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Yesterday, the first St. Patrick’s Day that hasn’t fallen during spring break in years, was the perfect spring day. The beautiful weather and the pre-spring break excitement (tomorrow’s our last day of classes – but I finish at 5:45 today, and fly to Mexico with fellow blogger Eugenia and others tomorrow morning!) was pervasive on campus, and it seemed like everyone was outside, studying on the President’s Lawn or on the corner of Packard Ave and Professor’s Row, where several fraternities were collocated, having an impromptu block party.
Now I have to admit that the frat scene is just my thing. If you want to partake, it can be a big and awesome part of your Tufts experience, but if you don’t want to be apart of it, you don’t have to be. That’s one of the many awesome things about Tufts; in terms of Greek life, we have a little bit of everything.
So anyways, yesterday afternoon I left class and made my way to Hodgdon for a sandwich, passing by this aforementioned corner, and even though I was (and am still!) studying hard for my last exam before break, the jovial mood was contagious. Fraternity brothers and friends were lying out on blankets and cushions, tossing around frisbees, and blaring their music from five different directions.
I felt like I was walking into a spring break block party, and it made me forget my upcoming exam…at least for the moment.
I clearly chose the wrong weekend to leave my window wide open – and then to go home.
I figured that it would be a nice weekend to let some air and light into my room, for a change, but I was wrong. Instead of warm sunlight, Boston got ten inches of rain, and much of campus was flooded.
So my long train ride up from Jersey, which was also delayed due to weather-related problems, was full of worrying about the state of my room upon arrival. I imagined, in the worst case scenario, that my room would be flooded or that my bed, which is right next to the window, would be uninhabitable.
But somehow, the great deluge – or rainpocalypse, as it’s already been dubbed in – decided to skip over my room.
And considering how much work I’ve got to get done tonight – last week before spring break is going to be a busy one! – I am SO glad that I don’t have flooding to deal with on top of everything else!
It’s a beautiful spring day, and I’m sitting on the 7th floor patio of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, enjoying the warm sun, clear day, and beautiful views over Medford, Somerville, and Boston.
I had a group project meeting this morning at 09:30 for my Fletcher class, Civil-Military Relations in Post-Conflict Environments. We’re having some sort of simulation on Wednesday on the Iraq War up until 2005 and the class has been split up into different groups, which include Department of Defense (DOD), UN, State Department, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and my group – the private contractors. We’ve been tasked to research our respective groups, create a 1 page brief for the class, and to represent them in the simulation on Wednesday.
Our group is getting pretty into it – the last ten minutes of our meeting were dedicated to how we would dress on Wednesday to play up the stereotypes of the private military contractors’ corporate executives (think black suits, dark sunglasses, and stern demeanor) and contractors on the ground in what I like to call “contractor chic” (think Lara Croft, at least for women). I’m pretty excited.
I talk about my love for Fletcher all the time, but I just want to reiterate JUST how great of a resource it is to have the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on campus – whether just for the facilities, like this hidden away patio, or for the lectures and events, or the classes, or the community.
I’ve only taken one class so far, but I know fellow sophomores that have been taking Fletcher classes since their first semester on campus. They’re great not only for the coursework itself, but also for the experiences of your fellow students. For example, in the first group presentation for the class, on the 1994 intervention in Haiti, one of the group members actually wrote the CSIS policy brief on Haiti. In class discussions about Somalia or military planning processes, we can actually turn to the NGO worker that spent three years in Somalia or the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel whose job is to do military planning.
The people are really the crux of what makes Fletcher great. I think this is really indicative of Tufts in general, as I’ve also talked about at various points in my blog, but that sense of community is really pervasive. Just in terms of the relationships between Tufts undergrads and Fletcher students, for example, there’s the mentoring that the grad students provide, both officially as TAs and through programs such as the Global Women’s Club, which matches up Fletcher and undergraduate women studying International Relations or PoliSci in one-on-one mentoring and unofficially, just through exposure and interaction.
When I applied to Tufts, the proximity of the Fletcher school was definitely a huge draw as it is, I think, for a lot of prospective International Relations majors. I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds – the breadth of a liberal arts education, as well as the depth of professional classes and events at one of the country’s leading schools for IR.
Yesterday was the end of the 25th annual EPIIC symposium; this year, the symposium topic was “South Asia: Conflict, Culture, Complexity, and Change.” My experience in this year’s symposium was very different from last year, when I was a member of the year-long class.
This year, I was paid to pick up/drop off VIPs, I attended a few of the panels on Afghanistan, and I hung out with the cadets and midshipmen that came to the event through ALLIES. Last year, there were days when I spent 15+ hours in Cabot (where the events take place), lived and breathed EPIIC for months beforehand, and was terribly, terribly, burned out by the time it all rolled around. I much preferred this year.
Anyways, it was a great, hectic weekend – but actually not the point of this post.
So yesterday morning ALLIES had a private session with Tufts alum Matthew Hoh, the only known government official to resign in protest of the war in Afghanistan, and West Point and ALLIES alum Rajiv Srinivisan (check out his EXCELLENT blog) who is currently deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he is the platoon leader of a Stryker brigade and embedded with an Afghan National Army unit. He’s temporarily in Boston on R&R leave for two weeks, and was cool enough to spend one of his mornings home with us.
Anyways, after that session, I went home to shower, rest, and catch up on the sleep and work that I had been neglecting. I walked into the bathroom and almost ran into a little robot car that Jonah, my housemate from Zimbabwe, had built for one of his classes. (Jonah’s a mechanical engineer.)
And then I tried to avoid running into it again and again as Jonah watched, bemused. The car was designed to sense movement and follow it. So as I tried to avoid it, it was doing exactly the opposite.
In other words, I was actually being chased around the bathroom by a robot car.
And despite the fact that I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was shower and go to sleep, but instead found myself running around the bathroom being chased by a evil robotic car with a mind of its own, some dorky Tufts-lovin’ side of me was still able to appreciate how cool Tufts engineers were.
If “Transformers” or “Nine” or any of those other apocalyptic predictions ever come true, look out for Jonah and the other Tufts engineers. I’m convinced that they will have masterminded it.
The thing that I love about Tufts is that even when I am angry or frustrated or overwhelmed or jaded (because let’s face it, college is not all rainbow and butterflies), I can’t stay that way for long. My Tufts family just won’t allow it.
Despite the fact that I had just turned 21 on Tuesday (and thus should have been in a wonderfully jubilant and celebratory mood), last week was a horribly difficult one. I had been having problems with a certain staff member for a while, but last week it all came to a head, reaching the point that I started looking into options for transfer. And trust me, for me to get to that point, things have to be VERY bad.
But in times of crises you tend to figure out what’s really important, and luckily for me, I had a great support system that helped me see through it. My friends cooked me dinner, listened to me rant, took me salsa dancing, made me celebrate and have fun on my 21st, and succeeded in giving me hundreds of reasons to stay. My advisor-to-be sat down with me for two hours on Friday afternoon at Tower Cafe (where the SPIRIT fund gave us free coffee, PS) and at the end of that marathon advising sess, managed to get rid of all my feelings of overwhelmed-ness, and much of my anger and frustration as well.
And today, I stopped into the admissions office to have a chat with Isabel who, in addition to reading your applications, is also the tour guide coordinator. I had sent her an email saying that I needed a break from tour guiding. She sensed something was wrong, and invited me to come in to chat, which I did. In addition to feeding me delicious homemade cookies, she just…listened. Despite the fact that she, like all the admissions officers, is SO swamped with application-reading right now, she took the time out to just listen. And I know that she would have done the same for any other Tufts student that needed an ear.
I love that people at Tufts genuinely care about each other. At the end of the day, I think that this is what sets a university apart and makes Tufts a great place to go to school: the people, the community, the support system. Because the fact of the matter is, when things are going well, people naturally gravitate towards your happiness and your good luck. But it’s the people that come to you even when you have nothing to offer in return that are your true friends.
And with a little help from mine, I’ve got all my bases covered 🙂
Last night, the entire Tufts community got a very sad email: that President Bacow will be stepping down as Tufts president, effective June 2011.
My initial thoughts (AHHH! No more President’s Marathon Challenge – not that I was planning on running it, but at least I had that option, you know? And now I don’t! No more trick or treating at Gifford House, or seeing and hearing Adele practicing flute as I walk to Fletcher! No senior dinner invites to the Bacow residence – Bacow, can’t you please please please stay until I graduate, at least? Pleeeease? And what about those Bacow is my homeboy t-shirts?! I STILL WANT ONE!) were echoed by the rest of the Tufts community. The Tufts Daily, for example, ran a huge feature on Bacow’s presidency, and one of the headlines sounds like it could have been describing Evita or Obama in his campaign days – “Bacow: The People’s President”.
And when I checked Facebook this morning, I saw 15 status updates bemoaning his departure . Some of the highlights –
“Please, Larry, I can be better. Don’t end it like this.”
“Please don’t break my heart, Larry Bacow…”
And my personal favorite, from our very own admissions blogger Chase Gregory (quoting a friend of hers) –
“He’s actually better than Dumbledore.”
TRUTH. He is better than Dumbledore.
And from a generation of college students crazed with Harry Potter, that is high praise indeed.
His successor is going to have verrrrry large shoes to fill.