Feb 242014

After 31 days and 3100 miles journeying about China I’ve finally returned to the capital to resume my Tucker Fellowship. The William Jewett Tucker Foundation offers funded fellowships every term for Dartmouth students who wish to pursue personal growth through service opportunities abroad. I chose to spend my winter term fellowship teaching and developing curricula at Dandelion Middle School in Beijing, the only government-recognized migrant middle school in the entire city. The hukou household registration system was created to limit large-scale migration from rural areas to cities by deeming certain personal rights contingent upon remaining in one’s place of birth, despite the fact that farming in rural areas has become a decreasingly viable means of supporting a family. One such right lost upon moving is access to education, leaving an estimated 20,000,000 migrant children without any source of formal education. Last year several other ’15s created the Dandelion Project, a group on campus that produces learning materials for Dandelion and helps teachers and students learn English via skype. If you’re even marginally interested I highly recommend you look into both the Tucker Foundation and Dandelion Project. Disclaimer: I had a pretty neat picture of the Canton Tower in Guangzhou that would have looked really nice right about here, but my wifi just couldn’t cut the mustard. Sorry, gang.

Now I’ve never been much of a diary or journal guy, but I feel the best way to illustrate life as a teacher at Dandelion is to share a typical day, namely today, February 24th, 2014:

  • 7:00 – wake up, do hygiene things
  • 7:15 – breakfast
  • 7:30 – conduct morning english readings
  • 7:50 – shoot the breeze
  • 8:00 – chinese lessons
  • 9:00 – conduct english class for classes 1-4
  • 12:00 – lunch
  • 12:30 – roam the streets
  • 12:39 – instigate conversation with strangers
  • 12:41 – make terrible mistake*
  • 12:42 – apologize to everyone in the general vicinity, attempt to explain
  • 12:42 – exacerbate situation, scan the area for escape routes
  • 12:44 – briskly walk back to school, take evasive cautions, lots of alleys
  • 12:52 – arrive safely at school
  • 1:00 – conversational comprehension with small group of students
  • 1:40 – read
  • 2:30 – buy mirror to shave patchy beard
  • 2:42 – drop mirror
  • 2:55 – buy mirror to shave patchy beard
  • 3:30 – teacher meeting to prepare lesson plans for unit 1
  • 5:00 – dinner
  • 5:30 – practice chinese
  • 6:30 – conduct evening english readings
  • 7:30 – tutor
  • 8:30 – grade
  • 10:00 – watch house of cards, admire Kevin Spacey
  • 10:02 – lose patience with wifi
  • 10:05 – make tea
  • 10:05 – burn lips
  • 10:10 – help teacher translate several documents
  • 10:30 – write this blog post (so the rest of the timeline is more or less a guess)
  • 11:00 – do hygiene things, shave patchy beard
  • 11:30 – sleep

*If you’re in a foreign land and not completely sure how to say “I want to hold your baby,” it’s probably best to say nothing because telling a parent “I want your baby,” even with the best intentions, is not only frowned upon but apparently just cause for unrefined hostility and beard-related insults from everyone within earshot.

Dec 062012

This post goes out to all the Dartmouth students that are now home for the holidays with this year’s new Academic Calendar extending from Thanksgiving to New Years as well as to the brand new ’17s that are, as of today, part of our Dartmouth family! Congratulations! I am excited to meet the DC- area ’17s at the Dartmouth Club of DC Holiday Party coming up next week.

As I finish up my time at home in DC this fall quarter, I have realized how crazy fast the time has gone by. After having this “real life” job, I am ready to go back and enjoy my time as a student for a little while longer. Although I have learned so much more in these past ten weeks than I could have imagined I would, I also miss my friends, my sorority and my classes that didn’t start until ten and were only a few steps outside my door. Get ready ’17s, for a fantastic college experience, whether you are in Hanover or taking off-terms in cities all over the world, take advantage of all of it! We’re all waiting to see what you’ll do.

Also, say ‘Hi!’ on campus!


Oct 112012

Well, unlike many of the other posts on here, my junior fall at Dartmouth is not actually at Dartmouth! I’m taking the Fall off, courtesy of the D-Plan, and working in Washington, DC. I’m interning at both the Department of State and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, for a total of at least 60 hours a week.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

I’m a DC area native so I’m living at home with my parents and taking the metro every day to commute.

I know, I’m absolutely crazy. I go to State at 8 AM and leave at 4 PM for OPIC and work until at least 8 PM there! Thankfully, all of my friends are at school or the ones in DC are also working weekdays so I get to just come home and eat a home cooked meal before crashing into bed.

So far though, it’s been an awesome experience! Both of the internships are really interesting and I’m learning a lot every day. Most days I’m so busy doing work that I look up and its 7:30 already and I didn’t even notice. I know that if the jobs weren’t as interesting the 12 hour days would be dreadful so I’m thankful they are.

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

I’ve already been able to meet with the Ambassador of Panama, help with a North African entrepreneurship program, assist with multilateral agreements like the TPP and learn about development projects around the world.

The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau I work in is actually a Dartmouth grad and was really excited to have a Dartmouth intern, so it’s just another example of the Big Green network that extends across the world. It’s crazy that I get to take things I learned about in government and economics classes at school and actually see them in action here at State and OPIC, and it helps me realize how lucky I am to be a Dartmouth student and the opportunties off-terms give me. So far, it’s all been so rewarding!

Nov 212011

When I arrived on campus, there were so many clubs and activities I wanted to try. Even though I am in no way qualified for a hip-hop dance group and I don’t really know what Boggle is (yes, there’s a club for that), I eagerly watched as blitz after blitz poured in to my inbox during the early weeks of September. I’d joined the Cheer Team over the summer, but I was looking for a non-athletic campus activity that was totally different than anything I’d done before.

I found what I was looking for in the Great Issues Scholars program, run through Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding. If the title sounds vague, that’s because the program is so broad– we basically learn about the most pressing concerns of people all over the world through speakers, lectures, and discussions. GIS is just for first-years, which is one reason why I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’ve met other students my age whom I might not have met on my floor, in a class, or on a team. To get to know each other, our first event of the term was a retreat!

We left in school buses on Friday afternoon and drove about forty minutes off campus to a beautiful camp in Vermont. We started out with icebreaker games in a barn and then had a delicious dinner in the main lodge. Though I’m still having my honeymoon period with the food here at Dartmouth, the home-cooked meals at this camp were amazing.

Next we got down to the main part of the retreat: a simulation of the conflict going on in the South China Sea. Most of us had never even heard of that region, so we attended a lecture by Dartmouth professors Jenny Lind and Daryl Press, about a week prior to the retreat. At the lecture we were all assigned to different country groups involved in the issue. In the week leading up to the retreat we read news articles with more specifics on our particular country’s motivations and involvement. The simulation was run by Fred Hill, who makes simulations for the U.S. Department of State. We are so spoiled here at Dartmouth.

After a talk from Fred Hill we split into our seperate “countries” and began planning what we would say in conference with each of the other countries the next day. It was a lot of information to take in, but we had been provided with the necessary resources to sort through it. After the meetings we made s’mores in the barn and then headed to bed in the cabins.

Before breakfast the next morning, some other girls and I went on a morning walk around the camp grounds. There was a fresh autumn breeze, and the leaves on the trees were absolutely gorgeous. This part of the country is so stunning in October. As if the natural landscape wasn’t enough, we found a small wooden castle up on a hill! We ran around inside of it and posed on the top like little kids on a playground. That morning was easily one of my happiest moments at Dartmouth so far.

The morning was spent doing teamwork exercises in the woods, and the afternoon was full of diplomatic meetings amongst countries. I have no debate or Model UN background, so I wasn’t really expecting how intense some of the meetings became! I was a representative of the United States; we were trying to support countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia without coming into direct conflict with China. We ran from meeting to meeting, trying to keep up with new developments amongst countries and prevent ourselves from committing to anything too hastily. Even though we’d known next to nothing about the South China Seas conflict only a week before, we still managed to take many different viewpoints into account. We didn’t reach an overarching solution by the end of the afternoon, but I know I still enjoyed playing diplomat for a day. After the concluding summit, we ate another delicious dinner and headed back at campus in time for Saturday evening.

The retreat was such a fun part of my freshman fall. It sort of felt like DOC trips all over again. We’ve had several other GIS events since, and it’s been great catching up with the friends I made during the retreat. I’m so thankful that I’m in GIS this year. I knew next to nothing about international affairs when I came here, so it’s been great to learn a bit about topics as varied as human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan or U.S. policy towards the conflict in the Middle East. I’m already looking forward to the rest of the year with GIS.