Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Interview-a-thon

I just got back to Venice from a whirlwind trip to the U.S. where I interviewed candidates for the Venice and Santa Fe Project Centers.  The interviews are part of the process that the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division has honed over the past two decades, to recruit and select students who will participate in our Global Perspecive Program, by completing either their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) in their junior year, or their Major Qualifying Project (MQP) in their senior year, at one of our global centers.

Project Centers in the World
Bangkok Boston Budapest Cape Town Copenhagen Hong Kong Ifrane Kansai Lexington San Juan, Puerto Rico Limerick London Melbourne Modesto Nancy Nantucket New York San Jose Venice Silicon Valley Washington, D.C Windhoek Worcester Wuhan Santa Fe, New Mexico Shanghai, China
As a testament to our popularity, Venice had the highest number of applicants (58) of all WPI centers.  Santa Fe also had a lot of candidates (14), despite being a brand new domestic center (the next highest non-international center was Washington with 4...).  Since we only take 28 students per center, it's too bad only half of the Venice candidates made the cut!  I hope some of them will end up in Santa Fe...
Unfortunately, I paid the price of success by having to interview a total of 72 students in two and a half days.  It was a grueling schedule from 7am to 10:30pm, non-stop, with a new student every half hour...  On Wednesday, I interviewed for a half day from 7am until noon, then went home, packed up and drove myself to the airport, bound for Oxford, UK, where I had a British/Canadian thanksgiving dinner at the "chapel of rest" (Anchor pub) with Adrian, Kseniya, Kyle and Ori.  The next day, we treated ourselves to a late night viewing of an interesting Steampunk exhibit, in the midst of a typically British pub crawl.  Oxford is such a stimulating little city!
Being away from the States on Thanksgiving day was a bittersweet way for me to avoid the memories of our traditional family gatherings in Connecticut, which ended very sadly last year after two decades of ritual turkey feasts...  It was my favorite holiday.  Not commercial at all, very down to earth and simple.  Very warm.  As I told many of my friends, in true escapist fashion, I am switching my allegiance to another set of holidays from now on.  I am thinking of "Flag Day" as a definite candidate, plus perhaps something like "Patriots Day" or "the Ascension" (in Venice, the Sensa).  Enough of these sentimental, heart-wrenching, family-oriented celebrations!  Too painful!
Yet, we do have a lot to be thankful for, despite the life-changing events of this past year.  We are all alive and in good health.  Still enjoying the richness that our life has to offer.  Still learning something new every day.  Still experiencing the love of our friends and families.

So... a big THANK YOU to all the friends who met and connected with me during this whirlwind of a trip.  It's amazing how many of you showed up in such a short time!  Thank you for being there for me this past year and for being a continuing supportive presence in my life.  Thanks...

Grazie Mille!

No comments: