Category Archives: Midd Off-Campus

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.

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Saturday’s Fall Family Weekend Events.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 11.47.33 AM

Round two. Get outside and bask in the first sunshine we’ve seen in what feels like weeks.


Support our boys and girls in blue (and white)!

Field Hockey v. Wesleyan
Saturday, October 25th
Time: 11 am
Place: Peter Kohn Field

Women’s Soccer v. Wesleyan
Date: Saturday, October 25th
Time: 11 am
Place: Dragone Track Field

Men’s Soccer v. Wesleyan
Date: Saturday, October 25th
Time: 11 am
Place: South Street Fields

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DIY Conference Application Deadline Extension

The Rohatyn Center Student Advisory Board will be hosting its second annual Global Affairs Conference this spring semester from February 19-20, and we are seeking student proposals for conference topics. This conference represents an exciting opportunity for students to bring their passions, questions, and interests to the forefront of community dialogue, and to organize engaging and thoughtful programming with a generous $5,000 budget. The conference topics should be globally relevant, accessible to the Middlebury campus, and diverse in geographic and disciplinary perspectives. For more information, and to submit your proposal, visit go/diyconference. We have extend the deadline to October 31st.


We very much look forward to reviewing your submissions, and should you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to

Thursday: NER Vermont Reading Series


Come spend a relaxing evening at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café tomorrow and listen to some great Vermont authors read from their recent works. The NER Vermont Reading Series presents a fall evening with three Vermont writers: Emily Arnason Casey, Kathryn Davis, and Diana Whitney.

Emily Arnason Casey’s writing has appeared in Mid-American Review, Sonora Review, the anthology Please Do Not Remove, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize. She earned an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches writing at the Community College of Vermont. An editor at the online journal Atlas & Alice, Emily lives in Burlington with her husband and two sons, and is working on a collection of essays about loss and longing.

Kathryn Davis is the author of seven novels: Labrador, The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, Hell, The Walking Tour, Versailles, The Thin Place, and Duplex (Graywolf, 2013). She has been the recipient of the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2006 Lannan Award for Fiction. She lives in Vermont and is Hurst Senior Writer-in-Residence in the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Diana Whitney’s first book of poetry, Wanting It, was released in August 2014 by Harbor Mountain Press. Her essays and poems have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Crab Orchard Review, Puerto del Sol, Numéro Cinq, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, and elsewhere. She graduated from Dartmouth College and Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and attended the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. A yoga instructor and lifelong athlete, Diana lives in Brattleboro with her family.

Date: Thursday, October 23rd
Time: 7 – 8:30pm
Carol’s Hungry Mind Café (24 Merchants Row, Middlebury VT)

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?

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Granite Stoke Surf Movie Saturday

Tomorrow evening at 5 PM, Ryan Scura ’11 will be screening his film Granite Stoke in Axinn 232.  Granite Stoke focuses on the vibrant surfing culture on New Hampshire’s 18 miles of coastline, and thus far has been an official selection at the London Surf/Film Festival, the New Hampshire Film Festival, and the Honolulu Film Festival just to name a few.  Ryan and lifelong buddy Dylan Ladds have been making films together since middle school, and have struck gold with Granite Stoke which, according to the London Surf/Film Festival review board, “captures the very essence of surfing and what makes the friends we meet through it so special.”  Weaving surfing footage with the story of a tight knit community, the film should be a real treat.  Ryan will stick around after the screening for a Q & A.  The event is co-sponsored by the Programs in Creativity and Innovation and the Film and Media Culture Department.

When: Saturday, 5 PM
Where: Axinn 232
Cost: Free

Venture for America Info Session Friday

So you’re a senior, and you have absolutely no clue what you’re going to be doing next year. Finance and consulting apps have not been submitted. Kinda freakin’ out? Don’t fret, we feel you, and we’ve got an awesome suggestion: Venture for America.

VFA is self described as “A program for young, talented grads to spend two years in the trenches of a start-up with the goal that these graduates will become socialized and mobilized as entrepreneurs moving forward.”

More specifically, VFA’s mission is laid out as follows:

  • To revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship.
  • To enable our best and brightest to create new opportunities for themselves and others.
  • To restore the culture of achievement to include value-creation, risk and reward, and the common good.

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, start-ups, or just innovative and creative strategy at large, it’s absolutely worth stopping by the Venture for America Middlebury Info Session being held THIS FRIDAY. You’ll have the opportunity to learn all about the VFA program and application process, and meet current VFA Fellows Taylor Sundali ’12, Alex Bea ’12 and Astrid Schanz-Garbassi ’12, who’ve spent the last two years as  helping to build companies in Detroit, New Orleans and Las Vegas. For now, learn more about VFA here.

What: VFA Info Session
Date: Friday, October 17
Time: 4:30 – 5:30

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Morning!!!

Lunar Eclipse

Here at middbeat, we’ve always been big fans of the moon.  It brings the ebbs and flows of the tide, makes wolves howl, and makes for romantic walks home from the bar.  It therefore pains us immensely to announce the total eclipse of the moon around 7 AM tomorrow.  For those early risers and sky-watchers out there, this will be a real sight to behold that may not happen again for quite some time.  This could be a good morning for a sunrise hike up Mount Abe, getting on top of your dorm’s roof, sending it to the coast to see the sun rise over the sea, or joining the Aviation Club to get above tomorrow’s expected rain clouds.  As they say, celestial events like this only happen once in a blue moon.  Don’t miss out.

Thanks to Eyal Levy ’14.5 for the tip.

When: 7 AM Wednesday
Where: the sky

Feb-Break MAlt Applications Due Thursday!

Maya Neria ’15 writes in:

MAlt is Middlebury’s alternative break program. Each year, students design and plan six trips during February Break (national and international destinations) and one Vermont-based trip during Fall and Spring Breaks. The goal of the trips is to engage Middlebury students with communities across the nation and the globe in order to share an experience, provide service where service is needed, and learn about the systems that shape community realities around the world.

The program has a needs-blind acceptance policy and does fund-raising throughout the year to make sure that anyone who needs financial assistance can participate.

See after the jump for trip descriptions.  Applications for this Feb-break are due this Thursday, October 9.

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Voices From Abroad: Jordan Seman ’16, Argentina

Jordan looking lovely with some incredible BsAs street art

Jordan looking lovely with some incredible BsAs street art

This week, middbeat’s “Voices From Abroad“ will feature Jordan Seman ’16, who is studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina this semester, living just blocks away from the National Congress. Jordan is a junior comparative literature major from Denver, CO. As part of the Middlebury School Abroad in Buenos Aires, Jordan is studying at Universidad Católica Argentina, taking classes in the psychology department for a change of pace. Jordan’s writing is extracted from her personal blog, and skillfully captures the complexities of life abroad, while offering some invaluable insights on how to deal with the transition. Having spent a semester in Buenos Aires myself, I’m particularly stoked to share this post. Read up:

Today, I met my dear friend Bryn’s father, Jim, for a cup of coffee during his brief stay in Buenos Aires. I can only describe seeing him as extremely comforting, if a little strange. The sensation was almost dream-like; one second I was on the bustling streets of the city, sweating from running the last four blocks from the bus stop, late (as usual), and impatient for the traffic to subside so I could finally cross the street…the next, I was in a luxurious lounge sipping a latte, sitting across from an old friend straight from my life in Denver. I immediately felt relief as we began to converse (in ALL English) about my experience the past two months. As I answered his questions (How are your classes? What’s the social scene like? Do you feel safe here? Do you like the food?), I realized that it was the first time that I had really decompressed the whirlwind of experiences in the past two months.

Talking to Jim helped me uncover some of the feelings that I’ve internalized while going through the daily motions of public transportation, confusion in class, endless misunderstandings in Spanish, and other cultural differences. Talking to him also left me with a choice: I could either sugarcoat everything, tell him how amazing Buenos Aires is and how happy I am every day to be here and be having this experience (which is all true, to an extent), or I could give him the true-to-life story, the one where I say how some days are really great, while others leave me with a pounding headache and a deep, aching desire for the simplicity of rural Vermont.

I chose the latter. Here are some of the impressions I gave him, with the 2-month perspective:

1) Taking classes in Spanish is not easy. Not only was I completely disillusioned about my ability to converse near-fluently with Argentines, but I also assumed that 8 weeks in the classroom would be enough to get the hang of my professors and the subject material. Not exactly true. The classes I am in (Sociology, Special Education, and Public Health) require a decent amount of theoretical background knowledge, which is difficult to understand in English, let alone Castellano. As such, I’m still learning. Some days I leave class feeling confident that I understood about 95% of the lecture; other days, I leave with a page full of vocabulary words to look up on my own, feeling disheartened and silly. All part of the process, I’m told.


2) My Spanish has most definitely improved. It’s no longer so much of an effort to listen and understand. I am not translating everything in my head anymore. The verb tenses come a little more fluidly, my vocabulary is a little more advanced, I can mostly understand what I’m ordering every time I go to restaurant. Small milestones that prove the cultural immersion really does work.

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