Posts in: Block A
We had another great day! Our first event of the day was a presentation by Frank Bi, a google trainer. He taught us how to maximize our efficiency with Google. I learned that if you google a word, and don’t want something to pop up, you can add “-the word,” and it won’t show up. He gave us the example of if you wanted to search for coffee, but did not want Starbucks, you could type “Coffee -Starbucks.” If you did this, the results would not include Starbucks. I thought this was really cool, and definitely helpful. We also learned about knowledge graphs, and that all countries have their own domain.
In the afternoon, we went to the Newseum. This is an incredible museum, and I wish we had more time at it. It has six floors, and is very interactive. I stayed on the first floor for over an hour! My favorite exhibit was on the Stonewall Riots and LGBTQ history.
I am grateful for Jim Burke, the Director of Summer Session, and our professor, Corey Hutchins, for making this trip possible. I learned a lot in this course, especially on the trip.
I asked Jim how a trip like this is possible, and he explained that he had funds left over in his field trip budget, and talked to Corey about what kind of practicum-type trip we could take. Jim said that he wanted to capitalize on Colorado College faculty and alumni living in D.C. He wanted our experience to be more than just a tour. “If you are not applying the theory, it’s just a tour,” said Burke.
“Leveraging our resources for the best reason… the student experience.” said Burke.
After our breakfast this morning at Catholic, we went to attend a class on how to best use Google. Once again, Sam had local connections with one of the women running the program at the Medill School of Journalism-a school of. Northwestern University. Our teacher for the morning was Frank Bi, who is a data analyst for SBNation.com. Topics covered included how to remove words from searches, searching only from selected sites, how to sort images, how to reverse search an image, Google Trends, and finally, Google Sheets.
After our two our crash course, we originally planned to go to a nearby District Taco for lunch, but with a line out the door, the decision was quickly made to go to the Mediterranean restaurant next door. With forty five minutes to kill, Jamie, Max, and Sam continued their scooter adventures, while Julia, Robert, David-Elijah, and Sanya explored a local shop and walked to the museum.
In my opinion, the Newsuem is the best museum and it is a shame that its future is up in the air. Lucky for us we got two hours to explore the building that has exhibits including, but not limited to: the Berlin Wall, the FBI, Jon Stewart, 9/11, the freedom of the press, the role of TV and radio, and a display with the front page of each state’s most prominent paper for the day.
Our time at the museum was much too short, but we had to go for one last Metro ride to get to the airport. Security was a breeze and we got to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Shortly we’ll be boarding to head back to Denver, bringing to an end our trip and experience in Intro to Journalism.
After our meeting with Thom Shanker from the New York Times, our resident tour guide Sam Seymour suggested we head over to the White House so the class could see some of the sights of downtown DC. The heat and humidity started to get to us as we were admiring the Washington Monument so we decided to head to lunch a little earlier then planned.
Sam took us to his favorite sandwich shop which was followed by a couple of quick trips to Starbucks and scooter rides by Jamie and Max. Some of us also went to a street festival going on outside featuring crafts from local artists.
Dinner was at the 801 Restaurant; it was absolutely delicious and was highlighted by conversation with CC alumni who are currently working in journalism. Sam and I talked most of dinner with Nick Wing who gave us advice on getting into the industry. Due to the engaging conversation, dinner lasted well past the planned 8 pm. After, some of us decided to go see the monuments at night before getting ready for our last day of class tomorrow. Over all, a splendid day!
We started off our day with breakfast at Catholic University, the dorm where we are staying. We then headed over to the New York Times and met with Thom Shanker, the assistant Washington editor for the New York Times. He answered our questions, described the inner workings at in his department and advised us on potential internships with the New York Times. He was generous with his time, and made sure that we had answers to every question we asked.
We had some extra time, so we walked over to the White House and then to the Washington Monument. Jamie Bechta, a rising senior, had never been to Washington, D.C., and was thrilled to see the White House.
“The White House was amazing to see in person!” said Bechta.
I was really excited about visiting the NPR headquarters. My parents and I love NPR, and I grew up listening to it almost every day.
The NPR building was incredible! After going through security, we were given a tour of the building, and got to meet with Scott Simon, Peter Breslow, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and Dana Cronin, a Colorado College alumni. Everyone was super friendly, and gave us great advice, both for journalism and for life. Dana talked to us about how to pitch ideas, and how it’s not as scary as we might think.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro was very articulate, and I really enjoyed listening to her. She talked to us about how important it is to talk to real people, not just the people that you would expect to hear from. She told us how journalism can sometimes be hard, because you might be talking to someone in their worst moment.
Peter Breslow sat down with us and went over our final projects. Corey, our professor, had put us into three groups, and we presented our projects to Peter. The assignment was to nationalize a local issue, and pitch the idea to Peter. The three pitches were about the bike lane controversy, a rumored-Manitou Springs cult, and the high rape rate in Colorado Springs. Peter offered us great advice, and encouraged us to reach out to new sources.
We had an alumni dinner at 801 Restaurant, where we got to meet former Colorado College students. I really enjoyed talking to Michael Meyer, a freelancing journalist. He talked to us about his work with podcasts, and how he valued his liberal arts education from Colorado College. I also got the chance to get to know Peter more. He’s taught at Colorado College before, and I hope to get the opportunity to take one of his classes in the future.
It was a great day, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!
Hi fellow Colorado College students!
We’ve arrived in D.C! We checked into our dorm at Catholic University and ate dinner at Busboys and Poets. We are currently brainstorming questions to ask the incredible men and women that we are meeting tomorrow! I’m very excited to meet Nick Wing former senior reporter for The Huffington Post. He focused on social inequality, which is something that I might want to pursue in the future. We are meeting with the New York Times tomorrow, as well as going to the NPR Headquarters, where we will present our final projects. My group is focusing on why the rape rate in Colorado Springs is disproportionate to other crimes in Colorado Springs. I am looking forward to the feedback that NPR will provide.
We are continuing the fun with a dinner with local Colorado College alumni in the journalism and news profession.
Since beginning Introduction to Journalism for Summer Session this year on May 29, one thing that has changed in my news consumption is that I realize just how many news publications exist, especially in the state of Colorado and even just in Colorado Springs. For example, I learned during our visit to The Colorado Springs Independent that Manitou Springs has its own paper, The Pikes Peak Bulletin.
I began to focus on reading these smaller, more local publications because I found they have more impact on my life as opposed to other, national ones.
Another thing that I have learned in class is the inverted pyramid model, which shapes how I read news articles. Before I used to think that if I was looking at something on the News app on my phone I’d need to read the entire article to get the story; now, if I’m in a rush or not super interested in the story, I can usually just read the lede and the first couple of paragraphs to know the important details of the story and move on. There is simply too much news to sit down and try and read every article that is published online.
One last observation: Before, I would not consider paying to read the news online. However, after learning about the financial issues journalism faces, and reading in The Elements of Journalism about how important journalism is for our democratic society, my view on that is changing. I am debating whether I should start subscribing to the online editions of different papers including The Gazette here in Colorado Springs, The New York Times, and The Washington Post because it costs very little per month, I get the news, and support a cornerstone of our country.
This week in Bali, our class had the pleasure to witness a traditional performance of the Barong–a mythic creature of major importance in Balinese theatre and religiosity. This lion-esque beast contains two people controlling the costume, with one in the front and one in the back. Though seemingly a stage prop at first blush, the Barong’s mask is the product of rigorous ritual purification, and often is housed at the local temple when it isn’t being used in performances. In this show, the class reveled as the mighty Barong played with his monkey companion and later faced off against the evil witch Rangda. Interestingly, this classic fight always ends in a draw, thus representing the good and the evil within all of us. Filled to the brim with colors, action, and a gamelan music accompaniment to boot, this was definitely a night to remember. Curious what gamelan means? Tune in next time to find out!
After weeks of rehearsal and preparation, the class finished this music class about as fittingly as one can–with a gamelan and dance performance for the whole community. Surprisingly, despite the atmosphere of excitement behind the performance itself, I found the costume and make-up preparation to be one of the most memorable parts of the day. As someone with no experience in the performing arts, dressing up to the extent we did (seen to the right) was completely new territory for me. However, after being able to perform in costume, the appeal completely makes sense to me. On one level, one take-away from class was how performers would hang masks by their beds before shows to absorb their power. Covered in make-up, warrior garb, and later a demon mask, it’s easy to see why so much emphasis is put on costume’s transformative powers in Bali. For me, putting on all the layers of costume seemed to project responsibility away from me and onto the character. Thus, while it feels a little silly for Normal Mark to perform a baris dance in cargo shorts and a Nike T-shirt, a Warrior Mark outfitted with armor, weapons, and a mustache to boot couldn’t be more in his element. In a similar vein, an old college adage states that the best way to stay awake in class is to wear a suit to the classroom; in theory, it’s the sense of maturity and professionalism that’s so closely related to the suit that has the power to overcome the exhaustion that would otherwise de-rail one’s participation in class. It is this transformative power that I was able to feel when performing in front of the community, and made executing the dances feel so much more natural.
Overall, looking back on the block as a whole from playing music to exploring Balinese culture, one of the most valuable parts I found as a student that’s never done a semester abroad was how powerful of a teacher experience can be. Especially in a political climate where the sources behind facts are under such scrutiny, it was refreshing to learn about a subject with my own senses, rather than solely through a textbook. Though scholarly literature certainly did serve to ground the class, there’s something about the visceral reaction of seeing something for yourself that takes the textbook to a level that no textbook can. In short, it personalizes the process of learning, and makes it about people and senses rather than words in a book. Whether what I see ends up confirming or even nuancing what I learned beforehand, it’s an experience that I can’t recommend enough for CC students thinking about the abroad experience. It’s taught me not to simply be satisfied with the words of others, but to go and engage with the world and find out its workings for myself.
Arguably the most difficult part of blogging about this trip (as I’m sure would be the case in any abroad experience) has been to capture the sea of subtlety that naturally comes when thrust into a world outside of your own. However, I feel that I would not be doing my religion major proud if I didn’t talk about the spiritual landscape of Bali. I knew coming in that it hosted a unique blend of Hinduism, but what ultimately struck me the most was its practice. I first felt its power in the offerings. Composed of little straw saucers filled with food, flowers, and often small amounts money; for what these humble offerings lacked in fanfare, they made up in sheer numbers. In fact, it was difficult to go anywhere without finding one on a doorstep, sidewalk, or street corner. Temples also had a similar prominence in Bali, as communities often hosted more communal temples as well as household shrines (seen above). Thus, while in the West it’s often easy to section off our Sacred and our secular, the world of spirit is infused into everyday life in Bali. All you have to do is walk around.
Another striking feature of Balinese religiosity was its emphasis on heritage, and how that would present itself in daily life. One one level, one need look no further than the prayers at our professor’s local temple; in the listing of prayers, one could always count on one including their ancestors. However, even beyond the setting of the temple, ancestry plays a major factor in the daily lives of the Balinese. It is believed that when a person dies and is cremated, their spirit arises from the fire and–with the help of the family and community–ultimately comes to reside in the family’s communal temple. These souls either will remain in the family’s life in spirit, or will reincarnate into a new person in the community. Such is the case for one of the little girls on the compound, who was found by the priest to be the reincarnation of our professor’s mother. In this way, one’s heritage isn’t only felt in services, but becomes a lived reality for individuals and their loved ones.
To continue our journey through Bali with a a trip to one of the holiest temples on the island–Tanah Lot. Located on an island twenty yards off the coast of the mainland, at first blush this quiet sea temple (seen below) has an unperturbed atmosphere deserving of its sacred status. However, look anywhere around this island and you’ll find that it’s surrounded by tourists, shops, and even an 18-hole golf course. So many of Bali’s holy sites fall into this trap, in which the cultural (and specifically religious) tourism that served as the original appeal for the island become a hub for a hoard of tourist-centered businesses hoping to capitalize on their allure. As this push to expand on the tourism market that already drives Bali’s economy continues, many Balinese people have voiced their discontent towards this degradation of both Bali’s physical and cultural landscape. Our class’s position is particularly precarious, because as we have learned about tourism’s effect on the Balinese people, so too are we participating in this tourist culture not only in our purchases, but also in our being outsiders looking into another culture. After talking to the class ironically during a lunch at a beachside resort, the consensus seems to be that best thing we can do as students is to constantly seek to educate ourselves about Bali while also realizing the limits of how much we can truly understand this new culture, especially in such a short time. It is this very humility that allows spaces like Tanah Lot to not be merely a plot of potential real estate, but a temple with a significance that can only be understood from the inside.