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What is the Benton Scholar Program?

By bentonscholars on April 16, 2013

The Benton Scholars Program was developed as a model for how a liberal arts education can be shaped to fully prepare students to think, act, and create in a world that is increasingly diverse and global.

Colgate University has a long and proud history of graduating students who lead in all aspects of their lives.  In the spirit of that great tradition, this program has been designed to infuse leadership and global themes into the Colgate experience by providing its members with activities and selected courses that will enrich and bring new perspectives to their experiences on campus and throughout their lives.

Each year, as part of it admissions process, Colgate identifies a number of applicants who, through past experience and/or expressed interest, have demonstrated the potential to focus with particular emphasis on the complex global issues that will challenge them not only academically as undergraduates but also professionally and personally once they have graduated from Colgate.

A carefully selected group of 15-18 First Year students are then invited to join a vibrant community of upperclass students who have already chosen to target their individual commitments and to expend their collective energies on raising the profile of global issues among their fellow students.

Throughout their four years at Colgate, Benton Scholars support and motivate each other as they develop into thoughtful, creative, and well-informed leaders both at Colgate itself and beyond the gates of the university’s campus.

Read more about the Benton Scholars Trips

Trip to South Korea
Trip to Argentina
Trip to India
Trip to China
Trip to Uganda


Quanzhi Guo ’18 reflects on the Benton Scholars’ trip to Japan

By Peter Tschirhart on June 30, 2015

Quanzhi Guo ’18 recently returned from the Benton Scholars’ trip to Japan. In what follows, she reflects on the trip as well as important questions concerning power, warfare, tradition, and the remarkable resilience of the Japanese people.


Under the backdrop of lush green, the flame in the cenotaph flickered in the gentle summer wind. Flocks of school children in uniforms sang a melody of peace. I felt a powerful serenity in the air, weighed by solemnity.

70 years have gone past. As I stood at the epicenter of the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, there was no sight of the blinding flash, the suffocating smoke, or the scorched remnants. Behind the beautiful and welcoming city, I felt the pains, saw the scars, and heard the haunting wails that once overwhelmed this site on August 6th, 1945.

Hiroshima tops the list of historic Japanese cities that I had the chance to survey and study this summer through the Benton Scholars Program. Along with 16 other Colgate students, I took the Advent of the Atomic Bomb with Professor Karen Harpp in the spring semester, and visited Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kyoto from the end of May to the beginning of June.

During class sessions back on campus, we explored the history, science, and ethics behind the decision of dropping the A-bomb, both online with alumni and offline in person. The scale and impact of the attack were confounding; so throughout the trip, I had been trying to see them from Japanese perspectives.

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the atomic bombs were dropped, I visited the atomic bomb museums and parks, and met with the survivors.

From melted lunch boxes to a watch that stopped at the moment of the explosion, the collection of artifacts was a somber and evocative reminder of the destruction and loss suffered. Fountains were built as a symbolic offering where victims died of thirst.

The Atomic Bomb Dome, which is one of the few structures left standing after the bombing, was a chilling symbol of the dark legacy of Hiroshima.

The atomic bomb dome left standing on the peaceful river bank.

The atomic bomb dome left standing on the peaceful river bank.

At Shiroyama Elementary School in Nagasaki, newly constructed buildings stood side by side to the empty damaged ones. Students who were having lunch in the freshly-painted classrooms greeted us enthusiastically as we passed by, shouting “How are you? What’s your name?” When I pictured the same innocent laughter from the damaged building 70 years ago in my head, it was such a depressing juxtaposition.

Both cities, because of their dark legacy, have devoted their human and capital resources to peace and anti-nuclear activism. Emerging from the horrific trauma seven decades ago, they also exude hope and life. Volunteers, many of whom have personal connections to the bombing, offer tours and presentation for visitors. On the riverbank alongside Hiroshima’s Peace Park, school bands performed an open-air concert, while school children in yellow hats hung strings of colorful paper cranes near the Children’s Peace Monument.

Cranes of hope – we folded 1000 and left them at the Monument.

Cranes of hope – we folded 1000 and left them at the Monument.

I think it is courageous that people found hope against all odds. I wondered how they overcame their personal loss, and came together as one again. When I asked a survivor from the Hiroshima bombing how he overcame the psychological trauma, he chuckled, and fell into silence for a while. “Life resumes. It was not good to look back. I had to look forward,” he said slowly and calmly.

It is also remarkable that the devastation of the past never overshadows the vitality of the present. While history has been remembered, people are not stuck in the past, but have moved on. Like the survivor from the Hiroshima bombing said, “history tends to be forgotten. It is important to learn from history and have facilities to tell the young about it. History is our mirror. We should forgive, but never forget.”

In Kyoto, the ancient capital, I saw a richer Japanese culture. In the Manhattan Project, Kyoto was identified as a potential target before the atomic bomb was dropped. However, with its sublime gardens, splendid shrines, and state-of-the-art cuisine, it was no wonder that Henry Stimson, U.S. Secretary of the War, who had been to Kyoto, removed it from the list.

Besides visiting the famous temples, we went to a tea ceremony. While sipping the freshly prepared matcha, I marvelled at the exquisite cup in my hand. The temperature was just right. The taste was fragrantly fresh with a tinge of bitterness. Every movement of the yukata-cladded tea master was full of concentration and composure. It was Zen in a cup!

When I wandered in the Gion district, looking for geisha scurrying to their liaisons, I found brand-name boutiques side-by-side with traditional pastries and Japanese craft. When I strolled in the central shopping district in Shijo, I saw traditional tofu-makers, ceramics masters, and umbrella makers who take so much pride in their original and unique wares. It dawned on me that, had Kyoto been bombed, not just the city’s psyche but the nation’s—rooted in a rich collection of cultural monuments, ascetic discipline, and traditional practices—would have been wiped out.

Wandering lanes in the dusk in Kyoto.

Wandering lanes in the dusk in Kyoto.

We often use science as a solution, but without fail, it generates a slew of new problems. The problems today are never easy, and there might not be an answer. My visit to Japan allowed me to better appreciate the dropping of the atomic bomb from the Japanese perspective and added nuance to my understanding of the power of nuclear weapons—and peace.

I have only scratched the surface of our trip, but this is a good start.


Benton Alumni Update: Viktor Mak ’15 Promotes Education in Cameroon

By Peter Tschirhart on June 12, 2015

The following post was contributed by Benton Scholar alumnus Viktor Mak ’15. Four years after his trip to Uganda with with Benton Scholars program, Viktor decided to spend his first summer as a Colgate graduate in Africa, where he works with an education startup in Cameroon called Open Dreams


Since my full time job after college would not involve any international travel, I knew I had to squeeze in at least one more trip before settling down into the quiet suburbs of Washington D.C.

Just before graduation, I managed to find an opportunity with Open Dreams, a startup NGO focused on extending educational opportunities in the United States to students in Cameroon. During my interview, I spoke about my experiences as a Benton Scholar in Sub-Saharan Africa and the academic work I’ve done related to economic development. So when they extended an offer, I accepted it almost immediately.

I headed out shortly after graduation, spending only enough time at home to convince my parents that neither Ebola nor Boko Haram were a threat. My journey to Open Dreams’ base of operations took almost a week. I left Florida and first traveled to New York City for a brief orientation on the history and mission of the NGO from two of its co-founders, Hans Kullberg and Blaise Buma.

Blaise was born and raised in Bamenda, Cameroon and was an exceptional student. After high school, he was determined to seek a world class education; but instead of continuing on to a university in Cameroon, he spent the next two years navigating the US college application process. Finally, he secured a full scholarship to Washington & Lee University in Virginia. A few years later, he helped his younger sister apply to McGill University in Canada. Blaise realized that he could help other students from his town by coaching them through the application and testing process. Cristina Bernardo and Hans later heard about Blaise’s story, which intersected with their own desire to promote access to education. Open Dreams was born in 2014 and just finished mentoring its first class of eight students!

From left to right: Hans, myself, and Blaise in New York City.

From left to right: Hans, myself, and Blaise in New York City.

After two jam-packed days in New York, I left for Cameroon. I missed my flight in Paris and had to spend 24 hours in the city of baguettes, crepes, cheese and wine—I couldn’t complain. The next day, I arrived in the humid coastal city of Douala, Cameroon, where I met my host James and a small welcome party. We spent the rest of the week traveling from Douala to Bamenda, stopping in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, both to meet with the Education Advisor at the US Embassy and to make an appearance on national television. It turned out to be the equivalent of the Today Show in the United States, and ever since, people have been coming up to James and me telling us they saw us on TV.

I am now in Bamenda, the third largest city in Cameroon, in the north eastern part of the country near the Nigerian border. For our arrival, James had organized a large welcome party to meet us at the Open Dreams offices. There were speeches made, drinks and toasts.

The view from the Open Dreams Office.

The view from the Open Dreams Office.

In the next five weeks, I will interview the next group of mentees and organize a learning center (where students can study for the SAT and work on college applications) while looking for ways to help Open Dreams generate revenue and become self-sustaining. I look forward to working with the amazing people I have met already, meeting many more amazing Cameroonians, and experiencing everything this country has to offer. I can already tell that I will be sad to go when the time comes!

Welcome party in Bamenda in front of the Open Dreams Office.

Welcome party in Bamenda in front of the Open Dreams Office.


TBS Abroad Week 10: Trains

By Jessica Li on May 19, 2015

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Prior to the advent of jet travel during the 1960s, and the subsequent deregulation of airline pricing schemes in the 1980s, trains were a common mode of transportation in the United States. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (part of the U.S. Department of Transportation), air travel accounted for 576 million passenger miles in 2012, with intercity trains, including Amtrak, accounting for only about 7 million. By comparison, in 1960, the numbers were much closer: air travel saw 31 million passenger miles, with intercity trains at 17 million — a difference that conceals the greater distances typically traveled by aircraft. But America’s clear preference for aviation is by no means shared globally. In other parts of the world — India, China, and the EU especially — train travel is extremely common, even prevalent. This week, pay attention to trains. Does your current city connect to a rail system? Do people travel by train, subway, streetcar, or commuter service? Where is the nearest station? Take a picture of the station, then comment on the role of train travel in your local community.


Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology & Japanese

Ladies and Gentlemen, here, for your viewing pleasure, is the world-famous Shinkansen (bullet train). This particular train runs between most of Japan’s major cities, and we used it to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, primarily. The Shinkansen is different from most other trains because it feels more like a flight than public transportation. You arrive at your terminal and gate with your luggage, board and depart on a strict schedule, and the ride is just as smooth as a cruising aircraft. But on a more daily scale, trains are everywhere in Japan, they’ll take you in between cities and towns and get you around once you’re in the city. From single car trams up mountainsides, to underground behemoths like the above, to your average subway systems, trains form a vital part of Japanese daily life, and they keep cities and indeed the whole country running smoothly with their legendary punctuality.

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The famous Japanese bullet train, the Shinkansen


Adam Basciano ’16, International Relations

Jerusalem is a very, very hilly city. That is why it has taken the city more than three-thousand years to get its first light rail system. Freshly inaugurated just a few years ago, the Jerusalem light rail runs from the north eastern tip of the city to its south western hill on Mt. Herzl. It connects Arab neighborhoods and Jewish settlements from East Jerusalem with tourist areas and historical sites in the city center. The light rail, like most things in Jerusalem, is intertwined in the complexity of the city’s politics. Where the picture below is taken, the Ammunition Hill light rail stop, is the site of a terrorist attack from December of 2014 that garnered much international attention. A Palestinian driver rammed his car into people waiting for a bus, injuring many and killing a baby girl. The city put in both concrete and metal barriers to all light rail stops as a result of the terror attack. Despite the terror attack from December, many citizens of Jerusalem, both Jewish and Muslim alike, continue to take the light rail each day. The sophisticated bus system, however, is frequented more often as it reaches many more neighborhoods hidden throughout the hills of the city.

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A light rail stop in Jerusalem


TBS Abroad Week 9: Food and Groceries

By Jessica Li on May 19, 2015

09 - Food and Groceries

The supermarket is in many ways an anomaly in human history. Except for the last 100 years, people living in Western cultures have either grown their own food or purchased it at a local grocer’s or merchant’s shop. During the early 20th century, self-service grocery stores emerged as a way for store owners to save on labor costs while reducing prices — with the hope of attracting cost-conscious consumers from miles around. Kroger, Safeway, and other supermarket chains soon proliferated throughout the urban and suburban landscape. However, the recent farm-to-table movement — inspired partly by writers like Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan — has started to reverse this trend. In many cities, both large and small, walkable farmer’s markets now occupy public parks and parking lots each weekend, making it possible for people to buy food, supplies, and craft goods directly from the source, often at premium prices. This week, pay attention to how people shop for food. Are supermarkets common? Do people shop at local markets? Do they have large backyard gardens? Take a picture of a grocery store or supermarket where you shop, then tell us about local food culture.


Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology & Japanese

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A covered street market in Japan

Supermarkets are definitely a staple in Japan. From a Walmart-sized market like Seiyu to a smaller greengrocer on the corners of Karasumadori, the full range of grocery stores can be found almost anywhere in Japan, especially the cities. But what I found to be a much more involved and bountiful shopping experience were covered, street-long markets selling everything from flavored honeys at premium prices to produce and seafood. I found them in almost every city we visited, and they were almost always shoulder to shoulder packed with shoppers and tourists. The food was fresh, especially street-food like yaki-tori and konnyaku, the vendors were loud and the smells were… interesting. There were plenty of foods which I’d never had before, and after having been to a few of these market streets, there are many foods I can say I’ve had and would have again. Pretty cheap, too.


Adam Basciano ’16, International Relations

If you’re living in Jerusalem, you’d be foolish to not purchase your groceries at the famous local shuk (market) known as Mahane Yehuda. The shuk has the best and cheapest groceries, from fruits and veggies to nuts and candy. It is on almost every tourist’s itinerary because of how cool and fun the vibes are. It is open all week except for during Shabbat, so if you go anytime on Friday early afternoon, you will for sure get caught up in the pre-weekend crowds. Supermarkets do exist throughout the Jerusalem and are frequented often by people, but Mahane Yehuda is the way to go when grocery shopping in Jerusalem.

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A local shuk named Mahane Yehuda


Mallory Keller ’17: Reflections on Silicon Valley

By Peter Tschirhart on March 30, 2015
The Benton Scholars at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The Benton Scholars at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The following post was written by Mallory Keller ’17, who just returned from the Benton Scholars’ spring break trip to Silicon Valley. An aspiring educator, Mallory reflects on the future of higher education and the importance of building community.


I started this trip doubtful about the future of online education. For almost a year, the Benton Scholars program has focused on online education in a university setting; we took online courses ourselves, then hosted speakers who are leaders in the field of online education. We are even designing and participating an online class for Colgate University–working together to see if it is possible for a small, liberal arts university to exist online, and in what capacity. There was a wide range of opinions and experiences with online education across the group of us who went on the trip and, at least for myself, I was hoping this trip would change my opinion.

Our first visit was to Minerva, an online institution that opened this year, that aspires to change the concept of an university. Minerva felt very much like a start-up, which at least for myself, is not something I want to feel from my university. Maybe it is the social construct that has been engraved in my brain since I was young, but I still view a university as a campus with huge, beautiful buildings with students lounging on the quad, throwing a frisbee around. To enroll in a school like Minerva, you have to be able to take risks, and I am not willing to do that with my education. The next day we visited Khan Academy and were able to sit down and talk with Sal Khan, the founder. We all had read his book, The One World Schoolhouse, and we were full of questions to ask him. We discussed the future of online education, and I feel like the conclusion of the discussion was that online education is a supplement to what a student learns in the classroom, but it cannot replace the physical classroom.

The Benton Scholars visit Big Bend Redwood State Park.

The Benton Scholars visit Big Bend Redwood State Park.

While some online spaces may foster this, the one thing that I value most in my education, and the thing that I find missing in online education, is the sense of community that is created on a campus. There is a bond that is formed from being in a physical space with the same people day after day, which I do not think exists online. While you can be logged-on and participating in discussions at the same time as others, you are in different physical spaces, like your home, a coffee shop, or the library. The importance of community was shown through this trip as well. At the end of their freshman year, the Benton Scholars’ freshman class takes a trip together abroad, so I was already pretty close with the other sophomores on this trip. However, there were freshmen and seniors on the trip that I was not as close with, and I enjoyed that we were able to get to know each other more during the four days. While the purpose of this trip was to learn about online education, I think it also helped create a greater sense of community in the Benton Scholar program.


Quanzhi Guo ’18: Reflections on Silicon Valley

By Peter Tschirhart on March 27, 2015
The Benton Scholars meet for a discussion during their trip to San Francisco in March, 2015.

The Benton Scholars meet for a discussion during their trip to San Francisco in March, 2015. (Photo by Karen Harpp.)

Quanzhi Guo ’18 traveled with the Benton Scholars to San Francisco during March, 2015. Their trip explored innovation in the education and technology sectors and included visits to Khan Academy, the Minerva Project, and Tesla–as well as a hike through Big Basin Redwood State Park. In what follows, Quanzhi reflects on this experience, and on the importance of a dynamic and engaging liberal arts education. (A longer version of this blog post is featured at China Personified.)


On the ninth floor overlooking the busy San Francisco downtown, everyone is working on Macs in open-plan stations—the atmosphere feels like any startup in California.

But I am in a school, with no students in sight — Minerva Schools at KGI, a new institution that hopes to shake the whole education sector.

Over spring break, I traveled with an online education-themed Benton trip to San Francisco, where we visited both Minerva and Khan Academy.

The Benton seminar I am taking this semester is called the Advent of Atomic Bomb, which examines the history, science, and ethics behind atomic bomb. My experience had been, so far, bittersweet. While it is interesting and intellectually stimulating to engage with alumni from all age groups and various walks of life online, the workload is heavier. Besides the normal assigned readings and project-based homework offline, we need to watch the lectures online beforehand because class-time is reserved for advanced discussion. So we are expected to master the basics on our own time. This targeted and technology-enhanced blend is challenging and rigorous–it is the way I want to be pushed.

Benton Scholars listen to a presentation at Minerva in downtown San Francisco.

Benton Scholars listen to a presentation at Minerva in downtown San Francisco.

To me, Minerva is exciting. However, while living in six countries (students at Minerva live in a new city each semester) and being one of a select few has allure (last year, the acceptance rate was only 2.8%), I question the real meaning behind it. Does being physically present in a country, spending most of your time taking online classes in dorms, while going shopping and sightseeing on weekends, equate to immersion in a foreign culture? Aren’t existing study-abroad programs, which allow students to take classes in local universities and live in host families, more authentic? For affordability, at least Colgate subsidizes all expenses for students receiving financial aid. Similarly with diversity: Does having a higher number of international students necessarily mean more different perspectives? At Minerva, one can definitely take advantage of urban resources; but how can you truly make use of it in Berlin if you can’t speak German, or Barcelona if you can’t speak Spanish?

Then there was Sal Khan, who sat on an organic-style stool at Khan Academy, talking about how he started making tutorials to improve the accessibility of new information. Thanks to people like Sal Khan, information is becoming more freely accessible, so class time can be reserved for engaged and deeper-level discussions, for skill development and real-life interaction. And I really appreciate how Colgate, too, can offer that–all with classes of size no more than 20.

Benton Scholars meet with Sal Khan to discuss the future of online education.

Benton Scholars meet with Sal Khan to discuss the future of online education.

When we discussed and shared views over a cup of coffee in the afternoon sun, I realized that what I value after nearly a year at Colgate is the sense of connection. Personally, I hate the panic when my computer breaks down and an online submission is due soon. Also, I don’t want to just “like” my classmate’s answer by clicking a button. I want to give him a pat or high-five with a wide grin. Most importantly, I treasure how my professors interact with me, not just in class or office hours, but how they share with me their life stories over home-cooked dinner, after guests’ lectures, and during trips like this one.

I don’t think that brick-and-mortar universities will be obsolete soon, but it can definitely become better. Technology is never a substitute, but a complement to make things better.


TBS Abroad Week 8: Gaming Spaces

By Jessica Li on March 19, 2015

08 - Gaming Spaces

From the baseball diamond to the chess board, from the cricket pitch to a Go grid: local communities often provide a place for people to play games and sports together. This week, notice which games and activities are most popular. Where are they played? Are these locations easily accessible? Is there a fee to play? What times of day are games played? If you are already familiar with these games, do you notice any local modifications that give the game a different look or feel? Take a picture of a public gaming space.


 

Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology & Japanese

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An arcade near a school campus in Kyoto

Gaming spaces in Japan’s cities are quite varied. There are usually baseball and soccer fields flanking minor rivers, and several games like Go and Shogi are common in homes across Japan. But one of the more conspicuous gaming spaces belongs to the pachinko houses and arcade/casinos. These can be found nearly anywhere (there was one about 30 seconds walk from our campus in Kyoto), and usually are brightly lit with signs covered in anime-characters and flashing lights. The street pictured (in Akihabara in Tokyo) is an example of the kind of lights and buildings in which the larger pachinko houses and arcades are housed.


Adam Basciano ’16, International Relations

There are not too many open and public gaming spaces in Israel. A main reason for that is simply because there is just not enough land, let alone flat land. The housing market and the rapidly rising prices of buying a home is a testament to this, and it has been a major point of emphasis during the election season. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon to pass by a basketball court here in Jerusalem. Most courts are also used for soccer games as well with goals at each end. For the fun-seekers who are no longer part of the soccer or basketball circles, plenty of Israelis play backgammon (or sheshpesh in the local dialect) outside markets or coffee shops. 

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A basketball court in Jerusalem


TBS Abroad Week 7: Accents

By Jessica Li on March 16, 2015

 

07 - Accents

People who use a local accent or dialect occasionally confront discrimination. According to a recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom, 28% of people reported being treated differently, just because of the way they speak. At the same time, 80% of employers admitted to discriminating against people based on their accent. Of course, neither accents nor dialects are legally-protected categories, so pressure to conform is very real. And while YouTube provides virtual coaching on “The Queen’s English” (called Received Pronunciation), online databases document the remarkable richness of the English language as it can be, and actually is, spoken. This week, listen closely to how both you and the people around you speak. Are you living in a country where English is the dominant language? Whether you are or aren’t, can people tell you are American? Does this make you self-conscious, or are you proud to “sound different?” Alternatively, can you tell where people are from when they speak to you? Among your friends and acquaintances, is there pressure to conform, to use language in a certain way? Are people treated differently based on their willingness (or ability) to conform to a normalized accent?


Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology & Japanese

The two main, or at least famous, regions in Japan are Kanto and Kansai, the former being home to the current capital, Tokyo, and the latter the old capital, Kyoto, as well as several other major cities. Between these two regions, there’s sort of a rivalry akin to something you would see between New York City and Philadelphia, or Texas and anywhere in the world claiming to be better than Texas. Besides some sports-team loyalties and a few signature foods here and there, the main difference between the two regions is the dialect of Japanese spoken. Kansai, although largely metropolitan, is considered by people within and without to be countryside, made up stereotypically of farmers and people who would be scared by the sight of a skyscraper (I can tell you, this is very, very false). Within Kansai, the dialect spoken, known as Kansai-ben, has become famous in Japan and abroad as being like an entirely different language. It might be the case that if you put a person who lived their entire life in Kanto and only spoke Kanto-ben into conversation with someone speaking the thickest, most heavily laid on version of Kansai-ben ever heard on this earth, there might be some difficulty communicating. The reality is, the differences lie mostly in a few key words and conjugations that, while they do stand out from Kanto-ben, aren’t terribly difficult or troublesome to understand, even to non-native speakers. Even so, the rivalry and dialectic schism continues between the two regions (although as far as I’m concerned, Kansai-ben is more fun).


TBS Abroad Week 6: City Hall

By Jessica Li on March 6, 2015

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City Hall: City Hall: it’s not just an institution, a faceless bureaucracy, it’s also a physical place — a symbol of a community, its values, and collective interests. In the United States, the architecture of the building itself is likely to vary in accordance with local tastes and history: fromGeorgian andArt Deco, toBeaux Arts orBrutalist. But no matter how they look, all typically share a few things in common: they house administrative activities that articulate the human experience. Births, deaths, and marriages are all commonly registered here. This week, find your local city, town, or county hall. Take a picture of it and tell us how civic life is structured. Why do people visit city hall? Is there a mayor? Is there a civic council of some kind? If there is no city hall, photograph some other place where people gather to make community decisions (a school, a pub, a church).


Adam Basciano ’16, International Relations

There certainly is a distinct City Hall here in Jerusalem. It sits right in the center of “downtown” Jerusalem and is conveniently located on the city’s light rail. The City Hall square contains a large courtyard surrounded by administrative buildings. The courtyard contains multiple types and styles of art, including this old depiction of a world map (below) that has Jerusalem at the center of the world [of Europe, Asia, and Africa]:

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A map in Jerusalem’s City Hall of Jerusalem as the center of the world

It is unfortunate to note that Jerusalem’s City Hall was the precise site of Israel’s latest terror attack. On February 22nd, an 18-year-old Palestinian stabbed an orthodox Israeli man. It turns out that Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, and his security team were on the scene as it happened. The Mayor can be seen on video subduing and apprehending the terrorist, prompting him to become somewhat of a national hero in a country that is used to hearing these stories.


TBS Abroad Week 5: Drinking Fountains

By Jessica Li on February 26, 2015

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Drinking Fountains: The drinking fountain can be a powerful signifier. Though simple in purpose and function, it stands as a physical manifestation of common biological needs while staking claim to public spaces we all share: parks, streets, airports, libraries. A drinking fountain might well be “read” as an invitation to linger; but as the civil rights struggle in the United States showed, it can also be used to divide society along racial or ethnic lines: to mark social spaces where insidious ideologies oppress, demean, and segregate minorities.

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This week, find and photograph a drinking fountain. Where do you encounter them? Is there any logic to their placement? What message(s) do they communicate? Do drinking fountains bring people together or keep them apart? Take a picture of a drinking fountain you have used. If there are none, speculate as to why.


Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology & Japanese

Drinking fountains? There aren’t any. Anywhere (or at least it feels like they’re never where you need them when you need them). Not in train stations, not on University campuses, and rarely in parks or other public spaces. This posed a special challenge when walking was my main form of transportation throughout Kyoto, and I had to plan accordingly in order to make sure I didn’t run out mid excursion. Usually my best bet was to leave the house with a full bottle and refill at lunch, making sure to have an extra glass of water at each meal to keep ahead of dehydration throughout the day. Instead, there are beverage vending machines and convenience stores on even the most remote outskirts of the city, so a couple hundred yen water allowance was always a good idea.


 

Katrina Bennett ’16 Neuroscience

Drinking fountains are found fairly commonly in Cape Town, although not nearly as commonly as in many places in the United States. I have seen drinking fountains on the campus of University of Cape Town, on hiking trails up mountains and at the organization where I work. More interesting than the occurrence of water fountains in Cape Town though, is the occurrence of what the water is put into, water bottles. On the first day of one of my lectures my professor remarked, “You know how we can always tell who is American and who isn’t? The Americans always have water bottles out in front of them. Americans are obsessed with hydration!” After my professor said this, I started consciously thinking about this and analyzing this and she was so right! The majority of individuals carrying water bottles around with them were Americans rather than South Africans. The more sparse occurrence of water fountains in Cape Town therefore, must be because hydrating doesn’t seem to be as much of a top priority here as it is in the United States.

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