Ben DeYoung is retracing the steps of a trip across Germany as it is presented in the novel "Faserland" by Christian Kracht.
Excerpt from the first stop: Hamburg, Germany.
...I took to the street, unsure of what, exactly, I was looking for. In Hamburg, Faserland had not given me much to work with; he describes the light, but travels the city only at night, and spends most of his time in his friend's apartment. His main characterization of the city, other than his description of the light he does not actually see, comes in the form of what is also not actually there, namely the city that was destroyed. This unseen city, and the reconstruction of Hamburg, would eventually also play a large part in my impression of the place, but I was at least initially struck by a timeless aspect of the city, namely the dialect characteristic of Hamburg, and of its region, Schleswig-Holstein.
A little background info about my President’s Winter Fellowship project: I am a senior English major at Reed. I have been dancing in some shape or form since I was fourteen, but always solo performance dances: ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, a little hip-hop here and there. And then, just a year
ago, I discovered social dancing. It has radically changed the way I view my body as a medium for communication. For me there have always been two competing mental states of mind when dancing. The first is performance mode. I conceive of my body as paint on a canvas: it is a fluid motion shape through which I can signify and provoke. The space, locomotion, appearance, and form of my body are visual/kinesthetic sites of meaning. The second state of mind is improvisation mode. This is a selfish mode: when I dance in this body it is almost always when I am by myself, and the movement is for me and me alone. It is an exploration of sensation, a creative play of momentum and shape. I am not concerned with the way my body looks, only with the way it feels as I move. The site of meaning in this type of dancing is not visible: it is an internal reflection on what it means to have a body that occupies space through time. Both of these modes of dancing have been imperative to my formation as a dancer, yet until I found social dancing I believed that these two modes could never intersect. Social dancing, and especially blues dancing, combines these two states of mind. In blues dancing the indulgent focus on sensation, which I thought was only capable solo, is able to be shared with a partner. This creates an incredible pattern of communication that I still struggle to adequately describe in words, and this wa
This winter, two fellow Reedies and I had an amazing experience working with Dr. Doulas Kerns and Mr. Marcus Snyder at Sigenics. Together, they provided an empowering three day externship and enlightening insights as to the life of electrical engineers. We started our trip with an hour long commute from the California coast to the base of Mt. San Antonio. Relieved from traffic by the carpool lane and good music, our trip to Sigenics was always pleasurable.
We spent our first day learning about the company and the different roles of scientists and engineers. Dr. Kerns started off with a small tour of their lab and showed us some of their designs. He really blew us away when he showed us the incredibly small size of their circuit designs and their circuit elements. A chip no bigger than 1 squared millimeter can house billions of transistors. As if hearing about this wasn’t enough, Dr. Kerns pulled out a sample of their work and placed it under and a powerful microscope. There is was. Mind-numbing in scale and constructed with jaw-dropping precision. Millions of components carefully embedded in a tiny silicon chip, and the chip: even more precisely designed. Yet here we were, three unexperienced undergrads sharing a room with the chip designers themselves!
The relationship between an engineer and a scientist was the next item on Dr. Kern’s agenda. Using a very Reed-esque analogy of a pizza shop, he demystified some of the quirks of engineering. The relationship between engineers and scientists is actually more symbiotic in nature than one would expect, he explained. Engineers use scientific results to develop tools for scientists. In turn, scientists use the tools to develop new results. This is relationship is a vertical growth pattern where the two fields help propel one another. Along the way, the tools and results produced by both parties will spread horizontally, manifesting themselves as new technologies or constructions for the benefit of our societies. We ended the day with a scientific investigation of the phenomena occurring “behind the scenes” in the electrical components we used the following day, and (appropriately) some delicious pizza from a local shop.
On the 11th of January, 2015, I landed in the Los Angeles international airport for a work experience opportunity that I had been looking forward to ever since my application was accepted. I was picked up by Edgar, who was also doing the externship, and Jackie (Edgar’s sister), whose generosity allowed us accommodations for the duration of the program. Jackie drove us to her house in Costa Mesa and Modi, another of the externs, came in later in the evening. We went out to grab dinner and buy groceries for the next few days.
Day 1: Jan 12
We woke up at around 6:30 and hit the road at 8:15. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected and as a result, we reached Sierra Madre by 9:15. At the Halcyon building (which housed the Sigenics Lab), we were greeted by our sponsor, Dr. Douglas Kerns. We went inside the Sigenics lab and met Marcus Snyder, the office manager and senior technician. Douglas gave us a brief overview of the company and its goals. We learned that Sigenics specializes in designing integrated circuits (IC) and silicon wafers among their microelectronic components. Douglas also explained the science behind electronics and electric circuits. After learning these introductory ideas, we looked at a silicon wafer chip through an electron microscope, which was very exciting as we could actually see the arrangement of electrons that serve as the building blocks for all of electronics.
I wanted to extern with the Mary Howard Studio because as it is a set design studio, I figured I’d see my interests in graphic design, art and photography brought together in a hands-on, real-world way. And indeed I did. All three are expertly and creatively combined to make the magic and beauty one sees in magazines.
But wait, you may be wondering, what exactly is set design? The simplest way I can explain it is this: Mary Howard Studio is a set design studio that works in the fashion industry. So, in every glossy-paged fashion magazine there is the model in beautiful clothes looking effortlessly perfect, right? But there’s also the world behind that model. Mary Howard
Studio makes, designs and places every detail in the set behind that person.
I just finished my externship at Corey McPherson Nash in Massachusetts, and had a great time. Their office is beautiful, which makes sense. Who would trust a branding and design agency with a boring office building? Even though I had no comparable skills, they were great hosts and included me in all the big business. I can't go into specifics, because "loose lips sink ships", but I got to participate in client meetings, conference calls, brainstorming sessions, and even throw my two cents in on a few design questions about websites and magazine spreads. All the work Corey McPherson Nash does is very impressive, but the most striking thing to me was how much everyone I interacted with enjoyed his or her job. Even if I'm unable to get into branding and design when I grow up, I could only hope to get half as much job satisfaction as them. I also appreciate having something to look at after the end of a day's work. Sometimes hard work will not produce anything substantive, and at that point I'd probably consider it unnecessary toil rather than useful work. Overall, my externship was a great experience and I would certainly do it again. I learned a lot.
This January, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at New Mexico Legal Aid in Santa Fe. Hosted by alumna Amy Propps ’91, my time at NMLA was probably a bit of a crash-course in the legal aid world. My five days with New Mexico Legal Aid can be best described as a game of question and answer. New Mexico Legal Aid is a statewide public interest legal aid firm that provides free legal services for low-income people and communities throughout the state. Through their various branches located in various cities, they specialize in various types of civil law ranging from family law to property and housing to employment to everything else in between. Just from my short time there, I was able to gain a first hand look into the vast world of legal aid and into the mechanics of exactly what it is that attorneys actually get to do.
When I arrived in Santa Fe, I really had no idea what to expect—either from New Mexico itself or from my time at NMLA. My first time in New Mexico, I admittedly did not know very much about the state’s rich history (nor did I really understand how cold it gets during the winter months). I did, however, know a fair bit about law and the world of public interest law practice. What I didn’t fully know was exactly how diverse, complex, and complicated public interest law could be. Of course, when I got on the plane from Baltimore to Santa Fe, I had had a few hopes and expectations for my externship experience. Having had the longtime goal of attending law school and eventually going on to practice public interest law, the main thing that I wanted to gain from my time at NMLA was a comprehensive look into exactly what the world of public interest law looks like, what sorts of work I could potentially expect to do as an attorney later on, and what sorts of steps I could take to prepare for a life in this field.
When I first arrived in Santa Fe (about two hours later than I had originally planned due to one horrible windstorm over the Midwest and one delayed flight coming from Dallas), Amy and my host, Callie Dendrinos, were waiting for me at the tiny airport. From the get-go Amy and Callie were showing me around and filling me in on New Mexican history and culture.
During the scorching summer of 2014, I worked with Mashal Academy, an alternate school for underprivileged children in Neelum Colony, a squatter settlement in Karachi, Pakistan. The initiative is primarily run by high school students from The Lyceum; they spend afternoons and early evenings with primary school level children from the area helping them with Math, English, Urdu (the national language) and basic sciences which are part of the Department of Education endorsed curriculum. Mashal was based in a single room, rented by the high school students where they used to help around 15 children with these subjects.
However, because of the superior quality and consistency of education that the students offered, there was a surge in the number of children wanting to attend Mashal. In light of this, I worked with the students to lease a new space which is much bigger and accommodates 34 children and the activities that the mentors plan for them. The new place has two rooms and a huge veranda allowing the students to be divided into two groups depending on their prior academic learning. Over the summer, we also created lesson plans for new subjects including Music, Arts, Drama and Physical Education while also allotting an hour every week for reading time. Given the pedagogical methods in the schools usually available to the children, these new additions are phenomenal – almost unheard of. We also laid ground for two other programs at Mashal: monthly medical check-ups for the children by a qualified pediatrician and a daily lunch program. Both of these are aimed at incentivizing parents to send their children to school while also providing quality services in area where infrastructure for health and hygiene is almost negligible.
Most importantly, we put in place a sustainable donor model for Mashal over the summer. Since the school was housed in smaller premises earlier, the rent was not a very big issue. However, the new house and the expanded services being offered mean that the operating costs have risen substantially. I guided the students towards finding and approaching donors who would pledge to chip in with the costs on a monthly basis for an entire year before renewing their commitments.
Working on a conservation project for two weeks at Chontachaka Lodge in Manu Ecological Reserve, Peru, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Time flew as I spent my days surrounded by a dense, green, and immensely beautiful Amazon jungle environment. I got my hands dirty helping to save it for future generations. Volunteers ate a completely vegetarian diet, since the space required for meat farming has widespread and devastating impacts on forests. We also used only biodegradable supplies, including clay-and-pasta-based toothpaste and lemon oil bug repellant (which didn't do much to prevent me from getting back to Cusco covered in insect bites from head to toe, but DEET-based bug repellants are terrible for the ecosystem!) The idea, in addition to being out there helping with conservation, was to leave as little of a footprint as possible - and I was able to do just that.
My tasks in this project included planting species vital to the region (such as the leche-leche plant, called such because of its white sap, which attracts an uncommon species of green butterfly), using a machete to remove invasive species (like bamboo) that threaten the growth of native plants, and monitoring wildlife such as Peru's native bird: el gallito de las rocas, or cock of the rocks, and a number of frog species impacted by climate change. In my free time, I had the opportunity to hike the reserve’s many trails, walk to tiny local jungle villages to practice my Spanish, journal about my experiences and the history I learned in Cusco to inspire future fiction writing, visit an animal sanctuary, and swim in nearby waterfalls! Only in Manu can a variety of animals such as wild monkeys, jaguars, giant anteaters, giant otters, and caimans still live without fear of hunting or other human influences, and a majority of insects there have not been studied by science at all. Most of the reserve (which is the size of New Hampshire) is accessible only to licensed biologists, so it was a blessing to be able to work in part of it as a student. I hope to return to Manu in the future to explore even more of the area as a field biologist. This was an amazing and eye-opening way to spend my Winter Break, and I'm very thankful to Reed for making this opportunity possible.
Madeline Wagar ’16, Assistant Editor with Works & Days, interviewed William Vickery '10, Classics major and Senior Investigator at Mintz Group.
Tell me a bit about Mintz Group.
I’ve been working with Mintz since January of 2012. Mintz is a traditional private investigation firm specializing in corporate intelligence gathering. Clients contact us when they are interested in figuring out what their competitors are doing. Clients are often interested in looking into how other people in their field are using similar trademarks, or in figuring out who is the best to do business with in their field of interest. It’s a very diverse company. Our operations fall into three categories. The first is foreign relationships, so we are investigating corporations around the world and making sure they are reputable. The second category is disputes and litigations. This category contains a lot of white-collar work. It’s often employment related, or dealing with the Internet, tasks like website preservation. We try to discover what has worked successfully in the past. We also investigate employee misconduct, so we might come in after an employee makes off with $100,000 to figure out how they did it. We will put together a profile of how it was accomplished, and the client can work out a plan for prevention in the future.
I learned in early September that simon max hill ‘01 was sponsoring an externship over fall break. After reading his interview on Works & Days, I knew I wanted to apply. I had just switched my major from biology to English, and I felt that I connected with simon on several levels with regards to his experience at Reed. I was very interested in his work in film and advertisement casting, and as someone interested in media and advertising, this felt like a logical next step.
Nine days later, I found myself lying in bed and checking my email before French class, when my sleepy eyes read the subject line, “Dan, meet simon, your fall externship sponsor. simon, Dan Pogust!” I was so incredibly thrilled for the learning opportunity ahead of me, that I accidentally made noises of excitement that startled my roommate.
I began my externship early, on Saturday October 18th, with Liz Vice, a freelance casting director who was helping simon cast extras for the movie Green Room. This process began by working five and a half hours contacting roughly one hundred extras via email, text, and repetitive phone calls. The whole process was an excellent lesson for me in casting extras, and an excellent introduction to the externship as a whole.
I went to where we are supposed to find society’s worst. What I found were people working to be their best.
I spent five weeks attending class with our outcasts, our pariahs, our unseen. The ones we place in shadow and in darkness, out of view, all the better to construct them as distant abstracts, faceless and certainly heartless causers of violence and tragedy and badness. Criminals. Violators. Undeserving of society, deservedly stripped of rights.
Nathan Martin '16, Assistant Editor at Works & Days, interviewed Jessica L. Benjamin '93, Senior Account Manager at Monster Worldwide.
How would you describe your career path? Do you feel it's been fairly straightforward, or more winding?
It's been fairly straightforward in that when I was entering college, I wanted to be a journalist, or a writer, then I found out how much journalists made, and that there was another career path for me. I was a Quest editor, which is how I got almost all the experience I used to get my first couple of jobs, and then I've worked in media, one type or another pretty much the entire time. Even when I was in law school, it was part-time, and I was working in media part-time to make money, and so it seems fairly straightforward. What's happened along the way is that newsprint is not a way for someone like me to make money anymore and so I made the switch over to doing digital media. Then I discovered recruitment advertising online, which is one of the areas where there is money to be made. So I was doing it before in the sciences, and then when the NIH cuts came, and there was much less funding in the sciences, then I went to go work for Monster.
Madeline Wagar ’16, Assistant Editor with Works & Days, interviewed Van Havig '92, Master Brewer and Founder at Gigantic Brewing in Portland, OR.
Why beer? Why brewing? How did you get into it?
I am a class of ‘92 graduate. At the time at Reed, there was the general feeling that what you do when you get out of Reed was go to grad school. So right out of Reed I went to a Ph.D. program in Minnesota, studying economics. I did that for two and half years and as I went through I lost faith in economics. I was interested in it as a social science, not as business. Then I realized economics wasn’t great as a social science. I dropped out of grad school, and I wanted to do something that allowed me to work more with my hands. I am a very mechanical person. I was still in Minnesota and I decided to try to get a job at a brewery.
Cristobal (3rd from left) working a summer internship with Causa
I spent my summer traveling around Oregon while working for Causa, the largest network of Latinos in the Pacific Northwest. In this capacity I was given a great degree of independence and charged with a variety of tasks, from administrative tasks such as statistical analysis and the incorporation of the Voter Activation Network as a hub for directing volunteer and campaign management to activism in the form of voter registration, civil rights organizing, and immigration legal services. My primary work was to advocate for Measure 88 on the upcoming ballot, also known as the Safe Roads Act. This measure would reduce barriers to accessing insurance and grant thousands of people the opportunity to apply for a driver card regardless of citizenship status. I found this experience to be a meaningful supplement to my Reed education, so I have worked to establish a federal work study contract with Causa and Reed College.
Working with Causa has changed the way I think about politics, identity, and everyday experiences as well as the way these three facets of life interact with each other. I realized, as I talked to people on the streets, in supermarkets, Jaripeos, concerts and churches, that people of color face numerous obstacles that could (and should) be addressed by legislation. This led me to reflect on the role of politics as well as my own privilege. My coworkers were a huge inspiration to me because of their sense of purpose and commitment. I saw people overcoming language barriers, and driving long distances after a full day of work in order to help shape the world they lived in. They weren’t just raising signs, they were raising voices. I came out of this experience wiser, more skeptical (only a little bit jaded) and more conscious of my own identity. My internship continues to impact me in the new ways as my academics endogenously fuel my passion for social justice.
In her first and second blog entries, Winta set out on the President's Summer Fellowship journey, travelling to Uganda to interview Eritrean refugees for a documentary, and reuniting with members of her family along the way. In this installment, she travels to Rome to interview more refugees.
After leaving Uganda, my plan was to stay with my aunt in Italy and rely on her to help me connect with Eritrean refugees in the area. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding about my arrival date and I actually landed the day she was leaving the country. Since I knew absolutely nobody else in Rome, I decided to get a hotel room in the city center. I noticed there were several Eritrean restaurants nearby and decided go in and ask the servers about where I might find Eritrean refugees in Rome. This required a lot of courage because I had no idea how they might receive me, but it turned out to be a successful endeavor.
The owner of the restaurant walked me to this place referred to as “The Palazzo” (which was two blocks away from my hotel room), and told me to talk to the Eritreans at the front desk. Though I couldn’t possibly describe everything that happened afterwards in this short blog, I will talk about two of the major highlights.
A wind turbine mixes wind into chaotic vortices. These vortices limit efficiencies of the turbines that are located downstream. The tip of the turbine’s blade creates a particularly strong vortex. In the latter part of my research, I have become enthralled with how this vortex’s strength varies across space. This vortex is strongest near the middle of the vortex, and it is weaker farther away. Let us refer to the vortex’s strength as vorticity. Along a line that bisects the vortex, the plot of the vorticity versus the distance is similar to the plot of a Gaussian function, which also known as the normal distribution or the bell curve.
Thus, the vorticity distribution is approximately Gaussian. The reason for this Gaussian approximation is that diffusion smears the vortex out into a Gaussian shape. Diffusion often acts to spread distributions out into Gaussian curves; as you read this sentence, this process occurs around you because diffusion acts to spread heat out towards a Gaussian distribution. Gaussian distributions frequently occur under diffusion because Gaussian convolutions are mathematically simple ways of smoothing out functions. Diffusion spreads a vortex out to a stable, more uniform state by making the distribution into a progressively shorter and broader Gaussian.
Diffusion, however, is not the only force that acts upon a vortex; for interactions between vortices make the vorticity distribution more complicated than a simple Gaussian. A plot of vorticity along a line that bisects a vortex is similar to - yet distinctly different from - a Gaussian. Distributions across various lines differ from Gaussians in different ways. Averaging these plots together gives the graph shown below. The vorticity is normalized by the maximum vorticity of the vortex.
A young boy leaves his home that he helped build at the Nakivale Refugee Camp.
In her first blog entry, Winta set out on the President's Summer Fellowship journey, travelling to Uganda to interview Eritrean refugees for a documentary, and reuniting with members of her family along the way. In this installment, she travels to a nearby refugee camp for her project.
When my brother agreed to drive me to Nakivale Refugee Camp, which is five hours away from Kampala, I assumed he knew how to get there. A few hours before we were set to depart, however, I noticed his apprehension. That’s when I found out he had never actually driven there himself. As I begin to rethink my plans he assured me that there was only one road in that direction, which meant there was no possible way to get lost.
We decided to travel through the night, so we could arrive there early in the morning. Though I expected unpaved roads and minimal traffic lights, I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming darkness that threatened to swallow us into the wilderness. For most of the ride, it was so dark that my brother and I could not see each other in the car. I couldn’t help but think about how we were completely on our own, with no way to call for help if necessary.
Madeline Wagar ’16, Assistant Editor with Works & Days, interviewed Simon Max Hill '01, a self-employed Casting Director working in Portland, OR.
Tell me a bit about what you do.
I have a small casting company that does casting of all kinds. We don’t cast theater, but we do commercial, film, T.V., print, any kind of advertising or entertainment. Say you are a producer and you have a project that requires an actor or model. You come to us and say, “I need a guy who looks like a college basketball player. He'll have some lines, but not a lot, but he must be able to play basketball. What can you get?” And then we have a conversation about payment. In a way, we are a human resource company. For a very specific kind of human resource.
Me being the MC for the closing ceremony of the summer pre-service training.
The past two months have been a whirlwind of events, feelings, and encounters. Quite different from my original imagining of this summer internship, yet equally as fantastic, or even more so.
Originally, the plan was to spend half of my time doing a field research project in rural regions in Taiwan for the organization Teach for Taiwan, and the other half of the time would be spent assisting the organization in finding mentors for Teach for Taiwan's pilot cohort teachers. Well, plans don't always work out, especially independent internship projects like this.