Blogs

Summer Reading

In addition to these great reads brought to you by the Tufts community via Facebook and TuftsNow, The Fletcher School suggests a fun and different alternative to your summer reading: student blogs. In a recent blog post, they highlight seven blogs worth a read from students working and researching in places as far and wide as Uganda and Guatemala. They also included a note from a Elia, a student interning in Libya, who is witnessing history while abroad this summer:

In this moment of jubilation in Tripoli, let me wish all of you the chance to experience — either directly for your own country, or indirectly through friends — a peoples’ first opportunity at political self-determination.

No matter the likely political troubles ahead, no matter democracy’s many flaws, no matter how much of a transitional government this new government in Libya will still be, the weight of today’s simple exercise is source of immeasurable joy in its own for millions of Libyans. You just can’t put it in words.

Witnessing fellow human beings go through something like this is truly extraordinary.

–A European who never had to fight with guns for the right to vote for his leaders.

For more on the Fletcher School and their extraordinary students, check out their blog, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.

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Hungry Hungry Jumbos

At some point in every Jumbo’s life, students are faced with an all too familiar dilemma: life without a meal plan. Without the convenience of salad bars, healthy options, and a myriad of protein choices, what’s a Jumbo to do!? In an effort to deal with this mid-college crisis, Lydia Jessup, A13, and Alex Testa, E13, started Feastie Girls, a community driven food blog for college students focusing on cooking healthy, quick, inexpensive, and fun dishes. Jessup sums up their mission stating, “We wanted to create a place where college students could share ideas and get inspired in the kitchen.”

From recipes that would only be acceptable in college (Frat bread, anyone?) to the more sophisticated Zesty Cucumber Gazpacho, The Feastie Girls cover it all! Keeping with their community-driven focus, the girls allow for anyone currently in college (and those who remember recipes from their college years) with a love of healthy, delicious food to contribute. One of their contributors is Jeff Marvel, A13, who gives us a taste of his personal experiences as a newbie in the kitchen along with a recipe for his easy Chicken, Broccoli, and Pasta:

If you’re like me, then growing up was defined by delicious home cooked meals by mom. Coming into college, I knew how to to scramble an egg and toast a bagel. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much. The inevitable threat of cooking was delayed for a few years by this beautiful thing called the unlimited meal plan. But now it’s summer, I’m on my own and faced with the daunting task of creating reasonably nutritious meals at minimal cost.

Faced with this challenge, I settled on a childhood favorite: broccoli. This superfood is one of the more nutrient dense vegetables on the planet, according to CNN, and has proven cancer prevention abilities. It’s cheap, yummy, healthy and easy to cook. Sounds about right.

I decided to make chicken and pasta because, well, I’m not really sure. They just seemed like reasonable things to cook. But together, chicken, broccoli, and pasta create a cheap, nutritious dish that’s easy to make for someone just starting out. Hope you enjoy!

If the Feastie Girls have whet your appetite, feel free to email them and contribute to their project: Lydia.Jessup@tufts.edu and Alexandra.Testa@tufts.edu.  Bon appetite!

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Preparing for the Olympics

It’s finally time for the Olympics! To celebrate the fast-approaching games, two members of the Tufts community have dedicated posts on their blogs to their favorite competition with a little Jumbo spin.

Patrick Haneber, A15, starts us off with a little background on the venue for the Olympics, as well as a peek into his love for the games in a post he contributed to the Uloop Blog, a blog that promotes Uloop-The Student Powered Marketplace:

Looking back four years to the 2008 Beijing Games, the architecture unleashed there still blows me away. The nest-like structure of the Beijing National Stadium, the gravity-defying façade of the headquarters for China Central Television, and the bubbly surface of the National Aquatic Center were all so eccentric and iconic that viewers world-wide had no choice but to forever implant them in their memories.

The IOC seems to have gone for the opposite effect in the 2012 Olympic venues, opting to embrace the rich history of the city rather than give it a new identity altogether. After all, how could the IOC overlook places like Hyde Park, Wimbledon, and Wembley Stadium? These, along with plenty of other previously standing locales will be heavily relied upon to accommodate many of the thousands athletes competing in 302 different events. Among the new structures specially completed for the 2012 Games are the £486 million Olympic Stadium, the lego-like Basketball Arena, and the London Velopark, used for the velodrome bike and BMX races.

Bridget Conley, Research Director at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, continues where Patrick left off and gives us a little insight into the countries and athletes competing in the games. She focuses her post on the participation of unstable, or ‘failed,’ nations in the event in one of her posts for the World Peace Foundation’s blog–Reinventing Peace:

The Olympic countdown clock informs us that in 8 days and an ever-decreasing number of hours, minutes, and seconds the2012 Olympic Games will begin. For those of us based in the U.S., this means television coverage only of sports where Americans are expected to either 1) win medals or 2) wear bikinis (or both).  But in WPF’s unceasing quest to elucidate the dimensions of war and peace, we will run a series of postings on sport and political conflict. In this first posting, we offer a special pre-Olympic glimpse of teams we might not otherwise hear about: the 2012 teams from the top 20 failed states.

We’ll make use of the 2012 Failed States Index–not least to illustrate how the characterization of a state as “failed” doesn’t mean it cannot succeed in a number of important things, such as winning gold medals. The index rankings use economic, social, political, and military indicators to create a hierarchy of states based on their relative degree of stability or risk of violence and collapse.

With a bit more knowledge on some of the athletes and the city where they will compete, we’re more than ready for the 2012 Olympics! Are you?

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School’s in Session!

It may be summer, but that doesn’t mean that minds are not a-churning on the hill! Aside from students in the always enlightening Tufts Summer Session courses, the hill is bustling with students taking part in the Summer Institute of Civic Studies. The Institute is an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together advanced graduate students, faculty, and practitioners from diverse fields of study. For those wishing to take part in the Institute outside the class, one of their main lecturers, Peter Levine, has taken to the blogosphere to give us an insider’s peek into his summer course. Check out a snippet from his lecture on Roberto Unger:

Here is a little fable (mine, not Unger’s) that illustrates how his theoretical position relates to everyday civic efforts:

A group of middle class students has volunteered to serve meals at a homeless shelter. They love the experience. During the reflection session later, one remarks, “Serving the homeless was so great! I hope that shelter will still be open in 50 years, so my grandchildren can serve.”

A progressive educator cries, “No! Our goal must be to end homelessness. You need to think about root causes, not just serve free food once a week. What are the fundamental causes of homelessness?” Chastened, the students do serious research and determine that homelessness results from poverty, which, in turn, is a byproduct of late capitalism.

They are trying to figure out what to do about capitalism when Roberto Mangabeira Unger happens to walk by. “No!” cries Unger. “You are assuming that the link between poverty and homelessness is natural or inevitable. You have seen patterns in our limited experience and have derived ‘lawlike tendencies or deep-seated economic, organizational, and psychological constraints’ from the data; these now limit your imaginations. We human beings have made the social world and we can change any part of it–not only the parts that you have identified as deep structures, but also any of the other elements or links.

“Your ‘confining assumptions … impoverish [your] sense of the alternative concrete institutional forms democracies and markets can take.’ By focusing on the biggest and most intractable factors, you guarantee defeat, whereas any part of the picture could be changed. It would be possible to have a capitalist society with poverty but no shortage of homes. What if we got rid of all zoning rules and rent control but gave everyone a voucher for rent? What if public buildings were retrofitted to allow people to sleep comfortably in them at night? What if some houses were shared, like ZipCars, and homeless people occupied the temporarily empty ones? What if …?

Peter Levine is the Research Director of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Director of their CIRCLE oranization, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. For more of his lectures, check out his blog on the Tufts Roundtable Commons.

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Tufts GlobeMed in Achham

This past June, Tufts GlobeMed reached their one year anniversary! GlobeMed is a student organization that partners with Nyaya Health to strive to bring health equity to rural Nepal. In their short time as an official organization at Tufts, they have accomplished an impressive goal:  they reached their fundraising goal by 161%. Three of their members are currently interning with Nyaya Health in Achham, Nepal, as an international GrassRoots On-site Work (GROW) team creating sustainable healthcare and providing knowledge to the Achham community. They detail their eye-opening experiences as they grow abroad in their blog, GROWing in Achham. In one of their entries, David Meyers, A13, describes the difficult contrast between his surroundings the reality of the area that he’s helping:
There is so much beauty here. Beauty in the scenery, and in tricks of the light. Beauty in the wedding of two staff members, and all of the staff’s incredible commitment to the hospital. Beauty in the resilience of the patients who walk for hours in the morning to get their treatments, and then walk hours back at night to go work in their fields. Beauty in the son who stays by his mother’s side as she struggles through MDR TB, and in the kid that pulled through from a case of Kala Azar.
But there is also hardship here in Achham. In the patients who we can’t help and who don’t make it back home.
This is a land of beauty that deserves beauty. That is why we do our work.

Keep it up, Tufts GlobeMed! Feel free to send some praise their way on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Timeflies + Jumbo Alum = Hit

Continuing their reign of college airwaves and party hits, Timeflies recently delivered their second album to date, Under the Influence. The album is a six-track mixtape that samples artists like The Wanted and Adele in classic party songs like ‘Glad You Came’ and surprisingly touching ones like ‘Someone Like You.’ But the biggest treat for Jumbo listeners is their track ‘The Beginning,’ in which the boys sample the insanely talented Tara Vaughan’s, A10, ‘Better Versions.’ Recognize the voice? Then you probably heard Tara on the hill singing for Tufts SQ!

Support both Jumbo artists by downloading the mixtape here. For more on Timeflies, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dreams of the Middle East

In her first semester at Tufts, Alexa Stevens, A13, enrolled in Arabic 1 completely unaware that a subject as unfamiliar as Arabic would change the course of her life. Throughout her time at Tufts, her intellectual curiosity towards the Middle East grew into a love and respect for the area that led her to major in Middle Eastern studies, visit Iran the summer after her sophomore year, and study abroad in Jordan the fall of her Junior year. She keeps a blog chronicling her intellectual journey exploring the Middle East that begins days before she departs for Iran and continues through her college experience in which she explains what, or rather who, inspired her to follow her dreams overseas:

I could tell you that a semester in Jordan sparked my interest in the Cause, or maybe the weeks of travel to Israel and Palestine that I did after that semester, or that perhaps it was my intense study of the Middle East that brought me to delve further into the tightly-wound knot that is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. But I would be lying, because really the thing that pulled me into a situation which has become highly academic, polemical and esoteric was its most essential element: a person. Namely, my second-year Arabic teacher Suhad. She told us about her family’s home in Gaza, about her experiences during the Second Intifada at Birzeit University, about the fifty-two days she spent between the Israeli and Jordanian borders as a stateless person, about coming to the US and re-doing her entire college education, and about the uphill battle she’s been fighting since birth. Her eyes pulled me in, right back to the center of this thing–the people whose lives will never be entirely their own, but rather a part of the intractable conflict in the Holy Land.

Check out the rest of her post and where her studies at Tufts have taken her here.

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Burgernomics?

With International Relations being one of Tufts’s most popular majors, odds are most Jumbos have had at least some exposure to basic economic principles. But whether you’re an econ-savvy Jumbo or one who chose another path, you’re bound to enjoy Tufts Economics Society’s new blog. In it, they discuss the current economic climate, things they learn in their classes, and musings on how economics affect our daily lives. Pierre Chalon, A14, wrote one of these posts and chose to focus on the Big Mac Index, common knowledge in the world of economics that simplifies our understanding of exchange rates.

“Here’s the interesting part. To simplify this theory and make it more accessible to people not necessarily knowledgeable about currency fluctuations, in 1986, The Economistmagazine published the ‘Big Mac Index,’ essentially a data table with prices of a single Big Mac burger in many countries in local currencies. The idea was to make the basket of goods merely a McDonald’s Big Mac burger so as to determine whether currencies were being over or under valued. How? Let me give an example. Let’s say the average Big Mac in America costs US$3.22 and 509 Kronur in Iceland (US$ 7.22 at the market exchange rate). This implies a PPP of 158 Kronur for a dollar (where they would equalize). We then compare the exchange rate of the currencies to the cost of a Big Mac to see where it would be cheaper overall to buy it. In this case, the actual dollar exchange rate is 68.4, meaning that the Icelandic krona is currently being over-valued by 131% and it should (in theory), depreciate against the US dollar.

For career information, networking opportunities, events, and more economics related info, check out Tufts Economics Society on Twitter and Facebook.

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Tufts in Rwanda: 2012 Edition

Two years ago, we showed you how students on Tufts Hillel’s service trip to Rwanda learned and grew abroad. This year, Tufts Hillel continues their legacy of helping the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village with a new batch of students eager to repair the world. On their own branch of the Tufts Hillel blog, we find the stories of  Hannah, Sam, Paige, Nate, Natasha, Arlen, Jessica, Ariana, Katie, Shane, Laura, and Tayo as they embark on their interfaith service trip:

“We all chose to come to Rwanda for different reasons and had different expectations, but we were all excited to be going. Some wanted to see a new country, while some wanted to see a new continent. Others wanted to experience a new culture. I think all of us wanted to learn about what had happened in 1994, and many also wanted the trip to help guide them to their future career choices.
                  I will never forget the moment we stepped off the plane. I’m (Tayo) from Ghana, and when I go home I’m used to being hit with the hot air and the smell that can only mean that I’m finally in the place I love the most. But here I was, in Rwanda, a place I’d never been to, feeling sensations that were almost the same! I (Laura) was entirely unsure of what to expect as I had never been to Africa before. However, we both felt that after feeling the hot air and seeing the bright lights of Kigali—the endless hours of travel had all been worth it. We went through immigration and, after dealing with some luggage issues, hopped on the bus to Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. The bus ride was surreal. Although it was night time and everybody was exhausted, we were all so excited to be in the country that we had read and watched so much about.”

The trip is part of Hillel’s Alternative Summer Break program. For more journeys to Rwanda, check out the Tufts in Rwanda student groups from 2011 and 2010.

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For Your Entrepreneurial Needs

If you’re ever in need of a fun entrepreneurial perspective with a Jumbo spin or an alumni role model, look no further: Tufts Entrepreneurs Society has just launched their first blog! The blog delivers a mix of information from articles to media from their meetings and activities. In their latest post, they honor the Tufts band Timeflies, while comparing the band to a start-up:

Music has always been an entrepreneurial experience. Musicians start with nothing, no sound, no template and create elaborate tones and melodies. Many bands and groups have come from Tufts but one of the latest we’d like to feature, on Startup Beats, is Timeflies. At Tufts Cal Shapiro and Rob Resnick started a group called Timeflies. Before and while at Tufts both Cal and Rob (Rez) worked with many bands and technology making music. Rob was Music and Philosophy major and Cal a Music major with a minor in Entrepreneurship. In addition to talent, bootstrapping and a unique branding tool lead to viral adoption of Timeflies.

You can also find Tufts Entrepreneurs Society on Twitter and Facebook.

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