Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#WinterOrangeCrew: Igloos

Season’s greetings from the #WinterOrangeCrew! We are a small group of Macalester students united by one mission: to bring you a snapshot of how to beat the cold and have a blast in the midst of Minnesota’s deep freeze. Keep checking the blog and our Instagram (@macalesterorange) over the next few weeks and follow our excursions to a variety of events, both on campus and throughout the Twin Cities.

This week, we decided to start our adventures right here on campus and take advantage of a classic Macalester tradition: the winter igloos!

Clockwise: Dan, Ben, Rebecca, Mo, and Max
Every year, students are greeted by these festive hangouts when they return from winter holidays. They are hand-crafted and built to last. Most of them remain on our lawns in the Spring long after the snow around them has melted.

Although the igloos themselves are a Macalester staple, the team of artists typically rotates from one year to the next. When I was a first-year, a Class of 2016 student built a monstrous four-foot tall cave all by himself, right in the middle of the residential quad. This year’s iterations are more modest, built by the budding architects at Laura Jeffrey Academy, the middle school on the corner of campus. But what they lack in size, they certainly make up for in number and atmosphere. The kids built a small village of them on Old Main Lawn, embellished with decorative twigs and pine cones, a huge snowball door, and even a driveway.

We had a whole bunch of fun with our first event and are very much looking forward to our next adventure in the Cities. Catch all the excitement of the #WinterOrangeCrew right here on The Orange blog, we’ll keep you posted! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go nap in my new favorite residence hall.

Dan K. ‘17
Chicago, IL

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finding Home on Study Abroad

The night before my flight to Italy, I stood in the kitchen as my brother stirred pasta sauce on the stove and said, “What if I just don’t go?” 

My suitcase waited by the front door; it contained clothes and toiletries to last six months. I had changed my debit card’s pin number to withdraw from European ATMs. My backpack contained an English-to-Italian dictionary and a London travel guide.

“What do you mean?” My brother said, but his tone remained flat and unsurprised. I listed off my concerns: foreign language, unfamiliar people, multiple opportunities for getting lost, robbed, and humiliated. “Well,” he said. “You could stay here. But what would you do? You’d have to find a job if it’s too late to take classes at Macalester. All the preparations have been made for your program. You might as well go. And if you get too homesick, nothing would stop you from coming home—it’d be expensive, but you could do it.”

Me and Heather Johansen (also a senior at Mac) at a vineyard in Tuscany!

I felt like I was standing on the precipice of adulthood. No one was telling me what to do, all the choices were my own, and that terrified me. It was nearly a year ago that I stood in the kitchen with my brother, nearly a year ago that I wished to renounce adulthood, nearly a year ago when I would have settled for the familiar—my brother’s pasta sauce and the icy Minnesota winter—over what waited for me across the ocean. 
Me and some friends from my program on a spring break trip to Howth, a town close to Dublin on the coast of Ireland (it was windy).

What I did not understand a year ago was that no one can prepare you for study abroad. For me, the spontaneity, adventure, and discovery were the best parts. There were many things I learned abroad: that worrying is useless, that asking strangers for directions is okay, that people can surprise you, and that I was lucky for the opportunity to travel, because too often, life becomes routine.
Me in Vienna

None of these realizations happened right away. I dreaded the awkwardness of living with a host family; I feared making a fool of myself at the dinner table and speaking in painfully slow Italian. But I soon loved my host family. I loved that my host mom pronounced my name “Alessandra,” that we lingered at the table after dessert, and that my halting Italian delighted them.

Me in Venice

I think of my time abroad as I do my time at Macalester; it changed me, and it did not happen overnight. I said earlier that no one can prepare you for study abroad, and I meant “prepare” in a literal sense. At the time, I wanted a list of things that would and would not happen; I wanted exactness. I wanted a crystal ball. But my time at Macalester did prepare me for study abroad. It made the world more immediate, more tangible. It improved my writing, made me better informed, gave me the opportunity to engage with people of different backgrounds and viewpoints of my own. It made me open to new experiences. 

Me on top of the Duomo in Florence

My Florence classes revolved around visiting cultural landmarks such as Renaissance churches and museums and learning the Italian language. In London, we took walking tours of the city by day and attended theater productions by night. For those four months, my primary responsibilities consisted of traveling to new countries to learn as much as I could about the culture. When again will this be true? Does such an opportunity exist after college?

My friends and I wandered the streets of Florence for hours. We explored the markets, tried new gelato places, and discovered rugby matches and chocolate festivals. I stopped relying on Google Maps. I stopped looking at street names and stumbling on the cobblestone. Street vendors stopped calling out to me. I stopped thinking of myself as a tourist. 

My Italian host parents, Nino and Gabriella!

When my roommates and I returned from a whirlwind program trip to Venice, our host mom Gabriella served us spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil and said, “Now, you relax. You are home.”

Alexandra McLaughlin ’16

Rosemount, MN

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Faces at Mac: Admissions Office Edition V2

 The Admission Office has just finished the Early Decision I round. Later this week, we will welcome the EDI admits to the Mac community. Go #mac2020!

There are more Admissions staff members to meet! Check out our first installation of Faces at Mac: Admissions Office Edition V2.

Manager of Enrollment Systems
I oversee the systems for admissions and financial aid -- so everything technology related.
Fun Fact: I play the trombone in a local band and enjoy snowboarding!


Associate Director of Admissions
I work with students from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Michigan, and a few Minneapolis schools. I work with our 450-500 alumni admissions volunteers who do interviews and represent Macalester at some college fairs. I work with my colleague Jane to arrange alumni interviews when students request them. Also, I work with transfer students through their application process.
Fun Fact: My favorite hobby is photography, and I do that as much as I can. My favorite subject is my three-year-old son!

Associate Director of Admissions

As one of the Admissions staff who've been around the longest I've had a chance to do lots of different jobs within the office, but probably my favorite has been working with our Senior Admissions Interns.  Their devotion to the College and to the prospective students they work with is awesome, and their passion for their academic pursuits and the activities they are involved inspires me.  I'm originally from the Chicago area, so it's wonderful to return there every year as part of my travel territory; terrible traffic, great restaurants!  I also get to visit schools in St Paul and the surrounding suburbs that I love.

Fun Fact: I decided to embrace the Minnesota life and went dogsledding a few years ago.  It was the best time -- that is after we fell out of the sled, chased down the dogs, got everything hooked up again and got back on the trail!

International Admissions Assistant
I assist International Admissions Director, Steve Colee, with international applications. Fun Fact: I race sailboats and love to sail on the St. Croix River.


Assistant Director of Admissions
In the admissions office, I work with students from the Pacific Northwest and international students. I picked up an affinity for numbers, so I’m the office geek. I don’t actually work with any student workers because I just sit in my office working on numbers all day. Also, I run our student search, so I’m the one who thought you might be interested in receiving information from Mac. Fun Fact: I’m a huge soccer fan and supporter of the local Twin Cities team. Also, I did sketch comedy in college!

Executive Assistant to the Dean of Admissions

I’m the executive assistant to the Dean of Admissions.
Fun Fact: I am the keeper of the candy bowl in admissions!


Director of Admissions
I am the person who supervises and works with the entire counseling staff. I direct the recruitment and selection process and other duties as assigned.
Fun Fact: I enjoy reading and successfully finished the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

Data Entry
When you submit a cred for your app (that's Admissions speak for credential and application), I process and make sure it gets in your record.  Or if you have visited a college fair and said you were interested in Mac, I process your information card. 
Fun Fact: When not at Mac, I'm on my bike riding on one of the billions of cool trails in the Twin Cities.

Assistant Dean of Admissions
I take blank pieces of paper and make publications and other stuff.
Fun Fact: When I graduated from Macalester I taught school in Tehran, before the revolution. What will your adventure be?


Assistant Director of Admissions
I work with US students from Iowa, Nebraska, and St. Louis and international students. I create and send all of the emails to prospective students (please read them!). I work with Nancy Mackenzie on communications projects and oversee all admissions social media.
Fun Fact: My favorite place in Minnesota is the North Shore.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Faces at Mac: Admissions Office Edition V1

As a senior admissions intern, one of my main roles is to interview prospective students when they visit campus. In my free time, I decided to turn the tables and interview the admissions staff. I asked them the same hard hitting questions students have come to expect from us like what do you do in the admissions office? And do you have a hobby or fun fact? 

Now you can get to know who are these people answering your questions, visiting your high schools, and sending you mail!


Associate Director of Admissions
I oversee multicultural recruitment for underrepresented populations in the college. I also travel to and read applications from Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

Fun Fact: One of my favorite things about the Twin Cities it the theater scene and the variety. One of my favorite theaters is the Guthrie in Minneapolis -- it has a great view, hot chocolate, and, of course, theater! 


Mailings Manager
I make sure all the paper communications are going out properly.  Also, I import data (like test scores) and oversee the data integrity in our system. Finally, I assist with the Transfer application process and PSEO program in Admissions.

Fun Fact: the local music scene is amazing, and I love going to shows around town.


Admissions Officer
I recruit for, represent, and generally serve as a cheerleader for Mac. I manage the tour guiding and overnight visit programs, so I make sure that students get a good picture of Macalester as soon as they step on campus.

Fun Fact: Once I accidentally sang with the full Cornell glee club (and I’m a terrible singer)!

Operations Manager 
I oversee general operations of the admissions office. When you submit application materials, we make sure they get in your file. When you call in our team is answering the phone.

Fun Fact: I absolutely love to sew, especially quilting and reupholstering furniture. Much of my sewing is linked to my obsession with interior design!


Phone and Email Receptionist 
I’m your first contact. When you call or email, I’m your girl!

Fun Fact: I love taking photos of Mac in the fall!


Associate Director of Admissions
I travel to New England and to the West suburbs of Minneapolis to visit students. I coordinate our large visit programming like the fall and spring sampler and enjoy the experience of interacting both with students in the fall and spring as they move through the process. I love to create programing that reflects a genuine Macalester and reinforces our mission statement and distinctiveness.

Fun Fact: I love food and cooking. A favorite dish for the fall-- vegetarian roasted and stuffed acorn squash with all of the ingredients from the local farmer’s market.


Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
As dean of admissions, it seems like I go to a lot of meetings about everything that our office does.  But I also travel quite a bit in the East (New York), the West (Arizona, California, New Mexico), and the Middle (Kansas City).  And I represent Mac at group travel programs all over the U.S.  I also personally review a thousand or more applications every admissions cycle.  And, did I mention there are meetings?

Fun Fact: As a Kansas City native who played two sports through college, I'm an avid K.C. Royals fan, making this year's World Series especially satisfying!

Visit Host and Lobby Receptionist
I like to think of my job as sitting in the college "living room," welcoming visitors to campus and hopefully helping them to feel at home during their time here. I provide guests with their visit details, help them know where to be and when, and assist them in connecting with the wonderful resources and people in our Mac community.

I really enjoy meeting prospective students and their families from all over the U.S. and around the world. I love getting to know our students, including our volunteer tour guides, hosts, and our amazing Admissions student employees.  And I make a lot of coffee!

Fun Fact: I recently joined Instagram at the prompting of two of my favorite Mac students, who are also responsible for my username: macmama1874 (perhaps for my propensity to "adopt" so many beloved students!).

Director of International Admissions
I have worked in the Macalester Admissions Office for more years than I care to remember and for the past four or five years I have been coordinating our international recruitment and selection process. This involves many, many, many hours on planes, trains, and taxis, but the payoff is that I have the opportunity to meet so many extraordinary young people.

Fun fact: I grew up in Puerto Rico and before moving to Minnesota Twin Cities I lived in California and Florida. Moving from the tropics to the tundra was not easy at first but I now love living in the Twin Cities.

More to come next week! 

Jenny Hunken ’16

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

DML: An(Other) Story Circle: Feminisms & Religion

On October 20, 2015, the Department of Multicultural Life (Staff is pictured) hosted our first An(Other) Story Circle program for the semester in collaboration with the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life(CRSL).
An(Other) Story Circle is a once-a-semester program where a group of community members are asked to share their experiences, or stories, with the campus community around a particular theme on identity, self, and society. The Story Circle program aspires to encourage the Macalester community to talk across difference and get to know each other through sharing personal narratives. This semester our topic was Feminisms and Religion and we invited four story-sharers who are passionate about their identities as feminists and how that relates to their religion and spirituality.

Set in the beautiful lower level space of Weyerhaeuser Chapel, nearly 30 participants attended the event over the lunch hour munching on sandwiches from Jimmy John’s. Chaplain Kelly Stone welcomed everyone to the space, followed by an overview of the program and community guidelines by the DML student staff organizers. Our four story sharers were a nice mix of students, faculty, and staff across multiple faith backgrounds: our very own Afifa Benwahoud, coordinator of the DML; Rachel Fogel ’16; Gao Thor ’18; and Lin Aanonsen, Professor of Biology. They each shared thoughtful and quite moving stories, and tears might have been shed. Afterwards, the room divided into small groups of four to reflect on the stories, resonance, and own relationships with faith and feminism through some guided questions. The event was a success and a beautiful collaboration with the CRSL. We hope to work with them more in the future.
Jinath Tasnim '16

LEARN MORE about the Department of Multicultural Life!