October 26, 2009 - 12:50 PM
So, this is kind of a sporadic post right now, but I think it's really interesting. I'm sitting in the EMU Fishbowl right now as I usually do on Monday and Wednesdays for lunch between classes. I like the EMU because I'm guaranteed to either run into a few friends or at the bare minimum enjoy some solid people watching time. This afternoon, I was lucky enough to pick a seat next to one of the more interesting groups I've seen on campus.
There were four students sitting next to me who were - based on their lunchtime conversation - from Japan, Spain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. I admit, I kind of peeped on their conversation, but it was with the best intentions. I sat down just in to time hear them go around the table teaching each other how to count to ten in their respective languages. "Ichi, ni, san, shi....." "Raz, dva, tree, cheteeree......" (these are just the phonetic version of the Russian words). And surprisingly, they all had some informal knowledge of Spanish, so "Unos, dos, tres, cuatro...." was fairly simple for everyone.
The Saudia Arabian student admitted that he has never had sushi, and didn't really like fish, to which the Japanese student was flabbergasted. He almost felt betrayed by his friend, but then promised to take him to Sakura, the sushi restaurant on 13th Street, which he said was pretty authentic all things considered. I was pleasantly surprised by that because I consider myself someone of a connoisseur on fine sushi, and Sakura is by far my favorite fix in Eugene. Anyway, they headed off for their respective classes and I was irritated with myself that I hadn't arrived earlier. But it begs, the question. Is Eugene a hidden melting pot?
I don't want to get ahead of myself because it's fairly obvious that the Pacific Northwest is not one of the more diverse places in America. But that doesn't mean that international students aren't welcome here. Having worked as a campus tour guide and a multi-cultural recruiter for the university last year, I can tell you that students that self-identify as students of color represent about 15% of the student body and we have anywhere from 1,300 - 1,500 international students at the UO at any time during the year. That's pretty good if you ask me.
All-in-all, I bet that these types of interactions between international students happen pretty often. And I know that the American English Institute works with International Affairs in hiring Oregon students as English tutors for international students. That makes me proud to say I go to the U of O.
If there's one thing I've learned during my time here, it's that those students that don't pursue a foreign language or, at least, a general knowledge of culture and lifestyles abroad, is doing a disservice to themselves. We live in a globalizing world, so we need to start teaching future generations that America is not the center of the universe.
October 25, 2009 - 5:26 PM
Big news this week coming out of the Environmental Studies department, you're looking at the newest member of the Climate Equity Team in the Environmental Leadership Program. I never had too many doubts about being accepted or anything because pretty much anyone that expresses a concerted effort in the program gets in, but it's nice to make it official. And I'm really, really excited about the rest of the year.
First of all, let me explain the ELP briefly. We have a few different projects in environmental education and mapping/monitoring like Canopy Connections, Wonderful Wetlands, the X-Stream Team or Turtle Monitoring Team. Each team is lead by a graduate student and made of 5-6 undergrads. Being an Environmental Studies major, as opposed to Environmental Science, I'm interested in working on one of the environmental education teams. But the odd thing is that I've been looking forward to joining the ELP since freshman year, but I never really found a team that really stuck out for me. As the fates would have it, we just opened a new team this year, called the Climate Equity Team, that is PERFECT!
We're going to focus our education and actions around the connection between climate change and the amount of carbon emissions resulting from traveling and transportation. So, we're working with five local schools to teach about global warming and helping students perform transportation audits to reduce their own carbon footprint at home on their way to school. We'll ask them things like how they get to school. Are they close enough to walk? Are there bike lanes or bike racks near their school? We're going to be working with Safe Routes to School, which is a great program that focuses on making it possible for students to ride their bicycles to school because it's better for the environment and it promotes physical activity, which is hard for a lot of students to get enough of nowadays. I'm really interested in transportation planning and I enjoy teaching and working with kids a lot, so like I said, this team is pretty much perfect for me. Hopefully I'll learn some good skills that I can put to use for a career after I graduate.
There's a link to the Environmental Leadership Program on the side of my blog if anyone is interested in learning more. Hopefully after this year is over, I'll be in some of those videos as well.
On a separate note........how ‘bout them Ducks, huh? Our football team is on a role and next Saturday (ie - Halloween) ESPN Gameday is coming to Eugene for the Pac-10 heavyweight showdown between the #4 USC Trojans and your #10 Oregon Ducks. It's going to be a crazy night to say the least. Be sure to tune, I'll be one of the 60,000 strong at Autzen Stadium. Which reminds me, I need to log in to get my student ticket right now.
Peace, love and Oregon Football.
October 21, 2009 - 12:30 PM
It's a pretty well-known and undisputed fact that there is always something going on or something to do on campus and today is no exception. Today, we had the annual Sustainability Fair in the EMU breezeway. It's one of my favorite mini-events not only because it's awesome that we have so many clubs and organizations that focus their efforts around raising awareness and fostering environmental stewardship, but also because you are guaranteed to walk away with some really cool stuff. I know, it sounds pretty shallow, but in the words of my PPPM professor, "You'd be amazed to find out what people will do for a cool t-shirt!" The good thing for me is that I wanted to sign up for all of this stuff before hand; the t-shirt was a bonus.
First, I signed up to attend the Powershift West 2009 conference, which will be held on the UO campus on November 6th, 7th and 8th. We've invited a bunch of different speakers to raise awareness about the necessity to shift our energy economy from the current, dirty fossil fuel based methods, and start building infrastructure for cleaner, renewable energies like wind, solar, geothermal etc. Got a free t-shirt (the green one that some of the people are wearing in the pictures above), some cool stickers and a button. Plus, it's just $10 for students. That includes breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.
Next, I headed over to the water table where I was quizzed on the amount of water bottles used in America, and I only took a taste test to see if I could tell the difference between bottled water and tap water. Did you know that less than 20% of all water bottles are recycled in America? Or how about the fact that it takes 3 times more water to make the plastic water bottle than there is water in the bottle? I got the first one right, but biffed on the second. On the taste test, I really could tell difference though. You could taste the plastic from the bottle water. That really got to me.
After that I picked up a free water canteen that had a sticker saying "Think before you drink. Go REFILLABLE!" I grabbed a few more stickers and a CFL light bulb. Not a bad day if you ask me. I snagged a few pictures so take a look for yourselves.
But now, I've got to read some Chinese Lit and an article on Environmental Justice before my next class. There's a speaker coming for a "Fireside Chat" on global warming tonight, so I'd like to be able to make it to that. We'll see how the homework situation goes, though.
October 18, 2009 - 8:41 PM
This being a bye week for the Oregon Football team, I expected life to be pretty mellow in Eugene this weekend, so I decided it might be time for a trip up to Portland to visit my aunt and uncle. It's really nice having a big city like Portland only a couple hours away so if you want to get away from college life you can always do that. Truth be told, I had plans of writing about some cool trip or something fun that my cousins and I did over the weekend, but the majority of the fun happened on the bus ride up. I told my roommates that I was taking the Greyhound; they were all shocked that I would dare do such a thing. But in my experience, Greyhound doesn't do some things that a bus company should be able to - getting you to your destination on time, for example - but there is one area that Greyhound will never let you down. Riding on the Greyhound is like watching any TV sitcom or a Broadway play depending on your fellow riders. In other words, you will always have a story to tell when you step off the bus.
Friday afternoon, I hopped on the bus at 4pm. After everyone got settled into their seats, the bus driver, wearing a spectacular charcoal vest and pant combo, came over the microphone to say, "I'll be right back folks, I need to go grab a sandwich before we take off because I haven't eaten since this morning! [chuckle, chuckle]" At that point I thought to myself, "this is going to be a long trip." In the end, we left at around 4:15. Not bad considering my return trip left about 35 minutes later than scheduled.
The next festivities began around Corvallis, when a quintessential Fraternity bro sat down next to a girl and harmlessly started to strike up a conversation. I found it a little odd, but nothing out of the ordinary given the circumstances. For the following hour and a half, I had a front row seat to the most shameless attempt of one man trying to hit on a girl in the history of courtship. I hear their entire life stories. Her name is Megan and she's freshman that just rushed Chi Omega. She seemed to be very excited about her new sorority sisters. He's a junior Sigma Chi and works at the UO Rec Center. They covered everything from Greek life, to taking classes under pass/no pass. It's not just the fact that the volume of the conversation kept me from napping that irritated me. It was also the fact you could tell that the girl wanted nothing to do with this guy. So, I eventually just felt bad for her, as she could do nothing more than just sit there and nod her head. I was embarrassed on behalf of men after a while.
I could also go into detail about the lady with leopard spots tattooed on her shoulders that needed a smoke break during our rests in Corvallis and Salem. And of course, how could I forget about the toothless attendant that wanted to have a sharpie battle with his assistant at Eugene station. But I think it's better to stop when you're ahead. Let's just say I was incredibly happy to find out that my friend, Jessica, was incidentally on the same bus up to Portland. So, I had one sane person to talk to.
The moral of this story: It's always nice to get out of Eugene every once in awhile. It makes coming back that much better. But check to see if there are any Amtrak trains before you resort back to the Greyhound.
October 14, 2009 - 7:00 PM
If there's one piece of advice I could give to prospective students and incoming freshman, it's the following: learn to manage your time well, because that is an invaluable skill in college. There are so many things you have to juggle while being a college student, so learning those skills early will really benefit you in the long run. I'm not trying to boast or anything, but I was fortunate to graduate from a high school that stressed the importance of time management. We probably had a workshop on it once a year, and our homework load was pretty large to begin with so we we're always unconsciously testing our skills. Now that I'm in college I'm very appreciative of what my high school prepared me for. I'm going to take you through my week so far to act as sort of a case study in time management.
Sunday night, I finished up a take-home test for PPPM 325, which I'd started last week. It was only three questions covering two readings and movie we'd watched in class. I knew that I would spend less time on the test if I'd answered the questions right after the movie and after finishing the readings, so I only needed to read the article for Monday's class and answer that final question on Sunday night.
Then I realized that the application to become a Planning, Public Policy & Management major was due Wednesday afternoon. I could have put it off until Tuesday night, but I remembered that the undergrad advisor for PPPM had her office hours on Monday. So, I put off reading my Chinese Lit homework until Monday afternoon before class and I stayed up a little later than I would have preferred to finish writing my personal statement for the PPPM application. That way I was able to bring it into Emily, my future advisor (fingers crossed), to proof read. She also pointed out some things I needed to fix on my application, which I'd overlooked, which was much appreciated. Then, it was off to read Chinese Lit before class at 2 o'clock.
Monday night, I finished revising my application and then had to write a response for my Environmental Justice class and finish a project for my Landscape Architecture class. These classes we're until 2pm and 4pm respectively on Tuesday, but I was giving a nature tour at Mount Pisgah in the morning, which meant I had to get them done that night. Also, I looked ahead at the forecast and saw that I was probably going to rain on Tuesday, so I caught my roommate before he went to bed so see if I could borrow his car. Thankfully, he obliged. That made life so much easier, and I'm sure my immune system was happy as well.
Tuesday night, I wrote a quick PPPM paper due today. You might be noticing that my week has been a little paper-heavy so Tuesday night I made some time to relax with my roommates over a game of Ken Griffey Jr's Major League Baseball. It sounds silly to you I'm sure, but all work and no play makes Trafton a dull boy.
One mistake I made, however, in my planning happened today. I'm heading up to Portland on Friday to visit my aunt and uncle. I have a Chinese Lit discussion until 4pm on Friday, but I really wanted to make it on the 4pm Greyhound. I thought I was in the right, by asking my GTF if I could attend today's discussion section instead, but I forgot that I had work this afternoon. It was too late to change any plans, so I headed to work and I'll have to go to Friday's discussion section and catch a later bus out of Eugene. Sad day.
I'll admit, I live a very active lifestyle sometimes, but I don't want to give that up. There are a whole lot of opportunities when you're a student at the U of O. I have the opportunity to volunteer at Pisgah, work at Facility Services, apply to double major in PPPM and Environmental Studies all while taking 16 credits worth of class. It gets pretty hectic at times, but I would rather learn how to manage my activities so I get the most out my college experience than make excuses about how I don't have enough time to do them. Makes sense to me.