Works and Days

Successful "Sophomore Stretch" prepares students to make the most of opportunities at Reed

Joan Wang on New Upcoming Student Publication

Joan Wang is the Editor-in-Chief of Homer’s Roamers, a publication featuring collection of internationally-oriented creative works produced by students. Homer's Roamers is still accepting written and visual creative submissions from students who have traveled abroad while at Reed.

MW: What motivated your idea for Homer’s Roamers?

Concluding Thoughts from Zenger Farm Intern Sara Post

This past Sunday concluded the 2013 season of Lents International Farmers Market. I provided a big tub of gourds and little pumpkins for the kids to decorate with paint. After 19 weeks of implementing hard thought out farm related lessons for youth, I didn’t feel so bad succumbing to allow a bit less educational activity. The conclusion of Lents market marks the end of the first year of the Food Scouts program, and the beginning of many years to come. The program achieved its goal of engaging over 300 young people aged 5 through 12. The kids ventured to the farmer's market and used tokens we distributed to buy vegetables while learning about agriculture at the booth they visited. I feel proud to have been the first director of Food Scouts and am grateful to the Summer Internship Advantage Program, which lead me to an opportunity I loved so much that I decided to stay until well into autumn, seeing it to the season’s end. Now that Food Scouts has had its first year, the infrastructure to continue it (including a hefty binder full of project descriptions, forms, advice and the like) is firmly in place for its next leader to take on.

For more information on Food Scouts, see:

Image: James Villafranca, market volunteer and Reed alumnus, teaches a scout about the process of fermentation.

"Not just there to teach science": Bailey Boatsman on her experience with Biology Outreach

Bailey Boatsman, Class of 2016 

Biology Outreach Lead Teacher

Bailey is a volunteer lead teacher with the Biology Outreach program. The Biology Outreach program creates partnerships with local schools to provide science lessons to students who would not otherwise have access. Although not pursuing the sciences in her own academics, Bailey cultivates her love of teaching and evident reverence for all learning by bringing science to local elementary school students. Her thoughtful perspective reminds us not to forget that enthusiasm and true curiosity are all that is needed to reveal the joy and discovery in life’s smallest moments.

Jungle Reedie: Robin Fink, 2009, pursues her dream career in the Ecuadorian jungle

Robin Fink, Class of '09, lives and works in Ecuador where she does her self-proclaimed “dream job.”  Involvement with the Ecuador Service Project her freshman year sparked a lifelong passion and career path. Throughout her time at Reed and beyond, her dedication to service and her drive to take advantage of every available resource earned her multiple awards, grants, and scholarships.

Tell me a bit about yourself, and what you are doing now:

I graduated in 2009, so I’ve now been out as long as I was in Reed. Which is totally trippy, really mind-blowing. I’ve lived in Ecuador for the past 4 years. I currently work at organization called Fundación Pachamama, in Quito. We have a sister organization in San Francisco, the Pachamama Alliance. Our focus here is more on the ground, since we’re actually located in Ecuador. We promote alternative forms of development that don’t depend on the extraction of non-renewable resources, and support alternative, sustainable ways of living that are also spiritually fulfilling. I’m working with a program called Jungle Mamas,  a maternal and infant health program. It’s intercultural, so we’re working with indigenous nations of people in the Amazon. Actually, we’re working with the Achuar people, which is interesting because Reed had an Anthropology class while I was there called “Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism” and we read a lot about Achuar people… and now I’m working with them!

Winter Externships 2014!

Sponsor recruitment for 2014 Reed College Winter Externships is complete and's time for students to apply! There are forty opportunities this winter, and students have until 15 October 2013 to apply.

Here's a visual of the opportunities.

Commerce Kitchen Final Reflections

I’m running a little late with this blog post – school has been in session for two weeks already, and my internship ended over a month ago – but I wanted to share this last reflection, even if belatedly, on my summer experience with Commerce Kitchen, a web development and marketing company in Denver. I said in my previous blog post that this internship marked many firsts for me. Consequently, it has posed many opportunities for learning.

Some things I learned were specific to my work, like how to create a successful infographic or how to track visitors to a website using Google Analytics. (Here is a link to the infographic I created on biking in Seattle:

Other things I learned were generally useful career skills, like business networking and project management. I also learned some things that I wouldn’t directly list on my newly created Linked-in page, but that are just as valuable for my career and life. I lived on my own for the first time, learned to navigate the very important challenges of finances, cooking, and shared cleaning duties with a housemate. I also learned to recognize when I needed to rely on my roommate and when I just needed alone time.

On Life, Learning, and the Law: an interview with Kali Borkowski, Class of 2010

Kali is the manager of SCOTUSblog, a successful blog with a small staff dedicated to covering United States Supreme Court cases without bias. Kali manifests the spirit of Reed’s liberal arts education, and illuminates that practicing the perspective of “learning for the love of learning” has tangible, real-world value.

MW: Tell me a bit about what you do as manager of SCOTUSblog?

KB: I coordinate the content of the blog. The Supreme Court hears about 80 cases each year and we cover all of them. We also select about a dozen issues that we believe will have broad appeal and we have symposia, that I curate, on those topics.

A Summer with Architecture for Humanity: Sarah's Final Post

At the chapter meeting this month, my summer position with Architecture for Humanity Portland officially came to an end. As the meeting’s featured speaker, I presented my accomplishments as Chapter Development Coordinator over the past 10 weeks. Looking back, it’s unsettling how quickly the summer flew by, and I find myself wondering how I managed to fit so many significant experiences within such a short period of time.

Since my last blog post, I’ve helped AFH Portland grow considerably as an organization. Working closely with Becca, the Director of Membership and Communications, I created a comprehensive Chapter Manual to guide the future operations of our chapter. Hopefully, the Manual will serve as a resource to facilitate the success and sustainability of chapter activities long after the current directors are gone.

Using a draft manual written by AFH New York as my model, I created my own 52 page (and growing) document that contains an overview of chapter organization and roles, a project toolkit, resources for information management and chapter finances, a guide to grants and grant-writing, and a strategic plan for future development. Essentially, the Chapter Manual integrates the various components of my work this summer within one cohesive document. Surprisingly, no other chapter to date has created a complete operational manual, so my work could potentially serve as a resource for AFH chapters nationwide (which is really exciting!).

Reed Winter Externships

Last winter, we introduced Winter Externships to Reedies. Twenty-four students participated in 11 externships around the US. This year, we're gearing up for a larger pool of opportunities and to deploying more first, second, and third year Reedies across the country from January 6 to 17. 

So far for January, we have opportunities in several different areas of education—Waldorf, TESOL, the Socratic method, Saturday Academy, and the politics of teaching. There are some great opportunities for students interested in pre-law: activist law with Public Citizen; family law, tax law; medicine and psychology in neuroscience, small-town hospital/pathology, medical policy and funding, naturopathic wellness and digestive disorders; writing and social media; government with a state representative; finance with a tax practice; environment through sustainability at large institutions and hazardous waste through county government; libraries; the emerging field of radiochemistry; entrepreneurialism, and social justice through gritty survival issues of homelessness in New York City.

What. A. Summer.

I’ve been struggling to find the appropriate words to express just how profound my experience as a President’s Summer Fellow has been. After falling into a deep rut following a series of negative experiences working as a professional ballet dancer, I desperately wanted to rewire my relationship to my body, my technique, and the concert dance world in general. This was a big request for a ten week project, but I am incredibly happy with the results. Through innumerable bruises, doubts, and tears, I have come out of this adventure a very different dancer then when I began. Spending six weeks training and exploring at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance has given me new confidence, a new sense of wonder, and new joy in all things dance and movement related.


Telling the Cuban Story: A President’s Summer Fellowship Project

During my time in Cuba I came to learn many of the country's realities of life. Some were hard to face, but others were truly amazing. Simply unbelievable! For example, racism and class division just simply do not exist in Cuba. In terms of race relations, everyone is so mixed, and has been mixing for so many generations that it is difficult to tell what most people's ethnicities are. The concept of race did not exist for the Cubans that I spoke to. When I would ask people about racism, they seemed confused as to what racism would consist of, and as to why I was asking. When I explained the United State’s race relations, they seemed to struggle to conceptualize the idea, because it just didn't exist in their world. I got looks of shock when I explained the United States' history of racism and the racial divisions that continue today. It was fascinating to see a country that shared in having a history of racism, but that had experienced such a different outcome. Cuba's racial blindness wasn't just apparent in words, but in action too. Cubans of all colors did everything together, everywhere. My family had blonde haired, blue-eyed neighbors stopping by, as well as dark-skinned friends. There weren't any neighborhoods segregated by race as there are in the United States. People explained to me that on average there were more black doctors than white doctors in every hospital. Most police I saw were black or mixed, to my surprise. I encountered no visible signs of racial division. It was quite incredible.

Intimately tied into this racial peace is the fact that everyone in Cuba is the same class (excluding military and government officials). In this way Cubans' social relations were even more unbelievable, because there were no divisions based on class, clothing, visible signs of wealth, class customs, or any other usual causes of segregation. No one looked down upon anyone else for not having money, because everyone struggled all the time. Just like racial divisions, class pretension and class shame between Cubans does not exist. As an American, there were times I felt I had found a social utopia.

Streetside Cuba

Experiencing Cuba: Sophie Naranjo-Rivera, President's Summer Fellowship Student

Arriving in Cuba was crazy. I had had a near nervous break down the day before, because I had been dreaming about Cuba for so long, and it was finally coming. It was the first time I had ever accomplished anything that big and important to me. I hadn't gotten much sleep and I was freaking out when the plane landed at the José Martí airport in Havana. Everyone was speaking to me in Spanish and I couldn't understand their thick Cuban accents properly. I was certainly not in the U.S. anymore. When I finally reached the other side of security, my family was waiting for me outside the exit among all of the other Cuban families. They recognized me right away, even though they haven't seen any recent pictures of me, because I look just like my grandma when she was younger, as I later came to find out. Driving through Havana for the first time was unreal. I was in a state of shock for the entire first day, as I spent the day talking with my family and taking naps. They were all so excited to have me there.


The strangest thing about Cuba was that everything was exactly as I expected. I had prepared for the opposite-I told myself not to expect anything and that everything would probably be different than I thought. Ironically, Cuba was just how I'd seen it, in my dreams at night, in books, in other people's stories. It was like I had been there before, and it felt not only incredible but very comfortable. Not to mention that everything there was absolutely beautiful. I thought maybe it only looked this way in pictures, but realized that photos of Cuba in tour books and on posters are actually extremely representative. Everything is tropical, there are fruit trees everywhere, pastel colored houses, old cars of bright colors with thick black smoke coming out of the tail pipes. I absolutely loved it. It truly was like going back in time 50 years, not just in how Cuba physically looked, but also in the country's abilities. For example, there was hardly any internet connection at all; it was just not apart of people's daily lives because it costs so much money there. Few people had cell phones and when they did they were not used often. Everything had to be done by phone or in person. Most people did not have cars. People walked around from house to house in their spare time-socializing, having fun, drinking coffee, playing chess or dominoes.

Rebecca Richman, Commerce Kitchen

There's a pig!

As always, Commerce Kitchen has been a blast!

 We’ve learned a lot throughout the internship. We had our fist project taken away because it started getting out of the scope of things in intern can do. What started as linkbait turned into a campaign and the subsequently turned uncontrollable. For us interns at least. We were still able to launch an entire linkbait project despite all the time that campaign took up.

 This was a super exciting process. It was challenging, as it was very hands off, but very rewarding. We researched Seattle Mortgage Planners, their audience and the best way to reach out to them. We settled on an infographic about biking in Seattle. If you want, you can check it out here! (

Daniel Lybrand, Wehrli Lab Notes, Post 3

My internship at OHSU has now ended, but fortunately not my partnership with the Wehrli lab. I will continue on as a research assistant for the next year before proceeding to graduate school and will hopefully help to advance the lab’s ongoing projects.

We have been making good progress towards understanding some of the mechanisms by which processes dependent on Wnt signaling are regulated. As mentioned earlier, fluorescence microscopy figures prominently in our research. Marcel has taken a somewhat non-traditional approach to fluorescence imaging for this project in order to skirt some issues peculiar to the Wnt pathway. This has largely paid off, but we are sometimes hindered by issues unrelated to the imaging techniques themselves: often, the biggest challenge we face comes from our research subjects before they are even dissected. While Drosophila are typically easy to care for, certain genetic constructs, pivotal to our research, have a disappointing effect on their survival rates. An experiment that seems very straightforward at the outset can be a laborious process as fly crosses are made and remade to yield the needed larvae. Despite all the resources that our fully functional lab has access to, research can come to a halt due to events beyond our control. Additionally, our latest observations from the confocal microscope may prompt us to reconsider what we’ve previously seen. We may want to revisit an experiment that seemed complete weeks or months ago.

 Despite this apparent lack of progress, the pieces do eventually come together in some fashion. We may be thoroughly confused by our data on some days, but when Marcel sees what we’ve missed before, things begin to make sense. These are the “aha!” moments that scientists strive for. At these moments, I typically remain confused. Recognizing patterns can be hard. Understanding the implications of those patterns is harder. Some of our experiments give strong results that, on the surface, get us no closer to our quarry. These results may be the key to answering our questions if we can come to understand their significance. I look forward to the discovery.

Commerce Kitchen, Sofi Wright, Ch 2

PREVIOUSLY on Sofi’s adventures in Denver: Sofi started as an intern at Commerce Kitchen, a web development and marketing company that is actually a group of superheroes. Her task, along with her fellow Reed intern Rebecca, was to research and produce what is known in the industry as “linkbait”—any online content cool enough that people will want to post links to it—a strategy for content marketing and search engine optimization. She was in the midst of creating a linkbait project when we left her last…

Something More Than Your Average Linkbait

Some weeks ago, we had our idea for a linkbait: drink recipes inspired by file format extensions (JPG, TXT, etc.)—it was nerdy and reflected the interests of Commerce Kitchen. We initially wanted to make it an infographic, but after a number of discussions on how best to promote the idea, it evolved from a simple online posting into something much bigger: a multi-week drink-making competition between local start-ups.

Inside the Reed Summer GameJam, Hosted by Mark Chen '95

GameJammers test Joe Wasserman's econ-based barbershop game

Beginning August 1st, the small classroom in the Psychology building was transformed into a studio for aspiring Reed student and alumni game developers. The conversion of the tiny classroom into a software and tabletop game studio is without a doubt more mental than physical— the room remains largely empty, added décor consisting only of a mini-fridge topped with a bag of pretzels, a couple of pizza boxes, an empty coffee cup, and a “to do” list scrawled on the white board.

            “Maybe I should have tried to decorate. Put up some posters or something.” Mark Chen '95, who instigated this summer’s GameJam (which is sponsored by The Center for Life Beyond Reed and alumni & parent relations at Reed with help from colleagues in computer user services and facilities), remarked sheepishly at one point.

            But the lack of anything in the studio other than some snacks to refuel simply demonstrates the nature and focus of the GameJam. Fancy equipment or a specialized, personalized location is unnecessary. All that is needed for a successful GameJam is contained within the participants themselves.

The Reed College Peer-Reviewed Journal, Ch 2

The objective of my proposed publication has undergone a subtle shift over the last two months. I had initially envisioned either a formal review that surveyed a year’s work at Reed, or a thematic publication, composed of art, essays, and, fiction. Since then, my objective has narrowed.

De Paul Treatment Centers Internship, Ch 2

As the Freedom Award Luncheon looms closer, I am working harder than ever. I keep track of all our table sales and preparations. I've made so many spreadsheets, I almost never want to open Microsoft Excel again! I am learning about all of the organization it takes to prepare for this event, which will host somewhere around 470 people. All of the decorations and the menu must be ordered. Invitations need to be sent out. I'm sure that when I get back from vacation I will have a stack of RSVPs to wade through so that we can begin table seating arrangements.

Social Media and Outreach, SOIL, Chapter 2

I’m five weeks into my Social Media and Outreach Internship with the 501(c)3 nonprofit Sustainable Integrated Organic Livelihoods (SOIL) and I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with such an effective, socially responsible organization. In my time here I’ve come to more fully appreciate the gravity of the global sanitation crisis, being that over 2.5 billion people across the globe lack improved sanitation facilities. In Haiti, over 70% lack access to a toilet leading to a high rate of child mortality from waterborne diseases.  While SOIL’s contribution to mitigating this problem sometimes feel like a drop in the ocean in the context of these staggering data, the fact still remains that close to 7,000 Haitians are currently benefiting from SOIL’s products and services. In addition, SOIL focuses on designs and services with the potential to be scaled up through social business development so it’s exciting to see how this small project might help address the international challenge of increasing global access to sanitation.

SOIL implemented the first urban waste treatment site in all of Haiti in 2009. Considering how densely packed Port-au-Prince is, this is truly astounding to imagine. SOIL now operates two out of four waste treatment sites in Haiti. The capacity of these sites is clearly inadequate to suit the needs of the country, but Haiti is moving in the right direction with their new Water and Sanitation Authority and the public and private sector are working together more closely than ever to quell the cholera epidemic and implement long-term sanitation solutions.

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