Oct 072012

One of the most undervalued opportunities at Dartmouth, I’ve found, are guest lecturers.

In the past two weeks, I got the chance to hear from Joe Biden, Richard L. Bushman, and Zainab Salbi, three individuals whose work has had a positive impact on the world.

I’m sure lots of people heard about the Joe Biden speech–or rather, Jill Biden’s gaffe that left the college-age audience chuckling unapologetically. The link can be found here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IKfH_E-NsFQ

Less well known, was a lecture given by one of my personal heroes, Richard L. Bushman, who is a celebrity within the intellectual Mormon circuit. He talked about Mormonism and American politics, which is of course relevant due to the whole Mitt Romney campaign. Bushman is best known for his meticulously-researched biography of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. I had actually met his wife Claudia at a Mormon feminist retreat the weekend before, so I was not as terrified as I otherwise might have been to go introduce myself after the presentation (normally I’m kind of shy).

One of the most inspiring talks I’ve heard in a long time came from Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International. The story she told about her efforts to start an international organization to help women in war zones was incredibly inspiring and and reminded me why I came to Dartmouth in the first place–because I believed that with the right training and education, I too could make a difference. She offered profound advice–I’m paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of, “Saving the world is not a warrior’s journey. You must get off the horse and put the armor down–the world won’t change out of anger, only out of love.” I left the presentation feeling inspired and able to recommit to my sometimes exhausting service-oriented endeavors.

I’m so grateful that I have such amazing opportunities to listen to the voices of such amazing people who are finding ways of doing good in the world in their respective fields. Presentations like those mentioned above help me to become more and more cognizant of the fact that there are, in fact, plenty of other ways to have a meaningful, service-oriented career that do not, in fact, involve medical school.

Joe Biden visits Dartmouth

Celebrities from a variety of different sectors visit Dartmouth, sharing knowledge and advice with students.

Oct 072012
Autumn at Mink Brook

Changing colors signal the end of summer and the start of fall term chaos.

Compared to the summer term, when many of my extracurricular commitments were dormant for the quarter, there’s a frantic energy that arrives with the new faces and exhausting enthusiasm of the freshman class and the crispening air of autumn breezes. Gone are the days of Sophomore Summer when I could walk through the Collis dining hall and order my post-run smoothie without having to wait in line. However, the constant buzz of energized students really does help me stay motivated. Right now, I’m thrilled about all of the extracurriculars I’m involved in. Even though there’s a secret part of me that senses I might be overcommitted, I’m still enthralled with my commitments in a type of pre-midterms honeymoon phase. Currently, my extracurriculars include:

1)   working as a UGA. This is essentially an RA position, but Dartmouthspeak insists on its own vernacular, and so I am an Undergradudate Advisor instead. I am partly responsible for the well-being of 35 upperclass residents living in Andres, which is part of the East Wheelock housing cluster. My favorite part is organizing events for my residents—yesterday we had a movie night and tomorrow we’ll be going for a short hike.

2)   Students Fighting Hunger. During the summer term I was the organization chair, but luckily I have 3 other co-chairs this term. This organization plans and cooks a community dinner for low-income individuals every Friday evening. My favorite part is when we get to sit down to eat with our regular attendees and chat. It’s a great way to get out of the “Dartmouth bubble” and get to know local residents.

3)   Multi-Faith Council. This group meets once every week (over a free dinner) to discuss a different topic related to faith and spirituality. Some of my most meaningful discussions at Dartmouth have taken place here, listening to my Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Atheist friends, among others, talk about their faith journeys and perspectives.

4)   DCGHSE (Dartmouth Coalition for Global Health and Social Equity). This group meets once per week to discuss current issues relating to global health. Every week there is a different student presentation on a project or experience on a health-related issue and a subsequent discussion. I’ve learned tons regarding issues of sustainable development, HIV/AIDS, microlending, technology and medicine, and healthcare in general. I love that the group is super interdisciplinary—it’s not all pre-meds, by any means.

5)   Project Preservation. This was initially a short-term venture in which I attended weekly training sessions to prepare for a trip to Poland to restore a Jewish cemetery that had been abandoned during the Holocaust. After having an incredible experience there, I am now doing research on the town that we visited, Korczyna, and am trying to piece together a better understanding of the Jewish community in the town preceding the events of the Holocaust.

6)  Fostering Hope. This is a new organization that my friend Alice and I are in the process of organizing, in which we plan to work with local foster youth and spread awareness regarding at-risk youth including orphans and vulnerable children both domestically and abroad.

7) LDSSA (Latter-Day Saint Student Association). As a member of my church community, I’m involved in the social organization of my LDS church group. We meet together for church, Institute—an academic bible study program, and once a week for what we call Family Home Evening—mostly an excuse to hang out and chill for a bit. We also have an intramural soccer team this term—yes, we’re the Stormin’ Mormons. And yes, we got slaughtered by the Matholes. No shame. Well, maybe a little….

8)   I also babysit once per week for a parent support group at DHMC (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center), which is fantastic because I get to escape the library by watching Disney movies and entertaining kids with finger puppets and crayons. :)

So after reading through all of this, I realized this kind of sounds like a resume, which was not my intention AT ALL. While you should realize that there will be plenty of Dartmouth kids who will tell you that LinkedIn is the new Facebook, that’s not really my style. The point I’m trying to make is that there are sooo many incredible opportunities to engage with topics and questions you’re interested in outside class—and even though this sounds cliché, I’m confident that if you open yourself up to the incredible opportunities waiting all around you, you’ll learn more at Dartmouth than you ever imagined, both inside and outside the classroom.

More blog entries to come! I promise!



Apr 182012

Emily Mason-Osann ’11 is the director of the Dartmouth Outing Club’s First-Year Trips Program.

Hi Class of 2016!!!!

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome! First of all, congratulations on making it through the stress (or not) of college applications and decisions, and welcome to Dartmouth!

I’m Emily, although I usually go by Emo, and I’m the Director of DOC First-Year Trips for 2012.  I’m a member of the class of 2011, and just finished my B.E. degree from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering where I studied biochemical engineering.  I enjoy studying proteins, reading in my hammock, and – now – directing DOC Trips.  I’m incredibly excited about all of you coming to Dartmouth in a few months, and I hope you’re excited to go on a DOC Trip when you arrive!

DOC First-Year Trips started 77 years ago when a few upperclassmen invited some first year students to go on a hike before classes started.  Since then the program has grown and improved dramatically.  The program is run by students, including a program directorate, ~55 support crew members, ~300 trip leaders, and countless other student volunteers.  The primary goal of the program is to welcome the entire class of 2016!

We offer many levels of trips from beginner to advanced, and many different types of trips from whitewater kayaking to yoga to hiking.  We hope we have something that will interest each one of you.  Each trip has two upperclassmen leaders, and four to ten new Dartmouth students.   The trips consists of one afternoon and night in Hanover getting to know your group, two nights out exploring New Hampshire, and then one afternoon and night playing and eating at the beautiful Moosilauke Ravine Lodge (which Dartmouth College owns and operates in Warren, NH).  DOC Trips is a great way to have a lot of fun, meet some of your peers, and explore that beautiful area that Dartmouth is lucky enough to reside in.

My freshman year I went on canoeing a canoeing trip with eight other ‘11s, and last year I led a hiking trip across Franconia Ridge with six ‘15s.  I really want to go on our Nature Exploration trip that we offer because I wish I knew more about my surroundings when I’m in the wilderness. And while you will soon receive paperwork regarding registration for DOC Trips, just know that whatever trip you decide to go on – it can be a really fun and exciting experience!

Trips is a wonderful (in my opinion) and unique Dartmouth tradition, that can introduce you to the college, welcome you to the Dartmouth community, provide you with upperclassmen to help you when you need it and a whole lot more.  Everyone’s experience with Trips is different, but we try our very hardest to welcome YOU, whoever you are, wherever you came from, whoever you want to be, to your new home at Dartmouth.

In the upcoming weeks and months (as you count down the days until you arrive), explore our DOC Trips blog, check us out on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and if you ever have any questions – feel free to contact us Our team of volunteers is getting prepped for your arrival now and throughout the summer, so we want you to have the best experience possible this fall!

I’m excited for Trips and for all of you to be here!

See you soon,

Emily (Emo) Mason-Osann ‘11

Mar 292012

Hey guys! First of all CONGRATULATIONS on getting into Dartmouth. Here’s a link to my post to the early decision sixteens. Much of this applies to all of you as well.


Over the next few weeks you guys will be making one of the most important decisions of your life. Many of you might have excellent offers from other colleges as well and are closely looking at every aspect of every college to make sure you make the right decision. I was in the same position exactly a year ago. Today, while writing this post, I am filled with immense happiness and pride for choosing Dartmouth which ended up being the perfect choice for me. Although it’s probably true that Dartmouth may not be for everybody, but trust me, Dartmouth’s versatility and welcoming nature ensures that most people will have the best time of their life at this institution!

So the major question is why should you choose Dartmouth? You’ll probably find thousands of answers to that question. I’ll just add some of my own experiences to that list.

One major thing you’ll always hear about Dartmouth is the focus on undergraduate studies. Trust me that is NO joke! All classes are taught by professors. They also have additional office hours when you can ask them for help or just have a nice chat with them. To see world class professors working extremely hard for you is truly inspirational and you can find that at Dartmouth! This is one of the biggest and most important reasons i’m completely in love with Dartmouth!

Next is the versatility. This is something I’ve talked about in my previous posts. Dartmouth has something for everybody. You meet loads of different kinds of people and all of them have made their place in this wonderful institute. For example, coming from Pakistan my favorite sport has always been Cricket. Coming to the US, I assumed that I probably will not get to play cricket during my time here. However I was in for an amazing surprise when I found out that Dartmouth actually had a cricket club. I get to play cricket every single week here. Many people have had similar experiences with their passions. Sometimes when there actually isn’t an official organization for you, then you can easily create one. Best thing is that you will almost always get both funding from Dartmouth as well as support from peers, administration as well as professors. It’s magnificent!

I’m sure that many of you will already have heard of the amazing study abroad opportunities, the flexible schedule, amazing internships, world class resources, and the millions of other things Dartmouth has to offer. All of these together make Dartmouth a really magical institute. However something that struck me the most was the amount of love students have for this college. People are actually passionate about making it a better place and almost everyone wholeheartedly believes in the greatness of this institution. I’ve also talked about a magical feeling associated with being here in some of my previous posts. The best thing about this feeling is that it keeps increasing over time. As I said, each week brings something new, presents a new challenge, and gives us the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

Overall, I’d just like to say that you guys are a really lucky bunch. Think about your college choices carefully, but speaking from experience I HIGHLY recommend Dartmouth! I am super excited to see you all on campus and I can’t wait to see all of you soon! Make the most of your last few pre-college months!

Feb 222012

As we go through an unusually warm winter this year in Hanover, winter term is nearing it’s end. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, there’s one thing I say each time and I’ll repeat it here, weeks at Dartmouth go by REALLY fast! This is not an understatement, it is simply something we have to adjust to. 8 weeks and 4 midterms later, I confess that winter term has been super busy for me.

Currently I am working on 4 major projects for my writing class. In addition to that is the constant flow of problem sets from my math and physics classes. All of this has resulted in very busy days, sometimes very little sleep, and constant challenges. Trust me when people talk about the huge workload at Dartmouth, they are NOT joking. To all those who think taking 3 classes a term is an easy task, Dartmouth will prove you wrong. We then look for survival strategies that help us cope with the stress that this workload brings. While different things work for different people, what I want to talk about is surviving by keeping intact the connection back home.

When we start of as freshmen at Dartmouth, we’re entering a new world. This world is scary, exciting, different, interesting, stressful, joyful, challenging and magical all at once. But at the same time, we’re also moving away from our previous world. Often this can be tough.  This is especially tough if you’re an international student and home is about 7000 miles, a 30 hour travel and a 10 hour time difference away. Although this new world can be the best thing ever, it sometimes becomes important to keep that connection to your home alive. This can be through your parents, your best friend or anybody who’s been a really important part of your life back home. This connection can often be one of the important ways of making sure you have an awesome Dartmouth experience. At 2 am on some night when your mind is filled with thoughts and you can’t fall asleep, picking up that laptop and typing that email to your parents helps clear your mind. When you have the biggest paper of your term due and you don’t know where to start, instead of stressing out, spending half an hour calling your best friend from back home helps. On so many occasions, that home connection makes your life at Dartmouth even better.

So my advice today, to all my fellow Dartmouth students, to the sixteens, to future prospective students as well as students in other colleges who are reading this post, is to make sure that while exploring the mysteries of your new world and your new home, you don’t lose that vital connection to your old home. Part of what makes Dartmouth magical is the diverse array of places and backgrounds that people come from, and when these people make sure they don’t lose their former identity, their values , and their connections from home, Dartmouth becomes beautiful to a whole new level.

Dec 032011
Changing Colors

What a wild ride it’s been. People told me that ten week terms go by really fast, I never knew it would be THIS fast. I’m done with my finals today and fall 2011 term at Dartmouth has officially ended for me. We’re one twelfth the way there! I think back and I reflect. This term has been the perfect introduction for me to Dartmouth!

It all started off with meeting international upperclassmen as I arrived at Dartmouth late at night in pouring rain. I remember the first glimpse I got of my room and the feeling of excitement that rushed down my spine. It took a night’s sleep to finally comprehend the fact that I had arrived at Dartmouth! Next day, I was greeted by a crowd of people dancing around in front of Robo as upperclassmen dressed in crazy costumes greeted us for our DOC Trips. After spending only a day at Dartmouth, I was taken up to the Dartmouth College grant in the extreme north of New Hampshire for my Nature Photography Trip. Could there have been a better welcome?

Soon we went through a 2 week long orientation, starting with International orientation and then regular orientation. I was thrilled at the opportunities that were available to us here at Dartmouth and was already thinking about the millions of things I planned to do over the next few years. All this was accompanied by more than a thousand new faces around me. The fact that many of these faces would be an important part of my life for the next four years, and some even beyond that was both scary and exciting! After the perfect welcome through DOC trips, orientation provided the perfect kick-start to our time at Dartmouth. Soon we picked our courses for the term and classes began.

The opportunity of being taught by professors who were experts in their field was amazing. Every day I was learning so much and it made me feel proud of myself. We found ourselves coming up with the perfect weekly schedule for ourselves. We found ourselves trying things we had never done before (Which, for me, was playing tennis). We found ourselves being challenged and overcoming those challenges. We found ourselves growing!

Days passed, and soon I was watching my first football game wearing the Dartmouth gear I had recently purchased. It was an amazing experience, especially since we won!

Homecoming finally came with trees changing their colors, and we ran around that huge bonfire that was built to mark an official start to our time at Dartmouth. We were filled with spirit and felt proud of being members of the Best Class Ever in the Best College Ever!

Soon New Hampshire showed its magic with snow in October. In just a few hours, Dartmouth turned into a winter wonderland, and The Green turned completely white! At midnight the entire college came out, and had a massive snowball fight on The Green. We were amazed at how magical this place is!

Before we knew it, finals were right around the corner. We found ourselves turning to our favourite studying spot (which for me was my room), and doing our best to make sure we’re ready for being tested on our previous ten weeks’ worth of work. Many took advantage of the numerous study breaks that were organized throughout campus. A large part of the community came out to The Green yesterday evening and decorated Dartmouth’s huge Christmas tree.

And finally, today my finals ended, and with them so did the term. I repeat, it’s been a wild ride, it’s been the perfect start, and I’m excited about what is to come. Dartmouth feels like a home now, and the people here feel like a family. Adios fall 2011, you’ve treated me well!



Dec 022011

Okay, hopefully there is one person who gets the title of this post. Anybody seen Community? Well then, I’ll just move on. Right now, Dartmouth students are in the midst of reading period. No classes, just straight studying and living in sweatpants. Tomorrow commences the actual finals, and if you’re lucky (unlucky?!) enough you’ll get to see the standard streaking person. So in true procrastination form, I started thinking about my first term here at Dartmouth. It started with DOC trips and the beauty of not showering for five days to Orientation Week where you feverishly made as many friends as you could to Homecoming Night where we ran (supposedly) 115 laps around the bonfire to the first snow before Halloween and so on. It’s been a ride, for sure, but what I have come to love more than anything is the sense of family here at Dartmouth. I work in the financial aid office as an assistant and next term as an intern, and many times I have to help panicking students and parents work through paying for college. Last year, during college applications I remember trying to figure out how to sum up myself in 5 words (I am so sorry if this question is still on a certain college’s application) and the problem of expressing your need to be in a college in approximately 250 words. I wouldn’t give up that stressful time because at the end of the day I ended up at a place where I feel like I’m at home. In the picture above, my church group kidnapped me and drove me to a diner blindfolded where we then played Truth or Dare. It was honestly one of the best days so far, because I was dressed in flair (crazy clothing), with my best friends, driving to an unknown destination and then eating french toast. So, yea. I am stressed sometimes. Newsflash: FINALS ARE STRESSFUL. People can be mean, bigotry still exists but, as fellow bloggers have talked about before, it’s in those special moments at Dartmouth that you know you have people to turn to who are pretty darn close to being family.

Nov 192011

Before I came to Dartmouth, I loved doing theatre – performing, directing or just helping out. I loved being around the stage and I loved the relationships that form in that sort of environment. When I came to Dartmouth, I was worried about fitting into the Theatre scene. The Theatre Department directs one play a term called the mainstage. When I got here, I auditioned for the mainstage performance Breaking E.D.E.N. I was cast in the ensemble and it has been one of the most memorable experiences of my first fall term at Dartmouth.

Photo credit: hop.dartmouth.edu

First of all, it’s been a really great way to meet upperclassman. As a freshman, this can be hard to do because we are grouped together a lot (through trips and various freshman activities). Once we were into ‘Hell Week’ (tech and dress rehearsals) I was spending 5+ hours in the theatre with 25 wonderful people and this – as you can imagine! – means that A LOT of bonding goes on. A typical rehearsal was to arrive at the theatre, a quick briefing from the stage manager and ASMs (assistant Stage managers), then picking up of the show from where we had left off. It was a huge time commitment but one that I don’t regret taking on at all. We wouldn’t always be working and there was a fair amount of down time and I’ve had some of my most interesting conversations during this down time.

Second of all, committing to this show was like a crash course in time management. I was spending every evening in the Bentley (the theatre) during Hell Week and – as fun as it was – it wasn’t an environment conducive to studying, or attempting to do anything productive. So I really had to plan out my time to be able to get assignments in on time. Time management is something that a lot of freshman struggle with and I wasn’t any different but I quickly learnt how necessary it was.

The Theatre Department is such a family here. They are so welcoming and excited about freshman joining and getting involved in shows. There is also so much to do! The DTC (Displaced Theatre Company) is in charge of student productions – mainly plays, the Harlequins is a group for musical theatre and the Rude Mechanicals is the student run Shakespeare group. The Rude Mechanicals is the only groups that requires an audition (and once in the group, you participate in their performances for your four years); the other two groups audition on a show to show basis. E.D.E.N. has allowed me to do so much in just my first term here and I am so excited about doing more with theatre here!

Nov 022011

A few weeks ago, the much awaited homecoming weekend finally arrived. Homecoming was a very special occasion for me. Being an international student, I was unfamiliar with the idea of homecoming and I had been excited about it ever since I first read about it before coming to Dartmouth.  Homecoming, at Dartmouth, is filled with interesting traditions and spirit.

The event starts off by the construction of a huge structure for the bonfire. The best thing was that this construction was done solely by freshmen. The huge wooden structure had ’15 at the top to represent the class year of the freshmen class. It was right on the middle of the green. I remember how I was pumped with excitement for my first homecoming as I went back to my floor after a busy day.

Before the bonfire, we all dressed up in our Dartmouth gear, with glowsticks, and had awesome floor parties. We partied till the parade came to pick us up. I remember standing with my floor when the parade finally came with roars and cheers. Homecoming, for the incoming class at Dartmouth, is supposed to be about proving that we are “The Best Class Ever”, hence everyone cheered the loudest they could. We joined the parade and continued cheering as we picked up freshmen from other clusters and then marched through Hanover right up to the green. A ring of Upperclassmen and Alumni surrounded us as we started circling the huge wooden structure. Pretty soon, the huge structure was set on fire and we took part in one of Dartmouth’s best tradition ever.

Technically, as members of the class of 2015 we were supposed to run 115 laps around the fire. 15 laps were enough for most of us (I ran somewhere between 20-30), but there were many who ran the complete 115 laps showing the world that we are the Best Class Ever! As we ran, lap after lap, the heat got more intense. Many upperclassmen encouraged us from the surroundings, others were not so encouraging. But there was one thing we all felt as we ran around that bonfire. As we set our eyes on that huge structure with our class year ’15 on fire, we were all filled with a sense of pride and happiness at being part of this amazing place. We felt part of the community, we felt joy and excitement of the years to come that we’ll spend at Dartmouth, and indeed, we felt that we had come home.

The rest of the homecoming weekend was filled with all kinds of parties and activities. There was also the homecoming football game on Saturday against Columbia, which we won 37-0! The weekend was one of the best weekends I have ever had! It’s when I think about this, and so many other memories at Dartmouth, that I feel overwhelmed with joy. This place is amazing and I feel thrilled to be a part of Dartmouth’s BEST CLASS EVER!!

Oct 292011

My floor is really close; we eat meals together, go to sports games together, and go to the fraternities together.  My floor consists of people from different races and backgrounds, and I’ve made deep connections with floor-mates who have had totally different upbringings from my own.

Becoming close with my floor-mates has made me realize how lucky I am to be in such a diverse environment.  Dartmouth College brings together the best and brightest from the US and from around the world, and each student brings his or her own story.  It is incumbent upon each student to make relationships with students from different backgrounds.  I’ve come to realize that, without my freshman floor, I wouldn’t have made such a diverse group of friends.  I now see that I have to seek out people who have different backgrounds from my own to broaden my world view.  In my opinion, a core part of learning at Dartmouth occurs outside the classroom through interactions with friends and acquaintances.  To get the most out of the Dartmouth experience, it’s important to meet people of different races, backgrounds, and personalities.  Just as an example, I am planning on participating in cross-cultural dialogue throughout my time at Dartmouth.  In this way, I hope that I’ll get a thorough education–one that is based not only on academic learning but also on personal connections with peers.