’Tis Spring Break! My parents are here, visiting me from China. As we drive around the Golden State from SoCal to NorCal in the next few days, I (rather ambitiously) plan to read a few books, get my homework done, write some more blog entries, and get back to some of my friends (feeling guilty about not maintaing email chains during the busy academic year).
A brief summary of how my semester’s going so far might give you a good idea of the first-year experience at Pomona College. Time goes by so fast when we’re having fun! It’s crazy, really, to think that in a couple of months, we won’t “fresh”(wo)men any more…
This semester, I’m taking four full-credit classes and two quarter-credit classes: [Read more…]
However, since I’m still in the application process for some of these programs, I thought it’d be more fitting to share how the experiences and skills I have gained through applying to Pomona-sponsored programs have benefitted me in other ways.
Although the Summer Experience Funding Program provides you with the funding you need to live in a foreign environment, it’s up to you to find the actual internship or summer opportunity. I wish I could say finding programs to apply to was as easy as a quick Google search, but I had to do some work to pinpoint organizations that matched my interests and programs that catered to my financial needs. By this I mean that I opened 30+ tabs, persistently clicking back and forth as I copied and pasted important links, deadlines, and program details.
I also got some help in the search process from QuestBridge, which hosted a student panel called “Finding Summer Experiences as a Low Income Student.” One of the great things about being a part of the QuestBridge community at Pomona is the way Quest Scholars support each other, sharing insights on past experiences to address concerns about costs and logistics.
While Claremont seems to be in a perpetual state of summer and sunshine, other parts of the world experience (believe it or not!) such things as snow and winter! Here in Hungary, where I am studying abroad this semester, we’ve been fighting off the cold with plenty of hot chocolate, mulled wine, and cozy socks, but the locals in the Hungarian village of Mohacs have a more festive way, and it’s called the Busójárás.
The Busójárás, or “Buso Walking,” is a centuries-old festival held at the end of every winter. It consists of food, families, traditional dancing, parades, a bonfire, and what seems to be thousands of people dressed in Buso costumes. Large, heavy, furry costumes.
Throughout the year, the people who dress as Busos help with the community and harvest, making it their mission to keep up the historical traditions of their town. They learn about carving and the traditional dances and folklore. But when the time comes for the festival, their job is to storm the town and make as much commotion as possible, yelling, running, and hugging the people to wake up the languid citizens of winter.
It may come as a surprise to some people, but there’s a lot of work to be done in college. Papers, lab reports, readings, projects, paperwork, applications… We students are a busy bunch. Some (unfortunately for their schedules) are also very extroverted and social. During the week, it can be extremely difficult to find time for everything you want to do — either you lose sleep or grade points by choosing to hang out with friends, or you miss out on fun times while you stare forlornly at your laptop screen. The struggle is easier for some than others, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to be around people, you have two options during the week aside from just not doing your homework (no, you should do your homework): doing work with other people, which can make it pretty tempting to goof off and get distracted, or do the social dance of mealtime socializing.
Whether it’s a close friend that you want to catch up with or someone you just met that you’d like to know better, the dining hall is pretty popular as a place to meet up and talk about what’s been happening in your life. Here’s how it often happens: You pass a friend on campus.
“Hi! It’s been so long! We should totally get a meal sometime!”
“We definitely should! Just text me anytime if you want to!”
So you wait a little while and text them, and after some back-and-forth and frequent menu-checking, this generally results in a meal together scheduled sometime in the following two months.
Some people avoid this dance by acquiring a Regular Meal Slot™ with someone (right now I have two: Tuesday and Friday dinner!). Others also like to organize “reunion dinners” with sponsor groups, OA groups, or any group of friends that have spread out over campus as time goes on. Because I love to make lists — not to mention that they seem to be trendy on the Internet — I want to devote the rest of my post to describing a few common types of mealtime socializing. Without further ado,
Last week I got the chance to participate in the 3rd annual Black Hair Conference here at Pomona College. The event, sponsored by the Pan African Student Association (PASA), started as a space to start dialogue about the politics of Black hair amongst the Black community from the Claremont Colleges and beyond. This year, the dinner/conference was at full capacity as hosts Chinasa Okolo ’18 and OBSA Staff member Jamaal Tolbert (CGU ’14) guided several discussions about the natural hair movement, the conclusions drawn by society about black people who have natural vs. relaxed hair or weaves, and the overall importance of black hair to the black identity. [Read more…]
It’s that time of year — everyone seems to be anxiously applying to programs/internships/jobs/research positions/funding etc. Over Family Weekend, standing in front of my CDO Summer Experience Funding poster, I fielded tons of questions from eager parents of first-year students. I’ve been asked the vague questions “Where do you want to be this summer?” and “What are your summer plans?” too many times, and I’ve probably asked them a few too many times, as well.
Just to give a glimpse into what summers can look like, I’ll give a brief description of my own summer experiences. [Read more…]
“America talks too much about race. America also talks too little about race.” These are lines from award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest novel Americanah that echo in my head. I read Adichie’s book last summer, since it was the Pomona College summer reading assignment. As I read, I jolted down some questions, which I hoped to ask the author (who gave a talk at our college a couple of months later) in person.
You might have noticed from my previous entries that I love using flashbacks and anecdotes when I’m writing, for I’m a nostalgic person at heart. I enjoy reading and writing in different environments, and taking a stroll in between to think about what I have just read or written. When I’m reading, I sometimes subconsciously associate the part in the book that I’m reading with the location in which I have been reading this book. When I return to the text, my mind brings me back to my previous surroundings, connecting them with my current setting. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
So now, every time I think back about the characters and plot of Adichie’s novel, my memories bring me back to Beijing, where I read it over the summer. Back then, I wondered how much the issue of race would affect me personally, whether it would be exclusive, or if I would have personal connections to the phrase “race cards.” Having studied in the U.S. for five months now, I feel that it’s time to reflect about what I’ve read, seen, experienced, and learned. [Read more…]
One of the things that scared me the most as I entered college was the prospect of reality. Words like “decisions,” “long-term plans,” and “responsibilities” loomed over me, but I soon encountered multiple valuable resources for developing professional skills.
Over winter break, I participated in the Career Development Office’s (CDO) Shadow a Sagehen program. Through this program, I learned how to build a LinkedIn profile and navigate the Pomona College alumni page in order to connect with alumni in the fields I am interested in. The CDO helped me craft a respectful, genuine, and enthusiastic message that conveyed my desire to learn more about alumni experiences and hear their words of wisdom. After sharing my message with several alumni, I was able to set up both informational interviews and job shadows.
Out of sheer PSSD (post-swim-season disorder), I find myself with a few extra minutes of free time and energy to appreciate the non-water-related things in life. Today, this just so happens to be Claremont professors.
First of all, I still cannot help but feel an amalgam of giddiness and grandeur as I turn towards one of my teachers and address them as “Professor”. I feel like I should be strutting through a corridor at Hogwarts giving a dignified nod and hello to Professor McGonagall. I’ve even caught myself sneaking in a British accent reminiscent of Harry Potter calling out “Professor!” So whenever a professor tells the class to call them by their first name, I think mmmmm…. nahhhhh. Your name is Professor.
Second, I’ve been convinced as of late that if this lovely little world had to be overthrown by some hoard of overlords, I wouldn’t be surprised (or mind) if they were my professors. And here’s why: [Read more…]