Governor Dukakis at Swat

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Swarthmore Class of 1955, gave this year’s Constitution Day talk yesterday. He was an engaging speaker, and it was informative to hear his views on the election, the history of abusing the Constitution during times of “war,” and the Bill of Rights. He apologized for not beating President George Bush in 1988, arguing (only half-jokingly) that if he had, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now. He also shared some entertaining stories about his experiences living in Wharton, venturing into the Ville, and scheming on breaks.

My Room

I moved into my room at Swarthmore on August 24th.  I am living in a spacious single in Dana (campus map).  The vast majority of my stuff is now organized in my room (after being unpacked from my luggage, in storage across campus, shipped, etc.)  Even with all of my clothes, books, boxes, luggage, electronics, and other junk, I have plenty of room.  Pictures:

Window bench
Window bench
Green view
Green view

Ewok Village

Next year, I will be living in Dana. The dorm has a great location, close to classes and directly adjacent to the Crum Woods. Click here for an aerial view.  The large number of trees makes my sister Quinn think it’s an Ewok village.

I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. I’m quite the fan of Ewoks…


Anson at Swarthmore – Third Update

Today is the second day of classes in my second year, but I’ve been on the East Coast for three full weeks now.  Over the summer I worked for an environmental campaign in Orange County. We helped to get Congress to pass a federal renewable energy standard, which will commit the whole country to getting 15% of its electricity from clean sources by 2020. Starting back on August 14th, I served as a Student Resource Person for the TriCollege Institute at Haverford College. I spent a couple of weeks facilitating workshops about diversity for first year students starting at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore.

I moved into my apartment (picture) at Swarthmore on August 26th. The college owns about 15 units in this 12 story apartment building. My roommate from last year, Chris, and I share a room and a bathroom. Things are quiet, the view is green (picture), and my room is only a 15 minute walk to the center of campus.

My mom came out to visit, and we did a bit of sightseeing along the East Coast, especially in Scranton, PA and Boston. She didn’t really like the idea of going down into a coal mine (picture), but once we were down there, it was a pretty neat experience (picture). It was nice to get a bit of downtime before classes started.

I’m taking five courses this semester (schedule). As a Writing Associate, I will be peer reviewing a few papers, especially for the mythology class to which I’m assigned. I also plan to work as an intern in the Intercultural Center, sing again in the church choir, and compete in a couple of debate tournaments. Unfortunately, the dojo that provided senseis for our aikido class here can’t work with us anymore, but I’m taking a lifeguarding class instead that is turning out to be enjoyable. Overall, things will be pretty busy but manageable.

Anson at Swarthmore – Second Update

Things are starting to settle into a nice routine here.  My classes are all going well. I especially enjoy the material we’re covering in Latin, elegies of Propertius. It’s definitely a shift from the epic poetry of the Aeneid I worked on last year, but Propertius is easier to handle in terms of syntax and grammar than Vergil. My sociology of law class has been quite amusing. We meet every Monday for three hours. The Sunday before each class everyone in the class (27 people) turns in a paper about the week’s readings. We then discuss these as a group. Last week we discussed at length social perceptions of canibalism. Today’s class spent the first half debating whether fines for speeding tickets should be a fixed price or fixed as a percentage of income. The second half was then a mock court trial in which we argued whether or not elephants should be allowed in Delaware County. That was quite entertaining, and reminiscent of our endless debates in Mrs. Altieri’s class about the number of elephants Hanibal took across the alps.

On the fun side of things (even more fun than all my classes), I’ve definitely been keeping busy. Aikido is going very well, though it’s a very different style than I’ve trained in for the past four years. We have a rotation of senseis, which is on one hand a bit disconcerting, but on the other hand beneficial because we can work in different areas of expertise. For example, every month we have a weapons training in which we do swordwork for an entire hour. My roomate Chris is on the soccer team, so I’ve been watching a lot of the matches. I’ve joined the debate team, and our first novice tournament is Saturday. We have a great debate program here, and I can decide to go to whichever weekend tournaments I choose (from Virginia Tech to Colgate in Maine) with no obligation and travel expenses paid. I’ve started to go rock climbing with the outdoors club (picture). They scheduled a skydiving excursion for next month. Unfortunately, two people were killed last week at the jump school we were planning to use, so our trip is postponed until we schedule with another academy. I’ve spent plenty of time exploring the woods and arboretum on campus. Everything is so green and beautiful, and there are plenty of paths (picture) to hike along. I have had a couple of close calls with some of the ferocious larger-than-squirrel wildlife in the Crum Woods though (picture). I made my debut with the Trinity Episcopal Church choir, and it’s definitely nice to have a bass section with a couple of other people (I was generally a bit lonely in the St. Mary’s choir back home).

One of the biggest reasons I decided to come to Swarthmore was the overall atmosphere. This has been so perfect for me over the last couple of weeks. Two Fridays ago I went to a Classics Department picnic. Attendees of the simultaneous Math Department barbecue ended up coming over and starting a lengthy debate about how the Romans and Greeks added and subtracted. By the end of it all, we were all drawing figures on the ground. Last Friday, I spent the afternoon watching students slingshot projectiles off of the top of the engineering building (picture). With only 1,400 people on campus, I recognize faces everywhere I go. Swarthmore is such a quaint small town. I’ve found evening runs to the Baskin Robbins on the typical small town main street to be quite enjoyable, for both the frozen dairy goodness and the novelty of being in such a cute small town atmosphere. Two days ago while walking to the library, I ran into a fellow bass in the church choir. He was hanging out with his son and walking their dog on campus, and it was very cool that he recognized me and we had a nice conversation after just one rehearsal. As nice as it is to be in an environment like this, I wanted to get away from the sheltered environment of Irvine, and I have. For the past two weekends I’ve gone into Philadelphia via a 25 minute train ride. I have ventured to Chinatown with James from UPenn (picture) and to the Ben Franklin Parkway with Elaine, who flew down for a visit from Tufts. On my way back from the Ben Franklin Parkway, a bunch of Swatties got on the train after transferring from an Amtrak train from New York. They had been in Central Park for the day for a rally about the genocide in Sudan. I’m planning to start tutoring in Chester, a rough neighborhood neighboring Swarthmore, in a couple of weeks. There are definitely plentiful opportunities to get out of the nice Swarthmore bubble.

The weather has started to turn a bit cool. I came across some yellow and red leaves in the Crum Woods yesterday. I’ve actually worn a sweatshirt the last couple of mornings (along with my shorts and sandals) and it will soon be time to buy some shoes and a jacket. It’s started to set in that I won’t be in California until a couple of days before Christmas, but I am only (admitting to) missing Rashi. This is especially difficult because of the cute black labs, Ali and Bear, that reside in the bookstore and run around campus (movie). I look forward to hearing from everyone!

Anson at Swarthmore – First Update

My last few nights in Irvine were of course spent packing and cleaning up my room. About half of my closet is now cleared out for my mom to use for her work files.  On Saturday, I drove everyone, including Rashi (Picture), to John Wayne airport. My dad and sister went to her soccer game, and my mom flew with me. Our flight for Las Vegas left around 11:00. The Las Vegas airport is one of my least favorite places in the world, and I had about a two hour layover. We then boarded the plane for Philadelphia and pushed back from the gate. The pilots had a slight problem with one of the engine’s alternators, so they pulled us back into the gate for maintenance to look at it. The mechanics gave us the go ahead and we pulled back from the gate again. Sitting on the tarmac, one of the generators stopped working, so the lights and air conditioning went out. It took the pilots about 40 minutes to reset all of the navigation systems after the power went out, during which time we were sitting on the tarmac with no air conditioning. We finally took off about an hour and a half late.

About four hours into the flight, the pilot announced “We’ve been able to make up some time. We’re over Pittsburgh right now and should be landing in Philadelphia in about half an hour.” Literally within two minutes, the cabin lights all turned off and the pilot informed us that we would have to land in Pittsburgh. We got the whole emergency landing experience, complete with fire trucks (Movie). We pulled into a gate, had a mechanic screw on the generator’s oil cap, loaded additional fuel, and took off about an hour and a half later. We finally got to the hotel about 2:00 AM.

In the morning I had breakfast with Elaine and her family, who had been visiting family in Washington, D.C. and were driving up to Tufts in Boston. My mom and I then drove out to Gettysburg to see the exciting electric map presentation (Movie, sped up 8x) and to visit one of her clients. We made back through three hours of heavy rain on the Pennsylvania Turnpike by about 9:00.

I slept in the next morning. My mom then drove me around buying various dorm necessities at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target.

Tuesday was moving day. I picked up the standard keys, ID card, etc. by about 10:00 in the morning, then moved my stuff into my room (Picture). My roommate, from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, had already been in my room for soccer preseason. My mom helped me unpack then left for her return flight. My dorm room has one of the best locations on campus (Map) and is one of the largest doubles available for freshmen (Picture). I then endured an array of introduction and orientation activities, including a blindfolded trust walk (Movie). One of the highlights was picking up my houseplant (Picture) from the arboretum. There were thunderstorms and tornadoes throughout the county, Delaware County (Map), Tuesday night. It has been quite rainy in general, especially with the remains of Hurricane Ernesto passing through. While I’m not quite used to the wet weather, I definitely prefer it to muggy weather.

Registration went extremely well. Everything was done online, so there were no lines involved, and I got all of my first choice classes (Schedule). Classes start Monday, and I’d love to hear from all of you soon!