By 2 a.m. our fingers became listless from a day of typing lab reports and scribbling flash cards. We’d get up and walk slowly the hundred paces from the library to the coffee machine, and chat or complain about the course. “Their expectations are just unreasonable,” I whined. “There is just way too much time pressure.”
When most people think about Judaism, eastern Africa probably does not enter their minds. Nava Friedman ’13 thinks differently, though. In the summer of 2010, Friedman participated in an educational service trip in Uganda, run by the American Jewish World Service, and visited a community in Nabugoye that has many synagogues and Jewish schools. The local Jews are called the Abayudaya (literally “the Jewish people,” in the local language, Luganda).
Friedman knew that if she could visit the community again, she would jump at the chance. Princeton gave her that opportunity through the Martin A. Dale Awards, which give $4,000 to sophomores to pursue independent projects over the summer.
Prior to visiting Nabugoye from the middle of June through early August, Friedman’s goals were to learn about the community’s religious life through conversation and interviews. “I was hoping to compile these interviews as individual testimonies, and use them as a basis for a possible performance piece,” she said. “I also wanted to be useful to the community through some sort of volunteer work.”
Those complaints turned out to be fleeting. When I think back on summer school now, I don’t think about the late nights or the early mornings or the three-hour midterm or the 14-page lab reports. Now when people ask me what Bermuda was like, the only words that come to mind are from my good friend and roommate Chris Luminais ’13: “It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had while being bludgeoned repeatedly with a textbook.”
This summer I was one of 15 students in Princeton’s Marine Biology Summer Seminar, a four-week course taught 782 miles southeast of Nassau Hall at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences (BIOS). The course is the brainchild of Professor Jim Gould, who brought along his wife, Carol (Dr. Carol, to us), as a self-described “de facto mother” for the group. Neither seems capable of discussing aquatic ecosystems without referencing Finding Nemo, if only to make a delightfully dry ironic comparison. In Bermuda, the two taught alongside Dr. Samantha de Putron (Dr. Sam) who was a coral reef biologist on the faculty at BIOS, as well as an undergraduate teaching assistant who put in even longer hours than we did.