Harvard 375

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If Family Feud were to poll 100 Harvard students and asked whether or not the students felt they were productive, I would bet my right leg (or maybe just my left pinky…) that all one hundred would answer “no,” regardless of concentration, gender, and hair color. These poll results aren’t because we spend all day bashing Yale; instead, we hardly feel productive because we’re too passionate.

 

 

Widener Library during Harvard's 375th!

 

One of the greatest advantages of Harvard College is “Shopping Week,” the first week of every semester where students have the ultimate freedom to sit in – or walk out – of classes in order to evaluate courses as they see fit. It’s literally the perfect way to ease back into academics due to the lack of pressure to commit. Professors can’t assign homework and there aren’t any (discussion) sections or five hour labs to consume your evenings. The week is typically dedicated to socializing and organizing your extra-curricular calendar which comes with a hefty load of informational sessions, adviser meetings, and applications. These extra-curricular activities have a snowball effect; after spending hours applying, interviewing, and auditioning, you’ll only dedicate more and more time as your commitment level rises. Your time commitment is directly proportional to your impact. Yet, as you stroll into your dorm every evening, you’ll vent to your roommate about how unproductive you were because you spent the whole day organizing a leadership conference in Japan, or implementing plans to tutor and mentor children in underserved Boston communities, or couldn’t put down your book of leisure.

These feelings of unproductivity never stem from sleeping all day or watching re-runs of Jersey Shore. I’ve noticed how Harvard students have a tendency to categorize their extra-curriculars as unproductive matters; this is because we’re so passionate about applying what we learn in the classroom to the real world, that we don’t even consider this work! It comes second nature to us because the Harvard community fosters this meaningful kind of application and involvement – so much so that it’s as easy as your ABCs.

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Last night, Harvard celebrated its 375th “birthday” with a GIANT celebration in the Yard. 10,000 people attended, including alumni, students, and Harvard employees – it was completely packed! Harvard has been getting the student body excited for this for weeks, and one of the cool initiatives they started was a Harvard 375 Twitter account, which gets updated every day with historical fun facts about the school. Another super cool initiative involved putting speakers in trees in the Yard and playing famous graduation speeches that have been given at Harvard. On the way to class, you might hear Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, or FDR being projected from the trees. Admittedly, hearing Winston Churchill’s voice coming from the branches was a bit creepy the first time I noticed it, but it’s an awesome way of reminding students of Harvard’s incredible history.

The real “party” itself was in the Yard last night, and the campus has been buzzing with activity for the past week in preparation for the celebration (check out the picture below). The night kicked off with a giant parade through campus, and each upperclassmen House was responsible for coming up with decorations for the procession. Dunster rolled with the moose theme – we were all given antlers AND we had made a giant wooden moose on wheels to bring with us to the Yard. It was crazy! We kept having to stop traffic because the moose couldn’t make it over curbs, and we generally just walked it down the middle of the street as we were walking up. We were quite a sight!

The Moose!

The other crazy feature of last night’s celebration was an 18′ x 15′ birthday cake that Harvard ordered from a local bakery. IT was red velvet (in honor of Harvard’s colors) and frosted in vanilla frosting – so tasty. I was completely shocked walking through the Yard yesterday to see that the giant “H” cake had been assembled and was being frosted by about 8 cake decorators! They were literally dumping buckets of frosting on the cake, and I’m pretty sure it took them all day to finish. It was super cool to watch.

Frosting the giant cake!

Unfortunately it ended up raining like CRAZY last night, which meant that this whole celebration took place in a downpour. Luckily, Harvard had some tents and a whole bunch of ponchos, so the party went on as expected…only, perhaps a bit wetter than everyone had imagined.

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