Marisa Benitez and Zara Anwarzai

Marisa Benitez ‘11 and Zara Anwarzai ’11 have always been ambassadors of culture. It’s just what they do. Zara hails from Indianapolis—a quintessential all-American city—and yet her mother is Russian and her father Afghani. Marisa is an L.A. woman and second generation American, raised by a single mother and strongly steeped in Cuban culture. Each came to Bard College at Simon’s Rock ready for the challenge of early college,  and both were nurtured in their academic pursuits—French and German philosophy, political theory, the cultural inferences of translation.

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Jared Weiss

It’s hard to believe.

I have completed every last assignment, fulfilled every last obligation of my undergraduate career.  In less than a week, I will be leaving this place with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology at age 17, and lo and behold, I will henceforth be a college graduate.

And it’s really hard to believe.

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The aftermath of Katy Hill.

Week 3

by Naomi Pitman, Greig Fields, and Clara Woolner

This week we started working with Andy Cassini from the University of Wisconsin who has been studying the critically endangered Monserrat Oriole for the past six years. Since the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted in 1997 it’s been estimated there are only 700 orioles left.

In our search for the oriole this week we hiked numerous trails and after a four hour hike to Katy Hill, the highest peak on the island, we successfully identified a few Montserrat Orioles by its distinctive orange belly. Then we spotted a number of other birds, including a Trembler by its… well, trembling, a Mangrove Cuckoo by its size and striped tail feathers, a Bananaquit by its incessant chirping and small yellow body, a Caribbean Elaenia by its striped wings and size, and Pearly-Eyed Thrasher the "super tramp" of birds, by its bright white eyes and need for attention.

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Jared Weiss If you are a senior, there are two questions you can expect to be asked at any given time on campus.

The first: “How’s your thesis going?”

This question is easier asked than answered. By November, some students have already altered the focus of their theses several times – often to the chagrin of thesis advisors. Those that know what they are doing haven’t necessarily done what they are doing. It is the typical senior thesis process: Get caught up in all kinds of other work and obligations for several months, suddenly realize, “Oh wait… that thesis thing… I should be doing that,” then freak out and scramble to meet the thesis deadlines you set with your advisors. No amount of planning can really prevent this from happening, as work obligations and unexpected distractions inevitably interfere.

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The whole team on top of a ridge in the arid north of the island.

Week 2

by Ian Hetterich, Nate Shoobs, and Nathan Sadowsky

Our second week in Montserrat began pretty much like any other day in a Simon’s Rock classroom. We were all gathered around a table with our professors, engaged in active discussion, much like we would have been at school. Everything seemed normal, until you looked up and saw the gorgeous view of the Caribbean Sea from the deck we were sitting on.

The topic of the day’s discussion was Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle, particularly the depth and array of his observations during the voyage, which led us to talking about our own papers. Earlier that morning we received our formal assignments for our final papers. The papers could be on almost anything we wanted, from describing the trip as a whole and our studies with the professors, to discussing a side project embarked upon, examining a specific species on the island, or even looking at the intriguing agricultural situation on Montserrat. With this in mind, many of us spent the week focusing on our own side projects and going on group expeditions.

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“Only one year left!”

Bethany Geiger ‘10, Johanna Schwartz ’10, and Jennifer Edwards ’13That’s the thought that keeps pounding in my head. Just one year to do everything you still want to do!! It’s not so much a “last-minute” scramble as a “last year” scramble as I try to fit in all the Simon’s Rock experiences I’ve always wanted to have.

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