Postcards

 Posted by at 10:02 pm  1 Response »
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

Apr 142012
 

Christine Wohlforth is the Acting Director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding


Some of the best parts of the Dartmouth experience take place away from Dartmouth. Take Victoria B. ’11, who did an internship in Hanoi, Vietnam with an organization promoting sustainable development in Vietnam two summers ago. By her own admission, she was unprepared for the experience, and struggled to work with no Vietnamese language, living in a dorm with a bunch of westerners and commuting an hour each way to her job. Upon her return, she described the experience as “challenging, exhausting, rewarding, frustrating and scary”. But her internship, supported by the Dickey Center for International Understanding, also gave her the opportunity to try out real research, some of which she incorporated into her senior honors thesis. It also gave her the desire to return to Vietnam. Better prepared to embrace the culture she had only superficially encountered previously, Victoria just completed a Lombard Public Service fellowship working with Save the Children. She took Vietnamese, and practiced this skill interviewing street youth and families living with HIV/AIDS. Victoria is now preparing for a career in public service and advancing her study of Vietnamese. As she says, “Vietnam truly changed my life, and I am grateful for every minute I got to spend in that amazing country.”

Victoria B. '11 with some of the youths she worked with on her Lombard Fellowship in Hanoi.