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Apr 252014

When my brother told my family that he’d been offered a spot in the Dartmouth Class of 2018, I leapt out of my chair and threw myself on the floor, crying like I hadn’t done since I was eleven. For months, he and I had poured hundreds of hours into perfecting his early decision application. While he was hard at work filling up his resume with diverse, Herculean accomplishments, I was in Rome on the Classics FSP, coming home exhausted from 12 hour museum-days and spending all my spare time drafting and re-drafting my Peer Recommendation letter. I love my brother more than anything, and I wanted the very best for him.

He got it.


Prospective 18s: I want the very best for you, too. Right now, or “@now,” as we say down here in the Upper Valley, you’ve got some really sexy choices in front of you. When, lips bit, I sent in my final decision to matriculate to Dartmouth, I did so with the knowledge that I was forever forgoing some terrifically sexy choices myself. I didn’t know what I was getting into. But as a junior who’s only got three more terms on campus ahead of him, I think I know a thing or two.


Through all my time here, I’ve been the victim of heartbreak, hangovers and more homework than you could shake a stick at. But the grass has never, not once, seemed greener on the other side.


I might be the last person you’d expect to lose sleep over the distress and panic I currently feel at the prospect of graduating and leaving Hanover behind. I’m an ultra-snarky, misanthropic kid on financial aid surrounded by men and women who’ve never had less than their heart’s every last desire. I’m an unaffiliated student at a school where frat life is king and a double major in two humanities disciplines when a couple of econ courses could have landed me a six-figure job as soon as I stepped off the graduation stage.


But, nonsense or not, I am that person. At Dartmouth, I’ve had immense freedom to create a personalized experience backed with titanic, inspired force. Tapping into nothing more than the intellect and enthusiasm of my peers, I’ve built two distinct clubs from the ground up. I’ve spent half a year in Europe at a cost to me that could barely fill a FoCo cup. I’ve worked as a research assistant under the generous guidance of the foremost expert in the field I treasure the most.


I’ve made the best, smartest, closest and most affectionate friends of my entire life.


I have also been the indirect beneficiary of all Dartmouth has to offer that doesn’t quite match my own interests. For the past three years, I’ve known that Greek life isn’t for me. To be fair, I heard some fantastic lies about how dudes in certain frats were jerks, or losers, or any number of awful things. But, over time, I’ve found myself upstairs in those same houses, talking to brothers and feeling overwhelmed at how astoundingly nice and kind these supposed toxic villains and agents of evil were, when they had nothing to gain by treating me with complete respect and decency.


Now, you’ve got some truly sexy, daunting choices on your plate. I want you to make the choice that’s best for Dartmouth, but more so, best for you. If your life-policy is to show up and let all the goodness of the world drop into your lap, Dartmouth can be a pleasant home for you. That, however, is a promise that only reaches so far. If, on the other hand, you’re the type that tirelessly seizes the freedom and riches of a community that will pull your ambitions and dreams out of impossible and into reality, choose Dartmouth. Choose it @now.


Emails, Midterms

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Apr 232014

Last week was probably the most traumatizing week I have ever experienced at Dartmouth. It was also the most humanity-affirming.

In short: Tuesday morning I woke up and basically couldn’t stand up straight without feeling like collapsing on the floor. I ended up sleeping through both my x-hours, woke up sometime midday with a violent fever, and made the bright decision of emailing my orgo lab prof to inform that there was no way I could stay standing, let alone for lab. She graciously let me miss lab, and I used up any remaining physical strength to email all my professors about missing their classes on Wednesday and writing a SERIOUSLY desperate email to both my orgo and gov profs about rescheduling my midterms. Seriously, so desperate, “I basically can’t stand without feeling like toppling over…”

Wednesday morning I woke up trying to swallow my spit. It felt like I was swallowing large arrowheads. So Saint Marg (my roommate) called S&S to ask if they could drive me to Dick’s House. The nicest officer in the universe picked me up in front of my dorm building and drove me to the nurse, who told me I had something viral and needed to miss class until I got better. I e-mailed this exciting news update to my orgo prof, who finally excused me from the midterm, and then got a ride back to the dorm by S&S. THANK YOU S&S FOR THE RIDES. I slept all throughout that day, with some brief conscious stints for soup, provided by Saints Esther and Marg. Guardian saints, seriously.

Thursday I got better by sleeping more in my room. Friday I had to make up all my midterms. I am still making up lab. I think I sent about 20 blitzes in the span of two days last week. The amount of work I have to catch up on is…

But life must go on here. Some exciting news! Sugaring season is officially over, I missed the final stage of boiling our basically-syrup-sap and bottling it thanks to that terrible illness that befell me, but apparently we’ll be having a bottle-labeling party soon. I’m psyched cuz the syrups looks GEWD. Here’s a picture from the boil we had going at the campus-wide sugaring event two weeks ago (which was, by the way, loads of fun. Get involved in sugar crew next year!!! Did I already talk about this event?):


Here is something exciting I received that Monday before I was sick:

best care package yet. Biscoff is a drug, basically (but not really, they're cookies, also known as Speculoos cookies)

Biscoff is a drug (but not really, they’re cookies, also known as Speculoos cookies)

Receiving a care package makes you feel so special. Anyone reading this who doesn’t get a care package his/her/ze/zer freshman fall, I will send you something through Hinman. Honestly. It is so uplifting to get mail.

The weather has been getting so beautiful, I went on a run (again, before last Monday) to Balch Hill, here’s a picture of the view of the top:

IMG_0574I maybe got a little lost on the way back down to campus, but after getting into some deer poop patches, I was home free. For those runners out there, there are a plethora of great running trails in the area here, some short, some average, some long, and you can keep up running with a group of people called the Dartmouth Endurance Running Team, DERT for short. You can also get PE credit if you attend enough DERT practices. I found myself to be unfortunately a little too slow for DERT, but I don’t mind because I still can explore trails on my own or with some other friends!

The best adventure of last week, disregarding getting sick, was probably the Friday Night Rock concert! Friday Night Rock is this super campus organization that invites little-known artists to perform at Dartmouth. My freshman year they brought in Marnie Stern, adore her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwZp2gjN4c&feature=kp

recently, Delorean, also amazing: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/18468-delorean-apar/

and last Friday, one of my new favorites, very up and coming, featured on the NPR sampler of the music at SXSW… Mutual Benefit!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imjD7ogpKCs

After they played, I was freaking out about getting the setlist* from them and one of the FNR organizers/booking manager said, “This is FNR. You can just go talk to them, you know.” I’m a total noob so no, I didn’t know, but now I do and you all do too!

Coming up: Sustainability and social justice dinner, Dimensions, maybe dish on my prospies? Kidding, you can all meet them in person when you are ALL 18s at this school.


*setlist currently on my wall of various tokens. Still fangirling. Whadda college win.

Apr 212014

Hey all,
So it’s been a while since my last post and it’s all because of how busy this term has been, but also because of how much fun the Spring that everyone is always outside enjoying the warmth on the Green and in town!

A few weekends ago, I got to attend a bioethics bowl in Chicago, along with three other Dartmouth students. We had prepared for this conference for a few weeks, over spring break, and then headed to Chicago with our cases prepared and ready for debate. Bioethics is an event that happens under the Ethics Institute, which also organizes a lot of cool events and offers an ethics minor (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ethics/). It was a very great learning experience, and being there with many other students from other schools was great fun, too. It’s definitely nice to represent D away at a conference and to get to know fellow students. Finally, a picture of the team in the Windy City is attached.

Happy Spring!


Apr 212014

One of my favorite things about Dartmouth was that I woke up every day thinking that anything could happen before I went to bed that night.  To some extent, that’s still true.  You never know what random interaction is going to lead to a lifelong friendship or what split-second decision is going to lead to the discovery of a new passion.  That said, for the past couple terms, I egregiously overscheduled myself (it’ll happen to you) and my days got a lot more structured.  Not that structure is inherently bad, but I lost the excitement that came with every morning.  Now that I have some more free time, I’ve been trying to recapture that excitement.  It’s been harder than expected though.  People look at you funny when you’re a senior and you ask them “So, what do people do for fun around here?”  Now that I’ve found a place or an identity or whatever, I feel a bit more constrained when I figure out what I’m going to do on a given day.

Which is why we have bucket lists!  Ideas on how to break out of my comfort zone in a convenient list format!  You’ll probably get one freshman year with typical stuff like ‘run around the bonfire’ or ‘have a snowball fight.’  I’ve done 75 or so of the 101, and since it’s an old list, a lot of the rest aren’t really feasible (RIP Lone Pine Tavern).  However, there are still a few that I haven’t done yet, which kind of surprised me.  I’ve never gotten tea in Sanborn, I’ve never gone to open hours at the observatory, I’ve never climbed the Gile Mountain fire tower, and the list goes on.  There might be reasons I haven’t done these yet, (namely that I don’t like tea, I think stargazing is kinda boring, and I’m terrified of heights) but breaking out of my comfort zone might be the point of the list.

Besides, I don’t think that just halfheartedly checking things off the list is really the point.  Remember that movie ‘The Bucket List’ where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson do all that cool stuff before they die?


They enjoyed all the stuff on the bucket lists that they did, but the real point was all the relationships they formed and mended as they were trying to finish their lists were what mattered.  I think that’s why I want to finish my bucket list before the term ends, not entirely because I really want to do stuff that some admissions employee thought constituted the ‘Dartmouth experience’ but because maybe those things will lead me toward my own Dartmouth experience somewhere along the way.



Lastly, I’M SO HAPPY THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ THIS.  THOUGH IT DOES ADD A BIT OF EXTRA PRESSURE WHEN I’M TRYING TO WRITE.  Anyway, feel free to email me at sjd@dartmouth.edu with questions, concerns, Sporcle challenges, or if you want to meet up at Dimensions (5 days away ahhhh!)

Apr 172014

campussunsetskiway sunlightLong blog posts often do not get read at all. But when choosing the college at which you will spend the next four years of your life, I think there are a few incredibly important things to consider. And so, I’ll try to keep this as short as possible.


Some Possible Worries:

1. I don’t drink, and Dartmouth is full of alcohol-fueled animals who drink day in and day out. How can I possibly go to a school with fraternities?!

            Actually, drinking is much more moderate than you have probably been led to believe. Every college likes to brag about how lively its party scene is, as Dartmouth has done, but in recent years that reputation has come back to bite us. In reality, the majority of Dartmouth students do not drink excessively, and fraternities are merely one option of many, on and off campus.

2. I’m worried about being sexually assaulted, and Dartmouth seems like a pretty dangerous place. I even read an article about it!

            Of course, sexual assault is a real problem, like it is on all college campuses. However, spend one night out at Dartmouth and you will see the intimate respect between students against the common enemy of sexual assault. Dartmouth students are, in large part, good people. In light of recent events, the community has become hyper-sensitive, ensuring that we move forward together and against the evil of sexual assault. It is not something to take lightly, and I can assure you that we do not.

            Furthermore, see what the College has done already: http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualassault/

3. I’m not outdoorsy. Dartmouth is in the woods. I don’t want to spend four years foraging in the wilderness for my education.

            While there are a bunch of awesome outdoor opportunities here, the notion that you must be an outdoorsy person to enjoy your Dartmouth experience is simply false. Although Hanover may be surrounded by (beautiful) mountains and woods, the town itself is like any other: we have lots of people, lots of fun things to do, and normally functioning toilets.

4. I’ve just read too much about Dartmouth’s bad side recently. I think it’s probably a safer bet to just go somewhere else.

            There is something profoundly special and beautiful about Dartmouth. While I cannot prove this to you in a blog post, I hope you take it to heart. The College has gotten a lot of flack about various aspects of its culture recently, but it is my favorite place in the world–and countless others share this sentiment. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned, and the experiences I’ve had here are not simply things that I would have gotten anywhere. Dartmouth is special in a sense that I will never be able to adequately convey. Trust me.

Of course, as you may be thinking, I am biased. I am a current Dartmouth student, and I want the incredibly talented accepted students to go to my school. However, I was not always a Dartmouth student. I chose to come here for a reason, and I think that many of those reasons have been tainted and devalued by the media in the two years since I’ve been here. To truly choose the right college for you, you’ll have to look past the exaggerations and outright lies that have been spread about Dartmouth College. Why do I care so much about these exaggerations and lies? Because they are about my Dartmouth–and I want it to be yours, too.

I love this place, and if you have any concerns about why you might not, please email me at alexander.e.libre.16@dartmouth.edu.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus next year, and all the best until then!

- Alex Libre ’16

Apr 152014

In high school, I heard a lot about how nobody really stays involved in religious life when they get to college, and I got a bit worried.  I had been pretty involved in church groups growing up, and I didn’t want to lose that aspect of my life or that sense of community.  As it turns out, there  is ample opportunity to get involved in religious and spiritual life at Dartmouth, and it has been more rewarding than I could have imagined.

In my last post, I mentioned an Alternative Spring Break Trip.  These are programs, now common at many universities, where instead of travelling somewhere different to party on the beach, students travel somewhere different to do community service.  I had no idea that this program existed until I went to an informational meeting freshman fall while trying to impress a girl or something.  I left the meeting with a stack of forms and a vague interest that this might be an interesting way to spend a week.  I ended up applying to an interfaith service trip, “working to serve the homeless population in the San Francisco Bay area and exploring service as a shared value across religious and cultural lines.”  Helped along by my half-Christian, half-Jewish family (I remember describing myself as “a walking interfaith dialogue”), I was accepted to the program and met the rest of the group.


Coming from a pretty homogenous part of the country, it was an eye-opening experience to be able to share experiences and perspectives with such a culturally and religiously diverse group of people while working together with them for a good cause.  I learned a ton about other people’s spiritualities and was able to redefine my own beliefs.  When I got back to campus, I joined the Multi-Faith Conversations discussion group, which brought the same discussions back to campus, and I’ve been coming to meetings ever since.

There’s an amazing degree of religious openness here, which you might not expect from a place with so many educated and opinionated people.  So many people are still looking and searching, trying to redefine what they believe or just trying to understand their friends on a deeper level.  Sometimes, like in my house’s Passover Seder today, they’re just looking to partake an interesting slice of cultural heritage.


Besides, Manischewitz tastes just like Communion wine.

Apr 152014

Freshmen: a delight to behold

All newly freed from the mold

Of those halcyon days

of highschooler haze

Most of them eighteen years old!

Sophomores: they know the rules

Or think they do, surely not tools

Who crush P-Sets all night

The Op-Eds they write

Leave readers in puddles and pools


Juniors: hold terror at bay

Graduation a few terms away!

What will Bridgewater say

Of my resume?

When I drop it on Dartboard today?


Seniors: begin to diverge

Experience emotional surge


“The Green I’ll always abhor”

To each his own method of purge



Apr 132014

After a 13-week period of indoor training, the men and women of Dartmouth Rowing are finally beginning their racing seasons.  This weekend, I travelled with the lightweight squad down to Cambridge, where we would face off with perennial powerhouse Harvard and perennial under-achiever MIT.

Harvard's historic Newell Boathouse. (taken from www.gocrimson.com)

Harvard’s historic Newell Boathouse. (taken from www.gocrimson.com)

The results were as expected.  My boat (the 3V 8+, for those of you who understand such code), beat MIT’s crew handedly, and fell to Harvard’s crew even more handedly.  The race, which took place over a stretch of the Charles River known as “the Basin”, saw relatively kind conditions and flawless logistics.  No delays, no disqualifications, and (thankfully) no last-minute injuries.

The experience of racing at Harvard, however, was unlike any other.

We launched out of Harvard’s historic Newell Boathouse, which, as I should have mentioned before, could be considered a shrine to great rowers, past and present.

Pictures of national-champion crews, flyers from international competition, and acknowledgements of individual achievements cover the aging, wooden walls.  The face of legendary coach Harry Parker looks down from framed portraits on almost every wall.  The few empty spaces tempt the current rowers, as if to encourage them to fill the space with their own historic achievements.

I could have stayed and looked around for hours, but I had business to take care of.  As a Dartmouth rower, it was my goal to try to beat these guys.

The greatest Harvard rowers look down on this training room from three walls, providing motivation for its current inhabitants.

The greatest Harvard rowers look down on this training room from three walls, providing motivation for its current users.

We rigged, rowed, and stowed the boats.  We weighed in on an ancient scale, and went to dinner at the local Cheesecake Factory.  All was going smoothly.

We returned to Newell Boathouse the following morning at 8 AM sharp, dressed and ready to race.  The atmosphere had changed; whereas before I was a guest, an observer, and an admirer of Harvard’s successes, I had now become its antagonist.  The air was charged with all the fire of competition.  It was time to take down the giant.

But despite our bravest efforts, the Harvard Goliaths proved why their very name has become synonymous with success (results available here: http://www.row2k.com/results/resultspage.cfm?UID=6619084&cat=1#.U0rUuV5UHF8).  They swept us in each event, handing the Dartmouth crews our second disappointing loss of the season.

We will not compete against Harvard again until Eastern Sprints, on May 18th.  Until then, I can go back to admiring all that the members of Newell Boathouse have achieved.  I can also guiltlessly encourage anyone who gets the chance to visit this boathouse to do so.  It’s like a functional museum, a factory of Olympic-caliber athletes, and it is certainly worth your time.

Many thanks to Harvard for hosting us so kindly and comfortably, and to MIT and Harvard for making the racing possible.



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Apr 102014

Some people, places, odd bits I’ve found or re-found this term:

1. Campus in the early morning light: I’ve been on this new life plan in which I go to sleep instead of staying up until my eyes burn, and waking up early in the morning to do whatever I need to do. For the past three weeks that’s meant going to the gym around 6:30 AM and getting a small workout in before the start of my day, which has really energized me. This schedule has made me markedly more positive and feel very awake for much more of the day than I usually do. The greatest thing about this routine, though, is that I can walk along the Green when the streets and campus are pretty empty, and there’s this gorgeous orange glow to the whole place. I can order real eggs at Collis (what I consider fake eggs being that pasteurized egg stuff they use for omelets at Collis and Foco) and then do work, sometimes admiring the daily bustle of people getting ready for the day. I love it.

2. Old friends and hopefully new ones: Some oldies have returned from their wonderful off terms doing fabulous things at home or abroad and it’s been SO nice having them back on campus. From an old floormate to my darling LSAers (LSA= language study abroad. LSAers= people who were on my German LSA last summer), to my stand partner in DSO, my life here is so much greater with them than without. Here’s a picture from one of our last Exkursions to the Potsdamer Stadtschloss:

beautiful friends in beautiful place

beautiful friends in a beautiful place

I’ve also been meeting some new people, which has also been really great! I crashed two birthday parties within the last week, meeting friends of friends who are part of different communities on campus. This past Saturday I went contradancing in Montpelier, VT (HIGHLY recommend this activity, like, can we all think about what grinding really accomplishes?) and met some susty folks in the car ride to and back! Susty being short for sustainability, which I didn’t even know because I’m not really one of them, I guess, but I do care about sustainability regardless of whether or not I’m a member of a recognized green group on campus. There are other ways to be environmentally aware, basically through just living your life with that mindset, since we’re all inhabitants on this earth.

3. Places: One Wheelock has continued to be a great place to study in. Look, here’s a mug picture:

IMG_0373I mean, free tea/coffee/hot chocolate/froth after 3 ish? Why would I ever study elsewhere??? Last term a ’17 introduced me to this recently refurbished place in Russell Sage, a dorm which I have been in all of three times in my entire Dartmouth career: IMG_0369There were these funky stove boiler plate sculptures on the walls, along with some obscure mural. It’s a little dark down there, and there was no table when I went, but I’m sure they’ve added more stuff by now. The sofa area was great regardless. ’18s, this place could be just the place for you! Basement of a freshman dorm, how convenient is that?

I also studied in the Hornig Environmental Studies library for the first time. The desk there is HUGE! Been finiding solace at the farm, particularly at the Sugar Shack. I was there late at night last Tuesday with some farm people and sugar crew members, replacing our leaky sap tub. After we finished all our work, we laid down in the snow and looked at the stars. The night sky was so clear and dark, you could see so many of them… It was gorgeous, I really could have fallen asleep there.

4. Good soil: Speaking of farm, lame plant metaphor: I’ve been spreading and digging my roots into opportunities that I think would be rewarding for me in some manner, whether that’s socially, for personal growth, whatever. There’s no guarantee that everything I find will work out for me, but I think it’s good for me to try things out nonetheless! This term I joined America Reads, which is run through the Tucker Foundation here at the school (the Tucker Foundation organizes and offers a lot of social, volunteer, spirituality, etc opportunities). Every Monday I get in a car with three other students (one of the students being also the driver), travel to Samuel Morey Elementary School in Vermont, and read to a new second grader each week. It’s been rewarding so far. I love getting off campus to read with the kids, who have all been really nice to me. I also joined this fairly new Tucker program  called Journey Inwards, Journey Outwards, which is co-led by an old floormate of mine. We had our first discussion last night and I’m already excited for the next meeting. The general theme of the group, to my understanding, is that we turn our inner selves out to the world, make our selves equal. It’s going to be great.

5. Some 18s! It has now been confirmed that one ’18 has read at least one post of mine on this thing, which is extremely flattering. She’s the first ’18 I’ve met, my first Dimensions prospie is coming in tonight, which will make it the fourth time I’ve hosted a prospie at this school! My main aim as a host is to facilitate a prospective’s own experience here, not at all to promote my school. I’ve had a very singular experience here and I don’t aim to misguide by making Dartmouth the Dartmouth that I’ve experienced. I don’t think this school is all good, nor all bad. Again, if you’re here for Dimensions this weekend, the next, or two weekends from now, feel free to contact me: claire.park.16@dartmouth.edu. I’d be more than happy to meet up for a chat! Even if you won’t be here, and you have some questions, I can also address any concerns through e-mail. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I promise honest responses, at least! And to encourage people to speak out, here’s the very last bit of “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde my roommate sent out the first day of spring term:

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive​

Apr 072014

I never went abroad.  I never really got around to filling out the application and engineering takes a lot of time anyway.  I was ok with it though; I like it here.  (It’s like I’m an admissions blogger or something.)  I can deal with the winter, my friends are usually back at Dartmouth, and I don’t speak any foreign languages particularly well.

Sometimes I feel like I missed out.  My friends got to do some pretty incredible stuff.  They’ve gone to France and Argentina and Thailand and South Africa and all over the world.    I have some pretty nice postcards.

That said, postcards have always confused me a bit.  They’re a bit small to say anything besides “Hey!  I’m somewhere unusual right now.  How’s home?  Wish you were here!”  And if the purpose of a postcard is just to advertise that you are somewhere unusual, that just seems unnecessary.  You should probably know the person that you’re sending a postcard to, and they should probably know where you are when you don’t show up to classes for ten weeks.

Then again, maybe postcards are more of a symbol than anything.  Maybe they’re more a way to show your friends that you’re thinking about them than a way to make them be jealous of you.  Maybe they’re a way to commemorate a friendship that endured across distance and time.  Maybe they’re a way to say “I care enough about this person to wish they were here.”

I don’t send a lot of postcards, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t travelled.  I’ve been to the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco through an Alternative Spring Break program and a swanky hotel in Silicon Valley through the Thayer School.  I’ve interned in a cubicle farm in Chicago and danced at a nightclub in Montreal.  Just last weekend I went to Philadelphia for a club track meet. 

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities to travel even without a formal study-abroad program.  I’ve brought back hats and t-shirts and little hotel shampoo bottles and more than a few scars.  Of course, they’re just stand-ins for the memories I’ve made while acquiring them.  And those are a lot more than you can fit on a postcard