You’ll find people walking barefoot. Yes, it’s okay if you come to breakfast smelling like you just did AM Barn. These are some of the things I tell international students before they arrive on campus. I’m kind of joking, but not really. As an International Ambassador, my role is to be a leader in welcoming students from other countries, showing them the campus, getting them acclimated, ensuring they have everything they need.
Throughout the year, we also try to bring a sense of cultural diversity to campus. We host panel discussions and we organize events and activities. For instance, in the winter we have the International Food Festival, which is an opportunity for students to volunteer to cook food from their homes—I cooked Filipino food once, Chinese students cook for the Lunar New Year, and we’ve had Swedish food, too. It’s really fun.
There’s a lot of opportunity here to start anything if what you want or need isn’t offered. I was able to start a Spoken Word Club and now we have a small community of people passionate about spoken poetry. We even went as a group to a poetry slam in Brattleboro, and several of us won awards. It was a really fun night. That’s one cool thing I’ve learned here: even if Putney doesn’t start with what you want, you can find a way to make it happen.
I definitely like writing the most, so when I took my first physics class in the fall I thought I wasn’t going to like it. It was hard, for sure, but for Project Week I ended up doing a physics and behavioral economics project. I took what I’d learned and applied it to real life. Being able to translate equations into the real world is really cool.
For a similar reason, I chose to do trimester abroad in Mexico. I had taken a Spanish class but really wanted to learn the language in a natural environment. After those eight weeks, I came back three levels higher in Spanish, and it didn’t even feel like I had to try. It was like doing homework constantly, just by talking to people, by having to shop for food and get around. I also took physics there. Imagine that: learning an already difficult subject in another language! It was such a cool opportunity. And now physics has started to influence my poetry. I just wrote a poem, for instance, about inertia and how it relates to social justice. It’s all coming full circle.