this might be because we meet at dinnertime and women might need the time we meet to make sure their kids are ready for school the next day.
Adding a childcare option. We also may have a lack of women because there is no one to watch their kids while they learn English. We are thinking that if student volunteers offer childcare during our tutoring sessions, then more women would be able to take advantage of our services.
Reaching out to local organizations that support Spanish-speakers. Two non-profit organizations, United Hands and Headstart, aid Spanish-speakers who need help settling in the area. Connecting with them would allow us to reach more people in need of English tutoring and help us learn about the needs of the local Spanish-speaking community.
Starting an ESOL tutoring workshop. Currently, we do not have any tools for new tutors to learn how to best interact with their tutees, so my goal is to connect with the graduate ESOL department at McDaniel and try to informational session on ESOL tutoring so that new tutors feel more comfortable with their commitment to teach.
I’ll be sure to update the blog as these goals come to fruition, so stay tuned!
Mr. McDaniel is a contest held once every year by Alpha Sigma Tau sorority on campus. This event is always fun since it is the sister event to the Ms. McDaniel competition hosted by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The events are known for being more comical than serious in comparison to other competitions that go by a similar name, and this year was unique for me because I was selected to compete in the AST’s Mr. McDaniel competition.
Of five competitors, two of my brothers were also selected to compete. There were three Alpha Sigs, one Phi Delt, and one Phi Kapp in total and each of us offered a unique take on comedy. The first event was formal wear, which was pretty basic. As we went onto stage, one of the ASTs hosting the event would read us a question and we would do our best to answer in a way that would appeal to the crowd. A few of the questions were given to us before the event so that we wouldn’t make complete jerks of ourselves on state; but most questions were given on the spot to show how quick we were on our feet.
The competition was more than anything just to entertain the campus and help the ASTs raise money for their sorority. Judged by two students, one randomly selected by the ASTs and the other the current Ms. McDaniel, and a faculty member, the criteria were most visually appealing, crowd appeal, best answers to the questions, and of course, general sense of humor; criteria that brought out the best in each contestant including myself.
In the course of the night, we saw one guy rap, too much speedo during the swimwear portion of the competition, I performed a song I had learned earlier in the day, and one of my brothers brought out a harpoon and stared seductively at the audience…which was interesting. Though I didn’t win, I thought it was a great opportunity and a really good time.
Our two main student publications on campus are the Free Press, which is the student newspaper, and Contrast, our literary magazine. I’ve been involved with the newspaper since I was a freshman, and next year will be my third year as the News Editor. I’ve also become involved with Contrast during this year and will be serving as the Co-Editor during senior year.
Next year should be a particularly exciting time for the Free Press and Contrast because an extreme overhaul as far as space is occurring. The Free Press currently has an office, but it is not in a central location on campus and because of that we don’t draw much of a crowd to our meetings. Contrast does not have its own space on campus at the moment.
When the next school year begins, both organizations will be occupying a room on the first floor of Hill that currently houses the Writing Center, which will be moving to a larger room across the hall. Having a space just for student publications will hopefully give more presence to these organizations on campus and increase the number of students who submit to both publications.
We have just started planning how we want the space to look, but we want to keep all of the Free Press archives in the new room and start a bookshelf for Contrast that will house old issues as well as books with writing prompts. We also want it to be welcoming to all students who wish to write or contribute to student publications.
I think that our writing organizations are important because they allow students to experiment with writing outside of the classroom. There is a freedom in writing for Contrast or the Free Press that is not necessarily afforded when the work is graded. I am really excited to see both of them grow and flourish when the new space is available next year.
Each year, I try out a couple new clubs, hoping to meet other people like myself on campus who share my interests. Sometimes I continue going after the semester ends, and sometimes activities get replaced with something new. One of my major extracurricular undertakings this year has been Palabras to Words, our ESOL tutoring club. Adult native Spanish speakers come to McDaniel to work with students on their English skills. I had been interested in joining during my first two years at McDaniel, but I was also scared that my Spanish wasn’t good enough to communicate and help teach English.
I decided to go this year because my spoken Spanish and confidence had risen significantly after spending last spring in Costa Rica. What I learned is that it’s not exactly necessary to know Spanish if you want to teach English, depending on the level of your tutee.
I work with Mateo, a man who lives in Frederick and has been in the United States for the past ten years. He is studying to get his GED and hopes to join the military after he passes. He is also learning to play guitar, is interested in philosophy, and is a big fan of The Doors.
During our hour-long tutoring sessions, Mateo and I have worked on reading comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary skills, and grammatical concepts. We’ve even done some math for GED preparation. My favorite exercise that we do together, however, has to do with song lyrics. Because he loves The Doors and classic rock in general, I like to pick the lyrics to a song each week and take some important words out. Then, we listen to the song together and he figures out which words are missing. This is a great way to build vocabulary and help him understand the songs he likes to listen to on the radio.
Working with Palabras to Words has allowed me to learn what teaching ESOL involves as I have thought about getting certified after graduation. I’ve also had the chance to keep working on my Spanish and meet some awesome students and community members. All in all, I definitely want to stay involved with this club for the rest of my time at McDaniel!
One of the hidden treasures at McDaniel is the language lab. Located in the basement of Baker Memorial Chapel, this is a space where students can work on projects using innovative technology.
The lab is not just for the foreign language department, although it does have state-of-the-art software that is also used by the US government to teach their employees a language.
Recently renovated, the lab is all Mac laptops located at large group tables. The laptops can be connected to large television screen for group project collaboration.
I went there this week to work on an exhibition project for my Native American art class. My group prepared a powerpoint presentation while simultaneously looking up research and comparing our findings on the televisions.
McDaniel works hard to supply students with the newest and best technology and give them great opportunities as a result.
This year I am participating in Relay for Life for the first time with a team from the Writing Center where I work. Being on a team involves both personal and group fundraising in the weeks leading up to the event on April 26th. For me, personal fundraising has involved sharing my goals with my family and sharing my fundraising page via social media. As a group, my team is focusing on two major projects: a raffle and collecting tips.
The tip jar idea was my boss’s, and it stemmed from how many people pop into the Writing Center to use our stapler. Now, at different stapling hotspots around campus we have tip jars encouraging students who use public staplers to donate their change when they use them.
The raffle project is my favorite method we are using to gain funds because we have been reaching out to the Westminster community for donations and have enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response. My coworker and I went to some local businesses the other day to talk about Relay for Life and in just an hour we had a gift cards from both CUP, a local tea shop, and Classico’s, a family-owned Italian restaurant. We also got a promise from an Italian deli to fill an entire basket for us.
Besides the places where we secured definite donations, we explored some cool places on Main Street, such as a bookstore called Eclecticity that displayed a ton of local art and had a room where you could fill up at bag of books for $5!
I was a little intimidated by the idea of approaching businesses for donations, but the response has been so positive that I am looking forward to making contact with more organizations. And, of course, all this fundraising is making me really amped for Relay for Life in general!
The Free Press embarked on a new endeavor this spring.
The editors came up with the idea to have a survey for students to fill out that would compile a list of favorite places on campus and in town.
It features questions from favorite pub meal, to most college friendly grocery store, to best Greek organization. The goal is to figure out what McDaniel students like.
We are hoping to get a large number of the student population to participate and then we will publish the results online and in our senior edition of the paper.
We plan to also award some of the local businesses who win with a window cling or small award for being chosen as one of McDaniel’s best! This will also show McDaniel’s appreciation to the town.
I can’t wait to find out the results of the survey!
Today was the first of two days for admitted students on campus, and I spent some time talking to prospective students about both our study abroad programs and the English department. After talking to so many people, I found myself repeating a few nuggets of knowledge to pretty much everyone, which I would like to share here:
There seems to be this misconception that studying abroad will make you fall behind, and that’s just not true. I was just a minor in Spanish before I left for Costa Rica, but I picked up so much Spanish credit while I was abroad that I only needed to take a few classes here at McDaniel to finish up the major upon my return. The key is planning with your adviser and the International Programs Office to make sure that your credits will transfer.
Don’t put yourself in a box. We really love hearing students say that they are undecided at Admitted Students Day because they will most likely explore various fields of study and student organizations before organically coming upon the best fit. I talked to students who did not feel that they could study abroad or take writing classes because of the major they had chosen, but I really encourage exploring all options for study, especially when we have to fulfill the McDaniel Plan anyway!
You can combine areas of study to fit your needs. I met some students who had interests that spanned across a couple of our majors, such as English, Communications, and Cinema. It can feel daunting when you are looking at the information for all of our different majors and minors, but it is pretty easy to study all the things you love by doing dual majors or taking on a minor. Be sure to talk to professors in all the departments you are interested in because they have probably had students with the same skill sets and will know from experience how to accommodate your interests.
Happy Admitted Students Day! We will be holding another one in one week on Sunday, April 14.