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Theater Lives in Schlarbaum 2

This fall, I'm living with three fabulous friends of mine. It just so happens that two of them, Alison P. and Emily are heavily involved in the theater department. Especially the first fall production. Alison P had a lead role and Emily designed the lighting for the show. The fall production is Proof and last night Alison W. and I went to the performance.

The play focuses on Catherine, a 25 year old who is adjusting to life after her father's death. Her father, Robert, was a brilliant mathematician but for the past ten years, struggled with a terrible mental illness. The oldest daughter, Claire, escaped the family to head to New York. This leaves Catherine to take care of her father, dropping out of school and basically becoming his rock. The play focuses on the days after Robert's death, with flashbacks to see the relationship between Catherine and her father. The final character is Harold (Hal), a Ph.D. mathematician who is determined to go through Robert's writing to see if anything brilliant has been tucked away. Upon discovering a proof about prime numbers, Hal, Claire, and Catherine must confront who wrote it and how to keep moving forward.

It was a well done play. I knew the actors so it was cool to see them playing different people than they are in real life. The play itself was solid. Good writing and I loved the math and science they sprinkled in (makes sense since I adore the geeky math stuff in The Big Bang Theory). I enjoyed spending my Thursday night in the theater and I'm glad I could go, see, and appreciate all the hard work Emily and Alison P. put into the production!  


A Little Chat About Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

From University of Iowa's website
I love Coe's English department. But you probably already knew that. This year though, I am extra excited for our English department. We are having so many great speakers and I am jazzed. I love having an active discussion in a classroom setting, but I also love sitting in on a guest lecture or listening to a poetry reading.

The first event of the fall semester was from a guest lecturer who doesn't live too far away from Cedar Rapids. Her name is Miriam Gilbert, also known as Dr. Gilbert, and she taught for 44 years in the English department at the University of Iowa. Dr. Gilbert retired last year and is now on a whirlwind tour, lecturing in the United States and across the ocean. Her specialty is Shakespeare, which is perfect. To top that off, Dr. Gilbert also has a second home in Stratford-Upon-Avon (aka the birthplace of Shakespeare). 

When Gina introduced her, she talked about the first time she heard Dr. Gilbert speak. It was a lecture on Othello (one of my favorite plays) at the Newberry Library in Chicago (where my good buddy Millie is studying right now through an ACM program). Gina said this talk was transformative to Gina and the way she taught her classes. She was thrilled Dr. Gilbert was here to speak to us. 

Dr. Gilbert spoke to a pretty full Kesler auditorium. The topic of the lecture was the character Shylocke in The Merchant of Venice. Shylocke is a Jew, and Dr. Gilbert spoke about the how that label creates this character and how various people have portrayed Shylocke over the years. 

It was a fascinating talk. Dr. Gilbert was an engaging speaker and had a powerpoint with quotes, photos, and video clips to help explain her thesis. I learned more about Jewish stereotypes during Shakespeare's time and we even jumped into the text to see how the text painted a picture of Shylocke. She focused on this spectrum that various Shylockes played by various actors fall into. The last question she left us with is do we consider Shylocke a man with a knife or a man with a daughter? It was a powerful question after her interesting lecture and gave me a lot to think about. 

I am so glad the English department brought Dr. Gilbert to campus and just another reason why I love my major. 


Why Yes I Studied Abroad: Turechek Symposium

If you haven't quite figured it out yet, Coe is pretty big on gaining an experience from study abroad. Around 40% of Coe students will study off campus at least once during their time at Coe. That's pretty neat, is it not?

One of the reasons I think we have the ability to inspire students is due to our amazing study abroad coordinator, John Chaimov. No matter where you want to go, John is going to do his best to make it happen. He's super supportive and understands the transformative power a semester, year, or month off campus can be.

Of course, in some ways, no matter how great John is, real life stories about adventures we went on are going to be even more powerful. So last week, a bunch of us got our opportunity to share our stories.

It was called the Turcheck Symposium and it was a two-hour open house. John had brought together some snacks from all different countries and we set up tables with photos, powerpoints, and souvenirs. Many first-years came to the open house and it was fun talking about my experiences and sharing how they could do that in the future.

And, as a shameless plug for me, I have a whole tab on study abroad on my blog. Learn more about my travels to New York City, the Lake District, Berlin, Krakow, and Warsaw. Some of my best/favorite/most memorable educational moments at Coe have been during these trips. It's worth it to read some of my past posts if you haven't already. And of course, if you want to go elsewhere, you should check out Coe's study abroad portion on our website, or, when you make a visit to campus, set up a meeting with John. You can talk about all sorts of things, and he can give you a great run-down of both Coe and non-Coe study abroad programs you might want to check out!


Post-Graduation: Plan A

A special person in my life is my Grandma Joan. One of her favorite mantras/ideas is that you always have to have more than one plan. So if Plan A doesn't work, you can move to Plan B. Sometimes you know what Plan B is and other times, you make Plan B up as you go. So this little series is for her. Throughout my senior year, I'll be making posts like this, letting you know how my post-graduation plans are shaping up.

Here is Plan A. Coe has had a strong tradition of having students who receive a Fulbright scholarship. These are prestigious scholarships where students (undergraduates, masters, and doctorates) have the opportunity to teach English or conduct a research project for one year almost anywhere on the globe.

We also have the best Fulbright advisor. It's Ann Struthers, a now retired Coe professor. She taught poetry at Coe and has also been awarded two Fulbrights (Syria and Sri Lanka). So Ann is pretty experienced. She works with several students each year, helping us fine tune our essays and get ready to submit our applications.

This summer I considered a Fulbright, a lot. After seeing several Coe students awarded them over the past three years, it seemed like an opportunity/experience I had to try for, otherwise I might regret my inaction later down the road. After looking through several countries' programs, I decided on Greece.

Yes, Greece.

The program I found is an HAEF Teaching Fellowship. If awarded one of the 12 scholarships, I would spend nine months working with elementary to high school students in their English classes, in their library, and after school with their forensics (public speaking) club. This program sounded right up my alley, especially considering my desire to be a children's librarian later on in life.

Once I knew it was Greece, I set to work on writing the two essays needed for the application. The first is a statement of grant purpose, basically, what I would bring to the program and country and my previous teaching experience. The second essay is a personal statement, an explanation of who I am and other traits I want the Fulbright Committee to know. I spent the end of my summer and the first few weeks of the school year fine tuning my essays and sending them to Ann for suggested revisions.

With several-times-over revised essays, I then had to meet with a Coe committee. They asked about my desires to go to Greece and pursue a Fulbright scholarship. This committee also gave me excellent feedback on my essays, which I then revised (a shout out to Julia and Ethan in the WC for their out-of-this-world conferences!).

Then, with everything revised, transcripts uploaded, three excellent letters of recommendations sent in, I was ready to hit "submit." It was an incredible feeling; I am very proud how the essays and application turned out.

But now I wait. It won't be until December if I know if I've made the first cut. I'm sure the tension will build, but I'm hoping for the best! And that's Plan A. Stay tuned for Plan B (and maybe even C!).


Spending Some Quality Time With My Dad: Family Weekend 2013

Every year, Coe hosts a Family Weekend. It happens early in the first semester and allows families to head to campus to see what their students are doing. The event lasts all weekend and families can sit in on classes, participate in a service project, check out a football game, and eat food in our cafeteria.

For the past three years, I haven't been able to take part in this weekend. Lucky for me, this was my year! My dad made the now oh-so-familiar trip to Cedar Rapids. He arrived bright and early this morning. We headed over to the Clark Alumni House to check-in and have breakfast.

Then it was service project time. Originally, they were going to limit their volunteers to only about 75 people. But, due to the tremendous amount of people who signed up, Coe pulled together several more projects. My dad and I went with about 50 other volunteers to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

It was a phenomenal experience. The store was hustling and bustling. You can walk down any aisle and find just about anything home improvement related. We got our instructions from one of the managers of the store. He said that our help today (and it was just two hours) would help put him at least three months ahead. It was neat to hear that our volunteering would really make an impact.

The group divided up and I worked with a mom and sister. Our first assignment was bringing extra paint cans from the storeroom. We then had to organize the paint cans and make all the extras from the storeroom fit on the shelves in the front. I learned some neat paint colors like "Safari Tan" or "Green Sage."

Our second task was organizing light bulbs. Such as small task (organizing was not too complicated) meant so much to the store. It was one of those moments where I was reminded how important community service is. I was so thrilled that Coe had this project, it felt great to give back to Cedar Rapids.

The father-daugher day continued with lunch in the caf (the chicken parmesan was perfecto!), a trip to the bookstore (we saw Heidi!), and then to the football game. Our seats were great (right behind the field goal on one side and Olivia joined us). Since my dad played football in high school and college, it was awesome to have a play-by-play analysis. Coe won, beating Washington University (St. Louis) 10-0.

The day ended with returning to the Clark Alumni House for a Presidential Reception. My dad finally got to meet Dave and Janice McInally. It was awesome to see these two world "collides" so to speak. My dad has heard a lot about the process of finding President McInally and the McInally have heard a lot about my dad so it was neat for them to meet in person.

In general, that was my favorite part of the day: my dad getting to meet the people I interact with, talk to, and care about on campus. This is another one of those days where I see how great my Coe education has been.

Unfortunately, my dad had to head back home for my high school's Homecoming. Nevertheless, it was so so so amazing to see him. I had the best day and this was definitely the best family weekend yet!


Three Years Later, Finally Presenting at Common Hour

Alright, so for my faithful readers from the beginning, do you remember my post in December of 2010 (I know, a while ago!) about going with Heidi to our first Common Hour? (You can click on that link to read that particular blog post).

For those who didn't remember, Common Hour is a weekly event at Coe on Friday afternoons where students, faculty, and staff get together to discuss a chosen topic of the week. When Heidi and I went, we discussed academic rigor. I really enjoyed Common Hour, but for the past couple of years, my clarinet seminar has always met smack dab in the middle of it.

But not this semester. And good thing too because I am not presenting at one, but TWO, yes two, Common Hours. That really shouldn't surprise anyone.

My first Common Hour presentation was on Friday (the 13th). It was a group presentation on the May Term I took to Germany and Poland. Not only did we get to present and share our experiences, we also got to have a mini reunion.

Brian and I made a slideshow for the presentation, so we hung out a few times earlier last week to put it together. While no Scrabble was played (our go-to game during the trip; probably a good thing we didn't play since I would lose despite me being an English major), it was good to see him and catch up a little bit.

Along with Brian and myself, our reunion included Professor Keenan, Ryan, Kallie, and Braydon. We pretty much put up the slideshow and talked about what we did and what we saw. Our slideshow presentation took about 45 minutes and then we had fifteen minutes for questions. The audience (which had grown since my first Common Hour three years ago) asked some really good questions.

I love that Coe has a forum for that sort of sharing and it was so nice to let the audience know that we not only enjoyed our trip, but also learned a lot about World War II, the Holocaust, and frankly, ourselves.

My second Common Hour will be Homecoming weekend. I'm talking about my study abroad experiences, mainly New York Term but also the Lake District and Germany and Poland will naturally be talked about as well.  


Peter Godwin Visits Campus

Does everyone remember the post I did earlier this summer about the summer common reading book for this year's first-years? It was When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that Coe tries to bring in the author of the summer common reading book or, if the author is out of our price range (such as Malcolm Gladwell for my year's Outliers), an author that can speak on the themes of the book.

This year, we were lucky enough to be able to bring Peter Godwin to campus. 

Photo from Coe College's Facebook page
He came on Monday and I had several opportunities to talk with him. Godwin started his day with the first-years, speaking to them about his book during their First Year Seminar class time. I sat in on the speech because I had the hour free and was interested in what he had to say. I was very impressed with our first-years; they asked him a lot of interesting and complex questions relating to the book.

I then got to take Godwin to lunch. Four other students joined us and some of them you know. My summer roommate Hayleigh, my friend and fellow blogger Ryan, Hannah, a peer from my FYS class with Rick Eichhorn three years ago, and Luke, a sophomore CAP leader and Writing Center consultant. It was a good lunch and we definitely didn't just talk about Zimbabwe; Godwin was super interested in Coe and things that are important to us. It was awesome. 

Godwin had some down time, so I took him around campus. It was a sort-of impromptu tour and very easy going. Our final destination was the Writing Center, where we hosted a tea. Lots of people showed up and it seemed that Godwin enjoyed getting to know even more Coe students.

The visit ended with Godwin speaking once more, for our first 2013-2014 Marquis Series event. It was a very interesting talk; kind of going over some of the same stuff he covered in the morning, but also, adding in some new stuff too. 

Once again, another neat opportunity thanks to Coe College. Woot.


A Toasty Saturday in Cedar Rapids

Sorry for the delay in this post, but already it seems the weeks are going by way too fast! Also, this post is dedicated to my sophomore buddy Sam Patterson, who will be making a guest appearance a little later on!

On Saturday, I decided to show my friends some of what they had been missing by not spending the summer in Cedar Rapids. Our route was one I had walked several times this summer: downtown for the Farmer's Market and then to Newbo Market right near the Cedar River.

We had so much fun. It was hot, Cedar Rapids has been quite toasty the past two weeks or so. When we go to the Farmer's Market, it was in full swing. I loved being able to have the inside scoop on where speciality booths were and how to navigate downtown. For me, my big purchase was outside the new Cedar Rapids Public Library. They had a book sale and when you have gently used books for only one dollar, you can't stop me!

We also ran into Dr. Bob, and since we were all Writing Center consultants, a photo had to be taken!

Yes, Dr. Bob is holding a wedge of cheese!

The group took a little break, sitting in Greene Square Park (in between the library and art museum) to eat some food and attempt to escape the hot sun.

Sam with her apple!
  With food in our stomachs, we decided to make our way to Newbo. Lucky for us, Newbo was pretty calm when we got there. The main crowd from the Farmer's Market hadn't made it's way to Newbo yet, so for the first-timers at Newbo, they got to enjoy with not a whole lot of people.

After a little bit in Newbo and our wallets a little lighter, we figured we best head back to Coe. It was a lovely walk back. I love weekends like these because I get to know my peers better. We all share working in the Writing Center and now we have this adventure to remember.

My Saturday ended with a trip to Clark Field to watch our boys' soccer team and then hanging out with friends. Despite the heat, it was still a cool weekend!

Newbo Newbies
Peter enjoying a sandwich 

Laura, Olivia, and Alexis
Olivia and I at Newbo! Woot :)


Week Two: Cedar Rapids Public Library Adventure

It's week two of my senior year and things are moving right along! More classes, more schoolwork, and more time with my Kohawk family.

It's a little surprising how quickly I'm falling into my groove. My schedule is pretty much set and I move efficiently and confidently across campus. I sort of love being a senior!

My big adventure of the week was definitely on Wednesday. After class, myself, Olivia, and Peter all took a trip to the new downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library. It opened at the end of August (during Orientation Week) and we decided it was time for a change of pace.

Let me tell you, THIS LIBRARY IS AWESOME. The three of us probably spent a good chunk of time exploring every aspect of the library. This library is very modern yet functional. There are lots of big, open windows that really help to lighten up the space. There's a cafe on the first floor for coffee beverages (how smart is that!?!?!). The three of us ended up on the second floor patio; we were outside and studying. Not only was it a beautiful day, but also very peaceful to study outside. We had a nice view of the street outside the library and of Green Square Park (right across the street). After a few hours of studying, we made our way to the third floor, which is a rooftop garden complete with chairs to sit on. We sort of wished we had come up there first!

A small photo of the outside of the place. Taken from the Cedar Rapids Public Library website:

It was nice to get off campus and study. There will be plenty more trips to CRPL throughout the rest of the school year; why not take advantage of this beautiful new library?