Author Archives: jpm325@cornell.edu

Into the Rare & Manuscript Collections

In the late 19th century, Herbert Samuel wrote “a library is thought in cold storage.” Most of Cornell’s librarians would argue though that they do more than just oversee cold storage. And the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection proves them right.

Located deep in Kroch Library under Olin, the RMC includes 430,000 printed volumes, more than 80 million manuscripts, and another million photographs, paintings, prints, and other visual media.

Notable items include:

–       A Gutenberg bible

–       A copy of the Gettysburg Address handwritten by Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

–       An original copy with annotations of Charlotte’s Web, Lord of The Rings, and several other noted works

–       The personal papers of Marquis de Lafayette, George Hyde Clarke, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence

In addition to preserving and displaying famous relics, the RMC launches annual exhibitions and brings distinguished scholars to cut the tape. Recent expositions include:

Known to Everyone – Liked by All: The Business of Being Mark Twain

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the author known to the world as Mark Twain, with an exhibition featuring the Mark Twain collection of Susan Jaffe Tane. On display were books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, and other materials that celebrate the life and work of this American icon.

The Lincoln Presidency: Last Full Measure of Devotion

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth with an exhibition of its significant collections on Lincoln and the Civil War era. On display were Cornell’s manuscript of the Gettysburg Address, one of only five copies in the handwriting of Lincoln, along with original manuscripts of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution signed by Lincoln and members of Congress. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson presented the exhbition.

Dawn’s Early Light: The First 50 Years of American Photography

This exhibition documented the momentous first half-century of photography in America, which embraced and transformed the new technology to create, as Walt Whitman once observed, “the best history—a history from which there could be no appeal.”

If you’re visiting Cornell, definitely check it out.

Applying to Arts & Sciences

After spending a few years at Cornell, here are a few tips for those applying to Arts & Sciences:

1) The Arts Supplement

The supplement for Cornell’s Arts & Sciences application includes a convoluted version of the infamous “why here?” essay. The supplement requests prospective students to answer: “Describe your intellectual interests, their evolution, and what makes them exciting to you. Tell us how you will utilize the academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences to further explore your interests, intended major, or field of study.” Perhaps surprisingly, this seems to stump stressed, essay-burdened high school seniors. “What should I say? How can I know if my answer’s good enough? I don’t even know that much about Cornell…” Here, I point you to an invaluable resource: http://www.cornell.edu/academics/centers.cfm

Cornell has aggregated a list of its more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations. Check them out. Find a few that perk your interest. Explore their websites and recent publications/colloquiums. You may find the starting point for your essay.

2) Essays in General

This may sound trite, but don’t write what you think the admissions officers want to hear. Write about what you hear. Colleges receive stacks of applications aimed at pleasing and impressing admissions readers. These essays rarely do the trick because many before you (and probably more after you) have played the same game. Instead, write about you. What makes you tick? Don’t worry about sounding incredible. Instead, focus on coming off genuine, passionate, and interesting.

3) One School, Two School

Cornell allows applicants to choose first and second choice colleges. Since each of Cornell’s colleges has independent admissions departments, if you don’t get into your first choice your application is forwarded to number two. It’s a great way to increase your chances if you find another program that interests you. But be aware: both colleges can read your essays, so make sure your writing shows who you are.

4) Enjoy Senior Year!

It seems everyone one step ahead in life reminds those behind, perhaps nostalgically, to enjoy the moment. And it’s true. Take a breath, rest assured that everything will work out, and enjoy your senior year with friends. It flies by too fast!

The Day It Rained in Ithaca

For those of you reading who are familiar with Ithaca, you may have read the title and chuckled, knowing that rain is not an uncommon occurrence in Ithaca, but to clarify, the day I’m referring to is September 7, 2011. Over a span of 24 hours, Ithaca had about 6 inches of rain.

Ithaca Falls 9.8.11


Now, why am I talking about rain? Well, the day after all the rain, I decided to go for a walk down to Ithaca Falls to take some pictures of all the water. As I made my way closer to the bridge, I could already begin to feel the spray from the incredible amount of water surging through the gorge. As I approached the bridge, a man passed me and said “There’s a lot of water in those gorges but it sure is pretty.” I smiled as my excitement mounted. At last I reached the bridge and saw the falls. Words can’t explain how much water was in the gorges, which is why I have included pictures, but it was just unbelievable. I stood and stared, momentarily forgetting that I had a camera, until an older couple standing next to me spoke up saying “It’s incredible, isn’t it?” I nodded and asked if they had been affected by the rain. They said they had not but that they knew of people with flooded basements. They asked where I was from and I told them I was from Cornell. In the conversation that followed, it mattered not that I had never met these people before, but rather the mere fact that we were there standing on the bridge admiring the beauty of nature was all that mattered.

I finished taking pictures as they bid me farewell and I decided to try to see if there were any dry paths to hike closer to the falls. I saw a man coming off a trail and began to walk toward him. He saw the camera I was holding and asked me if I had gotten some good pictures. I answered that I had but I was looking for a different perspective so I asked what trail he had just come from and he kindly pointed me in the right direction. I could not help but think as I carefully walked along the trail that all these people from surrounding towns who I had never met before all seemed so friendly, and that we were all brought together in this one place to admire nature’s beauty. Though the rain had made for a seemingly gloomy day, it had brought me out of the library and down into nature to appreciate the magnificence of my surroundings, once again reminding me of the importance of getting my nose out of the books every once in a while.

Cornell Nepal Study Program

Guest Post by: Ashley Kim (’12)

WOW, it feels absolutely amazing to be back on campus!! I just got back from studying abroad in Nepal. It was a long five months that couldn’t have gone by quicker (Does that make sense? …my experience is just full of wonderful paradoxes). As soon as I stepped off the plane in Kathmandu, Nepal I got this thrilling chill up my spine and the phrase “the world is your oyster” became much less of a cliché and much more intense and real. The air was different, the ground felt different, the view was different (green lush hills to the right and the Himalayas to the left), the language was different…. But as I left customs, I was greeted by an American who spoke impressive Nepali–smiling with a huge “CORNELL NEPAL STUDY PROGRAM (CNSP)” sign and, at that moment, I knew that one thing that would be the same was the love and comfort I receive from Cornell and its wonderful staff.

The drive home from the airport is still so clear in my memory: the taxi was swerving in between cows and microbuses and cars, the air was thick with dust and liveliness, my head was overflowing with the sounds of people chattering Nepali, and I was so impressed at how our American CNSP teaching assistant knew the roads without any signs or stoplights, all the while directing the driver in Nepali.

As soon as I got to the program, I was greeted with warm hugs, smiles, and my didis (older sisters) helped me with my bags. From that moment on, the breakfast in bed, the spontaneous dance sessions, the amazing food, the warm laughter, and strong connections never stopped coming. We would take class in our program house and guest lecturers would come to speak to us. We were able hear lectures from impressive politicians, NGO presidents and professors, and even though the lectures were as structured as they are at Cornell, we would share numerous laughs and jokes during snack and tea time (oh yeah, you better believe it… breakfast in bed and tea brought to you in class!)

At first, I didn’t really understand why we would call the workers didi (sister) and dai (brother), but within weeks I realized that we were truly a family. Although I was halfway across the world, I couldn’t have felt more at home. When I was sick with a cold, my didi would stop by my room over and over and, even while half asleep, I knew she was standing outside my door, debating with herself about whether she should come inside to check on me or let me sleep. 

During our breaks, our program took us trekking through the Annapurna Circuit. We were able to home stay in a small village and attend an all night Shamanism, ride elephants through the jungle, and we never even missed a snack time with all the traveling!

But I still haven’t described my favorite (and what I think is the most unique) part of this program. For one month, I was able to do research on whatever I wanted and CNSP would send me wherever I needed to go with a translator! I was able to fully develop my research and, for the first time since coming to college, I felt like I was molding and creating my interests in a truly independent way. I felt empowered and intelligent, but also challenged and humbled. One of the greatest parts of that experience was that I became best friends with my translator. We were able to spend so many nights over warm fires, bond over long hikes, and paint our nails together as well.

As quick and short as you felt this entry was–it wasn’t! I worked hard on this entry and believe it or not, it consists of many paragraphs! Just like this disbelief you are feeling (ha ha ha ha yess I like tooting my own horn), I was in utter shock to see how quickly my five months in Nepal was over. As I was leaving my program house, my didis and dais couldn’t let go, hugging me and saying in between sad and happy tears that I must come back. In the taxi ride to the airport, I was so satisfied by how easily I could navigate the roads of Kathmandu and how comfortable I was able to do so in Nepali. 

Coming back on campus, I miss Nepal but I am so ecstatic to be back. The beautifully green hills that surround us, which perfectly and artistically mesh with the blue sky, keep a stupid grin on my face. The ring of the clock tower and the bustle of college town couldn’t make me any happier. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I guess it’s true (or I’m just a sap for colloquial phrases). I CAN’T WAIT FOR MY SENIOR YEAR!

Fun on North Campus

Guest Post by Rena Segall (’14)

On any given day, there are a variety of activities available for Cornell students to enjoy, from plays and sports games, to concerts and movies. While I have experienced hockey games at Lynah Rink, a viewing of the movie The King’s Speech at Cornell Cinema and many other great events all over Cornell’s campus, sometimes I prefer to stay on North Campus, where I, along with all of the other freshmen, live.  North Campus consists of so much more than dorms and dining halls, so in this post I’m going to highlight things freshmen can do without straying too far from their dorm rooms.
 
Bowling at Helen Newman Hall: Downstairs at this gym on North Campus is a bowling alley with 16 lanes.  The Helen Newman bowling alley is open until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and only costs $2.50 a game per person.  I went bowling recently, and even though I’m not too good, it was a lot of fun! 

Also at Helen Newman Hall, you can show your Cornell ID card to the attendant and get equipment to play badminton, volleyball or basketball in the gym, which is great if you want to hang out with friends while exercising!
 
Fuertes Observatory: Located past Helen Newman Hall and Appel Commons, the Fuertes Observatory is open for public viewing starting at 9 PM on Friday nights (if the sky is clear).  I’m not an astronomy major, but it was interesting to learn about the stars and planets from the members of the Cornell Astronomical Society.
 
Activities at Risley: Risley Residential College is a program house for students interested in the arts, which offers many programs open to the entire Cornell community.  Throughout the year, be sure to look out for the variety of interesting programs offered at Risley, such as the Night at Hogwarts during which Risley was transformed into the castle from the Harry Potter series, and performances held at the Risley theatre.
 
There are variety of other programs held at freshman dorms, Robert Purcell Community Center and Appel Commons, so be sure to watch your email for notifications about these events.  Of course, no matter where you are on Cornell’s campus, you’re bound to find an activity that interests you!

Getting Involved: It’s Never Too Late

Guest Post by: Arthie Jeyakumar (’12)

When I first came to Cornell I knew I wanted to be involved in a new extracurricular activity, and, when I finally came across Cornell Big Red Raas, I was ecstatic. Having come from a relatively small private school, I was not very exposed to my Hindu culture through forms of religion, art, and dance. Raas filled that gap. Cornell Big Red Raas is a student-led competitive dance group–more specifically, Raas is a traditional Indian Dance from the western state of Gujarat. Through my participation on this team I was able to travel to Michigan, Washington D.C. and even California. However, after my second year in college, I realized while I had loved my experience of dancing on this team, I was expanding my interests into other fields, particularly health and Malaria. My continued participation on the dance team which was rather time-consuming would compromise my involvement and engagement in other activities. And so, I made a switch, something I never thought I would do having been told repeatedly in high school that dedication to activities was integral to success.

This year, as a junior my involvement in Cover Africa and Cornell Health International (CHI) has allowed me to meet new people and participate in events on campus I had been quite oblivious of during my first two years at Cornell. Recently, Cover Africa had a sleep-out on the Arts Quad to raise money to purchase bed nets to fight Malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. With free food and free performances we were able to collect donations to fundraise over $700, and, most importantly, increase awareness about Malaria and the devastation of this disease. In addition to our work at Cornell, Cover Africa has led student service-learning trip this upcoming winter which we are in the midst of planning. Cornell Health is a student organization at Cornell University that works to raise awareness of global health issues at Cornell University. A recent event was the Gates Project, consisting of large red-clothed panels on the Arts Quad each depicting a health issue of concern that is taking place abroad.  On Thursday, April 28th, Cornell Health International is hosting an event called SPREAD THE WOR(l)D to provide shelter and support to people living with HIV/AIDS in Colombia. While being a member of these two organizations has led me in new directions, I continue to attend and participate in Indian cultural events and there has been room to balance my past interests with my emerging ones.

In short, my experiences in extracurricular activities at Cornell have taught me it is never too late to try something new. With every new activity comes a new group of people with different interests and world views, and it is important to expose yourself to such ideas and activities. Cornell provides you with countless opportunities to discover yourself and your interests through engaging in a multitude of disciplines and student-led groups and it is important to take advantage of this.

Deviating from the Normal Campus Tours

Guest Post by Jonathan Yuan (’14)

With seniors scrambling to make last-minute college decisions and juniors eagerly anticipating the college application process, Cornell has been absolutely buzzing with prospective students and applicants, crowding Day Hall for their daily 9:00, 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00 o’clock tours.  Desperately trying to soak in all of the tour guide’s facts, figures and trivia, the tour groups eventually walk past all of Cornell’s main buildings, quads, and attractions.  But what if you’d want to go a little further than your normal tour landmarks (McGraw Belltower, Arts Quad, Ag Quad, Engineering Quad, Ho Plaza) and experience some hotspots on campus that tend to get overlooked on campus tours?  Make sure to visit these following somewhat more obscure Cornell attractions on your campus tour:

Cocktail Lounge (Uris Library) – Providing for an absolutely gorgeous panoramic view of Ho Plaza and West Campus, the Cocktail Lounge is many students’ favorite study spot.  The Cocktail Lounge is a spacious, bright and always buzzing academic area – chances are, you’ll inevitably find yourself in the Cocktail Lounge at some time or another. 

Manndible’s (Mann Library) – Located in the ultra-modern and lofty lobby of Mann Library, Manndible’s provides for unparalleled snacks, wraps and other munchies that are not only delicious, but environmentally friendly. 

Risley Dining Hall (Risley House) – Have you ever wanted to dine at Hogwarts?  This may be the closest you could ever get to it, as the Risley Dining Hall gives off the aura that you’re eating in a beautifully historic and magical place.  Look forward to its annual Harry Potter-themed meal every spring!

Space Sciences Building – Oftentimes overshadowed by adjacent Baker, Physical Science and Rockefeller halls, the Space Sciences Building is currently home to the current Mars mission and, according to its website, is “home to more than 100,000 images taken of planets by NASA spacecraft.”

Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight Hall) – Prior to coming to Cornell, I had absolutely no idea that Cornell would be home its own student-operated movie theater!  But it’s there, and it provides students with current mainstream, foreign and indie films in a cozy theater inside the bustling Student Union, Willard Straight Hall. 

The point is – as overwhelmingly amazing as Cornell may seem on the campus tour, Cornell has a seemingly endless amount of places to further visit that range even further beyond just the tour.  That’s part of the reason why Cornell is such an exciting place to be for an undergraduate – even after four years, you’ll still be telling yourself: I didn’t know that was there!

To the Garden the World

Enjoying Ithaca’s sunny spring weather, I decided to run through The Cornell Plantations this afternoon after class. Spanning nearly 4,300 acres, The Plantations preserve central New York’s flora and fauna while providing a network of trails unbeatable for anyone who loves the outdoors. Jogging around Beebe Lake, across Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges, and through wetlands, gorges, glens, meadows, bogs, fens, and old-growth forests, I decided to check Cornell’s website for a few stats when I got back:

–       The Plantations include a 25-acre botanical garden featuring herbs, flowers, heritage vegetables, international crops, rock garden plants, rhododendrons, peonies, perennials, ornamental grasses, ground covers, and plants with winter interest.

–       The Deans Garden, Mary Rockwell Azalea Garden, Class of ’60 Daylily Garden, and Meunscher Poisonous Plants Garden are among the other visitor-favorites

–       The F. R. Newman Arboretum features a wide range of native and cultivated varieties of trees and shrubs including the Zucker Flowering Shrub Collection and the Treman Woodland walk.

If you’re stopping through Ithaca, definitely check The Plantations out because it’s one of Cornell’s most unique features.

What To Do This Weekend?

Guest Post by Akane Otani (’14)

Despite heavy rain and a wind advisory alert on The Weather Channel, my friends and I braved the elements Saturday night to make our way to the Cornell Fashion Collective’s 27th annual runway show. We were not disappointed.

Barton Hall — which usually houses an eight-lane indoor track — was completely transformed for the event; at the center of throngs of Cornellians, friends and family, a long runway ran down the venue, fit with overhead lighting and video projections on the sides. As a cool British voice announced each line, Cornell models walked down the runway, showcasing original pieces created by over 60 members of the Cornell Fashion Collective — an organization encompassing students of all majors at the University. While the show started out with head-to-toe outfits designed by junior members, the last half of the show featured full collections by senior members of the CFC, who explored themes ranging from “Vestige” to “Lucid Dreams.”

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/people/natkwee/

With over 200 students modeling the designs, it was fun recognizing peers from all over campus — a biology lecture, an extracurricular, or even down the hall — making their runway debuts. Perhaps the coolest part of the event was the mass collaboration behind it all: beyond the countless hours designers spent in studios or the fittings and rehearsals the models attended, students were responsible for every aspect of production to make the show a reality. Cornell may not exactly be known as a fashion hub, but I was surprised by the vibrance of the fashion community last night. Bravo, CFC!

Next up on my schedule: Lupe Fiasco and K’naan at Barton Hall tonight. Who says you need to be in a city to have fun? Cornell Concert Commission, a student-run organization, has brought KiD CuDi, Phoenix, M.I.A. and the Super Mash Bros to Ithaca in the last eight months for some spectacular shows. I feel especially lucky to have been able to attend these concerts at student-discount rates when my friends elsewhere have sometimes shelled out triple the prices for tickets. With tickets completely sold out, I’m looking forward to a great show tonight!

Weekends here pass by fast when there’s so much going on around campus. While we may not be in a metropolis, between all the ordinary things you’d expect a college student to do — study, eat, socialize and sleep — and campus-events, there’s more than enough happening to keep this Cornellian feeling busy.

Representin’ at Model UN

Guest Post by Ankur Bajaj (’13)

Having been an active member of my Model UN team back in high school, I was ecstatic to see that Cornell had a MUN club called the Cornell International Affairs Society (CIAS). Excited, I immediately signed up and have had an amazing time over these past two years, even serving as the Executive Vice President. Model UN, for those of you who don’t know, is an international style of debate that is becoming rapidly popular. Essentially, students at both the high school and collegiate levels sign up to represent a position on a certain committee (the USA on the United Nations Security Council for instance), research the country with regards to the preset topics up for debate, and then come to the conference acting as a diplomat from that country. Every delegate debates under parliamentary procedure, works with others to draft resolutions, practices good diplomacy, and essentially does all he can to both convey his country’s stance on the issue as well as secure the best deal in committee for his country. The chair and the rest of his dais then select a winner based on skills of diplomacy, debate, and political accuracy (i.e. staying true to one’s country) that the delegates exhibit. 

In addition to Model UN though, CIAS’s purpose overall is to provide a meaningful place for undergraduate students to debate and discuss global conflicts. We are a team of students who use the Society as an outlet to develop skills in public speaking, analytical writing, debate, diplomacy, and personal confidence in a fun and exciting atmosphere. In addition to these practical skills, we enjoy the opportunity to gain a better understanding of international relations in the 21st century, discussing relevant topics amongst the team and learning from alternative points of view. One of the ways CIAS fulfills its purpose is by attending and participating in international collegiate Model UN conferences. Conferences are held at universities all over the country and the world. In fact, I had the chance to attend conferences in Philadelphia, D.C. and even Montreal this year!

CIAS members at closing ceremonies in Philly.

In addition to competing at conferences, CIAS hosts our own here on Cornell’s campus. For its ninth year this March, CIAS hosted one of the biggest high school conferences in the Northeast, CMUNC, which nearly 700 students and advisors from high schools around the world attended. The annual conference is always fully student run, with CIAS members serving on the staff, running committees, and being members of the Secretariat, i.e. the executive board. I chaired the “Obama’s National Security Council” crisis committee, and was able to present my delegates, all of whom were representing the different members of the real-world National Security Council, innovative, fun and engaging topics for debate. Even further, diverse nationalities and backgrounds were represented on my committee, as I had students participating from several states as well as from other countries! 

In addition, in early April, CIAS hosted CIAC, our first-ever collegiate conference. At this conference, I served on the Secretariat as the Undersecretary General for Committees, which meant I was in charge of assuring that the in-committee experience for the delegates was of the highest level, with fast-paced real world updates, great debate and quality negotiations. In addition to offering valuable in-committee experiences at both conferences, the Secretariats were able to feature a series of social events, from a delegate dance for the high school students at the Museum of the Earth, a popular venue in Ithaca, to delegate “mixers” for the college students at the Statler, the on-campus hotel. All in all, these weekends and my experience overall in Model UN are immensely valuable to me and without a doubt have enhanced my time at Cornell. I hope to integrate the skills that I’ve acquired in Model UN into my future profession and eventual career, given the fact that effective communication and analytical thinking are indispensible in the highly connected world in which we live.   

In addition to competing at conferences, CIAS hosts our own here on Cornell’s campus. For its ninth year this March, CIAS hosted one of the biggest high school conferences in the Northeast, CMUNC, which nearly 700 students and advisors from high schools around the world attended. The annual conference is always fully student run, with

Obama’s National Security Council at CMUNC 2011.

CIAS members serving on the staff, running committees, and being members of the Secretariat, i.e. the executive board. I chaired the “Obama’s National Security Council” crisis committee, and was able to present my delegates, all of whom were representing the different members of the real-world National Security Council, innovative, fun and engaging topics for debate. Even further, diverse nationalities and backgrounds were represented on my committee, as I had students participating from several states as well as from other countries! 

In addition, in early April, CIAS hosted CIAC, our first-ever collegiate conference. At this conference, I served on the Secretariat as the Undersecretary General for Committees, which meant I was in charge of assuring that the in-committee experience for the delegates was of the highest level, with fast-paced real world updates, great debate and quality negotiations.

Delegate luncheon at CIAC 2011!

In addition to offering valuable in-committee experiences at both conferences, the Secretariats were able to feature a series of social events, from a delegate dance for the high school students at the Museum of the Earth, a popular venue in Ithaca, to delegate “mixers” for the college students at the Statler, the on-campus hotel. All in all, these weekends and my experience overall in Model UN are immensely valuable to me and without a doubt have enhanced my time at Cornell. I hope to integrate the skills that I’ve acquired in Model UN into my future profession and eventual career, given the fact that effective communication and analytical thinking are indispensible in the highly connected world in which we live.