Category Archives: home

Dear Class of 2015:

In roughly two weeks (give or take a couple days), you will step foot on Colorado College. Some of you have visited, while some have not. Regardless, that first glimpse of Colorado College will be something magical for this will be your home for the next four years.

This is the place where a ‘unique, intellectual adventure’ is about to take place. You’ll have the opportunity to be a biologist, an historian, or a philosopher for 3.5 weeks. You have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas in a classroom with students from across the world. Professors become your friend, and really do care about your well-being and your many existential crises.

This is the place where you get a Block Break after that mind-blowing and exhausting FYE course. You then decide to go camping, visit some friends in Boulder, or stay on campus to catch up on sleep.

This is the place where you will meet incredible friends. You lived on the same hall, went on your NSO trip together, or bonded over your FYE.  You sometimes can’t get over how special your fellow classmates are, but more importantly, you can’t get over that they share your passions.

This is where you belong: the most magical institution of higher learning.

I will hopefully see some of you during NSO week!

Dear Blog Readers,

It has been months since I’ve last posted.  I sincerely apologize.

Let me catch you up on the ‘exciting’ world of Melissa.


  • I worked at high school job again. I secretly love it, but I disliked waking up at 4:30 in the morning to open the bakery.
  • My friends Hannah and Justin drove to see me in all my Oklahoma glory. Accent and all!
  • I went to Disney World and Universal Studios (including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!). Six theme parks total in six days. phew!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Now the new school year:

  • I co-led an New Student Orientation trip to an organic farm. It was lovely!
  • I was the First Year Experience mentor for Freedom and Authority taught by Susan Ashley and Tip Ragan.  The students were brilliant! I loved baking them goodies all the time…
  • I took Social Theory with Jeff Livesay blocks 1 and 2. Hardest sociology class I’ve taken.  Definitely loved the last couple of weeks where I learned about modernity and postmodernity (maybe it’s the history major in me?).
  • Now! I’m in Hero! Honor, Outlaws, and Order in East Asian History and Culture with John Williams. I haven’t been in a history course in about 8 months! GASP! I’m really enjoying the class.  I’ve so far grasped that the course is about studying the concept of ‘hero’ and how its definition changes through historical context. An interplay on tradition versus modernity (modernity, again…?! Maybe I truly am a historian-ish).
  • Also, I’m working as the research assistant for the History Department. It’s lovely, except that I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning! eek! I get to see this in the morning (win/lose situation):
  • I’ve been freaking about what I’m going to do once I graduate from CC in 2012.  My options: masters in social work, masters in education, masters in public affairs (focus on nonprofit organizing), Teach For America, and taking a couple years off to learn French so I can apply to programs for European history…

My life, thus far, in a nutshell. Sorry everyone!

With much love and MANY apologies,

Melissa Tran

p.s. Here’s a funny picture to make up for everything.

CRA-sia: a Conclusions and Farewell Blog

Its only competition being the tumultuous New Student Orientation Week, I returned home just in time for possibly the most eventful, chaotic and memorable week of college, “senior week” as it is called and graduation time. Starting with Llamapalooza, CC’s annual spring music festival that the entire school fantasizes about all year long which happened to start about 12-hours after my return, followed by days of soaking up time with all of the people that have been such influential and important parts of my life for 4 years that are redistributing themselves around the country (and world for that matter), having critical last minute meetings about my thesis, the incredibly over-stimulating graduation schedule full of thank you’s, goodbye’s, and plenty of glasses of champagne… not to mention my seemingly incessant daze caused by jetlag and lack of sleep that was unmatched by the activities set out for all of us soon-to-be-graduates who were willing to consume ourselves with just about anything that would take our mind off the inner-freight and anxiety about leaving college-life and being thrown full-force into the scary real-world. To say it plainly, I was immediately consumed in the vortex of the most exaggerated form of life at Colorado College, leaving me dumbfounded as to how to reconcile my experience in Taiwan and be present in my life back home during such an indispensible time. It seems it has taken me until now, a whole month later, to have both the time and concentration to sit down and write, and I suppose to have even digested the experience enough to write about it coherently.
The trip turned out to be quite an adventure, with very dichotomous extremes of highs and lows. Ultimately, it ended on a very good note and I very much appreciate my experience there. The time was in a sense two different trips, which even a half-a-world away mirrored the life of the CC block plan, split into very distinct 3 ½ week  “intellectual adventures” as they call them. I would more call them “unique 3 ½ week psychological, cultural, interpersonal and intellectual adventures,” but that’s probably too wordy (and heady) to advertise to prospective students and donors on the brochures…artist promo
The first three weeks (7th block) were some of the hardest of my life, challenging so much of the reality that I thought I knew— I call it my “Murphy’s Law and Madison learns self-preservation techniques” block. At times I was convinced I could not make it, that I had over-committed myself, that I was not strong enough personally to handle the web of unanticipated hurdles, that the last $100 to my name was not going to stretch far enough, and that my immune system (particularly digestive system) was too delicate for the highly glutinous and soy-soaked cuisine. I came out of it though with some very valuable self-engineered methods to promote my own survival and happiness, as well as some new travel “do’s” and “don’t” (don’t mostly), a decent start on the research, design, and implementation of my thesis, and oddly had grown accustom to my bug-bitten body and anomalous food digestion (of which happened to be a parasite, Giardia, I discovered a week after my return home after surprisingly having no relief after I restored my meticulous gluten, dairy and soy free diet).

kung fuThe last three weeks (8th block) were absurdly busy, but in a different way than the typical CC senior back home— taking their last class pass/fail (or not in one at all) and panicking about the future, yet numbing the thought of it by partying to each night’s different themed gathering as outlined on the 8th block Senior Calendar. Rather, I call it the “Mastering the (my) World Many Things at a Time” block. I think I felt more accomplished on my last day in Taiwan, when I turned in my final paper, did a presentation on the Dance and Disable Project, and submitted my 37-page thesis all in the same day, than I did the day I graduated college!
During the last three weeks, many things changed. For one, the sun came out… which after almost a month of clouded disarray made the world of difference. Having previously contemplated the progressive hubs like Seattle, WA or Portland, OR after graduation, I now know that being a Colorado native I can never live long-term somewhere that doesn’t see the sun at LEAST every 3 days! Having the other 23 students around transformed our involuntary isolation we felt at the beginning into a need to, at times, voluntarily seclude ourselves from the rambunctious bunch of foreigners. It provided us with a variety of fresh perspectives. Visiting museums, reading and writing, accepting guidance about food and activities, and people to help resolve the language barrier, gave us the opportunity to experience traditional culture in ways that we didn’t the first half of the trip… not to mention I got to study Kung-Fu, Calligraphy and Tai-Chi, which particularly Tai Chi, remain on my “Top 10 Things I Learned in Asia” list.

dance and disable projectThe Dance and Disable project, the most unifying part of the trip, actually turned out to be one of the most significant and life-changing experiences I believe I will ever encounter. Being so ripe in the present, it has been difficult to reflect on the experience in a well-articulated way. What I do know however is that forming cross-cultural relationships, developing creative and authentic means of communication in the lack-there-of conventional verbal language, participating in a social-welfare program, and integrating movement and meditation of my own western-raised heritage into a small community within a larger culture that itself is so centered on the philosophical beliefs of social concern, spirituality, community and personal well-being generated an unmatched experience. It solidified my belief in the healing potential of movement, touch, and creative expression, as well as illuminated the direction that I would like to take my life as an artist, educator, and conscious citizen. I can’t imagine it to have been better, for anyone involved.
So what next? Well, besides working at the front desk at CC for the summer, living with the parentals and taking a breath from the crazy journey of my CC career that accelerated on until the very end, I am working alongside the local Parkinson’s Disease group that my stepmother, Amy, is part of that participates in ‘Movement and Music’ and ‘Water Tai-Chi’ classes to help their condition. It is truly astonishing and has been the best part of being home so far. As I hope to be a part of continuing and expanding the program, my time in Taiwan gave me not only experience and a heightened passion for the field, but the confidence in my ability to take on such a project. Although I do not see myself staying in the Springs much past the summer, I would like to invest myself in being part of introducing the initiative to wherever it is that I go, which is yes… still TBA 🙂
For now, I am finally beginning to connect the dots between my time at Colorado College, my unique expeditions abroad, my unconventional upbringing, and my future aspirations. My hope is that if I continue to surround myself with people and pursuits that both enhance my well-being and that of the world around me, that I’ll end up somewhere good. I suppose that’s all I can ask for— so for now, I’ll end this blogging endeavor with a genuine thanks all of the wonderful people I know who were part of my life before, during and since this adventure (especially those who made it this far in reading my slightly scattered, sporadic, and often incredibly cheesy blog). THANK YOU!
Oh and I’ll also leave you with the inspirational quote-of-the-day I had e-mailed to me yesterday that so appropriately articulates the challenge and enlightenment I experienced in Taiwan….
“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery, even on a detour.”
Mad love.
wow frog eggs

warm colorado rain

You wouldn’t think one should miss the rainy, cold Pacific Northwest in the beginning of June, or crave it when they’re just being introduced to hot summer fun. Oddly, we do. As a true native of the Northwest, the rain comforts me. It has become my home – hiking with dampened dirt clinging to your new white shoes; sitting in your kitchen watching the sky water the earth; and being able to identify a real Seattleite by their lack of umbrella, even on the wettest of days. In fact, they probably don’t even own an umbrella. Sure, you have those days – namely the Fourth of July – where you beg for sun, warm water for boating and dry lawns for barbeques, but for the most part, we’ve grown accustomed to the sky’s dumping of excess water. We’ve grown to love it, and to long for it when we leave.

Back in Colorado, we transition from sunny and cool, clean spring days to warm Colorado rain. The rain here is different. After thirty minutes of torrential downpour – bucketing big, heavy drops – it disappears, revealing again blue sky and bright sun. It is sudden, coming and going unexpectedly. It is warm. And when the droplets stop falling, we are left with that thick smell of rain on the pavement, interrupted views from our windows that quickly and quietly disappear and a tease of humidity hanging around.

The rain here is different. It does not carry reminders of home, the misty Washington coast or smooth, glassy lakes on perfectly gray mornings. It is not refreshing, it does not seem essential; it does not seem like the sky’s time to water our green. It does not seem to possess an identity, a deliberate being. But perhaps these are things left to discover over the next few months – the characteristic traits of rain in the Rocky Mountain West.


Summer has begun at Colorado College. I have yet to experience Colorado’s version of the season… I have a feeling I’ve been missing out.


NYC Halloween Advertisment

Halloween is almost upon us in the city, and spirit (and decorations) abound. I took the F train to the land of Brooklyn a couple of days ago, just so I could wear my hipster apparel and use my trendy messenger bag, and when I stepped out at the Carrol Gardens stop, the world had changed. In place of Manhattan’s impressive buildings, wide bustling streets and frenetic horn-honking-people scurrying-cars swerving vibe, a human sized environment had emerged: narrow shady streets with families out for walks, couples with their hands in each-others pockets, dog walkers and stroller pushers galore. If I ever needed a family vibe to set me right, I should come here. Most of the brownstones (2-3 story connected houses built out of brown sandstone) had tons of decorations. No. I mean TONS. I couldn’t even see facade of one entire house it was so loaded with skulls and fake spiderwebs and scythes and pumpkins and plastic tombstones and whew, I could go on. This happens to be a post of run on sentences, but it fits my vibe right now, so hang tight.

I kept wandering and found these things:

Forty-three carved pumpkins, numerous spider webs (hard to count for obvious reasons), 2 children who decided to dress up early (1 michael jackson and 1 sesame street bigbird, related?), 20 cozy coffee cafes, many hipsters, 1 Trader Joes, 1 3rd floor balcony with a giant ladder leading to the ground (break-in? bored tenants? fire!?) and 40 people on bikes.

Thousands of golden orange leaves dotted the asphalt, with most trees in that lazy stage of half-dress, where thousands of the leaves are gone but many still remain. So many people whizzed by on bicycles that I though I might be back in Colorado or even the NW. Here, though, people do the craziest things on bikes. They shoot through intersections, don’t wear helmets, wear helmets from the 1960’s (did they even have helmets back then?), and lock their bikes with the thickest chains I’ve ever seen. Crazy stuff. At least they ride their bikes and the subway, though. One of the ads on the F train states that NYC residents use 75% less energy than the majority of Americans, simply because they use public transportation. It’s one of the things only things I hate about Colorado- public transportation sucks. To get into the mountains takes more gas than I care to admit and though CC’s ski union does offer a ski-bus, it only goes to a couple resorts and fills up fast. That said, if you have a friend with a car, you’re set for 4 years of POWDDEEERRRR and great company. Long story short, I wish Amtrak was as reliable and widespread in the West as it is here in the Eastern Corridor.

To conclude this conglomeration of random thoughts, I shall orate on the celebration of this coming weekend. NYC has, no not the world’s largest ball of twine (1,475 miles long, Cawker City, Kansas), not the world’s largest rocking chair (Cuba, MO), nope, not even the world’s largest yogic circle (unknowable because yogis don’t care about such things). NYC does have the biggest baddest Halloween parade, fo sho. It’s in the west village, near where I live and it’s been an institution for 36 years. Needless to say:

I AM STOKED for this weekend.

More Halloween NYC news at–its-halloween_b_338233.html

POST SCRIPT:  If you don’t read the HUFFINGTON POST, you should. While it sounds like a bad dream from the 241th Harry Potter movie, the Huff is actually a very well respected news organization, second (in my book) only to the behemoth of the New York Times. The great thing about the former company, is that it is strictly online- and free. (Question of the day: how are newspapers like the NYTimes staying afloat?)



Living in Slocum–the substance free wing.

I thought it would be nice to talk about living in the sub-free hall of Slocum.  Why?  My hall recently had a dinner at Paul York’s,the Residental Life Coordinator, apartment.  He asked us questions that were very specific to the sub-free community.  It made me question if I chose to live in the sub-free hall for the right intentions.

Being a freshman and not knowing where my niche was at CC, sub-free hall has made a very positive influence for my first year.  It’s self-selecting.  Students choose to live on this hall.   Not all of us get along, but we’re a big family.  I remember 1st block, we had dance parties (pratically) every weekend.  Unfortunately during one of our dance parties, Security had come up thinking we were under the influence–we were just having too much fun, and getting out of hand.

Looking back (as a second semester Freshman), I did wonder if being placed on the sub-free hallway was a good idea.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve made (besides choosing CC, of course).  Transitioning into college is difficult in itself, especially on the  Block Plan, and having a home that was quiet with a new family made college that much easier.  I highly recommend choosing sub-free as a freshman, especially if you’re uncertain, uncomfortable, and need some stability in a new college environment

Living on the substance-free hall does not mean you have to be substance free, it’s where you live.  As my wonderful Residential Advisor said at the beginning of the school year, “It’s not a lifestyle, it’s a home.”

peace out (it’s SPRING BREAK),


Dance party!

Dance party!

Part of my hall getting ready for Halloween fun!

Part of my hall getting ready for Halloween fun!

Part of my hall went to Yoo Mae for sushi!  Verrrrry good + cheap!

Part of my hall went to Yoo Mae for sushi! Verrrrry good + cheap!

Articulating Goals

Although I had a great break, relaxing would not be the word I’d use to describe it…yes, productive is a much better choice. In fact, this past winter break is the most productive break I’ve ever had. I packed up my room at my parents’ house and helped my mom clean like crazy. I also finished my application for the Truman Scholarship, providing financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.

The scholarship is uber competitive (there’s only one winner per state) and is a beast to fill out; it has seven short answer questions plus a policy proposal, none of which are easy things to quickly anwer. Luckily, I immediately knew the theme of my application: going to law school to further my work advocating for the Hispanic community. A child of an immigrant, I’m especially interested in immigrant rights issues. I spent most of my first two weeks of break researching statistics and gathering information about possible career paths, law schools, etc. Then, I had to articulate my thoughts into coherent essays. The process was particularly difficult because, although I’m passionate about the subject, I’ve never had to write about it before now.

I’m glad to be finished; it’s a huge weight off my shoulders, and I know this sounds ridiculous, but just filling out the application was extremely rewarding. Believe me, there are several other things I would have loved to have been doing over break besides filling out an application, but let me explain: as a junior, this application forced me to consider what type of graduate school I want to go to, explore law schools, speak with professors at those schools, brainstorm possible career paths, think about the steps I must take now to get there, and work towards a solution to a problem plaguing our community. One of the difficult things about attending a liberal arts school is that you don’t have to ever narrow your options or goals in life, which can lead to a crisis senior year when people graduate with no idea of what they are going to do after college. I, on the other hand, now have a set of concrete goals and a plan on how to accomplish them. So, even if I don’t get this scholarship, I’ve gained a lot from just filling out the application. But fingers crossed that I get an interview – they’ll announce finalists in four weeks.

Even though I was rather productive this break, I had time to relax a little bit. I caught up with old friends, played in the snow, hung out on Pearl Street, and rode my bike. During the first three weeks of break, the weather was freezing and super windy. But when a sunny day sneaked in, Xavier (my brother) and I managed to fit in a bike ride.

taking a quick break before heading home


It’s the night after our first day of class since returning from Thanksgiving break. I already miss the family and friends back at home. I have found it strange that as I get older, I get more nostalgic for home. It’s not that I miss it more; It’s simply that I think I appreciate it more. At the same time, returning to Colorado feels like returning home as well. At first, I was in a bit of conflict with this feeling, but I realized it is actually amazing. I have truly made two homes for myself in the past 2 1/2 years. 
For a quick recap: Thanksgiving was unbelievable as usual. The food was too much, the people were too fun, and the games after dinner were hilarious. I tried to capture a quick picture with my grandmother before leaving, but my real camera died. We then attempted it with my cell phone, which appeared to work at first. Yet, I just looked at the picture–it won’t work for this post.
It is especially nice returning to class this block. I am in a jazz music class on Miles Davis. Thus far we have been laying the groundwork for what is happening on the jazz scene up until Miles comes in. We watched an excerpt from a film today about the notable trumpet players up until Miles. This video shows Rex Stuart pulling out all of the stops!
This is one of the beautiful parts about a liberal arts education. An economics major, like myself, has the chance to spend three and one half weeks learning about Miles Davis. Can’t ask for more at this point.
I’ll be back soon with some more info on my film I finished last block!