Oberlin Blogs

Holy FYSP!

June 26, 2011

Chinwe Okona ’13

I think my driver's license is the only documentation I have that displays my real height. Although on GoYeo the volleyball roster says I'm 5'7" and I often tell people I'm 5'6.5", I'm actually only 5'6". I'm the shortest person in my family and the second shortest person on the volleyball team. As much as it hurts me to admit it, I think I qualify as being on the shorter side of average height.

Because of that, and my severe Type A personality, I think I developed a bit of a short person complex sometime in the beginning of high school (this is when all my guy friends finally caught up and surpassed me in height). I like to be the oldest, I like to win, and I don't like being belittled in any way.

So with all that being said, go ahead and imagine freshman Chinwe at Oberlin. For freshman Chinwe, First Year Housing was not even an option to consider. However, I toyed with the idea of taking a First Year Seminar for the entire summer before my first semester in Obie-land.

Point blank, I think there are two things every freshman at Oberlin should do:

1) Have a roommate for the first year, or even just the first semester.


My freshman year there were so many good seminars offered, so many (the best thing about the online course catalog is that whoever writes the class descriptions does a phenomenal job of selling every class; I've almost been suckered into taking classes I knew I wasn't actually interested in because of the bombtastic description. Hence, CHOOSE WISELY YOUNG OBIE). Once my mother told me I absolutely had no choice but to take a FYSP (First-Year Seminar Program, if you haven't caught on yet), I narrowed my choices down to:

Science on the Brain: Exploring Discoveries in Neuroscience
Neuroscience is a rapidly growing field of research with a fascinating history. In this seminar we will explore some of the fundamental discoveries in neuroscience. Through reading, lecture, discussion and library research we will study topics such as language, emotion, memory, mental illness, and motivation. We will discuss the principles of experimental design while taking note that much of what we know is due to serendipitous discoveries.

The First Amendment and the Internet
This course explores the impact of the Internet on First Amendment freedoms of speech, dissent, academic inquiry, and privacy, through the study of constitutional law cases. Topics include: History and philosophy of free expression; Internet as private and public space; government regulation in 'anti-terrorism' age; library access to Internet; music, file-sharing, and intellectual property; and regulating hateful, obscene, indecent, and subversive speech on the Internet.

Crossing Borders: The Mysteries of Identity
In Western cultures, identity has tended to be defined in binary terms: an individual is either black or white, male or female, straight or gay, and so on. This seminar will seek to explore the nature of identity by focusing on fiction, essays, and films in which categories of identity - specifically those of race, gender, and sexuality - are represented as fluid and ambiguous rather than as fixed and polarized.

I was pretty set on taking Science on the Brain; but, since I was being stubborn about taking a FYSP in the first place and since neuroscience majors are ruthless at Oberlin (I mean we're actually pretty awesome, we're just all really, realllly good at what we do and we all want to be the best. That's all) the class was full by the time I got my academic life together.

My next choice was The First Amendment and the Internet. I had just BEASTED my AP American Government exam and was all pumped about the amendments and junk. Also, I think the Internet is an incredibly powerful, and perhaps dangerous, tool. ALSO, I now know that Ron Kahn is one of the best professors at Oberlin and I would die to take a class with him, although the likelihood of me venturing into the Politics/Law and Society departments is slim to none (let me know if you want to hear my list of dream professors, it's SO good). Point blank, I don't know why I didn't take this class. I haven't scoped the 2011-2012 FYSP course list, but if this sounds up your alley and it's being offered, take it.

Cutting to the chase here, I ended up choosing Crossing Borders. Honestly I wasn't that pumped about my selection; but, trust me, this class was so, soooooo good. The course description actually doesn't do it justice. I found that in this class I was able to discuss thoughts and motifs that had come up in my life but I had never voiced around my peers, let alone an adult I didn't know very well. David Walker is such a fantastic professor (and an Obie alum!), I HIGHLY recommend him. I put honest A-plus effort into every single paper I wrote for David (I HATE writing papers) and he's now on my list of professors to take another class with (a much more exclusive list, but I'm happy to share it as well).

Unfortunately, I don't think Crossing Borders will be offered again until the 2012-2013 academic year (I'm going to be a senior omgomgomgomgomgomgomg) but peep the list for this coming academic year, and choose quickly before you get jipped.

Responses to this Entry

Chinwe, you are not short. But even if you're a small person, you gotta make up for that with big personality! Low five!



Posted by: Ma'ayan on June 27, 2011 12:20 PM

Last I checked, average height for women in the US was only 5'4". So you're officially not short!

Posted by: Elizabeth on June 27, 2011 2:41 PM

Well, personally, I'm just delighted that you didn't get your first two choices--I loved having you in the class, and I'm happy it meant so much to you!

Posted by: David on June 27, 2011 3:14 PM

I actually totally want to know about your dream professors.

Posted by: Ida on June 27, 2011 6:33 PM

@Ma'ayan - We all know that you're a superhero in disguise and you're actually 6'4". The jig is up.

@Elizabeth - Ah! You're the best. I think my complex can be attributed to the fact that my two younger brothers are 6'2" and 6'3" and STILL GROWING.

@David - Truly a top ten in my memories of Oberlin thus far!

@Ida - omgomgomgomg I hoped someone would ask. Keep an eye on your FB messages.

Posted by: Chinwe on June 27, 2011 11:33 PM

@Chinwe/Ida - I think this also might be worthy of a future blog post?

Posted by: Ma'ayan on June 28, 2011 9:39 AM

Actually, I'd like to see the lists too...

Posted by: Silvia on August 13, 2011 10:48 PM

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