Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chili, Cheese, and the Congo

Let me start off by saying SORRY for such a late post, but classes have been a little hectic lately (still are, actually). However, since my post is late, I had the opportunity to use a fabulously alliterative title, although not all three things are connected.

After an amazing weekend home (with awesome food and a REAL SHOWER), I flew back on a cute little propeller plane and had fun watching the foliage I was flying above get steadily redder. Vermont is much deeper into autumn than New Jersey, which was a balmy 55 degrees for most of the weekend. I had a relaxing rest of my week, which culminated in the Harvest Festival on the quad Saturday.

This brings me to parts one and two of my alliterative title. Sadly, as I was woefully underdressed for the roaring wind (yes, that is a tad exaggerated), I did not take the time to find out the specifics of the event. What I can tell you is that there were huge quantities of chili and butternut squash soup, hot apple cider, cider donuts, apples, bread, and at least six kinds of cheese. I had chili, several types of cheese, and the best coarse bread I've had in a long time. It was "bring your own mug," so first-years, take note! At least two mugs are necessary for SMC life: one for tea/coffee/hot chocolate, and one for things like chili. And also soup, if you don't want to bring a bowl, although I would recommend bringing one.

Normally I'm not a chili fan, but maybe because I was cold, or just because it's Vermont, I actually really liked it! I also took a friend's advice and discovered that sticking cheese cubes in one's mug of chili is an excellent combination. Granted, that was because we didn't have plates, but the end results were very tasty.

So that's the chili and the cheese; now for the Congo. Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a presentation about the ongoing violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I had never known much about it, but to hear it explained by a man who had lived it for a year, and spent the following years involved in solutions to it was probably the best way to learn. I could never do the Congo's complexity justice in my uneducated words, but suffice it to say, there is much more going on there than the stereotypical generalization of savagery and child armies. So much more. If you are interested, you should really take the time to read about it from a variety of perspectives; there are an infinite number of contributing factors, both past and present.

Another reason I enjoyed the presentation was that for the first time, I participated in something that really justified my major (International Relations) to me. I've never really had more than a vague idea of the capacity of the United Nations, but the speaker explained the political aspect in a way that made me realize I truly do want to be involved in that type of work, even if I wouldn't work with conflict resolution. 

I was also extremely interested during the question and answer period of the presentation by the questions posed by several Congolese. They understood their history on a depth I could never hope to achieve, even for American history, and so their questions were much more moving and effective than if a student had asked an identical question. I was also pleased to be able to pick out a few words when two of the men asked their questions in French - their first language. Clearly my French 101 class is having some effect!

As I said, I haven't done very much this week, although I know there's something I've forgotten that will be tacked onto this weekend's post. I promise I'll also find a picture of something, even if it's "only" our lovely SMC foliage. Just like picture books are always better than regular books, posts with pictures are far more interesting.

Bye for now, and happy (early) Halloween!

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