W is for Wedding

W is for Wedding

In two days, I am flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Washington D.C. to celebrate my best friend Allison’s wedding in northern Virginia.  This is the story of our “soul friendship” and the way that William & Mary inevitably introduces its students to the people they need the most. Allison and I met in Morton

X is for (Ted)x(CollegeofWilliamandMary)

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa, where fall has officially begun!  While the College is getting warmer and the Sunken Garden is filling up with sun-soaked students, I am turning on my space heater and bundling up in my cottage.  I often wish I could just move from place to place following summer on its annual

F is for Ferndale

Even though I may not contribute consistently to the W&M blogosphere, I do actively follow news from the College and greater Williamsburg.  And this past week has been a massive one for Tribespeople and Williamsburgers alike!  From the Dalai Lama’s visit to President Obama’s debate camp, campus and the city have been full of exciting

H is for Home

“Our hearts are with thee, dear William and Mary, however far we stray.” I returned to William and Mary this week after fourteen months away from the College.  I returned in the traditional Williamsburg drizzle to a damp, desolate campus that students had vacated a week prior.  And despite the precipitation and naked trees and

T is for Teaching (Pt. 2)

There was a time in my life when I believed that I would eventually become a strict adherent to the Gregorian calendar.  I was sure that, as an adult, my “new year” would begin on January 1 and that winter would serve as the beginning and conclusion to the year.  Despite my best efforts, however,

E is for Essay

The following are titles of particularly interesting papers I have written
in the past eight semesters.  Of course, “interesting” is
relative.  And, as you can see, I frequently follow the blah-colon-blah-blah
model for essay titles.

1. GOVT 304 Political Philosophy (Fall 2006)- Bad Conscience and Guilt:
Private and Public Peril

2. HISP 207 Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Fall 2006)- Lo Que Hemos Perdido

3. INTR 150W Supreme Court and the Constitution (Fall 2006)- Behind the Bars
and the Bench

4. ARAB 310 Arabic Literature in Translation (Spring 2007)- Tradition Versus
Modernity in the Arab World: Analyzing Scholarship Versus Literature

5. HISP 305 Spanish Grammar and Composition (Spring 2007)- Dinosaurios y
cambiando el mundo

6. GOVT 391 Intelligence and Policy Process (Fall 2007)- Intelligence
Estimate: Future of Gang Activity in Northern Virginia

7. HISP 281 Introduction to Hispanic Studies (Fall 2007)- La conexión entre el poder interpretativo y la
comunidad imaginada para los moriscos, los zapatistas, y los latinos en los
Estados Unidos

8. GOVT 301 Research
Methods (Fall 2007)- “Mindless Vandalism Can Take a Bit of Thought”: A
Content Analysis of Politics in Banksy’s Indoor and Outdoor Graffiti

9. GOVT 203 Introduction to Comparative Politics (Spring 2008)-
Democratization of Belarus:
a Monochrome Prospect

10. HIST 112 History of Europe (Spring 2008)- “Indoctrination of Hate”:
Rudolf Höss on the Oppressor and the Oppressed in Auschwitz

11. ARAB 302 Advanced Arabic II (Spring 2008)- مسجد الحسن الثاني

12. ANTH 350 Middle Eastern Anthropology (Fall 2008)- The Autocracy of
Modernization: Varied Legacies of Leadership in Turkey
and Iran

13. GOVT 339 Middle Eastern Political Systems (Fall 2008)- The Rhythm of Morocco:
Monarchical Obstacles to Democratization

14. RUSN 201 Intermediate Russian I (Fall 2008)- Президент Республики

15. Sharpe Independent Study (Fall 2008)- Islam and the Potential for
Deliberative Democracy in the Middle East

16. GOVT 405 Memory, Democracy, and Theology (Spring 2009) – Seventy Times
Seven: On the Pursuit of Unconditional Forgiveness

17. RUSN 202 Intermediate Russian II (Spring 2009)- Кем Я Хочу Стать

18. GOVT 491 Arab Foreign Policy in the Gulf Wars (Fall 2009)- A Comparison
of Moroccan and Algerian Foreign Policy in the Western
Sahara War

19. ANTH 319 Middle Eastern Archaeology (Spring 2010)- The Significance of
the Land of Punt
to New Kingdom Egypt

20. RELG 358 Jesus and the Gospels (Spring 2010)- Dichotomies of Salvation:
Dynamic Reversals and Dualities in the Lucan Story of the Sinful Woman [Luke 7:

21. MUSC 372 Music Cultures of the Middle East
(Spring 2010)- The Dynamic Voice, Evolution, and Legacy of Umm Kulthum

22. Honors Thesis in Government (Fall 2009- Spring 2010)- The Crux of the
Matter: the Intersection of Deliberative Traditions in the Wren Cross

Go Tribe,


G is for Grilled Cheese

The following is an entry I submitted to “The Little Things at WM,” a blog dedicated to celebrating the small moments that make campus life encouraging and beautiful.  Find more at: http://thelittlethingsatwm.blogspot.com/.The Marketplace, by the way, is one of our dining halls on campus.  As opposed to the Sadler Center and Caf, the Marketplace is a la carte, not all-you-can-eat.  It operates much like a food court and works on our meal plans.  For the record, breakfast at the Marketplace is the absolute best meal at the College and absolutely worth waking up for.Go Tribe,BaileyI have had dozens of moving, staggeringly beautiful experiences at
William and Mary.  One of the most unexpected parts of my William and
Mary experience, for example, has been the consistency with which Tribe
members celebrate one another’s joys and mourn one another’s struggles. 
Devoid of jealousy or apathy, people here truly care about one
another.  But these are three stories that lack a real moment of any kind.  They
are not achievements.  They are not losses.  This is simply the story of
the Marketplace staff serving students, serving me, to the very best of
their ability without understanding how much their support means.On a particularly hard day sophomore year, I arrived at the Marketplace
for lunch, homesick and very lonely.  I wanted to be with my Mama, and I
wanted comfort food from my kitchen in Richmond.  The staff member at
Grillworks made me a grilled cheese sandwich, despite the fact that it
was not on the menu, simply because I needed it.  I nearly cried as she
handed it to me over the counter.  Together with two pints of 2% milk,
that meal became one of the most memorable of my college experience.  It
sounds silly, but I knew I was home.Just a few weeks ago, I was walking home from an event at the Kimball
Theater that ended around 8:40pm.  Thinking that the Marketplace was
open until 9pm, I stopped in, walked through the unlocked doors, and
started browsing the food in the refrigerated case.  A staff member
stopped mopping and came out to tell me that the registers had already
been closed out and that the Marketplace was closed.  I started to
leave, already disappointed from a hard day and trying to figure out
where I would find food before pulling an all nighter.  The staff member
caught me as I was leaving, told me to go back to case to get what I
wanted, and to leave without paying.  He said to me, “I could never send
a college student home hungry.”  That extremely humble attitude
demonstrated something I have encountered with that staff multiple
times- they do not just do their jobs; they care about feeding us even
when they have to make personal sacrifices.Last, and most importantly, I was at the Marketplace salad bar at
10:45am the day after a student passed away.  Since the Marketplace does
not open for lunch officially until 11am, the staff was still meeting
to organize for the day.  After giving logistical reminders, the manager
pulled everyone into a tight huddle, presumably to tell them about the
student’s tragic death.  As I walked by to head to the register, I heard
the manager tell her staff, “Be very compassionate today.”  I was
overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about how considerate the staff
members were and how much they cared about campus circumstances.  (Do we, in return, invest as much in their lives?)  As I
mourned, I felt encouraged by her simple mandate.So, in the spirit of the Marketplace staff, consider others’
circumstances carefully.  As Plato reminds us, “…everyone you meet is
fighting a hard battle.”  Be very compassionate.Go Tribe,Bailey

L is for Laundry

Because my Honors thesis advising meetings are on Wednesdays at 11am, I consistently find myself awake and working (read: procrastinating) late into Tuesday evening.  It’s not that I don’t work on my thesis throughout the week- I do, constantly.  But I can’t (read: usually don’t) give it my full attention on Mondays and Wednesdays (Tuesday and Thursday class assignments) or on Fridays and Saturdays (enjoying my weekend) or on Sundays (weekly organizational meetings).  So, I do the majority of my writing and editing on Tuesday nights.
For instance, I have twenty pages due to my advisor tomorrow.  Now, I have written sixteen of those pages over the course of the last two weeks, but I find myself squeezing out another four and editing the whole product tonight.  There is a hidden bright side to all of this, besides the obvious joy in thesis research: washing machines and dryers are rarely taken at 3am on a Tuesday night.
Every two weeks, I break up my Tuesday late-night writing by doing my laundry.  Laundry is a dreadful task in college- not because it is very difficult or because I dislike folding clothes, but because industrial washers and dryers seem to take three times as long as my washers and dryers at home.  So, doing laundry means building about two hours into my schedule, from putting clothes in to be washed to transferring them to the dryers to folding and putting them away.  Still, I’ve grown to appreciate this time- while my clothes are washed and dried, I vacuum my floor, change the sheets on my bed, replace my towels, dust my bookshelves, and reorganize my closet.
It sounds monotonous, and this entry is exponentially less exciting than the others I’ve written.  But let’s be clear: college is not just classes, concerts, service trips, and weekend adventures.  It is also living away from home, maintaining a dorm room or apartment, sharing bathrooms and kitchens, staying healthy, making meals, and learning to survive independently.  Part of my sanity, in the midst of academic stress and extracurricular obligations, is based on my ability to keep my living space clean and organized.  College students don’t just go to school; we live here. 
And even though the laundry room is sometimes crowded into the wee hours of the night, I would not want to live anywhere else.
Go Tribe,

V is for Villa Soleada

I was fortunate to spend nearly three weeks in El Progreso, Honduras with Students Helping Honduras over winter break.  About two hundred volunteers from more than twenty universities, including 23 on the William and Mary team, participated in service trips, and I had the opportunity to facilitate their service experiences as a Student Leader on staff with the organization.  To observe the evolution of Students Helping Honduras and our worksite in El Progreso since my first trip in January 2008 has been an uplifting and encouraging experience. 

Villa Soleada, the village in which we have constructed 44 homes, a water tower, and a sanitation system, was nothing more than a field of weeds when we first began two years ago. 

Last week, we dug and filled the foundation for the Education Center, which will function as a community meeting place with a library, computer lab, and classroom.  This element of the project emphasizes the community’s sustainability through empowerment by offering classes on business and agriculture for adults and an after-school academic outlet for children.

The importance of empowerment as a theme in Villa Soleada cannot be understated, but its many manifestations were revealed to me more strongly in this trip than any of my previous travels to Progreso.  A mural at Villa Soleada, painted by Honduran high school students, lists these five values: love (amor), peace (paz), unity (unidad), dignity (dignidad), and community (communidad). 

I was struck by the idea that to own a safe home, to drink clean water, and to become educated are all components of a model of dignity and respect for self and others.  By working together with the families of Villa Soleada, Students Helping Honduras demonstrates that human worth has nothing to do with socioeconomic status- all have the right to security, health, literacy, and communal living.
It also true that through empowerment, the families of Villa Soleada often teach and give me more than I impart upon them.  One afternoon, I sat in the bodega watching the community women cook lunch and playing with children.  Juli, about eight years old, noticed a nasty bruise on my left leg, which I had incurred by not-so-gracefully falling up the stairs in our hotel.  I am sure that my pale skin made the purple, black, and yellow bruise look much worse than it felt, but Juli insisted that I rest in her home.  She took my hand and led me across the community soccer field to her house, where she showed me to her bedroom and motioned for me to lay down.  A moment later, her mother, Suyapa, appeared with a bowl of warm water and a washcloth.  Suyapa gently washed my wound, hurried her children out of the bedroom, and left me to sleep.  I was overwhelmed with emotion- here I lay in a house whose foundation I had dug exactly one year before.  The family I had initially served sought to do the same for me by offering many of the same resources I had initially given- time, care, and love.  This, I think, is what volunteers and non-profit organizations strive for: the instance in which roles blur so that the giver and the receiver are manifested in both parties.  What an incredibly beautiful moment!
Go Tribe,

D is for Do Good

The following is the speech I gave on December 5, 2009 as Respondent for the Fall 2009 class of the Alpha of Virginia chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  The Phi Beta Kappa Society was founded on December 5, 1776 at William and Mary as a secret society where members could speak freely as they debated about controversial topics of the day.  Two hundred thirty three years later, PBK is no longer secret but still values friendship, morality, and literature, the three original principles of the society.
Go Tribe,
It occurs to me
that, as Respondent, I should first attend to the business of
responding. So, on my own behalf and that of my fellow initiates, I
express immense gratitude for election and initiation into the Phi
Beta Kappa Society. While it is not always true that the first in a
series is the best, I feel certain that our Alpha of Virginia chapter
is preeminent among the more than two hundred eighty chapters in the
United States.
I offer my sincerest appreciation to the faculty present this evening.
In seven semesters, they have simultaneously challenged and nurtured
me to pursue a life of thinking and feeling. Love is often absent in the rhetoric of higher education, but it
seems obvious to me that the William and Mary academic world is
unparalleled among American universities in the mutual care and
respect exhibited between professors and students. My father has
said before that “thank you” is an unusually difficult phrase to
utter, but in this case, it takes no effort at all. Many, many
Now, my brother Nathan and my mom took bets over Thanksgiving on how
many quotes I would use in this speech. Nathan thinks it will be
three in five minutes, and since I am counting on an incredible
Christmas gift from him, I will aim to satisfy his prediction. It
turns out, just as they suspected, that the wisdom of others is
generally more eloquent than my own. Still, it was legendary rapper
the Notorious B.I.G. who said, “even when I was wrong, I got my
point across.” With that assurance, let’s move on. By the way,
Nathan, that’s one.
I believe in a unified life. I believe that alienation, isolation, and
compartmentalization of self are the results of internal divisions
and multiple identities. I believe that fulfillment is a unification
of our passions, such that what we study, where we live, who we love,
how we speak, what we produce, and why we struggle are one. That the theory I learn in the classroom complements the music to which I listen. That the research I undertake is not absent in conversation with friends. We are fortunate, then, to study the
liberal arts, a curriculum that advocates the how of intellectual thought, rather than the what. It allows, as Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano put it, “bodas
de la razón y el corazón” or a “marriage
of the heart and mind.”
It is also true that we are privileged. We gather today in the nation’s
oldest academic building to celebrate the nation’s oldest academic
honor society on its 233rd birthday. We emphasize the triumphs of our minds, because we need
not focus on our bodies. We are fed and clothed. We lack few, if
any, necessities. This is, therefore, our mandate: to give of our
own intellects in such a way that we enable others to pursue
education and, through it, fulfillment of the spirit.
What we learn in lecture halls and seminar rooms is not useless, and
we are a uniquely empowered group. Our responsibility is to others.
As William and Mary students, we know this. More than three quarters
of every class completes volunteer service during their time at the
College. Nevertheless, the efforts will not be sustainable until
students apply classroom knowledge to community service, especially
after graduation. An impressive number of William and Mary graduates
enter into non-profit and service-related careers, but improving the
lives of others is not simply the job of the inner-city school
teacher or the rural social worker. We must all concern ourselves
with speaking for those who are silenced and magnifying the voices of
the oppressed.
This initiation recognizes that each of us has done well. Now, I
think, we are charged with fulfilling our joyful obligation to do
I end, as I began, with Biggie. “Stay far from timid. Only make
moves when your heart’s in it, and live the phrase: the sky’s the
Go Tribe and Hark Upon the Gale.