Oberlin Blogs

My Three Winter Term Projects

December 5, 2019

Jason Hewitt ’20

I completed all three of my winter term projects, and I am more than happy to share them with you all.

I may have written about them in the past, but I don't think I talked about them collectively and how all three of those experiences affected me during my time as an Oberlin student.

Winter term has always been a period of development for me. I didn't understand the reasoning at first since most other colleges don't have a program like this. However, as time went on, I began to really cherish winter term and all the opportunities that came from it. I was able to produce some of my favorite projects during winter term, because I was in complete control of what I was doing. I didn't have to deal with any professor telling me exactly how everything needed to be done. I was always in charge of everything that I creatively wanted to engage with for my projects, which allowed for me to learn more about important life concepts such as time management and accountability. While I learn these things when I'm physically at Oberlin, I was able to be challenged even more by the winter term program. It was ultimately beneficial for me, though, because the projects made my Oberlin experience so much more impactful. 

Since I finished all three, I don't have to worry about completing another one. I was tempted to do an extra one, but then I realized that, this time around, it would be a good idea to engage with my post-graduate plans. While I had to work relatively hard on these projects, I had a lot of fun while completing them. 

For my freshman year, I remember working on a collective music project with some of my friends in the Conservatory.

This may surprise some readers, but I have been playing guitar for over a decade, so I felt pretty comfortable with jamming around my Conservatory friends whenever I had time. We got comfortable enough with each other to start actually recording songs, so we decided to produce them as a winter term project. This project in particular was really cool, because we basically made some tracks from the production equipment we had as well as the instruments at our disposal. Along with the resources, we had the people to make something beautiful really happen. We had multiple guitarists, bassists, vocalists, lyricists, saxophonists, you name it!

We recorded the tracks that December and went our separate ways during winter term. Luckily, we were able to stay connected and worked on the production from where we were staying during the winter term period. This is how many artists and producers collaborate in the music industry, so it was pretty interesting to learn about the entire process. I actually saw how the tracks were made and how they were developed. When it was time to turn everything in, I felt beyond satisfied with all the content we created.

The tracks we came out with sounded better than I could have ever imagined. It was really tripping me out, because I wasn't used to using the type of equipment that we used before. Prior to working on this project, the only things I ever recorded with were a cell phone and a camcorder, so this experience was really eye-opening. I'm really glad I was able to work with some phenomenal musicians for this winter term project.

For my winter term project during my sophomore year, I actually created my own website based in sports journalism.

I worked on my sports journalism website that focused my articles on the NFL Playoffs, since that was the biggest thing that was going on in sports at the time. This meant that I had to write an article for these four rounds of the playoffs: the Wild Card Round, Divisional Round, Conference Championships, and the Super Bowl. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have the time of my life writing about football for this project. I had to watch all of the playoff games, which were around three hours long. Then I had to research the statistics and latest news from other news outlets from each game, which took about an hour at the most for every game.

After doing the research, I started writing the article. I drafted, edited, and revised the article so that it was ready for the public to see. This writing process took many hours for me to do. Sometimes it would take days for me to finish the process with each article. I wrote five articles in total during Winter Term. I also took the time to change the website’s logo, which took about two hours. Along with that, I constantly updated my website’s Twitter account with sports news in order to gain followers, which means there’s more publicity for the site. All in all, the project was very time-consuming, but I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat.

What was beautiful about this project in particular was the fact that many writing platforms reached out to me as a result of all the content that I produced.

After I spread the word on Golden Standard Sports, many people started to contact me, including the sports editors at The Oberlin Review. I thought the newspaper and the people who worked there were pretty cool. Plus, I loved to write journalistic content, so this was a great opportunity for me. I took the job, and since then, my career has come a very long way! I'm in a place in journalism now that I never realized I would reach back when I was a sophomore, and a lot of that has to do with all the things I have learned from completing this project.

Last year, I created a journal that covered one of my all-time favorite books: The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

I had a little trouble coming up with my last winter term project. Luckily, I had received some really helpful guidance from my professors and peers, which inspired me to do some work on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  This is actually one of my favorite books, so I figured that this would be a really good opportunity to do some deep analysis on it. For this project, I was able to work with my advisor, who is a professor in both English and Africana Studies. (Shout out to Professor Gillian Johns. She's the best. Take one of her classes if you have yet to do so.) I applied many of the things I learned in my English classes to the project. One of those things included analysis on the paratext (everything that the book consists of without the actual text) and how it was able to set the tone of the story without the story even being told yet. I engaged with this kind of work all throughout my winter term last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As an English major, analyzing literature is something that I do every single day, so this winter term project wasn't too different from what I had to do in class every day during the semester.

I also got to learn more about legendary civil rights leader Malcolm X through some additional research. Since I consider him to be one of the historical figures that I look up to, this really meant a lot to me. I wanted to make sure that this project was quality, because I was doing work that surrounded his legacy. I couldn't just turn anything in (my advisor definitely would not accept any trash work anyway...) because it was MALCOLM that I was dealing with, you know? So I approached the topic with as much focus as I possibly could, and I made a pretty cool journal out of it! 

So, yeah! Those are my three winter term projects!

Hopefully, you may gain some inspiration from this. If not, then I hope you got something beneficial out of reading my story. There are so many opportunities to do great things during Oberlin's winter term, and these three completely different projects really helped me develop into the student and person that I am today. I wish more schools had this type of program, because it gives students the time and creative freedom to showcase what they can accomplish outside of a (completely) academic setting.

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