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Jia Bao Lei ’17: Abroad in Barcelona

By Nali Byrd '19 on November 18, 2015

Hometown: Berkeley, California

Major: English

What study group are you in?

I am in the London English study group.

What is your favorite part of being abroad?

One of my favorite parts about being abroad is that I got to visit my best friend, Claire, in Barcelona! I was able to go to Spain because we have three day weekends. She is half-Spanish, so she has been traveling to Madrid every other year growing up. It was so nice going to all the stores and places that she has been telling me about since freshman year of high school.

JB (left) and Claire (right) in Barcelona

JB (left) and Claire (right) in Barcelona

What activities have you done in Barcelona?

I learned a lot about the Catalan independence movement and that abierta (open) is oberta in Catalan. During our shopping trip and walking around the city, Claire pointed out Antoni Gaudí’s constructions throughout the area. We went to the Museu Picasso that had many of Picasso’s early paintings on display. Neither of us were a fan of Picasso’s Pigeons collection. Then, we went to La Boqueria, where we split a special candy rope that you can only get in Spain before heading off to the beach. At the beach, there was a carnival going on, and we went on the Ferris wheel overlooking the city at night. I knew that as soon as I left, I would miss Barcelona and Claire terribly.



Bringing Bachata Heightz to Colgate

By Abril Cardenes '17 on November 8, 2015

Just a number of weeks ago, Latin American Student Organization (LASO) made history on campus. They brought the very first Dominican bachata band to Colgate University.

Bachata is a traditional music genre from the Dominican Republic. This type of music is emerging for many young Dominican-American, and it’s shaping their identity. Bachata Heaightz from New York City merges this traditional music with pop beats and spanglish lyrics. It is highly regarded within Latin America and latino communities in the United States.

Many OUS scholars are involved in LASO, including the president Manny Medina’ 17 and vice president Cynthia Vele’ 17, and as a group, they showed much pride in sponsoring this event. I interviewed Haley Moya’ 17, the internal communicator of LASO, to get her input on this event and LASO.

The LASO core posing with Bachata Heightz. (Left to right: Savannah Soto' 18, Jovan Diaz' 18, Manny Medina' 17. Abel de Leon Sanchez' 18, and Cynthia Vele' 17

The LASO core posing with Bachata Heightz. (Left to right: Savannah Soto’ 18, Jovan Diaz’ 18, Manny Medina’ 17. Abel de Leon Sanchez’ 18, and Cynthia Vele’ 17)

Could you describe your position for me?

I am basically the secretary of LASO. I send out emails, take notes at meetings, and am in charge of keeping communication flowing.

LASO has seven core positions in total. Throughout the year, eight people split these roles and positions to facilitate running meetings and planning events. As such, Haley plays a big part in keeping everyone on the same page.
So, how exactly did you contribute to the organization of this event on campus?
I held a big role in marketing the event. We, as in the core, reached out to many student groups, organizations, professors, and students. Through out this process I kept everyone in the core up to date, including informing everyone on when the band arrived and at what exact time the concert started.

Planning Bachata Heightz was a big task. The core had to plan out budgeting, ask for support from departments, pick a location to set up, market the event thoroughly, and negotiate with the band on details like the date of performance.
What did you do when the band arrived on campus?
In addition to welcoming them to campus,  I also offered help with setting up the stage, but they pretty much had everything figured out. They needed to get ready before the concert, so I guided them at La Casa.

La Casa is the 1934 house, located on 49 Broad St., that previously was a fraternity. It is now adopted as the official La Casa interest house on campus. The members living here try to fully embrace latino culture by decorating the inside with flags, playing Spanish music at every social event, and hosting events relating to Latino identity.
Anything significant you want to say about the experience?

I think a lot of people who didn’t know about Latino culture or LASO itself got to see a different side. It was a lot of fun, and I think a lot of people who typically would not come to these events ended up coming. It was a great turn out. I am really happy LASO got more recognition through this event.

Like at many predominantly white institutions, it is often times a struggle to represent Latino identity and culture. LASO and OUS scholars like Haley Moya’ 17 try their best to overcome this obstacle. Bringing bands like Bachata Heightz may seem like a small success in the short run, but in the long run, it has astounding affects on the current students struggling to hold onto their roots.

The Shock of a Common Language

By Estrella Rodriguez '17 on September 22, 2015

Estrella Rodriguez_opt

One would think mother and child would have similar traits. Maybe America is well into its rebel-teenager-who-tries-to-be-as-opposite-from-its-mother-as-possible stage. I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who once said “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” I did not realize how true this statement is until I spent a semester in London. Its veracity goes even further than language, however. We just do things differently. I expected – like many Americans, I am sure – that England would just be a more polite version of the United States, with a couple of quirky foods and phrases thrown in. Wrong.

English … American Vocabulary (non-exhaustive)

Bits … Pulp; Frosties … Frosted Flakes; Walkers … Lays (chips); Washing up liquid … Dish-soap; Top up … Refill; Till … Register; Puddings … Desserts; Coriander … Cilantro; Soft Cheese … Cream Cheese; Jumper … Sweater; Toilet … Bathroom; Way Out … Exit; Lift … Elevator; Trousers … Pants; Trainers … Sneakers; Pavement … Sidewalk; Biscuit … Cookie; Crisps … Chips; Chips … Fries; Bill … Check; Takeaway … Takeout; Torch … Flashlight; Queue … Line; Settee … Couch

English Homes
Wake up and go to the bathroom, turn on the light outside the door before going in. Open both taps in order to wash. Stick cupped hand in cold, transfer to hot, for optimum temperature. Splash on face. Repeat. Head to the kitchen. Choices for breakfast: orange juice with no bits (pulp), Frosties (frosted flakes), “New York Style” bagels with Philadelphia full fat soft cheese (cream cheese). Let’s see what they think New York is. Not terrible. Take plate to sink and use washing up liquid (dish-soap) and a heart-shaped sponge. The faucet (tap) is too high, and water comes out at such a weird angle that there is no way to not splash while washing the dishes. Dry hands, ignore sprinkled shirt, start the day.

English Groceries
Cynthia Ozick tells us that “when you break off from the quotidian, it is the teapots that truly shock.” Just a couple of days ago I had a teapot shock. I went to Sainsbury’s (a chain grocery store) to attempt to find lemon juice to cook with for the fourth time. I almost walked by the stand at first. A sign at the top read: PANCAKE DAY – FEBRUARY 17. I thought someone put the lemon juice on the shelf accidentally, but when I picked up the bottle I saw: “perfect for pouring over pancakes.” Pancakes. Pouring?! Oh, the British…

They also:

Keep the eggs on a non-refrigerated shelf;
Have the shortest expiration dates I have ever seen in my life;
Don’t sell groceries in bulk (maybe because of the expiration date mistake);
Make you use the self-checkout “tills” which they then must help you with;
And package everything as if you will consume the entire product once you get home.

Don’t underestimate the power of the “little things”! I’ll be kissing my teapot when I return.

Providence Ryan’16: Conquering the Climb

By Timmera Whaley'15 on April 7, 2015

Providence RyanYou are currently abroad in Australia. What are some of your expectations for the educational trip?

I’m so excited but also very nervous to be able to wholly immerse myself in an unfamiliar place. I think that one of the most amazing things about study abroad is that is gives us an opportunity to be in a place that, without study abroad, we may never have found ourselves in otherwise. So, I am so excited to be here, to be experiencing a place that is just so drastically different from anywhere else I’ve ever been. I’m also really anticipating taking Biology classes while I’m at the University of Wollongong. As a Biology major, I feel lucky to be able to study the biological sciences in an area like New South Wales, which has ecosystems and biodiversity that is exceptionally different than that of upstate New York.

Recently, you participated in a research project. What was your research topic?

Last summer, I participated in a research project that was initiated by Catherine Cardelus and Carrie Woods. This study looked at the effects of nutrient deposition on rainforest ecosystems, specifically on plants found in the rainforest canopy. While in Costa Rica, I climbed our experimental trees with Professors Woods, Professor Cardelus, and with three other student researchers. We also collected plant and soil samples and data on the plants from all of our experimental branches. Back at Colgate, we engaged in sample processing that allows us to look at the available nutrient content that was found in each of the plants at the time that we sampled them. Because this study was conducted over a five-year period of time, it will allow us to see what shifts there were in biodiversity, nutrient presence, and overall biological status of the canopy community.

What was your favorite part about the project?
Without a doubt, my favorite part was engaging in the field work that we did in Costa Rica. We woke up at 5:30 every morning, ate breakfast, and prepared 40 pounds of climbing gear. We would hike out to the experimental trees and put ropes on them. We climbed anywhere from 80 to 120 feet. We’d then spend 3-5 hours in the trees, while tagging plants, taking leaf and soil samples, and leaf measurements. It was intense, but it was also the most exhilarating experience of my life. It was amazing because at the beginning, it seemed impossible to climb these monstrous trees, and it took me almost an hour to get all the way up. By the end of the five-and-a-half weeks, I could climb a tree in 25 minutes. To be able to conquer that climb, and then spend hours sitting in a biodiversity hotspot in Costa Rica, surrounded by hundred of plants, animals and insects (including bullet ants and spider monkeys) was an unforgettable experience. It’s hard for me to explain how in awe I was every time I climbed a tree, and I feel so lucky to have had this incredible experience.

Newsletter: March, 2015

By Frank Kuan on March 31, 2015

March 2015 CoverThe OUS Newsletter highlights the achievements as well as activities of our OUS scholars, faculty, and staff around campus and beyond.

You can download the March issue here.

Nolan Gonzalez ’15: Don’t Be Afraid to Explore

By Timmera Whaley'15 on March 30, 2015

nolanHometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Computer Science

What was your favorite part of Japan?

I really liked the space in the city–Kyoto especially. The space Japan creates is different from the United States. I like to explore a lot. So, it was really fascinating to me. For example, I went to a river next to where I was staying. It stretches pretty far–north and south, I think. I liked walking down it and finding a different part of the area I was living in. It was really cool because the river would change. It had a lot of characteristics to it. The river would morph itself according to its circumstances, and it is really beautiful at night. You can hear the splashing of the water.

What is one thing Japanese culture has taught you?

I think on like a really big sense, it taught me how flexible certain aspect of our culture is. This flexibility provides a more interesting perspective of our humanity. The people I hung around taught me to appreciate certain routines–the act of doing. We would go do many different things for no apparent reason. It was not to kill time, but it was to do something during the day. The culture is much more open to going to gardens, little festivals, and stuff like that for entertainment. It makes daily life more interesting and worthwhile.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a junior interesting in going abroad?

I think it would be great to go out of your comfort zone whenever you get an opportunity. I think it is important that if your host family or others you know invite you to go somewhere, it would be better to go. You don’t know what is really going to happen. For the times I decided not to go to certain places, I regretted it. The places my host family recommended were really memorable. Don’t be afraid to say yes.

Ibrahim Shah ’15: Indulge in Your Education

By Timmera Whaley'15 on March 1, 2015

Brooklyn, NY

Awards and Leadership Positions:
Most Dedicated Student
Former Chief President of Brothers

What is the best advice you could give to a first year?
Don’t be afraid to branch out, meet new people, and try new things. College is the most beautifully selfish moment in your life. You should indulge yourself, find out who you want to be, take advantage of the opportunities, and the environment here to become that person.

One class that has shaped your opinion and how?

The most interesting class I’ve taken so far at Colgate is Philosophy of Mind with Professor Maura Tumulty. The course incorporates philosophical and scientific perspectives concerning the intersection of the mind, consciousness, and our overall mental lives. It has challenged both the scientist and philosopher in me.

Any leadership position you have had at Colgate or outside of Colgate you would like to expound upon?

I have always tried to be a leader in everything I do. At Colgate, I was the chief of Brothers, and I also served in other core positions within the group. I endeavored to continue the group’s mission statement of educating the community about issues men of color face through brown bags and guest speakers,  creating a support network for men of color on campus, and supporting other interest groups focusing on diversity on campus.

I also served as the supervisor for the first responders on campus, as well as performing my duties as an EMT. I was responsible for shift scheduling, payroll, inventory of medical equipment, day-to-day operations for all student first responders on campus, and I also functioned as a first responder for the men’s rugby team.

Each summer, I serve as one of the supervisors for staff members for the Oliver Scholar Program (of which I am an alumnus) during its summer immersion program. The non-profit organization seeks to provide inner-city students of color with the opportunity to attend elite independent/prep schools in the United States. The summer immersion program vets and prepares candidates for the rigor of the independent school learning environment. I am responsible for standardized test prep classes, tutoring sessions, community building, community activities, and supervising all counselors and teaching assistants for the duration of the program.

How was your host family in Madrid, Spain? 

I had a host mom. Her children were grown with kids of their own. My host mom was great. She gave me cooking lessons. I learned how to make traditional Spanish food like paella. She also took me to classical music concerts, plays, and theater. She is a patron of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Sometimes, she would take me as a plus-one, and the museum would give us private tours.

How has international education changed your perspective? 

I went to Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam; I also traveled throughout Spain. I think having the opportunity to study abroad gave me a different perspective on learning and life. When you travel, you get to see the world through a different perspective–politically and morally.  It forces you to question your beliefs, or it enforces them. Traveling gives you the opportunity to explore yourself.

Newsletter: February, 2015

By Contributing Writer on February 28, 2015

Cover featuring students on stage at Vagina MonologuesThe OUS Newsletter highlights the achievements as well as activities of our OUS scholars, faculty, and staff around campus and beyond.

You can download the February issue here.

Branden Lopez ’15: China Revisited

By Contributing Writer on February 25, 2015


Hometown: Bronx, NY

Majors: International Relations and Chinese

In 2013, I was able to travel to Shanghai for the purpose of improving my Mandarin and immersing myself within Chinese culture. I enjoyed that experience so much that I decided to return to Shanghai this past summer, interning for a consulting company in Shanghai that helped foreign companies enter the Chinese market and domestic companies grow.

I primarily worked in the marketing division of the company. Now, I could bore you with tedious details of what I did every day, but it wasn’t the usual busy work typical of internship. The first day I stepped into the office I was assigned to rebrand an image of a Taiwanese-based company that wanted to enter the Chinese market. It was challenging but with some help from my boss and a fellow intern, I was able to help the company establish operations in Shanghai and Nanjing.

This experience forced me to learn how to speak in Mandarin within a professional setting. I was taken to multiple business meetings in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and a few other cities. I was truly lucky to have the boss that I did.

One experience that made an impact on me from my time interning abroad would be the last project I worked on. I was given the task of promoting a Green China project. Besides learning and using marketing strategies on this project, I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing a green initiative in China because I felt that China lacked environmental consciousness. Being able to witness that turn, and being involved with it firsthand was an experience I thought to be truly special. In all, I found that my trip to China was very rewarding, and I am positive that working in China is in my future. 再见!

Newsletter: Winter, 2014

By Frank Kuan on December 15, 2014

OUS Newsletter featuring student modeling African fashionThe OUS Newsletter highlights the achievements as well as activities of our OUS scholars, faculty, and staff around campus and beyond.

You can download the Winter 2014 issue here.