Clark is… Kitchen.
So, overall, my first two weeks back have been extremely stressful and filled with work. Luckily, this weekend I have some cooldown time, but in the mean time, my life has mainly been within the library or at club meetings… so… random reflection post! It’ll be a every-now-and-then series of what Clark is to me.
If I had to pick two hours out of my day that best summarizes Clark, it would be the Kitchen Seminar. The Kitchen seminar is a group started by the Social/Cultural Psychology program here at Clark, and once a week, a scholar comes to present their paper on a list-serv that boasts over 100 active users. It isn’t any “Vote X Party!” list serv, but it’s a great size for what it provides. These scholars come from all over – Toyko, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Brazil, Columbia, Columbia University, California — I’m missing a few— but you get the point. And for two hours – we sit, discuss the current topic of the day, and drink loads of coffee. Finally, these presenters are not just professors (though, some are) – we have graduate and undergraduate students actively involved as well.
Okay, so, how does Kitchen represent Clark?
Being able to present in front of scholars around the world and talk about your research — is awesome! More than that, the Kitchen starts off as treating everyone as equals – the professors make the coffee, not the students. In every way we attempt to reverse roles (dare I say, challenge convention?) and equal the playing field in discussion. It also avoids lectures – silence is appreciated and communication is easy-flowing. It fits well with our Difficult Dialogues program as well as my Philosophy of Religion class, which I’ll probably talk about next week. (We sit in a circle and openly discuss religion).
My connections at Kitchen have brought me to conferences in Chile and eventually Brazil, paper collaboration with Brazil and Denmark, and even book publications and assistant jobs to an academic journal.
At Clark, we have 11% International students! That’s huge! And it’s definitely a part of the Clarkie experience no one wants to lose. Here, you get to explore yourself – but you also get to explore others. I’ve met great friends from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Bangeldash, and Mongolia. In a weird paradoxical mindset, my academic interests actually forbid me from saying “American Culture exists!” (it’s a weird rule but it works in thought) but even while I may write that in my papers, I have to admit that there is a side of the coin — of the world, that I would never have noticed before had it not been for Clark.
Our spirit of our diversity extends beyond just statistics and friends. At the end of the school year, we host something called “International Gala” where students preform a song and dance from a chosen country or region. The whole school shows up to watch! It’s the biggest event of the year – last year I think we had around 23 different regions represented!
This one might sound strange – but bear with me. The final tie is coffee. I talked about the challenge of convention – but it stands for all the professors here. They all want to get equal to you as a student, and they all want to get to know you at a personal level. Whether that’s office hours at Jazzman’s or your academic advisor (and now the LEEP advisor!) – they want to make sure you’re doing your best, on your best (coffee).