Like Clara mentioned in a recent post, conferences are a valuable part of the college experience because we get to explore our passions and find out what other colleges or organizations are doing in our fields of interest. Yesterday, six members of our Writing Center staff, myself included, attended the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association conference in California, Pennsylvania.
The theme of the conference was 3D, so after our sessions we wandered around campus with the 3D glasses they gave us and admired the statues.
The morning part of the conference consisted of sessions in which students and Writing Center directors from other schools shared their most recent research. I attended two sessions about working with non-native English speakers and one on the various roles that a Writing Center tutor might take on during a session. I especially enjoyed the very first session that I went to because it was a round-table discussion about working with ESL students, so the session took on a dialogue format and I was able to both contribute some of my favorite tactics and learn from various staff members at other schools.
The keynote speech took place after lunch, and the speaker addressed the importance of remaining inquisitive and not simply accepting a well-known narrative about our workplace. She questioned, for example, the tactic of reading out loud in the Writing Center and whether more research needs to be done about the usefulness of that tactic.
The basic message of her speech, to constantly question what is accepted as the norm, applies to my general outlook on college life. This time is for us to find what we are passionate about, conduct research, and question answers!
Tonight was very unique. A guest lecturer and poet, Lia Purpura, read tonight at the annual Bothe lecture, a lecture held every year in honor of Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe of the Maryland Circuit Court who donated generously to McDaniel in support of the arts and passed away this past March. Normally lectures like this will be accepted as extra credit by professors, but luckily for me I’m an English major, and a successful poet like Mrs. Purpura cannot come within my vicinity without each of my professors grabbing me by the back of my head and shoveling poems and all sorts of advice about the future down my throat.
What made it interesting was that I actually had two classes that made the lecture mandatory. One was my Intro to Lit Methods course which is the introduction to the major and conveniently has been covering poetry for the last week and a half, the other was a creative writing class centered entirely around poetry. The latter obviously focused more on Mrs. Purpura’s presence on campus and my professor actually got her to come speak to the class about her life as a writer.
I was shocked to find that I actually enjoyed hearing the perspective of a seasoned writer. Like many college students, I have never really appreciated a guest lecture. I mean I already sit for a minimum of two hours in class being lectured, I’m not going to be the first in line for an hour long lecture after classes are over. In any case, as far as mandatory guest lecturers go, Lia Purpura was very interesting. She was eccentric and enlightening; she even offered a wealth of useful advice during her session with my poetry class.
Her reading was unexpectedly ambiguous. Having never been to a reading, I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it would be structured as a poem followed by an explanation. Instead, Lia read fluidly from poem to poem, pausing once or twice to offer minimal context for the poem. I was hoping she would give a better window into her writing process, but what she gave was simply a well rehearsed reading. No complaints though, it was still a very good experience and a good example of the type of first-hand learning that McDaniel makes possible.
I have never necessarily been inclined toward neatness. In high school, my friends joked that I lived like a nomad, with enough stuff to live on for at least a week strewn haphazardly in the back of my car. My room wasn’t any better; a path leading to the bed was sometimes the only section of carpet that was visible.
When I was a freshman in college, my organizational skills only slumped. People would walk into my room and not be able to maintain eye contact due to the explosion of things on my floor. I lost my keys so often in the mountain of my things that my roommate took it upon herself to hang a hook by our door so that I would stop panicking each time I had to leave the room. I was convinced that I was busy and had no time to organize my stuff, but I came to dislike spending time in my room because it was so cluttered.
During my sophomore year, I moved into an apartment and wasn’t much better. While I made sure to keep communal spaces clean, I could barely negotiate my side of the room. Still, keeping my personal space remained pretty unimportant in comparison to my schoolwork and social life.
My major turning point came when I studied abroad in Costa Rica and lived with a host family. My Mamá Tica was obsessed with cleanliness and I only had a small amount of my things to keep organized. I took time each day to organize my closet and drawers, gaining a new found satisfaction in my spotless floor and not having to frantically dig around every time I needed my sunglasses or a particular pair of shoes.
Now, I live in the Spanish house on campus, and part of our grade involves cleaning the communal spaces of the house. We operate on a weekly rotating schedule of vacuuming, taking out the trash, and cleaning the kitchen. Compulsory cleaning plus a particularly orderly roommate have driven me to keep my room organized this year, and tonight I did a particularly hefty spring cleaning. I went through all of my school and personal items and made a collection of things to take home tomorrow when I visit my family for Easter tomorrow.
Now, looking at my vacuumed and dusted room, I feel incredibly satisfied. It may have taken 21 years, but I finally realized how much more peaceful I feel when my things are orderly rather than scattered on the floor. Cleaning all the time is still not my inclination, but it has become more of a habit over these past few years. The best development: I love spending time in my room.
It’s easy to slip into a routine here, with our classes and work and practice schedules. Here’s some advice: try to avoid routine. If a new club forms mid-semester, go. If someone invites you to see a speaker on a topic you know nothing about, go. If a class looks fascinating, take it, especially if it is outside of your major.
Today, our Student Government Association hosted a student involvement fair. Representatives from Greek organizations, clubs, and organizations like Relay for Life manned tables from 11-2, looking to recruit members and ready to answer questions from interested peers.
We typically have an involvement fair at the beginning of the school year, mostly for the benefit of freshman so that they can see what extra-curricular activities are available on campus. What I LOVED about today’s event was the inherent message that organizations are always open to new members and that it is never too late in the year to get involved.
Additionally, class listings for the 2013-2014 school year have been posted. Browsing courses is possibly one of my favorite hobbies; I take time to look at pretty much every subject area to check out interesting classes that are being offered outside of my disciplines. Like getting involved with clubs, taking classes outside of your area of study can be a great opportunity to meet new people and deepen your understanding of the world. This is part of the reason I like attending a liberal arts college: we are forced to experiment through the McDaniel Plan!
When choosing how to spend your time in college, never let yourself too comfortable. You are never too busy and never too involved to experience something outside of your comfort zone.
Yes, the first day of classes after spring break was a snow day! For this reason, I got a lot of curious looks from strangers at the grocery store as I was stocking up on graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. The lady waiting behind me in line decided to scream, “S’MORES?!” She must have been thinking that I was crazy for purchasing all the ingredients for the ultimate summer cookout on a snowy day. Little did she know that McDaniel has an indoor fireplace that can be used for s’mores anytime of the year!
The purpose of the event: Alpha Lambda Delta First Year Honor Society social! ALD is an honor society that inducts sophomores each year who have performed exceedingly well during their freshman year at McDaniel. It is a great honor that is respected as a privilege and not a right. ALD members are required to attend one social event and one service event each semester. The s’mores social event tonight had been planned for a while, but the cold weather this week really made it a successful event – a great way to warm up by the fireplace, eat tasty snacks, and socialize with friends.
ALD has a variety of other events throughout the year which all include free food and drinks – the best perk of being in the club. Pizza and a movie is always a popular event. The most recent movie night featured Disney’s Tangled (there were a lot of laughs). I think the most notorious event is handing out candy to students who are studying in the library during finals week to encourage them to keep up the good work! The newest tradition takes place at the end of the spring semester for the seniors and involves passing down the “torch.” The three must have party snacks at this event – sparkling cider, cheese and crackers, and popsicles.
So if you want to take advantage of these opportunities when you get to McDaniel just work really hard during your freshman year and get those good grades. Then it is pizza, popsicles, and s’mores galore until you graduate!
Tonight was the big unveiling for graduating studio art majors at the Honors Art Exhibition in the Rice Gallery in Peter Hall tonight. The theme: smARTies – they are clever students! I sure enjoyed the large bowl of smarties up for grabs.
Six seniors were in the spotlight and showing of their wonderful pieces of art ranging from embroidery on cotton to nails and string on wood. They included: Danika Allen, Elyse Hyle, Dara Dinisio, Claire Woolley, Caitlin Bennett, and Kira Young.
The overwhelming number of guests politely weaved in and out of corners to get their opportunity to admire each and every piece. Friends, family, professors, and President Roger Casey and his wife Robyn were all in attendance. After about half an hour of appreciating what the artists had to offer, it was time for them to speak about their exhibit individually, one by one. This created a great opportunity to make their work more comprehendible to the audience and add more depth to the focus of their exhibit. We learned about holding onto our childhood, creating multiple homes across the country, learning when to let loose and when to take control, how we seek security when fearful of attention, underestimating the complexity of high fashion and how it relates to individuals, and creating honest conversation about masturbation and sexual fantasies. The themes were definitely an interesting meld and as a result conversation ran wild all through the night.
Like many, I love the internet. I love social networks, goofy videos, Tumblr, and memes of all sorts. (I even wrote a paper analyzing the rhetoric and genre of Advice Animals for my Approaches to Everyday Discourse class last semester. It was a fun experience–I got to spend gobs of time on the internet while writing a paper at the same time, without all the shame of spending all that time online while writing a paper not about the internet.)
So as an internet aficionado, I was thrilled tonight when I found out that McDaniel’s South Park and Contemporary Issues class was mentioned in an article, “15 Geeky College Courses You Won’t Believe Actually Exist,” which was published on Buzzfeed a few weeks back. The course is a sophomore interdisciplinary studies class about South Park and how the show deals with controversial social issues, and you should definitely read more about it here.
I love it when McDaniel gets national exposure, and to see the College get mentioned on a website so accessible and interesting to young people (and one that I really like) is exciting! Buzzfeed is amusing and even thought-provoking, and working there is my dream internship. Perhaps if I get to apply, I can tell them about my awesome college and our super cool South Park class.
And speaking of cool college courses, McDaniel has a lot of them. Check out our course catalog to decide for yourself which ones are the coolest.
It seems, when catching up with friends, that protocol is to go out to lunch. I did a lot of catching up over the break, so I bought a fair amount of lunches. I’m also a local student, so I was reminded how many good places to eat are right in town! Here are a few that are on Main Street, within walking distance from campus:
What I like most about going here is the element of comfort. The walls are a bright green and the benches are strewn with pillows. The menu offers a great variety of fare, and I’m always impressed with the freshness of the food. If you go here, it is absolutely necessary that you get a cupcake. Some of their flavors include chocolate coconut, key lime pie, and sweet potato with a caramel icing.
While you should be prepared to pay a little more here, the food is excellent and I’ve always had great service. One of my favorite options is to do tapas here with friends. When the weather is nice outside, they have a back deck where you can eat. Dining out there always makes me feel like I’m at the beach!
You’re guaranteed to get delicious food fast when you go to here. The staff is incredibly friendly and attentive. Though I’m obsessed with their vegetable Pad Thai, everyone I’ve ever gone with has loved their choices as well. I also recommend getting a Thai iced tea if you pop in.
Besides these, Main Street offers a ton of great dining locations worth checking out! Eating out is a great way to shake up your normal dining routine and explore town if you’re not from the area.
For my job at the Writing Center I am putting together a presentation about our student newspaper, The Free Press, as a promotional tool to recruit new staff members. My boss made the suggestion that part of this presentation should be a section highlighting past staff members who have gone on to have prominent careers in journalism.
My immediate thought was to scour the Internet and see if Wendy Ruderman, alum of ’91 and Pulitzer Prize winner, had ever written for the Free Press. Ruderman came to McDaniel to speak when I was a freshman, and she told us both about her time at McDaniel (well, then Western Maryland) and her award-winning investigative series “Tainted Justice.” She is currently working on a book about the process of writing the series.
My search immediately led me to the archives of the Free Press, which are compiled on our library’s website. I found that in 1990 Ruderman was a staff reporter, and some additional browsing led me to a profile about her after she wrote a play which was performed at school. In the profile, she said that after her graduation she wanted to be a writer in San Francisco. “I am willing to write for a tampon box,” she said. “You have to start somewhere.”
Since then, I’ve been thinking about the contexts in which the archives can be useful to students. For other Free Press writers, it would be interesting to browse them in order to recycle story ideas. In a broader sense, anyone interested in notable alums could see if anything was written about or by them when they attended McDaniel. Finally, it’s hilarious just to browse through old editions and look at the ridiculous mullets and perms everyone had. Our archives give us a sense of what McDaniel was like for students before us, a sense of history that is not often tangible.
I think the value of a good road trip has been lost among our age group. For example, some of the best memories I will take from the year’s Spring Break will be from the 13 hour drives there and back with two of my best friends. Regardless of this, three other friends who also came with us to Florida will be flying back, and they have no idea what they’re missing. After all, nothing will help you get to know somebody better than 13 hours of close, personal interaction. It’s an invaluable piece of the college experience, in fact, I would argue that you have not lived unless you’ve packed up the car with a few of your closest friends and driven through the night to a tropical destination of choice.
For the trip down, Rachel and Stevie arrived at my house at 1am and we began our perilous journey to Florida. On the way down we drank red bull, exchanged funny stories, listened to Taylor Swift, Mackelmore, JT, Calvin Harris, whatever we had on our iPods; whatever was necessary to keep ourselves awake. We took shifts for sleep, always making sure that the driver had someone awake keeping them company. It wasn’t easy but by dawn we had made it to South Carolina in record timing. In five more hours we were smelling the fresh ocean air of Cocoa Beach, driving with the top down on the Florida coastal highway blasting Luke Bryant and loving life.
The drive home is less exciting, naturally. We still have the radio going, but it’s raining and the impending classes on Monday have us all a little down in the dumps. Is still fun though, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Rachel has been reading to us from a book she has to read for her Spanish class which hasn’t been terrible to listen to.
Go on road trips with your friends! And don’t text the whole time either. Because ultimately your friends now will be your friends forever and this is how you’ll get to know them the best. Well, in my opinion anyway.