It’s been a month since I moved to Bard at the end of January. Studying on campus is a very different experience compared to BGIA. My days are definitely less stressful and more relaxing even though I have to read more for my classes. The campus is beautiful, I love that we are surrounded by woods. I’m not saying I don’t miss at least a little bit the hustle-bustle of New York but it’s good to hear birds singing and see the stars at night.
I took four human rights classes: ‘Problems in Human Rights’ where we talk about different human rights campaigns from the British antislavery campaign to the landmines campaign. We have to read not just human rights literature but a lot of anthropological studies and books which I found very useful to understand better these issues. My other course is ‘Child Survival and Human Rights’ which is basically a children’s rights class with a focus on child health and wellbeing. I like my ‘Rights/Space/Politics: Refugee camps’ class because it’s very unique. The two professors who teach this class are architects and the founders of the Campus in Camps Initiative in Palestine. It’s fascinating to listen them talking about their work and to discuss with them topics like ‘normalization’, ‘participation’ and ‘sustainability’ in relation to refugee camps. My fourth course has a very catchy title ‘Donald Trump and his antecedents’ so it’s not a surprise that there are around 50 students in that class. We read about the history of populist leaders in the U.S. and in other countries and thus we try to understand the historical and present context of Trump’s presidency. We have guest lecturers from time to time which are great opportunities to discuss specific issues in more detail from different point of views.
Besides class, there are many student activities every day from panel discussions to film screenings, so you can always find something to do in your free time. I’ve been to for example a potluck party organized by the Draft, a human rights student publication, a Lantern Festival celebrating the Chinese New Year, and the Academy Awards viewing party (where I literally jumped into the air when ‘Mindenki’ (Sing) won the Best Live Action Short Film category).
Also Katarina, the PIE program wonderful program assistant, has organized trips for us at the weekends. We went to New York a few weeks ago where I realized how much I missed the city. It was good to be back even for a day. It was a cloudy day but when we went to the One World Observatory at the afternoon the sky slowly brightened and I saw Manhattan as I had never seen it before. It was kind of magical… We also visited the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park. It’s a huge property where FDR’s house and grave are located. The house and also the museum are incredibly interesting. I wish we could have stayed there for a little longer. This weekend we’re going to another historic sight, Kingston, which was New York’s first capital. So maybe I’m not in New York anymore, but I’m definitely not bored, I’m enjoying living on campus.