The End of this Chapter

Hi everybody!

I am finally done! So weird to think that four years have passed!

I think back and in the last few weeks I had a lot of talks with other close friends about their plans going in the future and their experiences. The best questions I heard over the past month was, why did you go to college? This reflective question lasted hours and gave perspective at why I was here in the first place. Overall my answer was to walk away with an better idea of how the world works and what I wanted to do to change it. My main reason wasn’t to find a job or even to be the first of my family to graduate. I am glad that I learned how to accomplish those but I am happier that I completed my goal. The reason I went through all of those sleepless nights and back to back tests, was to challenge myself and open my mind.

 

The biggest class I was worried for this entire semester was Japanese, and I am so happy that I passed. My final semester was 5 classes, multiple student groups and preparing for my future, and this one class was still the one I was consistently stressing over. I do not think I am fluent but I also feel like I’ve a better sense of the language than I would have gotten short of studying abroad. I still meet up with my tutor and we have become good friends! After all the work I have put into this language, I do not want to forget any.

 

I also had a great experience with the University YMCA. I received an award for the most growth in leadership skills and had an incredible heartfelt moment with the kids. I loved that I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and see what life would be like doing close community work with middle schoolers. The director of the program was even the one to put my stole on me during the graduation ceremony. In such a short time, I feel like all of the volunteer work I did really helped give me an outlet in my last year and guidance into future careers post college.

 

I am currently looking and applying for jobs. I have used many of the networks I made in the past few years and am hoping for a job in management. I would like a job that works close with a team and has more opportunities for growth than those behind a desk all day. I am excited for new job experience and to begin the next chapter! I hope everyone is doing well and I can’t wait to see everyone at the next get together!

 

April Showers bringing May Finals

I have one week left until I graduate! This is especially exciting as I will be the first to do this in my family and I cannot wait to pass down all of my experiences to my little sisters and even a panel I have volunteered to help out at. I have already completed all of the work for 2/6 of my current course and will finish up 2 more by next Wednesday. Time truly feels like it has moved so quickly and in a little over a week it will be over. I have several papers for finals, a presentation for my career class and Japanese (as usual) which consists of a skit, an oral exam, and a final test. So close!

I am currently applying to jobs and setting up interviews. I cannot believe how not even that long ago the thought of this would frighten me and I wouldn’t know what to do. I am utilizing several of the contacts I made at the career fair a few months back and a couple that I have researched on my own. I know I will find something, I hope to find one in the next few weeks and I can include it in my one for May.

In Japanese I have been doing alright. Still not seeing the results I would like to for the class but last Tuesday I got a Hanumaru (the equivalent of a gold star). My teacher gives them out very rarely, and always takes off half points for not having the right length or angle and I didn’t think I would ever get one. It made my day, and still puts a smile on my face. The group I am working with has proven more difficult than any I have been with since Freshman year but we are getting everything done. The teacher gave us a perfect score on our final draft and said it looks we did a great job of showing our second year level competence! There are few greater feelings than hearing a compliment from a strict professor in a class you struggle in.

One of the things I really enjoyed this past semester is my Taiwanese class. I initially took it because of it alignment with my hectic class schedule and to assist my minor, but this past month was great! We are watching films from different periods of Taiwan’s periods and analyzing the methodology behind sequencing of films. As a movie buff myself, I really enjoyed seeing foreign films I never would have watched. As we learned more of their accomplishments in recent years, I began to truly appreciate

As a side note, my teacher mentioned Glengarry Glen Ross, which reminded me of the Conference room in the Concord building. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will never look at a set of steak knives the same way. I also have since modeled all of my speeches using an A-B-C method and advertised the film to classmates!

One Cap One Gown Equals?

Every month that I write one of these I am amazed how fast and slow times seems to be going. Today I picked up my cap and gown (my college wears a white tassel) and I cannot be more excited (it helps that this was the early bird deal so I saved $10). With every day, I am checking off a mark in my calendar to the next chapter in my life and I am excited.

Classes are going well. I joined a Japanese conversational speaking group and my group is incredible. One of the people is actually from Japan and is a stay-at-home wife who wants to work on her English. The other two are both at about the same fluency of Japanese as I (probably better) but I feel like I am creating even more connections during my time in Undergrad. My Japanese tutor has had some personal time off so I have mostly relied on working with classmates and office hours. However, next month we are doing skit practice so it is interesting how things have worked out. The practice with respect language came in handy this month as well. My teacher invited someone from Japan and we were able to practice with her and it was an incredible experience. I hope to leave that same lasting remark on someone else.

Note: My tutor is doing alright now

I spent my Spring Break researching possible careers and working. It was a nice look at what life will be like without classes (or at least for the few days before I had to begin working on papers). Networking is another feature that was required in my Career preparation class but it was already something I was working on. The biggest highlight I had was actually something that happened for someone else! As a senior and having worked close under my boss, she asked me for recommendations for next semester. I got to see firsthand how hiring inside works and actually referenced someone I had met that semester. He was a sophomore student transferring in and trying to find his place in the U and I thought he was brilliant. She gave him a shot and interviewed and thought the same; she offered him the position on the spot! Seeing the look on his face was without a doubt, the highlight of my month.

A Fantastic February!

 

This month had so many incredible event. Midterms were this month and I passed all of them as well as several moment that I will hold dear to my hearts. To be truthful senioritis is very real and I made an effort to continue surrounding myself with people who are prioritizing graduation. The nights I spend are long and often alone, but they are productive. I cannot wait until they all pay off

The career preparation class has been super helpful. I went to my first career and internship fair and it was very exciting. To prepare, my classmates and I brushed up on our resume and LinkedIn profile and talked about what it means to have a brand image. The exercises were highly reflective and something that has happened since Freshman year. I even had an interview after the fair, one which went well but I have not accepted anything. My goal is to use what I have learned to hit the ground as quickly as possible and I hoping for something a little outside of my comfort zone. My short term goal for next month is to consult with many of the mentors and fabulous people I have met along the way in the hopes of laying seeds for future growth. That means my eye is tuned to some of you talented folk at Concord.

Japanese is very interesting. My tutor is fluent but he and my professor have run into some troubles with different preferences for how certain articles should be phrased. I have taken my professor’s side (since she is the one who controls my grade) but it is difficult. My tutor has a very flexible schedule and is cheap, both of which are really helpful at this point in time. I am looking around for other option but nothing is set in stone. Something really helpful that I have started doing is looking online to virtual flashcards to track my progress for memorizing key phrases. This has come in handy because this semester for Japanese looks to be mostly about relearning phrases from previous years in ‘respect language’, or addressing those with higher status. The idea that it continues to get harder is not a light matter; however, I feel much more comfortable with all of this thanks to the increased support.

I had my dance performance for the Vietnamese New Year’s show and it went very well! That was three months of drilling and preparing to perform and decorate Northrup (an incredible space) and I loved it as a break. I was so happy and proud of everyone for all of their hard work and will miss this next year. I am still working on finding something to fill that same time slot that I dedicated to dance so if anyone has suggestions for Tuesday/ Wednesdays late nights, I would love to give it a go!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Black History Month and Valentines Day!

A New January for a New Year

 

The realization that this will be my last semester has set in. I have made mistakes and had several low points in these past few years. However, they all served as learning opportunities and the amazing moments I also shared were once-in-a-lifetime; it will be hard to say good-bye to all of the friends and times I had here.

I am taking a class on careers as I am still not sure on what I would like to do after I graduate. So far it has been a lot of real world basic abilities that I think will help. Tasks such as researching/ interviewing for a job and the value of a LinkedIn (something that I did note really take serious note of before this). My major in Anthropology and Japanese are very open and can apply to a lot of different positions. I feel like it is so difficult to start applying now for an after college job, but I am excited on selling the best version of me to the world.

My classes are in high abundance, but I am confident that I will be able to do well this semester. In fact, I decided to take a 1 credit public health class on managing stress. Previously, when I was stressed I would take a break or go on a walk. I am hoping to learn some new mind sets to form around the idea of stress and be better suited for all that will occur, not only this semester but in the workplace.

I also decided to take a class on Asian politics around Taiwan, and this class blows my mind. We spent the last two weeks getting caught up on the history of the country; enough that anyone reading this literature would become a history buff. This class is also almost 50 students, and I am one of two black kids and eight white students in the class. I have never seen a ratio for such a big class and it a really cool dynamic. The teacher has a amazing take on how to have discussions, with rotating rows and peer- reviewed tests and I am excited for what I will learn.

Japanese is just as hard as always but I love my professor teaching methods. So many people are complaining about her difficulty but I feel like I am truly forced to give this class my all. We are moving at an even faster pace than last semester with more speeches and tests to work on. Needless to say, I have become quick friends with the Japanese tutoring lounge as well as my professor’s office hours.

Lastly, for recreation I am doing another Vietnamese traditional and modern dance! The performance will be this Saturday 2/5, and I really hope to show all the hard work that all of the new friends and I have made in these past three months. All in all, this will not be an easy semester but it will a rewarding one J

I will be in contact with you all as well soon too hopefully for some more after- college advice. Until then!

 

 

All I Want for December is to Finish

This was a really incredible month due to both how long classes went until as well as how quick so many things ended. I got all of my grades back today and happy to have another semester under my belt. My finals were not that taxing since ¾ were take home. However, the take homes were all essays of a 15 page minimum. I am excited for my last semester as an undergraduate.

The last month was an incredible part of my education. In my class focusing on American culture we studied economics. I learned a phenomenal amount about loans, the G.I. Bill, and Wall Street. There were multiple times that I had a small epiphany in class after connecting the dots from the past to our current state.

Oddly enough, I feel like I had a greater understanding of the economy from my american culture class than I did with the economics class. The specific examples we went over in the American class provided an overview of how the economy has been shaped by different worldviews and practices. In the economics, we learned about the differences between multiple economies. I realized how complex and intertwined a nation’s history is with their economics and have an idea for my senior project. This is not the last time I will be seeing either of these professors and I am excited to continue seeking their guidance. 

We also had elections for the Multicultural Greek Council. This organization has been with me for two years and this was my last time leading it. We had a final roundtable with all of the members of the community and it was a bittersweet moment. There were ups and downs but overall I am happy to have been a part of an executive team. 10 years from now I think I will look back fondly at these times and hope that I inspired someone in my time. 

My final bittersweet moment was with my volunteering team at the University team. Many of the mentors were not able to keep the same time schedule open and will not be returning. Additionally, some of the kids are switching to different schools and will also not be returning. We all had a great reflective moment were we saw how much the kids had learned over the past few months about college. Hearing that we had inspired two kids who thought they weren’t fit to go to college and that they could and would succeed, really touched me. We shared a great group hug.

All in all, this month has flown by and I am excited for all the memories I have made and am going to make in the next 4 months.
Until 2016, I shall see you next year Concord!

-Brandon

A Time for Reflection

I registered for my classes a few weeks and got back from my Thanksgiving break! This semester feels like it has just flown by and I can’t believe how much of this semester is gone. I understand how cliché it is, but since my finals are in the next three weeks, it actually goes feel like time has flown. This is incredible because I got involved with the Minnesota Student Association, who is currently petitioning for the U of M to have a bigger focus on mental health. This includes a variety of different issues, part of which is dealing with how there is lack of Fall Break (but there is a Spring Break)

Japanese is going well. I got my first assignment back with 100%. It was an incredible feeling especially because it was on a Japanese speech that I have worked on for weeks. This speech is one of the final projects of the class so as long as I am able to perform the speech as well as I have wrote it, I will be set. I am really excited about it. I honestly feel like I have learned so much in this semester and feel like I have grown so much in Japanese. I don’t feel comfortable enough to speak with people who I don’t know in only Japanese but I feel more comfortable with trying wittier ways of saying sentences.

The American History class is also going really well! In the class, our final assignment is about writing on a variety of topics. I choose mine about studying what is whiteness. There was a similar project done where we interview people on campus about their opinions about the racial state of issues in America. Given the current state of things in America this will be a great final project.

 

Overall I feel like I am really thankful for all that I have done. In my senior year, I have done a lot of reflecting on what it means to be African- American, to be Greek, to be in America, to a brother in college and to potentially graduate. The amount of friends and students groups I have joined has dwindled and I think I begin to see a bigger picture of how interconnected so many things. I am thankful for all of the times I have fallen

October 2015!

Happy Halloween to all,

I am so happy to be done with midterms! They lined up to be back to back but I made it through and did fairly well on all of them. I feel weird announcing my status as a senior and even met with my advisor to discuss graduation. This semester seems to flying all too fast, and I am hoping to make it out with lasting experiences and all the step needed for a splendid Spring Semester. With that, I feel like I am devoting more time to schoolwork than social groups, but I know that in the end, it will be well worth it J

My favorite class this semester is an anthropology course which looks at American History. I have taken other classes which have touched on it, but the class went into a lot of depth about the state of America. We analyze issues presented to multiple groups (such as those who identify as Chinese in Civil South, lesbians and immigrant from Southern Europe). The class finds a way to combine multiple mediums (lecture, small group, video, surveys) into an informative and interwoven piece about the assumption that this country uses to reinforce social constructs and hierarchies. I have been to this professor’s office hours almost as much as my Japanese professors to have chats about class topics and anthropology. This kind of class is the reason why I choose this major over Communications three years ago and it feels great to be inspired in my final year.

Japanese is still difficult but I love how much we learn. There are still hardly any hw assignments I get back that are covered in red marks, but I feel a stronger grasp of the language than before. (Apparently my professor is one of the more strict ones in the degree but I enjoy that this forces me to be unable to slack.) We are doing a lot of work on casual speech, which is really hard for me. It is like learning slang in American, where so many things are done and when you first hear them it makes so little sense. The class is also working on full length speeches, which is some of the toughest essays I have ever written. The longest one we had to do was 1200 words, and it felt like I was writing a final for a 5000 level class!

I also began volunteering with the U-YMCA. I became a site- lead for one of the middle schools in a college readiness program called Gear Up. The focus is using food and music to connect with kids and then offer insight and mentor opportunities for kids in 4th and 5th grade. The kids are incredible and the work is very rewarding. The curriculum is also one that the site leads has the ability to come up with so it was great fun finding out the interests of the kids and planning what the following semester with them will look like. The kids are also great; they are so young but have already done incredible things. (Some have worked in the Guthrie and others flown in helicopter and traveled.) But what is even more inspiring is getting to know the kids and having them be excited when you walk in to talk with you or engage in an ice breaker to set the theme of the day. The more and more I go each week, the question of will volunteering becomes something that stops after college lessens, while the question of with which company should I work with, rages on.

I went on a conference to connect and do some networking with other Midwest multicultural or historically black Greek letter organizations. It was refreshing to do work and share ideas with others. One of the most incredible take always was just how much there is common with organizations and that problems we face are ones that others likely do to. In multiple cases, there are those who have been where we are at and are able to offer great insight. The community and being able to hear/ share the voice is an undervalued trait.

Speaking on community, the one at the UofM feels so foreign. There are so many freshman that the people who I recognize walking through campus all feel like fleeting experiences. The amount of times I have been asked, ‘what do you plan to do next?’ seems to have tripled more than ever before. While I still don’t have an answer, I am excited for when I finally have an answer to that question!

Hope all is well at Concord and in your lives,
-Brandon

My Last September ( HOW TIME FLIES)

Hi everyone,

I hope all is well. It has been a while that I have posted a blog. I apologize about my lack of living up to my end of the bargain. What I did was lazy and I knew that coming into my senior year, I have no time for excuses.
That also means that I have a lot to catch you all up on, so please bear with me.

I am taking a class on Gender, Woman and Sexuality Studies and love it for three reasons. This is due to having enough room in my schedule for 6 credits that lie outside of my major/ minor. With the recent focus in politics in America, I decided to take one based on social justice. (The second class will likely be a career focused class in my spring semester). This class has incredible discussions based on novels concerning youth activists. The reading we have primarily discussed also detail the privilege that is associated with age. We look at issues happening currently, such as Black Lives Matter, and how older members of the Civil Rights Era would criticize many of the protestor’s methods. Many of these disagreements came from giving legitimacy to age. Secondly, it is the first class I have been in where the majority of students identify as female. I have learned a lot about the privilege that being a male holds in the first few days of class. The final thing I love about the class is how we do our postings and discussions through Tumblr. This is not a site, I have visited in the past, but it is an incredible platform for people to express themselves in discussion. The conversations utilize youtube links, gifs and personalized fonts for people to express themselves. While it started off confusing, it has added to the environment of a safe space that sites like Moodle do not allow.

Japanese is still a struggle but I am on track to doing well. I have a tutor I see on a weekly basis and go to my professor’s office hours for one-on-one help as well. It is still a daily commitment and to all those who have learned a second language and are fluent, I fell I really understand how incredible that is. Especially when one understand the complexity of the grammar and casual/ former part of a language. My current professor loves to bring up the inconsistencies found in English language and always helps bring a new perspective about how hard learning a second language is. This semester is more focused on speaking, my weakest area, than it is on reading and writing. On the upside, hopefully I will be more confident when speaking by the end of this semester.

I am still the president of the Multicultural Greek Council. It has been a very humbling process. Over the summer, all of my attention was spent on working. I put my organization on the back burner and when we came back there was a lot of review that needed to be done. One of the most astounding things we did after break, was have a retreat. We came up with a mission and vision for our organization as well as going over the expectations of who should handle which roles in the future. The effect that it had on raising morale, and giving a goal was indescribable. I have learned so much in this role through holding events, following up with people and advocating for multiple groups. Every day I think of how in only a few months, all of the responsibility that I had will be upon someone else. However I still want to be involved and help pass on all the mistakes that I did, so that the future is brighter for all involved. With all of the planning, we have for the upcoming months, I am excited to see how this community will grow 5, and 10 years from now.

Until next time,
Brandon

A November to Remember

 

I can’t believe how fast this semester went. Only about two more weeks of classes and then I will be on break!

Elections came up for the multicultural Greek Council last week. With some encouragement I had thought about taking another leadership role to continue developing myself and the community at the University as a whole. I ran for president of the multicultural Greek Council and was elected! I was honored that the representative of so many organizations believed in me! My goal will be to help foster a unity between the different councils and help create a space for multicultural Greek life on campus.

Japanese is going well. I didn’t do as well on the last test we had but I have been called up several times to do demonstrations. There are two more tests in the next week and I have been doing a lot of work to prepare. In my class about India we studied how western advertisements (such as Coca Cola and Google) use certain techniques and historical backgrounds to sell their products in India. I was blown away by how effective advertisements can be in this regard!

There were many events that students groups put on this month but my favorite was a discussion of toxic masculinity; what it was and how can we change our university system. This discussion had a lot of interesting points on how the words many young men hear shape their identity. Phrases such as “man up” or “don’t be a girl” say a lot about what it means to be a certain gender role. After the discussion I really want to learn more and might take a gender studies class next semester.

All in all this semester is rapping up very quickly, and I am excited to see what next semester will bring!

Happy Holidays Concord!