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Posts Tagged ‘Bates College’

Greetings All,

It must be nearly the end of summer, because for the last few days, I’ve gone swimming with my pals at No-Name Pond, visited most of my friends’ new apartments, basked in the sun, relaxed on my couch…wait a minute! That sounds like the beginning of summer!

Well friends, that’s how the school year starts if you’re leading an AESOP trip. AESOP, which stands for Annual Entering Students Orientation Program, is a sort of pre-orientation orientation, where upper-classmen lead small groups of firstyears on trips into the Maine out-of-doors. It’s a great way to get everyone, leaders included, pumped for a year at Bates. We AESOP leaders arrive to campus early (the 16th of August) to begin training for our trips, gather the gear, finalize reservations, and generally make sure all is prepared.

While there’s much to do to make sure AESOP ’08 goes off without a hitch, there’s also the whole business of coming back to school after months of being away. I’ve been moving myself into my off-campus apartment, which is a bit of work but completely awesome. My bedroom is as big as my sophomore double, and that’s just my bedroom! I’ve also been prepping for the FYS that I’m teaching, “Understanding Namaste.” It’s a Yogic philosophy class, which is right up my alley, but I want to be sure that I am prepared to actually teach about it, rather than just talk about it. 

But we also get plenty of time to enjoy the height of Maine’s summer splendor. Campus is (relatively) very quiet, since it’s only the 70+ leaders running around, so we get the run of the place. It is such a blast! Just yesterday we played an epic 10 v. 10 game of Ultimate on the football field next to New Commons–huge fun. There are a few of us leaders who haven’t seen each other in months, or sometimes years, due to Study Abroad, so reuniting has been glorious. The Sun is warm, the Grass is green, the Water’s cool, and everyone is totally happy and amped.

Back to School never felt so cool.

Be Well,

Jake

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Greetings All,

After much trial and error trying to get these photos up on the blog, I think they’re good to go. Hope you enjoy them!

Be Well,

Jake

 

Where it all began. The albergue in St. Jean Pied de Port.

  Some gear drying out after a downpour.

Some of our gear drying after a downpour.

Two historic castles, sitting in a farm field outside Pamplona.

  

  An impending storm over more Spanish farmland.

Me and some pilgrim friends at an albergue.

  

     One of the many breathtaking cathedrals along the Road.

More walking-mates, in a church/albergue.

  

A poor photo of the end of the pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostela

The walk to the Atlantic from Santiago.

  

The end of a 32-day journey, at Cape Finisterre, Spain.

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Greetings All,

After 32 days of travel across Northern Spain on foot, I arrived at Cape Finisterre, so named because of its root words, finis and terra, which indicate that this spot is the end of the earth. And, as the Western-most point on the European continent, it was long thought to be just that. A fitting place to end a month-long westwardly walk.

Now, though, I write to you all from the comfort of my Living Room, a luxury all Camino-goers must be without in the cramped albergues–hostels provided exclusively for pilgrims. Don’t get me wrong, those albergues aren’t half bad, and some of them are quite nice. But it’s hard to get any personal space when you are in a giant bedroom full of bunkbeds which are soon to cradle snoring old Germans who, while charming during waking hours, are quite a pain at night. I’ve never heard snores like those, not even from my freshman roommate.

One of the many lessons to garner from the Camino is to appreciate the luxuries, the blessings, and the privileges of our everyday lives, such as a room to ourselves. Or having running water whenever I want it. Or being able to choose from many different types of cuisine, as opposed to picking either baguette and butter, or baguette and cheese. Or having wardrobe of clothes, as opposed to having only Dirty Hiking Outfit and Dirty Town Outfit. Or even the opportunity to force myself to abandon the luxuries, blessings, and privileges of my everyday life.

But, being back in New York, back to my more regular lifestyle, there are many parts of the Camino that I wish to bring back with me. Like the immediate camaraderie that all pilgrims feel on the Road, which is such a positive and connecting force. The sights in Spain were stunning at every turn. Finally, the change in pace, from a fun but fast Bates semester to a much simpler and slower drive, provided so many goods for me and other pilgrims. We all had the chance to think, the chance to re-evaluate, and the opportunity to rest our minds by doing something that required almost no thought whatsoever–just walk forward.

So now I am back. I’ve only been in for one day, so not only do I not know exactly what I’m up to, but I also don’t have any pictures back from the trip. I’ll work on that. Besides that, my To Do list for the summer holds: get ready for the return to Bates (i.e. start reading for thesis), set up stuff for the Deansmen (the oldest all-male a cappella group on campus–have I mentioned them before?), and begin preparing for the First Year Seminar I am co-teaching. How many weeks of summer left?

Be Well,

Jake

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Greetings All,

El Camino de Santiago brings a brand new meaning to the concept of a ¨road trip¨for me. As I mentioned in my last post, I´m right now traveling across the entirety of Northern Spain on foot along the ancient pilgrimage road that leads to Santiago de Compostela. The city holds the remains of Santiago, or Saint James, one of the disciples. So, for this next post, I bring you a view of my journey across Spain. It´s not exactly a slice of life at Bates, but it certainly is a slice of life thanks to Bates, since the money for this trip came entirely from the Phillips Fellowship that I received from Bates.

As I said, the Camino is historically a Catholic trail, but in the 17 days that I´ve been walking I have found mostly other seekers somewhat like myself, who do not identify as Catholic, or even as Christian, but who walk the Camino for other reasons. Interestingly, most people who I´ve spoken with–and they come from all over the world–are at major junctures in their lives, and are walking to create space in their heads, so that they can make a more informed decision about their next step. Not completely unlike one of my goals for this trip. For example, one of my friends on the road, a young South Korean, is literally 3 weeks out of his mandatory 2-year stint in the South Korean army, and is getting his first real taste of freedom in many months here in Spain. He´s not sure about how to continue at school, and is hoping to figure out a few things here.

There are so many characters on the Road, some of them totally loony, but I´m consistently amazed by everyone I meet. This older French guy was nice enough to give me half a bottle of wine after he had had his fill. Another time, these two chatty Spanish ladies (I speak no Spanish, by the way), were talking a mile a minute while informing me that the hostel I thought was up ahead did not exist, and so called their friend with a car and gave me a little lift to the next town, and then toured me around its sights! Awesome.

After 500 km of walking, I´ve seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life, without question. The landscape here is bursting with history, unlike anything we have back in the U.S. There are old ruins from times long since passed all over the place, just lying about in fields or in old neighborhoods alongside computer stores and laundromats. The cathedrals are so impressive, be it because of their delicately and intricately carved exteriors, their ornate interior worship nooks, or at the other end of the scale because of their spartan character. You don´t have to be Christian to be moved. And, of course, the Spanish countryside is beyond description, so I won´t really try here. I´ve been taking pictures, but I forgot a legit camera, so I´ve been using disposables. If any of the photos end up being worth it, I will post them when I return to the states.

I´ve got 300 km to go on this journey, and no more time for internet in this hostel, so I must be off. Until next time!

Be Well,

Jake

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Greetings All,

You can do so many things with your Short Term. You can get a solid tan from sunbathing on the quad (or if you’re me, a solid sunburn), you can take a thought-provoking class that stretches your academic boundaries, you can work on a research project…the list goes on and on. For me, Short Term has meant one thing: theater.

I love theater. I took a break from the stage when I came back from my semester abroad in India, since I figured I’d need some time to be myself a bit before I started pretending to be other people all of the time. Now I’m up to my eyeballs in plays, and I’m loving it. My biggest project right now is a play outside of Bates College in Newcastle, ME, about an hour drive away.

I landed the job (my first professional gig) through a dance professor here, Sarah McCormick. She is the choreographer for the piece, and the director was looking for dancers. I’ve just recently started dancing at Bates, so Sarah had worked with me and thought I should audition as a dancer. The director, however, was still looking for actors, and when he heard that I was primarily an actor, he asked me to audition as such. And so, six weeks ago, he offered me this great part with a whole bunch of lines, a lot of dancing and movement, a meaty character, and an on-stage death! What more could I ask for? The play, by the way, is called “Gilgamesh.” It’s an original work that parallels the epic of Gilgamesh with the life story of the British archeologist who discovered the story, translated it, and then went crazy and died in the desert. Pretty sweet.

This play has been a huge amount of work. Couple that with my one-man show that I am working on as an Independent Study class right now, and it’s been a busy Short Term! The one-man show that I’m working on is called “The Last Days of Heath Ledger,” and I play Heath Ledger recounting his last days of life. A bit morbid, perhaps, but it is a really interesting character study as well. This is the last weekend of “Gilgamesh;” just in time for me to drop that character and pick up an Australian accent for my one-man a week from Monday. I just hope I don’t start mixing up the lines!

Be Well,

Jake

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