School of Arts and Sciences

Exhibition and Social Change

Rising senior Charmaine Poh, A13, lives international relations: spending her time between Singapore, New York City, and the hill, and she has even fit in a few trips to Nepal, India, and Burma. She’s merged her life experiences around the world with the Jumbo focus on active citizenship and shared her thoughts via her personal blog.

She recently attended a few exhibitions mixing art and social change:

Photo by Charmaine Poh, "You've Got a Fast Car"

And she was inspired to bring what she saw to the hill:

Over the last year or so, I’ve been trying to put what I’ve learned into practice at Tufts…. What I’ve managed to do is miniscule in scale in comparison to what could happen in the future, but I’m nevertheless optimistic.

I’d like to see the corporate and the non-profit world team up, breaking down the stereotypes each industry sees in the other, and in turn focusing their eyes on a common cause. I’d like to see fashion entities, arts festivals, museums and the like adopt this into their corporate social responsibility strategy, knowing that it can benefit them. And likewise, non-profits need to know that creativity does not necessarily mean a waste of funds. If anything, it’s time to think relevant. You need no further proof than charity:water to see the truth of this.

Check out more of Poh’s moments of inspiration here.

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Loop Loop Revolution

Joo Yong Kang, A13, John Bradley, A15, and Scott Jacobson, A15, may have created the next video game craze as part of their final project for their class Music 66. Their game, “Loop Loop Revolution,” consists of a control panel, four hip panels, and four foot panels. The player creates various beats by touching the panels with their hands and feet. A combination of “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Guitar Hero,” the device is more than just a game–it’s a student-invented piece of musical engineering:

Music 66, or Electronic Musical Instrument Design (known to some as EMID), is a course taught by Paul Lehrman that uses MIDI software synthesis to make new ways of creating music. For more, check out Prof. Lehrman’s course site as well as a previous student project for Music 66.

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A Community of Minds

A very unique aspect of the Tufts community centers on everyone’s ability to learn from one another. Though in some institutions of higher education the learning is most often top-down – transferred from a professor to a student – at Tufts, it’s sometimes a circle. Interactions in the classroom can sometimes be as thought-provoking and intellectually compelling for professors as they are for students.

In one of Tufts Admissionss videos about the eccentricities of life on the hill, John Lurz describes this special occurrence from his own experiences as an assistant English professor reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Check out this video:

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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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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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A Former ‘Mate Pays It Forward

When Evan Barnathan, A08, M14, became a Boston Schweitzer Fellow, the choice of what to do for his year of service was obvious. As a former member of the Tufts Amalgamates and current music director of his beloved group, he spent the year launching Josiah Quincy Upper School‘s first choral effort: Attuned, an a cappella group that offered students the opportunity to both explore their musical creativity and develop positive self-identity and behaviors. Barnathan worked with students who were “‘unable to sing ‘Happy Birthday’” and through weekly rehearsals, private lessons, and field trips (to see the Bubs!), transformed them “into a formidable a cappella ensemble performing everything from pop to soul with pieces ranging from ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield to ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers.”

Boston Schweitzer Fellows focuses on addressing unmet health needs and is one of thirteen program sites across the US. Their site boasts, “Since the program’s inception, Schweitzer Fellows in Boston—competitively chosen from health-focused graduate student applicants in a variety of fields—have worked tirelessly to address health disparities and the social determinants of health throughout the greater Boston and Worcester areas.” Despite the program’s large scale success, Evan’s personal goals for his project focus on individual students: “I hope that this encourages the students to further engage in music education—and hopefully higher education, including college and beyond.”

For more on The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, be sure to check out their blog.

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Summer at the Movies – Ballplayer: Pelotero

Every summer, after tiring of the beach and the heat, we flock to movie theaters to delight in the relief of air conditioning and a good flick. This Friday, our summer at the movies can take a break from superheroes, talking teddy bears, and pop stars to bear witness to a truly fascinating story brought to you in part by two Tufts alumni.

In their controversial film Ballplayer: Pelotero, Trevor Martin, A08, and Casey Beck, A07, bring us the story of Miguel Angel and Jean Carlo, two excellent Dominican baseball players. The boys are on the brink of turning 16 (the age in which they can be signed to a Major League Baseball farm), which could lead them to the majors.

Martin and Beck along with their crew, spent two years in the Dominican Republic filming and preparing their movie. The film “sheds light on some of the most pressing issues regarding the export of Dominican baseball players to the US: age and identity fraud, exploitation, and the opaque role Major League Baseball plays in determining the fates of young players and their families. However, at heart, the film is a story about two gifted young men with a shared dream, doing their best to navigate a mercenary world with the hopes, fears and burdens of their entire families riding on their success or failure.”


The documentary has received much criticism from the MLB for its controversial topic–the organization itself did not did not cooperate in the making of the film. Martin explains to the Boston Globe, “We took pains not to have the film come across as a heavy-handed indictment [...] It’s a complex issue. We leave value judgments up to the viewer.”

To make those judgments yourself, check out Ballplayer: Pelotero this Friday, July 13, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. If you’re not in the area, check out the movie’s website for a complete list of showing locations.

 

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Strolling in the Sky

Dual degree SMFA students Eileen Wang, A15, and Kushala Vora, A15, are on cloud nine after their large scale project, A Stroll in the Sky, was chosen for an exhibit at the MFA’s sister museum in Nagoya, Japan. To be chosen for the exhibit, artists had to create a work inspired by a piece called “Dragon Amidst the Clouds.”

Creating the piece as part of the SMFA class “Water, Color and Paper,” taught by Erica Adams, the pair used different materials and took a creative spin on the original, hoping to create, “a collaborative modern piece that celebrates in preserving the traditional while embracing the future.”

For Wang, the project helped her find her artistic direction and took a more personal turn:

“I started realizing how interesting and essential it is for me to incorporate elements of culture into my work. Because I grew up in Asia, when I started working on the dragon piece I knew how significant the symbol of dragon is for Asian countries. That made me start to think about how cultural symbols define a country’s identity. Then of course because I am interested in food, I see food as much of a cultural symbol as the dragon is to Asia. It is because I grew up under two very different cultures, the fusion of it says a lot about who I am. This dragon project for me is a realization of the direction I need to take for my future works.”

Take a look at their piece along with a full interview with Eileen here!

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Tufts Orientation Helping Class of 2016 Get Ready

In less than two months the class of 2016 will arrive on campus and Tufts is well on its way in planning their official welcome. The Undergraduate Orientation Office understands that starting college can be a stressful time, so orientation coordinators have made an effort to reach out to 2016ers online. Their Twitter account offers these Jumbos information on everything from housing to advising, while also providing reminders for upcoming deadlines and helping connect the future classmates.

 The office’s Communications and Logistics Coordinator Audrey Abrell, A13, commented:

We hope to continue getting [the Class of 2016] excited about arriving to Tufts and keeping them informed about orientation. The students seem to appreciate that there are staff members online to answer their questions, and we hope that it encourages them to be proactive in preparing for Tufts.

The Facebook page is checked daily, Monday through Friday, so members of the Class of 2016 can ask questions online and get a quick response straight from the Orientation office. Bet these new Jumbos can’t wait for the fall!

 

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