25 Days Woop! Woop!

25 is the magical number at this point. 25 days until graduation, 25 days until “real life” begins. 

I can’t wait! Don’t get me wrong, I love having gone to school and Whitman in particular but I just can’t shake the excitement I feel for the next stage of life. My Mum always told me that my student years would be the best years of my life. People care about you and your success, there is food ready available, a roof over your head and clothes on your back. I have wondered though about what is beyond this time that we know so very well and if I…we will be able to handle it.

I look forward to testing this new world. I am also confident that the critical thinking and curiosity we have experienced at Whitman will be central to our success therein. There isn’t anything I think we can’t learn to do as Whitties and our strong alumni network ensures that we will have the necessary connections and support to do just that. As graduation draws closer, I enjoy the days and appreciate what has been and what is to come.

Go Class of 2013!Image

Whitman Undergraduate Conference

My dearest friends,

This post is long overdue but better late than never, right? The Whitman Undergraduate Conference reminds me very much of TED Talks. 12 minutes of presentation with 3 minutes of Q&A. Granted TED Talks are longer but WUC presentations pack as much insight, inspiration and information. The curiosity of the researcher is evident and makes for great conversations later on. 

My favorite session (besides lunch) was:

Immigrant/Migrant Issues: My thesis was interested in the identity formation experience for African Immigrants and was excited to go learn a bit more about immigrants from a much more different place and with generally a different experience. I caught the tail end of a presentation on the graphic novel Darkroom: a memoir in black and white, listened to the efforts of the California Pesticide Reform group to eliminate the use of harmful pesticides that disproportionately affect Latino immigrant farm workers. I then listened to my friend’s presentation on creating a database for the types of ailments that immigrant farm workers suffer from, their morbidity rates as a result of work-related injuries with the hopes that this information will assist in creating avenues for effective healthcare for this group.

There were other presentations I attended because most of the day is a constant zig zag across campus as one tries to catch all the presentations they would like to attend. I highly, highly recommend this sort of day to anyone and to any college.

 

La Pâtisserie à Walla Walla

One of my favorite places in Walla Walla is the Patisserie on Coleville Street. Its French name, as you may very well know, translates to “pastry” and by extension a  “pastry shop” in French. Ordinarily I am not a coffee shop/bakery  kinda girl but this place is different.

Numero uno…

That hot chocolate…is deadly. I don’t know what it is that they use but it is nothing short  of, well, magical. It is not at all like the examples I make for myself in my kitchen (Nesquik + milk) or those I find at other coffee shops. It is a rich mix of milk, what I suspect to be cocoa powder and a dollop of whipped cream.  You just need a small and you’re set for the day.

Due…

The eclairs they serve…and no, not Cadbury’s version of eclairs. Though they are filled with a vanilla flavoured interior and I would much prefer for it to be chocolate, they are still well made. They look good, taste good and are generally gone by the afternoon.

…Tre

The ambience created. There is plenty of light from the floor to ceiling windows taking up most of the street facing portions of the space. There is non-distracting music playing in the background which allows you to work there with little to interrupt your focus. There is at times a steady stream of visitors which gives the place a sense of being busy but not too busy. Something that I appreciate.

So for those three reasons (and others), I would say that the Patisserie is one of the places I enjoy in Walla Walla.

Aside

欢迎到昆明….

I started taking Chinese classes the moment I got to Whitman. In fact, it was the only class (besides Encounters) for which I was officially registered. I got more classes later on but have always had Chinese as the fixed denominator in my class equation (booyah!)

So, the opportunity came for me to apply to the bi-annual Whitman Summer Studies Program. We’re talking totally different part of the world I had never been too, Chinese being spoken all around me, not to mention a beautiful province (云南) and the promise of a memorable time with friends. Needless to say I applied, got accepted and found myself in China in mid-June.

It was AWESOME!

We were housed just outside the gates of Yunnan University where we had our 4 hour language classes taught to us by a Chinese teacher from the university. On two afternoons we made the short trek to another building off-campus where we learnt about the Chinese minorities that inhabited some parts of Yunnan. An enjoyable class taught by Prof. Chas McKhann himself. He is an expert on this topic and regularly goes back to Yunnan. We were there for six weeks, the last two of which we took a tour of Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-la, some other towns and of course my favorite, the Naxi village, all places rich in history and culture. I look forward to returning to China, this trip really piqued my curiosity about the country itself and the region at large!

再见!

A quick photo from campus life:

Harlem Shake, WHITMAN Style!Image

If wishes were horses…

These past few weeks, I’ve slowly come to the realization that I won’t be registering for another semester at Whitman. Which is unfortunate as there are so many classes I still want to take. Number one on the list is Semester in the West. Imagine, a semester long trip through the American West. No physical classroom walls but instead one’s expansive surroundings and real, honest conversations about the direction of our conservation efforts. It is a class that comes in the way I enjoy them-interdisciplinary. Because one is always on the road constantly meeting changemakers (and those opposed to change), it must be an exciting mix day after day.

State of the State for Washington Latinos comes in a close second. Engaging with one’s community is an important part of Whittie life and indeed life in general. My friends who have taken this class rave about how great it is… and just how much hard work it entails too. But I believe that in retrospect their findings and the ability of their research as undergrad students to impact the welfare of thousands of people in the State of Washington in a positive way makes it all worthwhile.

And lastly, any class from Prof. Belanger in Rhetoric Studies. More specifically I would like to take the class Civil Rights Rhetoric and Argumentation. 

Actually I wouldn’t mind being able to take Book Arts,  the Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Hollywood Stardom and the Sociology of Rock and Roll.

Do I have to graduate or can I stay for another four years?

Goodbye October!

It’s already the last week of the last fortnight of October! How time flies. I’m looking forward to a number of things. Firstly, we have the Haunted Hospital at North tomorrow. It’s a wonderful work of creativity once the transformation is over. Just the right physical props too seeing as it was the hospital in which my friendship mum was some time back. Wide hallways that allow you enough room to maneuver as you run screaming, headed for the nearest exit. Just the right amount of red light down in the basement and plenty of Whitties dressed and acting the part makes for a great Saturday night.
There’s volleyball’s senior night tomorrow and I’m quite excited for that. The team has been playing well at their home games and it will be great to honor the commitment that they have made to seeing the success of the team, game after game. Big shout out to all the volleyball seniors!
Last but not least, we have 中秋节! It’s the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. A few weeks late but it will be fun nonetheless. We’re going to be partaking in delicious mooncakes (a pastry with a red bean paste filling), play games and make pretty lanterns. It’s also a way to practice one’s Chinese and learn about Chinese culture. Last year we had a really fun time with karaoke and drunk bubble tea for days. I still have my handwritten Chinese name up on my room door, I’m making the most out of it.

Also, 2 more weeks until Thanksgiving break!

Likizo*!

*Likizo is Swahili for ‘vacation’. Vacation in English has the connotation of taking a break for an extended period of time. However, in Swahili there really isn’t a word that means ‘a break’ other that ‘kuvunja’ which means to literally break something…and we don’t want to be doing that.

Four day is rapidly approaching…YEAH!

It’s a most welcome break. While most of Whitman (and by extension most of my friends) will be heading out for various adventures in either Seattle, Portland and all the other places in between, I will be in Walla Walla.

By definition 4–day is (that’s right) a 4 day break intended for students to have some time to relax a bit, hang out with friends and travel if they so desire. I’m opting for the ‘taking it nice and easy’ option.  My most memorable 4-day was during my sophomore year.  I visited Portland for the first time and ♪I liked it! ♪. The drive over was especially beautiful as wedrove right next to the great Columbia. I stayed with my sophomore roommate’s family and in many ways it was a great experience.  We visited downtown where I had the customary photograph taken with the ‘Umbrella man’. If you don’t do that, you haven’t been to Portland. My friend corrected me at lunch pointing out that this bronze, life-size statue is actually called ‘Allow me’. This statue is quite contradictory in a number of ways. For example no Portlander uses an umbrella (even at Whitman) and it seems to be too chill a place to don a suit complete with waistcoat.  I got a taste of retail shopping in a huuuge mall, developed a taste for brie and ate at iHop with my friend’s mum and best friend. I simply felt at home. On the way back I got to see Multnomah Falls and it’s quietly spectacular. The bridge at mid-level with the waterfall behind it is reminiscent of a scene that could be found in a Disney princess movie or better yet a particularly romantic Bollywood movie. My 4-day this year may pale in comparison with that of my sophomore year but that’s okay, at least I will be well rested!

As we both, hopefully, look forward to this coming weekend. I leave you with some pictures from last weekend when we had the Block Party!

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 Block Parteee!

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Dressed in kimonos courtesy of TEK (Tekisuijuku House, the Japanese Interest House)

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Schwa…so much talent!

How to deal…

We just started school and already, we have so much to do. This situation is two things: daunting, yes, but exhilarating when one looks back and sees exactly what one has been able to accomplish. I’m going to be honest. In high school, I basically did one thing: I read. That’s it. It was expected and therefore all structures were formulated in support of this singular goal. From 5am in the morning until 9pm at night, we ate, spoke and even slept academics. We did little outside of class save for the compulsory twice a week PE classes and the ever so lovely (mandatory) chapel periods three mornings a week. So coming to Whitman was a BIG change. Whitties don’t do just one thing. In fact you would be hard pressed to find one focused solely on a certain activity…and we like that. Unlike my high school days, no one studies day and night. We definitely burn the midnight oil on occasion but this is only because we’ve been doing a vast array of other equally wonderful things during the day. Ankeny Field, especially now in the Fall, is constantly full of Frisbee players, the Lacrosse team and Flag football (I call it Touch Rugby but the name seems not to have stuck with the rest of the population). I’m a WEB (Whitman Events Board) Director and we have so many events already planned out (The Head and the Heart just played at Reid on Thursday!). I’m in Wakilisha Afrika club and taking five awesome classes this semester. How will I manage all this? The answer is here below.

There’s this nifty tool available at the Academic Resource Centre (more popularly known as ‘The Arc’). It’s a long timetable including all 7 days of the week and divided into hourly time slots, no surprise here; it’s called the Weekly Planner. If I fill in all of my classes and other compulsories, I am able to visually locate where I have free time and mold my extra-curricular activities into these slots. That’s what I did for the first couple of semesters…and then Google happened. I can do the exact same thing on Google calendar and with colors too! The gist is to just manage your time well and neither your academics nor your non-academic life need suffer. Professors and their office hours are going to be a huge help in terms of adjusting to the expectations at Whitman. If one is willing to invest a lot of time and energy and not be afraid to ask for help, you will grow and succeed at Whitman. Speaking of Professors’ Office hours, I have to run to one of those right now!

Tschüss!