Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Classses

Hell hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, but we just started our semester last week, so I’ve been inspired to write again. I’m really excited about all of my classes this semester; I’m taking Educational Psychology, Language and Culture, and Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa. A typical course load here is 4 classes, so then for my fourth class I’m taking two “half” classes, if you will. I’m taking Physical Fitness this half of the semester, and then Yoga the second half of the semester. Ah, the perks of being a second-semester junior… I get to take Yoga! Yoga is a very popular class here, so usually by the time sophomores of freshman get to register, the juniors and seniors have filled up that class.

I’m an anthropology major, so I’m really excited about the Language and the Africa class. I’ve also been considering adding Education as a minor. I took one education class last semester and really loved it. I took the class as a test-run, to see if I actually would enjoy the department of education. We got to do service every week with kindergarteners at a local elementary school in Black Mountain and, well, those short-legged people were just so much fun, and they really taught me loads more than I think I taught them. That experience, that class, and the professor, all solidified my interest in the minor. Just this morning, actually, I went to meet with Pat Tuttle, one of the two education professors here, to get more information about the minor. And, turns out, I’m officially going to do it! I’m really excited to officially declare it as a minor and to delve into more education classes!

Even though I’m feeling really excited about all my classes, and even though my work crew is really great and really familiar, it is still taking me a little while to get back into the groove here. I spent the month of winter break at home back up in Pennsylvania. It was so wonderful and so relaxing and I ate so much great, home-cooked food. And let me tell you, I certainly was not preoccupied with reading academic journal articles, or with creating strong transitions in a paper. So getting back into the swing of things (as they say) here is definitely a little tricky for me. College is just such a different way of being than it was at home, so it just takes me a little to get used to it again. From my experience with past semesters, I suspect that by the end of the week, I’ll feel truly settled in J.
Before I close, I wanted to share an interesting conversation we had in my Language and Culture class this morning. We were talking about how language is used in jokes, and how when people joke, there are often multiple “texts,” multiple layers of meaning, happening all at once. One of my peers, we’ll call him John (why is it that arbitrary men are named John, and arbitrary women are named Jane?) told a story of a “joke” he experienced while sitting in the Morse Science Hall. Essentially, John’s peers were teasing him for liking classes that happen in Jensen Humanities building. I’ll let you all in on something… there’s a bit of a silent rivalry between students whose majors are in Jensen (the Humanities and Social Science building) and students whose majors are in Morse (the Science Hall). John’s peers were teasing him, telling him that there were easier classes in Jensen, that the Humanities students couldn’t possibly work nearly as hard. Of course, John, being a biology major and a Sociology/Anthropology minor, defended Jensen, saying those classes were just as valuable, etc.
It’s interesting to me, though, that this tendency exists, a tendency to compare and to “one-up,” even if it is in a joking way. In response, from my own prospective, from my Anthropology perspective, here’s what I think… there’s no denying that science students spend more time in class. They have longer lab class time, whereas humanities students have no labs. Nonetheless, both types of course content are equally challenging, just in different ways. In the sciences, most information is clearly laid out in a text book. Most homework is writing up lab reports, maybe reading text book chapters, and running complex equations and math problems. They deal with lots of challenging content, and lots of abstract “in the clouds” ideas. In the humanities, rather, at least from my experience, we do much more reading… reading, reading, reading. But it’s very evaluative, very analytical. We have to have our critical eye all the way on. We, of course, write lots of papers and such as well. Of course, I don’t have a solid grasp on the types of work that science students do because I am not one of them. Regardless, there isn’t (or there shouldn’t be) any higher value placed on one kind of work, or one major, over another.
The thing to remember is this: we all learn differently, and we all like to learn different things. We all retain different bits of information, and different kinds of information. My mind works better in the humanities, and I find it more interesting. The other thing is, and a beauty of Warren Wilson is, that if you major in chemistry or environmental studies or what-have-you, you’re not limiting yourself to just that discipline. I might even be so bold to say it’s impossible to limit yourself to one discipline here. Here at WWC, you really can learn from many different disciplines, and dapple in many different areas. And there’s certainly no denying that they’re all connected. I love this part about Warren Wilson.

Thanks for reading! And certainly, if you’re interested to know more, feel free to contact us, to give us a call or an email or even to come for a visit. We’d love to hear from you!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Construction

Hey guys! Samantha here, I am working in the admissions office all summer. It is great to be on the crew.

Anyways, it is a slow day at the Admissions Office, but we have so many exciting things happening on campus! Construction is happening in many places around the school, updating buildings and such. Part of the library is being worked on, Gladfelter, the basement of Sunderland (next week’s edition), Shepard, and the WPO/College Press cabin. Everyone on campus is working hard to prepare the school for next year, and for our incoming students.

The most exciting one is Gladfelter, our main cafeteria. It is looking completely different than it did just a few months ago, and I am super excited to see the finished project. Gladfelter is the larger of our two cafeterias on campus and it always has vegetarian and vegan options. This updated cafeteria will have more choices than our previous set-up. (A pizza station, a more permanent action station, desert bar, breakfast bar, etc.) These updates and editions are super exciting, and I am happy they have added options that are more permanent. We also have completely new flooring and lighting (which both look awesome). The students voted on the flooring during last semester where they set out different tiles and you could vote on the one you liked the most.

The lighting is also a lot different, as you can see in some of these pictures. All together, the cafeteria is coming along nicely. The workers that have been here everyday are the nicest people and I thank them for it looking so nice. I am truly excited to see the difference in the cafeteria and the finished project. I guess all we have to do now is wait to see the big unveiling.

This will be soon, hopefully.
 Hope all is well,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Westward Philosophy

Two weeks ago I spent a weekend in and around Portland, Oregon. I was in the region to present a paper in philosophy at the 16th Annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference in Forest Grove, Oregon. My trip westward was incredible and wouldn’t have happened without the support of the Warren Wilson College community.

I first heard about this conference while enrolled in a modern philosophy course. My professor sent out an e-mail with a few fellowship and conference opportunities, and I thought this one was particularly interesting. I knew I couldn’t afford it, but just being accepted would have been enough for me; it would have been an indicator that I’m doing something right.

A few weeks after submitting my paper, I received confirmation that I was accepted into the conference in the category of social and political philosophy. I was thrilled, but never even considered the possibility of heading out there. I simply didn’t have the money. By some odd twist of fate, in a meeting with my political science advisor later that week, in an entirely different conversation, I was made aware of undergraduate research grants. The gears in my head went haywire as I considered the possibility of heading out to Oregon. Still, I knew I would need to ask for a pretty penny and refused to get my hopes up yet.

Despite my skepticism, I applied for the grant and submitted it to the Dean of Teaching, Gary Hawkins, with my modern philosophy professor, Matt Whitt, serving as my sponsor—essentially, he would vouch for me when the grant was being considered for acceptance. Only a few weeks after submitting my application, I found out that my grant was accepted. I was shocked. In a few weeks I went from considering the trip impossible to having the financial wherewithal to make it happen.
It was only two weeks ago, but I still have fond memories of Portland. The conference was great and I was granted the opportunity to speak for an hour-and-a-half when the presentation before mine cancelled. I was able to experience a new city and amazing people, network within my field of study and gain insight into what philosophy can be outside the classroom.

All in all, this experience was an indicator of what I love about Warren Wilson. I had a strong support network that presented me with this opportunity to represent the college and to advance my own studies. I was able to escape the college during the end of the semester crunch, which has been a tremendous help as I blast through these last few weeks of the academic year. Most importantly, traveling to a new place offered a reminder of what life is like outside the college.

As I stress out over final exams, cumulative papers, quizzes, tests, and the like, I have clarity and perspective and remember why I’m doing this. Sometimes, when my eyes are bloodshot from writing for hours and hours, or I struggle to stay awake to finish my night’s reading assignments, it can be a daunting task to try and recall what all of this is for. When the college supports me to the degree it did in this experience, and hints at what life can be like after graduation, I’m grounded and can carry on with my work with peace of mind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today happens to be a slow day in the Admissions office. There are only six visitors today, compared to twenty-six per day we had a few weeks ago. The majority of accept-packets have been mailed out, so there aren’t any huge mailings to do, just a few stragglers that I took care of already. So I figured I'd write you all a blog post! I’m not really sure what it’s going to be about yet, though, so I’m just going to ramble and hope that it sounds good! I’m really excited about this project that I’m doing for my Dance, Culture, and Identity class, which is an upper level anthropology class. For our final project, we get to pick any kind of dance we want, study it, observe it, participate in it, and write a paper called an ethnography about it. An ethnography is a fancy name for a paper written by anthropologists, in short. Some people in my class are doing fire-spinning, Zumba fitness classes, burlesque classes, etc. I'm studying African dance. There’s an African dance class off campus that happens every Tuesday at 7:30 that I went to the last two weeks. I got to borrow a friends car to get there, which was a lot of fun to go a little too fast on the highway and get off campus. There were drummers there and lots of dancers. I had loads of fun, and the more I stopped caring about what I looked like, the better I felt and the more fun I had. I’m going to conduct interviews this week with a few of the participants and with the instructor.

I’m thinking I'm going to write about how this African dance class is a form of community, and maybe even a form of escape, maybe how it’s a “sacred” event… not sure yet. That’s the tricky thing in anthropology: you have to let your informants form your thesis for you. I love anthropology, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of control like that. I'm really happy that I picked anthropology as my major. When I got to school, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study. Well, that’s not entirely true… I knew I wanted to do something that had to do with people, not anything science-y with cells and chemicals and stuff. So I just took a lot of intro classes, starting with Intro to Psych my first semester. Psych felt too narrow for what I was interested in. I moved on to Intro to Anthropology the following semester and it just totally clicked. I related to it and it made sense and my mind wondered to all of these wonderful academic places every class period. I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket, though, so I didn’t declare anthro as my major yet, but rather took Intro to Sociology the next semester. Again, I daydreamed and let my mind wonder, but I could just tell that Anthro was where I really wanted to be. And then this semester I declared! And it's perfect and it’s great and I love it…

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my major or what I want to be when I grow up, but I find Anthropology fascinating. It looks like this blog post turned into "A History of Hannah's Academic Journey at Warren Wilson."

Maybe next time I'll tell you about my work history...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I just switched to Admissions Crew at the beginning of this semester. I used to work at Cow Pie, the vegan cafeteria on campus, and was ready for a change of work crews. I spoke with Ian Robertson, our Dean of Work, several times and he helped me with the process of picking a new crew. And here I am on Admission!

Last week, Keri, one of the Admissions Counselors here in the office, asked me to write a letter to prospective students. She wanted me to tell the students what I liked about Warren Wilson, the things that drew me here, and the things that make me feel at home here. We then printed out my letter and sent it to the students who have been accepted but are still deciding which school to go to. Below if the final draft of the letter.

Dear Student,
Yeah, I get it, it’s stressful, all this college stuff.

There is pressure from every angle imaginable to decide which college to attend. The last thing you probably want is another piece of mail from a college. I get that. This isn’t one of those advertisements, praising a school for its high national ranking. I’m not going to tell you statistics or tuition costs. This letter is just me, telling you about Warren Wilson College from a student’s perspective. I hope that this letter, my perspective, will help make your decision a littler easier.

I’ve come to love Warren Wilson. I love the small class sizes; I love that I get to know my professors; I love that almost everyone eats outside when the temperature reaches seventy degrees; I love that I learn not only through my classes and text books, but also through my work crew and service adventures; I love that there are compost bins in every dorm; I love that I stayed ten minutes after class today to chat with my adviser; I love that I’m a person, not a number; I love that there are a myriad of opportunities to make personal connections.

I love that we don’t all fit the Warren Wilson stereotype.

We don’t all have dreads, hair on our arms, and in our armpits. We aren’t all vegans. We don’t all love being outside all the time. We’re not all Environmental Science majors. And the best thing is that there is a place for all those different types of people here. There are students who love mixing chemicals and running through chemistry problems, and others who learn the craft of analyzing literature or study the effects of globalization. There are people who love being on forestry crew and people who would much rather work in an office. There are people who wouldn’t dream of eating cheese or even honey, and there are people who eat meat at every meal. There are people who go on trail runs every day, and there are people who would much rather play video games. There are Buddhist, Quaker, Pagan, Jewish, and Christian groups on campus. There are a myriad of different interests at Warren Wilson. And they’re all accepted here, and they all exist here.

I’m not going to lie, even though I visited campus in my junior year of college, Warren Wilson was a really overwhelming and unfamiliar place at first. It took me a while to get used to this culture, this place, so different than my hometown, a rather homogenous place. So it took me a while, but I’ve found my niche, too. I’ve fallen in love with Anthropology and enjoy my small class sizes, and how close I am with my professors. I’ve been on three different crews: Chapel Crew, Cow Pie CafĂ©, and now Admissions Crew. I’ve finally found my niche in service, focusing mainly on food insecurity and working in community and school gardens and food banks. I’ve taken up knitting again since I’ve been here, and enjoy meeting other young knitters on campus and at a yarn shop in downtown Asheville. I try to go on a hike once a week on one of the beautiful trails on campus, and jump in the river when it’s warmer out. And the best thing: I’m comfortable here at Warren Wilson.

The take away message: come as you are. Enjoy all that Warren Wilson has to offer. It’s an amazing place, something to be experienced.

I hope you’ll join us for the fall semester!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Love

I love my professors.

This morning I awoke to an e-mail from a professor in philosophy that contained a thrash-punk EP themed to philosopher Theodor Adorno’s text Minima Moralia.Earlier this week, Robert Nozick’s concept of entitlement theory was discussed in an ethics class. As I became more and more heated about my disdain towards Nozick’s notion of libertarianism, my professor jokingly added, “you should try to be more passionate.”

A few weeks ago my advisor in history and political science e-mailed me a slideshow coupling characters from two of my favorite television shows: Downton Abbey and Mad Men. Before class we often gush over details of the latest episode of each program.Two semesters ago, when Bayard Rustin was introduced during a lecture on civil rights in my Grassroots Politics course, the professor added an aside in my direction along the lines of, “He’s a gay, African-American socialist, you’ll love him!”It’s personal touches like these that assure me I’m in the right place. But I wasn’t always so certain of my decision to come to Warren Wilson College.

I transferred into Warren Wilson College in the fall of 2010. In the first few weeks something felt off and I began questioning whether or not I had made the right choice. I had twice attempted to transfer prior to coming here, and it seemed that once again I had failed. In my disquiet, I sent a lengthy and panicked e-mail to a former professor of mine at community college. After several e-mails back and forth I was encouraged to see the semester out and decide what to do from there.

Now in my fourth semester at Warren Wilson, I’m glad I stuck through the initial disconcertion.The eccentricities of professors are worn on their sleeves. Conversations in and out of the classroom assure me of my professors' humanity. Their passion is contagious and their accessibility abundant.

The ease with which communicate, either about comprehension of course material or personal interests, is indicative of their commitment to students. Without them, I would still be figuring out what I want to study and where.Often, discussions about Warren Wilson wither down to work and service, with academics shoved to the side. As great as my job is, and as much as I enjoy service, they just don't match up to my experience with academics.

I love my professors.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Salsa at Warren Wilson

In the mountains surrounding Warren Wilson, the sounds of bluegrass and banjos are the most common. As a new student this was very frustrating to me, as I’m an avid fan of all music apart from country and bluegrass. For a few weeks I indulged in contra dancing which is a very entertaining, very southern dance. However, even with me contra dancing every Thursday, I longed for a dance with a little more flavor.

A month or so into my first semester I was ecstatic to see a poster about salsa lessons starting at Warren Wilson. In my home in Orlando, Fla., I was a keen student of salsa and other Latin dances. Ever since I first saw that posted, Monday nights have been dedicated to salsa. Two Warren Wilson graduates run the salsa lessons and everyone has a great time.

Recently the salsa enthusiasts like myself were invited to perform at the Multicultural Dinner, the international students were hosting. For a week our little salsa community put together a routine complete with spins, dips and turns. Every day we worked on our routine to perfect our moves. We were all extremely happy when our last day of practice came. We were ready to show the entire Warren Wilson community our love of salsa. Unfortunately, our salsa performance at the multicultural dinner was canceled at the last minute because of a change of location, but our love of salsa has not diminished.

Warren Wilson is a unique community with many unique clubs such as step team, fire twirlers, belly dancing and more. Salsa is a nice addition to our unique community and our diverse tastes. Don’t be fooled by the bluegrass and country music; I promise you there is diverse and exciting culture here at Warren Wilson full of all different kinds of music and dance.

Grace Hatton ’14

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Night of Lounges

Currently I am working on two research papers simultaneously. My paper for Grassroots Politics of the 20th Century is based on the primary source of an interview with Harvey Gantt. Gantt was the first African American mayor of Charlotte, NC and I am focusing on his activism within the greater Civil Rights Movement. My second paper is more or less comparing the penal systems in the U.S. and Sweden. My thesis reflects how well each system prepares prisoners to reenter society and rehabilitates them once they have served their time. I have been spending every night working on both these papers in between my regular homework.

When I am not working on homework I am at the theatre working on props for the upcoming production of The Cherry Orchard. I am in charge of finding, making, buying, etc all the props for the productions. Tech week starts Saturday and opening night is April 21st. So I am putting in extra hours at the theater to make sure all of my props are ready to go.

However, last night I took a night off from long hours in the library and theatre to celebrate a friend’s birthday. A group of seven of us put on our ‘night on the town’ clothes and headed to Asheville. Our first stop was the Champagne Lounge. This is a bookstore and champagne bar. There are bookcases upon bookcases in this two story lounge all for perusing, and purchasing if you found you need to finish the book at home. It has the perfect lighting and the warm colors of dark wood tables and bookcases, and comfy couches and chairs that you melt into. We found a cluster of couches and chairs in one cozy nook. Considering it was Lindsay’s birthday they gave us a complimentary bottle of pink sparkling wine. Being under 21 myself, I enjoyed an amazing glass of raspberry Italian Soda. I would go back just to have another glass of that delightful drink. After an hour or so of laughing and snacking on chocolates we left for our next stop.

We then walked over to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Here we all ordered warm sipping chocolates, liquid truffles, mint brownies, and cheesecakes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Break Trip!

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a Break Trip every year I’ve attended Warren Wilson—first to Pine Ridge Reservation to look at hunger issues and cultural preservation my first year, then a local trip in Asheville working with arts organizations when I was a sophomore.

This year, I applied to travel to Detroit to work with organizations that grow food in the city’s urban and economic context. It seems that a lot of non-Detroiters see the city as a sort of lost cause—that Detroit is somehow so abandoned or crime-ridden or jobless that it’s a throwaway place. Our group’s experience, though, was one of vibrant, thriving community—not a blank slate city, not a forsaken urban skeleton.

Working with several organizations through the course of the week began to illuminate the network of individuals and organizations partnering to strengthen the proud and growing city. Greening Detroit is reforesting a city that used to be famous for its trees. Emily at Hostel Detroit, where we stayed, is working to open a space for visitors and volunteers. The Jeanne Wiley House continues to establish intentional community in a neighborhood with a historic Catholic Worker presence. Earthworks distributes seedlings and seeds to community and family gardeners. Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public high school for pregnant and parenting teenagers, teaches science through experiential learning on a farm connected to the school that sells its own produce.

Throughout the week, we had a lot of discussions about what it means for us to work in a community that is not our own. What does our vision of community development count for in spaces where it isn’t our place to lead, but to listen? How do questions of class and race and education play out? Is gentrification ever altered by good intention, or does it always yield the same negative result? None of the questions have simple answers—addressing power and privilege requires constant vigilance—but we did come up with some steps when thinking about equity. Listening and humility were two qualities essential to being in community in an appropriate way. Conscious and responsible tourism was another answer for us as visitors to another city.

At the end of the week, we visited the Detroit Institute of Art. It’s a lovely, large museum, and its prime claim to fame is a room of fresco murals painted by Diego Rivera in 1932 and 1933. The museum was a grounding way to end the week, to be surrounded by larger-than-life depictions of the automobile industry. The museum pulled it together for me. The marbled, echoing, colorful room that holds the murals is a space that invites reflection.

I realized there that the biggest significance the trip held for me was the way it made me reconsider my own place in community development. I was born and lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin until coming to Warren Wilson three years ago. The fact that Detroit had that uniquely urban Midwestern quality of a presence both unassuming and grand reminded me of own my home city, a place with which my relationship is ambivalent but loyal. The Break Trip was an opportunity for many of us to reach that reflection, a chance to go to another locale to consider our own.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm a Little Surprised

I didn’t intend to want to be a fundraiser. I transferred to Warren Wilson to become a writer. I knew I would almost definitely need a day job to support that passion (let’s just say the novel hasn’t been sold, by dint of it not yet existing), but fundraising was one of the furthest things from my mind.

So, in retrospect, I’m a little surprised to say that not only did I attend the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Western North Carolina chapter’s monthly luncheon for March, but that I was excited to do so and am excited at the possibility of getting to go again next month.

See, my parents own and operate a consulting firm for nonprofits organizations back home in Rhode Island. Basically, they get paid to offer various nonprofits constructive criticism about how they might improve. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s what it boils down to.

For a long time, I avoided learning as much as I possibly could about the “family business.” My parents work long hours from their home office, and the topic of work frequently invaded our dinner table conversations, alienating us children. The last thing I imagined doing with my life was what my parents do. I suspect most children experience this desire, at some point in their lives. I imagine some of them even manage to avoid following in their parents’ footsteps.

Then I came to Warren Wilson College and started working in the Advancement Office, which handles fundraising and relations for the college. Advancement is the college version of my parents’ area of expertise. My crew supervisor assures me he had no idea that was the case when I was selected for the crew. He’s an honest man, so I believe him (mostly).

Of course, once in Advancement, all that jargon like “development,” “donor appeals,” “grant writing,” and “strategic planning” that had bandied around our home came rushing back. And I realized that not only did I remember hearing the words, but that I remembered what they meant and how to put them to use. And, to my initial quiet horror, that I liked it. I’ve since come to accept that which I cannot change about myself. I guess I was just raised this way. It might even be in my blood.

In fact, when Miranda Hipple, our Annual Fund Director, suggested that I attend the AFP luncheon a while back, I started thinking about how to make the time. And the past Wednesday during spring break, while working full-time for Advancement, I pulled on a pair of khakis, some nice shoes, and a dress shirt my parents gave me for Christmas, and rubbed elbows with Western North Carolina’s fundraising community. I was nervous and shy, although I realize now that I shouldn’t have been. These are fundraisers, after all, they don’t bite; it wouldn’t get them anywhere. There was a guest speaker: an events consultant who certainly gave me a crash course in planning a successful event, and had some tips and tricks for managing even little things to maximize success (such as what day to mail invitations so guests would receive them on a day when they had time to process the request).

I’m about to graduate, and if my life takes me where I’m hoping it will, I’ll become an AFP member and attend a lot more of these luncheons, especially those in Western North Carolina. I’m always delighted to find that Warren Wilson doesn’t just teach me new things, but teaches me to revisit my past and use it to make what I want of my future.