Friday, July 13, 2012

Tired to Energetic: It's Friday!

Today's class was perhaps the longest it has ever felt this week. I was just so burnt out from this entire week. But once class ended, the day just zoomed by.

Anyway, in class, we learned about "Jews and food". Caryn (that should be the right spelling), our guest speaker and somewhat "teacher" for the most part today, taught us "Jews and food". I knew the Jewish people had to follow a Kosher diet, but I didn't realize just how strict Kosher can get. From having two different dishwashers to not eating shellfish, there are many rules in the Jewish lifestyle--not to mention just the eating rules. The fun part of class was when we made challah bread, a Jewish braided bread. It was delicious.
Preparing the challah bread

One important thing that I learned about Jews is that they don't do missions to try to convert people. It made me understand why there are so very few Jews on Earth (only .2%!). However, this also touched my heart in a way, because Jewish people don't care about converting as much as they do as living the lifestyle they believe God wants them to live. But to be honest, I don't see why they don't try harder to convert others. Still, I really admire the Jews for how they think and act.

The scroll!
Instead of going to the Arete presentations and eating dinner in the Commons, the Lived Religion class took a field trip to a reform synagogue service. However, I'm glad we had the chance to. The place was beautiful, and you can tell the people there put a lot of effort to make the place function.

Praying again for Grandma and Mom
The light on the top middle never goes out
Inside the main sanctuary (with Anna)
Sanctuary where service was held
The service itself was actually very, very interesting. I've never been to such a fast-paced service, even though it was about an hour. All the prayers, sayings, and songs were quick--even when some were in Hebrew and had to be translated to English at times. I was a little surprised how there wasn't any message, but I see why they didn't have one. There was no point, because if you are just reminded of the commandments and your obligations and live a life as grateful, happy, and giving as you can, you'll be just fine. And I think the several different prayers and the beautiful, folksy, and happy songs really moved me during the service. By the end of the service, I never felt better, and I felt unbelievably refreshed. I felt closer to God. All the tired feelings in my mind and body washed away once the service ended. Perhaps the delicious, savory food after the service helped to raise my energy as well. 
Lived Religion class
We arrived at Hank Ingram just in time for the glow dance! The dance was, honestly, one of the best, if not the best, dance I've ever experienced. It was great how everyone who wished to dance (which was most of the students) were on the dance floor. Just hanging with my new friends (and of course my cohort) and dancing the night away was just the best feeling ever today. It's amazing how close you can become with people you just met 5 days ago. I didn't like all the organized free-time we had at first, but now I see why this program does it. Friendships really do start easily and grow fast, and a dance is way better than free-time with just a few friends (or maybe just my cohort).

I took a lot more pictures than I put on this post, so I'm sorry if you don't see all my pictures that I took today. But anyway, today was probably my favorite day yet at VSA.  Let's see if any of the next days can top today--which I'm sure is more than possible. 

The Vandy cohort

Some of "The Guys" (who aren't in my proctor group) and of course, Avery

Long Day And Night

I woke up extremely exhausted but ready to take on the morning ahead. We had this competition where all the groups had to sing a top 40 song to one of the proctors. The first 3 groups who did this first would be awarded house points.
The night before, our proctor planned the whole thing out; two girls would grab Allison (the proctor) once she got her breakfast and all the rest of us would come out, surprise her with a few posters and sing for her. In the end, we were the first ones to sing to her, after barely going before a group that was going to sing to her as well. I admit, it was a little embarrassing, but it was really fun.
Class today day was a little different than usual. After we finished the film from yesterday, “And the Band Played On” we had a class discussion about the social issues of the film. Once again we were put into groups to discuss one of these social aspects and our group talked about the media aspect of the film. We all decided that the media was extremely reluctant to screen anything about AIDS. AIDS was first thought to be caused by gay people, so the press ignored anything and everything with the name ‘gay’ on it.
There were also other elements in the film that I found pretty terrible about our society today. Many places, like the blood banks, were unwilling to do anything about the AIDS virus in their blood because there was not enough evidence to prove that the AIDS virus was transmitted through blood transfusions. Although you do need evidence to prove such a thing, the fact the people were dying after getting blood from the banks was good enough for proof. The only reason these facilities decided doing anything about AIDS was because they did not want to lose money. It seems that these companies only concern was money, and not human lives. All this made me realize that ALL social aspects influence drugs and science in general.
In the Seminar Room
After our discussion, we all left to the Vanderbilt Research Facility – something we haven’t done yet. We were going there to hear a seminar taught by Sean B. Seymore. He was some sort of drug patent lawyer and we spent the time there to lean about the patenting of drugs. We learned everything; from the invention process, prosecution, and enforcement. In all honesty though, this part of science does not interest me as much because it has to do a lot about the legal process of science.
The beautiful cieling of Wyatt Hall
Once class ended, we went to the Wyatt Hall, where all the Arête classes would do a presentation for everyone. All the classes were pretty entertaining to watch, with the Dance around the World class being my favorite. All the dancers were pretty good after dancing for only a week and I really enjoyed the Bollywood-style dancing going on. This really makes me excited for my next Arête class: Glee which I believe involves both singing and dancing.
Waiting for the show to begin...
Later that day, we got ready to go to the Glow-in-the-Dark Dance in the Wyatt Hall. I usually don’t dance, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it as much. I was totally wrong though. The dance was so much fun! We danced and jumped around until our feet hurt; that ended up being around 9:45 though.
Ready for the dance!
Tomorrow will be the beginning of my first weekend at VSA and I am looking forward to what’s in store for tomorrow. I heard a baseball game is on the list! I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow then.

Dance The Night Away

My awesome proctor,  Jazmin.

I am starting to feel more at home here. At the beginning of this summer camp, I felt like I had to mask who I am so people wouldn't judge me. I feared that my time here would be dull and unmemorable. However, after being at Vanderbilt Summer  Academy for just 5 days, I realize now that this is an experience I will never forget. I cannot believe how much I am learning here, both in the classroom and on my own. I am growing as a student and as a young adult. 

As I have mentioned before in a previous blog, I have always adored mysteries. I used to read comic books and watch T.V. shows and movies that were mysteries. As I got older, however, time become scarce and I was forced to abandon and neglect my little hobby. I buried myself in science, mathematic, history, and literature books and thus completely forgot about how much I loved mysteries. Recently, however, my passion for it has rekindled, thanks to the class I am taking here. I am reading the works of some great mystery writers, like the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. I am sharpening my logic skills by reading fictional murder cases and trying to figure out who the killer is before the detective, and I am improving my writing skills--as well as organizing my mind-by writing my own short mystery story. 

I have also learned that it is better to be a social nomad than it is to adhere to a single group of friends. By sitting with different people every day, I have met different people and discovered how to adapt in different social situations. I have made many friends and now I am comfortable enough to be myself around those friends. I no longer need to mask myself. 

Tonight, after dinner, we had our first major social event of the camp: a dance. It was usual, and I mostly stayed in my own little circle with my friends. I wandered through the throng every once in a while, but eventually the crowd of people got too thick to penetrate. Anyway, they played songs that were unfamiliar to me, but I danced anyway. I must have looked like an utter fool because I don't know how to dance, but I had a lot of fun. It was a good way to relax after classes and get to know people better. 

 It was preceded by a showcase of all the Arete classes we have here. It was interesting to see my fellow camp members go up on stage and reluctantly share what they learned in their Arete classes this week. Although I could tell some of my peers were cursing themselves inwardly for having to preform such awkward tasks, everyone's acts were received warmly with a round of applause. 
The lovely girls in my proctor group. 

Vandy Cohort at the dance party. 

From Pharmaceutical Drugs To Fun Dancing!

This morning my proctor group and I started off the day on a bright note. We woke up a little earlier than usual and headed to breakfast early. In order to rack up some S-House points, we needed to be the first three groups to serenade one of the faculty members of VSA. We were the first to serenade her, singing and dancing to the chorus of Call Me Maybe, even with S-House signs, and a picture of her face. We felt so accomplished and our whole plan was successful. We had a little competition with another proctor group, but once she came out of the breakfast line we started singing. Let’s bring it to the top, S-House!

 It was another rainy day as we headed to class. We started promptly, finishing And The Band Played On. It was a pretty interesting, educational movie, and I learned a lot from it. It shows how society shapes what scientists research. For example, since the unknown disease of AIDS broke out, finding out what it is and how to prevent it, was in demand. I, along with two other students, was assigned to focus on the values that the main characters had. Many were very kind, and eager to find out what the disease was, and others were just self-centered. Up till now, there is still a controversy on who actually discovered the AIDS virus.

Our Pharmacology class didn’t eat lunch at the dining commons, but rather headed to Vanderbilt’s research center, and had a seminar with graduate students. While eating pizza, we listened to a speaker talking about Chemical Patents. Our speaker discussed a lot about law and chemistry mixed together. It didn’t really interest me since it involved a lot of law passing and such. I’m more of a science type of girl.
In the seminar room!

Finishing up my powerpoint!
We then headed to the computer lab to finish creating our Public Service Announcement projects that will be presented tomorrow. I’m not that creative, so I ended up making a power point presentation with a poem included in it. I hope everything goes well tomorrow, and I’m not too nervous!

My roommate and I!
After some free time, I went to my dance class, to go over the two dances before our performance. We decided to dance Bollywood and the Paso Doble, and I had a lot of fun up there on the stage. Although I messed up, it was awesome to learn dances around the world. Every other Arête class did well, and I’m kind of scared, but at the same time looking forward to fencing next week.
Our proctor group ready for the glow dance!

We all went to dinner, and then got ready for the glow dance. It was actually really fun, and I could tell everyone had a great time. With glow bracelets, necklaces, hats, and even a backlight, everyone looked great glowing. We all threw fist pumps in the air and danced our night away.

After a long day, our proctor group decided to have a little fun before lights out, with a facemask party. I am exhausted from a long week, and I know there is still much more in store for us.