As first semester draws to a close with a bang and an onslaught of finals, the next thing on the horizon is winter term. Which, I know, should really be called winterm. I've been saying this for two and a half years. It's not catching on.
In case you're not familiar with the system here at Oh Berlin, winter term is the month of January when students find projects, trips, internships, etc. The point of the month is twofold: to give students an opportunity to go out into the world and test out something that they've always wanted to do, and to save us poorly built furless animals from the Ohio negative forty-degree weather.
First-years frequently start Oberlin very concerned about winter term. Also about the summer. And about their major. And their schedule. And their meal plan. Generally just concerned. I moonlight as an Academic Ambassador, which translates roughly to being a professional upperclassman, so I get to chat with first-years about their concerns a good amount. I've found that the most effective way to dispel fear and get people thinking and excited is to give examples of projects that I and my friends have done in the past.
So if you're a concerned freshman and you need ideas, this one is for you! Well, not actually, because winter term forms were due last Friday. But if you're a prospective concerned freshman, then this one is definitely for you. And if you're a parent and you want to be jealous of all the cool things that we youths are doing, this one is for you too.
Meghan: Went to Nashville to learn bluegrass banjo
Meghan had been playing Old Time and Irish music, and so she decided to go learn bluegrass from a few musicians in Nashville who were interested in teaching. She stayed with a friend and went to "picking parties" with other musicians.
"One of my favorite things I've ever done with my life."
Emily: National Advocates for Pregnant Women Internship
Emily lived in NYC for the winter and says that the learning experience she had at NAPW made her think about issues she already cared about in a new way. She continues to actively use the information she gathered, and is currently writing a research methods papers about material she learned during her internship.
"The knowledge I got there I take with me to my activist work."
Rachel: Started a band on campus
Rachel stayed on campus with two other students who were interested in learning old time music. The work that they did together started the band that they still play in, Sweet Potato Spoon.
"It was fun!"
Savannah: Interfaith Appalachia Group Project
Savannah found this project through the Bonner Center for Service and Learning on campus. The group started by learning about issues in Appalachia and interfaith work. They traveled together to Kentucky to learn about a coal community. There they worked in the community through a ministry. She continues to use what she learned on the Interfaith Student Council.
"It made me appreciate my identity as an Appalachian from the South."
Ty: Service Trip to Cambodia
Ty is planning on traveling to Cambodia this January to help out at the Spring of Hope School. He will be assisting English teachers and building connections with the local community.
"Be right back, one second I'll tell you more."
Max: Personal Project to Improve Sleep
Max devoted a winter term to working on his insomnia through sleep-improving exercises. He did a lot of yoga, exercised, and meditated.
"Would strongly recommend to a friend."
Me: Aerial Silks and Subway Writing
Last year I did two half projects. One involved taking aerial silks and rope classes, trying to build the thirty hours of experience needed to join the Oberlin Aerial Club (I did not make it to thirty, but I learned a lot and I will keep going, really!). The other half of the project involved me riding the entire length of the 6 train every afternoon, free writing and collecting notes on people around me and overheard dialogue.
"It's weird to quote yourself."
Gabriella: Our Bodies Ourselves Internship
Gabriella worked at Our Bodies Ourselves in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She got to spend time with women who she now thinks of as "absolute role models" and learned a lot in a short period of time. She watched a lot of documentaries, wrote thank you notes, and got to help organize and update their website and attend conferences.
"It's a wonderful, wonderful place."
Anna: Illustrative Mnemonics About Biological Processes
This winter term Anna will be staying on campus to work on a graphic textbook intended to bridge the gap between the science and layman communities. She feels that science is very full of jargon that is exclusive and isolating. As a biology and art student she is trying to produce an easy-to-understand, entertaining resource.
"I'm trying to communicate the awe that I feel when studying science. It's life; it's the coolest thing. People usually don't understand that because it's coded in this Latin bullshit."
Any of that sound interesting? I know it does. These are just a few of many, many options.