Works and Days

Summer School at McCoy Academy, McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Kelli Collins

Teaching at McCoy Academy has been fun, challenging, rewarding, and eye opening. I went into this experience hoping to learn how to effectively educate youth who come from difficult, often at-risk backgrounds. I've realized that many of the teachers who devote themselves to this demographic spend decades asking themselves these same questions and learning more every day about the teaching methods that are most and least effective. 

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Alternative high school students are often stigmatized, with many in society labeling them as "bad" or "stupid" kids. While everyone attends McCoy for different reasons, I've learned that many of the students here dropped out of traditional high school because they were bullied for not fitting in. McCoy Academy is somewhat of a safe haven for these students because it is a relatively judgment, drama-free place (with no social hierarchy and few of the problems that come along with social scenes at many high schools) for them to learn and get their work done. 

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Art in Italy, Margaret MacLean

President's Summer Fellow Margaret MacLean, '16, studio art major, is leading art classes for youth with intellectual and developmental challenges at the Cooperativa Barberi in Florence, Italy. Read on for her adventures:

Today I ran down an “up” escalator with my stomach full of mozzarella and espresso. Honestly, this is a pretty good metaphor for how the last month and a half has been for me in Italy: exhilarating, frustrating, accompanied by plenty of moving backwards, and success only after a big leap of faith. And always after eating a little more than I thought I could!

The weather in Florence is almost unbearably hot and humid but I am getting used to it. I spend my mornings in Italian class and my afternoons volunteering in art therapy or exploring the city. I drink at least two espresso a day, speak only Italian at home, and I am slowly cooking my way through a Tuscan cookbook. I work in the garden with my host nonna (grandmother). I practice my landscape sketching on the banks of the Arno and in various piazze (plazas) around the city. When I get homesick and/or overheated I watch American movies dubbed in Italian at the foreign movie theatre. I am loving my volunteer work, my students, and the new friends I have made here.

We Love Clean Rivers Environmental Stewardship Internship: McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Joshua Tsang

Hands-on and Hands-off River Scrubbing:

As I catch-up with my friends about their going-ons over this summer, I find myself very lucky to have chosen to work in the rivers around Portland this summer. After listening to my peers’ horror stories of desk jobs in air-conditionless offices, sitting in front of a turbo-powered fan blowing sweltering, 100 degree heat into their faces, I nonchalantly describe yesterday’s work, wading in and out of the Willamette, taking temperature readings that output 65 oF. This summer, I am working with an environmental non-profit called We Love Clean Rivers, which is dedicated to cleaning high-use rivers by mobilizing the rivers’ recreational users. Through partnerships with other local environmental organizations like the River Network, the Willamette Riverkeeper, and the Human Access Project, WLCR aims to increase community understanding and engagement with river restoration. Where do I fit into all of this? Since the common goal of these organizations is not only to clean local rivers, but to engage the nearby communities into helping as well, I have been working on various tasks that aid the transition from the hands-on work done directly by these environmental organizations to ‘hands-off’ work done by volunteers and nearby landowners.  

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Davis Project for Peace, Celebrity Nyikadzino: Sewing and self reliance in Chivhu, Zimbabwe,

A Stitch in Time

This summer I am at home in Chivhu, Zimbabwe, implementing a sewing project, which we named A step toward hope— Education and self reliance. With the help of a local teacher, my family, and various community members, we are teaching 16 primary-age children how to sew. In addition to that we are also teaching them business skills as well as fostering a good environment for friendship making. Poverty is a major threat to peace in my village, and the main aim of this project is to alleviate the effects of poverty and to make sure the children stay in school. We hope that at the end of the day, the children can competently take care of themselves as well as help others in need.         

Prior to the start of the project in mid-June, there was great interest in taking part in the project. To my chagrin, the headmistress of Chivhu Primary had already identified and recommended more than 70 students who could benefit from it.  These children come from low-income families and more than half of them were orphaned. This situation was really hard since at most we could only accommodate 15 children. We eventually decided to choose the children based on academic skill, and also weighing who had the most probability of dropping out of school. We ended up with 16 of the least academically gifted children in the reasoning that they will be able to sustain themselves in the event that they fail in school. Four of these were currently not in school at all.

Youth Organizations Umbrella, McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Olivia Kilgore

Recipient of the McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Olivia Kilgore '16, is teaching cultural connections and slam poetry to classes to Middle School Youth in Evanston, Illinois. 

Youth Organizations Umbrella is a youth development non-profit organization that serves youth in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago.  This summer, I have the privilege of facilitating classes for an eight-week summer program to middle school students in Evanston.  As a staff member of Y.O.U., I promote positive youth development. The strategy encompasses the idea that empowering youth through supporting their voices and ideas enables them to resist negative factors and be successful in all areas of their lives. 

The summer program incorporates seven main elements: life skills (civic leadership & cultural connections, health & nutrition, healthy relationships & sexual health), electives (arts/drama/lit, sports & fitness, STEM), structured play & team building activities, field trips, supportive adult relationships, family engagement and mental health counseling/crisis intervention.

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Nanofluids and Gene Mapping, Abrar Abidi

For his President's Summer Fellowship, Abrar Abidi ’16, physics major is working in a lab at McGill University in Canada, helping to develop new nanofluid technology to improve DNA mapping methods.

A chemist who had close friendships with both Albert Einstein and Ernest Rutherford was once asked to share his recollections of the two men. In response, he explained:

“[Einstein] always spoke to me of Rutherford in the highest terms, calling him a second Newton. As scientists the two men were contrasting types—Einstein all calculation, Rutherford all experiment… There was no doubt that as an experimenter Rutherford was a genius, one of the greatest. He worked by intuition and everything he touched turned to gold. He had a sixth sense.”

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Modeling Fluid Dynamics, Qiaoyu Yang

President’s Summer Fellow Qiaoyu Yang ’16, mathematics major, is testing a probabilistic particle model for studying fluid dynamics with Prof. Aleksandar Donev at the Courant Institute in New York City.

After finishing my study abroad program in Moscow, I flew to NYC on May 23rd. The weather is terribly hot here. It took me two days to settle down and then I went to meet my supervisor, Prof. Aleksandar Donev, in the Courant Institute.

Courant is really amazing. It’s a leading center for research and education in applied mathematical science, as well as in computational and some fields of pure math. There are researchers working on different areas of mathematical science, such as computational biology, fluid dynamics, mathematical finance, and so on. Prof. Donev is working on computational physics and chemistry, so my project is also closely related to these two subjects.

Presidents Summer Fellowship, Connecting to Armenian Artists, Knar Hovakimyan

Working on the ground in Armenia, President’s Summer Fellow Knar Hovakimyan ’16, linguistics major, seeks to introduce Armenian literature to English-speaking communities through poetry translation

 I spent a month at home panicking over how I would get in touch with poets, adjust to their schedules, and meet them each a couple times in Armenia. When I got to Armenia, I quickly realized that I was going about things the American way – here, it is not necessary to make plans weeks in advance, confirm, reschedule... You can just show up at someone's house and they'll have a table set in five minutes. My first day here I made a phone call to a poet, Tigran Paskevichyan; after introductions we arranged to meet later that same day at Artbridge, a cafe he frequents. The entire encounter felt like a scene from a movie. The waiter brought out the poet's usual Armenian coffee, which Paskevichyan enjoyed with a cigarette as we talked about my project; we discussed his influences ranging from Daniil Kharms to Saul Leiter and his intentions behind specific poems – before I left home, I was worried about how far my Armenian language skills would take me, but luckily, I managed to keep up the conversation. With a signed copy of his book in hand and some new poems to work on, I embarked on the hectic week ahead of me.

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Presidents Summer Fellowship, Supernatural Shakespearian Webseries, Liz Groombridge

President’s Summer Fellow Elizabeth Groombridge, ’16 psychology/theater major, is writing and creating a queer, supernatural webseries, “The Green’s Apartment”, based on Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It.

Siegel Salmon Restoration Internship 2015: Garrett Linck

Garret Linck is working on habitat conservation and restoration in the California wilderness as the Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration intern. Read on for his first impressions and experiences. 

Situated between Redwood groves and the Pacific Ocean, I have spent my first two weeks as the Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration Intern at the Mendocino Land Trust (MLT) traipsing through the rivers and forests of the North Coast. After a warm welcome from the crew at the MLT office in Fort Bragg, I drove over to Russian Gulch State Park and hauled my guitars, a few crates of vinyl, and my bicycle into the cabin where I will be living until August. From my doorstep, it is a brisk ten-minute walk to the Russian Gulch Headlands and Sinkhole—a mesmerizing locale where I’m frequently impressed by the force of the tide coming in and the abundance of wildlife. Nestled among the craters that perforate the cliff walls, Black Oyster Catchers cling to the walls as the strong wind ruffles their feathers.

On my second day, I jumped into Doug Kern’s (Big River Program Manager) green pickup with Nicolet (Trails & Stewardship Coordinator), and we meandered through the potholed roads of Jackson Demonstration Forest until we reach the nonsensically-named North Fork South Fork of the Noyo River. Doug and Nicolet each donned a pair of waders, which seemed to vie for the title of ‘most-waterlogged’. Doug’s quickly earned the title as evidenced by the continual fountain of water from his boots as he emerged from the river. I penciled in measurements of various habitat types as we traveled upstream, differentiating between Riffles, Scour Pools, and Non-Turbs (three different habitat classification units, denoting the depth, width, and velocity of the water). The terminology takes a bit of time to pick up on, but by the end of the day I was gaining confidence in both my understanding of the survey and my ability to scramble through thorns and underbrush. Three new pairs of waders should be arriving soon, and we will renew our efforts surveying the two-mile segment.

Presidents Summer Fellowship 2015, Orla O'Sullivan, Impressions from Saint Petersburg

Orla O'Sullivan, '16 Russian major, is diving deep into the extensive collections at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, conducting research on visual culture and responses to controversial exhbitions for her President's Summer Fellowship. 

I was shocked to learn recently that pieces frequently go missing at the Hermitage Museum, which probably surprises no Russian person, but it did surprise me. No one is, as far as I can tell, fired (either the theft is hard to trace, or not much effort to trace it is exerted). There is media buzz for a few weeks and then that’s the end of it. I am as equally mesmerized by the Winter Palaces’ halls and the General Staff Building’s sheer scale, as I am amazed that this institution functions as well as it does. The archeological department on the fourth floor, for instance, is filled – and this is no hyperbolical statement – with at least thirty years of books. At least. There are books and quills and pens and more books and articles and stray papers and presentations and various Russian shtukis (“thingies”) all piled on the tables and floors – just everywhere. So it shouldn’t be any wonder that items go missing, although, the museum boasts both antiquated and cutting-edge conservation facilities. 

On my first day interning, I spent 2 hours (literally) trying to find the door, and then, once I found it, was asked, would I please assist a three-day conference on virtual archeology, where I met some fascinating people, including an archeaometrist (someone who applies physics to archeology), an architect specializing in computer program semantics, and the archeology department director (who happens to be the cousin of the museum director).  Since then, it has been a whirlwind: Attending an international congress on Peter the Great; planning a museum celebration of the European Union; labeling Old Russian rock fragments with quills and ink; translating documents from Russian into English; and, most recently, working on a presentation for an exhibition closing ceremony on Monday. There is no written or printed schedule – everything just seems to happen on a whim – and practically each day brings a new, completely unforeseen, project.

Presidents Summer Fellowship 2015: Nathan Martin, Rediscovery in the Desert

Part One: Water of Unknown Depth

Nate Martin '16 is a President's Summer Fellow on a trip through the American Southwest with the goal of rewriting his connection to poetry by visiting areas where he first established that connection.

I'm out here now in Green River, Utah on I-70 in the eastern side of the state. I've taken a day off from hiking and driving around and talking to people to sit down and figure out where I am.

Presidents Summer Fellowship 2015: Haley Tilt, Visual Memory and Livy

Right now I’m sitting at the kitchen table in a warm and eclectic apartment in Rome. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, stilted but enthusiastic conversations, and incredible museums. Most of all, my two weeks in Rome have seen me dogging the footsteps of one of the most influential and prolific historians of the ancient world. My project is founded on the idea that Livy is doing something special with space in his histories, setting stories in places that are highly specific and would have been familiar to his contemporaries. Like the ancient rhetorical technique of the memory palace, Livy capitalizes on the visual memory of his readers. Also like the memory palace, Livy’s stories imprint themselves on the spaces they occupy. After reading a particularly grisly passage, in which Tullia drives her chariot over her father’s corpse, the location of which, Livy informs us, is “as far as the top of the Cyprius Vicus, where the temple of Diana lately stood… to the right on the Urbius Clivus, to get to the Esquiline,” a reader will thereafter recall that spot as the scene at which his anecdote took place. My goal has been to hunt these places down, to photograph them, and to plot them on a digital, interactive map, so that modern readers might better understand this aspect of Livy’s text.

What I’ve found is a city that has been profoundly altered. Of course I knew that this would be the case; many of the monuments Livy discusses are now fragmentary and some are gone entirely. Many once-open spaces are now densely packed with buildings.

I knew that this would be the case, and I even welcomed the opportunity to engage with the modern city the same way Livy did--by countering absence with remembrance. In the example above, Livy recalls that the temple of Diana “lately” was standing. Present in his readers’ memories, but absent from their physical world, the temple (and so many other spaces altered by the Augustan building program), have become another level of Rome’s historical and topographical memory.

St. Paul's and the Church of the Parables, Reed Winter Externship Program, Meredith Mathis

Meredith Mathis partcipated in a Reed Winter Externship, contributing to community services and support at St. Paul's and the Church of the Parables with Ben McKelahan.

The activities I did varied a good deal from day to day. One day I went to a clergy bible study and got a tour of a Senior Center at the St. James Matthew Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and went to a Mission Developer’s lunch (where pastors talked about their experiences and difficulties and offered each other support). Another day I met with a pastor and talked about the process of establishing a homeless respite bed program run by the Lutheran Church of the Messiah, met with the non-profit El Puente, and went to a church council meeting. I also got to sit in on meetings about planning future camp activities, walk around the neighborhood St. Paul’s is located in and check in with community members, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a number of pastors and seminary students, work on an art project for an upcoming three kings celebration/community event, and attend Sunday service, a Three Kings party and parables.

One of the most engaging parts of this experience was discussing the respite bed program being developed (mentioned above). This respite bed program was intended to house homeless community members overnight in the church, but certain community members were against the program, and the church building had to be renovated before the city would let it run.  A lot of what I got out of that experience is that bureaucracy and community disagreement will come up regardless of how good or necessary a program is. But for one, it’s good to realize that if I’m going to do community work of any kind, the city will always have jurisdiction over the physical spaces I’m trying to cultivate into community spaces or convert in times of crisis (this bed program was a response to crises of homeless individuals’ lives being put in danger because of the cold in New York), and there is no forcing a sense of urgency in other people even if their position on an issue is inflicting direct harm onto others. However, the conflicts that were being dealt with didn’t stop efforts to organize and make changes needed to get the program running eventually.

AnyPerk, Reed Winter Externship Program, Anna Ma

Anna Ma, a senior economics major, participated in the Reed Winter Externship Program. She spent a week at Anyperk, a start-up that connects small and medium-sized businesses with benefits typically restricted only to larger companies. Read on for her story:

My externship with Michael Stapleton at AnyPerk lasted only a week, but the experience I got out of that week left an impression that will last much longer than that.

I never envisioned a start-up to be what AnyPerk was like. My prior beliefs about start-ups encompassed what I have only seen in movies, like “The Social Network”, fast-paced environments full of young people (mostly men) who are all code-literate. My week at AnyPerk upheld and destroyed some of my beliefs, which I was happy about because the world of start-ups has always been incredibly intimidating to me. That’s why I took this opportunity to not only explore marketing, which is a field I have had some interest in exploring, but also to discover what it really means to work for a start-up.

Financial Services Fellowship, 2015: Rik Ghosh

"The Financial Services Fellowship is a prestigious award that gives students who are interested in financial services a hands-on experience through an intensive trip to New York City during spring break.  Students will meet with people representing a wide range of roles in this industry, including journalists, sales and trading analysts, investment professionals, hedge fund managers, financial analysts and more.  All expenses are paid through the generosity of a Reed trustee"

Since coming to Reed, I’ve mostly just spent my fall and spring breaks going home and relaxing after an often-stressful half semester. Though such a week of downtime is always appreciated, this past spring break was completely different. Every day of the Financial Services Fellowship (FSF) was jam-packed with activities: days that usually started with firm visits before nine am often ended with social and networking events that ran well past nine pm. The trip packed many experiences into a short period of time, and it was undoubtedly a very productive way to spend the week.

Even before the actual spring break trip, there were a few events on campus that the fellows were asked to attend: the first of these was a three-part Paideia course on capital markets and general financial terminology. This is particularly important because it implies that prior knowledge of the financial industry is not necessary to apply — in fact the trip as a whole is in some form simply an introduction to the professional working world. Though I had absolutely no experience with Finance prior to the trip (and only minimal experience with economics), as a result of the Paideia course I did not have any trouble following the presentations of the various firms in New York. 

Reedies Win Grants for Peace and Understanding

Nine Reed students have won grants to pursue summer projects to promote peace and strengthen understanding.

From participation with Mercy Corps to work with the Chicago Freedom school, to outreach work with the Consulate General in Frankfurt, read about these students amazing projects on the Reed magazine "sallyportal" blog:

http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/sallyportal/posts/2015/davis-mcgill-summer-2015.html

Financial Services Fellowship, 2015: Morgan Vague

"The Financial Services Fellowship is a prestigious award that gives students who are interested in financial services a hands-on experience through an intensive trip to New York City during spring break.  Students will meet with people representing a wide range of roles in this industry, including journalists, sales and trading analysts, investment professionals, hedge fund managers, financial analysts and more.  All expenses are paid through the generosity of a Reed trustee"

Read on to learn about the experience of Morgan Vague, a science major in the world of finance. 

This March, a group of eight Reedies including myself, received the opportunity to travel to the mecca of finance, the big apple itself: New York City. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous during the first night, when our generous trip leader initiated an open questions and answer session about finance over a steak dinner in an iconic New York restaurant. Finance had always interested me, and I could hold a decent conversation about it.  But, as the only science major among a group dominated by economics majors, I felt a little out of place. When it was my turn to ask a question, I inhaled deeply, and spouted off a fairly basic question that was answered without the slightest trace of condescension. This set the tone for the next 4 days.

Center for Democracy and Technology, Reed Winter Externship Program, Eloise (Anqi) Chen

Anqi (Eloise) Chen, first-year psychology major, spent a week working with Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) as her Reed’s winter externship program. CDT is a multinational nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that aims to preserve the user-controlled nature of the Internet and champion freedom of expression.

The externship I took part in was not even listed on the Winter Externship Program page. Paul Alan Levy, an attorney in Washington, DC and also a Reed alumnus redirected me to Erik Stallman, who offered this opportunity. I highly appreciate the fact that they acknowledged my prior experiences in the legal industries back in my hometown Shanghai, China while reviewing my application.

CDT is located at Farragut Square, the center of a bustling business district in Capitol Hill. Like many other employers in D.C., I spent about an hour commuting from Silver Spring, Maryland to work every day. The first day I came to the firm, I was immediately struck by the sense of familiarity: an incredibly dynamic and efficient work environment as I have experienced in a law firm in Shanghai. A major and critical difference was that I would have to communicate out of my mother tongue. Despite the fact that I had done an extensive amount of preparation with the law-related aspects of the U.S., from watching Boston Legal to reading various articles, there were still more professional vocabularies and terms than those I had encountered in my life. You have to love challenges!

Winter Fellowship for International Travel: Emmeline Hill

Emmeline Hill, senior biology major, traveled to Australia on a Reed Winter Fellowship for International Travel. The following post describes her experience getting to know the insects and sheep of the island continent.

 “You haven’t seen a funnel web yet? Ah, if you like critters, we have to find one. You can just tell they’re predatory when you look at them.”
Thus began my tour through the garden of a friend of my host family on a search for Australia’s most deadly spider. We spent a good 20 minutes tramping barefoot through the dead leaves and branches littering the yard. As we went, Jon turned over various rocks and boards and investigated different crannies, hoping to come upon a funnel web spider. There are several species of funnel webs in Australia, six of which are severely venomous to humans (though there have been no known deaths since the development of an anti-venom in 1981). I’m still not sure if I am disappointed or relieved that no funnel webs decided to make an appearance.
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Before I left on my trip, countless people warned me about dangerous spider this and poisonous snake that, don’t go in the ocean and be careful in tall grass. But after a very short time in Australia I learned worrying about every potential threat was a waste of time (though I did check under my bed each night for Huntsman spiders, not because they are dangerous but because I didn’t want to wake up with one on my face). In Australia you don’t run away, you don’t say no because of the vague possibility of danger, you go searching for funnel web spiders, and you poke blue tongued lizards, and you back the truck up to get a second look at the red bellied black snake. I did my best to adopt this philosophy of not saying no. Even when I was exhausted or nervous, if a new opportunity was offered to me, I took it.


For the duration of my trip, I stayed with the Taylor family in the tiny town of Kentucky, New South Wales, on the 1,000-acre sheep farm that has been in the family for six generations. Currently, three generations of family live on the property together, creating a vibrant community of artists, intellectuals, and adventurers, each family member more often than not encompassing all three of those descriptors. I was on the farm as a helper; in exchange for room and board I worked 4-8 hours a day. No two days on the farm were the same, some days I herded sheep from one paddock to another, other days I set to work removing an invasive species of thistle, and sometimes I supervised the kids who almost exclusively wanted to play cards.

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