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This spring break, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team left the chilly Boston weather and heading to the sunny beaches of San Diego to compete in the Hilton Mission Valley Spring Classic. This was an 8-team tournament that spanned three days. The tournament didn’t start until the Thursday of spring break, so we had five days to adjust to the outdoor conditions.  At Harvard, we had been playing, predominately indoors since October, so it was nice to play outdoors again.

After the weekend of practice, we took Monday off and had the unique opportunity to visit the Coronado Naval Base. This was an interesting experience, as we were given a tour of the facility and an overview of the different equipment they use.  They also showed us different carriers and helicopters they had.  At the end of the trip, we had the opportunity to take part in a flight simulation. The flight simulation mimicked flying a real helicopter. While I ruled out any hope of being a pilot when I crashed my plane in the first five seconds, this was a great experience.

 

 

The Harvard Men's Tennis Team at the Naval Base in San Diego

 

 

Teammates and me inside the flight simulator


After Monday, for the next three days, we prepared and trained for the tournament.  In our first match of the tournament, we played UC Irvine. After a very suspenseful doubles point that went our way, we headed into the singles matches. While the team support is always great, I was really happy I had some family support during my singles match.  My parents and sister were able to make it down from the Bay Area to watch us play!  It was great to have my family and teammates there cheering me on. Our team secured five of the six singles sets to win the match 6-1.

Due to bad weather, the coaches changed the schedule for the end of the tournament. The semifinals and finals of the tournament were moved to the same day, and the format was altered. With four courts, we played the singles sets first and determined that the doubles would only be played if the match had not been decided. In the semifinals, we played San Diego State.  We were able to pull out wins at the no. 2, 4, and 6 positions to tie the match at 3-3.  Since the match was tied after the singles, we played the doubles point.  After some intense and very close doubles matches, we were able to pull away for a 4-3 win.

In the championship match, we played the #16 nationally-ranked home team, University of San Diego. Playing at night underneath the lights, the singles matches went first.  I played at the no 4 position, and the crowd was right on the edge of my court. My match consisted of many long rallies, and after an hour and a half, I was able to close out a straight set win.  Fellow teammates, Christo Schultz, Henry Steer, and Alex Steinroeder also pulled out singles victories to help the Crimson earn a 4-2 victory and clinch the championship!

 

In the championship match against University of San Diego


While it was hard to leave the wonderful weather and sunny beaches, it was great to return to college life in Cambridge.  Over the past few weeks, there have been many interesting events at Harvard. One of the events I attended was Holi.  Holi is a Hindu religious holiday and is also known as the Festival of Colors.  People celebrate by throwing scented colored powder at each other to mark the end of the winter season and the start of the spring season. On campus, the Harvard South Asian Association hosted a lunch where we played traditional Indian games and enjoyed a wide array of Indian food.  After the lunch we headed to the Winthrop House courtyard, where we were supplied with colored powder, and we proceeded to engage in a very chaotic battle, filled with color, shouting, and many great new memories.

 

Holi celebrations outside Winthrop House


After coming back from spring break, the weeks flew by even faster than normal.  My schedule has been pretty busy with school work and tennis, and now with final exams.  I honestly can’t believe this year is almost over.  Thanks for reading this blog!

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Hey Everyone!

Congratulations to all those who got into Harvard this year! You all worked extremely hard and now have the opportunity to visit colleges and decide which college environment fits you best.

For this blog entry I wanted to share a video I have been working on for the last couple of months. In the video, I give my perspective of what Harvard is really like. I hope you all enjoy it.

Here is a link to the VIDEO!

 

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Hey, everyone! I know I promised to share the project I have been working on for a while, but it will be my next blog entry, which I’ll post around March 29th, in honor of college admissions decision day.

Last month, the Men’s Tennis Team had the opportunity to travel to Indiana and New Hampshire.  Ironically, the tennis team was in Indianapolis, Indiana during Super Bowl weekend.  On this trip, we played three dual matches against Vanderbilt, University of Indiana, and Butler. All three matches were extremely exciting, and we ultimately bested Vanderbilt and Butler, 4-3 and 7-0, while falling to Indiana 5-2.

Men's Tennis Team at Butler's Basketball arena

After traveling to Indiana, the tennis team traveled to Dartmouth to compete in the ECAC championships. The ECAC Championships is a three-day eight team tournament, and seven of the eight teams were in the Ivy League.   In the first match, I competed in the first “Harvard-Yale” game of my college tennis career. The match started around 8 pm, and while it was a tough match, Harvard was able to pull away for a 4-1 win. In the second match, we played Dartmouth in front of a divided home crowd. This match went the length, as Harvard won the doubles point and three singles matches to clinch the match 4-2.  In the finals, we played Brown. After losing the doubles point, we were able to register four wins in singles and came away with a 4-1 win to clinch the championship!  This event was really special, as our team really came together and persevered through many challenges.

The Men's Tennis Team at ECAC Championships in New Hampshire

With each weekend traveling and playing dual matches, I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in as many other extracurricular events as I did in my first semester, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a college athlete.  While it is a great privilege to be a student here, I find greater joy in representing Harvard on the tennis court. In my opinion, the biggest difference between competing at the junior and collegiate level, is that, at the collegiate level, you represent something that is larger than yourself, and that feeling is truly priceless.

While tennis has been very exciting, school has also had its share of excitement.  Last week, the freshmen received their housing assignments for our next three years on campus. For those not familiar with Harvard’s housing system, after freshmen year, all freshmen are sorted into 1 of 12 Houses. You can “block” with up to eight other students, which guarantees that you will be placed in the same House.  While the House assignments are completely random, Housing Day gets very intense. On the Thursday morning before spring break, upperclassmen members of the Houses storm Harvard Yard (where freshmen live), carrying flags and decked out in costumes and House t-shirts. Then, the upperclassmen come into the dorms and notify each blocking group of the House they were placed in to. (To give you a better idea here is a link from this year’s Housing Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6ZxMBEkB8). After many stressful hours, my blocking group found out we were placed into Winthrop House!  Winthrop House boasts some pretty cool alums and once home to President John F. Kennedy; Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Winthrop House is located on the banks of the Charles River,  pretty close to the athletics facilities, and not far from the center of campus.

Members of Winthrop House storming our room

That’s all for this post! For spring break, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team is heading to San Diego to compete in another 8-team tournament. I hope you all enjoy spring break, and I look forward to blogging about our adventures in California!

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Hi everyone!  I haven’t written in a few weeks because I’ve been hard at work for something for you guys, and I can’t wait to show you.  So stay tuned!  In the meantime, now that we’re several weeks into the semester, here are some of the cool things that happened when I got back to campus.

While my second term at Harvard officially started in early February, I’ve been on campus since middle of January. The tennis team has been in full practice swing since January 15th in order to get ready for our spring season.  Since classes didn’t start until January 23rd, the Friends of Harvard Tennis Committee had been kind enough to set-up a lot of events after our practices.

First, the freshmen tennis class had the privilege of having lunch with the Dean of Freshmen, Tom Dingman. We ate at Grafton Street Restaurant and had a great time. Also, there were several alumni events later in the week. At these alumni events, former members of the Harvard Tennis Teams came and talked about their life experiences after graduating from college. It was extremely interesting to hear the kind of jobs they have now and how their experiences as student athletes at Harvard helped shape their journey in the real world. While all of the events were really helpful, the most memorable event was the Harvard Tennis Spring Kick-off Banquet, which was held at the Harvard Club in Boston.  Here, Alex Seaver and Debbie Goldfine (both Co-Chairs of Friends of Harvard Tennis), hosted a remarkable event which included guest speakers, captains’ presentations, and a spectacular dinner.

 

Freshmen Men's Tennis Class of 2015 having lunch with Dean Dingman

 

 

Harvard Men's Tennis Team at the Harvard Club of Boston

 

The last week of January, classes officially began. This semester, I’m taking Statistics 104, Science of the Physical Universe, Economics 10, and Sociology 43. Compared to last semester, these classes are structured a little differently, as I tried to branch out and pick topics that I haven’t had to chance to explore yet.  Of all my classes this semester, I’m really interested in Sociology 43, as the class has real life applications and the readings are extremely riveting. In addition to classes starting, I had my nineteenth birthday last week.  A group of friends and I went out to a local restaurant, Border Cafe, to celebrate.

 

Celebrating my 19th birthday at Border Cafe

 

 

 

Sterling, Kerry, and I are having a high school reunion dinner in Harvard Square.

 

In late January, the Men’s Tennis team hosted their first dual matches of the season. We hosted Drake, DePaul, and Denver University. In each one of the matches, the team plays three doubles matches and six singles matches. That Friday, we played Denver, and then we played a double header on Saturday against Drake and DePaul. Our team played extremely well throughout out the weekend, and we were able to win all three dual matches, respectively, 4-0, 4-1, 4-0.

 

Coach Fish conducting a team meeting before our match

 

That’s it for this post, thanks for reading. Next, I’ll be posting something special, so be sure to keep an eye out for my next blog!

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As I sit here writing this piece, I can’t believe how much has happened in the world this past year. Osama Bin Laden was assassinated, Harry Potter finally triumphed over arch nemesis Lord Voldemort, and Rebecca Black became an infamous internet sensation with her single “Friday”. Not to mention the turmoil regarding European Debt and revolutions in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia.  

My 2011 may not have been as life-altering at the global level but it has been one of the most interesting years of my life. At the beginning of 2011, I was a senior in high school and had just committed to Harvard to play tennis. With college applications behind me, I was able to engage in school activities and events that I couldn’t before. My goal for my last semester in high school was to make it the most memorable semester of high school. I attended Monte Vista pep rallies, went to Senior Ball, and was able to end high school on a high note. To me, high school was a great experience, but I would be naive to think that everyone enjoyed their high school experience. For those high school students on both ends, no matter how great your high school experience is, college is better. Long gone are the days where students are comparing grades, and you have to take subjects that don’t interest you. College is a time for exploration and journeys one can only imagine. Seniors, don’t stress out if you aren’t accepted into your dream school. Each college offers a unique education that is invaluable in many ways. I know college decisions seem like everything in the moment, but the most important thing in the long run is to find a school that is a perfect fit.

For myself, I couldn’t have imagined a better first semester in college. Looking back, I never imagined I would have had the opportunity to do half the things I have done first semester.  It was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in high school, but looking back it makes much more sense.

While it is always sad to be at the end of one year, it seems that 2011 was just a small taste of what 2012 will bring. While it is safe to assume we won’t be visiting nearby galaxies, 2012 looks to be a year when the human race will push the boundaries further than they’ve stretched before. It is impossible to predict what may happen in 2012, but whatever happens trust that your dots will connect in the future. Good luck seniors, and Happy New Years to all!

Timeline of my 2011:

My three sisters (Sona, Sheena, Sabina) and I are hanging out and playing Wii.

With my best high school friend, Logan, and AP Calculus teacher (Mrs. Shackelford)

Playing tennis with long-time childhood friends

Harvard Men’s Tennis Coaches (Dave Fish & Andrew Rueb),Uncle Tara, and I at Freshmen Move-in

Eating at Annenberg (our freshman dining hall)

Upasna and I are studying economics

Connor, Sietse, Brennan, and I are playing bughouse chess

 

Stella and I rejoicing after taking our math final exams!

Back home for the holidays!

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Hey, everyone! In the past couple of weeks, I attended some of the most interesting and rewarding events of my semester.

The first event I attended was the Thud Concert. Thud is a musical group on campus that creates music by banging objects together. This may be a very vague description, but this concert was unlike any other concert I have ever attended. The group first welcomed the new members of the group by playing the Simpsons theme song, as the new freshmen came out acting as the Simpsons characters. After the introduction, the group performed five different songs, using drums, chairs, basketballs, and many other unusual objects.

It is a little hard to describe this concert, so I created a VIDEO!!!, which highlights most of the performances.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

My friends and me at the Fall Thud Concert

 

This past weekend, Mike Mercier, a staff member of the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team(HMT), hosted a wheelchair tennis event. A couple of HMT members were there to help out. At the beginning of the event, Mike conducted drills and gave instruction to the wheelchair tennis players. After an hour, Mike split all the participants into two teams, the North and the South. I was part of the South team, while my HMT teammate was on the North team.  To determine the winner of the Lobster Cup, each team played 3 doubles matches and one singles match. The match format was a regular set (first team to six games, win by two). Both teams competed hard, and the score was 2-2 after this first round of matches. To determine a winner, two more doubles matches were played as a tiebreaker. The South Team won both the doubles matches and claimed the title 4-2.  It was a great event! Having played for eleven years, I thoroughly enjoy tennis, so I was happy that I could give back to a sport that has given me so much.

 

Playing doubles for the South Team during the Wheelchair Lobster Cup

 

Lobster Cup- Wheelchair Tennis hits at Harvard

 

Beyond attending these events, my main focus has been studying for my exams.  Of my four classes,  I had two final exams for Math 1B and Economics 10 and a final paper in Expository Writing 20. In my4th class, Science of Living Systems 20, there was no final exam. In addition to final exams, I played a lot of chess, hung out with various friends, and played tennis.

Now I am on my way back to California. While I have had such a great semester at Harvard, I am looking forward to heading back home. I miss my family a lot, and I am looking to have a restful break! Thanks for reading everyone! In my next blog, I am going to write a reflection on my impressions and thoughts about my first semester at Harvard. Stay tuned, it should be up in a week! Happy Holidays everyone!

 

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Hey, everyone!  We just finished with reading period, which is a week free of classes given to students to help with studying for exams. While this week encourages students to study hard, there are always events to compensate for the hard days of studying.

Last week marked the end of classes for the semester. While it was easy for me to part with a couple of my classes, there were two classes I was sad to leave. The first class was my expository writing class, what Harvard students call “Expos.” As freshmen, students are required to take an expository writing class, which is a writing-intensive course taught in sections of about 15 students.  There are many different expository writing classes, such as Family Matters, Darwinian Dating, Voice of Authority, etc. I picked the class HIV/AIDS in Culture. At first, I had some contrasting opinions about the class, but as we started to progress and look deeper into the texts, I began to appreciate the different works we studied.  In addition to enjoying the art and literature in the class, I’ve learned a lot from my teacher, who is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. Having been diagnosed with HIV for the past 15 years, he has played an active role in spreading awareness and fighting for public acknowledgement. My conversations with him were extremely interesting, and I feel privileged to have taken this class.

The second class I will miss is Math 1B. Similar to Expos, this class was memorable because of my professor. He has received countless awards for his research in this field, and is well-known for his work in gauge field theory. Despite being this world-renowned math mathematician, he was one of the most downto-earth and humble people I have ever met. Before coming to Harvard, I had a stereotypical idea of what Harvard professors were like, but Professor Taubes broke every misconception I had. Constantly cracking jokes about himself, and engaging in one-on-one conversations with all of his students, he was a very approachable person. On the last day of classes, he did a magic card trick that left our class speechless.

 

 

Camille, Hannah, Kelly, Professor Taubes, and me on the last day of math class.

I have been studying pretty hard for finals, but I’ve still had time to attend some social events. This week, the Harvard Varsity Club hosted the 2nd Annual Winter Charity Ball. I attended the Ball with a couple of members from the Women’s Tennis Team, and we had a great time! It was held at the Sheraton Commander Hotel, and all the proceeds went to benefit a nonprofit organization that uses coaching and sports to promote social change.

 

 

Kelly, Sylvia and me getting ready to head to the Winter Charity Ball

 

This week, I also had the honor of co-hosting a puja for the Dharma Club. A puja is a religious ritual performed as an offering to various deities. This prayer was for the celebration of the goddess of knowledge, music and creative art. In the puja, we said opening prayers, saraswati slokas, and sang bhajans. About thirty people attended the puja, and it was a great way to receive blessings for our upcoming exams!

Co-hosting a Puja in the Indian Prayer Space

 

Later in the week, the First Year Social Committee hosted “Frost Fest” in Annenberg, the freshman dining hall. At the event, students built gingerbread houses and decorated sugar cookies, and great holiday music courtesy of Harvard’s acapella groups helped to spread the holiday spirit.

 

Students building Gingerbread houses at Annenberg to alleviate stress


That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading this entry, and I’ll post again next week!

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First off, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! So much has happened in the last several weeks at Harvard. From the Occupy Protests, to the start of college hockey, there have been plenty of headline stories at Harvard lately.

Starting off with hockey, the Varsity Men’s Hockey Team played Colgate in one of their first home matches of the season. This was the first hockey match I have ever seen live, and it did not disappoint. Colgate scored the first goal and seemed to have the momentum, but after a wild second period, Harvard held for a slight 3-2 advantage and then closed out the game with a 4-2 victory. I never thought I would be a hockey fan, but after the game, I know I’ll be attending more games!

 

 

 

Harvard Men's Hockey vs. Colgate

On campus over the past couple of weeks, there has been a pretty big student-run protest, “Occupy Harvard,” our campus branch of the Occupy Movement, which launched in Harvard Yard in mid-November.  When the movement began, students and members of the Harvard and Boston community marched onto campus with an array of signs. The protesters consisted of students, staff, faculty members, and members of the community voicing their opinions about the complicity of growing income inequality across the U.S. It was a very well-run demonstration that was not disbanded by police officers, but protected by law enforcement and the Harvard administration.  At Harvard, we’re encouraged as students to voice our opinions and stand up for what we believe in. The College has stood by this principle as they’ve allowed students to set up tents in Harvard Yard in front of the John Harvard Statue over the past few weeks.   Protesters even celebrated Thanksgiving in the Yard last week.

Student protesters set up tents inside the Yard

While the protesters are still staying in tents in Harvard Yard (where freshmen live), classes and events at Harvard continue to move forward. Recently, I’ve joined the break dancing club the “Harvard Breakers,” which practices three or four times a week.  Check out one of their dance performances! This is something I have always wanted to do and look forward to continuing second semester.

Lastly, I just celebrated Thanksgiving! I was not able to make it home to California for the holiday, but I wanted to thank Alex Steinroeder and his family for inviting me to their house for the holidays.  Alex is a fellow member of the tennis team with me and lives in Holliston, about 30 minutes from campus. It was nice to be off campus for a couple of days.  When I’m on campus, it seems like time flies by, as I’m constantly engaging is athletics, studying, or attending a club event. Being off campus gave me the opportunity to reflect on my experiences and recharge for the last couple weeks of the semester. That’s it for this entry. Thanks for reading, and Happy Belated Thanksgiving everyone!

 

At the Steinroeder household with their dog George

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This past week has been very interesting and exciting.  At the beginning of the week, I attended the STAHR Telescope Training Class.  STAHR is an undergraduate organization, which stands for Student Astronomers at Harvard-Radcliffe. The STAHR club meets in an observatory located at the top of the Science Center, one of Harvard’s main buildings for science classes and labs for undergraduates.  During the class, we received hands-on practice using a telescope and were taught how to use star maps to locate constellations in the night sky. The telescope we used is called the Loomis-Michael Telescope, and it’s quite large!  On this particular night, Jupiter was visible, and we were able to see the color scheme of the planet, as well as four of its moons.

An officer handling the Loomis-Michael Telescope in the observatory.

In addition to the STAHR club meeting, I attended the chess club meeting this week. The chess club traveled to Stamford, Connecticut to compete at a regional prize money tournament. This week, they had an informational meeting where they went over different strategies. Chess club meetings are a low time commitment, usually lasting only an hour or two. After the formal training part of the meeting, we paired up and played several games of chess.

Photo from the Chess Club

This past weekend, the Harvard Tennis Team competed at an invitational event at William and Mary. At the invitational event, four teams competed- William and Mary, University of Maryland BC, George Washington University, and Harvard.

The first team practice at the William and Mary Tennis Center

Each day, our team played another team in the “college format,” which includes 6 singles matches and 3 doubles matches.  On the first day, we faced University of Maryland BC and swept the singles and doubles matches. Then, we played George Washington University and won 4 out of the 6 singles matches and 2 out of the 3 doubles matches. After the matches on the second day, the team had a team dinner in honor of junior Josh Tchan’s birthday. We headed to an Italian restaurant and had a wonderful time. The food was amazing, and it was a great team bonding event.

Tennis Team celebrating Josh Tchan's 20th Birthday.

On the last day, we played William and Mary and won 5 out of the 6 singles matches and all 3 doubles matches. Overall, it was a great tournament to end our fall season. With the fall season over, the number of workouts have decreased. The team will resume official practices in January, and in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the downtime!

Harvard's Doubles Teams competing against William and Mary

After the tournament, the team took a tour of William and Mary’s campus. It was a beautiful day, and the campus was really nice.  We took some photos in front of statues (like tourists do on Harvard’s campus!) and visited some of the shops nearby.

Tennis Team touring William and Mary's campus.

After touring the campus, the team headed to the airport and flew back to Boston. While it was a great trip, I am very happy to back in Boston within the comforts of Harvard’s campus.

 

 

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This past weekend, I spent my time away from Harvard in Ithaca, New York. The Harvard  Men’s Tennis Team headed to Cornell to play the Regional Championships. All eight schools in the Ivy League were represented, as well as several other schools such as Marist, St. Johns, and Buffalo. In this tournament,  each school was allowed between one and six players depending on the team’s ranking and the players’ individual rankings. Harvard had six singles players and three doubles entered in the 128 draw field.

Our team left Harvard around 2 o’clock last Thursday to head down to the tournament. Our trip down to Ithaca was very scenic, as we got further away from Boston and into the more rural areas of New York.   The team bonded over card games and other activities during the 6 hour drive to Ithaca.  We ended up reaching Cornell around 8, and we practiced at the Reis Tennis Center for an hour before checking into the hotel and going to bed.

Friday was the first day of the tournament, and Harvard had a perfect day in singles with all participants advancing and two out of the three doubles team advancing as well. In my match, I played an international player from the University at Buffalo. In the first set, I got off to a good start, and had the lead throughout the first set.  My opponent started to gain momentum near the end of the set, but I was able to win the first set 7-6, winning 7-4 in the tiebreaker. In the second and third set, he played much more aggressively, winning the second set 4-6, and in the third set, he was up 4-3. After a talk with my coaches, at the changeover, I came out with a new, aggressive game plan, and I was able to win the last three games closing out the match 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. The match lasted nearly four hours!  Afterward, I went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the next match on the following day.

Coach Fish giving me advice at a changeover.

On Saturday, I was scheduled to play the #1 player from Yale. He was a junior and had been named Ivy League Player of the Year as a freshmen. It was a really tough match, and I fell in straight sets.  My opponent played a very clean match, and it was a great learning experience. For the rest of the day, I cheered on teammates and started homework that was due later that week. We were planning to leave  Sunday, but ended up traveling on Monday.

After the tournament, I spent the week catching up on schoolwork. This past week, I also did something I have never done before. I had the opportunity to play a Grandmaster in a game of chess. A Grandmaster is the highest honor a chess player can receive. Larry Christiansen the Grandmaster played on the U.S. Olympiad Team nine times and has a 2,585 rating (one of the highest in the world).

Larry Christiansen and I

He played a simul with 20 players, meaning that he played twenty players at once. He would make his move and move from board to board. My game lasted for about 40 moves, but he ended up getting a piece advantage and was able to control the rest of the match. The fact that I was able to play a chess Grandmaster was truly remarkable. There aren’t many places in the world where I would have been able to do this.

Larry Christiansen is about to move in the chess game.

That was the end of my week. This weekend, the Harvard Men’s Tennis Team will compete in the Harvard Halloween Invitational, and I will also be attending  celebrations in honor of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, on Sunday. I’ll write again next Saturday, and in the meantime, have a great week!

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