Stress: It’s Just Not Worth it

This was originally posted on the Universities at Shady Grove‘s student blog Around the Grove on February 17, 2017. You can read my other post here.

I don’t know about you all, but the whirlwind of work has already set in for me this semester. I have a lot on my plate in the coming months, which is both invigorating and overwhelming. It can be tough to find just the right workload that pushes you to achieve without leaving you burnt out. If you’re starting to feel burnt out and overwhelmed by the coming semester, maybe it’s time for you to take a step back and evaluate what’s on your plate.

In life, it can be easy to let your choices be dictated by what other people expect of you. It’s great to get advice from others and be mindful of other people’s expectations, but I think it’s also important to learn to put your foot down and stand up for  your own needs at times.

It’s awful to feel like you’re drowning in never-ending commitments. Sometimes we become so convinced that we have to do everything or we can’t let people down that we stay in extremely stressful, even toxic, circumstances. But we end up hurting ourselves and even letting others down even more because we can’t give all the tasks we’re juggling our full attention.

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De-stress picture #1! (Taken in Prince Edward Island, Canada, one of the least stressful places I know of!)

Of course, sometimes we really have to shoulder a ton of different things in our lives; it’s beyond our control. If that’s the case, it’s still important to draw a line and not let work and other commitments take over your life. Make time to relax and remember to take care of yourself by doing things as simple as eating regularly, getting sleep, and staying hydrated.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the semester already, consider doing some of these things:

  1. Cut something out of your life. Drop a class, ask to reduce your hours at work, cut back on the number of organizations you’re in…You don’t have to do everything! It’s more important for you to be healthy and for you to do things well, giving them your full attention.
  2. Build a support network. Find one or two supportive friends or family members who you know you can go to when you’re overwhelmed. Maybe even delegate one of them to be your “No” person who will remind you not to take on more than you can handle!
  3. Find a professor or other staff member to mentor you and help you navigate all that’s on your plate. We have wonderful, caring staff here at USG, and they are here to support students and are often more than happy to give advice, offer encouragement, and answer questions.
  4. Consider talking with a counselor at USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation or attending one of their free workshops teaching skills to handle stress and live a healthy life.

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    De-stress Activity: Imagine yourself on a beach! (Photo by Rebecca Gale)

  5. Take time to de-stress. Plan little breaks in your day. Take a walk outside and look around at the scenery, noticing things you haven’t before. Sing along to the radio in your car. Find a hobby as simple as coloring or learning how to make smoothies to give you breaks so you don’t feel like you’re drowning in work.
  6. Enjoy good conversations with friends, even on a busy day. One of the first things that tends to go when I get busy is socializing, but taking time for a laugh or honest chat with a friend can really go a long way.
  7. Get rid of things in your life that bring you down instead of lifting you up. Avoid unnecessary extra stress…Does the news send you into a rage whenever you see it? Does social media overwhelm you or make you feel like you’re not good enough? Avoid things on your phone, TV, and computer that add to your daily frustration.

I know it can be tough sometimes to say no to things and it’s easy to feel like a “wimp” for trying to take care of yourself, but I honestly believe it’s for everyone’s benefit if we all manage our lives to be a healthy balance so we can be our best selves and be able to step up to the plate in the tasks we are faced with. Stress can really take its toll on relationships and mental and physical health, so be wise about controlling the amount of stressors in your life and learning how to cope well with stress when it does arise.

How to be a Better Human: Food for Thought About Friendship

This is a longer version of a post I wrote for “Around the Grove,” the student blog of the Unviersities at Shady Grove. I’m also considering writing a series of posts called “How to be a Better Human” with my unsolicited advice about being a kinder, more compassionate member of human society who gives back, and this will be a precursor to that.

If you’ve logged onto your Facebook recently, you might have noticed that Facebook is celebrating their “birthday” with a holiday they created called “Friend Day.” Now, personally, I don’t have a great track record with having good friendships in the last few years, so I thought it might be interesting to reflect a bit on friendship in my first blog post this spring semester. A lot of people say, after all, that the friendships you make in college are part of what makes your experience so meaningful. The flip side of this, of course, is that bad friendships or a lack of strong friendships can make a college experience really difficult.

The beginning of the semester tends to be a time when people have friendship on their minds: getting to see friends from last semester again, trying to make new friends if you just transferred, meeting new people in your classes, etc. I figured I would offer a few unsolicited pieces of advice that I’ve learned from experience of the years on the subject, particularly as they relate to starting back at school:

  1. Be open to making new friends (even if you’re a senior.) I’ve heard seniors tell friends they don’t want to bother with meeting new people because they’re about to leave anyways. You never know when great opportunities will come your way, and you might be surprised how many friends will drop out of your life once you move on to a new place. So be careful about writing people off or closing yourself off to the potential of forging new friendships. If you’re not a senior, it can be easy to get comfortable with your friend group and neglect making new friends. There are lots of interesting people in the world who are worth getting to know and who might expand your horizons and enrich your life.
  2. Be open to being friends with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. Some of the most unexpected people have ended up being my best, most loyal friends over the years, so don’t write people off as not your type too quickly. Also, be aware that some people take a longer time to warm up to people and open up to others and show their true personality (like yours truly!) We all have a tendency to be attracted to the loudest person in the room, but consider trying to get to know the quiet people on the periphery; I’ve come to learn they can make great friends and have a lot to offer (though maybe I’m a little biased!)
  3. Welcome new students. All of us undergrads at USG have experienced being a transfer student. Maybe it went well for you or maybe it was really lonely and stressful. Either way, have some empathy for those who are just arriving and welcome them: introduce yourself, include them in conversation, and just be open to getting to know them. It’s sadly not unheard of for some people to look down on newbies, but we’ve all been the new person…Do you really want to be the jerk who forms a clique and excludes others?
  4. Cut off toxic friendships. This doesn’t directly relate to school life, but I think new years and fresh beginnings can be a great reminder to clean out toxic habits, thoughts, and people from our lives. A lot of us at USG have moved from other schools or places, and I’m sure many have experienced the frustration of friendships we cherished fizzling out. It’s helpful to remember that some relationships are just meant for a certain part of our lives; people come and go. If someone isn’t invested in you and prioritizing your friendship at the same level that you are and you find yourself more hurt than uplifted by that relationship maybe it’s time to let go.
  5. Even though you’re busy, remember to let people know you’re invested in them. Nothing kills a relationship like an unresponsive friend. So even though you have a lot on your plate, remember to take a moment here and there to do these things for friends and loved ones:
    1. Ask them how they’re doing
    2. Tell them why you appreciate them
    3. Leave them a note or send an encouraging text
    4. Let them know you are thinking of them
    5. Respond to their emails, texts, etc. in a timely manner (or let them know you will get back when you have the time)
  6. Respect others’ points of view and be a good listener. Obviously, our political and social climate right now is very tense and full of harsh words. As a community of scholars, I think it’s crucial for us to continue to respect the opinions of others, listen to their point of view, and try to be understanding rather than just dismissing or insulting whatever we don’t agree with. A lot of people feel powerless right now, but, as corny as it sounds, I think the communities we create in the little worlds we each inhabit can have ripple effects into the world around us. And we can make a huge impact on the people around us – for better or for worse – in our daily interactions.

Well, with that, I think I’ve said more than my fair share, but I hope that you all will enter this semester open to new relationships and that you’ll be able to find some kindred spirits to brighten your life among the swamp of papers, projects, and textbook readings!

Best of luck with this new semester!

You’ve got a friend in me

This was posted on the Universities at Shady Grove‘s student blog Around the Grove on February 3, 2017. You can read my other posts here.

If you’ve logged onto your Facebook recently, you might have noticed that Facebook is celebrating their “birthday” with a holiday they created called “Friend Day.” I thought it might be interesting to reflect a bit on friendship in my first blog post this spring semester. A lot of people say, after all, that friendships are the best, most lasting part of the college experience. The flip side of this, of course, is that bad friendships or a lack of strong friendships can make a college experience really difficult.

The beginning of the semester tends to be a time when people have relationships on their minds: getting to see old friends again, trying to make new ones, meeting new people in your classes, etc. I figured I would offer a few unsolicited pieces of advice that I’ve learned over the years that might be helpful as you start your semester:

  1. Be open to making new friends (even if you’re a senior.) I’ve heard seniors tell friends they don’t want to bother with meeting new people because they’re about to leave anyways. Even if you’re not a senior, it can be easy to get comfortable with your friend group and close yourself off to new friendships. However, there are lots of interesting people in the world who are worth getting to know and who might expand your horizons and enrich your life…You never know what’s around the bend!
  2. Be open to being friends with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. Some of the most unexpected people have ended up being my best, most loyal friends over the years, so don’t write people off as not your type too quickly. Also, be aware that some people take a longer time to warm up to people and show their true personality. We all have a tendency to be attracted to the loudest person in the room, but consider trying to get to know the quiet people on the periphery; I’ve come to learn they can make great friends and have a lot to offer.

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    Friends of a feather flock together 😉

  3. Welcome new students. All of us undergrads at USG have experienced being a transfer student. Have some sympathy for those who are just arriving and welcome them: introduce yourself, include them in conversation, and just be open to getting to know them.
  4. Cut off toxic friendships. I’m sure many have experienced the frustration of friendships we cherished fizzling out. It’s helpful to remember that some relationships might just meant for a certain part of your life; people come and go. If someone isn’t invested in you and prioritizing your friendship at the same level that you are and you find yourself more hurt than uplifted by that relationship, maybe it’s time to let go.

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    USG believes in promoting a culture of care (photo courtesy of USG)

  5. Even though you’re busy, remember to let people know you’re invested in them. Nothing kills a relationship like an unresponsive friend. So even though you have a lot on your plate, remember to take a moment here and there to ask friends and loved ones how they are or remind them that you appreciate them.
  6. Respect others’ points of view and be a good listener, inside and outside of friendships. Obviously, our political and social climate right now is very tense and full of harsh words. As a community of scholars, I think it’s crucial for us to continue to respect the opinions of others, listen to their point of view, and try to be understanding rather than just dismissing or insulting whatever we don’t agree with.

A lot of people feel powerless to make change right now, but, as corny as it sounds, I think the communities we create in the little worlds we each inhabit can have ripple effects into the world around us. And we can make a huge impact on the people around us – for better or for worse – in our daily interactions and relationships.

Best of luck with this new semester, Shady Grovers!

Having trouble making friends or want to be more involved on campus? Sign up for USG’s weekly newsletter for on-campus events, and check out these other great campus resources:

And, of course, keep checking Around the Grove for news on campus events and student lfie!

Life Lessons from Ice Skating

Tonight, I went ice skating for the first time in over a decade. Recently, I’ve been trying to find some “cool” sport to learn to make exercising appealing and to feel like I’m accomplishing something in life outside of doing schoolwork. Like many women, figure skating has always fascinated me. It’s like the gymnastics of the winter Olympics.

When I found out the local ice rink offered classes, I was immediately ready to fork over $200 bucks and register, hoping I could get a taste of that kind of grace and freedom skaters seem to experience out on the rink. Thankfully, my ever-practical mother put the brakes on that train and recommended I actually go skate before I empty my bank account, go to one class, and find out I hate it.

As much as I hate to admit it, she was right. (Thanks, Mom.) Learning to skate must be like learning to walk, which makes me feel bad for baby me. It’s extremely unnatural, awkward, baffling, frustrating, and a bit terrifying. And you fall a lot. But as I wobbled my way around the oval again and again, slowly loosening my death grip on the wall and allowing myself to glide a few feet on the ice (until I fell and slammed onto my butt twice), I couldn’t help but think of how much the process paralleled real life.

So, without further ado, here are a few quick unsolicited life lessons I took from my experience today:

  • You might fall on your tush a few times, but you can get back up and try again. Don’t let it stop you. Laugh it off. You might feel your body tense next time you pass that spot where you wiped out, but grit your teeth and skate a little faster.
  • Sometimes you need somebody (or something) to lean on. When I first got out on the ice (and every subsequent time, actually), I felt so stupid clinging to the side of the rink while seven year-olds glided by doing triple lutzes. But that was all I could do at the time. Sometimes you have to lean on other people – family, friends, a therapist, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a mentor – to help you through a time when you can’t walk on your own. It’s just part of life. We can’t always be strong or know what we’re doing.
  • Sometimes real life isn’t like the movies. I can’t think of a silver lining to sugar coat this one, but I think it is an important lesson you have to realize at some point in life. I went in expecting a “Disney’s Ice Princess” moment where I stepped onto the ice and immediately start gliding and spinning. Not so, my friend. I find myself expecting a lot of things to be like TV – where you get to tell off the friend who wronged you or the guy who you’re meant to be with realizes his girlfriend is a witch and you’ve always understood and supported him and he dumps her and runs to you just before you get on the plane…But life isn’t like that. (Or at least mine isn’t; maybe the joke’s on me.) But all the same…
  • Even awkward, difficult things have silver linings. Even though I never quite got the hang of it and I can tell that I’m going to wake up tomorrow feeling like a Zamboni drove over me, I had a good time. I got out of the house, I spent time with a friend, I actually exercised, and I realized that I can give up my dreams of being an Olympic figure skater. Sometimes it’s kind of relieving to be able to cross something off your list that you feel like you should accomplish. “Nope. That’s never happening. Now I can move on to salsa dancing.”
  • It’s good to be reminded not to take yourself too seriously. The other benefit of today’s experience was that it was humbling. It’s nice to laugh at yourself a bit and realize you can’t conquer everything. It’s good to be aware of your limitations in a non-self-berating way. I could laugh at my inferior abilities without falling into the trap of self-hate. I could keep my ego in check but not fall into the depths of despair because it was kind of funny to be bad at something for once; I had nothing to lose. And with that, as I marveled at the seven year-old girls skating their way to Olympic qualification, I realized that there are things that I’ve been blessed to be naturally gifted at that I’ve been taking for granted.
  • Go with the flow. About my fifteen billionth time around the rink, I realized that the best thing to do is just glide. Feel where the ice is taking you and lean into it. As someone who has been freaking out over where to go in life after I graduate, trying to plan my life out but realizing its impossible, it’s good to remember that a lot of life is gliding from one opportunity to the next. Sure, you have to put a lot of work in, I’m not saying your should just skate through everything, but you have to let go of the need to plan everything and just be open to the idea of seeing where things go.

I could draw a million more parallels, probably. (Here’s another one: They never bring out the damn Zamboni when you need them to. And as a result you fall on your butt.) But I think I’ve over-written my welcome.

I hope, nonetheless, readers, that life in the coming weeks is for you “incredibly skateable,” as one of my mother’s ice skating-loving students once said. (Translation: REALLY AMAZING.)

‘Tis the Season…to apply for internships!

This was originally posted on “Around the Grove,” the student blog of the Universities at Shady Grove, on December 23, 2016.

Winter break has started for most Shady Grovers, and while you should definitely take plenty of time to relax during the next month of break, you should also consider taking time to search and apply for spring and summer internship opportunities! Many internship applications are due in February and March, so winter break is a great time to find opportunities and write application materials before the whirlwind of spring semester sets in.

The internships I’ve done have been some of the highlights of my college experience. It can get overwhelming sitting in classes learning about theories and ideas, wondering what career you want to pursue. Internships provide hands-on experience applying the things you learn in class to work being done in the real world.

Internships can be part-time (10 to 20 hours a week) or full-time (around 40 hours/week), unpaid or paid. Paid internships tend to have more competition and the application may require an essay or official transcripts. Unpaid internships can be rewarding too though and they can pay off in that you gain experience and make connections in the field you want to work in. Even if you’re strapped for time, you can consider volunteering once a week at an organization to get experience (you can still put this kind of experience on your resume!)

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One cool part of internships is creating your own work! These are from a project I did during one summer internship. I’m pretty proud of these cards – I wrote, designed, and laminated them myself!

Since I’m sure your attention span has been decimated by a semester’s worth of textbook readings (mine too), I’m going to use lots of bullet points from here on out!  Here are some questions you might have about internships and some hopefully helpful tips for finding and applying for them:

How do I find an internship?

  • Ask your professors about opportunities they may know of or places where previous students have worked.
  • Use the Career Center’s online board of local internships and jobs, the USG Career Connector.
  • Search Google, LinkedIn, Internships.com, and other job sites. A Google search should help you to find some websites specific to your work field that post internship listings.
  • Look at your university’s and other school’s departmental websites: individual majors and grad programs often have websites that list places where previous students have held internships.
  • Make a list of organizations or companies you would love to work for and check their websites. Even if a place doesn’t have a formal internship listed, consider contacting a staff member and asking if they would be willing to have you shadow, intern, or volunteer. (I did this myself twice and was surprised at how open people were to having me work! The people are typically impressed by your initiative.)

How do I make my application materials stand out?

  • Make a list of your experiences and skills – from volunteer work to student jobs to extracurricular activities to computer skills – to help you write your resume.
  • Consult our Career Services Center for help writing and editing resumes, cover letters, etc. as well as running mock interviews.
  • Talk to your professors along the process and ask for their insight or help tailoring your resume, etc. to your field of work.
  • Double check all your application materials (and emails) for typos and have someone else look over them. (I’ve found some embarrassing typos in cover letters after I submitted them.)

Best of luck to any who are on the internship hunt! Internships can be such a cool experiences and very beneficial in figuring out what career path to take. Be sure to take advantage of USG’s Career and Internship Services Center‘s incredible array of online and on-campus resources….And happy holidays to all!

Glimpses into life in the past at National Park Seminary historic district

This was originally posted on “Retrieving the Past”, the internship blog of the history department of University of Maryland Baltimore County, the third installment of a series of posts about my work with Save Our Seminary historic preservation advocacy nonprofit.

Possibly my favorite part of my collections internship with historic preservation nonprofit Save Our Seminary (SOS) was taking inventory of new acquisitions to the organization’s archives. One of SOS’s board members monitors sites like eBay for paraphernalia related to the school. I was surprised that there would be things sold online related to the school, but that speaks to the wide spread of the girls that attended the school. One yearbook I looked at listed girls from a huge variety of states, some even from overseas. It was rare for a student to actually be from the DC area. And like any college, the attendees had a lot of pride in their alma mater; National Park Seminary had an active alumni network even after the school closed in the 1940s.

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A 1920s school yearbook. The girls all sport stylish 1920s bobs and each girl
has a fun, congenial description of her personality written by the yearbook staff.
Another interesting note: The Yearbook was called “The Acorn” and you may be
able to see the squirrels drawn in on the blocks behind the women’s pictures.

Unfortunately, many of these alumna are passing away and their estates are being sold. The majority of the acquisitions I went through were from the collection of one particular woman who attended NPS in the early 1920s. Interestingly enough, my supervisor and I discovered through some archival detective work that this woman and her sister both went to National Park Seminary…and must have married two men who were brothers!

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A note from one student to another asking to meet at one of the sorority clubhouses.

It was amazing how much stuff these women kept: playbills, ticket stubs, notes from friends and faculty, postcards, letters. One thing I found particularly amusing were these short notes that I dubbed “early twentieth-century text messages.” Sometimes these were warning notes from school faculty regarding money owed or dorm rooms that needed to be cleaned. Other times they were notes from sorority sisters asking the girl to meet them at a certain place later that day. It was interesting to see how people communicated before email and text.

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A student scrapbook with playbills and other paper ephemera.

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I came across a few of these decorative name plates with colorful character. The triangle folds on the sides of the base make me wonder if they were used to assign seating at dinner events, perhaps for sorority events. See two more of these decorations below.

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I also had a chance to look at yearbooks, school catalogs sent out to advertise the college to potential students, and scrapbooks made by students of their time at the school. It was fascinating to see fashions and hairstyles change over the years but also to get a sense of what it was like to be a student at NPS. Since I scrapbooked my own college experience, it was interesting to see the change and continuity between scrapbooks (and college life) in the early twentieth century and today. In fact, I decided to use the scrapbook collection as the source base for my senior thesis. All in all, after spending so much of my internship focusing on the buildings of the school, it was enlightening to get a glimpse on the lives that were lived within those buildings.

 

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Life lived in buildings: This field hockey team took this photo in front of the stone arches above, which I passed by every day I worked at my internship. I found this photo interesting because school sports teams still take photos like this. 

Career Counseling #ForTheWin

This post was originally featured on The University at Shady Grove’s student blog “Around the Grove” on December 9, 2016. Read my other posts on “Around the Grove” here.

One absolutely incredible (and did I mention free!!!) service available to any student taking classes at the Universities at Shady Grove is career counseling, a set of two or more conferences with a professional on-campus psychologist designed to help you find options for a career path that fits your personality and priorities for your work life. Whether you’re a person who hasn’t even decided on a major or you’re a grad student not sure what direction to head in after graduation, this is a great service to take advantage of.

I had the chance to go through the career counseling process this month at USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation and learned a lot. Personally, I’ve been pursuing a career path in the museum field for the majority of my undergraduate life, but I have a wide variety of interests, which makes it hard to settle on just one career field. Lately I’ve been questioning whether I’m going down the right path, especially with graduation on the horizon!  I thought I could benefit from some extra guidance and scheduled an appointment with the CCC.

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So many options…which job do I pursue?!

First, I met with Dr. Kandell, the Counseling Center’s residential psychologist, to discuss my general thoughts about my future career: what career options I’ve considered in the past, what my career goals are now, and what some of my concerns are with the career I’ve been working towards. This first appointment can feel a little redundant, especially if you’re already given your career a lot of thought, but it’s just the beginning of the process, so don’t give up yet! You’ll learn so much along the way.

My next step was taking two online tests on my own time between appointments gauging my personality type and the kinds of work that interest me. The combined tests take a little over an hour and consist of simple multiple answer questions. Dr. Kandell discusses the results piece by piece with you during your second appointment, providing you with your own print-outs of the results for reference!

One test is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, which you may have heard of before. Even if you’ve taken the test before, Dr. Kandell interprets the results as they relate to your career. I’m a bit of a Myers-Briggs nerd, so I already knew my personality type, but Dr. Kandell pointed out some of the implications my personality type (INFP, if you’re curious!) could have on both my career interests and my decision-making process in choosing a career.

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A snapshot of part of the print-out of my Myers-Briggs test results.

The other test is the Strong Inventory, which focuses on personality in terms of careers, determining what type of work you enjoy (research, creative thinking, helping others, hands-on work, etc.) and other elements you should look for (or avoid) in a job. Even more helpful is that it uses a survey done of successful people in a variety of careers to match your results up with careers where people with the same scores as you enjoy working (my top results: librarian and musician.)

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The first (of many!) pages of my Strong Interest Inventory test results…love how it’s color-coded!

The third step in the process is completing a Values Card Sort, an activity to help get you thinking about what you want most in a job. Of course, you can also schedule more appointments if you find you want to continue exploring the things that may come up during your sessions.

Counseling is a really enriching experience and we are so, so lucky to have such top-notch professional services available to us on campus for free! The process has helped me to learn about myself and brought to light some important things to consider not just in my search for a fitting job, but also my general well-being.

Give Thanks

This was originally posted on Around the Grovethe student blog of the Universities at Shady Grove on November 25, 2016. 

This Thanksgiving has been a real wake-up call for me personally. This is the busiest time of the year, especially for us students. It’s the end-of-the-semester crunch time: papers, tests, presentations, internship applications and spring semester registration are all in this month’s forecast. (Not to mention figuring out Black Friday shopping lists!) Oftentimes Thanksgiving break can turn into a chance to catch up on homework instead of an opportunity to reflect on life, practice gratitude, and spend time with family.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a couple of reminders of how selfish I tend to be. The arrival of Thanksgiving has made me stop and realize how much I already have to be thankful for. I’ve realized that I need to incorporate thankfulness into my life all the time, not just one week of the year, which is a great reminder as we head into a season where it’s easy to get wrapped up dwelling on what new shiny presents we want.

Lately, I’ve also been realizing how much I’ve come to take school for granted. During my first semester at USG, I started to recognize how blessed I was to have the chance to get an education. For the first three years of my college experience, I tended to take my education for granted because practically everyone took going to college for granted. We complained about classes all the time and counted down the days until the next break.

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At USG, I encountered people who were the first people in their family to go to college, who were working full-time and going to school, or who were raising a family while taking classes. These people’s incredible dedication and hard work inspired me to work harder in my classes and to be thankful for the opportunity to go to college, something many people don’t have the chance to do.

This semester, I’ve lost sight of that gratefulness in the midst of all the stress, and I’ve come to resent being “stuck” in school again. During this time of year its especially easy to complain about confusing assignments and crammed schedules, but I hope you and I both this can use this Thanksgiving as a reminder to take a step back and consider we have to be thankful for. And to put a pause on the complaining and be grateful for the opportunity to learn.

Lastly, I just want to say how much I appreciate the Universities at Shady Grove for giving even more people access to education. I appreciate the hard-working, dedicated staff and students at this institution and who work so hard to pursue knowledge and effect change in their corner of the universe. I’m personally grateful to USG for giving me access so many amazing opportunities (like being a blogger here on Around the Grove.) And I’m thankful for the wonderful staff who have reached out to help me succeed and have the best experience possible here.

Preserving the Past: My Public History Internship with Save Our Seminary (Part 2)

This was originally posted on Retrieving the Pastthe internship blog of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) history department on November 18, 2016. You can read my other post about this same internship here.

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The newly renovated Greek Revival gymnasium, which now houses condominium units, greets visitors when they enter the National Park Seminary historic district. Not too long ago, the magnificent building was decaying from neglect. (Rebecca Gale)

 

As I relayed in my last post, I have been completing an internship with the historic preservation nonprofit Save Our Seminary (SOS), based in Forest Glen, MD, which is responsible for the rescue and restoration of the historic National Park Seminary campus. SOS maintains an archive of objects important to the seminary’s history, and I’ve had the chance to aid with organizing parts of the collection to make it more accessible.

While my first task was filing slides in archivally safe sleeves, my second project was sorting and filing an extensive set of photos depicting the gradual decay and long-awaited restoration of the historic buildings over the course of two decades. The bulk of the photos were taken by my internship supervisor, a historic preservationist and the executive director of SOS, who has been documenting the state of the campus since before most of us undergraduates were even in existence.

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The end result of my project, two and a half feet of binders featuring hundreds of photos. Each binder focuses on a different building or sculpture, with photos placed in chronological order to show change over time.

This collection has amounted to hundreds of photos and dates back to 1990. My job has been to sort photos into categories based on what building or object is pictured and place them into archival sleeves in chronological order so that it will be easy to trace the development of each building over time. Going through the photos has been fascinating, and their existence is a testament to the dedication of people who care about the stories that historic spaces tell, even when they no longer showcase their beauty as originally intended. I remember driving past the seminary campus when it was a tangle of weeds; it’s easy to forget the horrific state of the place looking at its pristine, glowing stucco today.

Here is a series of three photos from the collection, depicting the restoration of part of what was a dorm building when National Park Seminary was a school:

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Decay like this was common in almost all the buildings on campus in the 1990s while the US Army still owned the property but was no longer using or maintaining the buildings. (Photo by Bonnie Rosenthal, courtesy of Save Our Seminary)

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This photo from June 2007 shows the demolition phase of reconstruction. Some of the floors of this particular building had collapsed on each other and had to be torn out and rebuilt. Note the fireplace pictured above is still standing in the middle of the building. (Bonnie Rosenthal, Save Our Seminary)

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A year later in 2008, you can see the progress that has been made reconstructing the floors and walls while maintaining the fireplace and historic stonework, on its way to becoming a unique historic condominium building. (Bonnie Rosenthal, Save Our Seminary)

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The exterior of the restored building today. (Rebecca Gale)

This photo collection is a reminder of the victory that has been won in saving one American treasure and restoring it to life. Whenever I set foot on the seminary campus now, I think back to the mind-boggling images of decay – floors falling down, entire walls sagging, stones buckling, roofs caving in, fires being put out – and my heart warms to see a dream realized in front of me, the dream of a group of people committed to a place that spoke to them. The seminary is a reminder to keep fighting for the preservation of historic places because their story deserves to be told and they are meant to be a site of life once again.

 

Caring and Sharing

This post was originally published on Around the Grove, the student blog of the Universities at Shady Grove, on November 11, 2016.

To say this week has been stressful for most people would be an understatement. This election has been extremely divisive, particularly in recent weeks, and I know that has left a lot of people across the political spectrum feeling understandably fearful, defensive, cynical, and critical. It’s easy to point fingers at the other side without trying to understand where they’re coming from.

Even outside of election season though, it’s easy to look more at our differences than the things that unify us and to judge other people who we don’t understand. I find myself criticizing other people way too much, and it’s something I’ve been trying to combat because I believe it poisons our society. Judging other people prevents us from getting to know others who are different from us, robbing us of the incredibly enriching experience of learning from others’ cultures, experiences, and points of view.

One of our other bloggers, Quynh, recently wrote about USG’s Culture of Care network. The CCN aims to create a campus community where people feel accepted, connected, and cared for by encouraging students and staff to do small things to make the campus a more inviting, uplifting place. Whoever you voted for and whatever changes you think need to be made in this country, I think we can all agree that the world would benefit from more love and kindness. Showing kindness to others can have a surprisingly large impact.

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Image courtesy of the USG Culture of Care Network

Here are a few ways, some big, some small, that you can incorporate kindness into your daily life in order to start changing the world around you:

  • Hold the door for others.
  • Leave positive comments on the Internet.
  • Express appreciation to other people for their hard work.
  • Send polite emails.
  • Talk about others’ religions, political views, cultural values, etc. in a respectful way, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Listen to others’ thoughts attentively.
  • Ask other people about themselves.
  • Don’t judge what (or who) you don’t know.
  • Contact an old friend and ask how they’re doing.
  • Try to understand other people’s opinions and ways of thinking before you critique them.
  • Give other people affirmation, compliments, and encouragement.

Even though you might not see the effects of your actions, you never know what kind of impact the way you treat others may have, whether positive or negative. So let’s work to be more conscious of creating a culture of care here at Shady Grove, especially in the wake of such a divisive event in our nation. Two of my favorite parts of this campus are its diversity and its friendliness – I hope we can embrace those traits even more in the coming year.

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Image courtesy of To Write Love On Her Arms.