Spring at Brown

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and the beautiful weather today (it’s 90 degrees right now!) inspired me.

It’s easy to love Brown when the weather is gorgeous. The sun is shining and there are cherry and magnolia blossoms everywhere. Students carry boxes of take-out from the Ratty and the Vdub and sit on the Main Green and Wriston Quad, chatting with friends and exulting in spring’s long-awaited arrival. Everyone is in a good mood, and the atmosphere of the campus is even more joyful than usual.

But, for some, spring isn’t all about sunning on the grass. Certainly, final exams and papers are approaching too fast for everyone’s liking, but sophomores and seniors have additional stress. Seniors are, of course, almost done with their time at Brown, and nearly all of my friends in the Class of 2010 are sad to leave and anxious about the next step in their lives. That’s an intrinsic part of college almost everywhere. But the sophomore stress is different. At Brown, mid-April (for the Class of 2012 April 14, a week from today) is concentration declaration season.

For some, declaring is easy. I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist since I was four years old, said so when I applied and simply need to have my concentration advisor sign my declaration before it’s official. For me, deciding what I wanted to study was the easy part. For others, they’ve taken amazing classes in so many departments that it’s hard to choose where they want to focus their next and last two years at Brown.

However, there’s so much more to declaring your concentration than picking your concentration. You need map out the next four semesters of classes– what are you taking to fulfill your concentration and when? And, there’s the essay. Why do you want to study this? How do the classes you’re planning to take fulfill Brown’s Liberal Learning Goals of breadth and depth? I spent time over Spring Break mulling these questions, and have returned to Brown better for it. For so long, I’ve been chugging along, fulfilling requirements and taking additional classes when I had space without pausing to contemplate the bigger picture– how are my four (expensive) years at Brown going to mold me? How do I want to leave Brown?

It’s a lot of heady thinking, especially when it’s so nice outside, so I’m going to wrap up. To all the 2014 admits, congratulations! I’ll be doing call-outs at the Admissions Office this evening and tomorrow– maybe I’ll talk to you! For those who received the online version of the proverbial thin envelope: certainly, Brown is an amazing place to be. But it’s not the only place. And for those whose college application process is still to come, keep reading this blog and learning about Brown. Hopefully, our excitement comes through enough that you want to be here too someday.

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National Bound

Yo.

So it’s D-Day right (D for decision)? Those college admission decisions came out today and hundreds of thousands of hearts are being broken right now.

It’s like February 14th, but without the chocolate.

Well, maybe if you’re reading this then you’re one of those lucky ones who doesn’t need chocolate to feel better — that’s what those gaudy acceptance packages are for.

And who am I?
Name: Tim Natividad
Year: 2012
Concentration: 100% (just joking. I’m an Ethnic Studies concentrator. But I do that with 100% concentration too)
Hometown: Amarillo, TX (yeehaw).

Basically, I’m going to use this post to fulfill my rampant penchant for bragging about accomplishments, but I’m going to cleverly disguise this hubris with beautiful reasons for why Brown is the best place I could possibly be at right now (and for you too, you high school Brown-bound senior!).

So I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten involved in the spoken word poetry scene here at Brown.

Question: What’s spoken word?
Answer: Spoken word is more or less a type of performance poetry that emerged as an offshoot of the rap and hip hop movement. The medium uses elements of art, rhythm, and even dance in the performance. Sure, you can find your spoken word all over Youtube and HBO’s Def Jam, but the art originally created itself out of protest, aiming to cry out society’s ills.

at last semester's WORD! show

At Brown we have a group on campus called WORD!, founded in 2005 by Sage Morgan Hubbard who wanted create a public performance space for marginalized voices, specifically, students of color. Every semester the group does a big show with three performances in one weekend and nearly anyone is allowed to perform a piece if they want. As a member of this group I can say that the spoken word community at Brown is thriving. Cool right?

Even cooler is that earlier this semester Brown held it’s first competitive poetry slam on campus. I’m fortunate enough to have been one of the five poets at that slam who have qualified to represent Brown at College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), better known in English as the national college level poetry slam! This year’s CUPSI will be held at Emerson College in Boston, and the four day event will run from April 7-10 (that’s soon. eeek!)

The best thing about this is that for the longest time I’ve always wanted to compete at the national level – in anything! Cupstacking. Nosepicking. Whatever. The fact that the national competition is in slam poetry is even better. Think of it as my chocolate (see what I did there?). Next week will actually only be the second slam I’ve ever competed in so I’m definitely nervous. I’ve only competed in one other slam but I’ve held my own in several spoken word performances (yeah, there’s a bit of a difference. i kind of like to think of slam poetry as the competitive, let’s-put-a-number-on-your-poem/heart-and-compare-it-to-others version of spoken word). Also, at CUPSI every school competes as a team. This means I don’t go on stage and wet my pants all by myself. Instead five of us get to do it together. And if we win, then we do that together too.

a freestyling cypher outside the WORD! show

So how has all this schnazz about competing in nationals worked out at Brown? Beautifully.

The five of us have been working crazy hard, rehearsing and practicing every week, coming up with new pieces and ways to fundraise money so we can pay for everything. A couple weeks ago we put on our own hour-long show in one of the big lecture halls in order to get some dough. We performed a bunch of new stuff we’ve been preparing, some fun raps and performances (complete with ridiculous back up dancers) and some old favorites, most of which we’ll be competing with next week.

The best thing about doing these performances at Brown is that I’m really just having fun with my friends. I remember looking at a full audience the other week during our showcase and feeling amazed at how supportive the student community at Brown is when it comes to arts and performances. This doesn’t just go for spoken word or slam poetry. Theater performances have their large share of attention, and lets just say that List (the arts building) is our twisted, more risky version of the Louvre.

I really can’t wait for nationals next week. I think it’s going to be mind blowing, face-melting, magic-tricks-like-my-uncle-used-to-do. But really, it’s just going to be a road trip with four of my close friends. Plus poetry. Can’t complain there.

That’s all I got! I’ll talk to you all soon.

Lurve,
Tim

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Planning for TWW!

Hello again!

A Fireside Chat with President Ruth Simmons

It’s currently Spring Break for Brown students, but campus is still abuzz with visitors and seniors toiling away at their theses, like me! My thesis, for the Ethnic Studies department, is on the multiracial image in science fiction, fantasy, and horror films from 1985 to 2010 (I have been watching lots of bad movies, and yes, I did see Avatar). I’m also on campus for my job as a Minority Recruitment Intern for the Admission Office — Danni, Chris, and I are the three current interns, and we are busy at work!

The Minority Recruitment Interns help to plan several events throughout the year for prospective students of color, including information sessions, tours, open houses, and call-outs. Currently, we are coordinating this year’s annual Third World Welcome (TWW), a program for accepted students of color in April, held in conjunction with ADOCH (A Day on College Hill, an accepted student program — we pronounce it ‘ay-dock’).

Our TWW/ADOCH tshirt logo -- sweet!

TWW is an overnight experience designed to expose African American, Asian American, Bi/Multiracial, Latina/o, and Native American students to the student of color community at Brown, and to help them make their decision to come here! We’re really excited about the Class of 2014, and we hope that TWW is going to be fantastic; we have a cultural show, student group meet and greet, yummy dinner with faculty/staff, ice cream social, a bunch of panels, and lots of events with current Brown students in the works. It takes a lot of planning, but we have a great team of Admission Officers, volunteers, and Mariam (who organizes everything and is a total lifesaver) whom we work with to make it all happen.

To all of you who have applied to Brown and are waiting to hear back, we wish you the BEST OF LUCK! If you have any questions or comments, please email us at Recruitment_Interns[at]brown.edu (replace the [at] with @).

Natasha Go ’10

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My Fusion Weekend

Fusion Dance Company Annual Show!!!

Wow! It’s been a while since I have told you all what I am up to.  So what do Brown students do outside of going to classes and studying? Well most of us are involved in groups ranging from political to performance based in focus. I myself enjoy performing (I did a  musical last semester) and have been in a dance group called “Fusion” since my freshman year 4 years ago. Fusion was founded in 1983 and has upheld the tradition of being a multiethnic group of men and women who perform a variety of dance styles. What I love about this group is it is student run and all pieces choreographed are done by  students. Everyone can choreograph and there is not a limit to how many pieces you can choreograph. Which means that we are also a motivated and ambitious group of dancers and people in general to take on such a large goal every year. We perform at several gigs and put on an annual show which we just had this weekend.

This year I produced two pieces out of the 18 in the show and performed in eight. Now you may be asking how much time do we spend a week dancing. A staggering 10 hours! However when you think about it thats only 6% of the hours in a week. Still it manages to be a substantial amount of time per week. I think its worth it when I see the amount of growth in my dance vocabulary and abilities over the last four years.  I am also glad to have physical proof of my abilities as a choreographer through my two pieces which while equally beautiful pieces they span two very different dance styles. My first piece is a piece that is inspired from the city I call home…Atlanta. The piece has songs from artists that call atlanta home along with some moves unique to the city. I received a good response to it from people and from the Brown Daily Herald article: http://www.browndailyherald.com/smooth-fusion-at-dance-show-1.2189664 (All Girl Piece). I also created an interlude (small piece with two people) that highlighted the delicate flow of traditional Korean dance. My interest in Korean culture allowed me the motivation to take a Korean dance class while studying abroad in Seoul and I not only wanted others to experience the aesthetically pleasing qualities but I really enjoyed the peacefulness of performing such a piece (it’s zen-like in the kind of feeling it gives).

I loved the show and the process of seeing myself grow as a person in so many ways. Dancing is something I truly love and have worked hard at to be able to perform at the level that I do. As a senior I find myself thinking back to all of the trials and happy times I have spent in that company. My sweat, time, and tears were well worth the benefits I got out of it. I have learned a lot about myself as a person simply through being in the company and its been quite a climb … but up here were I am standing the view is breath-taking.

Until next time I have left photos, an article, and a video clip to keep you all entertained!

Danni

Video Clip (Commercial 2010):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI6E6UO1ags

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An Artsy Weekend

Hey everyone,

My name is Diane, and I am a junior at Brown, concentrating in International Relations, and possibly Public Policy. I was born and raised mostly in Lowell, MA, but my family is Cameroonian; so I’ve spent time there, too. I’m currently a member of the African Students Association, Brown Democrats, Black Council, International Relations Departmental Undergraduate Group, and the African Sun Literary Magazine.

This year, I am also the Vice President of the Undergraduate Council of Students (Brown’s student government), which pretty much means lots of emails and lots of meetings. I’d bet that I spend about as much time working on student government stuff as I have on my schoolwork.

This weekend, I kind of went heavy on the arts. On Friday night, I went to an improv comedy show put on by Brown’s own Starla and Sons. It’s been a few semesters since I’ve managed to go to one of their shows, and I figured, now that I know a couple of the members I should show some support. Imagine a group of quick-thinking, witty, uninhibited college kids running around on a small stage for an hour. It was sixty minutes of straight hilarity. I’d completely forgotten how funny these people are. It was great.

Saturday night, a few friends and I went to see a play in Rites and Reason Theatre, one of the many theatres on campus. The play, called Our Hands are Sore from Praying, is about two young Jamaican men, one raised in the U.S. and the other raised in Jamaica itself, who try to redeem themselves by redeeming their countrymen. I’ve seen a ton of plays in this theatre and I’m always amazed by the talent of the students. Oh yeah… did I mention most of these shows are written, directed, and performed by Brown students? Anyway, it ended up being a pretty fun weekend.

More updates soon.

Diane Mokoro ‘11

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Tours at Brown

I just got back from giving my first official tour! I’m a new tour guide this semester, and just finished training: I shadowed three tours (joining another tour to pick up some tips and tricks from veteran tour guides), co-lead two tours (gave a tour with a veteran guide along for the ride in case I skipped over something) and sat in on an Information Session.

I love being involved with the Bruin Club, which organizes all of the prospective student activities from regularly scheduled tours to ADOCH (A Day on College Hill) and TWW (Third World Welcome), our accepted students days in April. As a fourth semester Brown student, it’s easy to get bogged down in papers and problem sets and due dates, forgetting all the things I love about Brown. Giving tours and doing call-outs to prospective students of color is the best medicine!

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Boricua Introduction

Hey everyone!

My name’s Aida and I’m currently a junior, double-concentrating in Comparative Literature (translation track; English/Spanish) and Gender & Sexuality Studies (though my transcript still says International Relations: Politics, Culture, and Identity track). I’m from Puerto Rico, but this summer I’ll be staying in Providence, which is exciting because I’ve just spent all the past summers back home. Speaking of home, over winter break, my friends and I went hiking in El Yunque, the only rainforest in the U.S. and one of the finalists for the new 7 Wonders of the Natural World. It was AWESOME. The last time I’d visited, I’d hiked, sure, but I hadn’t checked out any of the waterfalls. This time, we hiked higher peaks, spent longer in the forest, and actually went into one of the waterfalls. It was fantastic.

Anyway, this summer I’ll be in good ol’ PVD and I’m searching for  a) sublets and b) jobs and/or internships. I’m looking into various sublets, and I’m sure something will pan out, so it’s the least of my worries for now. Re: jobs, I already sort of have a gig working on translating/revising Getting Bi: Voices from Bisexuals Around the World by Robyn Ochs. I also think I’ll be continuing to volunteer at Progreso Latino in Central Falls (I do translation for a Brown research study about nutrition and eating habits). I was thinking of applying as an intern at The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and/or applying to be a patient escort (assisting 2to1: The Coalition to Preserve Choice at the Women’s Medical Center in helping patients enter the building with the least amount of harassment from protestors).

I should actually get some sort of, y’know, PAYING JOB though. We’ll see how that works out. The cool thing is that Brown offers internship aid for people like me who somehow end up working on stuff that doesn’t pay much, if at all, so I should apply to that ASAP. Brown’s Office of Financial Aid also has a listing of on-campus and certain off-campus jobs throughout the year, and they have a “summer” category, which is very helpful.

And speaking of work/volunteering, as is the custom, I’ll list what groups I’m involved with and what I’m doing with my life right now:

  • 5 classes: (Introduction to Literary Translation; Poetry, Art, and Beauty; Sexual Identity and International Exchange; Fantastic and Existentialist Literatures of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil; & Feminist Theory/Feminist Activism)
  • Chair of SHEEC, the Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council (and, by extension, coordinator for Sex Week 2010, March 14th-March 20th). This is my biggest project. I’m pumped and already stressed. We recently held KinkForAll Providence and co-sponsored “Get Your Heart On: A Sex Educator Showdown.” If you couldn’t tell already, I have a huge passion for sexual health and advocacy work. 😀
  • As far as the Queer Alliance goes, I’m Head Chair of its Coordinating Committee, a member of GenderAction (and thus a member of the Gender Neutral Housing and Bathrooms Committee), and subgroup leader for the Queer Community Committee (which is kind of dead, but…we’re seeing if we can give it life in a new way?). I am also the Brown liaison for the IvyQ conference, an annual inter-Ivy conference for LGBTQ students and their allies. The first one was held this past weekend at UPenn and it was awesome.
  • Member of Zeta Delta Xi, a co-ed fraternity
  • Volunteer at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center (2 hours a week) and the LGBTQ Resource Center (2 hours a week, at least, but usually more)
  • Contributor at GenderAgenda
  • BUAC (Brown Undergraduate Activities Council): Secretary and also the Service, Political, and Social Action Groups Representative
  • Translator at Progreso Latino in Central Falls (I go there once a week, more or less)

In the past, I’ve been involved with: Caribbean Heritage Week, The Giving Tree Project (gift-drive through the Third World Center), CityGirls (a mentoring program), Femsex (the Female Sexuality Workshop), BUAD (Building Understanding Across Differences, an orientation program), The Next Thing (the TWC’s queer group), Our Spring Break (an anti-war initiative/set of marches), Transcending Boundaries Conference, and various other Queer Alliance groups (including Girl’s Night Out and the Dance Committee, which plans SexPowerGod and Starf*ck).

So if any of those things seem interesting to you, let me know! 🙂 I’d love to talk more about them.

For now, I’m signing off. I have to do work, deal with writing my resume, and organize a bunch of things related to IvyQ and Sex Week.

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