Just Leap http://justleap.net A Travel Blog. en-us Tue, 21 Nov 2017 07:09:01 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Speed Reading http://justleap.net/speed-reading These past few weeks at college reminded me about a useful tool I discovered in high school, and I thought I might share information about the tool since it has been coming up in conversation so often. The post comes from Tim Ferriss' Blog, and for simplicity's sake, I w]]>

These past few weeks at college reminded me about a useful tool I discovered in high school, and I thought I might share information about the tool since it has been coming up in conversation so often.

The post comes from Tim Ferriss' Blog, and for simplicity's sake, I would recommend you go read the article over on his site: Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes

Once you've read that article, you are probably intrigued but still a bit skeptical about the efficacy of this method. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it works. I don't remember exactly by how much the method improved my speed, but I definitely notice a difference between the times I use the technique and those when I do not. Although I don't often use this method for novels, as it somewhat takes the fun out of reading, and does not completely allow you to savor a book in the same way as normal reading does, the method has proved invaluable when reading academic works. I used the method in all of my AP classes back in high school, and it never seemed to fail. So far, it worked well in college too, however I haven't been using it that often, since the books I have been required to read are mostly so enjoyable I prefer to savor them.

From a practical standpoint, reading three times faster may be extremely useful, however it does draw into question the pace at which we choose to live our life. Although optimizing the systems we use to work towards our goals is often a necessary step towards success, sometimes it can be better to just take a step back and savor the moment. Perhaps the time saved by reading faster is useful, but what about the time saved by walking at a faster pace to class? or eating meals faster? At some point, this tendency to speed through life has to stop, or you face the risk of burn out and many other unhealthy side effects.

Personally, I struggle with always feeling like I need to bike as fast as possible when going somewhere on campus. I'm not sure if this feeling arises from only biking as a means of sport for the majority of my life, or if it has to do with my tightly packed schedule, but either way, I can often use a reminder to slow down and just enjoy the brisk Chicago wind or the sun shining on the main quadrangles.

Regardless, I hope the Tim Ferriss article can help you in some way. Feel free to pass this post or his guide along to a friend. I was actually surprised to find out that no one else here knew about it, since it seems like it would be really useful for academics, and also since Tim went to Princeton, I thought his work would be popular among Ivy-Leaguers and the like. Guess it just goes to show that even some useful method you might utilize that seems obvious could turn out to be quite unique, and it's probably worth it to try and share it with your friends in the hope that it might help. Feel free to leave descriptions of any such systems in the comments below!

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Photo is of the D'Angelo Law Library at the University of Chicago. It has been a really convenient place to study since it lies between my dorm and the dining hall, and possesses quite unique architecture.

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Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/speed-reading
A November Wardrobe Challenge http://justleap.net/november-wardrobe-challenge Starting on Wednesday November 1st, 2017, I am going to be wearing clothes only from a carefully selected group of 24 articles for the duration of the month. This experiment was inspired by the Wool & Prince Founder's own experiments such as wearing the same shirt fo]]>

Starting on Wednesday November 1st, 2017, I am going to be wearing clothes only from a carefully selected group of 24 articles for the duration of the month. This experiment was inspired by the Wool & Prince Founder's own experiments such as wearing the same shirt for 100 days straight. For my experiment, I limited the selection to what would fit in my backpack.

To begin, a bit about why I'm doing this experiment:

Ultimately, it is a goal of mine to travel the world with only this backpack in tow, working remotely from my computer for some extended period of time (1 year - ???). This will involve only having one article of clothing from each category (i.e. button down, t-shirt, pants, etc.) and keeping physical possessions to a minimum. After traveling close to this style last summer, I began to question why I need so many more clothes at home, when not traveling. This really became apparent when packing for college and I realized that a person (me) who tries to lean towards a minimalist lifestyle still had more things than would fit in the car.

I think that after traveling even more in this manner I will be inclined to get rid of all my clothes except for the ones I travel with, but that day hasn't come just yet. Another possible benefit is less time spent in the morning trying to pick out a matching outfit. I know this is something people often tell me I struggle with, and I'm hoping reducing the amount of choices will improve the outcome. Lastly, I like fun challenges like these, I'm not quite sure why but they tend to get me excited about all the possibilities that life has to offer beyond what society deems as normal.

When choosing the items I was looking for articles that could be functional in multiple situations, could be worn multiple times, and would keep me warm in the cold Chicago weather.

So, here's a list of everything that fit in my Minaal Daily (21L):

1 x Rain Jacket

1 x Down Jacket

2 x Bluffworks Chinos (Khaki & Charcoal)

1 x Scarf

3 x short wool socks

3 x long wool socks

1 x gloves

1 x hat

2 x t-shirt (one wool, one cotton)

3 x boxers

2 x button downs (one wool, one cotton)

1 x athletic tee

1 x athletic shorts

1 x sweatpants

1 x light wool jacket

These are all the clothes that fit in my bag. I'm a bit nervous as to their efficacy in the cold wind of Chicago, but I'm hoping with lots of layers I'll stay warm.

Exceptions: I will be wearing a suit to the opera and to my carillon audition. I also did not count one bath robe, bath towels, wash cloths, or shoes. Additionally, I will be able to schedule one exception, as long as I put it on my calendar a week in advance, and I will be able to make one more exception with no strings attached.

If this is something you are interested in, I encourage you to join me in this challenge! Feel free to pick more clothes than I did or even less if you are up to the challenge. The point is just to see what we really need in order to feel like we can have multiple outfits while meeting the needs of our environment. I've already travelled with significantly fewer clothes than this, but I think this might be an effective way to find a happy medium.

Challenges like this can be a fun way to try a new lifestyle or activity for a limited timespan in order to see what it is like. Committing to something for life is often intimidating. However, I think anyone with some level of interest can commit for a single month.

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Photo is of my Minaal stuffed full of November's clothes. If there are any challenges you are interested in, feel free to leave a comment below, perhaps we could start a group challenge!

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Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/november-wardrobe-challenge
My UChicago Extended Essay http://justleap.net/my-uchicago-essay Now that the first week of the quarter at UChicago is over, I thought it might be fun to celebrate by looking back at the essay I wrote which helped earn a spot at this institution. The University of Chicago is known for its wacky essay prompts which include statements s]]>

Now that the first week of the quarter at UChicago is over, I thought it might be fun to celebrate by looking back at the essay I wrote which helped earn a spot at this institution.

The University of Chicago is known for its wacky essay prompts which include statements such as, "What's so odd about odd numbers?," "So where is Waldo, really?" and "Find x." Some even go as far as to have writers create their own idiom or describing a portal to an imaginary world. For my essay, I picked a more straightforward prompt: "What is square one and can you go back to it?" Here is my response:

"This fall, I went back home after a year studying abroad in Germany. Before I left the USA, many people from my exchange program told me what a serious commitment studying abroad is. They mentioned that there would be times when I would feel more loneliness than ever before, would have to fend for myself in a foreign environment, and would have to essentially begin my life over again. But what everyone failed to mention, was that the most difficult aspect of studying abroad was not my time spent in the program, but rather, my return 'home.'

On the outside, at first glance, Pittsburgh should be my square one. I am familiar with the city, am a good student and have both close and extended family there. My life in Pittsburgh certainly feels very comfortable. I go to school every day, enjoy what I learn, socialize with friends, and partake in my activities outside of school. After living in the same place for 16 years, I had developed a routine. Yet, somehow this routine was not enough, and, on the inside, kept me away from square one. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed my life and was very grateful for what I had—but still, I found myself feeling drawn elsewhere. That feeling brought me to Germany.

On the outside, at first glance, Germany should not be my home or my square one. At the start of my school year abroad, I was missing three essential aspects there; I was unfamiliar with the city, I was not fluent in the language, and I had no family there. I was thrust into the second largest city in the country and forced to rely on a complex system of public transportation, something completely new to me. I was taking all my classes in German, and pushing the boundaries of what I knew in each subject both with content and vocabulary. On top of all this, I was trying to assimilate into my new family, something that did not always go off without a hitch. These three aspects combined to place me, on the outside, about as far away from square one as it gets.

Interestingly, after some time, Germany started to feel comfortable. The challenges appeared less daunting. What at the beginning of my time in Hamburg seemed to be a system of transportation designed only to confuse foreigners eventually became a means of access—I was free to travel and bike around the city—more freedom and responsibility than I ever had before in my life. Early in my first semester, I struggled to maintain relatively high grades in school, and I failed a few exams despite my extraordinary efforts to prepare. Taking classes in a foreign language forced me to rethink my goals and set new ones; specifically, trying to focus on learning instead of earning perfect grades. Initially, I also faced a few problems with my host family. Due to our cultural barrier, my host family had been hesitant to tell me that my habit of keeping my door shut—something that I thought would save on heating—was actually leading them to believe I wanted to be isolated and spend less time bonding as a family. However, by turning toward the problem, I was able to create more dialogue with my host family and ultimately form a stronger bond.

While these challenges made me more uncomfortable than I ever had been before, paradoxically, I was also more myself while I was in the midst of overcoming them. I realized that I am the best version of myself when I am able to prove that I am capable of doing something which I did not think I could. This feeling is what I lacked at home in Pittsburgh. Despite the fact that I initially struggled to navigate the city, to succeed academically, and to build a connection with my host family, overcoming these challenges in Germany ultimately brought me to square one. While Pittsburgh is still, on the outside, my home, Hamburg is the place that gave me the confidence that I am trying to go back to.

So, in a sense I did return to square one, when I went home to Pittsburgh; however, that feeling of internal longing for a challenge did not go away. Here at my old square one, I am looking forward to the discomfort I will find as an undergraduate and welcome the opportunity to prove to myself that I can overcome it. I want to get back to square one, and I believe I can at the University of Chicago."

I think these essay prompts capture part of the UChicago experience so well because of their zaniness and their clear enjoyment in outlandish academic pursuits, which force you to think differently.

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The photo is of Tan Tan Bo Puking - a.k.a. Gero Tan from Takashi Murakami. I saw this piece as part of the The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

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Fri, 29 Sep 2017 13:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/my-uchicago-essay
My Own South African Cave http://justleap.net/my-own-south-african-cave While on the NESA Expedition in South Africa, Ethan and I explored and surveyed numerous caves. Perhaps the coolest part of this experience, was the promise from the Wits team that they would choose one of the caves we visited and name it after us! Here is the map of my ]]>

While on the NESA Expedition in South Africa, Ethan and I explored and surveyed numerous caves. Perhaps the coolest part of this experience, was the promise from the Wits team that they would choose one of the caves we visited and name it after us! Here is the map of my cave:

It came as quite a surprise as they only mentioned this to us in the last few minutes of our time on the University campus, and to be honest, I thought they were mostly joking at the time. However, a month or two after returning, Ethan and I now have our own caves! I guess this will just give us one more reason to go back for a visit.

Speaking of our own caves, I think it is a very interesting tendency we have of naming things after people in general. The logical way to name something would be based off of its attributes or location, rather than who discovered it. However, we have been naming things after ourselves, our leaders, or historical figures for centuries, if not millenia. Does it have something to do with our pride, or a feeble attempt to inflate our own egos? Regardless, I think it important to take a moment's pause and consider why we name things in the manner that we do.

Here is a map of Ethan's cave:

I asked Ethan for his thoughts, and he wanted to share his musings on the subject:

"I agree with Noah for the most part. I do believe naming places after ourselves and others inflates or ego and adds to our pride, but I think the underlying reason why really breaks down to our need to be recognized and praised and also commemorate certain relationships. In this instance with the caves, I see it more as a commemoration rather than a reward for discovery. Especially since both caves had clear indications of mining and therefore had been utilized in the last few centuries.

The naming of the caves after us Scouts also aided the cave mappers in remembering the cave in order to assist them in making the maps. In a more historical context it appears to me that naming places adds a piece of ownership or a piece to that person's life to the place they ‘discovered’. For instance there’s been numerous occasions where waterfalls are named after the loved ones of those who supposedly found them. Outside of just the ownership and commemoration this does add a personal tie in our brain, making the location easier to remember and thus find again.

In a sense, naming it makes it a monument to that person and assists the adventurer in relocating it. I can’t say I’m willing to state whether its good or bad, as I believe it's part of human nature to explore and have pride in one's ‘discoveries’."

Well, by the time this post goes live, I'll have completed my first week of living in Chicago. Hope everyone back in Pittsburgh and Hamburg is doing well. I miss you all and wish you the best in wherever life is currently taking you.

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Photo is of my favorite geological formation in one of the caves we explored.

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Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/my-own-south-african-cave
Trust Would Be Good-Control Is Better http://justleap.net/trust-would-be-good-control-is-better "Who should we believe in times of Trump and fake news?" This article comes from my friend in Germany, Johann. He is the Head Editor for the student newspaper, GO Public, at Gymnasium Othmarschen. I hope it will help you to consider the crucial role the media plays in a ]]>

"Who should we believe in times of Trump and fake news?"

This article comes from my friend in Germany, Johann. He is the Head Editor for the student newspaper, GO Public, at Gymnasium Othmarschen. I hope it will help you to consider the crucial role the media plays in a democracy from a new perspective.

"'The truth: it's probably somewhere between Tagesschau (a German daily news program) and Russia Today'. When it's getting late and there is nothing else to complain or gossip about, then such sayings can become common. The era when one trusted the major newspapers or even the Tagesschau (literally: Today Show) is now history. A distrust of the press and the main-stream media has established itself in many young adults. This idea is verified by the survey 'Generation What' that was commissioned by the Bavarian and Southwest Broadcasting Corporations. Twenty-four percent of German teens don't trust 'the media' at all, and forty percent are skeptical of the media's reliability. If you look at the numbers for all the people in Europe between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four, the lack of trust gets even larger.

In a democracy, critical thinking is imperative. For all intents and purposes, these numbers should be reassuring, because they show that most people won't simply accept what's placed in front of them as always true.

However, in a democracy, something that is just as important as criticism is trust. Trust in the political system, in the judiciary, and in the media. Without this, a nation cannot function. These institutions must work hard to earn trust - through transparency and bilateral control. By the same token, citizens should ideally inform themselves as comprehensively as possible. In this manner, trust in the institutions should emerge.

There are many countries - even in Europe where the lack of trust rightly exists. In Italy for example, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi didn't only hold executive powers in his governing period. No, he also owned numerous TV broadcasters, magazines, and publishing houses. But in Germany?

A critical look in the daily press suffices: Between Taz (die tageszeitung, a left-leaning newspaper) and FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a centrist-right leaning newspaper) lay many different worlds, visible on a daily basis to anyone who reads the newspaper. One saw this especially well around New Years' 2017: There were reports about the deployment of the Cologne Police at Cologne's main train station. The police detained and checked about 1,000 people of supposed North-African origins. A look in the FAZ: commentator Jasper von Altenbocktum wrote about a 'marked mainstream North-African culture' with reference to the events of the previous year when hundreds of women were sexually harassed. Heribert Prantl from the Süddeutschen Zeitung (literally: South German Newspaper, a liberal, centrist-left leaning newspaper) later accused von Altenbocktum of 'hate speech' and described the deployment of the police as 'proportionate'. In turn, the Taz accused the police of 'stomping all over' basic human rights in a 'racist' deployment. Where does this exorbitant mistrustfulness come from, when the facts speak against it? Now the skeptics might say, those 'people up there' were always present, but since the introduction of the internet, where anyone can publish something without a fact-checking mechanism, conspiracy theories have found a new and much more effective platform. Further, the spread of lies through governments, such as in the case of the Bush administration, which in 2003 claimed that Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction and thus justified the attack on Iraq, are often fueled by such theories. Then the media and the government are lumped together and one expects similar behavior from both. And there are by all means some media outlets such as Breitbart, Fox News, or Russia Today, which spread disinformation to pursue political goals.

But there are likewise those who see it as their duty to get to the bottom of the truth. For example, the New York Times, whose research unearths new aspects of the potentially illegal connections of Donald Trump's staff to Russia on an almost daily basis. Since Trumps' election to the office of the President, the number of online subscriptions to the New York Times has skyrocketed. During times in which the President of the United States incessantly spreads lies and half-truths, and as he says, finds himself 'at war with the media', many people are beginning to put their faith in the media again. In other words, they trust the media to be more competent at dealing with the truth than a habitual liar.

A similar situation in Germany is that the Süddeutsche Zeitung uncovered questionable practices of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (literally: Federal Messages Service, similar in function to the CIA) or the federal government (of Germany) in the matter of spying over the course of the past few years. Or the SPIEGEL (literally: the Mirror, similar to Time Magazine), that researched the business and tax practices of football (soccer) players such as Messi or Ronaldo.

The question is: Who can one trust if not the 'established' media? Who should verify the accuracy of photos and documents that were leaked somewhere else? Who does one think is capable of independent reporting? Who should, aside from congress and judges, control the government, if not the media? In this case the New York Times and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the SPIEGEL, the Guardian, or also the broadcasting corporations who have all earned a reputation as critical reporters and researchers should be considered more trustworthy than an alternative internet portal filled with typos.

And why is today's youth, why are we, currently so distrustful? Does it have to do with the fact that we grew up with the internet and and therefore had already distanced ourselves from the established forms of reporting such as newspapers and TV? Perhaps. But perhaps is it better explained a completely different way. The feminist Claudine Monteil once said, 'The youth always believe that old people have no clue. That is a teenager attitude that many people keep till they are thirty.'"

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A big thanks to Johann for letting me translate and share his article. Keep up the good work fostering such high quality school newspapers as Head Editor!

The photo is of numerous German print publications.

Photo credit: Arvid Bachmann

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Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/trust-would-be-good-control-is-better
Why Just Leap? http://justleap.net/why-just-leap Sometimes people will ask me why the URL for my blog is "justleap." Well it all started off a few years ago when I was creating my old blog/website in preparation for my year abroad in Germany. I knew I wanted a URL that was short, easy to remember, and relevant to the c]]>

Sometimes people will ask me why the URL for my blog is "justleap." Well it all started off a few years ago when I was creating my old blog/website in preparation for my year abroad in Germany. I knew I wanted a URL that was short, easy to remember, and relevant to the content of my blog.

I happened to be at a local shipping store when I came across the following magnet.

This magnet seemed to encompass what I hoped would become a key aspect of my blog: encouraging others to follow their dreams, even when they seem scary at times, with the knowledge that in the end things will most likely work out, often times just requiring that first step.

So although this doesn't relate to everything posted on this blog, I think it does serve well as the URL, as it certainly remains the foundation for everything I post.

What have you been wanting to do lately, but perhaps have been held back by fear? I encourage you to leap towards that goal. I'm willing to bet it will work out smoother than you might think.

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The photo is of the waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. On a recent trip there, my family and I had tea at Samovar Tea Lounge in the park. I had their Moorish Pairing, and would highly recommend a stop there if you are in San Francisco and enjoy tea.

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Fri, 08 Sep 2017 12:30:00 +0000 http://justleap.net/why-just-leap
My Friend, the Astronaut http://justleap.net/my-friend-the-astronaut Just kidding! However, this summer my friend Nathan Vislosky did intern at the NASA Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia. So what exactly did you do at NASA this summer? I ran a training feasibility study. What did that e]]>

Just kidding!

However, this summer my friend Nathan Vislosky did intern at the NASA Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.

So what exactly did you do at NASA this summer?

I ran a training feasibility study.

What did that entail?

So I interviewed project managers all over IV&V to get a spectrum of understanding for whether we needed internal or external training in the IV&V facility.

By internal training, I mean that we teach people how to perform independent verification and validation. External training would teach other facilities what we did at IV&V, and why we need it.

This entire process is in place due to the Challenger Mission. The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance spearheaded the building of IV&V.

What was the final result of your work?

We found that internal training would be a more feasible option and we flew to DC to present this concept to a majority of NASA Headquarter Executives and astronaut Terrence W. Wilcutt.

How did you find out about the internship?

I just Googled „internships“, used LinkedIn pages, and just started clicking away at every opportunity I could find.

How long did you work there?

I worked there for about two months, from June 12 through August 3.

What else have you been up to this summer?

I did a leadership camp, the BP Step Program in Houston for three days. Then, I went to California to play inline hockey for Team USA against Team Mexico and Team Argentina. Later, I went back to Houston and toured BP Headquarters.

Additionally, I learned about the E-NABL 3D Printed Hands Non-Profit run out of Carnegie Melon University from another NASA Intern. E-NABL prints hands for economically unstable countries so that the children who are missing hands due to disease, war, or birth defects can use a hand to better maneuver through social situations as they grow up. Once they have stopped growing, they usually invest in a more complex prosthetic, but E-NABL serves them through the crucial stages of development. E-NABL is currently pursuing methods for reducing the cost of complex prosthetics.

Lastly, I am headed to Nanjing, China on August 23 (I interviewed him a couple weeks ago) for the Inline Hockey World Championships. This year, it will be all the roller sports instead of just hockey. This includes roller blading, roller skating, skateboarding, roller derby, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The experiences I had this summer have shaped me and I genuinely believe I have improved my leadership and public speaking skills. I am very grateful to NASA for the opportunity, and the strong sense of community they foster in the workplace. I look forward to applying to intern there again next summer.

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The photo is of the NASA facility where Nathan worked. Have you had any cool experiences or travels this summer? Feel free to share in the comments below or shoot me an email telling me about it! I'd love to hear :)

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Fri, 01 Sep 2017 15:27:53 +0000 http://justleap.net/my-friend-the-astronaut
Standing Up to Hatred http://justleap.net/standing-up-to-hatred My friend from high school, Alexa, is now attending college at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is the site of the Unite the Right rally that took place about two weeks ago. The far right groups including Neo-Nazis and Ku Kl]]>

My friend from high school, Alexa, is now attending college at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is the site of the Unite the Right rally that took place about two weeks ago.

The far right groups including Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members were protesting the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protestors turned violent and attacked the counter protestors in acts of terrorism which even resulted in the death of one woman.

UVA is a state run, liberal arts university, and as such, was very strongly against both the protest’s ideals and the violence.

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What were your feelings knowing that a week after the protests, you would be heading to UVA to start college?

Well, when I first heard about the news, I was definitely very troubled knowing that I would be walking where these evil people were walking, protesting, and sharing their ideals of hatred. On August 12, when I heard about the violence in downtown Charlottesville, a ten minute walk from where I am sitting right now, I was frightened and started crying. In talking with many of my fellow first year students since being on campus, it seems that many people have shared my feelings.

However, since the University has responded sharing messages from faculty and older students explaining that these radicals came from all over the country and that the University and locals condemn this, I have felt much better. What happened will give this university a very big platform. With myself being against these ideals, I feel empowered to know that this is exactly the place I need to be.

What is the school climate like in the aftermath of the protests?

This issue is definitely at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. Every talk that we attended during the three day orientation all centered around why this University doesn't believe in the ideals of the Alt Right regardless of the history here. There’s no denying that there is a dark side to the University’s history; in fact, it was built by slaves. However, the University today has come far since its founding.

On my first day of class, my teacher was going through the syllabus and other things, but half way through the class, she took a break from her lecture. She said that she usually tries to avoid expressing her political ideas but, that in this case, she felt she needed to express herself by saying that she stands firmly against what the Alt Right believes in. She took time out of the class to make sure she said what was on her mind, that there was nothing left unsaid and that everyone felt part of a supporting community.

Have there been any activities regarding the protests since you have been on campus?

Yes, a few nights ago the Black Student Alliance and the Multicultural Student Alliance held a rally to stand against the protest that happened the week before. I would say about 500 people from the community and student body gathered and listened to a few speakers. It was extremely moving to say the least. After that, we marched the same path that Unite the Right followed. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I am extremely glad that I have a school which allows students to organize such events to combat hatred.

You were part of a student group to organize one such event. Tell me about that.

So, the day after the news came out, one of my fellow first years posted an announcement on our Facebook page saying that she was affected by what happened and was looking for other students to come together and make a statement from the class of 2021. I was actually the one who came up with the name Unite the Light. We wanted to have a candlelight vigil a few nights ago, but since the other event had already been planned, we decided to push the event back.

However, this is still significant because it’s something the University doesn't want to push under the rug, but rather talk about for a long time. It was probably better this way so that we could keep the discussion going longer and so we can have a better chance to organize the event now that we are all together on campus.

I seem to remember you mentioning being interviewed by a newspaper. What paper specifically was that, and what types of questions were they asking of you?

I was interviewed by a newspaper called The Mic out of New York City. They didn't end up posting the interview, because we had to move the event as I mentioned. If it does end up being posted, I will let you know. He just let me offer my statement about the event and asked for permission to include it in his article. (Article link to come, once the article is published)

Do you know if there were such extreme acts from the far right before Trump became president, or do you think having him as a president made these people feel more enabled to violence? (A special thanks to my friend Arvid from Germany for submitting this question.)

Absolutely. Trump’s platform emboldens these people. You can see that even with his response to the violence, he is encouraging them. He didn't make a statement for nearly a day. When he did make a statement about two days later, he started answering questions (going against his plan for the press conference) and taking back everything he said. He didn't even call the rioters what they are: domestic terrorists.

Then, he comes back and blames both sides. There are no ‘’two sides to blame’’ here. Yes, there was violence on all sides to condemn, but blaming many sides for what happened is completely unacceptable because it’s obvious what side is in the wrong; the side of hatred, the side of Unite the Right. He continued to mention how he knows fine people on both sides. If you are standing in a crowd shouting ‘’Jews will not replace us,’’ there’s nothing about you that makes you a fine person. Trump definitely emboldens these people and his statements have done nothing to stop them.

School had yet to start when the rioting occurred. Do you think it would have ended differently had there been an extra 21,000 students in town?

There’s no saying how it would have ended. Move in day wasn't until the next week, so, like you said, there weren't many people on the grounds. If it had been a week later when all the students were here, the small crowd gathered around the Jefferson statue would have been much much louder to drown out the voices of the people carrying tiki torches. I can't tell you how I think it would have ended. Violence just creates more violence, so I don’t know.

So now that you’ve been on campus for a week or so, how are you viewing your future in Charlottesville as you start your college career?

I am very optimistic about my future here. I mean it’s an amazing school, I’m in love with this place. It’s not perfect, no place is perfect, but like I said, I now have a voice in the world, because it’s directly affecting me. I would ask that even if you don't go to school here, if you are in any way able to stand up to hatred, you need to do so.

Has the riot had any impact on your intended field of study?

No, not really. I am still pursuing the same political science major with a focus in foreign affairs.

So far, do your classes work with any current issues? (Once again, thanks to Arvid for the submission.)

I have a class that is titled: Immigration and Trump. I’ve only been to a couple classes so far, but I imagine we will be working with a lot of current problems. We also have a club that specifically focuses on helping refugees get an education here. I know a lot of clubs that focus on political issues.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would like to add?

No, I think I’m good.

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Well, a big thanks to Alexa for taking time out of her busy college schedule to talk with me and answer these questions about the events in Charlottesville. Alexa, I wish you the best at college, and continued support and strength in standing up to hatred!

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The photo is of the sign Alexa and her friends carried at the counter demonstration a few nights ago.

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Fri, 25 Aug 2017 15:38:53 +0000 http://justleap.net/standing-up-to-hatred