Spring 2009

2009-06-20: Post Frosh Year

Intro: In Short

If any sentence in the summary intrigues you, there are several additional paragraphs related to that sentence in the body of my letter, and the index will tell you where to look.  Make sure you read the full version before commenting about me to someone else, though.  Regardless of how much you end up reading, write back!  I look forward to hearing from you.

My Roommate + A Tangent on Ender's Game

The Saturday before leaving, I finally saw the house of my roommate, Nick Isaacs.  It was big.  The folks were friendly.  The garden was nice. 

Nick has a really big book collection, too.  On a related note, I discovered that recent printings of Ender’s Game have a new cover.  It’s weird how much the new cover disturbs me.  I had no attachment to the old cover, and it doesn’t affect me whatsoever when other books change their covers, but the no cover just seems so wrong.

The Plague: Camus' and My Philosophy

From http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5a/ThePlague.jpg

My favorite reading in SLE was Camus’ The Stranger.  The protagonist, Meursault, is very similar to me in many ways.  He has seen what the existentialists call “the absurd” – the idea that, unless you believe in religion or a substitute (like nationalism, fascism, capitalism, Marxism, etc), there is no way to say that there is any absolute Truth or value, and in the current historical moment, even if people claim to believe in those things, most are just going through the motions.  In other words, “the absurd” is the idea that there is no absolute meaning to life.  The universe is

Leaking Condy

Condoleezza Rice is on campus now.  Her first public appearance was at a dorm for dinner one day.  The protests made national news.  Since then, she has been hiding her appearances.  Stanford in Government was having an end of year dinner with her as a guest, and I leaked the location to the protest groups.  I didn’t personally organize anything (I had a prior commitment), but the protest groups got something together.

Middle and High School Panels

At the end of May, a group called Project Motivation sent out some emails asking for people to be panelists for middle schoolers who were interested in college.  It was meaningful in a way similar to my tutoring.  I got the chance to talk with kids who were enthusiastic about education even though they didn’t come from the most economically (or educationally) advantaged communities.

Day of Silence

Thursday of that week was Stanford’s Day of Silence (it doesn’t fall on the National Day of Silence because our Admitted Students Weekend is on that day).  It wasn’t very well advertised this year.  I guess that’s one of the things I’ll be in charge of next year with QSA – hope I can do better!

After the Day of Silence, I collected my thoughts and sent an email out.  This Day of Silence got me to think about issues of voice and silencing.  My philosophical revelations and my description of the event:

A few days ago, you may have noticed some people who weren’t talking. 

Food Stamps Challenge

The first full week of May was the Food Stamps Challenge.  Students Taking on Poverty planned the Food Stamps Challenge as a way to show people one (small) piece of what it’s like to be in poverty.  The challenge was to eat as if on food stamps – meaning you had a $4 allowance for food – for a day.  Some of the STOP members did it for longer than a day.  I only did the one day.  One thing is for sure, though: the money from food stamps isn’t enough to get a nutritionally balanced 2000 calorie diet.

HAAS Center for Public Service Events

There were also a bunch of events through the HAAS Center for Public Service.  On April 18-19, they had an Emerging leaders retreat.  I didn’t get much out of it.  It was at the beach, which was nice, but the only content at the retreat was a set of activities designed to make us think about what public service means to us.  Since I had already given a lot of thought to that topic, it was pretty much just a day at the beach when I should have been writing an essay (I ended up really proud of the essay, though – it was the one on Marx, Mill, and Remix that I wrote for SLE and talked about in

Admitted Students Weekend -- House Host

The last weekend of April was Admit Weekend.  Basically, it was Stanford’s chance to impress all of the people go got accepted to Stanford, Berkeley, and Harvard.  I was a HoHo, a House Host, meaning I help out with the events that the admits do.  The Head HoHo did most of the work, but admit weekend was still a good experience. 

I tabled for debate at the activity fair.  There seemed to be a lot of people interested in doing debate at Stanford.  I have high hopes for the team next year. 

Student Government Elections

The first week of Spring term was campaign week.  I was running for ASSU (student government) Senate, and there was only a one week period in between when we were allowed to start campaigning and when voting takes place. 


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