05 April 2020

Online Classes

Hello everyone!

This was the first week back to classes via Zoom. It’s been nice to have a little sense of routine again.  Classes have been pretty straight forward and the transition relatively smooth. My art class meets at the regular time 3x a week and we have a live lecture over Zoom. The religious studies class I am in meets twice a week online all together over video call lecture/discussion and then one day a week is independent reading responses or doing online quizzes. My international affairs course still meets at our usual once a week slot for discussion. I am glad that we are still able to have classes together. It's fun to see my classmates and makes me feel more connected.

Nothing about this situation is easy. Lewis & Clark announced last week that students are able to choose which classes to take as Credit/No Credit this semester which is nice. I don’t think I will be using it since I anticipate getting A’s in all my classes. However, it is nice to be able to use the Credit/No Credit option for students who do not want their GPA to be impacted and cannot perform as well in classes due to the new circumstances. LC students have until April 24 which is the 2nd to last week of classes to decide if they want classes to be Credit/No Credit so it gives everyone some time to reevaluate how they are doing at that point. 

My friends and I have been FaceTiming and Zoom calling often to just hangout which has been amazing. We talk about how it is just so stressful and hard to be doing the same amount of school work but now in a totally new setting without any of the resources or space we are used to at school. Going back to classes this week was definitely hard. It’s difficult to be in my own house where my family members are not doing school or have different schedules than me. In high school I would go to a coffee shop normally to do homework on the weekends but obviously I cannot do that now and am always surrounded by family that don’t have papers and readings to do. When I was actually at school I would spend most of my free time doing homework and it just doesn’t feel the same at home. At school I would have class till 1:30 or so and then essentially do homework until 10pm most nights. Now at home, I’m lucky if I spend even an hour doing homework. The motivation is definitely lacking and it’s hard to feel like school work even matters at this point. Still, I continue to get things done (slower than usual) and I can’t wait for the semester to be over. 

I had an actually very productive day yesterday. I made a fun breakfast and then wrote an entire first draft paper for my religious studies class that’s due later this week. After that I ran 7 miles for the first time, which was very exciting. Then at night I made my first loaf of sourdough bread! And I ate some of the kimchi I started fermenting a week ago - it was delicious. I hung out with my friends on a Zoom call and started researching for another project late at night. 

Stay safe and stay informed,


New Student Trips


As I write this the world is a bit chaotic due to COVID-19, but I know I have been trying to take a break from thinking about whats happening right now, so I thought I could talk about my experience starting college at Lewis & Clark. Since many of you are not done with your senior years early, I hope you can at least excitedly look forward to starting college in the fall when things are hopefully back to some sort of normal. 

I absolutely loved the beginning of my time at L&C, especially starting off on one of the New Student Trips. If you take one thing away from this post: you should go on an NST if you can, it is such a great way to start your college experience. I was so full of nervous energy and anticipation and excitement, and it was a bit nerve-wracking, but once I started to get to know a few people, and we got to bond as we started off on our new student trip, college started off as everything I wanted it to be. 

If you don't know what an NST is yet, these are trips for incoming students that happen the week before new student orientation and move in happens, they are put on by College Outdoors (which runs all kinds of trips all year long). You can check out the list of trips, and get all the details on the CO website here. 

All the technical details are available on the website, so I wanted to talk about the experience I had. So I arrived at the PDX airport (my favorite airport now), and had so many duffle bags with me, but I made it to the LC shuttle, and started meeting a few other people. It was awkward, but we were all going on NSTs, so we were slowly figuring out if we were on the same trips, and talking about where we were from and what dorms we were in. Then we got to campus, and headed to the CO warehouse where we had to assemble all the gear we needed and pack out stuff into whatever bags we were taking on the trip, and then store everything for our dorms. Here we met up with our trip leaders (usually juniors and seniors who regularly lead trips for CO). And we met up with our group of 10 or so other new students. 

The trip I was going on was to go Kayaking for a week on Waldo Lake, and I am still great friends with almost everyone I met on that trip, and I really loved our trip leaders. Even though we're peers now, I still feel like our trip leaders are like our cool camp counselors who took us camping and answered all our questions and really introduced us to what being a student is like at LC. They were fantastic, and so were all the other new students I was with. We spent the first bit of the week-long trip getting to know each other and also figuring out all the kayaking skills we needed. The first time we packed all out gear into the kayaks it felt like it took us 4 hours, but by the end of the trip, we were practically pros. 

We also spent tons of time just getting to know each other, and bonding. The first night we all slept on two tarps with rain covers over us, in our sleeping bags. But soon after that we all started sleeping on just one tarp so it was easier to hang out and be close to each other. One of the days that we were supposed to go out paddling to a new campsite on the lake it was raining and dreary so we decided to stay at our campsite instead and hang out and play cards instead of going out, and we had a great time. We did tons of cheesy get to know you games, but they were actually really helpful. One of the nights we all had to anonymously write down our fears about starting college, and then they were all read out, and it was kind of comforting to know we were all a bit nervous and scared of a lot of the same stuff. We did another game where we stood on a log and had to arrange ourselves by age and birthday without getting off the log, and it was a bit ridiculous but it made us all laugh and get to know each other better. On the last night, we all shared lots of personal stories and each of us got a matching bandana and then we rejoined the real world. 

When we got back to campus we all helped each other move into our dorms, which was nice because we got to see where we all lived. And in a nice circular story, many of us all shared a storage unit at the end of freshman year and we helped each other move out of our rooms to store ou stuff for the summer. In the first few weeks of the semester when we were all getting our footing and figuring everything out we all had a group chat and would meet for meals and explore campus together and act as a great support structure for our first foray into adult life. And my NST group wasn't unique, many people well into the sophomore year will still reference friends they made on NSTs and that group of people is always a group you will know well around campus. 

So what I'm trying to say is that NSTs are a really great way to transition into college life, and if you have to ability to go on one, do it. 

If you have any questions or want to talk about anything at all, please email me at quentingaul@lclark.edu.

04 April 2020

An Ode to Hope in Challenging Times

Exercise under the "shelter in place" order has taken on an entirely new meaning. Exercise used to be working out at the Pamplin Sports Center. Excercise now is walking laps around my uncle's living room. The things I would do to have 30 minutes in a proper gym might honestly scare some of you, but for those who are gym rats like myself, I'm hoping you'll empathize!

Schoolwork has been steadily trickling in now that Spring Break is over. The assignments and tasks are compounding daily, and I'm pretty sure I have a midterm or two in the coming weeks. Honestly, at this point, I'm getting so busy that I forget I'm in California! To remind me that this is not some fever dream, I turn to the closest window to admire the deep, ocean blue Californian sky and the redwood trees that are sprinkled around the backyard like oaken poppy seeds. I'm in paradise.

Out of curiosity, I pull out my weather app and swipe to Portland. Wowzers. It seems like the weather is just as beautiful, if not more so than it is here in California. I imagine what it could have been like if not for this terrible virus. There would be hammocks pitched between trees close to the Manor House, with laughter and lively conversation drifting through the air like dandelion seeds following a gentle wind. There would be casual games of frisbee played by the reflecting pool, the white disks sailing through the air like the streamline rowboats on the Willamette River. I would be on a jog deep in the heart of Tryon Creek State Park with the taste of the crisp afternoon air on my tongue and the burning heat of the sun on my exposed back. In desperate times like this, I think it's valuable to hold on to the hope that things will get better. Looking out the window at the calm April sky, it seems like the answers to at least some of our anxieties lie in the beauty of the world around us. So I ask you, readers, to take a quick moment to look at the world around you and appreciate the little things. It might not kill your stir craziness, but it might just give you a new and reassuring perspective on life.

29 March 2020

Fondly Remembering Things I'll Miss Most About Campus

Earlier today, the Lewis & Clark instagram posted a photo of the spring flowers there, and it made me sad that I don't get to experience the flowers blooming this year. There are a lot of things I know I'll miss about being on campus with my friends and professors every day. I'm trying not to be sad about it though, so instead of moping around, I thought I could share with you all the things I enjoyed about the spring semester last year.

Enjoying The Spring Weather All Together
I've probably mentioned this before because it's one of my favorite little things about school, but when the sun comes out and there is a beautiful blue sky sunny day, it's like a mini holiday hits campus. Professors sometimes cut class a little short or they hold it outside if possible so that we can enjoy the weather together. It's just a nice feeling that no matter what else is going on we can all enjoy the sun together. There were a few little days like this before we had to leave campus, but the best portland weather is still to come later on in the semester. Last year my friends and I would text and plan to meet up on one of the lawns and procrastinate our homework while laying out on the grass and hanging out, I'll miss that this year.

If you want to check out the LC instagram, you can do so here, it's got lots of beautiful photos of campus, and you can see the post about the spring flowers that made me sad to miss campus.

Wrapping Up Classes 
I loved my classes and my professors so much this semester it's sad that we won't get to wrap things up together. The approach of finals can be stressful but it is also an enjoyable time because you've gotten close with those in your class, and you know your professor well by this point. A lot of professors bring in food-- usually cookies or doughnuts or the like-- in the last few days of class. Once my professor assigned a final that took the full 3 hour period allowed but to make up for it he brought us doughnuts so it wasn't all bad. I also enjoy the ending of class because sometimes I can forget how much I've learned throughout the semester, but the end of the year is a nice time to reflect on how much I learned both in and out of classes.

Casual Hangouts With Friends
One of the reasons I love living on campus (and the fact that pretty much all other sophomores live on campus and many juniors) is that it's so easy to hang out with friends. Even if it's just meeting someone for lunch or sitting next to someone in the library while you study for different classes, it's nice to be around your friends. Or if you need to borrow something or if you're helping someone with groceries or some random little things it's a small opportunity to walk over to a different dorm and see each other. Living on campus lends itself to spontaneous hangouts when everyone lives just a five-minute walk away. It's a wonderful feeling, and while I'm happy at home with my family, I will miss my friends greatly.

The Bittersweet Moveout 
Last year moving out of my dorm was a sad moment, but celebratory as well. I loved all my roommates so much, we worked really well together, and our room was cozy and felt like home. In the last weeks of the semester as well all took down our decorations and packed up our belongings, it was sad for the room to slowly go back to being just another dorm room. At the same time though, those last few days were a fun whirlwind of activity where everyone had their doors open and there was music coming from various speakers as people packed. My friends and I got a storage unit together and we helped move each other's stuff out, and it was a really nice moment because many of us had helped each other move in after our new student trip at the beginning of our first year. We at lots of junk food together and stressed about finals and moved out, and while it was sad to say goodbye for the summer, we all got to hang out and take a moment together to enjoy the year that we had. It's sad that we don't get that this year, but I'm grateful to still have those friends, even if we have to hang out from afar.

There are many more memories that I loved from the end of last year, and I have so many good memories from this year too. It's sad not to be on campus for the last part of this year, but I'm just grateful to have already had so many great experiences, and I'm grateful to know that I still have many more memories to make at LC in the next years as well.

My name is Quentin Gual, I'm a sophomore political science and hispanic studies double major. If you want to talk about student life, please just email me at quentingaul@lclark.edu, don't be shy! Email me if you need help choosing a dorm, or
if you want to know what classes are like or what to eat in the dining hall, just send me a casual email!

Spring Break & Books You Should Read

Hello everyone!

Happy end of spring break. Tomorrow starts the last 5 weeks of classes of the spring semester. It has been a pretty uneventful spring break. If I was at school I would have spent the week with College Outdoors camping at Tumalo state park and visiting Crater Lake and skiing on Mt. Bachelor. Instead, I have been hanging out at home watching a lot of tv, reading, running, and FaceTiming my friends all the time. Yesterday I jumped on the bread making train and made a sourdough starter. I also decided to make my own kimchi because I have been meaning to do it for a few months. All aboard the fermentation train! I've also been making some killer sandwhiches with lots of vegetables and guacamole to go with my tortilla chips.

Given the uneventful week and the lack of things to talk about happening at Lewis & Clark, I thought I would share about one of the books I’ve been reading for class:

Right now I am reading Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas for my international affairs course, Social Justice in the Global Economy. I highly recommend this book if you’re at all interested in social justice and the impact and power that the elites of our society hold to the extent to which change actually happens. This book has pushed me to open my eyes to the world around me and look critically at the plutocrats, billionaires, powerful business people, corporations, philanthropists, and foundations that claim they are making the world a better place. Giridharadas discusses how these elites (both people and corporations) are “fixing” the system but only so that it also benefits them; they want a win-win situation that does not threaten their power and the status quo. They do not want to take responsibility or be blamed for creating and perpetuating inequality and injustice; they only want to be seen as the heroes not part of the problem. If we want true social justice reform in our society we need to reconstruct the systems of power that perpetuate inequality. However, these elites do not want this since it would take away their power over others. The recurring theme in the book is that the elites are trying to solve issues of inequality by using the very tools and systems that created inequality in the first place and perpetuate it. For me at least, this book really speaks to the work I want to do in the future in combating the elite power holders that are not actually enacting real, meaningful, structural change. One of many examples being the rich elite are deciding, behind closed doors, how to alleviate poverty without actually considering what impoverished people need or giving them a seat at the table. Additionally the changes or solutions created do not accurately address the systemic problems that keep people impoverished because that would threaten the position of the elites making the changes. Powerful people and corporations do not want to give up their power or privilege for the betterment of society; they get away with a facade of creating limited changes while maintaining and reinforcing systems that keep the rich powerful and the poor weak. 

The book looks at various aspects of this issue and discusses the pros and cons. It considers the counter arguments and differing perspectives, the internal dilemma and contradictions, the power and influence of thought leaders, the issue people face as they look to jobs at big foundations or businesses where they’re told they can “make a difference” in the world but at what moral costs, and it gives a look into the thinking of various elite figures in how they see themselves in relation to the system. 

So if you are looking for something to read during this time of social distancing you should add this one to your list. Educate yourself on the realities of the world we live in so you can better navigate the system and push back against all forms of injustice. Don’t be afraid of the word “inequality”. Challenge yourself to look at your privilege and what you can do with it to make the world more equal. A concept that we discuss and use  in class is “the veil of ignorance”. Essentially we should use this veil of ignorance when we are creating policies and changes to society so that everyone is accounted for. You, along with everyone in the world, puts their life into a hat and redraws a life from that hat. The idea with this is the likelihood of drawing a life that is as good and as privileged as your current status is so extremely small. You would probably end up worse off than you are now. Since you are likely to draw a life with fewer resources, power, or privilege, wouldn't you want to live in a system that is going to actually help you and make the playing field equal. So, we should use the veil of ignorance when creating the new rules of the system so that the people with the least are given the same opportunities, resources, and support as those who get super lucky on drawing a life with the most. 

I am grateful for the education I am receiving at LC and my amazing professor Elizabeth Bennett who pushes us to think critically about social justice. Besides just reading about injustice and ways other people are solving it, we are pushed to identify where in the system we want to actually work to solve injustice. Social Justice in the Global Economy has been my favorite and the most worldview-changing class I have taken so far. 

If you want any other awesome reads that will expand and challenge your worldview, teach you about social justice and injustice, and show you the realities of the system we live in... here are some of the other books we have already read this semester in the class (I highly recommend all of them!!): 

  • The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli
  • Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara
  • Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers by Anna Guevarra
  • Rules Without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy by Tim Bartley
  • Buying Into Fair Trade by Keith R. Brown

Stay safe and stay informed,


28 March 2020

Late Night Visions

Yawning, I look up from my laptop to give my tired eyes a break from scanning and rescanning my thesis draft. As my bleary eyes adjust to the half-lit living room in cozy California, it dawns on me that I'm not in school, nor am I remotely close to school. Taken aback by the realization, I pull up a Google chrome tab to learn exactly how far I am from Lewis and Clark College. Wow, 620 miles away from LC—yet it feels like I haven't left the Watzek library. It's a disconcerting feeling, but I shrug it off. I have to keep working. As I diligently type away at my desk, nagging thoughts invade my distracted mind: "Will I see my friends again?... What's the weather like over there?... What's being served in the Bon right now?..."

I stop what I'm doing and look up at the ceiling to tame the unending torrent of questions. I realize I don't have answers to many of them, especially the last question. As I ponder these things, my mind begins drifting to past memories. In one moment, I'm drinking hot chocolate with my roommates playing "Settler's of Catan," the next, I'm at Maggie's cafe, grabbing a late-night snack in preparation for a long library run. As my mind accelerates deeper and deeper into my memories, the past and the present seem to blend before my vision, becoming a multi-colored collage of fleeting moments and feelings that contort and pull apart before my very eyes. And just as suddenly as it began—it is over, and I am again in the dimly-lit living room of my uncle's home—the seconds ticking by like the flashing cursor on my thesis document. I take a deep breath and gently breathe out. I know I need to get back to work. After shrugging my shoulders and slapping my face, I type on into the quiet night.

25 March 2020

Quarantine Sucks and Other Thoughts

Hi, everyone! My name is Arran Hashim, and I'm a senior at Lewis & Clark College. A few other fun details about me, I'm from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; I'm an economics major, and my star sign is Gemini.

It is officially day seven in isolation, and there is no end in sight. I've been cooped up at my uncle's home without leaving even once for something as simple as a walk, all thanks to the "shelter in place" order passed a few days ago. Things around here seem to be constantly changing because we're at the epicenter of the virus on the West Coast. In San Francisco alone, there are currently 70 confirmed cases with the number of new cases increasing rapidly day-to-day. "When will it end?" is the question plaguing everyone's mind right now, but not a single politician nor expert seems to have a clue. I guess we've just got to keep moving forward and staying safe.

I've been up since 10 am wrestling with Biology 100 homework. The work doesn't come easy to me, but the challenge is a perfect distraction during these tumultuous times. After tapping away at my computer screen for several minutes, I decide to sit back and take a quick breath of air before re-engaging with the work. As I'm doing this, it dawns on me that I'm incredibly lucky to have such accomodating professors. It must not have been easy to move classes online at such short notice; yet, the resources available to me is a testament to the flexibility and tenacity of the professors at Lewis & Clark College. I sincerely applaud them all. I would have been floundering left, right, and center trying to figure out what to do if I was in their shoes.

Two hours and many Bio 100 questions later, I'm now communicating with prospective students interested in Lewis & Clark. I enjoy the work I do with the Office of Admissions for the very reason I get to interact with the various and diverse students excited to make LC their next home. Upon opening my mailbox, I get a message from a student asking about what life is like living in the Manzanita dormitory. I smile to myself, remembering the day-long hikes with close friends, the slackline escapades on the warm spring days, and the many countless hours spent by the vibrant communal farm. There's almost too much to write, so I better get to it!