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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Wells, ME
Democracy and Its Discontents
Summer College 2007
Hi! My name is Katie. I just finished my junior year of high school. My first semester was spent in my hometown of Wells, Maine and my second semester was spent in Washington, D.C. as a United States Senate Page. As a page I attended school early in the morning then reported to work at the Senate. Watching debates and votes take place on very controversial issues such as minimum wage, the national budget and immigration were remarkable. At Cornell Summer College I will be studying Law and Politics in the course Democracy and Its Discontents. I am so excited to start Cornell and meet many new faces. Our democratic government has always fascinated me and I am excited to learn more about our its evolution. I play three sports at home: field hockey, indoor track and softball. Also I am an active member in Student Council and of Maine Youth Voices, an organization against teen drinking. I am so looking forward to this summer and can't wait to meet everyone!!

In only a few short days I will be arriving at Cornell. It's hard to believe summer college is already here, but it seems summer always flies by. I have begun to pack and I can never fit all I want into my suitcases! I am so excited to begin summer college and am especially excited to begin my class "Democracy and Its Discontents." I can't help but wonder what the work load will be like. I am nervous for the challenge of a college level class but I am excited at the same time to begin this new adventure. Summer college will be very beneficial and it will expand on my knowledge of our country's form of government. I look forward to making new friends and meeting my roommate. It will be exciting to live in a dorm again and have to depend on one and other to make our experiences more enjoyable. Meeting new people is always exciting. I can't wait to start!

After one week down, I have realized how necessary an umbrella is at Cornell! Though the weather at times has been gloomy, the course I am in has been nothing but interesting. Every night, my classmates and I read different excerpts from politicians, philosophers, and many more influential people who helped shape our democratic government.

The next day Professor Salvatore prepares and delivers a lecture that provides context to our readings and promotes a deeper understanding of the key concepts. These lectures range from discussing political movements to historical dissenters within our government. With his upbeat personality, Professor Salvatore is able to help me and my classmates make connections between the reading and what was happening in society at that point in time. I have found all of his lectures to be fascinating. I am still amazed at the amount of charisma he has at 8:30 in the morning! I am not sure I could do it! After the lecture, we break out into smaller sections where we discuss the night's prior reading with our teaching assistant. These class discussions are another opportunity to voice our opinions and learn new ideas and thoughts from one and other.

Even within the time span of a week this class has given me an opportunity to look at the history of our democracy in a whole new light. For instance, I had never really learned much about the Chicago Teamster strike until we read an excerpt about it for homework. I was fascinated to learn how these men and other workers of the time took their cause to extreme measures to fight for what they though was right. This is just one example of dissenters who made an effort to change, in this case, working conditions and wages. What I have learned so far has given me new perspective on our American democratic history. And though I have been learning so much I have found the workload to be very appropriate.

Aside from academics, I have met so many interesting people here at Cornell already! Everyone seems nice and willing to help you, if needed. I found myself at Collegetown Bagels, a local student hangout, this weekend and walking around the Ithaca Commons. The streets are filled with specialty shops and restaurants, which makes Ithaca and Cornell such a extraordinary little community. I have truly enjoyed my time here at Cornell so far and I am excited for the next two weeks.

With less than one week left at Cornell, I recognize how quickly these three weeks have flown by! It will be so strange to leave Cornell which has become my home these past three terrific weeks. I have learned so much from Professor Salvatore, my teaching assistant Will Harris, and my great classmates. All have helped me understand some of the tensions, or discontents, if you will, of our democracy and helped open my eyes to a new view of history. I am busy studying for my final exam and trying to spend as much time as I can with friends. It will be so sad to leave the people I have formed great relationships with but I know the friends I have made here at Cornell will last a lifetime! In these last couple of days I want to take advantage of as much as possible, including visiting Collegetown and the Commons one last time with friends and enjoying one final delicious treat at Collegetown Bagels. I will truly miss these three weeks at Cornell and it will be hard to say goodbye to all those whom I have met.

After returning home from Cornell I never realized how much I would miss Ithaca, New York. I have talked to most of all my friends at least once and we have all shared some tears over our fond memories. The past three weeks solidified my desire to attend Cornell and I truly hope that I will have the opportunity to be a Cornellian. I have learned much to share and discuss with my teachers back in Wells. I miss being able to walk down the hallway to see a friend and walking to my favorite coffee shop, "Temple of Zeus," before class. But I know I will have these memories of Cornell and many more with me as I continue on into my senior year of high school. Cornell Summer College turned out to be an even more wonderful experience than I had imagined and I hope many more students have the opportunity to take advantage of this summer program at Cornell.