School of Arts and Sciences
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tufts Gospel Choir, otherwise known as Music 72, is a popular Arts credit course among undergrads. Led by former Tufts student and Music Department faculty member David Coleman, G01, the class brings together a large and diverse group of students, including both Christians and non-Christians. The resulting choir, formally known as the Third Day Gospel Choir, is always a hit and many students repeat the course for pure fun. Each semester concludes with a packed performance in Cohen Auditorium. Lucky for us, a video of their most recent show has been shared on YouTube. Check it out: