Category Archives: travel

CC has a Baseball Team?

The Story of Four Kids Motivated by the Love of the Game

The 2011 season for the Colorado College Club Baseball team was a roller coaster ride that will never be forgotten. We came into the season with 6 returning players, and hope that we would get enough support from the incoming freshman class. We no graduating seniors, we knew this was going to be a rebuilding year, and the season started out as such. However, before we get to that point it is worth noting how this team came to being, Four years ago a group of motivated sophomores decided it was no longer okay for CC not to have a baseball team. They set out in the hopes of creating a club team, thereby bringing a baseball team to the school for the first time since Title 9 was passed.

Led by Matt Kerns, Eddie Spears and Tristan Kanipe and Brad Dixon, a baseball team was formed, and placed into the NCBA (National Club Baseball Association) Division II league. While the first two years were rough, both ending with CC possessing a losing record, the 3rd year proved to be different. Last year for the first time in the programs history, CC finished with a winning record, and even more impressively won the series against division and city rival UCCS, who had dropped down from DI club that year. It was awesome to be able to celebrate a winning record with the seniors who had created the team, because for them it justified all the hard work they had to put into it. However, as happy as it was to celebrate the accomplishment, the harsh reality set in that this core of the team, our four seniors were graduating and moving on to bigger and better things. What was remaining was four sophomores and two freshman, and a whole lot of confusion.

The Team in 2010

With Matt Valeta and I both studying abroad in the fall this year, the day to day operations of preparing for the spring season was left to Russ Pagan, Chuck Lovering and Sam Brody. These three sat in on activities fair, met with prospective students, etc. and managed the team, while a lot paperwork and necessary busy work for the season was done abroad by Matt and I. We both came back excited about the possibility and praying for enough freshmen to continue this club. What we found was a whole host of new faces ready to step in and fill some of the roles that had left to go work in Washington. Reuben Mitrani, Jayson Post, Jesse Paul, Bradley Bachman and Stephan Gayle joined us as freshman, Will Allenbach transferred in from Tulane as a sophomore, and Chris Lowenstein joined the team as a junior. All of these additions gave us hope for the season to come. However, we also realized which such a young team, that there was going to be a lot of road bumps and learning experiences.

The season started out rough, with the rust of the team being the most apparent aspect of the team. This culminated in a 8-2 lead being blown in the 7th(final) inning against Western State. Lots of errors led to bad losses, and about halfway through the season we got together as a team and decided we had had enough. We started playing better, and took two of three from Fort Lewis, and played better against UCCS and Western. I injured my ankle over spring break, and took on the coaching role during two of our biggest series. However, the season ended on a positive note, with us ending the season on a 3 game winning streak, finishing with a 2 game sweep of Fort Lewis. With the season coming to a close, one thing stood out to my co-captains and I; we weren’t graduating anyone. We plan on returning at least 13, with hope for 5-6 freshman, and a couple current students joining on. However, while our regular season was over, one of the most inspiring moments of the season was yet to come.

Earlier in the season the coach from DU had let the league know that a player on their team had passed away from a skiing accident. While we as a team were unavailable to attend the memorial, the coach Jared Floyd proposed a memorial game between DU and CC in honor of Joe Lubar. We thought it was an incredible idea, and said we would love to participate. Son on the second Sunday of 8th block we drove down to Denver not quite sure what to expect. What we encountered was an incredible afternoon full of events that made us completely forget the fact that it was over 90 degrees out. The day started with the announcement of both teams, and both of us lining up on the field, followed by the Lubar family coming out to the pitchers mound. Then an accapella group from DU performed “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, which brought tears to the eyes of many. Afterwards a music student at DU came and sang an incredible rendition of the national anthem. After that DU retired the jerseys of Joe Lubar, and presented the framed jerseys to the family. We then presented an engraved bat on behalf of CC and the club baseball team.

Finally the younger brother came out and threw the first pitch, which began the game. The feeling that overcame both teams was that this game was not about beating their rival, but instead something much bigger. Both teams were cheering for one another, and simply enjoying the 9 inning game that insued. Both teams were able to use all their players, and over 100 fans were in attendance, including families from the Colorado College team. Overall it was one of those experiences that moves you, and you walk away from knowing you took part in something special. The coach and I talked after the game about making this a yearly tradition, and it may be that it would come to CC next year, which is something that CC should look forward too if given that opportunity.

À la faveur de l’automne

Bonjour tout le monde!

Today I’m writing from my cozy room in the hamlet of Palette, just outside of the French city of Aix-en-Provence where I’ve spent the past two and a half months studying. It all seems like a whirlwind, especially considering how long I’ve been here already.

The beginning of the trip was probably the most challenging part; adapting to living with my (fantastic) host family, making incredible new friends (both French and American), and getting used to five different classes in French. But in French there’s a word for figuring it all out–“se débrouiller”– and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

My program, the American University Center of Provence, AUCP as we call it affectionately, is pretty challenging but puts a lot of emphasis on plopping les Américains right in the middle of French society. Between daily interaction with my host family, meeting with my language partners, regularly participating in a French association (in my case, a pottery studio), and doing community service with local middle schoolers, I get dynamic French practice and also make some awesome friends. There is of course, also that thing called class…

A typical week here looks like this:

Monday– Translation class (my favorite!) from 9-10:30; French Cultural Patterns course from 10:45-12:15; eat delicious French things (or packaged turkey and yogurt) for lunch and hang out with friends and the American Center;then Provençal Lit and Film class from 3:15-4:45. Ensuite, high tail it to the bus stop for a 4:55 bus that takes me back to my village, where from 5:30-7 I hang out with and tutor a middle school student who really likes Linkin Park. After that, walk home to the other side of the village, check in with the host fam and then we eat around 8. After that, homework and skype.

And since that was so long, I’ll condense the rest:

Tuesday– no class all day, noon head over to the Fac, the French university, to hang out with French college students; 5pm movie screening for my film class; 7:30pm pottery studio time; 10pm le dîner

Wednesday– 9am (bleh) Translation (yay!); 1:15 Painting and drawing class–woohoo!; 5pmish bus back to the village, host family time and then dinner

Thursday– 9am (bleh) Identity of Immigrants class until 12:15 (argh…it’s mostly lecture, unlike CC classes); lunch slash catch up on homework for; Provençal Lit and Film at 3:15. Thursday after class, two friends and I get a glass of wine and then walk an hour home to our villages.

Friday– 10:45am French Cultural Patterns, 5pm cooking class with one of the city’s top chefs (so awesome…this will be my next blog topic!); after that, digestion and hanging out with my friends.

On the weekends, I generally spend a lot of time with my host family around the house, going to dinner at their friends’ houses, or going on school outings around Provence. Saturday night is usually dedicated to hanging out with my language partner, Christophe, and friends, practicing French and getting into general shenanigans.

I’m loving my experience here so far, and am glad to have two months to go! More blog entries to come soon. À bientôt!

And as for the namesake of this entry, here’s a song I love by Tété–“À la faveur de l’automne”

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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.

CC Monastic Experience 2010

So before I get back to campus (4 days!) and get started on my pre-study abroad, no class, calm before the storm adventure, I’d like to share an amazing experience I partook in earlier this summer.

No, I didn’t go to a llama farm.

Sponsored by the Scheffer Fund for Catholic Studies, I journeyed with a couple other students and faculty from CC to Richardton, North Dakota. We stayed at Sacred Heart Monastery and Assumption Abbey (girls and boys, respectively) and learned about the Benedictine Catholic tradition of monastic life.

What I was anticipating was lots of isolation and silence. A nice time to reflect, I thought. Not exactly!

Getting ready to depart from CC.

One thing that attracted me to a trip like this was that it was in North Dakota! Aside from Colorado, Utah, and a little bit of Wyoming, I’m still not familiar with the Midwest, and I was eager to explore a new section of it. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be VAST. So much space! Coming from Connecticut, I’m accustomed to (for some) claustrophobic highways, constantly lined by trees, cliffs, or whatever nature fancies in that area. North Dakota doesn’t really have trees. In fact, all the greenery around the monastery and abbey (as you’ll see later) was planted!

I had lots of fun walking around the endless hills.

In high school choir, we sang a song titled On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever. That is truly the reality of this area of the country. Sure, the sky is blue, the grass is green, what else is new? What’s new is that it doesn’t end. You can see for miles and miles.

Sacred Heart Monastery

We girls had quite a time at the monastery. A great amount of “processing” (also known as chatting endlessly about our hopes, dreams, and minute details of our lives) went on, and we learned a lot about ourselves. Following the Benedictine tradition, we partook in prayer 3 times a day (with daily mass after morning prayer), working and learning in between. If you’ve seen (or even better, read the book) the movie Eat, Pray, Love, the time she spends in the ashram is vaguely similar to this, except the schedule is more like Pray, Eat, Work, Pray, Eat, Work, Play, Pray, Eat, Sleep.

Here’s glimpse of life at the monastery:


Me and Renee picking at the endless field of rhubarb.

Weeding the garden.

Hand-dying scarves.

Visiting the abbey: touring and getting some history lessons.

Playing The Vatican (a fun board game!) for evening recreation.

But most importantly, we got to experience an amazing lifestyle and meet the inspirational men and women behind it. I hope to come back and visit someday!

Michael weeding.

David weeding. guessed it! Weeding.

After we ran crazily towards the bison. Hey, Brother Michael egged us on.

St. Francis of Assisi, the perfect saint for this beautiful landscape.

I brought home so. much. rhubarb. It made four pies' worth.

Sacred Heart Monastery

Sad to leave!

beautiful people and places

“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way”
Colette, French Writer

Graffiti in Valparaiso, Chile

A house door in Sayulita, Mexico

Salt flats near Uyuni, Bolivia

Dark Canyon near Zion National Park, Utah

Central plaza in Salta, Argentina

Glaciar Perito Moreno near El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

River in the Pinzgau Valley, Austria

Town center in Bratislava, Slovkia

Young girl in rural village of the Melghat region, India

Wild horses on the island of Maui, Hawaii

Thanks for looking.

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

Eating Stuff in South Asia. And West Africa.

Unlike my illustrious colleague Sarah Berry, I don’t have a series of blogs that I follow daily, but there is one that I regularly check – my sister’s. Ever since graduating college in 2008 with a degree in political science, my sister Katie has spent her time interning in Washington D.C., working at farmers’ markets in Seattle, learning about organic farming and yoga in India, and monitoring elections in Sri Lanka.

Last farm lunch. Typical farm lunch.

This is her typical lunch at the farm in India.

Have you been to summer camp before? Cool, then you already know exactly what an ashram is like. There is the same waking up early to a bell and singing songs together and then eating group meals in a rackety dining hall and doing some physical activity during which someone inevitably cries and then using your one free hour a day to run around your communal living area like a complete maniac and scream and yell and get up to crazy hijinks and all with no alcohol. Some of specifics are different. Instead of singing fight songs about wagon riding you are chanting Hindu stuff in Sanskrit while a bunch of hippies around you get extremely emotionally absorbed in drum beating and head nodding. (Tamara: Do you ever have moments here where you feel like you’re in a cult? Jo: You mean like last night when I looked down at my hands and saw I was banging a tambourine to Jaya Ganesha?) The food is less grilled cheese and bug juice and more Keralan classics reinterpreted to be “purely vegetarian” which means garlic/onion/spice-less to avoid any heating of the blood that could lead to impure behavior. And I don’t even know what people were crying about during yoga class although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because they were afraid of being eaten by an orca whale (true story from my camp counselor days). But, the crazy time—that is pretty much the same as summer camp. Our last night there was a talent show (seriously) so we spent our free hour prepping our skit that was one you have definitely seen before and might have felt a little bit stale back in the States, but we totally killed it because that is a easy thing to do when your competition is Indian teenagers singing devotional songs. The winning was only in our impure hearts though, because I’m pretty sure Swami Sivanada doesn’t believe in that kind of competition. (That’s my bunk in that picture up there.)

 Here is her bed at the ashram, where she did yoga.

I decided just to leave that “spiritual name” portion blank.

This is some paperwork she had to fill out at the ashram – it asks for her spiritual name, which she decided to leave blank. Our parents didn’t provide either of us with spiritual names.

Anyway, if this doesn’t sound eclectic enough, Katie is now traveling through Senegal and is about to start working for Tostan, an NGO in the Gambia. Tostan’s mission is “to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.” She will be there for the next six months.

While this outfit may not be the most flattering, it was NO ACCIDENT that I wore sailor pants and nautical stripes the same day I took a ferry. Themed dressing—get with it, guys. Île de Gorée, Senegal

This is her in Senegal.

Since Katie is usually at least 2,000 miles away from where I am, her blog is essentially the only way for me to know what she’s doing. It’s called “Eating Stuff in South Asia. And West Africa.,” with its name arising from a somewhat humerous conversation that her first blog details: 

One time I was at a party with old people and one of them decided to corner me and ask me about my Plans For My Future (as old people love to do) which of course led us to me going abroad and then to how when he’s abroad he really likes bird watching. Just is super into it—lots of books, binoculars, the whole deal. Cool. That’s great for him. We should all be so lucky as to have something we’re that passionate about. But then the conversation took an awkward turn.

“And what kind of activities do you like doing when overseas?”

“Uhhh mostly just wander around and eat things.”

That being said, the blog documents her time in India, Sri Lanka, and now Africa. It’s mainly comprised of photos and short tidbits about what she’s up to – often with a focus on food, obviously.

I may have to write a Venture Grant to go visit her during winter break…

Words on a Whirlwind Week from Across the World

While Rosey and Dolo are both occupied with calls from home, I thought I would take a minute to sit down and write. It has been a week since I left Colorado Springs and what I week it has been— full of ups and downs and everything in between.

The excitement and curiosity of the first couple days seemed to delay our jet-lag, catching up with us a few days later, right when you’d expect it to subside and right when our schedule was the heaviest. It was Monday that I returned home, after navigating the city for the first time alone, with tears in my eyes only to find the others in the same state, locked out of our room and feeling like we were drowning ourselves in water way over our heads. That day we had woken up early, taken the MRT (Taiwan’s version of the subway) to meet Allen, our partner in the Dance and Disable Project, and gone to visit the two centers that we will be working at for the next few weeks (although I only had time to visit one, because the rest of my day was filled by travelling to another side of town to go have my first rehearsal with the 4 Taiwanese dancers that I will be working with as part of my thesis). The Dance and Disable Project is going to be a big part of our residency here at TAV, which in collaboration with the Shin-Lu Foundation, we will be leading somatic movement workshops with mentally disabled adults of varying kinds and severities, mainly those with Autism and Downs Syndrome.

At the first site, we met with the head personnel at the center and observed some of the activities of the members at the center. The language barrier prevented us from having any sort of communication with either the personnel or the members, and only a fraction of the meeting was translated for us. Basically, we established our class schedule and who will lead which classes (Dolo and I will lead classes at one center and Rosey and Allen will lead classes at the other) and were given protocol and warnings both for teaching people with mental disabilities and for doing so as foreigners. Although Rosey and I both have experience working with people, particularly youth, that have experienced emotional and physical abuse and/or neglect, mental disabilities is a very new arena for us. This combined with the inability to communicate through verbal language with either the students or those we are working under is intimidating to say the least. Now we are in stages of solidifying the structure of the workshops and plans of how to execute them. Our first class is next Wednesday, which also happens to be my birthday. Despite our list of fears, I have a feeling that we are going to be fine, and that this project is going to be both difficult and hugely valuable in ways we cannot even predict.

The same day, as I mentioned earlier, I had my first rehearsal with Hsui-Ping’s dancers. Originally, I was to have between 6 and 10 dancers and have around 8 rehearsals before my showcase, but conditions now allow for only 4 dancers and 5 rehearsals, which is not very many, especially considering only one of them can understand me when I speak and my attempt at counting to eight in Chinese sounds like a dying cat counting down (or up I guess) to her death. One of them, Sylvia (the one who can speak English), so nicely met me at TAV and led me across town to the studio where I met the others and led a moderately productive 2-hour long rehearsal, considering the circumstances. I have a new-found respect and empathy for foreign choreographers and teachers, it was oddly one of the more difficult things I have ever attempted to do. An hour or more later, after losing myself in Asia both figuratively and literally, I finally found my way out of the Taipei Main Station and walked home to find my similarly distressed and hungry patrons waiting for me to unlock the room so we could fall face-down on our beds, cry a little and turn on some Grey’s Anatomy and probably some angry girl music. After a little while of sulking and venting, we re-centered ourselves and regained our capacity to appreciate where we were and what we were doing.

The last week has been so jam packed it is difficult to recap. Basically, the next few days hit us with some personal crisis’ from home, which being across the world during has been both a blessing and a curse. We have finally been able to start rehearsing for the show we are performing in a couple weeks in Southern Taiwan for a performing arts high school as well as the town’s governor, although we have been relocated to the mirror-less and carpeted piano room for our daily rehearsals because the dance studio has a hole in the floor. We go back and forth as to whether it or our concrete studio is a better rehearsal space. We have seen some of our Taiwanese friends that we know from the CC dance program— I-fen, Jeff and Mauro, and they have all been so great, helping us settle in and become culturally attuned. We have had more interesting food experiences, which although we finally found out that our location in the city, the governmental district, is an awkward place to find food, our taste buds have yet to adjust to the foreign tastes and smells that in all honesty we find mostly repulsing. I-fen and Jeff took us to a night market for dinner the other night. Unfortunately, the fantastic carnivalesque atmosphere, that in the states manifests itself on some annual occasions but in Taipei is an everyday occurrence, was sadly annihilated by the wretched smell of stinky tofu lingering over the entire area. Yesterday was Rosey and Dolo’s birthday, and out of desperation caused by a combination of hunger and homesickness, I ventured out early and came home bearing breakfast and goods from McDonald’s and 7-Eleven. Never in my life did I expect that either could be so satisfying.

I think it is fair to say that being here so far been quite an experience. My senses seem to be on overdrive at every moment I am awake, as there is so much to see, to feel… to experience. Though I know you learn a lot in school, I think I have learned more in a week being here than I do in a month of being in school: about myself, about relationships, about culture, art, language (to say it in general terms)… and most interestingly the intimate inter-workings of them all. I have felt the full-spectrum of emotions, from the highest feeling of ecstasy, to the lowest of fear, sadness, frustration and desolation. With help from supportive e-mails and Facebook chats (which I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate), my often overly anxious disposition is cooled by the reminder to keep the big picture in mind. Being in a place so far from home puts a lot into perspective, forcing me to re-evaluate so much of the tradition and resources I as an American am so privileged to have, yet am so disabled by; and at the same time reminds me of all of the minute details of home that I seldom or never take the time to think about, let alone appreciate.

So for now, at the end of week 1, I am missing home and loving being here.

Here — Safe and Kind of Hungry

Sitting jacketless in the courtyard of the Artist Village (TAV), I am enjoying the first sight of sun and blue sky since before the blizzard in Colorado, which hijacked our flight out of Colorado Springs a half-a-day before it even took off. Considering the circumstances though, our travels ensued fairly seamlessly. We caught the next flight out of Colorado Springs, and made our connections in both Dallas and Tokyo, and once arriving in Taipei, after a few rounds of trial-and-error, I managed to figure out how to work the pay phone and call our Taiwanese liaison, Jeanny, to help us find our taxi driver that had to be at about his wits end waiting for us in the Taipei airport. 900 Yen later and all three scrunched in the back seat (because the front seat was ungracefully conquered by my 73 pound suitcase), we arrived at our new home at about midnight, greeted by three fellow artists and Mr. Hwong, the cute-as-a-button security guard who reminds me of my Granddad. We were taken to our room/studio/apartment, a spacious concrete room attached to a bedroom and bathroom, resembling something between a flat in NYC and the Whitney Electric building (an abandoned warehouse near CC’s campus, which houses everything from homeless people, to concerts to art exhibits.) We were left to ourselves where, despite the time and the long day of traveling, we hurriedly began unpacking and settling in, like three twelve-year-olds who just arrived at summer camp.

Yesterday was our first full day. We went in search of discernible food that I could eat, and to explore. We apparently found ourselves in more of a ghetto than we realized, but our conversation with our new friend Jason the previous night in the bar downstairs assured us that we did not need to worry about our safety. In his words “we could walk downtown at 4 a.m. in bikinis and not be bothered… well maybe not bikinis.” After picking up some fruit from a street vendor and taking plenty of pictures, we found our way home more based on intuition than by following the map we picked up along the way that trying to navigate by reminded us that were in a completely foreign place even more than walking the streets seemed to.

Later we met with the staff at TAV and went over our residency schedule, we saw our dance studio, which is absolutely perfect, and ventured to try to find dinner, which among the options Dolo and I sadly opted for middle-eastern food (each vendor declined my paper request for food without wheat, dairy or soy), and Rosey ambitiously tried the pre-packaged sushi. I topped off the meal with my new favorite dessert— which I call gooey-rice balls, not knowing it’s real name.

It’s now morning, blue sky and beautiful (not to rub it into all of your freezing Coloradan’s) my computer is about to die and we are going to venture to find breakfast and have our first day of rehearsal.

The Travels of a Dancing Thesis: An Introduction

Waiting to board my delayed flight home from Cleveland, where I enjoyed a relaxing visit with my sister, I am ambitiously attempting to postpone my anticipatory anxiety and excitement of the fully-loaded two-months that await me. In only four days I will once again be scrunched in tight quarters with a myriad of cranky travelers, this time though, waiting to board a set of flights to Taipei, Taiwan. There, I will be spending the remainder of my Colorado College career.

Since I received my first passport in the mail last May, just a few days before my life-changing trip to the Kingdom of Tonga, I have fallen in love with the wonder of traveling. I cannot believe that for the second time in less than a year, I am looking the trip of my dreams straight in the eye (not to mention the fact that it is again fully supported by scholarships and grants from CC).

At this point I have a schedule in place and it seems as though I will have to write-in time to breathe between the numerous projects to be completed. Our home-base, the Taipei Artists Village, is where Rosey (a recent CC graduate), Dolo (a current sophomore) and I will be living and working as part of an International Artist-in-Residency program. In collaboration with the Hsin-Lu Foundation, we will be teaching therapeutic movement techniques to mentally disabled adults as part of the Dance and Disable Project. Additionally, our trio will be producing and performing for various audiences and venues around Taiwan. In the later half of the trip, I will be participating in a CC class titled “Chinese Meditative Arts,” which is an abroad block taught in Taipei by my advisor Yunyu Wang. Overarching all of this, I will be completing my senior thesis, exploring the cultural dissimilarities and relationships between Asian collectivism and western individualism from the lens of modern dance.

Naturally, the fact that I know very little of what to expect makes me nervous. Although I have a relatively detailed schedule, I have been repeatedly warned to avoid attaching to plans as they are likely to change in unpredictable ways. Seeing as though I have never been to Asia nor do I speak the language perhaps exacerbates my uncertainties— mystifying even the most seemingly simple tasks and accounting for the already plentiful amount of useful information that is lost in translation.

What is so extraordinary about this trip though is that I am going not as a tourist, nor as solely a student or as a worker, but instead as some inimitable hybrid of them all. I am going not only to teach, to create, to perform and to observe dance; but to explore passions, interests and possibilities that extend far past the conventional labels of “travel”… “dance” or …“thesis.” I am going to work both independently and collaboratively; to grow both intellectually and personally; and to solidify and expand upon the foundation that my quintessential liberal arts education has erected. My hope is that within this complex web of responsibilities and experiences, I will be able to live within and learn about a culture so far from my own in a very unique way.

All-in-all, I have a lot of demanding and exciting work on my hands, to say it mildly, and although I know I am a soon-to-be college graduate, I cannot conceal my youthful zeal, as I know that my nerves, excitement and gratitude can be sensed from a mile away. From now until my return on May 7th, I will be blogging as often as possible in order to document and share my experiences with anyone interested in reading and/or joining in the conversion.

More to come… next time from an ocean and a half-a-day away 🙂