Sunday, February 1st, 2015...9:16 pm

Junior Year, Fall Semester – Reflection

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In Front Of Andy Warhol Wallpaper

At the close of 2014, I feel very accomplished with what I have undertaken for my third collegiate year.  I came into my fall semester with a lot on my plate – 18 credits, History Club President, CERRU Fellow, MOTNY Docent, and whatever else I would pick up along the way.  I won’t lie, there were many times in the past several months during which I stressed out a bit, perhaps more than was necessary, but overall, looking back, I realize that everything progressed smoothly.

I had a very interesting academic schedule, packing in everything I could so that I could be able to officially say that I will be completing my double majors this upcoming spring.  I finished my fourth and final semester of Italian, continued with both my History and Art History curricula, enjoyed an elective in the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department with a course on the history of Costumes and Furnishing, and completed an Honors credit requirement with Introduction to Poetry.

I am particularly proud of my academic accomplishments in my Italian and Art History courses.  For the first three semesters of my Art History language requirement, I learned various verb tenses, vocabulary, and writing skills.  It was in this final course, instructed by Professor Hermann Haller, that I was able to take my grammar, vocab, and writing skills and apply them to reading and comprehension.  Not only did the class read several articles on topics such as global warming, strikes, and other issues Hermann Hallerthat affect the country of Italy, but we also read an astounding amount of literature – short stories and novellas by the likes of Italo Calvino, Sciascia, Kuruvilla, and Ammaniti.  Though it was a great challenge, having to sit by Google translate to help me with difficult passages, I ultimately gained a lot.  I found that as I progressed through Ammaniti’s Io e Te, I more sparingly used Google Translate, and was able to pick out figures of speech – similes, metaphors, asyndeton – and identify how they aided in the storytelling process.  I wrote page-long analyses about what the authors were conveying in their characters and plots.  All I can say is a great THANK YOU, GRAZIE, to all of my Italian professors – Matilde Fogliani, Luca Zamparini, Morena Corradi, and Hermann Haller – for enriching me with an amazing Italian education.  I definitely am going to miss my time with the department, but who knows, perhaps I’ll take another class sometime in my senior year!

As I have since my third semester at Queens College, I took two Art History courses this semester – Edward PowersLate Contemporary (Post-War) and Research Methods.  These classes were back to back, in the same room, taught by the same professor – Edward Powers.  I must say, Powers was an EXCELLENT teacher, making even the most aesthetically unpleasing artwork interesting to learn about.  What students would say they enjoyed learning how to use Chicago citation?  I can tell you, with Professor Powers explaining the various period, comma, and colon placements, I enjoyed this lesson very much.  Whereas I have never been much of a nervous nelly when it comes to public speaking, I definitely feel a lot more confident with class presentations now that I’ve given two “lectures” in my Research Methods class.  The first was on an essay written by Eunice Lipton entitled “Images of Laundresses: Social and Sexual Ambivalence.”  The piece, though focusing mainly on Degas’ paintings of the subject, was strongly a social history work.  My second presentation was on my own essay, which delved deeply into a small Goya painting: Corral de Locos (The Yard of the Lunatics).  Both assignments required 15 minutes of speaking time as well as a PowerPoint display.  Though I had no trouble organizing my lectures, I found that a good student presentation is really hard to come by.  Many of my peers were unable, in my eyes, to convey a lucid analysis of the works they were studying: PowerPoint slides were distracting, a majority of people read from a piece of paper instead of speaking directly to the class, there was a major lack of focus and theses, and so on.  I did write one additional paper, for my Late Contemporary course, largely focusing on the Abstract Expressionist art of Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.

I have been just as busy extracurricularly as I have been academically.  Unfortunately, this semester, I had to forgo being part of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.  My schedule just couldn’t allow a four hour, HistoryClubtwo day dedication.  Instead, I have been focusing my main attentions towards History Club and CERRU (The Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding).  This year I was elected to be the President of the History Club, which, until now, has pretty much been a nonexistent club.  I introduced bi-weekly meetings with thematic focuses and professor lectures – “Scottish Independence” with Professor Covington, “Russia and the Ukraine” with Professors Antonov and Antonova, “ISIS” with Professor Simon, and “What To Do With A History Degree” with Mark Klein of the Office of Career Development.  I also created a monthly movie night where we viewed History of the World: Part I, The Lion in Winter, and The Dallas Buyers Club.  Lastly, we held one field trip to Flushing Meadows Park and the Queens Museum, where I gave a small informational tour about the Worlds Fair.  The club currently has about 100 members (according to our e-mail list), and my goal is to grow next semester!  I have tons of ideas for what I want to do in the coming months: a History Department Town Hall (where students and faculty get to know each other better), an Alumni Career event, Writing Workshops to help students perfect skills, a talk about the Armenian Genocide, and much more!  I don’t know if you can tell, but I sure am excited!!!

I use my public speaking skills not only in class and at the Museum of Tolerance, but also at CERRU and Hillel events.  Notice the presence of my lovely boyfriend at one of my programs!

I use my public speaking skills not only in class and at the Museum of Tolerance, but also at CERRU and Hillel events. Notice the presence of my lovely boyfriend at one of my programs!

I have also been continuing my duties as a volunteer docent at the Museum of Tolerance.  This semester I learned a lot about how to give a successful museum tour, and I even realized how much I love to teach our younger museum goers.  As I continue to give tours, I figure out new ways to connect all of the exhibits in ways to better formulate an overall message or goal for the students’ field trip.  Especially with younger children, I end the tour asking what, if anything, they have learned, what they want to share with friends and family, and ultimately, I urge them to ask questions and seek more learning.  In my fourth and fifth grade groups, I have found that students come up to me both before and after our tours asking tons of questions – what is homophobia? what is bigotry? how do I handle anger without violence?  I am absolutely in awe when they come to me with questions, especially because they could be using this time to hang around their friends and forget about the trip completely – as usually happens with older crowds.  By giving tours, I have also discovered that my public speaking has improved, and I think that both my tours and class presentations this semester have really boosted my ability to consolidate information into learnable and dispersible knowledge.

So… what’s planned for next semester?  I will be taking Twentieth Century Art History (1900 – c. 1940), again with Edward Powers, my history seminar course on Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in 19th Century Europe, an independent study on the History of Women and Fashion in the Middle Ages (with Professor Covington), an Introduction to Drawing course through the Art department (I want to brush up on my art skills), and finally, a course entitled “Individual and Family Clothing.”  This last class might seem peculiar, but what I will be doing is learning how to properly handle historical costumes (artifacts), researching and writing papers about the history behind them, and ultimately helping to compile a small exhibition at the end of the semester.  Taught by Emily Ripley of the Textiles and Apparel Department, the same professor who taught my History of Costumes and Furnishing, I am taking this course because of its applicability to museum work.  It also ties in incredibly well with my independent study course on Women and Fashion in the Middle Ages, and though there are no Medieval specimens in our costume collection, I have been notified that there are some examples of Medieval inspiration that I can take a look at and research.  At the end of the term I will be able to say that I have completed my Art History, History, and General Education requirements, and my senior year will be dedicated to writing a thesis and broadening my horizons with other course offerings.

Overall, with 16 credits, this is the first time in four semesters where I have fallen under the 18 credit mark!  Don’t get me wrong, this is going to be a rigorous few months!  Both of my history courses require large papers, and my Historical Costumes course is writing intensive as well.  It is also the time in my college career during which I have to start looking into my future – GRE, Graduate School Applications, and so on.

But that’s not all folks!  In February I will begin a great internship with the Museum of Jewish Museum of Jewish HeritageHeritage down in Battery Park.  I will be working alongside the Education Department.  Specific projects are yet to be assigned, but I am just so grateful for getting an opportunity like this.  In addition, I will also be continuing to volunteer at the MOTNY.

Who’s excited for Spring 2015?  I am!

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