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“Postcards” from Washington, DC

By Peter Tschirhart on March 26, 2014

Eleven Benton Scholars recently completed a successful four-day spring break trip to Washington D.C. While there, they visited a number of sites relevant to global leadership, including the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and The White House.

Benton Scholars visiting the White House Press Room with Colgate Alum Steve Posner, Associate Director for Strategic Planning and Communications.

Benton Scholars visiting the White House Press Room with Colgate Alumnus Steve Posner, Associate Director for Strategic Planning and Communications in the Office of Management and Budget.

Benton Scholars with Col. Scott Willey, in front of the B-29 "Enola Gay" at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum.

Benton Scholars with Col. Scott Willey, in front of the B-29 “Enola Gay” at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.

Inevitable “Potholes”

By csolarte on March 18, 2014

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” – Fitzhugh Mullan

Well, on day two of the Benton Scholars Washington D.C. spring break trip, we hit our first “pothole.” It came in the form of two inches of snow and a government (and Smithsonian) snow day. What we had planned to accomplish today was two tours, one at the State Department and another at the Capitol, along with a free afternoon/night for us to explore D.C. on our own as well as meet up with friends from high school, college, or even family members who were in the area. Two inches of heavy, wet snow forced the Capitol, State Department, and most of the Smithsonian museums to close for the day, leaving us with limited (and mostly outdoor) options. While the snow and slush outside looked mild to us from upstate New York, it was clear once we stepped out of the Metro and onto slushy D.C. sidewalks that the city didn’t have the capabilities Hamilton has. While I do have to say I don’t care for the hundreds of inches of snow we get each winter, today gave me a greater respect for the response time and resources Hamilton devotes to snow plowing and removal. Walking around D.C. as the only tourists exploring the Mall and the monuments, I have to say the monuments are gorgeous while covered in snow, and the experience is one I haven’t had in my previous trips to our nation’s capital.

Benton Scholars at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Benton Scholars at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Following a two-hour walk around the Mall and taking various pictures at the Capitol, Washington Monument, as well as the Lincoln, Korean, and the MLK Memorials, we headed inside for warmth and food. While we are certainly a group that doesn’t complain and can easily adapt to the “potholes” that are inevitable with travel, many of the girls on the trip weren’t equipped with proper footwear or jackets that we happily left back in dorm rooms in Hamilton. As our toes and fingers thawed, we happily ate pizza and enjoyed the heat. From there, the group split up: some people going shopping or meeting up with friends and family while others explored the museums that opened up later in the day.

Following the afternoon, many of the girls and Peter returned to the hotel to recharge for the night before dinner. The freshmen Benton Scholars attended a poetry reading in Alexandria and met up with friends, while the seniors stayed in the metro area to have dinner with old high school friends and meet up with family. After a long day of travel and lots of flexibility on everyone’s part (especially Peter who planned this whole trip), we all returned to the hotel at 11:30p.m. to gear up for what promises to be yet another memorable and smoother (hopefully!) day of travel.

Check back for updates on what we have planned for tomorrow!


Old Pro’s and the New Generation

By csolarte on March 17, 2014

It feels so good to finally be posting on the Benton blog for my first time! Currently, I am sitting in a hotel lobby in Alexandria, VA with the snow falling outside (it tends to follow us Colgate kids) and reflecting on the first Benton spring break trip ever. The trip started out this morning with everyone showing up to the bus (on time!), making it through Syracuse Hancock Int’l Airport without too much trouble, and finally landing in Washington D.C. at Washington-Reagan Airport. With the usual stop for lunch and shopping, we headed out by Metro to Hannah O’Malley’s house for the most wonderful dinner and conversation getting to know each other.

Here’s a little bit more about the group. Altogether there are 12 of us traveling: three seniors (Marilyn Hernandez-Stopp, Saffiate Ba, and myself, Camille Solarte), eight freshmen (Hannah O’Malley, Taylor Mooney, Grace Western, Angela Jang, Laine Barrand, Mallory Keller, Allison Zengilowski, and Erin Huiting), and of course, our fearless (and very patient) leader, Peter Tschirhart.

Yes, you did read those names correctly, this trip is 100% girls (except for Peter), and it has truly been a wonderful experience for myself, especially knowing exactly how it was being a freshman and the amazing opportunity this trip presents. For the freshmen, this trip begins their Benton experience, and for the old seniors, who have eagerly awaited this trip as one last hurrah, this spring break trip provides a great opportunity to bond between class years. Marilyn, Saffiate, and myself, having experienced traveling in China with each other, know when to let each other plug in their headphones and sleep on the train or when to joke around and make each other laugh. These freshmen girls get a trial run at this with the short trip to D.C., and they will certainly be well-served when it comes to getting to South Korea in May. Traveling is certainly one of the quickest ways to get to know someone, and these eight are getting a great head start. Looking back, I have been so lucky to have formed these friendships on the first floor in West Hall in freshman year that have lasted through everything that college throws at you. Watching the freshmen girls today, I can definitely see these friendships developing and can only hope for a similar outcome as I have been lucky enough to have.

'14 Benton Scholars: Saffi, Camille, and Marilyn.

’14 Benton Scholars: Saffi, Camille, and Marilyn.

In addition to my “senior reflective moment” I want to take a minute to reflect on the Benton program itself. Coming into my freshman year, there were only three classes of Benton scholars, and the program was continuing to take shape and be molded into what it has become today. While there continue to be small tweaks and adjustments, the Benton Scholars program (with the great help of Peter Tschirhart) has really transformed into something I never thought I would be able to experience in my short four years as a Colgate undergraduate. I can only hope that this program continues to grow as I enter my phase as an alumnus of Colgate University and the Benton Program, but for now, I am going to enjoy my final Benton trip and create and savor friendships that have come as direct results of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded.

Thanks for reading and check back tomorrow for more updates!

Peter and the Gals

By mhernandezstopp on March 17, 2014

Today the Benton ladies–3 senior women and 8 first-year gals–and Peter (!), arrived in DC. Our trip went without a hitch, and we had a fantastic time checking out the quaint town of Alexandria, where we are currently taking residence.

Hannah O’Malley ’17 graciously invited all of us for dinner at her home in a suburb of DC called Friendship Heights. When we arrived, her mother and sister welcomed us with open arms. We devoured the food the traditional Lebanese cuisine that was served; which included hummus, pita, falafel and everything in between. After we filled our plates, we gathered around the dining room table for some great conversations. We talked about everything from politics, to the NFL (and its significance as an “American” institution), to the Girl Scouts. We shared hilarious stories, too: remember to ask Angela Jang ’17 about how she got her middle name! But best of all was the ability to be in the comfort of a home, with the laughter and joy that comes with being in good company.

The train ride back was certainly a long one, and now we’re getting ready for bed. In fact, I’m so exhausted from the days activities. Can’t wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings!

Check back later for pictures!

Benton Bio: Erin Huiting ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on March 10, 2014
Benton Scholar Erin Huiting '17

Benton Scholar Erin Huiting ’17

Erin Huiting is a first year from Evergreen, Colorado. Her passion for giving back to the community led her to Belize during the summer before her senior year of high school. While there, she assisted local hospitals with diabetes prevention education and outreach. Erin’s volunteer activities have also bolstered her passion for public health. As a member of the Global Health Initiative at Colgate, she discusses current issues of public health and plans to volunteer with the group in Hamilton. She is also a member of Habitat for Humanity. Erin intends to major in Molecular Biology at Colgate University, then pursue a Ph.D. in Epidemiology. She also plans to visit underdeveloped countries, where she will continue to pursue her interest in global health by serving the sick. During May, Erin will travel with Professor John Palmer and ’17 Benton Scholars to South Korea.

Now Live: TBS-Abroad.org

By Peter Tschirhart on March 10, 2014

Like many Colgate students, Benton Scholars often choose to study off-campus during their junior year. Unlike others, however, they are expected to stay connected to the program and each other while abroad–sharing their insights, collaborating from different points on the globe–with the goal of bringing different cultural and geo-political perspectives to bear on shared problems.

The Benton Scholars: Abroad blog functions as the locus for this collaboration. Each Monday during the spring semester, students will be sent a brief topic, idea, or problem, one that has resonance throughout the world. Students are then asked to submit a response–preferably a picture, video, or brief essay–which will then be published on this site. Responses need not be obvious: they can be creative, insightful, even clever interpretations of each week’s theme.

Screenshot of the new Benton Scholars project blog, TBS-Abroad.org.

Screenshot of the new Benton Scholars project blog, TBS-Abroad.org.

In its inaugural year, we hope The Benton Scholars: Abroad blog will provide unique insight into topics of discussion and issues of concern that we all share in common.