Oberlin Blogs

Key Moments (Part II)

April 29, 2010

Alice Ollstein ’10

1. Last week, a friend in my coop tipped me off that the student salsa band she sings for, Son de Oberlin, would be performing at a club in Cleveland on Friday. Did I want to come? Of COURSE I did. I've been in love with salsa dancing since age 16. When I'm back home in LA, I go out at least three times a week. Here the options are more sparse--a salsa night at the 'Sco once in a while--so I jumped at the chance to both dance and get outside the Oberlin bubble. I gathered a car-full of friends together and set off. We were only one of several Oberlin groups that showed up to support friends in the band. I had an amazing night listening to them rock the place, dancing with Obies and Clevelanders alike, and buying overpriced wine from weird futuristic dispensers.
Here I am dancing the night away:

I know lots of Oberlin student bands get professional gigs and even tour all over the country during breaks and Winter Terms, and judging by last week's performance Son de Oberlin could easily do the same!

2. The next night, my feet still recovering from hours of salsa dancing, I headed to my dear friend and former roommate's Special Meal in Pyle Coop. Though he head-cooks a meal every week, Special Meals are, well, special. People definitely kick it up a notch. Nathaniel's theme was CHOCOLATE. Every dish had chocolate incorporated somehow. I should mention that Nathaniel has taught a Chocolate ExCo (a student-taught class for credit) that included the history of chocolate, chocolate tasking, and making your own truffles. He brought all this expertise to the meal, and I was in a food-daze for the rest of the evening. The highlights, for me, were roasted beets with orange slices and cocoa nibs and a bread pudding made from chocolate bread. I'm getting hungry just remembering it. Basically, many people in OSCA are not only talented chefs, but care about the story behind the food they eat.

(p.s. Yes, girls and boys can share a room if they request it. It's called "gender neutral housing" and we were the first college in the country to adopt it!) Here we are in our matching OSCA sweatshirts:

3. As I know I've mentioned before, the Nicaragua Sister Partnership Committee (of which I am the coordinator) is working to raise consciousness on campus about the political, workers' rights, and environmental issues behind bananas. We made a big poster for Earth Day focusing just on the environmental issues (which include deforestation, promotion of monoculture, lots of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, and the carbon footprint of getting the bananas from the equatorial region to Oberlin) and we collected signatures on a leader to the head of Campus Dining Services urging her to get bananas from a better source. We collected over 250 signatures over the course of the week and presented them to the powers that be in a really exciting meeting. They listened attentively to all our research about the atrocities committed by Dole and Chiquita, and were excited when we told them about an alternative we've researched: Fair Trade bananas from Equal Exchange. They said they will definitely look into it, and want us to join with them in educating the campus about issues like these. Students complain about the dining halls a lot, but if you take the initiative, do your homework, and speak up, they are willing to listen. I know my fellow committee members will continue this work when I'm (sniff sniff) gone. Read about our banana campaign in the Oberlin Review!

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