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  • Voices of Trinity: Student Summer Adventures

    August 18, 2019

    Trinity students spent the Summer of 2019 doing amazing projects all over the world.  This blog tells some of their stories.  An earlier blog also shared the stories of students who studied abroad.   If you would like to share your summer internships, study abroad and other projects, send me a paragraph and photos on email president@trinitydc.edu

    Lesly “Sam” Murillo ’20:  Indiana University School of Medicine, 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in the Biomedical Sciences

    SamSam won a scholarship to participate in this intense 10-week program in laboratories at Indiana University.  She writes,

    “My experience in Indianapolis this summer was absolutely unforgettable! I developed so many skills and was able to meet many amazing people. My mentor was amazing and the PI in the lab I was working with was nothing but intelligent, productive, and hardworking.  I was assigned a project where I was to localize calcium binding proteins in the human parasite toxoplasma gondii. As summer progressed so did my project, I was able to obtain results and successfully localize one of the proteins! At the end of the 10 week program we where to present a poster explaining our research (photo above).”

    Thanks to Dr. Shizuka Hsieh, Associate Professor of Chemistry, for working with Sam to secure this great internship!  And thanks to Dr. Tara Hobson at Indiana University for opening doors for Trinity students!

    Adonis Mokom ’22:  Summer in London CIEE Presidential Fellowship

    Along with Fozia Jafar, whose story follows this one, Adonis Mokom won a CIEE Presidential Fellowship and spent part of the summer studying in London.  She made a terrific video of her experience, above, and here is her essay:

    “My journey to London was an opportunity of a lifetime that I could never imagine, that is being a first-year student and receiving the CIEE Presidential Fellows scholarship was indeed beyond my imagination. The joy and happiness that filled my heart was beyond what I could compare and all I wanted was to thank God for his unlimited favor and blessings that he had showered on me. As the day for my departure to London approached and all I could think of was the wonderful opportunity to step in a plane with my friend who is also a recipient of the CIEE Presidential Fellows scholarship to a destination of opportunity, adventure and the experience different cultures with the CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange). Who could say my journey was an easy one after having a 2hour delay at Dulles airport, and finally spending 7hours and 30 minutes on the plane was enough but getting to the London Heathrow Airport and realizing that we did not make it in time for our ride? Walking from terminal to terminal with our luggage’s with no WIFI nor a means to call for a ride was a surprise I couldn’t have planned for, but we finally made it to our apartment safely.

    Adonis and Fozia(Adonis Mokom ’22 and Fozia Jafar ’22, CIEE Presidential Fellows)

    “Arriving at King cross apartment and meeting our CIEE advisors who were so nice to us made me feel so welcomed and happy to be in London. During orientation and in my Anthropology class, I learned about the history and culture of United Kingdom such understanding some words like “Bob’s your uncle” meaning “there you go,” and the monarchy which is headed by queen Elizabeth II. This was one of the most eye-opening experiences, because we did not only learn about the British culture and the monarchy, but we also learned about the different cultures that have helped to form the British culture. My Anthropology class was very transforming as it we engaged in conversations, debates, presentations and visited places such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Neasden Hindu Temple and a walking Tour in Brixton, we learned about how the pattern of migration in 1945 onward impacted the contemporary British society and their construction of their national identities.

    “As the days of my trip went on it became more evident why students and travelers alike became so connected to their travel experiences.  By the end of the first week in London , I felt a connection that I still could not imagine: taking the underground tube, and walking for a long time to get to my destination was exhausting but it helped me to view and appreciate the historical buildings of the city such as the Cheese grater, Gherkin building and the London eye by the river Thames. London, like Washington D.C., is made up of diversity of people from all over the world who experience and share their cultures (food and music) such as fish and chips and the beautiful Afro-Caribbean music played on the streets of Brixton. I had the opportunity to visit Cardiff, Wales and observe the culture which though it was similar with that of London, England but it was quite a different environment as you could see so many in areas like Cardiff then going to Newport the population was less which was a surprising fact. As my friends spent our last week together eating our last fish and chips at the CIEE farewell lunch and walking by the Tower bridge I realized that this trip has changed me. Suddenly I realized that I was a completely a different person than the young woman who stepped off the plane in May. London to me wasn’t about taking a class or going on excursions, but rather about finding myself in moments where I could improve my communication skills with my engagements in both in class and out of class discussions and use this experience or learned skill to improve my personal growth. The beauty of the city taught me to find the courage and beauty in myself not only as a student but also as a leader.

    “Finally, with the wind blowing in my hair and the sweet London air in my lungs, London is indeed a place that I would recommend anyone who wants to experience the beauty of a country’s culture through the diversity of people who have come together to form the peaceful and welcoming British community. My experiences and learned skills through my conversation with my peers in class, the CIEE staff and the British community has help me to appreciate the things in my life and has encouraged and motivated me to push harder in order to achieve my goals in life and to become a better leader and students. A journey that began with a step in the plane to a destination not knowing what to really expect, and it has ended with a full basket of skills and lessons learned that will help me in my personal growth.”

    Fozia Jafar ’22, Summer in London, CIEE Presidential Fellowship

    Fozia

    “My Summer in London study abroad was one of the most exciting, as well as knowledge-expanding experiences in my educational journey. I decided to study in London because it is one of the top diverse cities in the world and has English as its official language, which I believe is beneficial to make a smooth start to study abroad, along with exposure to several cultures that help me get ideas for future study abroad destinations; Such as countries that do not speak English or their official language is not English. Starting from the location of our housing to where we take classes, everything was very adventurous to learn more about the cultures and diversity of British people. Especially, the underground transportation showed us the diverse population of the British people as well as the endless tourists and visitors that come to London. There are more both to the fun experiences and critical study of the multicultural British Nation.

    “The main focus of our course was to critically study multiculturalism in the British Nation by looking at several ethnic groups through the lens of anthropology, that’s the study of societies and cultures of humans. The course included wide variety of activates such as class lectures, film discussions of movies; “East is East” and “Brick Lane” which mainly entail the struggles of ethnic minorities and immigrants, excursions to “Only Human exhibition” at the National Portrait Gallery that showcases investigative projects of British identity, “BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir” one of the largest Hindu temples outside India (see photo below), tour to Brixton district in London known for its wide range of market and center for African and Caribbean foods and goods. Our overall observation played imminent role in understanding the role of diversity in defining British identity and the places various ethnic minorities have in the British society.

    Fozia at Hindu Temple“To further our understanding and critical analysis of British Identity and multiculturalism, we also made our own claims and took stances on given topics that we later addressed in presentation, debate and essay form. How is multiculturalism being represented in the nation? Is it failing or being practiced properly? How do current events taking place in the nation reflect the state of multiculturalism and British identity? My overall conclusion was that multiculturalism in the British nation is still working to a degree, but also failing in multiple aspects. The existence of multiculturalism in the British society is reflected by the freedom of the diverse ethnicities to express and practice their own cultures, while also uniting as one through their British identity. But some ethnic minorities have not improved due to economic and political under-representation, and some groups feel strongly connected to their other ethnic identity and less to their British identity, while some do not even refer to themselves as British.   

    “Our study abroad program included additional excursions and tours to variety of places. Such that, Camden market famous for range of souvenirs and street foods of different cultures that includes, Indian, Taiwanese, French, Chinese, Indonesian, middle eastern and many other. Astonishing tour to Stonehenge and city of Bath, exploring magnificent prehistoric monuments and the Roman Bath, respectively. Boat tour of the areas around River Thames while viewing the London Bridge, Big ben clock, unique buildings such as the Gherkin Tower. Walk on the streets of Westminster city accompanied by professional tour guide, viewing Buckingham Palace that is the residence of Queen Elizabeth II and Buildings used in the infamous Harry Potter movie.

    “Besides excursions prepared by the program, my friends and I went to many places on our own, including a ride on the Coca Cola London Eye, one of the tallest Ferris Wheel in the World, shopping in one of the busiest shopping centers in London that is Oxford Street, and also went to the capital of Wales, Cardiff for a short visit and had exciting time enjoying the view, food and speed boat ride at the Cardiff Bay.

    “It is impossible to share all my experiences and knowledge that I got through my study abroad in such a short writing. As I conclude my stay in one of the most diverse nation worldwide, my study abroad experience has broadened my understanding of the history, culture and social life of the British people, while helping me view the world from a different perspective to become a more informed global citizen.”

    Youssra Khalil ’21:  Summer in Paris

    Youssra“Trinity Washington University and the Study Abroad Grant allowed me to undertake a fantastic life journey. As an Egyptian woman who grew up surrounded by Eastern cultures, I never dreamt of traveling abroad alone. In the customs of my culture women ought to travel with a family member, never by themselves. Though at first my family was hesitant, they accepted my decision to accept the grant as it was an incredible opportunity that I couldn’t pass on. Upon receiving my family’s approval, I started mentally preparing myself for my trip. I vowed to myself that I would have the best time of my life and welcome uncertainty and new experiences with open arms.

    “As I boarded the plane I started to have a wide range of emotions. I felt anxious, excited, and curious. My mind couldn’t conceive that at the age of twenty-two, I was finally going to experience popular concepts such as being an  ” Independent woman” and “Living with a host family.” During the eight-hour flight my mind welcomed Paris with an open heart and I started to ponder what type of person I would become when the trip came to an end. 

    “Living with a Parisian family for a month allowed me to fully understand the French culture through the lens of my host family. This helped me rid myself of my ethnocentrism. The first time I met them, I thought that they were going to be unfriendly due to the stereotypes of Parisians having a dismissive personality, but within the first conversation, I learned that the members of my host family were some of the most genuine people I have ever met.

    Youssra at the Louvre“The Barron family made me feel at  home, which helped me feel less homesick. I happened to be in Paris on a Muslim holiday, Eid. When I shared my disappointment in not celebrating my favorite holiday with my family, Phillip Barron my host dad, decided to take me to a Jewish neighborhood named Le Marias, where a famous Falafel place, L’AS Du Fallafel, served the best Falafel and Shawarma wraps in town. Inside of the restaurant, I noticed that strangers were sitting close to one another and conversing while eating their meals. The scene at the restaurant caused me to have a flashback to me being a child in Egypt and watching strangers enjoy each other’s company over good food. This memory warmed my heart and made me feel better about being away from my family, and I was grateful to Phillip for his thoughtfulness. Phillip, a retired sociology professor, became my tour guide and accompanied me to see the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty Paris, the Jardin Des Plantes and Paris-10th Arr, an area with famous street art. Having a Parisian show me the city enhanced  my experience.

    Processed with VSCO with l2 preset

    “From the day I arrived to the day I departed, I immersed myself in Parisian culture to the point where I became one. One of the first things I noticed while living in France is that Parisians love consuming rich calories such as baguettes with butter, croissants (for breakfast not as a dessert), cold soups, and pasta. I wasn’t used to regularly consuming these foods, yet on week two of my stay, those foods became a part of my regular eating habits. Another observation was that Paris had adequate public transportation that can take you anywhere in the city. Ubering to places was uncommon. To adapt to the situation, I learned how to use the Metro (which was incredibly cheap since I bought a weekly pass).  As a result of learning to ride the metro, I was able to better explore the city since everything was accessible. Additionally, I showed my appreciation to Parisians by learning a few common French phrases to communicate with them. I experienced all of these cultural changes in such a short time, and it helped me view the world differently.

    “I am forever grateful to Trinity Washington University for allowing me to have a memorable summer. I had the chance to meet beautiful souls who lightened my days and pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I encourage any of my Trinity sisters who are able to,  to apply for the study abroad grant because the amount of growth that comes from this experience is almost surreal.”

    Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

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    Raging Against the Dying Light

    August 4, 2019

     

    gun pile(photo credit)

    “Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    (Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night)

    I. Am. Outraged.

    I am outraged at the sight of more dead bodies piling up across the nation.

    I am outraged at the domestic arms race that has corrupted our country internally.

    I am beyond outraged at the appalling racist rhetoric of the man who claims to lead our country, and those who support, excuse, encourage, defend him.

    I am outraged that the people elected to protect us have their hands in the pockets of those who would harm us.

    I am sick of waking up every morning to read yet more ugly, racist rhetoric flowing across the headlines.

    I pray for the victims and their families, yes, but am sick and tired of “thoughts and prayers” issuing from people who should be doing something about the violence.

    I am outraged, and you should be, too.  Every person who lives in this country should be outraged.  Our endlessly hard and exhausting work at building communities, our deep devotion to promoting healthy lives in freedom and justice, our thirst for beauty and joy, our hope in the Constitutional promises of “a more perfect union” and “domestic tranquility” and “common defence” and “the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity” — all of this seems shattered in the blasts of long guns, our hard work and good intentions ripped to pieces as so many frail deeds scattered and sinking fast across the green bays of what once was called “America, the Beautiful.” Our cities suffer the grave disruptions and evils of domestic terrorism, our shopping malls, workplaces, schools, churches, synagogues, bars, festivals, places once signifying joy and productivity and the peaceful pursuit of life”s work now turned into charnel houses.  Our life’s work is swirling down the drain of gun violence and political selfishness.

    Yes, Dylan Thomas, you are right:  we must RAGE against the dying of the light in our own nation.

    Bloodstains and broken bodies across the nation defile what once was a beautiful country.  The United States currently has more guns than people — 400 million guns is one count I read today — and it leads the world by many hundreds of incidents in the evil tally of massacres of our own people through gun violence.

    There is no excuse, no explanation, no justification.  The historic, craven, self-serving mis-reading of the Second Amendment by politicians and interest groups hell bent on seizing and sustaining their own power has encouraged the most appalling body count imaginable.

    This is not about being a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.  This is about being a human being with any semblance of a moral conscience.

    The stockpiling of personal weaponry is not an act of freedom, but a precondition for civil war.  We must say this out loud. We are heading into a worse period if we don’t act fast and decisively.  We the People have stood by watching the piling-up of this dry and lethal kindling, one weapon at a time, until a spark erupts in horrors — Parkland, Las Vegas, Aurora, Littleton, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Pittsburgh, and now, Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton.  We tolerate the bloodshed as a necessary cost of freedom — without challenging those who say it must be so.  We elect public officials who twist and distort the law in order to receive the largesse of those who profit the most from the stockpiles, the weapons manufacturers and the most corrupt of all interest groups, the National Rifle Association.

    As if the pile of kindling is not lethal enough, then along comes the man with the can of gasoline —- the leader whose ugly, shameful, appalling rhetoric against immigrants, Mexicans, blacks, members of Congress, the media, anyone who disagrees with him — dripping and dripping and then pouring the inflammatory liquid of racism and hatred all over the stockpiles and twisted minds of those who worship him.

    The late John Gardner, founder of Common Cause, once wrote that, “…the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”  But in a society that has installed the opposite of real leadership in the White House and parts of Congress, our ability to have hope is fading fast, our sense of extreme rupture in our understanding of the common good, our belief in the power of a democratically elected government to act in our best interests is dissipating rapidly.

    Last week, before the latest massacres by white terrorists galvanized by President Trump’s rhetoric, the leaders of the Washington National Cathedral issued an extraordinary statement condemning the president’s racist commentary, stating in part:

    “Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

    “These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

    “When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours.

    “As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.”

    Have we no decency?  A response to President Trump, July 30, 2019, leaders of the Washington National Cathedral

    I just went to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to get their recent statement on the same issues, and instead this picture of the four headlines currently on the website speaks volumes:

    headlinesIn their statement on Dayton, the bishops said,

    “We encourage Catholics to pray and raise their voices for needed changes to our national policy and national culture as well. We call on all relevant committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to outline a reinvigorated policy agenda and pastoral campaign to address ways we can help fight this social disease that has infected our nation. The Conference has long advocated for responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence. We also call upon the President and Congress to set aside political interests and find ways to better protect innocent life.”

    I am not optimistic.  The problem is not just the president’s acute and persistent racism, dangerous though his words have proven to be.  We also have the most scandalous situation ever seen in Congress in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to move forward with any legislation that does not meet the political goals of President Trump, which means that Senator McConnell has blocked legislation on election security, gun control, immigration reform and a host of other issues that We the People must have resolved.

    Americans should clean house rapidly and decisively.  The hard work of generations in building a better, more progressive, more just and peaceful nation is deteriorating rapidly in a cesspool of hatred and venality that has little historic parallel.  History tells us that politicians have always been deeply self-interested, but in times of national crisis and concern leaders emerged to work across the aisles and find ways to protect the common good of the nation.  Our current political leadership, however, seems to have no concept of the common good, no sense that being a president or a senator means being a leader for all the people, even those who voted for the other candidate.  Our current leadership is encouraging racism, white supremacy, neo Nazis and is contributing to the conditions that foster this explosion of domestic terrorism.

    We can’t wait another 18 months for an election and inauguration to change things.  We need action NOW.

    Our country is dying; our peace is shattered; the slender threads that have held us together as a nation are tearing loose.  We are the only ones who can save ourselves.  And we can’t save ourselves by screaming at the television.  We can’t restore peace on Twitter.  We won’t make progress by turning away from the horror, saying it’s not our problem.

    Domestic terrorism IS our problem.  We need to name it.  We need to call out those who encourage it.  We need to confront the industries and politicians who arm it.  We need to expose the institutions and places that cultivate it.

    If you have a voice, use it!

    If you have a vote, exercise it!

    If you have a spine, stand up!

    We cannot stand idly by while the light of our nation fades.

    We must rage, we must rage, rage, RAGE against the dying of the light of our nation.

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2019.8: Until Next Year!

    July 24, 2019

    Another wonderful season with the wild things of the Adirondacks!  Enjoy my “Farewell Adirondack Beauties” video here:

     

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2019.7: Wild Things

    July 18, 2019

    Look at that red tail!  This beautiful hawk was not letting a little rain ruin its afternoon perch on a dead tree along the roadside near Tupper Lake.  Beautiful!

    Spend just a little bit of time in natural settings and what becomes clear is that the plan for all of God’s creation is one of massive diversity of species and types of living things.  At a time when the human community once again shows its obtuseness about the glorious diversity of the human family, it’s good to remember, observe and commit to protecting the wilderness and natural resource of the earth, including the broad diversity of wild things whose presence sustains the earth.  From the smallest insects to the largest beasts, the wild things all have a role in contributing to the replenishment of natural resources.

    Here are some bees tending to their vitally important work on pollination:

    Deer are an important food source for other animals as well as humans who like venison…

    This young buck really needs some schooling so as not to wind up as a trophy on a wall somewhere… standing and staring at the human pointing a long thing at you is not harmful when it’s a camera lens but can be fatal if it’s a rifle…

    Are you listening, Young Buck??

    Frogs keep the swamps healthy…

    And the birds spread seeds that become new growth for forests and plants everywhere…

    And just watching the butterfly convention is cause for at least a smile …

    Next: Until next year, farewell, Adirondacks!

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2019.6: Bears and Birds

    July 16, 2019

    Well, there I was, just minding my business watching the loons on….. you guessed it…. BEAR POND…. and who comes strolling down the road but this big guy.  Really big one!  Just lumbering along like any normal afternoon stroll.  So, of course, I first thought about moving into a better position to get the photo, which would have entailed getting out of the car.  Nope!  Cooler heads prevailed, and I got the photo through the windshield… and then decided to roll up the windows just in case….  But my bear friend took a few more steps forward and then made a sharp left into the forest and disappeared….

    Meanwhile, the loons kept paddling about heedless of whatever was happening on the road….

    Farther up the road, I came upon a clearing with many tall cattails going to seed, and the goldfinch family was eagerly consuming their daily rations:

    Abundant milkweed along the road also attracted beautiful butterflies including monarchs and yellow swallowtails:

    The swallowtails had a little convention alongside the road:

    On the way back, a bear crossed the road in front of me but all I could get was the shadow in the forest… this was a big guy and I was wondering if it was the same one I saw earlier in the same vicinity…

    And another mile up the road, this smaller bear scampered away into the forest…


    I guess the bears are having a wonderful time today… When I see these beautiful wild creatures deep in the woods, I am reminded of the wisdom of the “forever wild” commitment that New York State made to keep the Adirondack forest preserve unspoiled and in its natural state.  Being able to observe wildlife is a good way to keep a balanced perspective on all life!

    Next:  more wild things!!

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