Jesse’s Blog

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Winter Break is going great! There’s no better feeling than to look back on the semester and think about all the great experiences I have had during the year. Even though this semester was probably the toughest one yet, the challenges I was able to overcome helped me become a better student and a better person.

One of these challenges that helped me grow was balancing schoolwork and a job. I was lucky enough to be able to work with Crimson Summer Academy as a CSA Mentor during the summer and continued my work with them during the school year mentoring high school students from the Boston area. The students are phenomenal and I feel privileged to work with them.

The responsibility of maintaining a balance between my school schedule and my work schedule proved difficult at times but those time management skills developed in high school and in college helped me prevail.

Working with Crimson Summer Academy and other programs that help students make it to college has been one of my most rewarding experiences at Harvard. Because I was blessed with the opportunity to go to such a prestigious school, I feel that it is important to show others that it is possible for them to make it to college too. For this reason, I am happy that Harvard has given me a chance to share these experiences through Crimson Summer Academy and even through this blog.

The amount of jobs available to current students at Harvard is incredible. It’s all about finding the right fit for you. Luckily, I found a great fit and enjoy where I work very much. To get a peek into what working with Crimson Summer Academy is like, check out this video that provides some highlights from working with CSA at Harvard this Fall 2010.

Finals Period is here! After a very challenging and exciting semester, it is now time to prepare for all the Final Exams coming soon and to continue working on all the Final Papers that are due even sooner. Thank goodness for Reading Period! Reading Period is the week before Final exams actually begin and because classes are no longer meeting, it allows for students to get a chance to meet with teachers and study the loads of material that they’ve been asked to learn in the past couple months.  With exams inching closer everyday, there’s no time to waste!

Don’t be intimidated though, Harvard offers a lot of resources to help you handle this exam period and the stress that goes with it. Not only do the House Tutors/Proctors provide workshops on how to prepare for finals and papers, there are also school-wide events that provide you with the tips that are sure to help you do well on whatever comes your way.

Even though Finals are on everyone’s mind, the beginning of Reading Period also provides students with a little personal time to reflect on the semester’s memories. A lot of the organizations on campus host end-of-year events where the membership can get together and celebrate all the accomplishments that they’ve had. For example, last Thursday and Friday, there were two great events where the Latino Community was able to come together and share our beautiful culture with the student body.

First, last Thursday, the Latino Community held the annual Latino Holiday Dinner and it was a great time with AMAZING Latino Food, Music, and Smiles. I was even able to share a Spoken Word piece I wrote for the occasion. Check out some pictures!

Spoken Word Performance

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Group Pic!

The following night, RAZA held an event celebrating Las Posadas, a Christmas tradition in México where groups of carolers walk through the streets, singing carols at homes along the way, in the nine nights before Christmas. Each night, the processions end in a room where the participants get together, enjoy warm drinks and Pan Dulce (That sweet bread I told you about), and play games. Every year, RAZA recreates this tradition as a way to share our traditional celebrations and culture with the Harvard community. Here are some more pics from this event too!

The Procession

Singing & Dancing

The Roommates… Again haha

This was definitely a great start to Reading Period and its nights like these where you’re able to appreciate all the people that have helped you make it to the end of the semester. With support like this, Finals don’t seem too bad at all.

Back to the grind! After a much-needed break, I can come back to school feeling refreshed, full of turkey, and ready for this last stretch before finals. When I think of all the amazing friends and memories I’ve made here, the rigorous course work doesn’t seem so bad.

November 20th (the Saturday before Thanksgiving this year) was definitely filled with memories- it was the day of the big football game between Harvard and Yale! Harvard and Yale have this big rivalry and when our schools get the chance to face off with each other, the students go crazy with pride. It was amazing seeing Harvard’s enormous stadium filled to the brim with rowdy fans cheering on their respective schools. It also felt good to get dressed up in Harvard gear and go show some spirit. Of course, seeing all of my friends doing the same only helped fuel the excitement.

Harvard definitely did a good job helping foster the good times too. We had a special brunch that had the tables all decorated with tablecloths and candy (I ended up putting some chocolate kisses in my Harvard Waffle which was delicious). And there was also an enormous tailgate where all the Harvard and Yale students could enjoy BBQ foods, music by a DJ, and all kinds of other free stuff. Here’s a picture of my roommates and me posing with a Polar Bear at the tailgate.

With the custom Harvard-Yale Sunglasses!

All of this was followed by the actual game where the spirit of both sides of the stands definitely shined through. It was a great time and a good chance to meet students from our rival school. And I really liked how even though Harvard and Yale have this huge rivalry, students seemed to have been able to get along pretty well after the game… But then again, it was pretty easy for us because Harvard won… Haha, I’m only joking!

Ahh, the holidays! I love this time of year! It feels so good to think back to the many traditions I carried out with my family, the happiness that filled the room, and all the memories of delicious food I didn’t have to feel guilty about eating. I have to admit, once the holidays started coming around, I felt a little sad being away from my family and being on the other side of the country. Don’t worry though, the short time I felt sad quickly turned into time to celebrate a new way to spend the holidays.

One thing I love about being here is that Harvard gives you the opportunity to take part in and share new traditions in this new stage of your life. The small tight-knit communities ready to welcome you in have definitely shaped my Harvard experience. An example of one of the small families I’ve made here can be seen in the Latino community.  It’s great to see everyone come together to celebrate events and keep these new traditions going.

One of the traditions we’ve been able to continue to celebrate is El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)- a traditional Mexican holiday where we celebrate the memory of our loved ones who have passed away. It’s so much fun to dip into that Mexican culture I miss so much from home. Not only did I have a chance to celebrate the holiday, I was able to help organize an event that brought the holiday to the students and community here at Harvard.

Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, a Mexican-American student organization founded in 1972 here at the college, throws an annual Dia de los Muertos celebration and since I was lucky enough to be on the Board of Officers, I was able to take part in continuing this tradition. The event took place in Leverett (one of the residential houses at Harvard) and we had performances from Mariachi Veritas, Harvard’s Ballet Folklórico de Aztlan, and even had La Piñata Dance Troupe (a group of middle school students from Jamaica Plain in Boston) perform. It was an AMAZING time. We also had a traditional altar in honor of those who have passed away and even had face painting for those who wanted to don the imagery of a Calavera, or skull.

The Altar at the Celebration!

And to top it all off, we had the event catered by a nearby Mexican restaurant with a nice helping of Pan Dulce (Mexican Sweet Bread) to finish the meal with something sweet.

It was definitely a memorable night and even though I miss home, it felt great being able to celebrate my Mexican culture with song, dance, and food I don’t have to feel guilty about eating. The ability to come together and share my Mexican culture with the diverse student body here at Harvard was almost as sweet as the Pan Dulce.

After many hours of rehearsal in Harvard’s various dance studios, Candela Salsa’s performance at Apollo Night, an event hosted by Harvard’s Black Student Association (BSA), was a complete success! It was so exciting to get in front of that crowd and show them the fruits of our hard work. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous, but if Harvard has taught me anything, it’s taught me that sometimes you have to charge into a situation even if you’re not totally sure of yourself.

Balancing dance rehearsal and the many other things you have on your plate can be difficult but know that all the hard work can pay off- sometimes, in the form of flashing stage lights, a dramatic salsa pose, and applause. At least, that’s how it paid off this past Saturday at Apollo Night! I can’t believe how loud the crowd was cheering!

Nothing compares to that feeling! It also felt good to know that I had gotten work done for my classes in between the run-through earlier that day and the actual stage-time performance. As you can tell, the life of a college student is very similar to that of a juggler so think of it like this: There are going to be so many things you are going to be involved in that it has the potential of being overwhelming but a successful juggler only takes on what they can at first and slowly progresses until they are at a comfortable number. Think of college in the same way, you don’t want to start juggling 10 things when you first start out, take it slow and do what interests you the most! And don’t be afraid to try something new, either! That’s part of the excitement that college has to offer. Thankfully, Harvard has an amazing amount of opportunities to get involved with on campus and it’s almost impossible not to find something you want to try out. It’s definitely worth the time! Please explore, learn, have fun, and be ready for those moments where you can call home and say, “You won’t believe how loud the crowd was cheering for us!”

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