Movin’ on Up

The old studio at KRCC - it had it's charm!

The old studio at KRCC - it had it's charm!

We are now in the seventh week of The SOCC (The Sound of Colorado College) broadcasting from an entirely new location… Loomis Hall. For anyone who doesn’t know, The SOCC is Colorado College’s new student-run radio station. We began making noise in the spring of 2008, when our studio was located in the basement of KRCC’s Weber studios. You may ask what the difference between KRCC and The SOCC is. KRCC is Colorado College’s radio station and has been for the past 60 years or so. A few decades ago, KRCC began its transformation from a purely student-run college radio station into a professionally operated NPR affiliate. Today, KRCC’s licensee is still held by the college, but little student participation took place until a few years ago. In 2008, KRCC finished the purchase and upgrade to three HD channels on the regular 91.5 FM signal. HD radio, simply digital radio, is still terrestrial radio – no subscription is required. All you need is a new HD radio. To bring back extensive student involvement, KRCC gave HD3 to the students at Colorado College to do with it as they saw fit.

Today, The SOCC (KRCC-HD3) now broadcasts on the HD3 broadcast as well as over the internet at WWW.THESOCC.ORG. Run by three student staff members, The SOCC has around 50 volunteer DJs who man the station from Noon-2AM, seven days of the week. Some highlights of the 2009-2010 school year include an enormous crop of new DJs, the CC Debate Team Hour, and the continuation of some popular shows run by DJs who have been with the station since its inception.

Our new studio just after countertops and shelving were installed

Our new studio just after countertops and shelving were installed

As mentioned at the outset, The SOCC recently moved studios. We started in the dark, somewhat smelly basement of KRCC. This summer I worked with multiple folks on campus and at KRCC to initiate a move that had been discussed last semester while I was in China. Things came together, and now we are succesfully broadcasting from a small room off the Loomis Hall lobby.

The move has done wonders for The SOCC’s exposure to the campus and community. Before, people would often be surprised when told that we have a new student station. I think I can confidently say that most students, faculty, and staff have at least heard of The SOCC by now. It has been a personal pleasure working to bring something like this to the forefront of the CC community. Community radio is alive and well, even in this age where television and the internet seem to rule the communication stage. My goal is to make The SOCC as much a part of a Colorado College students daily routine as visiting Worner Center to check a mail box. As we grow and build upon our previous experience, I have no doubt that The SOCC will make a name for itself. Our move to this new central location is a great start. While it is sad leaving the folks who have nutured us through our infancy, it is time for us to try and walk on our own. KRCC will continue to keep us afloat through our struggles, but I am excited to see what we can do on our own a bit.

Check out our website to get more info and see a program schedule. Also, listen in over the Internet by clicking on the “listen now” links on the top left of our web page. Click the logo below to visit our site….

SOCC-Logo

The first car load of equipment installed this summer in the new space

The first car load of equipment installed this summer in the new space

Vinyl, decorations, and little bit of character begin to fill in the new studio!

Vinyl, decorations, and little bit of character begin to fill in the new studio!

Catching Up…

Hey Everyone,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted so I thought I’d get back in the swing of things after a long and much deserved break.  Summer was a relief from the fast pace of 8th block.  I coached for the second year in-a-row the Under 15/13 Colorado Select Boys Lacrosse Team.  I had the pleasure (with a hint of sarcasm) of traveling with them to Ohio, which made it visit lucky number 3 to Ohio this year.  I also worked in the Colorado Office of Economic Development doing policy research directed towards business retention and biotechnology.  Otherwise, you could find me fly fishing in the mountains, groovin’ at Red Rocks, or enjoying the mellow Colorado summer.

I had to pack in a whole summer’s worth of activities into two months because my abroad program started almost 6 weeks ago from today.  I’ve been in Argentina since July 19th and it’s been a whirlwind since I’ve gotten here.  The first month or so, we had an extended orientation because of the Swine Flu Outbreak and subsequent extension of winter vacation.  I am happy to report that I am Swine free and classes finally picked up in the last few weeks.  I had the horrible realization that I’m not on vacation anymore with a frenzy of reading; over 400 pages this week for just one class!

Although school is becoming more of a primary focus, I have done a bit of traveling, most notably to Bariloche to go skiing.  Yes, I have already started counting my 2009/2010 ski days.  Spring is rapidly approaching and I am ready for more adventures outside of Buenos Aires after exhausting this city and myself!  Some nights don’t end until 9 AM the next morning.  Anyway, just a brief account of my whereabouts the last few months, and much more to come from the Southern hemisphere and the wonderful city of Buenos Aires.

-Max

¡Que Chivo!

One of the programs I worked on this summer was the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). The cultural exchange started in 1966 to increase global understanding in an increasingly divisive world. Top American leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 travel overseas to learn about foreign political systems while key foreign political leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 visit the U.S. to learn about our political process. The CEO of El Pomar Foundation is an alumnus of the program. To show his gratitude, he hosts three delegations to visit Colorado every year. This summer, we hosted a delegation for El Salvador. Due to my immense cultural knowledge and Spanish language abilities, I was the first intern to ever work on ACYPL.

We divided our time between Denver and Colorado Springs, meeting with top state officials and participating in cultural activities. I arranged for the delegates to meet with Attorney General John Suthers, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Climate Change Manager (and CC alumna) Ginny Brannon. They also met with top Colorado Springs officials, such as Mayor Lionel Rivera and IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems) President Richard Soudriette. We also fit in plenty of cultural activities, such as National Cheesecake Day at The Cheesecake Factory, a tour of the US Olympic Training Center, and a hike around Garden of the Gods.

The Salvadorans were awesome. They remained engaged throughout the day and continuously asked thoughtful questions. El Salvador is a war-torn country, achieving peace a mere 17 years ago. At the end of the Civil War, Salvadorans restructured their political system, and are eager to improve it. It was such a rich experience to be able to get to teach such prominent leaders about the U.S. and our politics, while also getting to learn more about them and their country’s history. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with all of the speakers. I would normally not have access to political officials, such as the Attorney General, or meet with them in such intimate settings. It was interesting getting to see their take on the Colorado and American political system.

Overall, it was exciting to practice my Spanish and learn some Salvadoran slang (like chivo means “cool”). The bonds the Salvadorans and I formed will be long lasting, and who knows…one of them might very well become the President of El Salvador within the next ten years.

El Salvador

Me with some of the delegates at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs

El Salvador 2

All seven delegates with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

Last stop…

Harry on the sleeper bus out of Deqin - a bit of a tight squeeze

Harry on the sleeper bus out of Deqin - a bit of a tight squeeze

My last post covered what turned out to be one of the highlights of my almost four months in China. After an incredibly unique experience hiking to Yubeng, Harry and I split from the rest of our small group. At this point, I truly faced the reality that I would leave China in only a few days. My feelings were varied. I felt excited to see my family, friends, and enjoy some of the foods I so strongly missed. I also felt sad knowing that this was the last time, hopefully not for too long, that I would be with some of these people I had experienced so much with. I had already said goodbye to those friends in my program who hadn’t continued to Yubeng with us, but now I had to say goodbye to everyone but Harry. I had plenty of time to contemplate this on the 20+ hour sleeper bus ride we had to take out of Deqin to Kunming. Once in Kunming , Harry and I would board a plane to Guilin.

While on that sleeper bus, in the midst of trying to dodge the smelly feet of my fellow passengers, somehow making my little “bunk” as comfortable as possible, and keeping my body alert for flying spit from the top bunks, I had plenty of time to reflect on my time with the people that I had become so close to. It surprised me initially how strong the friendships were between all of us. How did we become life-long friends in four months? I attribute the closeness to many things. Of course, there was the obvious: we spent four months in a completely foreign land trying to feel our ways together. I still believe though, that we had sought each other out among the 60 or so people in the program for a reason. We were a diverse group, but one that seemed to understand each other and where we were coming from. At the same time, it was clear that our time abroad meant similar things for all of us. We were there to expand our understanding of how large the world really was, meet new people, and step outside of our comfort zones. We have stayed in touch since returning home and have already planned a little reunion in Washington D.C. this October. More on that when it happens…

My final days in China were perhaps the most fun and relaxed of any. Harry and I arrived in Guilin where we stayed the night before heading out to

Scenery leaving on a bamboo boat from Xingping to Yangshuo on the Li River

Scenery leaving on a bamboo boat from Xingping to Yangshuo on the Li River

Yangshuo the following day. Our hostel in Yangshuo was about as entertaining as they come. The staff was playful and excited the entire time. The hostel was filled with travelers from all corners of the globe. We spent out nights on the roof-top bar of the hostel socializing and sharing traveling stories. During the days, we roamed the overly tourist streets of Yangshuo and picking different far off adventures to take. The karst scenery along the Li River in Yangshuo was the most dream-like scenery we had seen in China.

Our best adventures came from renting bicycles to roam the surrounding areas. Harry and I spent one day biking out into the middle of rural villages and fields. Drudging through muddy paths and fields, we reached a bridge (I believe it was the Dragon Bridge). This was one of those final moments in China where I was able to see things I could only imagine being a part of. Standing on the bridge, looking over bamboo rafts in the river below the shadowy peaks, my mind wandered to my return home. In all honesty my mind had been wandering frequently to that. Again, mixes of emotions were present. I think I was most enamored by the fact that in only a day or two I would be thousands of miles away. I was quick to realize the amazing privilege I had been given in being able to see this part of the world. From the support I received from friends and family to the availability of resources I had to do this trip. I still am thankful to so many people for the chance I had. I think I reached a place where I realized I had given so much to every moment in China, and these last few could not be any different.

View from the Dragon Bridge

View from the Dragon Bridge

I spent the last days in Yangshuo completely satisfied. Satisfied with the time I had spent, the place I was, and with my return home. Harry and I made a few good friends in Yangshuo, who thanks to the Internet we can still keep in touch with via facebook.

Harry and I finally boarded our last train in Guilin only a few days after arriving. We spent about 19 hours together before arriving back in Beijing. When we got back, we found a few friends still in Beijing and ate our final meal at our favorite restaurant near Beida – West Gate. I spent that night in a hotel before boarding my plane back to Chicago.

I left China with so much more than I had come with. It all may sound cliche, but going abroad naturally will teach you things. Among many things, I think I came away with an excitement for new things and an appreciation for the familiar. I have been lucky enough to share my stories and times here on this blog, but I look forward to hearing the stories from others. Whether they are stories from abroad, here at home, or the same old stories I’ve heard hundreds of times.

Thank you to everyone who has read these and commented. Thank you to everyone here at Colorado College who made this possible. I look forward to all the great stories that will get shared here this year!

A site from one of our bike rides

A view from one of our bike rides

I’m not a freshman anymore?

Hello Sophomore year!

I am now in my second week of Probability and Statistics with David Brown.  I haven’t taken a math course in a few years, and David (who is hilarious) is incredible. He teaches his lessons so that even I can understand.  Even if I’ve forgotten basic math skills, he doesn’t tease or make fun of me.  He’s honestly there to help the students.  Regardless, it’s been difficult getting adjusted to the Block Plan.

Wait.  Let me backtrack some and talk about being a New Student Orientation (NSO) leader.  Each year, CC has an orientation for the incoming freshmen and transfers.  What makes this school’s orientation so special is the fact that all the incoming students go on service trips all over the Southwest.  I co-led (with my friend Eleanor) a trip to Santa Fe at a non-profit that works with families who are victims of domestic violence.  The group of 10 freshmen that were on this trip was so hardworking.  I really believe they wanted their work to make a positive in these families’ lives.

group photo

Every night during their NSO trip, my co-leader and I would lead discussions about their fears, their expectations, and the reality of college.  What was so heart-warming for me was when the freshmen were able to open up and admit that they all had similar fears.  For example, many of the freshmen had fears of the rigor of the Block Plan.  They asked, “Will I be able to catch my breath if I’m behind in class work?”  “Will I be able to do extracurricular activities, meet friends, and have a social life?”  I sat there with chills running up and down my spine, because these were my exact fears last year.  They sat there and I told them how it is possible; however, it’s hard to find your niche and rhythm first semester.  I mean, my first year was a roller coaster!  I wanted to do every club on campus (I joined 10).  I wanted to major in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences (I don’t even think this is plausible).  I wanted to be friends with everyone (now, I have a handful of marvelous and brilliant friends).

circle fun

Fortunately my second semester, I came to the realization that Colorado College (or any college for that matter) is meant to be the best four years of my life.  I don’t need to do everything  and rush.  I can just be Melissa Tran.  Who is a girl from Oklahoma and attends one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.

snow

So ecstatic for the year to come!

Melissa

Hey Everyone,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted so I thought I’d get back in the swing of things after a long and much deserved break.  Summer was a relief from the fast pace of 8th block.  I coached for the second year in-a-row the Under 13/15 Colorado Select Boys Lacrosse Team.  I had the pleasure (with a hint of sarcasm) of traveling with them to Ohio, which made it visit lucky number 3 to Ohio this year.  I also worked in the Colorado Office of Economic Development doing policy research directed towards business retention and biotechnology.  Otherwise, you could find me fly fishing in the mountains, groovin’ at Red Rocks, or enjoying the mellow Colorado summer.

I had to pack in a whole summer’s worth of activities into two months because my abroad program started almost 6 weeks ago from today.  I’ve been in Argentina since July 19th and it’s been a whirlwind since I’ve gotten here.  The first month or so, we had an extended orientation because of the Swine Flu Outbreak and subsequent extension of winter vacation.  I am happy to report that I am Swine free and classes finally picked up in the last few weeks.  I had the horrible realization that I’m not on vacation anymore with a frenzy of reading; over 400 pages this week for just one class!

Although school is becoming more of a primary focus, I have done a bit of traveling, most notably to Bariloche to go skiing.  Yes, I have already started counting my 2009/2010 ski days.  Spring is rapidly approaching and I am ready for more adventures outside of Buenos Aires after exhausting this city and myself!  Some nights don’t end until 9 AM the next morning.  Anyway, just a brief account of my whereabouts the last few months, and much more to come from the Southern hemisphere and the wonderful city of Buenos Aires.

-Max

Finishing up China

Since my last post here, a lot has happened. I am back in Colorado Springs and have been since the beginning of July. Among other things, I have moved into a new apartment, begun my training at the Admissions Office for my job this fall, met with my advisor about my Economics thesis, overseeing The Sound of Colorado College’s move to a new studio on campus, and spent plenty of time speaking to numerous folks about my post graduation plans. Life is

Monks at the largest Tibetan temple in Yunan Province. We visited this while in Shangri-la.

Monks at the largest Tibetan temple in Yunan Province. We visited this while in Shangri-la.

busy, but good. It is good to be back State-side. Before I launch into blogging about the summer, let me finish up my trip to China.

My final week in China was perhaps the most incredible of all. My last post was from Lijiang in the Yunan province. From Lijiang three friends and I separated from our program’s trip to finish on our own schedule. Our route took us from Lijiang to Shangri-La (only named that because the Chinese government wanted to create a tourist attraction). The town is also known as Zhongdian, but the area is noted as being very close to the Shangri-La described in the book, The Lost Horizon. From here we took a bus though winding mountain roads to Deqin. Deqin is about 80% Tibetan and going through a decent amount of construction despite the remote nature of the place.

Tashi's Mountain Lodge in Reringka village outside of Deqin.

Tashi's Mountain Lodge in Reringka village outside of Deqin.

We stayed 15 minutes outside of Deqin at Tashi’s Mountain Lodge. Tashi’s is a foreign trekker friendly guest house in a recently renovated Tibetan home. We arrived to find a beautifully rugged place that was run at the time by a couple from Italy, Phillip and Silvia. The two had stopped there a few weeks ago to find a job and ended up abandoned by the Tashi’s local staff who had retreated for a few months to the mountains to collect caterpillars that were supposedly full of medicinal value. From Tashi’s, we gathered information on a trek to a remote village, Yubeng, not accessible by road.

We payed a driver to take us to Xidang where the trail head for Yubeng is. We stayed a night with a Tibetan family in Xidang. Our host was a friendly older couple who spoke a Tibetan dialect. We communicated with hand gestures. The next day we began our 6-7 hour hike to Yubeng. The trail was surprisingly full of trekkers and locals. We had to hike over a mountain before we could drop down into Yubeng. Although cloudy, the top (before our descent into the village) was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. The magical scenery combined with the warmth of the Tibetan people gave me a whole new sense of China.

Our host in Xidang. We didn't know how to say her name, but she seemed to respond to the last part which sounded like "de ma."

Our host in Xidang. We didn't know how to say her name, but she seemed to respond to the last part which sounded like "de ma."

We stayed that night in Yubeng under two peaks that were unlike anything I had ever seen. As one visitor to Tashi’s had described, “It is mountain paradise.” Words are hard to find when thinking about this place. I will let a few pictures tell the story. At the same time, this is not a place I want to spoil with too many pictures for those that ever make it there.

Yubeng borders the official Tibetan Autonomous Region. The two peaks we slept beneath in Yubeng (as well as the larger, Kawa Karpa, which is not visible from Yubeng) are considered by many to be the guardians of the Himalayas. Kawa Karpa is a holy mountain and visited frequently by monks. From here, my friend Harry and I seperated from our other two friends, Liz and Allyssa. We moved onto much more travelled locations in Guilin and Yangshuo.

To be continued…

At the top of the hike to Yubeng

At the top of the hike to Yubeng

Me overlooking parts of Xidang. Very, very green!

Me overlooking parts of Xidang. Very, very green!

Among the prayer flags near the top of the hike into Yubeng

Among the prayer flags near the top of the hike into Yubeng

A look at lower Yubeng below the peaks

A look at lower Yubeng below the peaks

One of the guardian peaks of the Himalayas. This one is called Shenyufeng (6054 meters)

One of the guardian peaks of the Himalayas. This one is called Shenyufeng (6054 meters)

The first Tibetan we met in Yubeng - joyful and wearing a Jordan shirt. Being from Chicago I was happy to see my hometown hero's influence reached this far!

The first Tibetan we met in Yubeng - joyful and wearing a Jordan shirt. Being from Chicago I was happy to see my hometown hero's influence reached this far!

Summer Internship

I have started an internship with the El Pomar Foundation (EPF). EPF has one of the largest endowments in the Rocky Mountain Region, granting approximately $25 million annually to Colorado nonprofits. Most nonprofits focus either on granting out money (like a Foundation) or on community stewardship (like running programs). EPF is unique because it has a dual facetted approach, incorporating both grantmaking and community stewardship. As the programs intern, I work on eight of their programs in various capacities. I conduct Community Impact Visits to organizations that have received grant money, I write reports on past years’ events, and conduct data analysis. It keeps me pretty busy, but I absolutely love what I’m doing.

On top of all that, I love the location. During the school year, I don’t spend too much time off CC campus.. Working at EPF has allowed me to get to know a completely new area of the Springs, which is breathtakingly beautiful. El Pomar is closely tied with the Broadmoor Hotel, and its executive offices are on the hotel’s property. I a block away from the Broadmoor at the Penrose House. It’s just close enough (6.5 miles) to comfortably bike to work. In fact, with all the stoplights and traffic downtown, it takes almost the same amount of time to bike as it does to drive. The Penrose House is the estate of the founders of EPF, Julie and Spencer Penrose. EPF bought the house in the early nineties to use as offices and provide a free meeting space/conference center for nonprofits. Working in such a beautiful place makes me excited to come to work every morning…that, plus I love my job and the people I work with.

penrose-house

The Penrose House...where I work! (photo from EPF website)

img_0372

Two of eight deer laying in the front lawn of the Penrose House

Catching up

So the last few months have been a total whirlwind. I barely remember seventh and eighth blocks. I ended up getting the flu which had me out of commission for the last several weeks of school. Block Plan plus sickness do not mix well. But I somehow managed to rally and pull through it (and clearly that did not include any blog postings).

dc-002

Arriving at Reagan National Airport. Don't worry; we bought carbon offsets for our flight to and from D.C.

dc-026

Discussing agricultural offsets with Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack

Eighth block I took a class called Global Environmental Economics. For the first two weeks, we learned about climate change economic models and municipal and state responses to climate change. Then, we spent our last week in Washington, D.C. studying the political process of pushing climate change legislation through Congress (i.e. the Waxman-Markey Bill). During the first week of class, our professor made a promise to us. He said that by the end of the three and a half weeks, we would know more about climate change than any undergraduate class in the nation. Initially, I thought he was exaggerating, but upon completion of the class, I really do believe that I now know more than any other undergraduate student at any other school.

dc-004

Our first day of classes in D.C. beginning at the World Wildlife Fund

dc-020

On the mall in front of the White House

dc-031

Enjoying a night off at the State Capital in Annapolis with my classmate, Alli

It was amazing how many connections CC has to the climate change world. We were able to meet with several alums at the World Wildlife Fund, who were instrumental in coordinating the case study. We spoke with several other prominent NGOs, such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Pew Center, and United States Climate Action Partnership. We also met with top politicians like Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CC alumna) and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (CC parent), who were able to squeeze us in between meetings with the President and security briefings on Afghanistan.

It was a truly amazing class. I had no idea what I was signing up for during preregistration, but it is classes like these that truly define the CC experience. Uninterested in climate change issues, I registered for the class to fulfill a major requirement. Upon completion, I found that the experience instilled in me a passion for the environment I never knew that I had and aided me with myriad connections in the climate change field.

Since then, I have been keeping pretty busy with my internship at the El Pomar Foundation…which I will save for another posting.

“Ça Va?”–History of the City of Paris

The Seine River

The Seine River

Casablanca. Gigi. Sabrina. Amelie.  Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (my two personal favorites).

Media has romanticized our imagination of the city of Paris.  The examined and lived, however, brings this city to a whole new level.  As I sit writing this, I am reliving Paris in my imagination.  I was able to examine and experience the city of Paris.

Want to see the Seine River?  It’s only a twenty minute walk.  The Louvre?  Cross the Pont d’Artes and you’re there.  Want to see Notre Dame?  Eiffel Tower?  Pompidou  Center? Done. Done. And Done.

Katherine, Brenna, Kelly, Alissa, Me, and Connie

From front left: Katherine, Brenna, Kelly, Alissa, Me, and Connie

However, what does the everyday person know about the layering of history within this beautiful city?  To tell you the truth, I knew nothing.  Susan Ashley (Dean of the College) and Tip Ragan (Chair of the History Department) co-taught this course.  I’ve never been so challenged by any professor as I have with these two.   Susan focused on teaching the intellectual history of Paris, while Tip focused more on the social history.  Together, they were masterful in teaching the thirteen of us how Paris developed and progressed in the middle ages, the Age of Absolutism, and Modern Paris.

The class was amazing and probably one of the best courses I have ever had in my entire life.  The workload wasn’t too much or overwhelming, but I was challenged by the class discussions.  Susan and Tip would steer discussion by asking a single question, and the class would try to find answers or more questions within the 2.5 hours.  My brain literally hurt after each class, because I had never imagined Paris to be so brilliant.

Oscar Wilde is buried in Paris.  Look at all the kisses!

Oscar Wilde is buried in Paris. Look at all the kisses!

There are no words to describe how I feel about this class–it’s a true “unique, intellectual adventure.” Consider taking this summer block when it’s offered.  I promise you, it will be mind-blowing.

View from the Eiffel Tower!

View from the Eiffel Tower!