Painting to Life Final And Reflection

After some trouble with our rough cut, we were finally able to get a solid final product. Overall with the busy schedules and time constraints, we put out a solid project. For example, it was hard to sometimes find people to act for us because we needed twelve people.

Some of the problems that we faced as a group were audio specifically in the TDR scene it was hard to cut out the other audio, so we chose to put in a song.

I enjoyed being a part of this project because it showed me how to work on a movie and how everything behind the actual filming works. For example, I got to see how the different camera angles work on film and how to create them.

My role in the project was acting as “Jesus” and I also wrote the script.

Holi!

Yesterday I celebrated Holi: the Indian festival of colors! It was sponsored by the South Asian Student Association and held on the quad.  We ‘celebrated’ by running around with paint and powder and a few water guns, dousing our friends (and strangers) in color. My friends and I wore white, and by the end were wearing all the colors of the rainbow.

HOLI!

Just another Sunday at AU!

Advanced Screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A little preface: I really like America. I have an American flag in my dorm room. I go to THE American University and live in our nation’s capital. I’m from Concord, Massachusetts, where the ‘shot heard round the world’ was fired. (We started the Revolutionary War and America, basically.) It’s not a perfect country, but it’s mine. So it should come as no surprise that Captain America is my favorite superhero.

I loved the first movie, and saw it three of four times. So when the second was announced, I was pretty excited. It comes out on 4/4, so I was planning on going to the midnight release. However, I was walking by the University College office the other day and saw they had tickets for an advanced screening. Completely free, as well.

After I stopped squealing I grabbed a ticket, which looked like this:

Marvel Ticket

The screening was a bus ride away in georgetown, and even though the event was open to college students from all of DC, I ran into other kids from AU there as well. I won’t spoil the movie, but… it was really good! Set in DC too, which was pretty cool.

 

A Salute to Service

In my final semester here at AU, I’ve had my most exciting internship yet. Working with the Congressional Study Groups and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, I’ve had incredible opportunities to meet prominent scholars, experts, Ambassadors, Members of Congress, and Former Members of Congress. In my capacity as intern, I’ve been doing research, planning events to brief Members of Congress, and attending all sorts of events on and off Capitol Hill. Last night, FMC hosted the 17th Annual Statesmanship Awards Dinner which honored Operation Homefront, Mr. Carlos Gutierrez, and Congressman John Lewis for their civic engagement.

At the dinner, I was able to meet Cokie Roberts, Rep. John Lewis, and fill up on great food! I feel extremely lucky that I was able to attend this high-level and amazing event at the Mellon Auditorium. Things like this just don’t happen if you’re not in D.C.!

Body 3.0

Before I start this post, I’ll forewarn you that I’m a proud biology nerd. Tonight, while a large number of AU students were attending the Dick Cheney speech, I found myself not in Bender Arena, but in the Butler Boardroom, attending a speech by Nina Tandon. Nina Tandon has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and an MBA from Columbia Unviersity, as well as degrees from MIT and The Cooper Union. She is a co-founder of epiBONE, a company that makes new bones from stem cells (how cool is that?!), a researcher at Columbia University Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and a Associate Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at The Cooper Union. She was a TED Senior Fellow, a Fulbright scholar, and previously worked as a Pharma Consultant for McKinsey & Company. She’s a brilliant, amazing woman, and I may or may not have geeked out when she retweeted me after the event.

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Nina Tandon at TED Active (Copyright 2013, epiBONE)

Tandon’s talk, “Super Cells: Building with Biology,” focused on all of the possibilities that lie within our cells. As Tandon illustrated, there are plenty of connections between biology and technology: many of today’s “top innovations” come from researchers, not industry. The revolution of biology and research has mirrored that of general technology, moving from machines to information and, finally, to life. In biomedical research, cells are now being used as the basis for innovation, a stage of science which Tandon refers to as “Body 3.0,” the first two stages being viewing the body as a whole machines and viewing organs as interchangeable and fixable. epiBONE is making bones from cells, and various other researchers have created other body parts such as tracheas and lungs. Tandon shared with us the idea that cells can do even larger things, because they already are on a smaller scale. She spoke of cells being used to make things such as clothing (which has been done), self-repairing structures like bridges, or innovations that can harness more energy than the sun. These things are possible because cells can already repair the body and produce their own energy. All of this was fascinating, and it was really cool because, as a first year biology student, I actually understood a fair amount of what she spoke about!

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A bone engineered by epiBONE (Copyright 2013, epiBONE)

I am so grateful that the Bishop C.C. McCabe Lecture Series brought Tandon to campus to talk about science, but she also covered a broader spectrum of topics. One of the points I found most interesting was how she believes there is a symbiotic relationship between art and science, and that as the goals of science change with our society, the humanities will be dually as important as science. She emphasized the importance of looking for science, not looking at it, and that we should consider the disconnect between what scientists can do and what they should do. As an aspiring doctor, one of her simplest remarks struck me the most, saying “People first, content second,” meaning that we should focus on people’s stories and needs, trying to enhance people’s lives.

AU is well-known for having high-profile political guests such as Dick Cheney, but we also regularly have amazing people from all corners of academia, including scientists such as Nina Tandon. I’m so glad that I got to attend this talk in person and didn’t have to just use the TED website, and it gave me a lot to think about and many new books to read (as well as bragging rights that she retweeted me!).

KPU Speaker: Dick Cheney

Tonight former Vice President Dick Cheney came to speak at AU! The Kenedy Political Union brought him to campus in an event open only to a few hundred people. He spoke mostly about national security, but also a little about his personal life as well. He was a great speaker and the audience was very engaged. Peter, a fellow freshman on my floor, said it was his favorite speaker KPU has brought to campus!

He was also one of the most candid politicians I’ve ever seen speak. He was very blunt, and confronted each topic head-on. He was able to talk about serious matters like water boarding as well as crack jokes about how people compared him to Darth Vader. He was also incredibly, impressively unapologetic for controversial US policy. One thing that really stuck with me was what he had to say about wiretapping our allies, such as German chancellor Angela Merkel. His opinion on the topic was: ‘Why shouldn’t we? I think we should.’ It really made me respect him that he was willing to voice an unique opinion not found in the media.

[Pictures to come when KPU uploads them]

But the highlight of the evening was when the former Vice President and I exchanged head nods. It happened.

We’re Dancing!

The banners are up, The brackets are made. The buses are gassed up. It’s official: the American Eagle’s men’s basketball team is going to the NCAA tournament!

The road there was exciting in its own right. The Eagles began Patriot League play this season with 10 straight wins and finished the regular season 13-5 against conference teams. After hosting Colgate and Holy Cross in Patriot League quarterfinal and semifinal wins, the Eagles — and not just the players and coaches, but the spirit team and two busloads of students, too — traveled to Boston University to take on the Terriers in the PL final. Perhaps you heard what happened: We won, and we stormed the court. Winning the Patriot League meant an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

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AU sends off the team to go play in the NCAA tournament (Courtesy: AU Blue Crew)

Since then, the excitement on campus has been unmissable. “We’re Dancing” banners hang from buildings. The sign outside Bender Arena flashes “Congratulations!” We had a huge celebration on Sunday to watch the selection show, and learned that today, we’ll play second seed Wisconsin in the round of 64 in Milwaukee. And last night, a group of students boarded an AU bus and spent the night on the road to Milwaukee to face .

At 12:40 p.m. Eastern, the ball will go up in the air and the game will start. Yes, the 15-seed Eagles are the underdogs, by a lot, but we’re proud to be there, and we know our team will fight hard until the very last second. It’s just how we dance.

Snowy walks down Connecticut Avenue

One of the best parts of living in DC is re-experiencing the magic of the city when friends come to visit. In the shuffle of midterms, interning, and extracurricular activities, last weekend a friend visited from Florida, so I decided to take the day off to walk downtown with him.

After my Microeconomics class, my friend and I took the metro to Adam’s Morgan, my favorite neighborhood in DC. There, we had brunch at Open City, a delicious restaurant with plenty of DC character! Open City is the sister restaurant to Tryst, my favorite coffee shop.  (Tryst has been my off-campus library whenever I have papers to write, but need the energy of the city for inspiration).

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After we had eaten the best veggie scramblers I’ve ever had, and thoroughly eavesdropped on the bankers from the financial district at the table next to us, we started walking down Connecticut Ave. We passed Dupont Circle, serenaded the whole time by street jazz performers, and made our way past many different Embassies. When we reached Farragut North, the energy of hundreds of young professionals and interns on their lunch break reminded me why I chose to go to American University.

We kept walking, and approached an area overrun with police cars. My friend asked me what it was, and it took me awhile to realize that we were in front of the White House! There were more police cars than usual, so we decided to scope it out.  When we turned the corner onto Pennsylvania Ave, we saw a couple hundred people waving Ukrainian Flags and holding posters, all advising the president on how he should handle the crisis in Ukraine. We walked among the crowd for a couple minutes, talking to cheerful protesters, asking how they want the president to respond, and listening to the Ukrainian songs they sang as a group.

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We left when they began their march around downtown Washington, escorted by the police officers that had initially caught our attention. But before we threw in the towel and took the metro back to AU’s campus, my friend and I had a mini snowball fight on the National Mall, something two Florida natives enjoyed way too much!

As an International Relations student, walking by the Embassies, seeing so many passionate professionals, and witnessing the Ukraine protest were all great reminders of why I love Washington, AU, and my classes.  It is walks like that one through DC that help me stay focused through challenging classes and fascinating material.  As a student at AU, I’m not just studying a book, but can easily apply my class material and case studies to what is happening down the street, in the global microcosm of Washington DC.

Alternative Break Spring 2014: Nicaragua

This past week was AU’s spring break, so many students took a break and went home or on vacation. Some students took a different route and went on alternate breaks though; structured travel programs with a learning goal in mind. I was lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with 11 other students.

We traveled to The Makengue Reserve, a private plot of land in the south of the country, only 6 or 7 miles from the border of Costa Rica. Starting from DC, it took two planes, a five hour bus ride, and two boat rides to reach the place, located on the Rio San Juan. We were in the middle of the rainforest and jungle. And it was amazing. We had no cell or internet service, and the boat was the only way out. We woke up to the sound of exotic birds and fell asleep to the calls of howler monkeys.

This break was through the University College program, and differed a little from most alternative breaks in that we (the students) defined what our program goals were. We broke our group into three sub-groups of what we were most interested in working on. There was the science group, which was interested in studying all the flora and fauna we saw, the communications group, responsible for creating a documentary about the reserve, and the business group, who looked at how to make the reserve sustainable. I was in the business group, although everyone had a part in the science group’s efforts to document as much as they could.

For the main part of the week we were at the reserve, but we did have two days where we went to nearby towns on the Rio San Juan to meet local youth there. We were interested in creating a partnership between the youth and the Makengue Reserve to help meet one of the reserve’s goals: promoting environmental conservation to locals. While at the reserve we took pictures and tried to identify as much as we could. To do this we even set up a trail camera to capture animals that we couldn’t get near. We also did something called a “bio blitz”. We staked out a piece of land and then carefully went through it to identify every single plant or animal in it. Then we labeled some of them for future years’ use.

http://instagram.com/p/lm83YaDOzT/

We also spent a day and a half traveling through Granada, Masaya, and Managua (the capital). In addition to the little town squares and local statues we saw, we stopped at not one, but two active volcanoes. The first was in Masaya, where the smoke and sulfur rising from the crater was so thick that we couldn’t see more than 10 feet into it. The second was far deeper in the ground and hadn’t erupted as recently, so it was covered by a cloud forest. We saw a sloth.

Although it was only a week, I feel like we accomplished a lot. And thankfully it doesn’t end just yet. The entire group is still in contact with the owners (Becky and Rito), and are involved in putting together a new website, a social media presence, and more for the reserve.

This is the local alligator:

Interning at the Newseum

The best part about this semester has been my internship at the Newseum’s broadcast department. I started in January and I still need to pinch myself whenever I walk in the door.

Since coming to DC, the Newseum has been my favorite District museum. The first time I visited the 250,000 sq.ft. facility with 7 floors of news exhibits I spent five and a half hours there. Just a disclaimer: I may be the biggest communication nerd on the planet. Anything involving the media, news, social media or technology makes my heart sing. Add in the history aspect that the Newseum prides itself on, and I’m swooning. The office I work in conveniently is filled with people who are just as passionate as me. Naturally, when I found out I would be interning at the Newseum I was thrilled.

After taking How the News Media Shapes History  during my sophomore year at AU, I was taken with the idea that journalists, new broadcasters, publishers, editors and heads of media organizations could have a profound effect on the way events play out. The Newseum is a tribute to just that.

The first day of my internship I walked in the side entrance (even just that was a cool experience) and was shown to the broadcast department offices on the third floor. You know on the third floor there is a glass wall exposing the main control room for the Newseum’s screens and exhibits? The broadcast offices are behind there. There are about 20 staff members who work in the office including the VP of Broadcasting, graphic designers, video editors, producers, production administrators and then there’s me. It’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such amazing and accomplished people. It’s an inspiration considering I’m still navigating the world of communication.

I was given a quick tour of the department and shown the offices, editing suites, master controls and studios that are used by Al Jazeera: America for filming.

I'm obsessed with this view. And frequently resist the urge to Instagram it every single day.

I’m obsessed with this view. And frequently resist the urge to Instagram it every single day.

The first project I worked on for the Newseum was researching information and potential interviewees for a documentary project about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Coming into the project I really had a very limited knowledge about the Berlin Wall, but by the end of my first day I had scoured the Newseum, their archives and anything I could find on the internet to learn as much as I could. Instead of looking at newspaper archives on a screen, I went and saw them in person in the Newseum’s exhibits. Instead of googling what the Berlin Wall looked like, I went to the concourse level to see 8 intact pieces and a watch tower from the original Wall.

Currently, I’m working on a TV project that will chronicle a variety of events in American history. I was first assigned to research as much as possible about the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After doing 8 straight hours of research I could barely take my eyes off the screen. I was so intrigued by the whole event that I couldn’t get it off my mind for the longest time. I’m actually still holding a grudge against John Wilkes Booth for the event that happened almost 150 years ago.

I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity I have through the SOC Dean’s Internship Program and am incredibly happy I have this opportunity of a lifetime.

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