Category Archives: Feature

Voices From Abroad: Isabelle Stillman ’16, Nepal, Pt. 2

The view from Isabelle's apartment in Kathmandu

The view from Isabelle’s apartment in Kathmandu

Voices from Abroad is back, and we’re stoked to present a second installment from Isabelle Stillman ’16, an incredible writer studying abroad in Nepal this semester. At Midd, Isabelle studies English and creative writing, and also runs The Orchard Arts JournalShe’s based in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester through SIT Study Abroad (a non-Midd owned study abroad many students enjoy). If you dug Isabelle’s last snap-shot style narrative, you’ll love this piece, describing a taxi ride in Nepal and the invaluable lesson it taught Isabelle: to approach new challenges “with a helmet on, but the visor up.” 

BUT FIRST: If you’re a Midd student presently studying abroad, living abroad, doing something abroad, and you’d like to share your experience, please email We’d love to feature your writing in the Voices from Abroad series, and are open to absolutely any style – from poetry to blog posts to stories, you name it. We look forward to hearing from you.

Now, read up, and enjoy:

It was raining on my walk home the other night, and getting late (that is, a little after 7:00), so I decided to take a taxi. I stuck my hand out as I walked, palm down and fingers clapping against my palm – the gesture to hail a taxi, and to tell someone to come here (very confusing the first time your teacher calls you up to the front of the classroom). There weren’t many taxis out that night, and the ones that were were full, so I was almost halfway home by the time one pulled over. Two men sat in the front seat. As I stepped closer, the driver leaned over the other one so I could see his eyes through the low window. “Yes, where you going?”

{On taxis and transportation in Nepal: there are no street addresses, so its best to make sure the driver knows where he is going before you get in the car; once in the cab, you name a neighborhood and point left and right  (with your lips) as you get closer to the correct destination. Working meters are rare, and bargaining is expected, but a price should be negotiated before you get in the cab to avoid end-of-the-ride rupee disputes that are likely to be weighed in on by passersby and nearby shopkeepers; that being said, if you are not Nepali, they will try very hard to wildly overcharge you. Taxis often pull up to me (and other blatantly non-Nepali people) even if I haven’t so much as looked their way, because I’m white and therefore probably want to be driven.}

“Handigaun, past Bhatbetini,” I said, crouching a little to look through the window.

Continue reading

Family Weekend Keynote Speaker: Mary Robinson

robinson_mary(300) (1)

MCAB’s speaker series has really done us a solid this year, bringing former Irish President, human rights and environmental advocate, and UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson to Mead Chapel this Saturday at 7 PM.  middbeat recently caught up with event organizers Nick Orr and Zoe Kaslow ’15 to get the low down on Robinson and how the Speakers Committee organized the event.  Read on after the jump for the detes.

Continue reading

Alcohol Policy at Stanford and Middlebury: Which Approach is Right?


The most recent spark in the alcohol policy debate comes not from Middlebury, but from across the country at Stanford University where Miriam Pollock recently published an editorial comparing Middlebury and Stanford’s alcohol policy.  An incredibly well-written, and insightful piece, Pollock’s perspective casts new light on the different approaches collegiate institutions can take in addressing alcohol consumption.  What follows is a re-posting of the Stanford Review piece.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.  Credit is due to Miriam Pollock and the Stanford Review.

Students file into the stands above Youngman Field, decked out in white and blue. The visiting team scores a quick touchdown, dampening the crowd’s spirits. But soon thereafter, quarterback Matt Milano launches an eighty-yard drive that ends in a dramatic touchdown. The students and alumni in the stadium go wild.

Meanwhile, a junior, removed from the action of the game, stumbles across Route 30 into the woods and unloads his lunch. He can barely walk. The junior had drunk heavily at the pre-football game tailgate. A Public Safety officer spots the student and determines he needs to be transported to the hospital. The student is sent to the hospital and safely recovers from his alcohol poisoning. Subsequently, he will receive both punishment and counseling.

The scene should be familiar to anyone who has attended a college football game: some students go too crazy at the tailgates, endangering themselves and others. Often, they will never even make it to the game. This scenario — with a different stadium, different quarterback, and different students — could play out almost anywhere in the US. But in this case the specific game took place at Middlebury College, a small liberal arts school in Vermont.

Understandably, the Middlebury administration — like many college administrations across the country — wants to reduce incidents of binge drinking at tailgates. And so, on September 16th of this year, Erin Quinn, Director of Athletics, announced a new policy. Alcohol was completely prohibited at tailgates, even for those 21 and over. (“Loud” music was also banned, causing students to question whether the policy was meant to protect them or to prevent them from having fun.)

While ensuring students remain safe is a laudable goal, this misguided policy is unlikely to accomplish that. In fact, this policy may even encourage binge drinking. Furthermore, it impinges on student freedom. Contrast all this with Stanford University, which has a far more relaxed alcohol policy. Residential staff champion an “open-door” policy. Students are encouraged to drink with their doors open; in turn, Residence Assistants (RAs) promise only to intervene if students’ safety is at risk. Is Stanford’s model more effective at keeping students safe? Which is right — the zero-tolerance approach, or Stanford’s more tolerant one?

Continue reading

Homecoming Weekend: Motown Dance, Mingling, Panel Discussion, Free Noonie’s and More!


If there’s one fall semester highlight we can all agree on, it’s Homecoming Weekend, and Middlebury’s student group Women of Color know how to celebrate right! WOC writes in to tell us about all the awesome events they are co-sponsoring for Homecoming 2014, October 17-19 (everyone is welcome at every event!):

African American Alliance (AAA), Alianza, Distinguished Men of Color (DMC), PALANA House (Pan-African, Latino, Asian, and Native American House), and WOC have a jam packed schedule for this homecoming weekend, and we hope ya’ll are ready and excited!! Here’s what’s up:

We are kicking off the weekend with a reception (Friday, 6-7:30, Carr Hall) where students and alums are free to mingle with one another and have some free munches from The Grille! Following the reception, we will transition into a panel (7:30-9, Carr Hall) where alums will talk about their life after Midd. So, if you are interested in what that liberal arts degree will really do for your future, make sure to come out to the panel! Alums from different generations and various career fields will be joining us!

But don’t get too tied down with future planning, because we will be celebrating our flawless selves in PALANA House Friday Night (10:30) with an all-night dance party with Darkstar DJs!

But wait, there’s more! Come support the football team for a Homecoming win and stop by the AAA Concessions Stand (Saturday, 1pm, Football Field) to support the African American Alliance in an age old tradition of providing food for game-goers.

If you didn’t get a chance to dance with Darkstar, don’t fret because the best and baddest party of the year is on Saturday…Black Pearl Ball (10-2am, Coltrane Lounge)! This year’s theme is Motown! Think Diana Ross and The Supremes! Jackson 5! Marvin Gaye!

Come dressed in semi-formal attire wear or your best 1970s outfit or whatever floats your boat, but please leave cultural appropriation at home!

Get ready to dance down the soul train line. So bring your moves, grooves, and let’s party like it’s the 1970s! After a fun, energy-filled weekend, come down to Chellis House on Sunday (11AM) for your last chance to connect with alums of color until next year and yes, there will be brunch catered by Noonie’s, that is if you can wake up from last night ;)

Events Schedule:

Reception - 6 – 7:30 PM in Carr Hall
Panel – 7:30 - 9PM in Carr Hall
Dark Star DJ Party – 10:30 PM in PALANA House

Homecoming Game AAA Concession Stand – 1pm at the football field
Black Pearl Ball - 10 PM – 2 AM Coltrane Lounge (accessible by ramp through the Adirondack House CCI)

Brunch - 11 AM in the Chellis House

SOUL TRAIN, Full Force performs, early 1980s, 1971-

Professor of the Week: Svea Closser

BJS-20090615-6x6-01bWe are proud to present Svea Closser, this week’s featured professor from the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Svea is a medical anthropologist from Michigan who has done intensive research around the world and teaches one of Middlebury’s most popular classes: Global Health, as well as various other classes in the SOAN department.

Svea’s amazing life began in a very small, rural town of about 20,000 people in the upper peninsula of Michigan, hours away from any city. She started her liberal arts career on the West Coast at Pomona College studying religion and biology, never taking a single anthropology class. Her involvement in the medical anthropology field began after college when she received a Fulbright Grant to go to Pakistan. Her time in Pakistan led her to the field that is now her specialty, but at the time she believed she had made a earth shattering discovery of a topic no one had heard of before!

When she returned to the states she worked in LA at a nonprofit serving Medicare patients which gave her the chance to learn a lot about the American health care system to complement her extensive knowledge on international health systems. She went back to school to do graduate work at Emory University in Atlanta but spent her summers in Pakistan. Overall Svea estimates that she spent three years in Pakistan and has become fluent in Urdu. She was able to further sharpen her language skills by marrying a Pakistani man and speaking Urdu at home but hasn’t spoken it much since coming to Middlebury.

Continue reading

Atwater Dining Has New Coffee Machines!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Perhaps we don’t have all the same thoughts when eating in Proctor, but if there’s one dining hall blunder we can all agree on, it’s the coffee. Quite simply, it sucks. Watery, tasteless, strange flavors, is it even caffeinated? We could go on.

Thankfully, Atwater has come through, again proving itself far superior to it’s peers: There are now two brand new coffee machines in Atwater dining hall, located by the first food line, next to the soda machine that, cough, still doesn’t work (beggars can’t be choosers). Dining services told us “It was time for a change, as the old machines were rather ancient, and couldn’t produce the best product.” Turn down for that.

But, is the coffee any better? A quick survey of Wednesday morning Atwater breakfasters concludes that yes, it is somewhat of an improvement. “Still not fantastic,” remarks Cate Stanton ’15.5, “but definitely better.”

Unsurprisingly, Atwater wins again. So, perhaps ditch the eggs to order for a day, and enjoy some freshly brewed Atwater coffee. They’ve got cantaloupe and pineapple, too. It’s all very exciting.


As many of you avid Middbeaters know, locally-grown and organically cultivated folk rockers Alpenglow are returning to the great state of Vermont for their one of a kind Chapel Tour in celebration of their newest release “Chapel EP.”

To add further to the excitement, Higher Ground is providing Middbeat with one pair of FREE TICKETS to the show in Burlington at the First Unitarian Church on Sunday, October 19th.

Check it out!

It’s really easy to enter. Here’s what you gotta do:

Step 1: Post this link on your Facebook Profile

Step 2: Tag Higher Ground

Step 3: Send a screen shot of your post to

Step 4: Cross your fingers and hope you win!

The contest will end Thursday, October 9th at midnight! So get on it!

*P.S. Make sure you check out Alpenglow’s supporting act Joseph. They are an amazing trio of sisters from Portland, OR and they are blowing up!

52 Thoughts You’ve Had When Eating Proctor Dinner

We can all agree that Proctor dinner can be a stressful experience. Even if you can whip up a homemade salad dressing in seconds or assemble an award-winning panini in a flash, you’re likely victim to the occasional awkward moment or food fumble. We understand your troubles, hence our decision to articulate the thoughts plaguing our minds as we get our essential, albeit sometimes bland, nutrients. For solidarity, humor, or self-pity, here’s 52 thoughts we’ve all had when eating Proctor dinner:

1. Oh god why is the line so long… Go to Ross people!
2. But seriously, where the F are the proctor bowls
3. This is not okay. I need my split pea soup


4. Mmmm is that chicken parm?
5. I worked out.. I definitely need two pieces…or three…
6. Do I look like a fatty with a plate full of chicken parm?
7. Ahh yes.. I’ll balance it out with a salad
8. I love salad!
9. NOT
10. Does anyone eat the weird dishes at the end of the salad bar?
11. Maybe I’ll try this raw fish rice… hmmmm
12. I’m SO glad we have a whole tub of ham. I’m hate when salad bars forget that essential ingredient.

FullSizeRender (1) Continue reading

A Case of the Mondays: music to start your week off right

Considering the number of vests I’ve seen on campus the past couple days, I would say that fall is officially here.
Add in the amount of leaf peeping traffic there was this weekend (full disclosure, I hit the gap myself), there’s no question.

And what’s better paired with fall than some new music?!
I caught up with Nick Mallchok ’14.5, former MCAB Concert Committee chair, and the mastermind behind bringing acts such as Matt and Kim to campus. In a prior conversation, Nick told me that he hopes to continue working in the music industry post-college, ideally with a music festival or something similar to the work he has done at Midd, booking acts. 

Thus when I asked him to come up with a mini-playlist, I was excited. Playlist after the break.  Continue reading

Student Group Profile: Fencing Club


In front, John Corbett ’15 (left) and Allison Forrest ’15 (right) practice their sabre moves.

If you’ve ever walked by Lower Proctor on Tuesday or Thursday nights, you might have noticed a group of people decked out in masks and jackets, swinging swords and scoring touches. That would be the Middlebury College Fencing Club, a recreational three-weapon team that meets twice a week and welcomes everyone, whether former fencers or newbies. Middbeat talked to team Captain Allison Forrest ’15 to get the scoop:

middbeat: So for those of us who are completely ignorant, what is Fencing Club?
Allison Forrest ’15: We’re a recreational club sport, and we have fencers of all levels. Many people have fenced before coming, in high school, but some of us only picked it up [here at Midd] and have stuck with it. We practice twice a week, and we usually begin practice by warming up, and if there are new people, teaching them the basics. When we have people who already know how to fence, we spend time just doing really fun bouts and teaching each other new moves and talking about things we’ve learned in our past that we’ve seen at other competitions we’ve been to.

Continue reading