Imagine you’re me. You’re 20 years old and you love DNA, but have very little on your resume to show for it, save a former lab tech job and a prayer that your future employer can detect your enthusiasm. You’re dragging a conspicuously neon suitcase down the street of a Parisian suburb following the signs to École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, a private University with a reputation for its scientific prestige. Not surprisingly, your three days of 1990s-era in-car-insta-French CDs have done nothing to prepare you for the conversation with the security guard explaining what you’re doing there. For the next two weeks, you’ll be having these conversations with everyone you meet by courtesy of the immediate observation that you are out of your element. Your comfort zone is 6667 km away, and you are really excited not to be in it.
For my Winter Shadow Internship, I was working under the supervision of Bianca Sclavi, a biophysicist in charge of the Bacteria Lab at ENS Cachan. Suffice it to say that my Winter Shadow experience was a learning opportunity, but also an experience of exposure on many counts.
LBPA is an interdisciplinary lab, so projects not only pass through the hands of biologists, but chemists, mathematicians, and physicists as well. In addition, Bianca often seeks the assistance of collaborators around the world from Minneapolis to Cambridge to other side of Paris. Coming from Reed, where the Bio Department and the Physics Department ironically feel miles away from one other, this was one of the first surprises about LBPA: how scientific inquiry in its raw form refused to stay in one place. With this in mind, as well as Bianca’s tendency to work on multiple things at once, it was often easiest to follow the development of individual experiments.
Sydney Scarlata, senior political science major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in Cuba, using photography and mini-interviews to capture a moment of life in Cuba at a crucial transition point at the end of decades of animosity but before the floodgates of U.S. capitalism fully open.
Author’s note: I’ve never been very articulate so this may be the hardest part of my project.
On January 1st I left snowy Chicago for a country whose language I could not speak and whose relationship with my country was unsettled, at best. This project started as an attempt to capture the wide-ranging impact that the Cuban revolution has had on the country and its citizens 55 years after the fact. And yes, I have several photographs of the many monuments, street art, and the propaganda posters (because advertisements don’t exist in Cuba). However, my project quickly morphed into something much great and infinitely more complicated. I found myself exploring the depths of what, and more importantly who, is Cuba. What I found (besides delicious food and cloudless skies) was a community of people who were so excited to share a piece of their everyday lives with me. Obviously there were some exceptions (I know I would be more than a little skeptical if a U.S. tourist asked me if they could take my photo). Cuban students, for example, always refused a photo op. Generally, however, I found that my camera was a conversation starter.
My Winter Shadow experience did not concern the cold, bright, often terrifying light of real-time social exposure in the offices and labs I’d always imagined as waystations placed along the glistening Career Track, places for making urgent connections. Instead, it was private, personal, almost confidential—indeed, my time spent with Edith Zdunich, a Portland-based freelance book editor, was very much about what happens in the shadows.
The editing Shadow had captured my interest partly because my understanding of the field was so vague. Sure, as an avid reader and writer with a confidence in her own grammatical accuracy, detail-oriented perfectionism, and literary taste, I had a hunch that being paid to polish manuscripts for publication would suit me. But my comprehension of the processes that brought a work from brainchild to print edition was virtually nil, and Internet searches supplied surprisingly little clarity. I knew what an editor’s job was, but I had no idea what editors actually did.
When I met with Edith, one of the first things I learned was this: neither do their clients.
For two weeks this winter, I shadowed Dr. Dan Michaels in the La Jolla Village Family Medical Group. As a student interested in pursuing medical school after Reed, I was thrilled for this opportunity. This experience exceeded my expectations and has left me more excited than ever for my future.
Every day of my shadow, I followed the day-to-day work of Dr. Michaels. This work included seeing patients, refilling prescriptions, following up with patients about test results, and dealing with pesky pharmaceutical representatives. As I had expected, the work life of a primary care physician was busy. In addition to annual exams, the patients we saw included people with sore throats, stomach pains, aching muscles, addiction concerns, and surgery follow ups. The variety was exciting and Dr. Michael’s grace leaping from case to case was impressive.
In each appointment, Dr. Michael’s would open the door and recite, “I have a student that would like to stand by. Is that alright with you?” With the exception of two patients, I was graciously welcomed as the patient appeared flattered to be considered an interesting case and eagerly allowed me to learn from their body. In these rooms, I was honored to be a part of these patients’ lives in even the smallest way, whether that meant offering a sympathetic glance as they shared their frustrations with weight loss, holding the hand of a brave patient going through a tough point in their health, or simply thanking the individual for trusting me with these details in their life.
Savanah Walseth, junior Sociology major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in India, exploring alternative models of mental health care.
My trip to India was a series of dichotomies. Anxiety about traveling to a country alone; pure joy in discovering things that only I would have found. Seeing some of the most fabulous beaches and most expensive buildings in the world; visiting the largest slum in Asia. Exhaustion from constant conversations about money and worry about theft; witnessing immense kindness from complete strangers. I was there to study mental health in the country and while I did this, I also learned a lot about my own.
I think the only way to sum up my trip is to take it one city at a time and share the lessons learn and a few tidbits about the people I met and things I saw.
Isabel Meigs, senior Russian major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in Ukraine, studying Ukrainian language and culture.
On the Sunday in between my two weeks of language instruction, I went on an excursion called “Karpatskii Tramvai + SPA”. The tour left at eight in the morning from the Hotel L’viv in a Mercedes mini-bus and drove three or so hours south of L’viv into the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast and the Carpathian Mountains. Our tour guide’s name was Yurii. Besides myself, there was a young couple whose common language (but neither of their native languages) was English, a mother/five-year-old son pair, a mother/teenage daughter pair, and a whole group of middle-aged friends from Dnipropetrovsk. And a French bulldog wearing a camo jacket.
On the night of January 10th, I stepped off a plane and arrived in New York. I had traveled across the country, and it was my first time traveling alone to somewhere that wasn’t Reed. It was dark and I was tired, but I was also nervous and excited for the start of my Big Apple Adventure.
Some months earlier, when I first found out that I had gotten this Shadow opportunity, I made a post on the Reed Switchboard, requesting a place to crash for a few days. Thankfully, Jon Steiner ‘93 responded and generously offered me a place to stay.
Me, 2nd from the left, with my host Chris McCraw, on my right, and the Support Ops team
Mustering up the will to get out of bed at 7 am on a rainy Monday in Portland is a lot easier if you have something to look forward to. I realize that 7 am isn’t early for some, but after two weeks of loafing around with my family, it was a bit of a rude awakening (pardon the pun). Each morning that week, the 99 bus shuffled me to the 6th and Yamhill, and from there I’d walk a few Portland-sized blocks to 2nd and Taylor.
At the corner of 2nd and Taylor is– you guessed it– Jama’s headquarters. The building owner has a penchant for old motorcycles, so the first-floor lobby sports four beautiful bikes (three Ducatis and a Norton, if memory serves). The second-floor lobby is no less eclectic, though that’s Jama’s doing. Anyone who visits the Jama office signs in with a living wall at their back and an inspirational mission statement on the wall to their right. A few of my favorite bits: “This is where we do our best work. It’s where we ask the tough questions and challenge the status quo… As an employee, partner, customer, or guest within our space, you are a member of Jama Nation… Let’s get to work.”
Jama Software focuses on one product, known as Jama. “Jama,” as it was put me by my externship host, “is a little bit of a Swiss army knife.” It’s often used by companies who have a lot of specifications, procedural oversight, or regulations to meet during the product development process. My externship host was Chris McCraw, team Lead for Support Ops. The Support Ops team, which served as a home base of sorts for me, manages any technical issues that might pop up on the customer side. They also maintain online a community where users can ask questions, read documentation, and learn how to make Jama work for them.
On a drizzly morning, the streets were dotted with umbrellas and suit-clad business people desperately holding newspapers above their heads. I realized I wasn’t in Portland anymore. Contra Portland’s laid back, “quirky” vibes, our nation’s capital buzzes with a different energy. The city teems with activity, as the foremost legal and political minds in the country face off daily.
I arrived in DC in early January to spend a week shadowing Paul Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen. Within the small and highly collaborative litigation group at Public Citizen—a nonprofit whose stated goal is to champion citizen interests before Congress and the Courts—Paul specializes in first amendment, and more specifically internet speech, law, often representing anonymous clients.
I didn’t know what exactly I would be doing prior to my arrival at Citizen. Paul let me know that his caseload is unpredictable and I should come, not prepared for any particular thing, but for anything. Further, I would be working with another intern, Kendra, a 3L at Harvard Law School.
This January I was able to spend three days shadowing Amber Hollister, the General Counsel at the Oregon State Bar. I went into the experience with a strong interest in the connection between law and ethics, but actually knowing very little about how the rules that govern lawyers play out in real life.
On the first day of the shadow, I was able to learn about the role of the disciplinary counsel at the Bar and about the process that occurs when somebody files an ethics complaint against the lawyer. During the next two days, I was able to see how these ethics rules get put into practice. I met with law students, lawyers, and even judges, which was an invaluable opportunity.
One of the most meaningful parts of my winter shadow experience was being able to meet Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Adrienne Nelson and sit in on one of her court proceedings. Afterwards, she generously met with us and discussed her own experiences as a judge and a lawyer. I also had the honor of meeting United States District Court Judge Michael Simon and Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Garrett, who both went out of their way to answer our questions and share their experiences with us.
Ian Connelly, senior Chinese major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on his time in Beijing, China, practicing Tai Chi.
My teacher’s name is Zhong Zhenshan. He comes from Handan in Hebei province, about 5 hours south of Beijing. He began studying taijiquan with his master Yao Jizu when he was thirteen years old and now he is one of the foremost lineage holders of Wu family style. He’s participated in many competitions, symposiums, and exhibitions both domestically and internationally and he has students all over the world.
In January of 2016 I traveled to Curitiba, Brazil, for a winter shadow at Lumicenter Lighting, an LED lighting company. Immediately after leaving Boston on my plane to Brazil, I felt a mixture and excitement and anxiety: I did not speak Portuguese, had never been to South America, and was going to be doing some challenging engineering. However, as I met my host family I learned that my nerves were for naught. The family I stayed with was warm and inviting. They gave me some of the best home cooking I've had (somehow making healthy food taste really good), and showed me around like I was one of their close friends. They took me to beautiful parks, cities by the coast, drove by the tropical rain forest, went to excellent restaurants, and went go-carting. The most memorable meal for me there was at a churrascaria restaurant. It is a type of all-you-can-eat barbeque with every preparation of beef and pork you could want. I generally graze on food, eating many meals but always small in portions, but here I rarely said no when offered a cut of meat.
Once at the actual company, I was greeted by staff members with whom, once we learned how to get over the language barrier, we immediately started having fun and teasing each other, all while working on a better heating solution for a LED driver. The heat had to be reduced because the higher temperature an electrical component is, the shorter its lifetime. Even if the component is within its safe operating temperature range, being near the top of that range causes the product to break significantly earlier. Many methods were already tested so I had the challenge of coming up with new methods to hopefully be applied either in conjunction with the previous methods or by themselves. The staff made sure to give me feedback on my ideas and helped me every step of the prototyping way. They also knew that nobody could work on an empty stomach, so they introduced me to a snack called Paçoquita which I ended up loving. It was basically crushed nuts and sugar pressed into little cylinders and it was fantastic.
I'm going to miss everything from my trip: the people, the food, the weather, the work... I'll be sure to visit again soon.
Irene Globus-Harris, sophomore physics major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands, at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.
The Dutch national color is orange. Bright orange, the type that hurts your eyes after staring at it too long. As I flew in at the break of dawn, the entire sky—awash in an intense, orange sunrise—seemed to reflect that fact. I spent the first few days visiting my host family and friends in North Holland, then headed to Dwingeloo to begin my work at ASTRON. Dwingeloo is small—more of a village than a town, and is adjacent to one of the Netherlands’ largest national parks, the Dwingelderveld. ASTRON itself sits within that national park which made the bike ride in exceptionally beautiful.
The first day at Nasa Ames Research Center, Arwen showed us her office, where she keeps samples of Mars and Moon dirt analogs (formulated on Earth to resemble as closely as possible the real thing). Apparently these samples are used to test rover instruments to try to determine as best as possible how they would interact with the foreign environment. Arwen also kept pictures of all the previous groups she has worked with on various projects. Among them were a collaboration with the Japanese space agency to build a giant, human-sized centrifuge to simulate the gravity on the moon and on mars, and the construction of the solar panels of the ISS. Arwen showed us a piece of these panels. They were made of an incredibly thin material with intricate circuitry. Apparently when folded the basketball court long panel becomes only 3 inches thick, which I thought was amazing.
After this inspiring first impression of Arwen's job, we attended a meeting on a space station bio-lab Arwen's team is working on. Though there was a lot of technical talk that I didn't understand, I felt the vibe of teamwork and enthusiasm.
Many of Arwen's colleagues work on side projects with a different group of people out of their own interests. One of Arwen's side projects is a new Mars lander whose main goal is to directly search for life using a big drill, unlike previous rovers, which were apparently more concerned with geology. We got to see the life-sized wooden model of this lander built by Dave, a spacecraft expert. Dave was also nice enough to give us a tour of an ancient Titan 1 rocket. He even gave hand-outs about rocket engine principles and the many different types of rocket engines!
I spent two weeks of this past winter break engrossed in a shadow like no other. No, my winter shadow with Gloopen did not involve much shadowing at all in fact. Instead, founders of Gloopen, Arun Sagar and Ranjan Chaudhuri, challenged us externs to develop our own startup. More accurately, they asked us to start a startup. Though there remains much to be done before we can release our project onto a Reed server, it is awesome that we can even speak about doing so—in the sense that we are amazed at what we accomplished in two weeks and terrified what will come of our idea.
Terrified too of the legal quarrels looming over every startup’s head, about which we had several conversations that I found particularly enlightening. Luckily such quarrels may not be that relevant to our current project but just to have a general idea of things like the patent process, with all of its unspoken requirements (such as hiring someone to write the patent), makes me a little more confident in being able to play the game of startups.
Julie and Haley at Julie's office.
Two days ago I arrived at Julie Kirgis’s home overlooking the Puget Sound. Julie is the Dean of Arts and Humanities up at North Seattle College, but she also has a strong background in sociology research. Since I hope to go into education administration or research (I don’t know which yet), hanging out with Julie for a few days seemed like an awesome opportunity.
That first evening, Julie and I made a quiche together in a pie pan whose generous depth resulted in a soupy final product. Tom, Julie’s husband (and a Reedie), recommended that we flip the quiche upside-down in a saucepan and drain off some fluid. Since that made the crust soggy, I suggested we put it back in the oven. After three hours the quiche looked like we’d run it through a centrifuge, so much had it separated into its component parts. This was the most significant hiccup of the entire shadow, but it was the same improvisation and collaboration that marked the rest of the experience. This willingness to make the best out of the resources at hand also makes Julie such a great dean.
Coming away from it all, I want to emulate the way Julie goes above and beyond to inspire a sense of community among her faculty and a sense of trust between them and herself. Of all the administrators “on the dark side” (according to the faculty), Julie’s faculty really seem to believe that she has their best interests at heart—because she does, and she lets them know it. I got to see Julie lead large meetings, meet with all of the North Seattle deans in the “cone of silence,” and support her faculty one-on-one. On one occasion, a faculty member wanted to come in just to vent that she was planning to overload her own class by three students. She wanted to do it because she knows that these students really need the class, but for her this meant extra grading and no extra pay. Julie was the listening ear who acknowledged that no, that’s not fair. But at the same time, as an administrator, Julie balances the budget and makes sure that her division isn’t running classes they can’t afford (classes without enough butts in seats). That means she’s also responsible for cutting classes and trying to get classes as full as possible. She’s often responsible for making unpleasant decisions that mean fewer jobs for teachers and cancelled classes for students. The fact that her faculty still trusts her and comes to her with their frustrations is remarkable.
I had the privilege of shadowing Jessica Glenn, founder of MindBuck Media Book Publicity. Jessica is dynamic, knowledgeable, and thoughtful. In her job, she devotes her boundless energy to promoting the work of creative minds.
I was so lucky that my time with Jessica coincided with the beginning stages of her dialogue with Blue Star Coloring, the leading publisher of grown-up coloring books. On an icy Tuesday afternoon, I accompanied Jessica on a meeting with Blue Star, where I observed the collaborative effort of a publicity campaign. After the meeting, Jessica had me write a sample press release for an adult coloring book titled, "It's Owl Good: An Adult Coloring Book." As a Reedie English major, I found this assignment to be quite a hoot.
The entire experience revealed many elements of a publishing niche, and the literary world at large.
This winter I had the good fortune to shadow multiple attorneys working in the New Mexico Legal Aid Albuquerque branch. Legal Aid provides statewide civil legal service to vulnerable low-income clients and gives them varying degrees of legal advice and representation depending on the individual needs of each case.
Tiffany Sedillos (on the right in the photo) and Katie Withem (left in the photo), with the Foreclosure Defense Project, didn't just have me pushing papers and waiting until lunch break. Instead, I was given the opportunity to sit in on meetings with clients where I got to hear about the unique situations that brought people there and the surprisingly complicated chronology that comes before, during, and after a complaint for foreclosure. Afterwards, I talked to Tiffany or Katie about the specifics of each case and asked questions about how they might play out from a legal standpoint.
This past winter (2014), I shadowed Daniela Deyoung, a speech and language pathologist at the Portland Public School Early Childhood Team, for two weeks in January. Dani is mainly in charge of the transition from preschool to kindergarten for children with development delays, so she not only does speech development evaluations, but also communicates with preschool and kindergarten teachers and therapists to help with a smooth transition for children with special needs at school. Dani works with both English and Spanish speaking children. I followed Dani around the city to different meetings with parents and school staff and to observation sessions of children who need evaluations. Thanks to Dani, I also got to observe her colleagues during their evaluation sessions of children who were brought to the Early Childhood Team by parents with concerns of language or general development delay. It was very exciting and fun to learn about the child language development and observe the diverse tasks she and her colleagues perform on a day to day basis. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and was very patient with my questions.
I applied to the externship because I am very interested in languages and would like to learn more about the language development process of children. It was also a great opportunity to explore a completely new field. Dani was very engaged and helpful in the process and I learned a lot about autism and typical and non-typical child development at different age groups. Since Dani works with many children who fall in the autism spectrum, she started sending me articles about autism spectrum before the externship started and familiarized me with the symptoms. She was a great teacher and pointed out the children’s behaviors that might be indicators of autism to me during the observation sessions. She also gave me the opportunity to apply the autistic symptoms I learned by taking observation notes and gave me detailed feedback on them. I learned a great deal about child development from her within two weeks.
One important thing I learned is the importance of child play. Child play is an indicator of children’s social skills, their motor development and their intelligence development in general. Child play should be functional, meaning that children should play the toys the way they are designed to be played, have a story about what they are playing, or use the toys in innovative but still sensible ways. It is a lot of the times an imitation of adults’ activities—like cooking, driving cars, building a house, etc—and sometimes require cooperation with other children. When a child is not playing functionally, but uses a toy to make repetitive movements such as dragging a train in a circle nonstop or staring at car’s wheels spinning, it might be an indicator of autism, but of course the language pathologist has to see other symptoms of autism to qualify the child for special education. It was fascinating for me to learn about the functions and complexity of child play and helped me understand the typical behaviors of children.
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 exhibitions for her President's Summer Fellowship.
The three months since returning from Russia have been a blur of starting my thesis, and running between classes, and intermittently, reflecting upon my trip. I feel inexplicably grateful for receiving the opportunity to intern at the Hermitage, study classical and contemporary Russian art, and learn how to articulate critical analyses using idiomatic Russian. I, moreover, feel so grateful for this opportunity to continually stretch my ability to move through and be comfortable in new situations, geographically, interpersonally, and linguistically. Thank you.
As my two prior posts express, I was, and continue to be, particularly interested to study Russian visual culture, civil society, and their influences. My project, which was founded upon three tiers of museum internship, art historical research, and language study aimed to examine these three aspects within a Russian cultural context, because the field is difficult to study and access in the U.S.