Frosh-cessities: A guide to summer opportunities

“So… what are you doing this summer?” — maybe the worst question since that dreaded “Where are you heading next year?” you might have gotten from relatives, your dentist, or strangers your senior year of high school.

Have no idea where to start your search? Have no idea people did things over the summer? Blog has you covered with an overview of some different options, especially for you precocious but overwhelmed first-years.

Taking Classes

Some students stay at Brown to take classes over the summer. It’s a great opportunity to take a class you might not have time for in your normal schedule during the year, or to get a concentration requirement out of the way. Despite the shorter term, each class counts as a full course credit because they meet more frequently. You can take up to two courses a summer, and up to four summer classes can count towards your degree. Classes are paid à la carteHere’s the current course catalogue for Summer 2016. Pre registration for summer courses runs from April 1 – 21.

You can also take classes at another university and petition for transfer credit. This needs to be arranged through the Dean of the College, because Brown’s course hours might not match up with the other school. If you’d like to get credit counted towards your concentration, you should double check with the department, because often departments are strict on what courses can fulfill a Brown equivalent.

RISD classes are also offered during the summer. Note that while RISD classes are included in Brown tuition for the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms, Summer classes are not included. More information hereUp to four RISD classes can count towards your Brown degree.

If you’re sticking around Brown for the summer, whether for classes, research, an internship, or something else, you can pay for Brown summer housing, or get a sublet in the neighborhood (there are always many options available, as juniors and seniors who live off campus desperately want to find subletters). You can also apply to be a Summer@Brown residential assistant (for high school students) and live in dorms over the summer for free. Many students enjoy spending the summer in Providence, for the free concerts and events, the warm weather, or for the change in pace and community from during the year.

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Junot Díaz talk discusses social activism in academia

Presented by the Brown Center for Students of Color’s Heritage Series, Junot Díaz came to Salomon auditorium Saturday night for a conversation about social activism in academia. Open to the public, the lecture was the keynote talk for the 2015 Latinx Ivy League Conference at Brown. The event was organized by the Latino Heritage Series Programmers, Lehidy Frias ’17 and Kiki Tapiero ’17.

Junot Díaz is the author of DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and This is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller. Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated with his family to New Jersey when he was six years old. Díaz currently teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is an outspoken voice for social activism and justice.

Ignoring the lectern set up for the event, Junot Díaz walked up to the lip of the stage. He explained, “I do have comments prepared, you don’t get as nerdy as me and not come ready to roll,” but that he wanted to switch the order of the lecture, given what has happened this week on campus. Díaz transformed the structure of his lecture into a discussion, having students’ questions direct the conversation. Here is what we talked about:

With people who don’t seem to care, you must approach a conversation with compassion.

Díaz explained that “nothing is more politicized than the status quo,” and that many of us grow up weaned on status quo mentality. “Back then, when someone resisted the status quo, we were troubled by it. Remember how uncomfortable we were, how quickly we wanted the conversation to change.” Díaz reminded the audience that “we are not born activists,” and that it’s easy to forget how “messed up we used to be.” As such, Díaz explained his baseline for these types of conversations “always starts with compassion,” and that you must remember that the person you are angry at might have been you once.

Graduating is an act of defiance. 

One student asked Díaz how one might deal with racist and oppressive professors, given a situation where the instructor and student are in such an imbalance of power, with the instructor in control of the student’s grades and view of the world. Díaz explained that we must wrestle with the idea that this has “never been a safe space for us.” Díaz continued, “Where is safe? Where you’re from? Your neighborhood? You’re bugging if you think you’re safe in your home. We fight to get to college, thinking it will be a safe space, only to find out it was a lie.” Díaz explained, “You must recognize that we are in an educational system of deep scarcity. A couple students of color get in, and the door is shut.”

Díaz addressed the students of color in the audience: “My goal is that as many of you will graduate. There’s a million at home holding down the fort. The bench is full. We don’t need one more of you home, holding home down. We need you to be here, and to graduate. You survived growing up black, brown, yellow, Indigenous, and survived. This shit is cake… There are two options, fight or kneel. Our ancestors spent a lot of time kneeling, so we would have a chance to fight.”

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The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows

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The Animation Show of Shows returned to the RISD Auditorium Sunday night for a night of independent award-winning animated shorts. Now in its 17th year, the show is curated by producer Ron Diamond each year and screened at colleges and studios each year to showcase the work of independent animators from around the world. For the first time this year, it will also be screened in theaters across the U.S., thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The theatrical program features “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” (16th) and “Ascension” (15th), films screened in past Shows of Shows. The non-theatrical program features three films instead, “Edmond,” “Yul and the Snake,” and “Sanjay’s Super Team” (though “Sanjay’s Super Team” wasn’t screened at RISD). The screening also included artist bios of the creators behind “Snowfall,” “Stripy,” and “Love in the Time of March Madness.”

Hosted by the RISD FAV (Film/Animation/Video) Department, members of the RISD, Brown, and the Providence community gathered in the RISD Auditorium for a screening of this year’s show. Keep reading for recaps of what we saw — and click the titles for trailers!

The Story of Percival Pilts
Created by Janette Goodley & John Lewis (Australia)

Created in a beautiful pastel miniature stop-motion world, this story follows Percival Pilts, the narrator’s brother, who starts walking as a kid on short tin-can and wooden stilts. Percival’s stilts grow and grow as he gets older until he’s too tall for their family’s house. He takes off to a new town, facing ridicule from the townspeople until they realize the stilt life is the way to go.

Tant de Forets
Created by Geoffrey Godet & Burcu Sankur (France)

This short showed a forest being torn down for paper manufacturing, industry, and urbanization. With sort of a PSA feel, it did not have much of a definitive ending besides just ‘sad,’ though the papercut illustration style and shifts between 2D and 3D perspectives were interesting.

Snowfall
Directed by Conor Whelan (Ireland)

The first part of this short is a pretty generic party scene accompanied by electronic music with a thumping bass, all animated illustration of course. But there are quirks — the people move by morphing in and out of formless shapes across the room. Clips moved quickly through interactions amongst various characters, like from two men talking to a man and woman suspended in air. The subsequent segment profiling the director revealed that he wanted to explore the emotions involved in the rejection of a queer individual by a straight individual in a social setting.

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8 things we learned at An Evening with David Sedaris

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David Sedaris, humorist and essayist, came to the swanky Providence Performing Arts Center Monday night for a reading of new and past works and a book signing. Sedaris is the author of the bestselling personal essay collections Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, and also frequently contributes to The New Yorker magazine and blog. With a stack of books and papers under his arm, Sedaris wandered onto the massive PPAC stage to read, teaching us a few things:

1. Tumors make good turtle food. Sedaris had a benign fatty tumor in his side called a lipoma. He had taken a liking to a particular snapping turtle, which had a growth on his head, near his house in Emerald Isle and came to the conclusion that he had to feed his tumor to the turtle. He went to a doctor who said he could take the tumor out, but could not give him any removed body parts due to Federal law. Sedaris had the tumor removed in the middle of the night by a fan who approached him at a book signing, who explained that while she was not a surgeon officially, she learned it for a year in med school. After his trip to her clinic after the show, Sedaris kept the tumor in his freezer for almost a year, as the turtles were hibernating. But, when springtime rolled around and he returned to Emerald Isle, Sedaris discovered that his favorite snapping turtle had died over the winter. Sedaris somewhat reluctantly fed the tumor to other turtles in the area, and they gobbled it up!

2. Sedaris is a local litter hero. As described in his 2014 essay in The New Yorker, “Stepping Out”, Sedaris loves his FitBit. When he first got it, he loved it so much that he started picking up trash on his long walks, upping his self-imposed litter-patrol shifts to about nine hours a day, around 60,000 steps, and about 20 – 25 miles. Sedaris shared that he once collected garbage for 30 miles in one day, taking him 11.5 hours. Sedaris has collected so much garbage around his village in West Sussex, England that the local council has named a garbage truck after him and he was invited to Buckingham Palace last May to meet Queen Elizabeth II. 

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Concert Knowledge: 7 things I learned at Bo Burnham’s MAKE HAPPY tour

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Bo Burnham came to Providence Friday night, for the third stop of his Fall 2015 MAKE HAPPY tour. Burnham is a comedian, musician, and writer. Starting out of YouTube at the age 16, Burnham was the youngest comedian to record a Comedy Central special at the age of 18. He’s recorded two hour-long specials since then – Words, Words, Words in 2010 and what. in 2013. Burnham also wrote and starred in the MTV series Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, is hilarious on Vine, and wrote a bestselling poetry book, EGGHEAD.

Burnham performed Friday night at the gorgeous VETS auditorium, and he killed it. Here are the 7 things I learned at MAKE HAPPY 2015:

1. WolfCop is a must (?) see

Burnham’s opener, Adam Newman from Comedy Central, gave a hilarious raving review/reenactment of WolfCop, a Sharknado-esque 2014 movie on Netflix that’s fairly self-explanatory (read: werewolf and cop). However, as Newmann animatedly described, this werewolf movie is the only one where the protagonist transforms into a werewolf wiener-first. WolfCop (aka Lou Garou) transforms into a werewolf mid-pee, and the transformation is a progression of approximately “wiener to potato to explosion.” My friend and I started watching it after the show, and it’s definitely, as Newman argued, a must see. The Netflix description: “After being transformed into a werewolf, a boozy cop uses his new powers to tangle with devil worshipers, shape-shifters, and other minions of evil.” I mean…

2. Bo is tall, so very tall (and also very fluid)

Yes, Bo is ridiculously crazy tall in person, a friend you’d definitely want to take apple picking. At 6′ 5″, Bo was easy to see on stage, sporting his signature white T. The man is just a lot of limbs and is also a very animated performer and dancer. His long legs and arms form a whirlwind of Bo, a fluid octopus of comedy, dance, and sound, if you will.

3. Straight white men have a lot of problems

Bo sat down at his piano and prefaced a song with, “I have a lot of problems, and I like to share them with people,” beginning a satirical, self-aware song from the perspective of a straight white man. Bo belted out a drawn out and melodic, “Straiiiightttt whiteeeeeeee mannnnnn” chorus throughout the song, singing, “Can’t you just leave us alone, and also, no, to the things you asked for” to all the gays and the women’s rights activists.

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An afternoon in the Annmary Brown Memorial

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What are some buildings you’ve never set foot in at Brown? For some, it might be the Annmary Brown Memorial – that tomb-like, windowless building near Keeney and Health Services, a subject of much Brown folklore and ghost stories. Blog spent an afternoon in the famed memorial, and lived to tell the tale.

The Annmary Brown Memorial, located at 21 Brown Street, was built in 1907 by General Rush Christopher Hawkins as a memorial to his wife. During the Civil War, General Hawkins (1831 – 1920) served as Colonel of the “Hawkins Zouaves,” the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry, and was named Brigadier General in 1865. Hawkins was a well-known book collector, fascinated by early print editions, and a collector of early modern representational paintings.

Annmary Brown (1837 – 1903) was the daughter of Nicholas Brown III and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown II, for whom the university was named after. Brown and Hawkins married in 1860. Annmary was close with her sister, Carrie Brown Bajnotti, who is memorialized by the Carrie Tower on the Quiet Green. After her premature death from pneumonia in 1903, Hawkins decided to build a public memorial in her memory, to house belongings from their life together, Annmary Brown’s letters, as well as his Civil War memorabilia and art and book collections. Hawkins donated the memorial and the collection to the City of Providence in 1907. Brown was buried in the crypt in the rear of the building, and was joined by Hawkins, who died at the age of 89. The university acquired the memorial in 1948, which now houses the programs in Medieval Studies and in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

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