Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Mariko!

Today was Mariko’s birthday! There were many exciting things awaiting me as soon as I woke up.

I woke up at 8, which was later than the time I usually wake up, but still enough time to get ready for class without panicking. As I ate breakfast with my friends, we all realized something: The “ratty,” one of the cafeterias in Brown, serves the same type of breakfast every day! I was quite tired of it, but because it was free food, I indulged myself and left the ratty quite satisfied and eager to go to class.

In class today, we presented our Amazing Women Monologues, which are our autobiography-type presentation of a woman leader of our choice. The creativity my classmates put into their presentations amazed me. Rebecca’s amazing woman was an Egyptian pharaoh named Hatshepsut, who dressed as a male pharaoh in order to be taken seriously. I was the second presenter, and the “awws” of excitement I got from the class as I wrote my name “Pocahontas” on the board really got me in the mood to present with a lot of energy. I spoke of how her true story differed quite a bit from the classic Disney film, but how it was equally as good of a story, if not better. I opened a lot of peoples’ eyes to the true history of Pocahontas and her struggles of keeping the peace between her Native American tribe and the foreign Englanders.

After a couple of other great student speakers, it was lunchtime and I had a meeting with Kisa involving my action plan. She provided me with lots of possible ideas and tips for presenting my project, and I got started writing my essay about it already.

The really odd part about today was the fact that I actually finished my homework before 6 PM. I did my homework right after class because that was all everyone else was doing so I figured I might as well get my work done as well, and it felt great closing my notebook while the sun was still up.

I spent the rest of the day with my ILC girls and Ms. Williams as we all ate at a Fusion Chinese/ Japanese restaurant called Shanghai. The food was really filling and much more elegantly presented than the dorm food, which I still love as well.

When we came back from the restaurant, some of the Harkness residents threw a little birthday surprise for Mariko in my friends Mackenzie and Olivia’s room, complete with a cake and a present from Cynthia, and me, which was a little soybean plush toy. Now that I have no homework left to do, I get to sleep in for an extra hour or so, and I couldn’t be more excited to hit the hay.

Amazing Women

Today was the first day of our Amazing Women monologue presentations. Many amazing women were “present” in our class, including Harriet Tubman, Mother Theresa, and many others. My amazing woman, Alice Waters, was the last to be presented. I chose Alice Waters because she represents the cause of my action plan, she is a successful woman, and lastly, she is from the Bay Area and is a celebrity there. The best part about this project was actually having to research about her. The internet sources didn’t provide enough, so I had to go to the library, which I discovered is an excellent resource and study area. I also found some amazing books, and now I’m just upset that I can’t bring them home to California with me.
Unfortunately, the presentation itself didn’t go over that well. This was partly because I was going at the end of the day, and partly because there was nothing very exciting or shocking about my woman’s story. Most of it was my fault, though. I realized that presenting was much harder than I thought, and that I needed to be much more prepared in the future if I wanted to make an effective and memorable presentation.
After the presentation, a board of Brown students (all women) came into our class. Samantha was an undergraduate student studying international relations with a focus on health care in developing countries, writes for the African Sun, and is the president of the Cape Verdean Student Association. Felicia was in graduate school after studying at San Jose State and had her PHD in American studies and was focusing in Latina Pop Fiction, or “Chicklet Books”. Briana, an undergraduate student, was a sociology major with a focus on gender and sexuality, and was also an RA at Summer@Brown. Finally Jasmine was in her 4th year of medical school, had studied both biochemistry and ethnomusicology, and was interested in sports medicine. They told us about challenges they faced adjusting to college and gave us advice and their insight on being leaders.
For dinner, Mrs. Williams took the ILC girls out for Mariko’s 16th birthday dinner at a Japanese/Chinese fusion restaurant on Thayer Street. It was great to see Mrs. Williams again and even better to have such great food after two weeks of eating at “the Ratty”. At the end, we all passed around papers with our names, and everybody wrote something that they liked about the person. This was a great end-of-trip bonding activity, and I am so thankful to have such a sweet group of girls to share this trip with.
To finish off the night, we had a surprise birthday party for Mariko in one of our classmate’s dorm room. It consisted of a cake with no candle, half-melted ice cream, and a bunch of excited girls trying to hide behind dorm furniture. It was really nice to see all of us come together like the family we are, in order to celebrate the birthday of our very special sister, Mariko Whitenack.

Day 15: Happy Birthday Mariko!!!

This morning was a sad morning because I fell asleep before I could finish my homework so I was scrambling to complete it. Then we had breakfast where we sat with someone I had never seen before. It was strange because after we made our friends in the first few days, we stopped trying to bring people in. I think that is why we are so close, because we are not inviting new people every day.

Almost at the start of class we sang Mariko Happy Birthday and we began our speeches where we pretended to be an influential female leader. The presentations went in order chronologically. Of course, I decided to be Hatshepsut, an Egyptian pharaoh, which meant that I would go first. However, it was nice to get mine out of the way.

At lunch, we ate at the nicer of the two dining halls. We sang Mariko Happy Birthday again. Then we went back to class. A few people were late so we watched a short film about sexual harassment until they arrived. Once everyone was present, we continued with the speeches. When we finished, four grad and undergrad students came to answer any questions we had about Brown. Once again, I felt really spoiled and privileged to get those benefits.

After school, we hung out until it was time to go to the restaurant to celebrate Mariko's birthday. We sang again, which embarrassed her. Then we ate, and went around saying things we liked about each other.

We left and walked home, where we scrambled to get the birthday cake we bought at the convenience store and find spoons. In the end, we ate it with our hands. Then we hung out in Cynthia's room until it was time to start blogging.

My dorm room is a double, that I share with my roommate Abby. She is really messy and I am really neat. Although we hang out with different groups and have different personalities, we get along great.

When you walk into the room, there is a closet on either side. Then the room opens up. The beds are along the sides of the room and on the opposite side of the room, there are three windows. However, the two desks are back to back in the center of the far wall, blocking the middle window.

The placement of my room is perfect! On my left is the R.A.'s room, so check in is quick and easy. On my right is the bathroom, so I am usually first to the shower. The only drawback is that it is a high traffic area because of those two rooms so the noise level is a little higher, but it doesn't really bother me.

"Never Begin Your Thought With Doubt Because People Will Doubt You" - Wendy Schiller

I started off today breaking out in sweat. I had heard some of the girls talking about how this week was going to be "killer hot", but since it rained yesterday, I didn't believe them. Oh, how I was wrong! Today was sweltering hot. I groaned, got up, and started my day.

The morning didn't go by so smoothly at first. After getting breakfast at the Ratty, I turned down the wrong street and ended up lost! After going around in circles for twenty minutes, a passerby gave me directions to Thayer Street and I made it to class with two minutes to spare. I believe I expressed leadership by asking for help instead of assuming I could make it to the classroom myself.

Today we began our Amazing Woman Monologues. This is who went in the morning and who they were:

  • Rebecca - Hatshepsut 
  • Josephine - Pocahontas 
  • Marilyn - Harriet Tubman
  • Refjola - Mother Teresa 
  • Cynthia Z. - Rosa Parks 
  • Marlie - Fannie Lou Hammer 

I learned so much from these girls' performances. I think that having the monologues was a great way to practice public speaking and gain confidence in front of our peers.

After the morning session, Kisa asked if someone wanted to facilitate, which is an activity we have recently been doing. The facilitator stands in front of everyone and asks them questions about the readings. I shot my hand up and Kisa chose me! I was excited to be expressing this leadership skill.

I asked the girls questions such as: "How do you feel about having men in [the] ropes course, workforce, and this class?" Many girls said that they felt like having the men around would be awkward, uncomfortable, and that the men would try to be dominant. However, Caroline made a good point of stating that it is good to have a balance of estrogen and testosterone because all-women's workforces can get "catty/petty" really easily. There is no in-between when it comes to working only with women - it is either good or bad, nothing else. Maddie gave a good testimony about how the men in her mom's workforce were unsympathetic when she had her brother.

Once I was done, I felt very good about my public speaking. I realized that I wasn't even nervous about speaking up anymore. It was a wonderful feeling.

After that, we got a special treat: a visit from Wendy Schiller, a professor of public policy and political science at Brown. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a PhD and is a well known author.

Wendy explained to us how politics was very big in her family and was also a form of communication. It was decided where she would attend college by a debate between her two brothers. It was decided that she would go to the University of Chicago, but was allowed to transfer to the University of Virgina if she pleased. Wendy noted that she thought it was unfair for her brothers to debate in front of her father about her college decision.

Wendy also provided us information about women's roles in the senate. There were no female bathrooms on the senate chamber and women could not wear pants in the senate house. Women are under more pressure than men to look articulate, dress properly, and be feminist - but not too feminist.
Women are also more prone to having sexual rumors spread about them in political competitions, a saddening factor, Wendy noted.

The talk with Wendy was absolutely wonderful. I was honored to meet her, and she gave me a new perspective on politics. I'll definitely be paying a lot of attention during the 2012 presidential election.

After lunch, we continued the Amazing Woman Monologues with monologues from:

  • Olivia - Rosalind Franklin
  • Mackenzie - Maya Angelou
  • Kaylyn - Jane Goodall 
  • Alli - Aung San Suu Kyi 
  • Caroline - Alice Waters 
We then watched a clip called "Teen Sexual Harassment at Work" - the minute I saw the title, I shuddered. I have never experienced this but I have definitely read stories in magazines and newspapers about girls who get sexually harassed at work. The clip was about a teenage girl named Ali, who got her first job at Jamba Juice in Washington. She thought it would be a fun first job, but her manager made her feel very uncomfortable. He would touch employees inapropriately, such as getting too close to the female employee's backs and putting his arm around them.

The manager started making inappropriate comments to Ali such as jokes about touching her breasts and sex. He even went as far to show her an inappropriate picture of his wife. Ali was scared to tell her parents because she did not want to "give up her first job." However, the situation got much more inappropriate later on.

Ali was in the back of the store counting out the cash when her manager got very close behind her and ripped her shirt off. He then proceeded to take a picture of her chest with his cell phone. Ali began crying and became very upset, and her fellow employees were no help, as they stood and laughed at the incident. Ali quit and finally told her parents what had been going on. Her mom revealed in an on-camera interview that the incident made her very upset and that these were the types of things she had "tried to protect her child from." The assistant manager of the Jamba Juice found out about the incident and told Ali that the manager had broken Jamba Juice rules and would be fired. However, he actually wasn't fired - so Ali stayed put and did not return to the job.

I was so stunned that the employees saw this incident and did not intervene. While many of the girls chastised Ali for not admitting the truth to her parents early on, I understood why she didn't: she was afraid of the consequences. I believe that she was afraid of what the manager could do if he was reported. I think a lot of teenage girls go through harassment, sexual or not, and that they are scared to tell the truth because they are fearful of others' reactions and the consequences to telling the truth.

After watching the clip, a student panel arrived and gave us several pieces of information about the college admission process, their experiences at Brown, and reaction to college life in general:

  • Samantha DeAndrade is an undergraduate student at Brown. She is majoring in International Relations and is Pre-Med. She is planning an exciting new school year - she will be studying abroad in London! She participates in field hockey and writing for the campus magazine "[The] African Sun." She has an interest in developing countries. At first, she was very intimidated by her classmates at Brown, partly due to being a woman and feeling like she always had to raise her hand in class to get a "woman's perspective" into the classroom. She also gives tours for Brown Mondays through Fridays.
  • Briana McGeough is an undergraduate student at Brown. She is majoring in Sociology and Gender Studies and is a Summer@Brown RA. She is currently conducting research on socio-economic status and is interested in making students feel more comfortable at school. When she was in high school in Iowa, some of her friends went through intense bullying due to being gay. Based on the experience, she became a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights. When she got to Brown, she felt intimidated due to her low socio-economic status and the fact that she was surrounded by privileged students in the classrooms.
  • Felicia Salings is a graduate student at Brown. She was a Creative Arts major at San Jose State University and is obtaining her PhD in American Studies from Brown. She works on Latina American literature and studies media such as "Sex and the City" and "Bridget Jones' Diary." She works with Kisa in the student activities center. She admitted that getting out of her comfort zone and starting anew was hard for her.
  • Jasmine Bouknight is a medical student at Brown Medical School. She studied biotechnology and sports medicine. She is a fourth year medical student and hopes to go to the West Coast due to warmer weather. She admitted she had to deal with a culture shock at Brown, dealing with ethnicity, culture, language, etc.
From left to right: Kisa, Jasmine, Briana, Felicia, and Samantha
I enjoyed the student panel. I was glad they gave testimonies about their experiences at Brown.

Later in the evening, the Brownies headed to a Chinese and Japanese food restaurant called Shang Hai for Mariko's sixteenth birthday. We had a lovely evening filled with sushi, chicken wings, broccoli beef, and ramen soup. It made us all realize that we only have three days left in lovely Providence. The experience has been bittersweet. I have made 8 sisters (my girls and Ms. Williams) and I will never forget this experience. We passed notes around the table and wrote something positive about each other. Here is what I got:

  • Determined
  • Strong-minded
  • Motivational
  • Always on time - punctual 
  • Very articulate. You're a determined student
  • Very determined and strong 
  • Funny 
I was happy with all the positive feedback. I feel like we have all bonded so much on this trip.


I woke up today and I thought, whoa, it’s my birthday! How weird! Yeah, today was my sweet sixteen. I never expected to have such a unique birthday experience, and it’s been pretty cool. I have to say, we had visitors in class today and it was pretty exciting to be able to introduce myself and say that I was 16 years old.

My friends were all so nice to me! This morning, and I mean at 12 AM, I was doing homework in my room and a bunch of my friends on my floor sprinted in through my open door and started singing “Happy Birthday.” It made me really happy, and I didn’t have to worry that the noise would wake anyone up because no one is ever asleep at that time anyway. Soon, but not yet.

I actually made it to the dining hall in time to eat a real breakfast, which was a good change. When we got to class everyone sang to me again, and Josie, Cynthia, Kaylyn, Ava, and possible some of my other friends did this really cool tabletop hitting/clapping routine as they sang. It was a little embarrassing to be the center of attention, but it sure made me feel loved. After that we all got down to business.

Half of the class presented their Amazing Woman monologues today (with the other half going tomorrow). There were some pretty amazing presentations, with people getting really involved by embracing their roles; we are to give our speech from the first person, pretending that each of us is our amazing woman.

Here are three examples of Amazing Woman monologues: Marlie as Fannie Lou Hamer, Cynthia as Rosa Parks, and Caroline as Alice Waters.

In the afternoon, we had special guest Professor Wendy Schiller, a professor of political science at Brown. She spoke about women in politics and special challenges that women face and have faced. For example, as recent as the 1980s there was no female bathroom off of the floor of the Senate. The few female Senators had to take the elevator to the public bathrooms in the visiting area. In addition, women working in the Senate were forced to wear skirts or dresses! With these anecdotes and other interesting points, Professor Schiller educated us about the recent history of women in politics.

We also had a panel of Brown students visit in the afternoon and talk a little about their personal experiences as female students at Brown. Samantha, Felicia, Briana, and Jasmine all seemed so intelligent and confident. Their personal stories were all very inspiring, but I most appreciated their advice and encouragement about college and our lives.

After class, a bunch of us went to the Science Library so that we could do our homework in a more focused environment. Dorm rooms are more relaxing, despite the sometimes stifling heat, but they just aren’t quite so conducive to a productive studying atmosphere. One of my best friends, Clara, called me to wish me a happy birthday while I was in my room getting my computer, so I got a little sidetracked, but I made it there eventually. It was such a good idea to go to the library that I am amazed we didn’t all think of it sooner! I am pretty sure I’ll be going back there tomorrow.

Tonight Ms. Williams took all of us out to dinner, partially as a birthday get-together but also as a check-in point. We ate at a fusion Japanese and Chinese food restaurant. Originally the plan had been to go to a sushi place, but Caroline and I were the only ones who ended up ordering it. We did manage to convert Ms. Williams into a sushi consumer, which was exciting.

My sushi dinner: tuna avocado maki and salmon avocado maki. Ms. Williams liked both!

Caroline and I scarfed down all of the vegetables from the vegetable chow mein.

It was really weird to spend my birthday away from my family and my friends back home, but it was made a lot easier by the fact that all of my classmates/dorm mates have pretty much become my new family. It really sucks that we only have two weeks to spend together before we’re swept off again to all parts of the globe. I can only hope that we keep in touch.

Happy Birthday Mariko! I love you!

Today is Mariko's birthday! She is now 16 and we are going to go out to dinner and to the mall to celebrate in a little bit.

Today in class we got to hear the first half of our class give their speeches about Amazing Women. They were first person speeches to explain the life and accomplishments of an amazing woman of our choice. I present mine tomorrow and I am so incredibly nervous. I can't tell who I am speaking about because it is supposed to be a surprise. This is so nerve racking. I'm very anxious to present. But at the same time I know that everyone in the class supports me and wants me to do well and I have a relationship with all of the girls in the class. I have talked to them all individually, so talking to them as a group isn't really any different right? We will see how that goes.

We got to hear from 5 guess speakers today: Prof. Schiller and 5 students at Brown University. They told us about their majors (concentrations) and their hopes and dreams and ambitions. We also got to ask them some questions about admissions and surprisingly enough they said that SAT and ACT scores don't matter nearly as much as we think.Which is a big relief for many of us. They all seemed very nice.

I have also concluded that I am not a feminist. I love men and women almost equally. I have a concern that feminism is too much about hating men than loving women which I am not a fan of. I grew up with 4 girls and 2 boys so I always try to look at both sides of any situation regarding gender issues because I do see that boys don't have it perfect either. However our women and leadership class was not at all attacking men, I really appreciate that about the class.

I was introduced to bubble tea last night. I am still slightly confused about what exactly makes the tapioca balls. The green tea matcha flavor is delicious.


Dorm Life 101

During my lunch break, I turned on my phone and saw an email from Don. He emailed the Brownies asking us to describe our dorm life. By reading that email, I realized that I haven't talked very much at all about my room. I have described my roommate Kaylyn, but not much about the room or Harkness House itself.

A. Set Up Of The Room
I cannot speak for the amount of space in a single room, but for a shared room, the capacity is pretty large. This dorm is about as big as my bedroom is back at home. There are two sets of desks, two sets of drawers, two closets, two chairs, two trashcans, and two "rocking" chairs (I put the quotation marks in because the chair can be pushed back and sticks in a rocking position, but you can't actually rock it or you will fall backwards).

On move-in day, my bed was pushed all the way next to the wall. Kaylyn, who arrived hours before I did, stated that her bed was pushed against the opposite wall as well. So what did she do? She pushed her bed so that the back bed frame faces the window, which is opposite the door. Then she moved her drawer and desk so that they are backed up against the East wall, and my desk and drawer are pushed up against the North wall. This proves beneficial for me, since the electrical outlet is located on the West wall. I did not want my bed that close to a wall, so I pushed my bed next to Kaylyn's (not completely next to it; we have a good amount of space in between), so I could get air from the window during sleep as well.

B. House Locations 
All of Brown Session 2 is staying in Harkness House. The Leadership Institute is spread into three houses, which are all neighbors: Harkness (all girls), Goddard (all boys), and Chapin (all girls). I believe that some of Brown Session 1 stayed in Keeney and some others stayed in another house? I cannot speak for them.

C. Internet Access
The Internet access in my room connects very easily. To connect to the internet, you have to either sign up for an account or use your email as a guest login. It's very simple to use. For me personally, the Wi-Fi Internet connection has worked fine. At some points if I'm working at night I'll have to move to a different part in the room so the Internet can load quicker, but other than that, it is fine. I have noticed that some of the other girls have been complaining about slower Internet access, though.

D. Roommate Situation
I have shared a room only at one point in my life, and it was so long ago that I do not remember it. I was very excited to have a roommate though. Kaylyn is a great person and a great roomie (walking into a dorm with a fan, fridge, and food is lovely). I think I hit the lottery with a great roommate situation. Every girl in Harkness is very nice and I feel like I could be suited with anyone else and I would be fine. To future Brownies, even if you and your roommate do not end up becoming best friends, chances are you will at the least be good acquaintances - that is how nice everyone is here. They are very open and supportive. One good thing to note is to try to come up with a good consensus of sleep time and a wake-up schedule, and also rules, such as privacy in terms of property, slamming doors, being a slob, cleaning up after oneself if someone wants to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner/a snack in the dorm, etc.

E. Conclusion
In my opinion, dorm life is pretty great. It is definitely something that I was able to get used to. Even though Kaylyn and I will only live together for two weeks, I feel like this is definitely a good training experience for when I go to college and if I live in a shared dorm. I think everyone who is in the Ivy League Connection and has a roommate should embrace it, because you meet some great people at the university you are studying at. 
Real Time Web Analytics