Monday, November 15, 2010

A Weekend at Princeton

I'm home again from a weekend of travel and wonderful times. This time I was at Princeton University for the Love and Fidelity Network's annual conference. Thanks to some kind friends, I had the chance to dine at Charter, one of the famous Princeton eating clubs, and to attend events at the Whig Debating Society House and the Yankee Doodle Taproom, in addition to all the events of the scheduled conference. Combine these exciting events with the chance to see many old and dear friends, and you see why I had an unforgettably enjoyable weekend.

Each of the conferences I attend teach me something (apart from the actual conference theme) and here are a few lessons I learned from this past weekend:

1. If you are a Notre Dame student, there's no reason to ever pay for your own travel. The Learning Beyond the Classroom grant is a wonderful resource, and so far it's helped me to go to Rome, Washington D.C., and Princeton. Please recommend this invaluable resource to your friends, children, and anyone else who is a student here.

2. I will never love any school as much as I love Notre Dame, but Princeton might just be my second favorite. There's simply nothing that can compare to Princeton's wonderful Witherspoon Institute. The work done there continues to inspire me.

3. Who you travel with is almost more important than where you go. A good travel companion makes a journey complete; a bad travel companion throws a cloud over the whole enterprise.

What have your travels taught you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Events Today

What a busy, exciting week this will be!

I arrived at the South Bend Airport yesterday at 1 pm, where a kind friend was waiting to drive me to campus. My weekend in Philadelphia was fun, busy and thought-provoking. I learned about liberty, equality, human rights and the Declaration of Independence. I attended an unforgettable concert by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra (one piece was the overture to my favorite French play, Cyrano de Bergerac) and toured the beautiful, historic city. How fortunate I am to be an Intercollegiate Studies Institute Honors Fellow this year! I certainly recommend the program to any college student who is passionate about liberty and liberal education.

Today kicks off the Dorm Energy Competition, part of Notre Dame's efforts to encourage us students to "go green" and conserve energy. Badin hasn't won yet but I, for one, will be extra-cautious about unplugging my phone charger and blow dryer right away to prevent "vampire energy" from being wasted. Maybe this is our year to win the campus-wide competition.

Tonight at 9 pm, I'm excited to host Badin's annual Program of Liberal Studies pizza night, an occasion for myself and the other PLS majors to introduce our beloved program to Badin's freshmen. If you know any current freshmen, encourage them to learn more about PLS and see if it's right for them.

I'm hoping to attend this fascinating event on the Humanities Crisis in higher education - certainly a very relevant issue for anyone interested in liberal education.

Today I received an invitation to this event at the Notre Dame London Program campus, which made me quite nostalgic for London. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to return there soon.

Finally, I am hoping to journey to Princeton University this weekend to attend the Love and Fidelity Network's annual conference. Many of my dear friends will also be present and the line-up of speakers is excellent. I anticipate that it will be a wonderful weekend.

Thank you for reading and Go Irish!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Campus Today

Today at the Alumni Association, I'm working on an article about an outstanding Notre Dame educator, undergraduates' scientific research, and the new myNotreDame website.

It's a busy evening for me. After work at the Alumni Association, I'll be attending the Program of Liberal Studies' annual All Souls Mass, in which we remember all the members of the PLS community who have passed away. Then I'm joining my Dillon and Badin friends for dinner. The boys will be running late because they're all training for the Bengal Bouts and they're coming straight from practice. In true SYR style, I'm setting some of them up with dates for Badin's upcoming Dome Dance (the dance is our reward for winning Hall of the Year). Two of the dance couples will meet for the first time at tonight's dinner.

I'll leave dinner early to attend the long-anticipated Forum. I was incredibly fortunate to score a ticket to this sold-out event, so that will be my next stop after dinner. After the Forum, my friends and I are attending Swing Dance Club to learn how to dance the Charleston. Finally, I'll finish the evening by packing my bags - I'm leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to a conference on Liberty and the Declaration of Independence. A weekend in Philadephia will be a delightful vacation.

Notre Dame truly is the Garden of Eden. I have ample academic engagement, goofy fun with friends, and constant access to God through the campus' vibrant spiritual life. What more could a girl ask for?

Thank you for reading and Go Irish!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Souls' Day

November has come gently to Notre Dame this year. Today's warm sun made me shed my coat, but there's just enough of a crisp chill to feel like fall. Notre Dame is at its most beautiful on glorious days like this.

Speaking of what's best at Notre Dame, sometimes the quality of the speakers who come to give lectures here blow my mind. Former prime ministers, award-winning authors, politicians, actors, and all kinds of other minor celebrities. Yet astonishingly, it is often the case that the students don't even know these people are on campus.

Today, for example, we have the curator of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History coming to speak about 19th century artifacts and a Yale professor lecturing on Old English and Old Norse verse. The Old Norse epic sagas inspired J.R.R. Tolkien in writing his Lord of the Rings books, so the latter lecture will especially interest fans of Tolkien's work.

Tuesday's calendar features Oxford University fellow Stratford Caldecott lecturing on Beauty for Truth's Sake, a lecture to which I am especially looking forward because Dr. Caldecott advised me on Chesterton while I completed my independent research project in London last spring. Dr. Caldecott owns an extensive collection of Chesterton's personal effects, including his chairs, books, and a toy puppet theater which inspired one of my papers. It will be a pleasure to see Dr. Caldecott at Notre Dame tomorrow.

Wednesday brings the famous Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, to speak as part of the Notre Dame Forum. Earlier that evening, students will have to choose between a panel discussion on Dante's Vita Nova and a lecture on "The Contradictions of Oscar Wilde," both taking place from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. It's a tough call, as both Dante and Wilde rank high on any list of Great Authors, but in this case I would choose Dante because I already know a lot about Wilde while I know very little about Dante's autobiography. Here's hoping I get to attend one of these lectures.
Thank you for reading and Go Irish!