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Thursday, August 25, 2005


So the program has been underway since Monday. Some highlights:

It turns out that the "team building" Monday was something called "life mapping," which is just drawing a wordy diagram of major things in your life thus far. Seems dumb at first, but we then had to give 5-minute presentations to the group, and it was cool to hear everyone summarize their life and what had brought them here to this program.

We've only done about half of them so far. A lot of people have been working with various nonprofits, etc. A few have been working in Washington for Congress or other parts of the government. The oldest woman in our program has three kids, has taught high school in lots of unhospitable places, and was most recently working for the National Council of La Raza (yet she looks young and I didn't realize she was older until she told us, which is amazing). There's one woman from Japan and another from Peru. Most people graduated from college two to four years ago, with a few straight from school. There are 29 of us in total -- 6 men and 23 women. Yeah, yeah, I know. (But a surprisingly large number are married.)

Unexpected: James McBean, an accomplished fencer who was captain of our archrival team in high school, The Hopkins School, is in my class. I didn't realize this until he gave his presentation and talked about fencing. He went on to be a rival of my Olympic-caliber co-captain in their college years. He didn't remember me because I was a pretty mediocre fencer (my presumption, not his statement), but he was telling me that Matt really should be training for the 2008 Olympics because he'll still be young enough.

The math pre-test was rather frightening, with algebraic fractions inside square roots and that ugly sort of thing. But fortunately most of my classmates had also let a lot of that knowledge seep out of their ears since high school, so we're going over it all in "math camp" this week and next. This is boring but probably necessary. There's also a series of writing seminar classes, and individual sessions on a few other topics. The most immediate benefit of all this is that we're spending a lot of time together as a class getting to know each other. I've already recruited a couple people who want to go to rock shows. (LCD Soundsystem is coming in November, and there are a lot of shows in DC, but that's equivalent to going to Minneapolis from Carleton.)

The campus is nice -- brick walkways, stately buildings, greenery, etc. Since all the buildings are similar in style and the campus is larger than Carleton, I'm having more trouble getting oriented that I thought I might. Just got my student ID today, so I can get into everything now.

Tomorrow is a day off from "camp," so I'll be using it to do some urgent errands and take a bike ride for the first time since getting here, which is a little intimidating due to the more aggressive traffic and the potential to end up in a bad area. But it'll be good to bike, and I know it'll be less intimidating once I'm doing it. I'll probably take some pictures to post, too.

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