Princeton Traveler. | Web Story. | September 30, 2015.
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself."
Amelia Earhart knew that "adventure" is a verb, and that adventuring is itself enough.
As I left Princeton, I steadied myself for my journey: I planned to enroll in an intermediate-level German course at the Freie Universität Berlin, and then use my language skills to facilitate my work as a genealogist’s research assistant, where I translate and transcribe the family histories of German and Polish Jews. Besides awaking 45 minutes late, dousing myself in hot steam (due to an improperly set espresso machine), losing my way and asking for directions (twice), and ripping my new white dress, my first day at my summer course was a success. The afternoon's placement exam set me at one level above my initial plan, and the following four weeks turned into a rigorous schedule of daily homework assignments, weekly writing assignments, two essays, two oral presentations, a large group project, and two exams. The experience was incredibly immersive, as I worked hard to make every word from my mouth be a German one. The course was a challenge, and I knew that it was exactly where I needed to be.
It was not only the six hours in the classroom every weekday that transformed my German. Thanks to the torrent of chatter in the U-Bahn (Berlin's subway), the talkative passerby in smart footwear and leather bags, and the Wurst and Döner vendors shouting on the street, I learned the language through experience, through osmosis. In a city as busy as Berlin, I learned to speak quickly, and firmly, and loudly — through living there, my fluency became stronger, and more confident.
The Working Poor Works
The Princeton Progressive. | Print Story. | April 23, 2007.
"The first problem is failure to see the people," David K. Shipler announces early in his book The Working Poor: Invisible in America (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).
In a move unusual for liberal tomes of its ilk, it actually proposes solutions to the problem of poverty. Shipler fearlessly calls for us to look at what the "working poor" are, give some thought to it, and choose a term that's more appropriate. On his title, Shipler claims: "Working poor should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America."
Shipler's message bends backward even before it gets to us: indeed, it is the way it travels that makes our impression hazy. I purchased his packet of pages sold at the Princeton University bookstore for around $13, half a week's worth of lunches at McDonald's. This budget is contingent upon the assumption that "the [working] poor" are frugal and use the Dollar Menu, a move that Shipler wouldn't necessarily make himself. "They don't have milk, but they do have cable," sighs Brenda St. Lawrence, a caseworker featured a few times in Shipler's text. Evidently the poor don't follow Malthusian Theory: instead of scaling up the pyramid, they take the elevator a few floors and complain about their aching legs - or their backs, as Willie, the construction worker husband of Sarah, legitimately discovered. Misplaced priorities plague the young couple: they own a stack of CDs but no clothes for the baby. "We'd put ourselves poor," Willie echoed, "but I know if we were smart people, we could be really well off…I guess it's easier to make life easier by doing something that costs money…It's our own fault. I'm not blaming it on anyone else."
As I flip out a pair of jeans from the dryer, a soggy piece of plastic falls to the floor. The letter "Z" was barely visible in a twisted scrawl and what used to be two "O"s now crumpled into a shape similar to the squared-off rims of a hipster's glasses. This is, or rather was, my membership card to my hometown zoo. Warped and jaded, the card hasn't survived a spin cycle, and replacing it won't be easy.
A quick Google search, and I'm on my way: Catskill Game Farm. "Finally, something that will remind me of home," I thought. In addition to the average farm fare of goats and sheep, though, "exotic" animals are also featured: crocodiles, snakes, zebras, giraffes. "2000 animals in 150 different species," a blurb boasts. But an Aug. 4 article warns that the zoo will soon close.
As an undergraduate, Sally Frank '80 took politics to the street, campaigning door-to-door for Democratic candidates. Her political work also extended to a different sort of Street.
During her sophomore and junior years, Frank translated her personal Bicker experiences to a legal suit citing sex-based discrimination against three of Princeton's eating clubs: Ivy Club, Tiger Inn and University Cottage Club. T.I. was the last to concede, and did so in 1992 only after the U.S. Supreme Court twice refused to hear the case. Cottage and Ivy allowed women to join in 1986 and 1990, respectively.
Frank was also active in more traditional politics. She worked for the College Democrats in the presidential election of '76, supporting Jimmy Carter's campaign. She remembers "going to the Jerry Ford rally and heckling," and even met one of Carter's sons.
J. Alex Halderman & Ariel Feldman - The Tale of the Corruptible Electronic Voting Machine
We all remember the butterfly ballots, the hanging chads. The "2000 election debacle," as J. Alex Halderman GS calls it, filled the headlines with controversy.
But for this Ph.D. candidate in the computer science department, working with fellow graduate student Ariel Feldman under computer science professor Ed Felten, it inspired a study that might just change the direction of midterm elections this year. The results of this study caused an uproar when they were released in September, and these two students show no signs of slowing down.
"We were motivated by the belief that computer systems that play such an important role in our democracy should be subjected to independent, expert security analysis," Feldman said.
Lester Mackey '07: A Prismatic Perspective on Campus Diversity
Most of the time, the word "race" is the precursor to an awkward pause. It takes a rare student like Lester Mackey '07 to get beyond that discomfort and delve into the meat of the issue.
As a senior staff member of The Prism, the only magazine on campus focusing on "diversity," Mackey finds himself with a unique forum. Over his three years at Princeton, though, he has come to realize that it's no easy task.
With the tag "Dialogue. Diversity. Difference...," The Prism is re-surging this fall in large part due to Mackey's brainstorming sessions with editor Aita Amaize '07 this past summer.
Mackey, who is black, said he thought about race "not much at all" during his adolescence. Yet, at his public high school in Long Island, Mackey said "segregation by geography" based on "patches of black, Hispanic, and white communities" created a "very interesting mix, both racially and economically."
The move to Princeton, Mackey admits, was a bit of a culture shock.
One Tuesday night in October 2003, I walked into a downtown Des Moines coffee shop with plans for homework and tea. Settling with an AP Music Theory workbook at a dinky table, my ears caught a shout from a microphone ten feet away.
My head shot up in surprise, and I saw that the sound came from a woman on stage. Her voice bent backward, twisted, then broke into a swift riff of sound. With a visage like a wrung towel, she sighed and contorted her body through gesticulations, her arms winding like twin serpents to the rhythm of a rant. Her voice dropped slowly and slipped back into the coffee shop white noise. With a small nod, she stepped off the stage, returning to the 30 tiny tables filled with spectators — myself now included.
Allured by the novel wordplay, I watched the show with big ears and a goofy grin. An MC took the stage and thanked the poet. When the MC asked the audience to rate the poem, five audience members lifted dry-erase scoreboards into the air, the crowd cheering at three perfect 10s.