Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's a Small State, After all

When I woke up to the sound of Sonya’s alarm clock this morning at 6:00 AM, I could not believe that it was already time to start getting ready. I was still exhausted from the early start we had yesterday, and the time change. Even though it was only yesterday that we left El Cerrito High and headed for the airport, it feels like it’s been days.
Sonya, sleepy in the morning

Today we drove into Massachusetts to visit Wellesley College. The drive was long, but we had air conditioning to keep us cool. When we got there, we headed upstairs for an information session.

There we learned that Wellesley is a women’s college that was founded to provide women with more academic opportunities. Today it has over 50 different majors, in which you can double major, or create your own major. I would like to have the option of creating an individualized major, as I am interested in theater, but also International Affairs and Relations, and community service, although I am not sure what major would accommodate these interests.

Anna Young, the Associate Director of Admissions, then informed us about the stereotypes of an all-women school. People tend to believe that the school is either, “a covenant,” or “full of radical feminists.” She proved this presumption wrong by describing the diversity within the school, and how different people, including men, can get involved in the school. Having grown up in a very diverse community, and being biracial myself, diversity is very important to me in a college.

Anna also described the different internships and jobs one could get while attending Wellesley. The Center for Work and Service (CSW) offers different internships to students who attend Wellesley, and provides them with the means and resources to create a resume. There is also an on-campus tutoring center where students can receive help on papers from other students. Some professors even require their students to utilize this service as part of the class. 

In addition, Anna explained that every student at Wellesley, even if they already know what career they want to pursue, is required to dabble in various math and science classes, as well as history and English. “We want you to make sure you are passionate about what you do,” she said. If I attended Wellesley, I think this would frustrate me, as I already know that I am very passionate about film and theater, and that I want to pursue a career out of those interests.

While I agree with the overall message that Anna was trying to get across about women’s capabilities and competence, I don’t understand why that leads to an all-women's school. I think that if it were a school that was a strong advocate for women’s rights, but was still equal to both men and women, I would really like this school. I just don’t think it's right to discriminate people based on something so arbitrary like gender. Similarly, historically black colleges across the country accept a variety of different ethnicities, so how is it fair for a historically women’s college to only accept women?

After the info session, we headed out on a tour of the campus lead by two current students, Elizabeth and Isabella. Each building on campus sits atop of small hills, which was intentional. When the college was created in the 1800s, women were not getting enough exercise, and the founders wanted to familiarize women with exercise by introducing it into their everyday lives, so that when they needed to attend a class, they had to walk up a hill. It was so hot today, that our tour guides didn’t want anyone to faint walking up these hills, so we had to see part of the tour from pictures inside.

We eventually reached the Science Center, which had steps that were created to match the average woman’s steps. I thought that was ingenious! Inside the Science Center, we saw lanterns that were left from when the school was first built.

One of the infamous lanterns

On our way back to the Administration Office, I asked Elizabeth, who is majoring in Theater Studies, a few questions about the theater program at Wellesley. She said that you could write and direct your own show every month, which I thought was amazing. I had never heard of a school that allowed you to do that. They also provide you with the resources to do so, including a costume shop, a black box theater, and most importantly, male actors from MIT, Brandeis and some other schools! Because it is an all-women’s school, there is an annual Shakespeare festival acted by all-female casts. When Elizabeth first introduced me to this idea, I thought, “how can you do Shakespeare without men?” But then I realized that in theater, women are constantly being typecast into roles, and doing Shakespeare with an all-female cast would give women the freedom and independence to appear in roles that they otherwise wouldn’t have even been able to consider.

I liked individual aspects about Wellesley, such as the theater program, but overall, I just don't know if I would fit in there. I feel like an important part of diversity is having an equal ratio of men to women, and in an all-women's school, that just isn't possible.

After visiting Wellesley, we went to a restaurant near campus for lunch. I was starving because we skipped breakfast! The food was really, really delicious, but I couldn’t finish it all—again. Lunch was fun because we all got to hang out and talk together… And it was air-conditioned!
My lunch!
On the way back to the hotel, everyone fell asleep in the car. I think most of us got about four hours of sleep, so we were all really tired.
When we went to dinner to meet the Brown alumni, I was wearing a black dress, so I was worried about the heat, and thought that I was going to get overheated. I was right. Siena, the restaurant at which we ate, had fans, but no air conditioning. I was boiling the whole time!

At dinner we met three graduates from Brown University: Kenya, Hillary, and Travis. 

Kenya, a rising junior who is majoring in Enterprise and Environmental Studies, told us about the study abroad program in which she is participating. I have always wanted to participate in a study abroad program, but they have always been too expensive. I can't wait until college, because I am definitely going to apply to a program in South America or Thailand.

It is a small state...
Travis, in his fifth year at Brown, told us all about the academic, social, dorm and cafeteria lives.

I was surprised to learn that at Brown, minors do not exists; however, you can double major. I think having a minor would be something important to me, although there are many other factors about Brown that are so great, such as the theater program, that would make having a minor insignificant to me. Travis explained that he was staying at Brown for a fifth year because by completing another year of study, he can graduate with both the degrees of Computer Science and Music. If he hadn't stayed for a fifth year, he would only receive one degree, even though he had double majored. His diploma would say he had a Computer Science degree, but only say he, "completed the requirements for a Music degree." I find that somewhat deceiving, because by completing the requirements for both Computer Science and Music, he would have rightfully earned both degrees, and in turn, should receive both.

Travis raved about the cafeteria food, which he said many people dislike. He also mentioned the dorms, and said that during the summer, high schoolers usually stay in is the worst one. "It looks like a jail," Travis said. Hopefully the inside is nicer than the outside.

Travis was seated at the head of the table, with Julia and me on one side, and Michelle and Sonya on the other. We were asking him a bunch of questions about Brown, but apparently it looked like we were all on a date. A woman came over and asked us if we were on an episode of The Bachelor! It was hilarious and embarrassing all at once.

I think Brown will end up being one of my top choices for college, and talking to the Brown alumni really helped solidify my ideas about the school.
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