Arts & Culture
February 20, 2014 by Admission Ambassador
I woke up on 1 January 2013 in a hotel room in the Kensington neighborhood of London, England after ringing in the New Year with my best friend. We spent a week abroad in celebration and enjoying one final vacation together before the real world took over our school breaks. Little did I know that I would spend so much of my year in Europe, and how much my life would be better for it.
I was fortunate enough to spend my spring break in Germany with my dad. I had been a few times before with him, so this time we got to explore the nooks and crannies of the country. It’s those towns, like Trier or Dielheim, that give the country so much character, where you find real culture.
I then spent 5 weeks of my summer in Cambridge, England as part of our Study Abroad programs. The friends that I made and bonds I strengthened while there are unbreakable. When you travel with someone, especially in a foreign country where high-pressure situations are guaranteed, you really create a relationship that’s incomparable to others. We took the time to go to the National Stud and see the horses and horse races. We got to go in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. We took the ferry to Calais, France so that we could see the White Cliffs of Dover as we sailed away from the British coast. We met up with another friend in Paris who was studying in Montpelier, France for the summer. We enjoyed the Fringe Music Festival in Edinburgh. We met other Americans who were studying abroad. We met a Bulgarian also traveling home from France. We met a Scot on a train.
They say “traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” My past year proves it. Spending so much time in Europe I got to see the world. I got to meet everyday people and students just like me. I got to hear what other people think of the United States. Studying abroad is my biggest piece of advice for prospective students, whether it’s a summer, semester, year, or Branch Out. No matter what: go. When I look back on 2013, travel is what defined it. And now, traveling is what defines me.
- Kelley Quinzio
January 31, 2014 by Skyler Paltell
I walked in to Wawa last week with the intention of buying a coffee, and left instead with a coffee and a quarter life crisis. For the second time that week, the cashier was decidedly unimpressed when he asked what I was majoring in and I informed him I was studying English and Studio Art.
This hasn’t just happened at Wawa—it has happened at the Trader Joe’s in New Town, at parties, with the tourists I interact with at work. It would appear that a major in the humanities is an invitation for criticism, inspiring such comments as “What are you going to do with that?” and, “Are you going to be a teacher?” Never mind that I wrote sixty pages worth of papers last semester and created a six foot tall landscape drawing—I am deemed less impressive because my talents aren’t quite as desirable in the job market.
W&M is a liberal arts college, and thank goodness for that—here, there are just as many anthropology and philosophy majors as there are pre-med students. Here, it is not frowned upon to specialize in creative fields and the soft sciences, despite society’s disdain for non-STEM fields. Within the college bubble, I feel equally qualified for employment as any computer science major.
I have no doubt that the market is harder for humanities majors—it is an unforgiving work force, one where qualitative talents are overlooked in favor of quantitative skills. Even with a prestigious, $200,000 dollar degree, I can be sure to look forward to a competitive job market and a significant chance of unemployment. Despite the fact that I have worked hard, we have all worked hard, for those of us graduating with liberal arts majors, the market will be all the more uncertain.
Despite these difficulties, however, I do not regret my choice to pursue my passion. I struggle with math and science, I positively hate numbers—I will write you a haiku in 30 seconds flat, but give me a math problem and I am rendered incoherent. There is so much pressure to major in a financially stable field, one with a guaranteed paycheck, but for those of us without those skills, that option is simply nonexistent. I could no more major in computer science than I could climb Mount Everest in a swimsuit, because my brain simply is not circuited for numbers. Tell me to draw a pear—sure, I’ll draw you a pear, and it will be a good pear—my skills lie in the creative realm, and that does not make me any less intelligent than a math major.
This is why universities like William & Mary are essential, because for those of us with skills in the humanities, liberal arts colleges provide a supportive environment to explore our passions. A W&M economics major once told me, “we need to incentive the arts”—and it’s true. In a world with no English majors, no art minors, no sociology students, there would be no beauty and no novelty. Humanities majors, despite the stigma we face, are just as instrumental to society as STEM majors—our journey is just a little bit harder.
January 8, 2014 by Chuck Bailey
After four days of field work in the Western Hajar Mountains, Alex and I returned to Muscat to get clean and then joined up with William & Mary’s Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. Professor Anne Rasmussen directs this talented group of musicians who’ve been exploring and performing the music of the Middle East since 1994. Seven students and Anthropology professor Jonathan Glasser made the trip to Oman.
On a bright sunny afternoon we tagged along with Anne, Jonathan, and the crew for the first gig of their Muscat tour at the U.S. Embassy. The Ensemble commonly numbers 20+ musicians, but for my untrained ear the smaller Ensemble, with its nine performers (1 on bass, 1 on qanun, 3 on percussion, 3 on violin, and 1 on ‘ud), brought out the sound of the individual instruments.
We also accompanied the band to the U.S. Ambassador’s residence for an evening soirée. Geologists like a party, so it was great to ride the Ensemble’s collective coattails right into the festivities. Ambassador Greta Holtz and her embassy staff did an exceptional job at making the Tribe feel welcome.
While the Ensemble literally played and sang for their supper, Alex and I mingled with the assembled guests. During the course of the evening we had the pleasure of discussing our geologic work with many Omanis. The Omanis are rightly proud of their ophiolite.
As a geologist I study rocks and landscapes. For me trying to understand both the processes and history of our planet is a creative endeavor. But let’s face it; making music is a creative endeavor that provides joy in real time—it’s powerful stuff. William & Mary’s Middle Eastern Music Ensemble turned out its brand of powerful stuff here in Muscat.
December 4, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
I can’t believe this is the last week of classes. Together, the students in our program have grown into young professionals and learned things that can never be taught in a classroom. I’ll give a recap of what we’ve been up to.
A few weekends ago, most of the program went down to campus for Homecoming. It was great to be surrounded by Tribe Pride instead of the concrete jungle of DC. The tailgates this year were awesome! A whole pig was being roasted on a grill and a bunch of student groups were rallying. Best of all, we won our game against JMU. Saturday night, a group of friends and I went to see Freelance Whales perform in Sadler. They were fantastic live – I’m always so impressed by the great bands W&M and AMP can book.
One of my highlights of the past few weeks was going to meet my Texas senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. I tagged along with one of my fellow Cato interns from Texas who was invited to “Texas Tuesday” where the senators meet with their constituents in town. There’s an inexplicable comfort that comes from being in a room of all Texans. Ted Cruz has made such a stink up here in Washington, and although I don’t always agree with his politics, I respect him as a Texan representative. And it was cool to meet the guy who shutdown the government.
We had our last Slice of Advice from Adam, and he told us how to wrap up our internship and leave a lasting impression. He said to hold onto projects that can be put into a portfolio. Write a letter of thanks to your supervisor, and write a letter of advice to be given to the next person in your position. I would have loved to have a bit of guidance coming into my internship, so I’m definitely willing to give some hints to the next person.
During the Slice of Advice, the W&M in DC office staff were decorating the room for a baby shower to surprise Roxane. She was so surprised when she walked in! We played games like unscrambling baby words and Nursery Rhyme Jeopardy. She got some baby outfits and baby necessities. Of course, she needed those things a lot sooner than she thought because 4 days later, she went into labor a month early, and now we have Piper Quinn Adler Hickey.
Upon realizing that we only had a few weeks left in DC, I spent a few weekends checking things off my DC “to-do” list. A friend from campus came one weekend and we went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. It wasn’t the best Smithsonian I’d been to – it was a bit sparse in exhibits – but seeing the Star Spangled Banner was amazing. So much history in just that piece of fabric! After the Smithsonian, we went to Hill Country BBQ, which is apparently the best BBQ in DC. “Hill Country” refers to where I live – the hills in and around Austin. As an Austinite who has the real thing at home, this restaurant was impressively like the real thing. They even had Bluebell Ice Cream! Little did we know when we went, there was a Longhorn football game on. The entire restaurant was dressed in burnt orange. One guy had a Longhorn cape and a burnt orange suit! When UT scored, the restaurant erupted in cheers and chants. Eating BBQ with a bunch of Austinites, I rarely feel so at home even at home!
Also on my to-do list was a trip to Alexandria. The shops in Old Town were all really cute, and the trip was perfect for a fall day. We ended up stopping to eat in Killer ESP (espresso, sorbetto, pie). When it said pie, I thought that meant fruit pie, but turns out “pie” is quiche-like meat pies that were delicious. Also, we tried their home-made sorbet, and it was fantastic! I see why people love Alexandria – it’s a great escape from the city.
The next weekend I got up early on Saturday to go to the Holocaust Museum when it opened. It’s an interesting set-up: on the first floor, you pick up a little booklet that tells about someone in the Holocaust. Then you get in an elevator that takes you straight up to the fourth floor. In the elevator ride, you are shown a video introducing you to the museum, then you work your way through the exhibits. The fourth floor gave an explanation about the conditions in Germany that made the Holocaust manifest. The third floor gave detailed stories about the Jewish ghettos and the concentration camps. The second floor showed the rescue efforts and the aftermath. As you reached the next floor, you turned the page in your booklet to follow the journey of your person, and in the end you learn their fate. My girl “perished”. The most moving part was when the exhibit lead you through a train car that the victims had been shoved into for transport to the concentration camps. Standing in the car, you could smell the mildew and sweat, see hand prints on the floor, and feel the ghost of previous human presence. It was creepy. The museum was definitely one of my favorite things in DC – it gave me a much better understanding of the Holocaust.
Later I met up with other students in the program for Andrew’s birthday. He wanted to go to District Taco (yum!) and then to the Smithsonians. We started out at the Air and Space Museum, and then we were about to go to the American Indian Museum, when someone decided to jump off the fourth floor balcony and they evacuated the building…
On Sunday night, the program had our own little Thanksgiving. Everyone brought something, and we had a feast. Chris cooked a turkey, and Megan made fantastic sweet potatoes. There was mac-n-cheese and cranberry sauce and lots of desserts – it was perfect, and it got our tummies ready for the actual Thanksgiving!
For the next few days, we will be finishing up our essays and our internships and moving out. On Monday instead of class, Professor Abegaz invited a panel from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to speak to us and a handful of DC alumni. Tonight we have our farewell dinner with our bosses and mentors. It’s winding down, and I can’t believe this semester has gone by so fast!
October 30, 2013 by Claire Gillespie
In my opinion, surprises make Homecoming. You never know just who you’ll run into, which famous alumni will walk around the corner, which upperclassmen will show up again at your club’s reception. Homecoming radiates mystery and that’s why I love it.
I did not expect to meet former Director of the CIA, former Secretary of Defense, and current Chancellor Robert Gates last week, but as it turns out, Chancellor Gates had room in his schedule to meet the staff of the William & Mary Review, the literary magazine Gates worked on as an undergraduate. I sat in a room with Robert Gates for ten minutes and discussed the literary magazine we both work on and walked out thrilled that I articulated my opinion to someone who carries himself so eloquently.
Homecoming surprises heightened when my good friend, who is spending the semester in Washington, DC, knocked on my door. She had come down for Homecoming Weekend and lured me to the W&M vs. JMU football game.
Full disclosure: I did not realize William & Mary had a football team until Orientation ended. Football games, you may say, are not high on my list of priorities.
But I went to the football game and had fun! (For a little while, at least.)
My final surprise Homecoming Weekend came when I discovered the band Freelance Whales was to play at William & Mary’s own Sadler Center. I found out Freelance Whales would perform at William & Mary from a text from my friend from home seconds after William & Mary friends told me about their performance. I have not felt the same vein of pleasant elation since I discovered the party I wandered into circa summer 2003 was my own surprise birthday celebration. It came as no surprise, however, that Freelance Whales’s performance made my night.
Seeing the terrace as full as the first beautiful day in spring surprises me. Hearing alumni talk to students with the earnestness and interest of a young professional talking with his or her first brilliant hire surprises me. Seeing the football stadium filled with green and gold T-shirts (especially my own) surprises me.
But of course these events shouldn’t surprise me, because they abound at William & Mary. William & Mary’s environment brims with the pleasant surprise of winning the lottery through its illustrious teachers, caring students and beauty.
So, happy post-Homecoming. I hope the ways William & Mary surprises you this week make you smile.
October 21, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
Whew! What a hectic few weeks: broken governments, broken garbage disposals, and broken hearts when we saw our midterm grades. I guess I’ll start where I left off last!
A few weeks ago, we went bowling with some students from Boston University who are doing the same kind of program we are – internships with classes. Their program didn’t seem as structured – many were working at random places instead of places focused on their major. I’m grateful we have such a great support team in the DC office which made sure we found relevant internships. Bowling was fun! We went to Lucky Strike in Chinatown, and Javier totally beat everyone. The whole venue had a really neat vibe.
We were blessed with another “Slice of Advice” from Adam Anthony. This one talked about writing professionally and communicating effectively. These skills can seriously set you apart from other interns. It’s surprising how many brilliant people in the workforce can sometimes forget the simple rules of communication. It’s important to get a friend or co-worker to look over stuff – they see the mistakes that you don’t.
A highlight of the past few weeks was getting our well deserved dinner on the DC office as a reward for winning the scavenger hunt. After much deliberation, my group decided on the Daily Grill in Dupont Circle because it had something everyone liked. We got fantastic appetizers of onion rings in blue cheese, popcorn shrimp, and spinach artichoke dip. For the main meal, everyone got fish, and I got a burger. We splurged on chocolate cake and banana cream pie for dessert. All the hard work of meandering around DC for hours paid off!
A few weekends ago we went apple picking at Stribling Orchard in Markham. They gave us a long stick with a basket on the end to grab the out-of-reach apples. There were rows and rows of them, and many different kinds. I think we cheated a little by nibbling as we picked, fresh off the branch. It was very refreshing to be out of the city. The orchard had a bake shop where you could buy apple cider, all kinds of jams, and lots of apple pastries. I got some raisin bread stuffed with apples. The smell was irresistible!
October 1st marked the beginning of the government shutdown, in which about half of the DC program was furloughed. At first it was enjoyable – finally they had time to study for our upcoming midterms. But as the days dragged on, I think many of them started to go a little crazy. As for the rest of us, our lives remained largely unchanged. I didn’t go to meetings on the Hill, and the Metro was less crowded. There was a general haze of dismay over the city. But life went on.
We got the honor of being invited to the alumni event at the Italian Embassy. It was fun getting dressed up, and the venue was beautiful. The highlight was being able to talk to the alumni – they’ve all done so many cool things with their lives, and they are so ready to be a mentor and a guide. I left thinking about all the possibilities ahead. It’s a little terrifying all the paths you can take. And there’s no special formula to get where you want to go. I’ve learned that it’s not a straight shot – you have to take little steps in uncertain directions until you finally have fine-tuned where you want to end up. But as The Beatles said, “there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be”.
We have crossed the half-way point for this semester. We met with Javier and Roxane for mid-semester check-ins, and they will meet with our bosses to make sure everything is still running smoothly in the office. We had our midterm exams, which were… well we just won’t talk about that. Then we had Fall Break, which is kind of just another weekend since we work and can’t really take off. The furloughed kids were off anyways, and a few people who were supposed to work took off.
Two good friends of mine came in from Williamsburg for the weekend. We got empanadas from Julie’s (recommended by the DC office). On Saturday morning we made apple pie from the apples from the orchard, then went shopping and walking in Georgetown. On Sunday, we ventured out to the Taste of DC festival, where a bunch of DC restaurants came together to showcase their dishes. My favorite was an ice cream sandwich out of a trailer called Cookie Monster – you got to pick the cookies and the ice cream in between. I took off of work on Monday, but convinced my friends to go to an event for libertarian youth that my office was holding.
This Sunday, Roma got a group of us to go to a pumpkin festival in Maryland. They had a hayride where the tractor took you out to the field to pick your own pumpkins. There was also a petting zoo, a corn maze, a big slide, and lots of yummy fall-ish food. It was great to be outside, especially on such a beautiful day with the leaves changing colors. We looked a little old to be there, but let our inner child shine. Sunday night we held a potluck to eat (as my boyfriend would say) “all the yums”. Our chef on hand, Chris, made fantastic homemade mac and cheese – the perfect snack to take on a new week!
September 25, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
This past weekend was Parents Weekend! My mom flew in on Thursday night, and we met for dinner after class. On Friday morning, I took off from work and we started our tour of Washington. I took her to the Eastern Market neighborhood, expecting the massive farmers market that I had witnessed the weekend before. It turns out that the outdoor vendors are only there on the weekends, and on weekdays only the indoor produce and meat vendors are there. Still, she got a taste of how cool that part of town is. Then we walked to the Hill. I showed her the Capitol Building, and took her inside Russell Senate building, where I sit in on a few staff meetings every week. Russell is home to many senator offices, so it was fun walking around and seeing their names on the gold plaques. We came across an office swamped with reporters and official-looking people, only to see that it was John McCain being bugged about something.
On Friday, my mom went to class with me. One of our speakers was a lawyer from the Department of Commerce, and the other worked at a nonprofit organization called Accion. Both were very interesting, and above all, passionate about their jobs! It’s reassuring to see W&M alums in great positions.
After class, the W&M DC office held a reception for the parents and students. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! Smooth brie cheese, rich cake balls, sizzling kabobs – fantastic!
After the reception, my mom got her first taste of the horrors of the Metro. First, the blue line was delayed, so by the time it got to the station, hundreds of people were waiting on the platform to get on. Somehow my mom and I squished on. I’ve seen the Metro full, but this was like in the cartoons when people’s faces are smashed up against the glass. We made it a few stops, cramming more and more people in. Then we smelled something terrible. My mom turned to me to ask what it was, and I sarcastically responded “the train must be on fire”. Turns out, I was right. There were so many people on the train, an electrical fire started underneath us, and everyone was kicked off at the next stop. Finally, after much delay and smoke, we made it to my mom’s hotel, where we met an old family friend and had dinner at a cute Lebanese restaurant.
Saturday morning began with a Costco run. I went in needing only three things, and came out with none of those things, instead five other items (Costco bulk sized). The second best part of Parents Weekend is having your family stock you up on food for the semester. (The first best part is just being with family.) After filling my fridge, my mom and I headed to the Newseum for the day. Even though we got the tickets for cheap through the DC office, it still would have been worth it to see the museum for full price – it was awesome. The purpose of the Newseum is essentially to tell history through the eyes of the reporters and journalists who witnessed it first hand. There was a display of pictures from the days of Camelot, and an exhibit of souvenirs from various FBI investigations. There were also pieces from history, like the very top tower of the World Trade Center. One of my favorite displays was the Berlin Wall. One side was clean, while the other side was covered with graffiti symbolizing the turmoil and unrest occurring on that side. I was awestruck to be that close to a piece of history. Another memorable part of the Newseum was the footage reporters got of the 9/11 attacks. It was incredible how close they were willing to get to the debris, and eerie to witness their reactions as events unfolded. My mom liked the replication of Tim Russert’s office – she was a huge fan of his.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked to Clyde’s at Gallery Place for dinner. Again, the food was fantastic – crab cakes and spinach pastries. After dinner the group went to a show at the Reagan Center called Capitol Steps. The comedians make fun of politics and happenings in Washington. My favorite skit was when they replaced the words from Grease the musical with lyrics about Greece the country and how it is failing economically. It was surprisingly non-partisan: they poked fun at both sides of the aisle.
On Sunday morning, my mom and I headed back to the Newseum to soak up a little more of the exhibits. We watched a documentary about how the Holocaust was largely ignored by the US press because of the anti-Semitism at the time. It was moving. News about the Holocaust was only printed about once a year on the front page – most of the focus was to WWII. If only the press spoke out more about the killings, thousands of lives would have been saved. It made me realize the power of the media. Also, we went to the Pulitzer Prize picture gallery, which was again very emotional. While a few of the pictures documented victory and progress, many depicted war and violence and death. It is truly amazing the power of a picture.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked through the Mall. The National Book Festival was going on, but it was overwhelming so we didn’t stop. I showed her the Washington Monument and the White House, and then sent her on her plane back to Texas. It’s tough going to school so far away from my family, so it was great getting to see my mom over the weekend.
As I was about to leave work on Tuesday, I got an email from the internship coordinator that he got us passes to go see Ted Cruz filibuster about the Continuing Resolution and ObamaCare. All my office left, and I started heading to class, but after about a block of walking, I realized that there will probably never be a time in my life where I get to sit in on a Senate filibuster, so I turned around and joined them. It was a weird experience – I thought since Senate was in session and a filibuster was going on, the chamber would be full. However, the only people in there were Ted Cruz, a senator from Alabama, the scribe, and a presiding chair. Ted Cruz kind of just rambled, but it was cool to see the formalities of it. They called him “Junior Senator from Texas” instead of just Senator Cruz. I’m excited to see how the CR unfolds in the Senate this week. Below is a sample of what we witnessed in the Senate Chamber Tuesday night…
September 10, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
The Fall 2013 William & Mary in Washington interns are all settled into our new apartments in the lovely neighborhood of Crystal City. Move-in was astonishingly efficient with all the DC office staff there to help. As a girl with way too many belongings, moving is always such a loathsome experience. However, I pulled up and my stuff was out of my car and in my room before I could even turn off the engine!
Monday night began with pizza and a short introduction to the program by the director of the DC office, Adam Anthony. Then we took a tour of Crystal City so we know our way to the Metro and through the underground mall. Monday night, our group of 17 converged in one of the apartments for a movie showing – the girls outvoted the guys and we ended up watching the “Glee”-esque movie “Pitch Perfect”.
Tuesday morning began with doughnuts (yum!) and a meeting with Roma, our Community Advisor. She gave us the rundown of the building procedures and our duties as residents, and provided us with our pre-loaded Metro card (turns out you can’t walk everywhere like in the Burg…) We hopped on the Metro and navigated ourselves to the W&M office in Dupont Circle, where Javier gave us a packet of information for the program – calendars, forms, contact numbers, etc. We had a fantastic lunch catered from a Greek restaurant, and then got a presentation on stress from Dr. Reis from the campus Counseling Center. The presentation was a good reminder to manage our time, and leave room for fun and relaxation. After lunch we started our Scavenger Hunt – the winning team gets a free dinner! The items on the list were worth varying amounts of points depending on how far away from Dupont Circle they were. The list included everything from chess players to embassies to landmarks. My group made our way to Union Station and the National Mall, then up to Chinatown where we met the whole group for dinner at Matchbox, the pizza place. We didn’t think we were doing too great in the game, but when two groups showed up late and got points deducted, we once again had hope that we might win. After dinner, we met up with a tour guide at the Jefferson Memorial who gave up a monument tour. My favorite monument was the FDR one – it really told the story of his life. Also, the MLK monument was bustling because Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
On Wednesday morning the group met at GW’s Gelman Library, our designated library away from Swem. The library was 8 stories, but didn’t seem to have as many books as Swem. Although it was only the 3rd day of school, the library was surprisingly full of students. We then headed back to the Dupont office for lunch, and then adventured out for the second part of the scavenger hunt. This time my group was a little more motivated with the idea that we could win. We went down Embassy Row, then found our way to Georgetown University. We went past Dumbarton Oaks Park, and then trekked through a surprisingly uncharted dense forest area, before coming out at the National Zoo. We looked for the panda, but it had just given birth and was therefore not on display. Next, my group took the Metro to the Kennedy Center, where we were able to check off “Bust of JFK”, “Hall of States”, and “View of Georgetown from Kennedy Terrace.” As our time limit came close, I convinced my group to make a little detour to a coffee shop on the list that was only worth a point. It was a good thing because when we met with the rest of the students for dinner, we had beaten the group by only a 2 point margin! Dinner was at a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Lauriol Plaza – I can still smell the sizzling fajitas. After dinner we went to Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center. It was an incredibly funny murder mystery in which the audience decides who the killer is! The interaction with the audience made it different from any play I’d ever seen before.
Thursday morning started out with an introduction lecture from Professor Abegaz to set us on the right path for our classes the next week. We had a lunch of Mexican food, and then Adam gave us our first “Slice of Advice,” a series that will continue throughout the semester. This first presentation was about being better than the intern next to you by completing assignments before the due date, communicating professionally, and being eager to learn. After our advice session, we went to the National Building Museum to play mini-golf on super cool holes. The holes had to do with environmental and futuristic building – and some of them were impossible! We ended the night and our Orientation with a Nationals game. It was Nationals vs. Marlins, so of course we beat them. The best part wasn’t so much the game, but the hype and the energy that resonated through the stadium! DC has a lot of spirit and pride!
Although it was weird to go through Orientation again as an upperclassman, it was completely refreshing and really prepared us for the semester to come. I hardly stepped foot in DC a week ago, but now I know my way around completely. I was even able to give directions for a Metro stop to a foreign tourist the other day! Also, Orientation allowed us to have a little fun before the hardcore (but still fun?) work starts in September. I think this class of interns had bonded really well, and we are going to have a very successful semester.
Picture Credits: Ferra Chen and Donald Thibeau
August 5, 2013 by Sarah Nicholas
I had the pleasure of being at an intimate dinner party with Bob Simon, an extraordinary man of whom, quite frankly, I had never heard of prior to our encounter at the dinner table. Bob happened to be the same Robert E. Simon, Jr., who founded the planned suburban living community now known as Reston (His initials, R.E.S. +town).
A founder of a town?, you might say, surely it takes more than one person to establish such a thing. I too had my doubts, but after two hours of the most magnificent stories, I will gladly give him all due accreditation. He brought the brownstone townhouses of New York City to the suburbs, zoned cul-de-sacs, created multi-value-level neighborhoods to encourage socio-economic blending at the single-family home level, wanted to make a place where one can “live, work and play.” Today, more people come to Reston to work than leave Reston to work. Who would ever have thought that one man’s plan nearly 75 years ago would thrive so vividly today?
His impressive credentials aside – a Harvard grad, accomplished singer, practiced businessman all rolled into one – I was most impressed by something innately human – Bob is 99 years old. He will be 100 in April. He has more stories to tell than others have time to listen to. He is forgiven for forgetting. He presides at the head of every dinner table, is always asked to say grace, and is the first to be served seconds. He attends community events as a member of the community, from the weekly Farmer’s Market to the Fourth of July celebrations.
His father did business regularly with Andrew Carnegie. He was 11 years old when the Great Gatsby was published. He went to a Rachmaninoff concert in his teens. He went to Harvard at a time when meals for an entire week cost $8, back when it was an all-male University. He attended lectures by George Gershwin regularly. He vividly remembers the Black Tuesday Crash of 1929 and served in World War II. He inherited Carnegie Hall in his twenties, single-handedly operated the programming of the hall for many years, prevented it from being demolished, and sold it, taking his earnings and funding his suburban dream.
I hope I will live up to being 100 and not just live to be 100. How we spend our days is ultimately how we spend our lives. While I know that I will never inherit Carnegie Hall, the doors are open and there’s nothing holding me back – cheers to the next 80 years.
July 31, 2013 by Erin Spencer
The Florida Keys are in a world of their own. When you leave the Florida mainland and venture south into Key Largo, you cross an invisible boundary into a place where the air is saltier, the sunsets are brighter, and everyone moves just a little bit slower. After living in the Keys for just a month, I’ve fallen in love with the area and all of the little idiosyncrasies that go along with it. Here are a few of my experiences that could only ever happen in America’s tropical paradise.
1. Wearing sunglasses in a downpour
In case you’ve never been to Florida in the summer, let me fill you in. It rains. A lot. And I’m not talking a few sprinkling showers, I’m talking torrential downpours of biblical proportions. The kind where there’s no sense even running for cover because you’re going to be soaked by the time you get there anyway. But fortunately, Florida storms start quickly and end quickly. They come up so fast that you probably can’t finish the thought “it looks like it might rain” before the heavens open and you’re soaked to the bone, but chances are they will only last ten minutes or so. Therefore, I found it wasn’t uncommon to be getting rained on while the sun shone through clouds up ahead, causing the need for sunglasses. Sunglasses in a rainstorm…who knew?
2. Finding a large parrot on your arm before dinner
This happened to me while I was standing outside of a dive shop in Key Largo waiting to meet a friend for dinner. I was on the phone, not paying attention to my surroundings, when I felt something sharp prodding my arm. I looked over and let out a confused yelp when I saw a large macaw sitting on my forearm, his beak about six inches from my face. I returned my phone conversation with “I’ll have to call you back,” and turned my attention to the grinning man in front of me, clearly the owner of the parrot. Turns out he just walked up and let the parrot climb onto my arm (because who doesn’t want to be surprised by a large bird…?) in an attempt to be friendly and welcoming. We had a nice chat and he took a photo before I politely encouraged him to please take his bird off me.
3. Never knowing what day it is
This actually became a serious problem for me. Anyone who has spent any time with me knows I’m absolutely glued to my planner and my to-do lists. If something isn’t on the list, it’s simply not getting done. In the Keys, I never used my planner once. Not once! Most of my interviews were last-minute anyway, so no need to plan far in advance (that’s another thing about the Keys, most planning is done a day or two before). There was nothing consistent about my day-to-day schedule, therefore one week kind of blended into the next. It was a rude awakening to get back to the real world (aka north of Key Largo) and remember that people expect you to know what day it is.
4. Playing bingo with treasure hunters
This was one of my more unusual mornings. I had arranged to meet someone named Pat Clyne through a mutual friend, and I had expected to just grab coffee or something casual. Then somehow I found myself at breakfast with members of the team responsible for discovering the wreck of the Atocha, a Spanish ship carrying silver, gold and jewels that sunk off of the Florida Keys in 1622. Mel Fisher and his crew uncovered the Atocha in 1985, and the wreck is still being salvaged to this day. As it turns out, Pat was part of the original “golden crew” who uncovered the vessel. So like any normal Sunday morning, I found myself at a Key West restaurant, chatting over eggs and grits with Kim Fisher, President and CEO of all the Mel Fisher Family Enterprises and playing bingo with his wife, Lee. I then proceeded to hold over a million dollars in Atocha gold before lunch.
Just another day in the Keys I guess!