Monday, August 1, 2016

Prepping for a Career in College Student Affairs


Hello everyone! In this blog, I’ll update you on where I am now… busy. Ha! But first, a quick overview of Lycoming College Prep, or LycoPrep.

LycomingPrep is a two-week learning opportunity for low-income, first-generation rising high school senior students. They attend Lycoming College to learn what a liberal arts college is like. During these two weeks, they live on campus with roommates, attend two non-credit courses Monday through Friday (Chemistry and Political Science), attend workshops led by faculty and staff, and participate in fun field trips to local hot spots. My role is to serve as a residential supervisor. I lead the three student leaders, Lycoming College Peer Facilitators (LCPF)who serve as mentors to the 20 LycoPrep students. I also drive the vans between campus and our field trip locations.

Last Wednesday, I moved onto the Lycoming College campus. I have not lived on a college campus in four years so I was nervous to live with students full-time. For the first three days, I participated in training along with my three LCPFs. Together, we focused on teamwork, personality traits, first-aid training, expectations, while we prepared door decorations (to welcome the students), bulletin boards, snacks, and games for the students to enjoy. The College Student Affairs graduate program at Bloomsburg has aided me with detailed leadership courses that provided me with a clear idea of how I can most effectively lead my team. Last semester, I completed “Introduction of Educational Leadership” which focused a lot on how to manage teams. This semester, I am enrolled in “Organizational Behavior” and spending a lot of time assessing my leadership qualities and weaknesses. BU has given a strong foundation to grow; every day I am practicing my leadership knowledge and skills.

Last Saturday, 20 first-generation high school rising seniors arrived on campus. These 20 students come from seven different states including California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. This is a very diverse group where they can discuss and learn from each other the different cultures and values each of us have.

 So far, our field trips have consisted of a trip on the Hiawatha Paddleboat along the Susquehanna River, the Little League Museum, the Lycoming County Prison, Williamsport City Hall, Williamsport downtown art galleries, local dining, Rite-Aid shopping trips, and a Walmart shopping trip. Today, we are scheduled to go kayaking! Over the next week we are schedule for a trip to Knoebel’s Amusement Park, digging at Canfield Island, hiking at Rider Park, watching a movie at the nearby drive-in theatre, a Crosscutters AAA baseball game, pool party at the home of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and T & D Cats of the World animal refuge!

This is an intensive experience for the high school students . . . and also for me. I attend all meals with the students, all field trips, participate in late night activities such as watching movies, playing board games, playing cards, etc. and I even attend some of their workshop sessions. I have formed great connections with these 20 students. They are a very curious group! They ask a lot of thoughtful questions at tour sites, workshops sessions, and during class. They focus on their homework and enjoy learning from each other—I am so excited to see how much they are learning about attending college. This two-week experience is a life-changing opportunity.

The College Student Affairs program has also provided me with a solid understanding of how to address change, which has been very beneficial to me this summer because this program has evolved even during our two weeks. As Professor Roesch would say, “Change is inevitable.” As student affairs educators, we must be open to change and embrace it. During just the first week at Lycoming, we have had to switch discussions, cancel trips due to rain, find an alternative, and make it all work out. Those moments can be hectic, but through open communication and creativity, we have continued to provide an organized alternative. I’ve learned that these students are having the time of their lives. They are going to be happy with any decision we make that allows them to form strong relationships and create important memories.

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Friday, July 15, 2016

Traveling in China


Two weeks ago I traveled to Dalian to visit a friend. Felicia was a visiting scholar at Bloomsburg University last fall semester and when she found out I am in China she invited me to visit her. To get there I took a 6-hour high speed train. The train was very comfortable but a little too cold for me. During the summer in most of the places in China we pray for an air conditioner, but on that train I was freezing the whole time.

Once I arrived in Dalian Felicia and her husband were waiting for me at the exit. When we got to their apartment Felicia gave me a little care package with towels, pajamas, sleepers and even a toothbrush. The next day we drove all over Dalian to Felicia’s favorite places and took lots of pictures. She introduced me to her friend’s daughter, Shellmy.

During that weekend Shellmy and I became good friends and planned to travel to Qufu, hometown of Confucius, the last weekend of July. In Dalian we visited a place called Little Venice. There are multiple canals around the downtown of Dalian where anybody can go on a boat ride. Felicia also took me to meet her sister that lives right by the beach.

When we went to the beach, even though it was really hot, I didn’t see too many people tanning. Most of the women in China don’t like to tan. There is even a saying for women “bai fu mei” which means white, reach and beautiful and for men it’s “gao fu shuai”, tall, reach and handsome.

Dalian cuisine specializes in seafood. Just in two short days I tried a variety of fish dishes such as boiled muscles in a sea shell and pumpkin fried crabs. If I ever come to China again I will definitely visit Dalian.

Just last weekend our whole program traveled to Xian for four days. One of my favorite parts about the trip was a 13-hour overnight train ride. Since we came as a big group, it was really fun to just play card games and talk. After we arrived and settled at a hotel, our tour guide took us on a City Wall tour. The City Wall used to be used for protection against enemies, but now it’s an important historical monument of Xian. Then instead of walking the 9-mile City Wall we rented out bikes and rode around the whole City Wall.

It was really fun and mesmerizing but it was really exhausting to ride the bikes in near 100-degree heat. When we had free time, we went to a market street. There they sold all types of souvenirs and foods. Xian is famous for “rou jia mo” which is meat sandwich and for their noodles. There were people stretching super long noodles right outside of the restaurants to attract more customers.

The next day we went to see the terracotta warriors. The site is divided into 3 pits with over 10,000 warriors. The 1st pit has 6,500 warrior statues and is the biggest one out of the 3.

Each one of the warrior statue is different from the others because it was sculpted by a real terracotta warrior. Our next stop was the Giant Goose pagoda. Right next to it there are multiple Buddhist shrines which are open to the public. In the evening many people gather on the square in front of the Giant Goose pagoda for group activities.

Every park in China has activities mainly for retired people, such as dancing, card games, martial arts, etc. When we went to the square at night we were welcomed to dance the traditional Jiao Yi Wu dance with the locals. So far everywhere where I have traveled, the foreigners are always welcomed.

Right now I am a little sad because I only have two weeks left in China, but at least every single remaining day is planned so I will not waste a minute of my time here. This Saturday we will be taking the HSK 4 test, which is a standardized Chinese language knowledge test. I really hope that I can pass so that I can apply for internships in China. My last weekend in China I will spend traveling to Qufu with my friend Shellmy and my roommate. Ethan, one of the Chinese students in Bloomsburg, is also there for the summer and he will be able to show us around Qufu.

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.


Getting the experience!

For was long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting jobs due to lack of experience.

I cannot explain the level of upsetedness I feel when I see “3-5 years of experience” as a position requirement. I’ll find the perfect position at an amazing location. Then after I spend a good amount of time reading the description and envisioning my future life, there it is…3 years of experience required.

And my immediate response is “how do you expect me to GET experience if no one will hire me without having experience?!”

So when I was accepted into Bloomsburg’s College Student Affairs program I knew I needed to secure a graduate assistantship to gain an ample amount of experience in two brief years. I applied to every available opportunity, and was lucky enough to be offered a position with the Living and Learning Communities. Wanting a position in fraternity and sorority life (FSL) upon completion of my M.Ed., I was worried that I would have insufficient direct Greek Life experience (post undergrad) to get hired in the FSL area.

I carried this thinking around for a really long time. I started to volunteer with my national sorority by assisting chapters across the U.S. and, wherever possible, built my course assignments around Greek Life topics. However, I still did not feel like this was enough to remain relevant or marketable to prospective employers.

It wasn’t until my second year in the CSA program, while working with the Compass LLC, that I shared my worry with my supervisor, Jennifer Hunsinger. She advised me to research open FSL positions and find specific experiences that were desired. I made a list of responsibilities that I had not had experience in and areas that I thought I still needed to improve on. From that list, Jennifer and I CREATED the experiences that I needed to get my desired job!

Soon, I was on the university’s formal hearing board, facilitating classroom workshops, building programs, creating outcome assessments, writing reports, and so much more! Having my volunteer work with my national organization and getting really involved with student affairs at BU, I still felt like I needed that direct FSL experience. So I picked up the phone and called Matthew Richardson, Coordinator of FSL at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, he was able to meet with me three days later and offered me an internship! In January of 2016, I moved to Pittsburgh and spent over 350 hours (100 hours over the requirement for the field experience course) working with the FSL community.

I am sharing this to remind your to concentrate on the things you can control when you’re stressing out about finding your first professional job and to be proactive about them. The amount of worrying I was doing about not having experience was not helping me get experience. I sought out and created the experiences needed to be marketable for a job after my time at Bloomsburg came to an end. The entire job search was still overwhelming.

However, with the support of the student affairs professional staff, I was confident that I did everything over the two years of the College Student Affairs program to gain the experiences needed. Creating my experiences certainly paid off: I just hit my one-month mark of my first professional position within fraternity and sorority life!

— Jill Franklin, M.Ed., college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Things, New Place, New Home


I am one week into my first full-time College Student Affairs position and I am starting to realize that this is AWESOME! However, I absolutely did not feel awesome every step of the way.

Day one was filled with nervous smiles and confusion. Parents, students, and professionals asked me questions I did not know the answers to, which really hurt my confidence. Even though everyone was extremely polite when I told them it was my first day, I felt like I was in way over my head and couldn’t swim to the surface. As quiet and reserved as I acted, I did my best to observe my environment, attempting to learn the culture of my new home. This is not the first time I have put myself in the situation of learning a new place, but that does not make it any easier to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of being a newcomer.

Luckily, I had a three-day weekend and great pep talks from my peers to get ready for the next week. Yet, I still had mixed feelings about returning to work on Monday. After a long and non-eventful weekend, I was extremely scared that the week would be just like my first day, filled with confusion, awkward moments, and a lot of silence.

 Certainly, it was. I watched people and listened to conversations feeling as if they were speaking a different language (so many acronyms!). Then, on day four I finally made it to the surface! I met a students I will be working closely with for the rest of the year.

Finally, a conversation with someone speaking my same language, Greek! I was so relieved that I could show someone that I can do this, I know what I am taking about, and I am capable of contributing! Looking at that moment, I realized that the only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.

I have had many conversations about the importance of learning institutional culture through my educational leadership classes. On day five, after I decorated my office and unpacked the books from those classes, I was reminded to reflect on those conversations and readings about culture and institutional fit. I remembered that I have been complimented on my ability to adjust to new environments, to observe new cultures without over-stepping boundaries, and to ask questions when I am not understanding.

That moment of reflection was enough to boost my confidence because right now I’m supposed to be learning and observing. I think I have the highest expectations for myself, so when I started off quiet and reserved it made me more nervous to think that I would not overcome the initial transition. The truth is that if I want to shatter those expectations, then, first, I need to have a firm understanding of the culture I have immersed myself in.

— Jill Franklin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Monday, June 27, 2016

17 days in Beijing


The biggest event we’ve had so far is the overnight trip to the Great Wall last weekend.

It was a two-day short trip that included lots of hiking. We drove about two hours out of Beijing and started our first hike right away. We went to a part of the Wall where not too many tourists go to, so that we could enjoy it without being overcrowded.

It was about a 30-minute hike up the very steep stairs. I did not expect to be as difficult as it was, but everybody in our group made it up to the Wall. Seeing the mountains surround the Great Wall was one of the most beautiful scenic spots I have ever experienced. After we came down, we had taxis take us to a small village near the Great Wall for a homestay. We stayed with a very nice Chinese family that often hosts groups of tourists. Right at their backyard we could see the Great Wall and enjoy the sunset. That night our group stayed up pretty late and we just joked around all night.

The room that we slept in was just a one big bed. Boys and girls each got their own room. Next day at 4 a.m. we started our second big hike. The grandfather of the Chinese family lead our group because it was on a mountain beside the Great Wall. Once we got to the top of the mountain we sat down and watched the sunrise. I’ve never been much of an outdoor person, but after these hikes I want to start hiking more.

Another historical trip that we have had last week is a trip to Temple of Heaven. Temple of Heaven is located near the Tiananmen Square and is a popular place for school field trips and Chinese and foreign tourists. Our history professor told us that the Temple of Heaven was a very important spiritual place for the emperors of every dynasty and if the emperor did not perform the rituals at the Temple of Heaven he was looked down upon. Each dynasty had their own rituals, but the Emperors always prayed for a good harvest or for a victory in a war. If there was a famine, Chinese usually thought of it as if the gods were upset with the Emperor.

Yesterday we went to one of the famous hutongs a Beijing. Hutongs are streets surrounded by houses. They are popular for their markets and museums. Right now more and more authentic Chinese businesses are bought out by big franchises such as Starbucks and KFC.

Back in the day most of the officials lived in hutongs. Each profession and rank had their own type of entry gate and if an official was demoted, he would be required to change his gate. Since hutongs did not have a plumbing system, there would always be one or two saunas located in each hutong. These saunas were mostly used for gathering purposes where groups of men and women would play cards, gamble or drink. In the 60s and 70s hutong saunas were especially popular. As more and more businesses started to develop around hutongs, some of the saunas were not able to keep up paying high rents, so eventually they would run out of business. That usually affected the whole hutong because communities would lose a place to gather and their way of life would change.

In the first few weeks of my shopping experience in China, I have also learned that in most places you need to bargain for a good price. Last weekend my roommate She and I went to the Pearl Market. That market is famous for a variety of souvenirs and other goods. Especially for foreigners the starting prices are pretty expensive.

Usually I go 60 to 80 percent down the original price. At first the sellers try to convince you that they can’t lower the price, but a few minutes into it they give you the price that you are happy with. I think this is the only time when I feel confident talking to the sellers.

Usually when I go to a store I try my best to find everything myself so that I wouldn’t have to speak Chinese to people that I don’t know. Sometimes when I walk around Beijing I have no idea what I am reading on a billboard or what someone is saying to me and there are other times when I perfectly understand everything or at least 80 percent and it honestly makes my whole day. A few days ago I went to a train station to buy a ticket to go to Dalian to visit a friend. In U.S. or in Russia it wouldn’t be a big deal for me, but in China it was. It made me so happy that I had enough vocabulary to buy it for the right date and time and even get a ticket back to Beijing.

Yesterday me and another student decided to go running. The track and basketball courts are located within a two-minute walk from our dorm so we had no excuses not to go running. A wide variety of groups gather around track every day. There are many women that dance together to Chinese folk music, guys and girls my age who ride bikes and skateboards, children who play basketball or soccer, families spending time together playing badminton. In contrast to American campuses, we were a little surprised to see so many people that are not BFSU students involved on campus.

Next weekend I will be traveling to Dalian, which is north-east of Beijing by myself. If I survive this trip, you can read about my experience in Dalian in the next blog :)

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working in a career I love so passionately



A lot has happened over the course of the past two weeks! Lycoming College had three June Orientation sessions (June 6, 13, and 17). Each orientation day was about a 12-hour work day and was very busy!

For years previous, Lyco’s Orientation was a two-day event with information and fun activities for students who all stayed overnight in the residence halls . This year was the first time for a one-day Orientation program. With that, of course there was a lot of preparation work!

Each day leading up to the first of the three sessions, there were multiple meetings with different campus offices, many edits made to paperwork, new handouts being made, and more, all to ensure that the new program was well coordinated and met student and family needs. My supervisor, his assistant, his student worker, and I worked constantly on multiple projects and triple checked our work for any errors.

After each Orientation session, we had a debriefing meeting with the 22 student orientation staff (SOS) members and the professional staff involved in Orientation to hear about what went well and what could be improved upon. There was a one week time period between the first orientation session and the second and I would say that week was the busiest, most hectic, and most stressful. There were a lot of changes to be done in a short amount of time, while also juggling a variety of other projects. But we all got through it!

My supervisor, Andrew Kilpatrick, has been phenomenal at giving me learning opportunities! During the third Orientation session, Andrew allowed me to come up on stage with him to co-present a parent session. The topic was how to coach their students to move from dependent individuals to interdependent college students.

He asked me questions on the spot that I got to answer and explain the resources Lycoming has to offer. When I first heard I was going to be thinking on my feet on stage to an audience of about 150 parents, I was a bit terrified, but it wasn’t bad at all! I actually surprised myself with how confidently I spoke and with such ease. I had many parents address me throughout the day with questions and many told me I was a huge help to them.

In addition to office preparation and Orientation days, I was also working alongside a Residence Life Coordinator. I assisted her with the SOS training, picked up food, and led the SOS in fun team-building activities/games. Getting to know the SOS members has been my favorite part of this internship!

They are truly great students with powerful leadership skills. They always had high energy and welcomed me with open arms. A few times they told me they see me as more than just an intern, but rather a great supervisor and close friend. Hearing those comments from SOS and parents warms my heart as I am just so happy that I am finally working in a career that I love so passionately.

Now that all three Orientation sessions are over, I am happy to finally be able to catch up on sleep! Ha! I will have the next two and a half weeks off until the second part of my internship starts, which is LycoPrep. I will be moving on campus July 6 and living there for three weeks as a supervisor to high school juniors who are engaging with the LycoPrep program.

I am looking forward to new experiences with Lycoming College. So far Lyco staff has been fantastic! I have purchased Lycoming College gear and wear it proudly.

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Monday, June 13, 2016

First impressions of China


It’s been a week since I’ve arrived to China. Life here is quite different, but I really like it.

I am staying at an international student dorm with a Chinese roommate. Ever since the first day, we have bonded and she helps me adjust to my classes and to life at Bei Wai (a short name for my university).


On the second day after arrival the summer IES students had to take a placement test. Surprisingly to me, I did better than I expected and was placed in a 300 level. Four days a week we have classes for three hours a day.

Compared to my Chinese classes at BU, classes here are really hard. My Chinese classes are only in Chinese, and we took a language pledge where we can only speak Chinese to other students and roommates.

Every day we have a listening quiz where we have to write all the new words we have learned in the previous day.

We learn 30 to 40 new words and we have to memorize how to write the characters for these words too.

My university has two big cafeterias. It costs me 50 cents to a dollar to eat there. Outside of the university there are little restaurants on every corner that are also really cheap. If we have to spend $5 or more on a meal, it is considered pricy here.

Every day after classes, the program has something planned for us. A few days ago we traveled to the Olympic village and looked at the Bird Nest and the Water Cube.

Just yesterday our history professor took us on a trip to the Tiannamen square and told us about the different stages of the palace during each dynasty’s rule. I cannot wait for many more trips that we will have with IES to other historic places.

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.