30 January 2018

The Blue Mountains

Not this weekend, but the one before, we had our first weekend long excursion.  I was too busy to write about it then, but it was amazing and I wanted to share my experiences now. 

We started out by visiting the Australian PlantBank at the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens.  We got to see and handle the cones from the Wollemi pine, a critically endangered species of tree.  There is a wild population somewhere in the Blue Mountains, but the Australian government keeps the location secret to keep the trees safe.  The most recent fossils from the same genus are dated 2 million years ago and were found in Tasmania.  The remaining trees, fewer than 100 wild ones, are almost genetically identical and have been struggling to survive. 

From there, we went to Scenic World and took a ride on the world’s steepest train track.  The slope is 52 degrees!  After the train down the mountain, we explored some of the trails.  We saw two lyrebirds!  Lyrebirds are amazing mimics and the males have an elaborate courtship display in which they try to mimic as many different birdcalls (or other sounds) as they can.  They’re timid, so they’re uncommon to see.

We visited Jenolan Caves, they were stunning.  I come from Tennessee, so I’m familiar with caves, but these were something else.  These caves are one of the best places to see helictites, a sort of sideways stalactite.  There are tons and they wind up forming balls of them that look like crystals.   To finish off our trip we did the Grand Canyon hike and had lunch at the top of a waterfall.

Tomorrow we’re headed to a small island off of Tasmania and we will not have an internet connection for a while, but if you have a question, feel free to send it to me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu and I’ll get back to you when I can.

Game Week!

Hey guys! As usual, it's a busy week...

We have two basketball games this week against Whitman and Whitworth, so that means a lot of film and ice baths. I'm hoping we finish the rest of our games strong - that way we can keep our fourth place spot and qualify for playoffs.

The current standings for our conference.
Besides basketball, school has also been pretty busy. I have an essay due on February 5th for my Exploration & Discovery class and an Econ midterm soon (crazy, right?). One thing I learned from last semester is to get help early. So far, that has really helped in terms of managing my stress since I don't have to get help at the last minute.

Tonight, I'm planning on dropping by the SQRC to get some tutoring for Econ after practice. The SQRC is a free resource that all students can use. Basically, it's a tutoring center ran by peer tutors. It's super convenient because the center has very flexible hours. Usually, I don't have time to run over their during the day because of classes and basketball, but because it's open later in the evening, I still have the opportunity to get tutoring.

Yes, the SQRC is even open on Sunday!

That's it for today, but if you have any questions or comments please shoot me an email at jillianjin@lclark.edu.

Talk to you soon,


29 January 2018

Invasion Day: Australia's Dark History

Hey friends!

A bit of a sadder post this week, but so so so important to share!

We finallyyy finally got a day off. It's been full on, and so amazing, but we finally got Friday - Sunday off! Friday was January 26, also known as "Australia Day", the first day the settler's landed in Botany Bay. However, this land was already inhabited by the Aboriginals, and January 26 is known as "Invasion Day" or "Survival Day".
Traditional clapsticks and dance

It was perfect, the International House we're living in is right across the road from Victoria Park, and the park hosts the Yabun Festival and is the final destination of the Aboriginal march.

The Yabun Festival is a celebration of the range and diversity of the Aboriginal tribes and their cultures. There is food, dancing, singings, speeches, smoke ceremonies, and everything in between. There are hundreds of stands selling native art, jewelry, t-shirts and clothes, there are booths for indigenous rights and clubs and organizations around the country.

Learning about the Aboriginals has been one of my favorite parts of the semester so far. It is such a rich, sad but so critically important story. They were forced off their land, children were stolen and put into missionaries, and even today they have the highest rate of poverty, lowest health, high levels of drug use, and high suicide rates.

The children who were taken are known as the Stolen Generation; it is a story very similar to that of Airlift Baby from the Vietnam War. They were forced to assimilate and "become white". The colonists justified all their actions by saying the land was uninhabited and the indigenous people they did face were a "dying race".

Anyways, Australia Day is a hotly contested holiday; it is the only national holiday of a developed country that is so contested. There are movements for #changethedate to celebrate another day, that doesn't mark the invasion and death of the Aboriginal people. (I think this is hilarious, one of the proposed days is May 8th -- may-eight - mayyyttteeee - mate!)

Since most people celebrate Australia day with drinking and having a good ol' fashioned "barbie" it was a really incredible to watch the dances and celebrate the culture of the first people instead. 


In some other news, we're in our last week of Sydney which is INSANE! We're moving to Tazy and starting at Maria Island on Thursday! (I don't know how much I'll be able to post once we start moving around, but I will try to keep you all updated with the work we're doing!) We're going to start delving into the marine side and it's going to BE INCREDIBLEE!!!

If you have any questions on the program, Invasion Day, anything Sydney related, my life at LC or whatever you can think of :D I love when people reach out!

You can reach me at ksaylor@lclark.edu


28 January 2018

Off To the Races

Hello everyone,

Figured I'd give a quick check-in before the start of the week.

Classes are off to a great start, despite being swamped in work I am looking forward to the semester. All of my classes are super interesting and my brain is totally stretched already. For my Anthro of the Body class I put in my project proposal for the research i'll be working on. I decided to do my project on transgender bodies in the prison industrial complex. It will be a heavy topic to unpack, but I feel very excited about writing this piece. That class is a lot of fun, our professor has do different stretches and movements before the start of class to get some good blood flowing.

I am also pretty excited for the Ghanian drum and dance course I'm taking. On Feb 17 we will be doing a special performance to commemorate the passing of Obo Addy, our instructors father. Obo brought the Ghanian drum and dance to LC over twenty years ago and he taught until his death five years ago. So that feels really special that we get to learn Alex's traditional drum and dance, and then perform to honor his dad.

This time of year is scholarship season so I've been chopping away at lots of essays and applications. On Wednesday I'm going to be hosting a scholarship workshop where I talk about techniques to make your application stand out, how they score applications and different resources to get that moneyyyyy. School is more expensive than it has ever been in the history of man, which I think is total bs for so many reasons. I believe that education is a fundamental human right, and there is no reason that we should go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt just to get a degree. So I decided to pass along the knowledge I gained from the year I worked at a scholarship foundation.

I applied for the Ray Warren Symposium co-chair position. The RWS is an event that takes place every year on campus and covers topics on race and ethnicity. Since I'm an ethnic studies minor it made sense to apply because part of the co-chair position means earning 4 ETHS credits. I have an interview for that this week and I think it'll go well.

I  also applied for a resident assistant (RA) for on-campus housing. This is a great option for people who don't want to dump a ton of money for housing and food... I'm totally into saving every damn penny I can because college is killing me. If I got this job I wouldn't have to stress about commuting to school and I could positively contribute to the LC student body. I think it'd be a lot of fun and I have professional experience working in property management. I used to manage a 24-unit multifamily townhouse apartment complex, so I have a lot of experience overseeing lots of people's living situation.

So overall things have been extremely busy, but its all good stuff so I can't really complain.

P.S. The Godmother of Soul -- ERYKAH BADU is coming to play in Portland in April.. I pretty much don't care about anything else but this. I couldn't see her last year when I bought tickets to see her in Vegas so I was totally heartbroken, but now she's coming to Portland, which happens maybe once every decade. Dreams do come true, and for this dude it is a good day.

The definition of FIERCE. ughhh I love her..

Alright y'all I gotta hit the books!



23 January 2018

The Rocks

Life is really packed on this study abroad trip.  These past 10 days have been a whirlwind adventure and I’m left stunned at all we have done.  Kate and I are both on the same Australia trip and she has done a good job at giving an overview of everything so I am going to go more in depth about our tour of The Rocks.

The Rocks is an area of town overlooking Circular Quay (pronounced ‘key’). A normal tour would have shown you the Sydney Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the old colonial buildings, and maybe an old pub or two.  However, we did not take a normal tour, instead our program coordinator got us a tour given from an aboriginal perspective.  It was amazing.  The Indigenous Australians were treated horribly since colonization started (but I’m going to let you look that up on your own time to save the more squeamish readers).  We learned a lot during this tour.  The guide taught us about local edible plants, some of the ways the tribes interacted, how they used to fish, and the history of the area.  One of our stops is the last place left you can see the natural shoreline.  Everywhere else is covered with docks, but a small patch underneath a building still remains. 

The biggest lesson is probably how much Europeans could interfere with local culture and the environment just by not knowing the full extent of what they were looking at.  Aboriginal Australians have been on the continent for 65,000-80,000 years.  Some of the tribes that visited the coast would create huge middens, piles of shells, from the shellfish they ate.  On the top, they would leave a stack of shells showing what kind(s) of shellfish they ate while they were there.  When the next group came along, they saw what kind of shellfish were eaten the last time and they would find a different species to eat to prevent overfishing of any one species.  Simple, yes, but it worked well for thousands of years.  When the British came to colonize, they dug up the middens to use in the mortar for their buildings – destroying the record.   They also heavily overfished causing the local extinction of species including the mud oyster.

Despite the poor treatment and many changes to the land, the cultures of Aboriginal Australians are still alive and practiced.  Many of our tours in Sydney have started with an acknowledgement that the land we are on is the home of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.  Something we can learn from back in North America.

Questions? Feel free to email me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu

MLK Service Day!

Hey, everyone! How are you? How's it going?

This past weekend has been super fun! Due to a lot of students barely coming back for MLK Day, the school had MLK service day this past weekend! For service day, we were given opportunities to work with a variety of groups such as the Oregon Humane Society, SMYRC, and Friends of Terwilliger!

I had the amazing opportunity to work with the Oregon Humane Society by helping to clean their walking trail and placing down fresh, new chips of wood. It was super fun to meet the people that I was working with and being able to see all the dogs walking around! We were also able to walk around afterward and see all the animals available for adoption and I spent a lot of time with the cats because I absolutely love them!

Cat on its throne!

A part of the trail after clean-up and new chips!

Service day really reminded me why I love volunteering so much. It gives me this feeling that is difficult to explain and it just makes me happy being able to give back to the community. If any of you are new readers, then you may not know the quote I try my best to live by and it is: "Do not work for the recognition. Work for the happiness that befalls on those you help." 

One of the things I also loved about service day is that before everyone separated to get on the buses and head to their area, we had an amazing guest speaker. Her name is Jo Ann Hardesty and she is the chapter president of the NAACP Portland chapter. She gave such an empowering speech that really spoke to me and opened my eyes and mind to so many things. One thing she said stuck to me the most and that is, "You are the reality and the dream of the civil rights movement." 

Anyways, as it is getting rather late, I do have some really big plans for some of my blog posts this semester! I will try my best to make sure that they do happen so, please, bear with me! I know a good amount of our audience are currently taking their high school finals and I wish all of you the best of luck! Remember that your health always comes first and your mind can not function correctly if you do not sleep. Remember to take a break from staring at the screen and just close your eyes and calm your mind. I know it is a stressful time but do take time to take care of yourself! You got this!

If you have any questions or just want to talk, you can reach me at:


Here's the quote of the week:

"The time is always right to do what is right." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

♥ Jessica

New Year, New Semester!

Hey guys, its been a while!

Second semester has begun. I'm slowly starting to get used to this new schedule:


9:10-10:10: Intro to American Politics
10:20-11:20: Exploration & Discovery
11:30-12:30: Spanish


9:40-11:10: Intro to Economics

My classes this semester are great! I love my professors and majority of my classes are filled with people I know (perks of a small school!).

Before this semester began, I was on campus early. The basketball team flew to Colorado on December 26th and stayed on campus during break to practice. At first, it was a little difficult not having a full break with my family, but being on campus with the team and other students that came early ended up being pretty fun. During the break, since we were there early, my teammate and I had to move into another dorm temporarily. To kill time, we tried to dye our hair purple and red by ourselves for fun, which just ended with us having to go to a hair salon to get it fixed.

Gorgeous sunset at Colorado College where the tournament was held.

My friend, Whitney, is also another freshman on the basketball team.

The basketball season is coming to a close soon. We only have the rest of January and February. As of now, if we keep our fourth place spot we could make playoffs! When it ends, I'm going to have a lot more free time. I'm going to miss it, but I'm excited to start doing other things on campus. I really want to look into the pre-law society on campus, participate in community service with Student Leadership and Service, and lastly watch the other sports teams on campus compete!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please email me at jillianjin@lclark.edu. 

Talk to you soon,