Over and Out

May 23rd, 2011

My fellow Class of 2011 graduate Itai Njanji and me are making fun of my little brother: he doesn’t have a degree. With every clever solution that we come up with, we make sure we credit our liberal arts education. I am wearing a Wooster Alumni sweater. We talk about fashion that is for college kids, meaning it is not for us.

It is only a week since we received our diplomas, but it is real. Wooster is in our past.

I had underestimated the intensity of commencement weekend. I imagined that it would be one big celebration, a fitting goodbye to four wonderful years. However, commencement is a two-edged sword. Of course, it is wonderful to receive a degree and be at the center of attention for three straight days. Moreover, my family from the Netherlands visited Wooster for the first time in four years. But May 16 almost asked too much of me. I wanted to take hundreds of pictures,  meet all my friends’ families, I wanted to say goodbye to my professors, I wanted to show my parents around on campus, I wanted to spend time with Keri, and I had not had a full night of sleep since finals started a week ago. At the end of the day, I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. I felt great about my beautiful diploma, about all the amazing people in my life, and about the four very special years at Wooster, but the mix of emotions was unlike anything I had ever felt before. One older gentleman told me that he had quoted Charles Dickens during his graduation many years ago: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The gentleman told me this on Saturday, but only by Monday night I realized what he had meant.

When I got to New York City on Friday after staying in Wooster for four days to close the buildings down, my tank was still very low. I slept over twelve hours the first night I arrive in the City of Dreams and the night after I did it again. It seems like it is a long way to recover fully from the emotional roller coaster that leaving your Alma Mater is. Digesting all the events from graduation weekend and making the transition to life in the Netherlands will take time.

I now say goodbye to this blog. My life has been documented here since the spring semester of my sophomore year, but now I am passing on the torch. New generations of Wooster students will be sharing their experiences through various media, while I start my life in Amsterdam.

Thanks for reading my posts, thanks for following the bigger and smaller events in my life. A nice side-effect of writing this blog is that I have a record of 5 of my 7 semesters in Wooster. I am happy that I can confidently say that if I would be given the opportunity to come to Wooster again I would do it all over. I have had four amazing years and I can recommend this school to anyone who is looking for an unpretentious top class liberal arts college with a beautiful campus and a community in which I built relationships that will last a lifetime.

Bastiaan

One to Go

May 9th, 2011

All that stands between me and a Bachelor’s Degree now is one exam. I still need to gather all the information, store it in my neurons, and retrieve it on Wednesday starting 2:00 p.m. However, after going through this process so many times in my college career and even during my high school days, I think I can do it.

Today, I took my Intrapersonal Communication exam. It wasn’t bad at all, I expected it to be much longer. I also turned in my last story for Introduction to Fiction and Poetry writing. This last story had a much stronger lower story than my previous ones and also included some good desire and conflict. Yes, it may be clear that I learned a thing or two about fiction writing.

The spring weather has finally arrived. Many people had predicted that we would skip spring and jump straight to summer after early March weather that just wouldn’t go away. However, I consider today a beautiful spring day. Not all trees have full grown leafs, many are blooming, and the weather is sunny but still a little chilly. People are studying on the fields around campus, trying to solve their vitamin D shortages.

Right now it is really a time of lasts. Today I have my last library shift, this weekend was the last social weekend with everyone on campus, I had my last Reslife meeting, I wrote my last undergraduate paper, and, as mentioned before, Wednesday is my last exam.

I am trying to enjoy it all. It is never easy to leave a place that you love, but I have had four amazing years at this college. I am excited for the summer and my graduate school program in Amsterdam next year. The incoming class will consist of students born in 1993. I was six years old in that year and my younger brother, who came after my two younger sisters, was born in 1992, so it seems right for me to move on.

This will not be my last post yet, I promise, but I will say goodbye for now, because I am about to play some tennis during my last finals week at The College of Wooster.

Bastiaan

Last Week of Classes

May 4th, 2011

It doesn’t feel like it. I am working on some papers, going to work in the library, and I am having meetings. Class is still class, but I only have four sessions left. Four sessions and I will most likely never be in an undergraduate class again.

The weather is probably one contributor to the fact that it still seems like we are in the middle of the semester. I love Wooster springs, because of the blooming trees, the flowers coming up, and the crisp air on the mornings of sunny days. People start wearing shorts and flip-flops and life seems easy. This year, it seems like we are skipping spring almost entirely. We have had over ten days of straight rain. Yesterday, I felt like I needed gloves when walking to class. Last night, I was wearing a t-shirt, a hoodie, woollen socks, and pajama pants to bed. The heat in my building was turned off two weeks ago with the assumption in mind that spring weather had arrived. It was colder in my apartment than it had been all year.

Other than my four class sessions, I still have to finish one fiction story, two papers, and take two final exams. That’s all the requirements left for a Bachelor’s Degree. Still, it feels like there are still many weeks left in the semester and like I’ll be back on campus next fall.

Yesterday, I decided to take a day off from schoolwork. I paid my last car insurance bill, bought a new Brita water filter, and cleaned my apartment. After these errands, it was time for a dinner with the Andrews hall Residence Life staff. We went to a new place in town, called ZEN. I had a red curry with light spice which still made my eyes watery. It was a nice closing event and we talked about how we could meet up in the future in Boston, Amsterdam, London, or a place still unknown. After dinner, it was time for some indoor soccer. I love those fun, quick, informal, low pressure soccer games. Straight after the game, I went to Gault Manor to play the Jamaican card game Kalooki with some friends. I racked up the most points in the game which is the exact opposite of the goal of the game. My friends said it was okay because I was a beginner but it still didn’t feel great. The game lasted from 10:30 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. was still, despite the exceedingly high number of points I collected (I had more than 800, the winner had less than 100).

Bastiaan

Symposium Synopsis

May 1st, 2011

The past week involved some very nice dinners. On Tuesday, I went out with Keri for a late celebration of her 22nd birthday at South Market Bistro. South Market Bistro is my favorite restaurant in Wooster because it serves local, organic, high quality food in a very nice setting with great service. The only downside is that you are paying for this quality experience. Even if I only eat a main course and I do not drink anything but water, I still spend 30 dollars. On Wednesday, my wallet did not have to suffer. I went to City Square Steakhouse, across from South Market Bistro. I went there with a couple from the Wooster community, Judy and Harry, and with my fellow Dutch senior, Marijke. Harry picked up the bill and encouraged us to go all out. He didn’t have to tell me twice, so I ordered a 10 oz Mignon steak, a nice red wine, and warm apple crisp with ice cream for desert. On Friday, I went out to Broken Rocks. This is my favorite restaurant when I take price into consideration. The food is really good and for ten dollars, you have great food with some amazing complimentary bread. At Broken Rocks, some tomato soup, a strawberry spinach salad, and a Great Lakes beer made for a good meal with some friends.

This past week was a four-day school week, with three restaurant dinners. Not bad, but that Friday, before I went to Broken Rocks, there was the Independent Study Symposium.

The I.S. symposium is a celebration of the research Wooster students do. Every senior gets a chance to share what they have worked on during the year. Students can either do a poster session or an oral presentation. All classes are canceled and local vendors provide free food in all the major academic buildings.

Unfortunately, I had to work my office hours at residence life from 9:00 a.m. to noon. At 1:30 p.m. was my own presentation, so after my office hours were done, I wanted to take some time to change, eat, and rehearse my presentation a few times. Therefore, I had to miss many of the good presentations that my friends gave.

My presentation went very well. A good number of people that I have gotten to know throughout my Wooster years were there, and the audience was very receptive to my speech. They laughed when I showed the picture of me not fitting in the audiology testing booth. I felt amazing after the speech. People seemed to be just as interested in um, you know, and like, as me, and moreover, I was now really done with Independent Study.

After my presentation, I attended some poster sessions and a presentation on sex trade in Thailand. After the symposium was done at 3:00 p.m., there was a closing event. At this event, the price winners for the digital I.S. competition were announced. The winner was Cathy Trainor who created a documentary on Fort Ross, the number three, Jacob, created this website on Wooster’s buildings. There were also prizes for the most creative title, the longest title, the most incomprehensible title, etc. The keynote speaker for this final event was a 2003 graduate who talked about how I.S. had helped him throughout his life after Wooster. A very nice article on the I.S. symposium is to be found here.

Bastiaan

Without False Modesty

April 27th, 2011

Both my grandfather and my father asked me to explain why I thought I had received my awards. Since they are the most loyal readers and commenters of my blog, I’d like to honor their request. My grandfather added that he’d like me to write without “false modesty,” behavior that is intended to seem humble but comes across as fake and unflattering. Well, I’ll try my best.

This is why I think Campus Council awarded me their Senior Leadership Award and ISA their Inspiration Award:

  • I have been very involved in campus life during my time here. In this post from my sophomore year, I listed all the things I would be involved in my junior year. I have been part of the Wooster Activities Crew, Residence Life, Campus Council, Admissions Staff, Library Staff, ISA, and the Ambassadors Program.
  • I have been a good student through this busy campus life, making the Dean’s list every semester while I was here.

This is of course a very short summary, but I think these are the core reasons I got these two awards. However, I would have liked to give a little speech when I received these awards. First, because I like speeches and second because I think I could give some advice to those students who are, in fact, inspired by me. It is nice to inspire people to become involved and do well in school, but I think, as I said in that sophomore post, that balance is important. My grandfather, in his last comment, noted that free time is only enjoyable in contrast with busy times. But, the opposite is true too. Being involved and busy is only fun and rewarding if you can also take time off. That has been one of the greatest challenges for me. The last three weeks of the spring semester of my junior year, I was overwhelmed as documented in this post from that time. It was a time in which I wrote one of my best blog posts, I finished a very strong Junior IS, I won the RA of the year award, and I got one of my best GPAs. Thus, being very busy made me produce at the highest level, but it was not maintainable in the long run. Summer came just in time to save me. My work may have been of high quality, but my face gave away that my body was strained by a life with too many commitments. I hadn’t seen my friends in weeks, I ate while I did work, I slept short nights, and I hadn’t seen the gym in weeks.

I learned my lessons from junior year, and I cut back on my activities for my senior year. That helped me complete my Senior I.S. almost entirely stress free and enjoy my last semesters in Wooster. Again, it is great to be productive and to accept the challenges and opportunities that Wooster offers wholeheartedly. But, always remember that in order to remain sane, you need to have balance in your life.

Bastiaan

Lots of Time

April 24th, 2011

I think I finally reached it: the stage in my senior year during which I am not busy any more. I just finished the last corrections on my Senior I.S., it feels very good.

Because I have plenty of time now, I have made a commitment to do something social or fun every night. That means that I’ll have to get the little work that I do have left done during the day. The little work I have left includes feeding my car some new liquids, writing another short fiction story, finishing a term paper, paying my car insurance bill, and doing some readings.

Since I have had some more time lately, I have already started enjoying it.

Thursday night, I was in Itai’s room. We watched some playoff basketball and when Nana, one of our friends, walked in, we started talking about some interesting characters that we have known on campus over the years. It was a very relaxed night with lots of laughing and no stress.

Friday afternoon, Itai decided that it was time to make some African stew. He said that they call him the “Kitchen Engineer” and that we would be shocked by how good his food would turn out.  It was a laid back afternoon with cutting some vegetables and listening to some 90s rap music.

Saturday, I decided to clean my kitchen and bathroom. During my busy days, those cleaning tasks could have happened more often, but it feels so good now everything is shiny and bright again in these areas of my apartment.

Saturday at 6:00 p.m., it was time for the International Students Association’s Spring Dinner. There was a guest speaker, Dr. Lantis, who talked about making a difference in the world after graduation. There was dahl, chicken, fish, and mango smoothies. There were awards given out, including the ISA Inspiration Award of which I was the recipient.  There was the announcement of the new board, all first years. And there was some nice conversation with people involved in the international community on campus.

Saturday night, I went to the Wooster Jam Session. This event was envisioned and conceived by James Levin, my professor of Arts & Entrepreneurship from last semester. Outside and inside the Wooster Fair Grounds there were musical performances, film showings, visual art displays, etc. Because the spring weather has not really taking off here yet, the attendance was disappointingly low, but the event showed great potential.

Sunday nights, I play indoor soccer. We play from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. with a great mix of people. We have international students, Americans, first years, and seniors, and lots of fair play.

Tomorrow night, I hope to attend a big comedy event on campus. Maria Bamford is coming to Wooster for a show. The only problem is that I am on call, so I’ll have to see if someone can hold the phone for me while I enjoy some laughs.

Finally, some pictures that I have promised several weeks ago.

Suzanne Bates (The Registrar) and Henry Kreuzman (Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement) during the I.S. parade

Watching Wooster in the Division III Finals

On I.S. Monday with the Ambassadors display case

Celebrating the completion of Independent Study

Senior Moments

April 20th, 2011

After I.S. Monday, I thought, I would just sit in the sun and read books, hang out with friends a lot, throw a Frisbee every now and then, and take long naps.

I have had a few moments like that this past week and I was very happy that they were there. Days on which I had no homework to worry about, a nice temperature outside, and some good company. But, I have heard some seniors complain. They say they have too much time, that they are bored. I think I should be grateful that I still have challenges that prevent me from getting bored, while I now also have plenty of time off. Let me share some of those challenges:

  • Saturday was the annual Wooster Ethnic Fair. This blog has been up so long by now that this is the third time that I write about the Ethnic Fair (see 2009, and 2010). This year brought quite some rain and wind, but we still had many people asking questions about the Netherlands. Although it was a very long day, it makes it worth it when you can have some very nice conversations about your home country with some genuinely interested people.
  • Monday was the day of my oral defense of my Senior Independent Study. Twenty-four hours before my defense, the professors sent me the questions that would guide our discussion. Most questions were not too challenging  but good conversation starters instead. I truly enjoyed talking about  my thesis and it turned out to be a relaxed conversation between two professors and a student. The best part was that after the deliberation, my advisor could tell me that I had passed Independent Study successfully.
  • Tuesday, I had a group presentation with five other students. The presentation was on some very challenging chapters that took a particular stance on communication studies. The four authors argued that communication is articulation, translation, communicability, and failure respectively. The extra challenge was that one of my best friends from home, Markus, was visiting campus during the 24 hours that I had to prepare and give the presentation.
  • Tomorrow, I have to turn in a first draft of a five to seven page short fiction story.

Fortunately, there are also plenty of moments that I get to enjoy my senior life.

  • Friday, I heard that I got admitted to the Graduate School of Communication Studies in Amsterdam.
  • Yesterday, I heard that I am one of the recipients of the Senior Leadership Award ($600).
  • Markus’ visit and his positive feedback on my campus was amazing.

Bastiaan

Death & Religion

April 13th, 2011

It is a heavy title for a blog post, but the contents should not be as tough to digest as you might think.

Death

Over spring break, one of Wooster’s first year students, Cooper Larsh, perished in a skiing accident. I was shocked when I read this news while I was still at home. When I learned that there would be a service for Cooper, I knew I wanted to attend.

The service for Wooster people was held in the Gault Recital Hall. Many students, professors, administrators, and staff members attended the event. During the service, Cooper’s family, one of his friends, his TA, the president, and Wooster’s director of interfaith ministries all shared some thoughts to celebrate Cooper’s life. During these speeches, there was plenty of time for laughs. Cooper was an amazing person with a very strong character. He recovered from getting hit by a car when he was a child and he brought life to every situation he was in. Learning about Cooper’s uninhibited, open attitude towards life was very inspiring. I did not know Cooper personally, but the slide show about Cooper’s life with his favorite songs moved me deeply. After the service, I was talking to Marijke (my fellow Dutch senior) about the service. We both agreed that we felt so clear-minded, peaceful, and awake after the service. It was a very special event and I am grateful for the fact that I was a part of this celebration of Cooper’s life.

Religion

Last week, I attended another special event. The Wooster Christian Fellowship together with the Wooster Freethinkers had organized a dialogue on religion. The Freethinkers had invited Edwin Kagin and WCF’s had asked Fred Bailey to speak. Kagin and his late wife founded Camp Quest, the first secular humanist summer camp in the United States. Currently, Kagin is the host of the internet radio show “Answers in Atheism.” He is also the current National Legal Director and Kentucky State Director for American Atheists.
Fred Bailey serves students and faculty throughout the midwest as a Regional Director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He earned desgrees in biological sicence, theoglogy and cross-cultural studies at Stanford University and Regent College, respectively.
These descriptions of the speakers were taken from the event’s programme, but I think they illustrate that it was not a boring evening. The event was moderated by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Charles Kammer, who made sure the speakers did not go over their time. The format was as follows: each speaker had ten minutes to introduce their position, then each speaker had ten minutes to respond to the other, and finally, each speaker had five minutes for closing remarks. After a short break, there was a question and answer sessions.
I thought the dialogue was very interesting, but I thought that both speakers spend a little too much time either putting down their opponent or praising people with the same beliefs. I didn’t think it was very interesting that Christians or Atheists have done good and bad things. However, the debate still gave much food for thought and the conversations I had afterward were very interesting.

Bastiaan

Six Things

April 8th, 2011

Six things I need to share with you now, most of them because I promised to do so. I like to deliver on promises I make. Here we go:

  • Irish Friend Visit: When I came to Wooster in 2007, I met Jordan Henderson. He was a Northern Irish young man who was very curious about the world. For example, once when Jordan was expressing his excitement about meeting people from all over the world, he exclaimed about our Pakistani friend Amun: “I had never met an Indian girl before!” Jordan always brought an amazing perspective on the world and a great sense of humor to any gathering he was a part of. Unfortunately, he was only at Wooster for one year, but when he came back to visit for I.S. Monday, it was almost like he had never left. Sharing memories about professors we had, freshman adventures we went through, and remarkable things Jordan had said or done during his time here was amazing.
  • Back to Hard Work: This point goes hand in hand with the little bit of complaining that I promised to post. Now no one really, truly enjoys listening to or reading about someone complaining, but I have this blog that I can use for emotional relief. Last week, it seemed like all my senior friends were enjoying lots of free time. They were done with I.S. and only taking two rather easy intro classes. I am still taking three classes and all of them are still challenging. After I.S. Monday, while my friends were watching movies, taking naps, playing sports, or reading, I was studying for exams, working on a literature review, and writing a piece of flash fiction. It seemed so unfair.
  • Future Visit from a Dutch Friend: One of my best friends from home is coming to visit me in Wooster in two weeks. I say he is from home but that is not entirely true. He was born in Germany, moved to the Netherlands when he was twelve, studied abroad in the United States for a year, and is currently studying at the University of Warwick in England. On his trip to the United States, where he will visit Washington, D.C., Toronto, and Chicago to attend conference about Economic stuff, he could find time for a quick stop in Wooster, Ohio. I find myself incredibly lucky that out of my seven great friends from home, I have been able to meet up with five during my four years here in the United States.
  • A Little Complaining: I did that already above. However, it seems like I should stop complaining. I only have four weeks left at the College of Wooster, I should enjoy every minute and not complain about little things like literature reviews.
  • Some Photos: They will have to wait a little longer. My camera is in someone else’s room who took pictures for me on I.S. Monday.
  • Some Shopping Updates: I bought some new Clarks Desert Boots as a reward for myself for completing I.S. These shoes are so comfortable that I don’t want to take them off and they’re stylish too. I bought some Jason Tea Tree shampoo. That is the first time of my life that I spent a little more on shampoo, but it was absolutely worth the investment. I ordered an 1 TB external hard drive. I have had my laptop since freshman year and I believe it could die at any point. I want to start making at least weekly backups of all my files. I am considering buying a Macbook Pro but my current laptop is still working and those Macs aren’t cheap. I bought the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I thought I would have plenty of time to read after I.S., but making time to read is almost as hard going to bed on time.

It feels good now I have delivered on all of my promises but one (photos). Now I can start writing about things that have happened since I made those promises. In my next post, I’d like to share a little bit about the deeper topics death and religion, because I attended some interesting events related to these two.

Bastiaan

P.S. The International Food Festival was a very successful event but the Dutch food went under appreciated. The judges chose Vietnam as the winners , Pakistan as the runners up, and Burma as the number three. I think the Dutch should have won a price for feeding the most people because we had well over 20 pounds of food (which took forever to cook, so we arrived at the event 20 minutes late).

UN

Res

Date

Liberalism

Humanism

S-G

Reports

Date

Liberal Program

Liberal Indicator

Humanist Program

Humanist Indicator

1410

17 May 2002

Private Sector

Capacity-Building

1223

6 Nov 2002

None

None

None

None

449

21 April 2003

Transition Support

Reconstruction

Private Sector

Reconstruction

Transition Support Program

Poverty Reduction

Capacity-Building

944

6 Oct 2003

Trust Fund

Reconstruction

Trust Fund

Social Services

Capacity-Building

117

13 Feb 2004

None

None

None

None

669

29 April 2004

Trust Fund

Reconstruction

Trust Fund

Social Services

Capacity-Building

1543

14 May 2004

Reconstruction

Capacity-Building

888

9 Nov 2004

Reconstruction

Reconstruction

World Bank

Capacity-Building

1573

16 Nov 2004

None

Capacity-Building

99

16 Feb 2005

IMF

Trust Fund

Economic Growth

Reconstruction

UNDP

Health Policy

Community Development

Capacity-Building

Social Services

1599

28 April 2005

Reconstruction

Capacity-Building

310

11 May 2005

None

None

Employment

WFP, UNICEF

Capacity-Building

Social Services

1704

25 Aug 2006

Econ Growth

Poverty Reduction

50

26 Jan 2007

Bridge Project

Reconstruction

Poverty

Employment

Poverty Reduction

Capacity-Building

513

20 Aug 2007

None

None

Basic Services

Employment

Social Services

Capacity-Building

26

7 Jan 2008

None

None

Vocational Train

Health and Food

Capacity-Building

Social Services

1802

25 Feb 2008

Econ Growth

Poverty Reduction

501

8 July 2008

Infrastructure

Reconstruction

Employment

UNDP Poverty

Community Fund

Capacity-Building

Poverty Reduction

Social Services

72

20 Jan 2009

Bridge Project

Reconstruction

Vocational Train

Capacity-Building

1867

26 Feb 2009

None

Capacity-Building

Poverty Reduction

504

23 Sept 2009

None

None

Basic Services

Food Security

Social Services

85

20 Jan 2010

None

None

Employment

Basic Services

Microfinance

Capacity-Building

Social Services

1912

26 Feb 2010

Reconstruction

Econ Growth

Poverty Reduction

Social Services

522

20 Sept 2010

None

None

Employment

Capacity-Building

International Food Festival

April 3rd, 2011

In a few minutes, I am driving over to Marijke’s apartment. Marijke is the other Dutch senior at The College of Wooster and today we are preparing a traditional Dutch meal for the International Food Festival; we are making hutspot. Yesterday, we bought five pounds of carrots, five pounds of onions, ten pounds of potatoes, 8 sausages, butter, nutmeg, and a big block of bacon.

Last year, some students did not appreciate our Dutch cuisine, but we are not giving up. Even if no one likes it, Marijke and I will have a meal that tastes like home.

Bastiaan

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