Saturday, December 31, 2011

A very merry

I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday season and is excited for 2012 to begin. My Christmas was filled with family, gingerbread, Love Actually, and beautiful decorations. On Christmas Eve we engaged in the typical Italian tradition of eating seven kinds of fish (my mom tells me that this is for the seven sacraments) and watched It's a Wonderful Life, one of my favorite movies. I made a special holiday dispensation to my vegetarianism in order to eat the shrimp, calamari, crab dip flounder, baked clams, scallops and lobster tail. So much fish.

Here I am with my sister, Lauren, before mass on Christmas Eve:

On Christmas day, my family from Burlington came over. My cousins and I had a day of Harry Potter and endless snacking before the feast. After this we left for Long Island to visit both sides of my family. While on Long Island, Lauren and I went running on the beach. This is a change of atmosphere from the snowy mountains of New York and Vermont:

We used to live here! With my sister, Lauren:

Now, everyone should see this. My grandma made my mom drive in crazy Long Island traffic to observe the decorations on this house. They even rented out a radio station that makes the lights dance (I still don't understand how this works).

It was great to see so many members of my family (and the bagels and eggplant parmesan were great too!). I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2012!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Esta es la tesis

The first semester of my senior year has come and gone. I have researched, written, and presented both of my theses. When I go back to Saint Mike's in January I will be a second semester senior. Can someone please tell me what that is about?

Last Monday I presented my Spanish thesis called, Los marginados y sus papeles en el narcotráfico (the marginalized and their roles in the drug trade) to my class and a few other professors. I tried not to be nervous in the days preceding my presentation but in the moments leading up to it my heart was beating furiously. However, when I stood up to speak I was overtaken by how far we had all come together and I was not nervous anymore. Spanish is not a big major at St. Mike's, so it is entirely likely that the same 5 people may be in all of your classes. Here we are and please take note of how much female Spanish majors enjoy scarves:

My friends Sunny and Ari, after presenting. Elated is the word I would use to describe how we felt.

As a class we were allowed to choose our topics based on our outside interests. People presented on literature, music, political economy and culture shock, just to mention a few. Another professor said how interesting it was that our passions were able to come through into our topics. That is how I view my Spanish major, as an additional lens that will allow me to better understand the world, and especially political culture.

Although I researched and wrote a lot this semester, none of it ever seemed too tedious because I enjoyed what I was doing. I hope that everyone can find a field of study that allows for this, because hating what you do definitely seems more exhausting and less rewarding. Here's to finding our passions and being able to live them!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


is how people greet each other in India. In May I am going to Kolkata with ten other great members of the Saint Michael's College community on a service trip to work with the Missionaries of Charity at Mother Teresa's homes, New Hope, New Life Orphanage and the Sabera Foundation. This service trip is one of two international trips run by MOVE, the volunteer organization on campus.

India has been in my head for as long as I can remember. Before freshman seminar when I wrote my Peace and Justice paper on the Indian-Pakistani conflict, before I watched Slumdog Millionaire, and even before I came to Saint Michael’s College I have wanted to go on this service trip. The idea of going on a service India has been in my head for as long as I can remember and I feel as though this is something that I am meant to do.

I am so excited, but it seems so far away. We have to do a lot of fundraising, and the first official event was the international market this week in Alliot, the student center. Along with the group that is going to the Dominican Republic, we sold gifts like scarfs, jewelry and clothing to raise money for the trips. Here are some of the items that we sold:

I strongly believe that every person on this earth deserves dignity and compassion, especially the poor. Mother Teresa based her charities on this idea from Matthew 25:40 “Whatsoever you do for the least of My brothers, that you do unto me.” If I have the ability to help someone else, it is my duty to do so. I am very excited about the prospect of an international service trip. To be able to see a new place through volunteer work seems wonderful. And to be able to share the experience with people dedicated to service is incredible. I am so grateful that I was afforded this opportunity. Happy Friday!

P.S. This is my friend Sunny, who is going to India with me. Her face says, please buy my wares to help the poor, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Progress is possible!

Last fall I studied abroad in Peru and this summer I researched the Millennium Development Goals in Ecuador, so Latin American poverty is a topic that I am very interested in.The United Nations released a study showing that poverty levels in Latin America are falling as a result of government run social programs. The gap between classes is still incredibly large, but there is potential for change and evidence of success. Take two minutes and watch this video that I found on one of my favorite alternative news sources:

Poverty levels fall in Latin America - Americas - Al Jazeera English

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

6 Ways to Relieve Pre-finals Week Stress

1. Rent a movie from the library. They have tons and tons of movies and if the one that you want isn't there, you can put in a request. I recommend this activity with ice cream or popcorn. Very relaxing.

2. Taking a scenic run or going to the gym. The chances are that even if you are completely bogged down by work, you have 40 minutes to exercise and not think about the world of academia. My ten-plus years of magazine reading has taught me that exercising produces endorphins, and endorphins make you happy (thanks Elle Woods).

3. Song break. Singing and dancing to one or two songs can be very inspirational. I recommend anything by Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons or Adele. Bonus points if you run around the room that you are in.

4. Hot chocolate with extra whipped cream from the Knight Stand. Tis' the season and the cold weather is an excuse to delight in this scrumptious beverage. Yum.

5. Watch a television show online. Do it,I know that you want to.

6. Take a nap. Really, I cannot emphasize how important it is to SLEEP when you are tired. If you don't it is all you can think about and you will wake up in a better mood. No one likes a crank, so catch a few zzz's please.

The moral of all of these tips is that resting and taking breaks are important and necessary to your mental well being. Relax! Or as my friend often says: "Keep calm and carry on."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Political theater

Herman Cain, the potential future president of the United States:

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Here is the Huntsman family's response:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Come gather around people wherever you roam...

This week I had the unusual pleasure of attending the Republican Economics debate in New Hampshire at Dartmouth College on Tuesday. But first let me back up. This story starts with 7 AIDS activists, a bus of journalism students and many bagels. On Monday morning all 60 of us (yikes) drove to New Hampshire to go to some of the pre-debate town hall events that the Republican presidential candidates were hosting. To completely understand this story I am going to have to explain an activism tactic called birddogging.

Birddogging is the tactic that activists use to put pressure on politicians to form a policy on a certain issue (in our case, HIV/AIDS). It involves repeatedly questioning the aforementioned politician in varying ways to either illicit a response or to gather media attention. It can end in either a relationship of understanding, or simply mutual annoyance.

First on our agenda was a Jon Huntsman event at a train station in Tilton, NH. We started by having a non-SGACer (Student Global AIDS Campaign) ask Huntsman a question about funding PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) at the same level as under the Bush administration. After two more questions Huntsman admitted that he did not know very much about the issue and promised to look in on it. And here is the best part- HE ACTUALLY DID! After the debate he came to speak to the students and mentioned how important fighting AIDS was. Jon Huntsman- SUCCESS!!

Moving on to Mitt Romney, a more heated albeit less happy tale. We went to a Romney event at a quaint New Hampshire general store along with 5 students that we managed to convince to come with us from the journalism class. Here is Mitt with Mrs. Romney:

Romney did not offer an opportunity to answer questions, so we went to his next event in Hopkinton, a town-hall style gathering. It was here that we met up with the rest of the St. Mikes group and sat down to enjoy watching and participating in the democratic process.

If you want a true picture of how the event went, I suggest watching this video:

Romney did not provide us the responses on HIV/AIDS policies that we would have liked, but the media attention that the issue gathered was well worth it. Check them out:

This trip was great for two reasons- one, SGAC was able to meet and discuss HIV/AIDS with our potential president. But what was even greater was that we could share this experience with people that may not have normally called themselves activists. Until next time, peace and power to the people!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"If you don't do politics, politics will do you." what the French and Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters say. This past Tuesday I attended a dinner with the executive director of Democracy Matters, Joan Mandle and a few other student activists. We talked about student movements, St. Michael's and how we can make a difference in the political arena of the United States. Joan is an extremely intelligent person who teaches sociology at Colgate University in New York. She has experienced things that politically engaged students today only dream today. Joan has marched on Washington with Dr. King and participated with other students during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Incredible stuff.

I just love when Joan said this quote about politics. In the United States, politics can be a dirty word. People don't want to talk about politics at risk of being too controversial. But as this quote suggests, it is such an important part of participating in society. At the most obvious level politics control taxes, the military and social security. But to dig deeper than that is to realize that everything from the food you we eat to the shoes on our feet is political. So, it is only natural that we care about these things.

After dinner we had a meeting with more students about how to organize and attract students to political events on campus. You have to be able to convince your friends to agree with you before you are able to reach out to more people. St. Michael's is an incredibly caring campus with organizations like the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), the Peace & Justice Club, the Food Justice Club, Common Ground (an LGBT alliance group), the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SLAM) and our giant volunteer organization, MOVE. I believe that these excellent groups could work together more to more effectively achieve or goals. The saying, "the more the merrier," holds some truth, especially in this circumstance.

This weekend we are planning an event that will hopefully utilize all of these excellent resources on campus (more to come!).
But for now know that the world is changing fast. Sometimes you can forget that there are people that have some very similar views that you do. In fact, these people may be all around just waiting to be a part of something bigger than yourselves. Peace!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's a wild world

After spending Saturday night in a tent, I can say with good authority that fall is on its way. This weekend I went on an overnight hike with the wonderful wilderness program here at SMC. The offer programs to go on day hikes, rock climbing, sea kayaking and other great activities. During our hike we followed two different trails making a loop that brought us to the summit of Belvidere Mountain. Look at this view:

I had hiked this mountain this summer with my friend and wilderness instructor, Susan, but I wanted the chance to do an overnight before the season is over. Here Susan and I are when we hiked Belvidere in May:

This time I had a much heavier pack on my back, muddier trails because of Irene, and a few great people that I hadn't met before the hike. Our group consisted of six people--two instructors and four participants. For just a few dollars we were provided with the gear we needed but may not have had (sleeping pad, down jacket etc.), three delicious meals (pita pizzas, pancakes and oreos galore) and a great way to take advantage of all that Vermont has to offer.

Part of my group surveying the scene when we reached the peak:

I can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful weekend. Can't you tell we were so excited?

After reading this get outside and enjoy the sun!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Come on Irene

I hope that everyone's school year is off to a wonderful start! Last year this time I was settling into my life in Peru and now I am getting accustomed to calling myself a senior. This means living in a townhouse, no longer eating three meals a day in Alliot, and enjoying everything St. Mike's has to offer. Four of my friends and I are living in a fantastic townhouse on campus and I must admit we are all enjoying ourselves very much.

I love the beginning of the school year. Brand new notebooks, brightly colored pens and the promise of fall make me so happy. This semester I am only taking 12 credits (my two senior seminars and a politics class) because I have started interning in Senator Bernie Sander's office in downtown Burlington. I take the CCTA bus there and back three days a week. With your St. Mike's ID the bus is free and the often chaotic parking situation is not an issue.

Anyways, I work 13 hours a week at the office where I read through Vermont newspapers, file papers and learn what government in action really looks like. I think people forget that government is more than just Washington politics and CNN coverage, it is about trying to help as many people as possible with the resources available.

As you all probably know, Tropical storm Irene has sent Vermont into a state of disaster. Besides heavy rain the Burlington area was largely spared. However, most of Vermont was hit hard and there are people all over the state in need of food, shelter and other necessities. The senator's office has been hectic since I've started working and I was even sent to volunteer answering phones for FEMA one day. FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and they coordinate widespread disaster relief. I was surprised to learn that they run out of two Winnebagos near the Burlington waterfront. Just another example of government functioning outside of the capitol.

Through my readings of VT newspapers I have become aware of people helping each other out all over the state. Women making solidarity T-shirts, Shaw's made a grocery store out of a tent, Phish is hosting a benefit concert and high schools all over are raising money to help those in need. The generosity of the human spirit can be truly impressive.

I have to get ready to go to class, but I just wanted to relay some of what has been happening here in Colchester, VT at the beginning of a new year. Be well and finish up those summer peaches, it's almost apple time!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You are what you eat

The elementary school saying is true. For me, this summer has been very educational on the food front. I finally watched Food Inc, I read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, bought great vegetarian cookbooks and I am going to be the proud owner of a farmshare in the fall. Many people that I have interacted with lately could probably tell you two things about me:

One: I LOVE food blogs. Seriously. Since I don't discriminate, cooking and baking have been equally enchanting for me this summer. But is the fuel to my obsession's fire.

Two: I have recently (a few months ago) stopped eating meat. I will not call myself a vegetarian because it is a very political term and many omnivores have alarmingly picky views about what can be considered a truly meat free person. Not that this annoys me at all (does sarcasm translate on blogs).

With all this being said, I decided to share one of my sans meat meals with you all in an attempt to emulate my idols:

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches (adapted from Whole Living magazine)
1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 small summer squashes, grated
1 small red onion, diced
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 whole wheat pitas
1 cup low-fat Greak yogurt
8 leaves of lettuce

1. Mash garbanzo beans in a bowl until smooth. Stir in breadcrumbs, summer squash, onion, egg and salt. Form into eight patties.

2. Sauté patties in oil until golden, 3 minutes per side.

3. Halve pitas and stuff with patties, yogurt and lettuce. 4. Enjoy!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'll be fine once I get it

Before I write about our grand conclusions or where to go with my research, I thought that I would take a brief digression into happiness. When I was in Ecuador I wrote about the things I that made me happy there. The Pursuit of Happiness, Ecuadorian style included: banana milkshakes, bus rides that are long but actually feel short, speaking Spanish, bathrooms with toilet paper, being so dirty that you forget clean, conversations with strangers about politics, dangling my feet off a canoe, well maintained parks, only using the internet once a day, the rainforest, fried eggs and the list goes for two pages.

A few weeks ago I finished reading a great book lent to me by a a great friend, The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. Weiner, a former foreign correspondent, visits ten countries in order to observe what does and does not make people happy. His travels take him from Switzerland, where orderliness is happiness, to Bhutan where happiness is a domestic policy, to Moldova where unhappiness is rampant. Weiner's observations tend to be a bit general because of the brevity of his visits, but he raises important points about the real impact of culture on all of our lives. He very aptly states that "Culture is the sea we swim in- so pervasive, so all-consuming that we fail to notice its existence until we step out of it."

Thinking about culture and happiness, I am trying to decide what it is that makes people in this country happy. Do the things we want make us as happy as we think? According to mainstream American culture, food, shopping, professional sports, resort vacations and good reality television make us happy. Is this true? Do these things really make us happy? The list I made on a park bench in Ecuador does not look anything like this, and I have a feeling that there are many others out there whose lists would correlate. So here is a challenge, start taking note of the things that make you happy, however silly and insignificant they sound. Coffee in the morning, running at night, or calling a friend. Anything.

Thank you for indulging me in this detour. I am going to make blueberry pie, which I want and will coincidentally make me happy (I think).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The perfect space

It is so hot outside right now that I can't help but be reminded of a month ago, when I was in the Amazon. To continue from where I left off, we were in Nuevo Rocafuerte, ready to embark on our three day camping trip in Yasuni National Park. Following the beautiful sunset and a dinner of rice and beans, our bags were packed and spirits were high. Jerry, Drisk and I loaded up Juan Carlos' motorized canoe and set off for a two and a half hour ride even further into the Amazon. Here were are on the boat:

Along the way we spotted a rare species of pink freshwater dolphins and saw the border of Peru at an even closer range. After studying there during the fall semester it was strange to see Peru from the other side.

After a gloriously breezy ride we arrived at our first encampment. We set our tents up beneath a canopy of leaves and readied ourselves for some adventure. And let me say that adventure, it came and took us by force. We hiked, canoed, and swam our way through the some of the most exciting few days that I can recall.

Recreational activities aside, we came to Yasuni with a research objective. In 2008, Ecuador was the first country to declare the unalienable rights of nature. Therefore, maintaining the preservation of Yasuni National Park is a crucial part of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The ecological diversity within the park is unparalleled and because of it Yasuni was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989. Inside this area live many indigenous groups, some whom have never contacted the outside world.

However, this sacred place is threatened by the natural resources that lie beneath its surfaces, namely oil. In 2007 the Ecuadorian government created the ITT Initiative, which claims to leave Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields untapped in exchange for compensation from the international community for lost revenue. If exploited, the indigenous rights and the unalienable rights of nature will be seriously jeopardized.

With this knowledge, the ever-fearless team Ecuador wanted to see what the effects of the oil exploration process were on this piece of jungle. So after our two canoe rides we hiked an hour and trekked through waist-deep water to find the oil reservoirs. Look at us go:

And after our exploring, this is what we found on the other side (its the Ishpingo of ITT):

I am still not completely sure what to call this structure, but I think oil valve is the most accurate. I am still in awe of how it came out of nowhere, distracting us from the incredible greenery around it. Poking at its base with a stick released the oil fumes. So it was easy to imagine how building a pipeline from it would be extremely dangerous for the surrounding communities. If used, Ecuador would benefit economically, but not for long. Definitely not long enough to make up for the damage it would cause to the environment. Many people we met, even our guide, believe the current administration of Ecuador WILL break the ITT initiative and drill for oil. Only time will tell, but for the sake of Ecuador and the importance of biodiversity everywhere I sincerely hope that they do not.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The end where I begin

I'm back in the United States, back in New York, in my house (and to be even more exact, my bedroom). A lot has happened since I left here four weeks ago. I have traveled to Ecuador, met with UN agencies, explored Yasuni National Park in the Amazon and swam in the Pacific Ocean. With all this being said, I am a bit overwhelmed by the recapping process but I will try to make some sense of it for you all.

I arrived in Quito, the capital of Ecuador one month ago today. It looks alarmingly like Cusco, an Andean city in Peru that I studied abroad in, so I felt immediately at ease. Our first meetings was with the HIV/AIDS division of UNESCO, which corresponds with Goal 6 of the MDGs. I learned that HIV, although extremely rare with a prevalence rate of 0.08, is highly stigmatized and most common in the mobile workers in the coastal zone. The women that Drisk, Jerry and I met with were extremely intelligent and dedicated to educating Ecuador's youth about HIV transmission and how to prevent the virus.

After 3 days in Quito we moved on to Tena, a charming jungle city. We ate grilled corn and plantains every night of our stay and purchased a knife to enjoy the fresh pineapple that was everywhere. Here is the merging of two rivers in Tena:

There wasn't a whole lot of research to do in Tena (the rafting, caving and kayaking that tempted us is another story) so we moved on to Coca. Coca is known for its petroleros, oil workers that move in and out of the city. From here we met with Irma, my absolute favorite person at the Información Turistica, who led us to Juan Carlos and into the Amazon.

A few phone calls and a 10 hour motorized canoe ride later, we arrived in Nuevo Rocafuerte, which rests on the border of Ecuador and Peru. Nuevo Rocafuerte has ZERO cars and only two motorcycles. Men sitting with monkeys are a common sight and there were more stars there than I have ever seen before. Upon our arrival, our trusty jungle guide, Juan Carlos, wanted us to climb this tower:

To see this sunset:

And here is team Ecuador, happy to be off a canoe and watching the sky:

That is all for now, part 2 through a million to come!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Qué tal, a rundown on the MDGs

I know its been a WHILE since I have last posted and so many things have happened. I had a wonderful two weeks in Burlington filled with Maple creemees, biking and friends. Then I headed home for 3 short days to prepare for my trip to Ecuador. Well it´s been two and a half weeks and I am here, in the coastal port city of Guayaquil.

Since I cannot upload my pictures to share, I thought that a brief description of those lovely goals the United Nations calls the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would be fitting. Between the group of people that I work with (including professor, awesome fellow blogger and hiker extraordinare, Trish Siplon) the term MDGs is thrown around a lot. For those of you readers who are not entirely familiar with the objectives that the UN would like the developing world to accomplish by 2015, this is how they break down:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Accomplishing these goals would signal the beginning of the end of worldwide poverty. In a perfect world these objectives would be attainable through the work of government and non-state actors. However, this is not the case and there are considerable roadblocks that are inhibiting progress. If you would like more information about how the targets and indicators for these goals, check out the UN´s MDG website: That´s all for now, I can´t wait to share with all of you what it is exactly that I have been working on. Stay cool!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Climb every mountain

Happy almost summer!! A few days ago I went on my first hike of the summer. For those of us who live in the northeast, we know what everyday rain and thunderstorms for the past two weeks feels like. It feels gloomy and wet. Sunday was a decent weather day, and I have been experiencing the trail-itch for months now, so it was time for a hike. After packing my usual PB & J, plenty of water and a camera off my sister and I went.

Ever since I was little my family has been hiking, camping, kayaking and exploring the great outdoors. I am fortunate to live in the Adirondacks, where the hiking is virtually endless. The Adirondacks do not form a connected range like the Rockies, instead there are over one hundred summits scattered in one region. With less than an hour's drive I am able to climb the area's 46 peaks (they are over 4,000 ft in elevation). They take upwards of six hours to complete, but they are well worth the effort.

My sister, Lauren, and I hiked Ampersand Mountain, which is not a high peak, but is a decent hike. It is 3352 ft in elevation and about a five and half mile hike. Sunday was a foggy day, but the view from the top was beautiful.

Here we are at the top:

I am so happy that I FINALLY was able to go hiking, and it was great to spend time with my sister. I don't think there is a better feeling than sitting at the summit and enjoying the views. It is just the best. Now I must finish packing to go live in Burlington for a few weeks and then after that is Ecuador!! Here's to hoping that everyone's summer is filled with outdoor adventures!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Wrap in Alliot!!

I think we all know that no dining hall can compete with food from the comforts of our own homes. At school the food is mass produced, you eat with at least 200 other students, and more often than not the meal is rushed. However, there are some dining hall favorites that can make even the weariest student forget that mom didn't make their meal.

1. The infamous BUFFALO CHICKEN WRAP- Just this morning close friend and fellow blogger, Michaela, texted me to say that we absolutely must go to lunch to enjoy this classic. It's delicious, trust me.

2. Banana Bread- Even as a banana bread connoisseur I find the Alliot version delectable. Especially with chocolate chips. You have to get it while its hot, because in 20 minutes it may be gone.

3. Scrambled with (cheese)- Some mornings I wake up with an awful craving for scrambled eggs. I wake up, stumble over to Alliot and walk up to the egg counter and the day is instantly better. I promise.

4. Vegan Mac and Cheese/Vegan Chili- My friend Ari thinks that these options are the cat's meow. Every night for dinner there are special options for all of the vegans amongst us. The falafels are good too.

5. Granola- Alliot makes their own granola, which I find impressive. I'm not sure what exactly they put in this magical cereal treat, but whatever it is, it sure does taste good.

This post has made me hungry! I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys their meals today, it really does improve your outlook on life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Summer, Kind of Wonderful

The grass is green and the sun is undeniable. There are less than three weeks left in the second semester of my junior year. I am finding this very hard believe, but what I find even more unbelievable is that in less than two months I will be boarding a plane to Ecuador. I will be conducting research about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals there with another student. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are the UN's attempt to combat some of the world's biggest problems like hunger, poverty, gender inequality and HIV/AIDS by 2015. There are eight MDGs, and some have had greater success than others.

We received a Provost Grant from St. Michael's that will allow us to research the effectiveness of these goals in much greater depth. The Provost Grants were created a few years ago in order to give students and professors an outlet for conducting research together. Students, with help from their professors, can apply for these summer grants in March. Examples of Provost-grant funded research varies from studying water scarcity in Jordan to the circulatory systems of North American leeches.

With the help of my professor, friend and fellow blogger, Trish Siplon, Jerry and I have begun the planning process for Ecuador. Our tickets have been bought, and I will be headed back to the southern hemisphere on June 13! First off, I am looking forward to being able to spend a few more weeks in Burlington, doing some pre-research before leaving. And then I will be back in South America, eating mangoes and close to the Andes. I am so grateful to have this amazing opportunity to independently research the things that I think are important (and to be paid for it!).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Showing up for the shut down

On Thursday 55 members of the St. Michael's College community (myself included) left the lofty mountains of Vermont to protest in front of the state department in Washington D.C. Joined by some of Burlington's Congolese community, we held signs advocating for increased attention to the violent conflict in the Congo. Some of the signs read, "Peace in the Congo," and one of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The Burlington Free Press covered the Dear Hillary for the Congo event. Here is a photo of the rally taken from fellow blogger Trish Siplon:

Here I am with Alexsis and Sam, fellow SGACers:

Besides the rally, some members of the Student Global AIDS Campaign were in Washington to lobby on behalf of global health funding. Eight of us met with staff members representing Senator Patrick Leahy (VT, and a graduate of St. Michael's College), Senator John Kerry (MA), Senator Susan Collins (ME), and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH). During these meetings we discussed the importance of global health initiatives that would fight world AIDS.

However, we were told that global AIDS was not really a priority at that moment. That is because Friday April 8th was an especially strange day to be in the capital. Congressmen and women were trying to come to an agreement on 2011 fiscal year budget. All major news channels were warning of a complete government shutdown, and there we were, sitting amidst the decision making. Just a few of the ramifications of a government shutdown include- the closing of the Social Security office, tax refund would be delayed, passports would not be expedited, and National Parks and the Smithsonian museums would close. The last time this happened was in 1995.

Every open door in the Senate buildings showed meetings that were in progress. Staffers appeared frazzled while watching CNN reiterate what they already knew. Fortunately, the government shutdown was averted, at least for this week. We will see what happens on Wednesday, when the new-new deadline comes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No Spain, No Gain

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of my oldest friends in Spain. I bought my tickets months ago and I had been looking forward to this trip ever since I returned home from Peru. Rachel lives in Santiago de Compostela, a beautiful city in Galicia, in the northwest. Here we are:

I had the chance to visit a cathedral that houses James, the apostle of Christ. If that's not an indication of how old it is, the last renovation this cathedral underwent happened ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO.

I was in Santiago for seven short days. Within this time I hiked, took a day trip to Finisterra (people used to think this was the end of the world!), ate delicious seafood (octupus and mussels), played apples to apples with Rachel's international friends, and had some chocolate with churros. In all, it was a wonderful trip and it meant a lot to me to visit Spain, the motherland of my favorite language.

Going to Spain, Central America (Nicaragua) and studying in Peru have all been vastly different experiences. I tried picturing myself studying in Santiago, living how Rachel was in an apartment with Spanish speakers. I just couldn't picture it because of its stark difference from my experience. While I would inevitably enjoy the Spanish life, I don't think that I would have learned as much about myself by living there.

I know that I am very young, but I still think that it is important to reflect on the things that I have done. Going to Spain was the best thing that I could have done. It was amazing to reconnect with Rachel and validate my time in Peru. Even though it was never easy, I know that I made the right choice by studying there. I hope that all of you can look back on your lives and pinpoint certain actions that you know you did right by. It really is a great feeling.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Day in the Life

I know it's been a while since I've last written, but I thought I would write about what an average student (me) does during one day at Saint Michael's College.

8:00- Wake up and have breakfast with a friend. Scrambled eggs with cheese in Alliot are the best!
9:30-Go to the gym where I see at least three of my friends at any given times. There are new treadmills that make indoor running a lot more fun.
11:30- Early lunch with my dad (he came for the day) at the Penny Cluse Cafe, a Burlington favorite.
1:00- Principles of Microeconomics, where I learned how to measure satisfaction (it's in utils, if you were wondering).
2:30- Global AIDS Pandemic also known as my favorite class.
4:15-Hang out in Alliot with my friends for an early dinner snack. Tonight there was live music to celebrate Mardi Gras.
7:00-Student Association, where an on campus organization, Fix it With Five presented. Fix it With Five takes $5 from every student's activity fee, which together makes $10,000, and this money is donated to a charity. However, the charities have to present and express why they deserve the money.
8:00- GLEE. Enough said.
9:00- Write a blog post in order to procrastinate the studying process.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thank you for the music

As those who know me are aware, I am quite the music snob. I think that Bob Dylan should be revered, along with Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire and the Avett Brothers (did anyone watch the Grammy's? INCREDIBLE!). I prefer live music and the lyrics have to be good. With this being said, going to college oh so close to Burlington, Vermont has been a great life choice. Plattsburgh, New York doesn't get so many concerts and I live an hour away, making Burlington my concert mecca. Here I have seen the aforementioned Bob Dylan, the Swell Season, and Matt Costa. They were all great shows.

I am also fortunate because St. Michael's puts on a lovely concert for us hardworking students every spring. In the fall everyone votes for an artist and our Student Association is in charge of finalizing plans. I am so happy to say that this year Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are coming. I don't know how many of you are familiar with their music but they are wonderful. Watch this:

Great, right? Grace is a Vermont native so there is much excitement about her coming. So, to sum up, if you are looking for good music, Burlington is the place to come!! Stay warm!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Such is the way of the world

Hello, I hope that the second month of the new year is off to a good start. It has been two and a half months since I have been in my favorite place, the Amazon jungle. So, because I have been missing the vibrant green and unbearable humidity I looked for solace in ABC's new show, Off the Map. It is about three American doctors who go to the Amazon to practice medicine. As an avid and semi-fanatic watcher of Grey's Anatomy, I had high expectations for this show by the same creator. This was the first mistake.

The series starts with a cab labeled "jungle taxi," pulling into the clinic. One, there aren't any taxis in the jungle. Two, if there were the side door would not have English writing on it. But this is only the first annoyance. The three new doctors who knew they were going to Latin America don't speak Spanish but believe that they will save everybody. The doctors use coconuts for IVs. Now, I don't know if this is possible but I can just imagine what Americans will now think about medicine in South America. And most annoying of all the female characters were very short shorts and tank tops. They would all have malaria and sunburns in an instant.

It's a weird feeling to see and hear incorrect things about a place you have lived in. When I was in the jungle, two times and in three different places, my experience was very different. Indigenous people weren't injured from hangliding or falling into a river only to be hit by a falling boulder. I know that television shows are never very realistic but this is just perpetuating stereotypes that people have about natives.

So to conclude, don't believe everything you see on television, especially when it is a medical drama based in the Amazon jungle. Oh and by the way, the show is filmed in Hawaii. It makes a lot of sense to me too.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Who'll stop the rain

Greetings!! I have been back at St. Michael's for two weeks now and I am starting my third week of classes today. I think that I am finally back in the general swing of things, and I wanted to tell you all about the Student Global AIDS Campaign conference that I went to this past weekend. The Student Global AIDS Campaign (or SGAC) is dedicated to fighting and preventing global HIV/AIDS. Held at Harvard, more than eighty students attended the two day conference, ten from St. Michael's. Cambridge is a beautiful area and I was more than happy to make the trip. We took down one van and my professor and fellow SMC Blogger, Trish Siplon, drove.

At the conference we learned ways to build power, about strategizing and how to recruit more SGAC members. It was so exciting to be around so many students from big name universities who care about the same issues as us. What was even more great is that even amongst schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Darmouth, St. Michael's is looked at as one of the most active and successful SGAC chapters in the United States. I feel honored to be a part of this group and so proud of all of the hardworking students that earned St. Michael's that title.

I learned more about global AIDS and the specific numbers that activists are looking for in President Obama's budget, which comes out next week. Global AIDS funding is going to be cut and the many people worldwide who depend on this money are going to suffer. There are many players in this battle and the stakes are extremely high. If you want to learn more about HIV/Aids this website is an excellent resource: . Thanks for listening, I hope that everyone can find a cause that they are passionate about and others who agree!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Long as I can see the light.

Hello and happy 2011!! I have been dreading writing this post, which is probably obvious because it has been almost a month since I have last written from the Miami airport. In these three weeks I have gone to the great NYC to see Jersey Boys with my friend, Eileen. Christmas has come and gone and I have even managed to catch up with friends from home and my best friends from St. Michael's.

It's strange that study abroad has been over for more than three weeks and I miss it. I miss the mountains in Cusco and the rainforest filled with delicious mangoes. I accidentally speak Spanish to people more times than I would like to admit. Hot showers are almost too good to be true and the strongest feelings of culture shock came to me in Hallmark. A whole store devoted to cards just seems silly to me now. I miss the people that I lived with for almost four months and it's weird that I can't see them everyday. It feels like summer vacations without the reassurance that this experience will be recreated in four months. So, I guess it's harder than I am used to.

In order to deal with these things I have been making a lot of lists of things that I want to do in 2011. I am pretty happy with 2010, the whole live-in-Peru-thing for four months made it pretty unique. Since it would be quite difficult to study abroad again some things that I have been planning to include hiking more, learning to knit, running a half marathon, and perhaps visiting my friend who is studying in Spain. Who knows? It's a new year, anything is possible.