Noah Stone ’12 Writes Home from India and Nepal

I have spent about a month in and around the Kathmandu, studying Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetan language, and other aspects of various Himalayan peoples through SIT, my study abroad program.  A month ago we spent a week in India, and I have just returned (a little early) from two weeks in Upper Mustang, an especially remote Tibetanoid region of the Himalaya. In three weeks, I am planning on spending a month in Dolpo, another Himalayan region. In May and June, I will return to India to travel to other parts of Nepal as well.

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You don’t have to study geology to appreciate this one. The sequence to the left represent a period when this entire region was glaciated, resulting in rivers and lakes that deposited the sediment. Since that time, the powers of water and erosion have carved out a valley.

Like many students, when I graduated Waynflete in 2012, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in college. Instead of attending school immediately, I took a semester to travel the world, work, and perhaps learn something of myself.   At Middlebury, I decided to major in geology after taking a few classes in the department. I love geology for its focus on time spent outside, in the field, among the rocks, trees, and snow. It is a science that is expansive and encompassing, as it includes aspects of chemistry, physics, and biology.

When my sophomore year at Middlebury came around, I was ambivalent about studying abroad. I didn’t feel a call away from the dark snow-filled winters of Vermont, as many do, yet I longed for adventure, open space, and growth. SIT, a popular study abroad organization, has programs in more than thirty countries around the world. They place an emphasis on experiential, field-based learning that revolves around homestays, interviews, and the sensory experience. After reading some of their material I decided this was the perfect program for me. Though it doesn’t deal with geology, I felt that SIT added to my education as student of the world.

NS Pic 1My particular program – Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples – concentrates on Tibetan refugees living in Nepal and the lives of their counterparts in mainland Tibet. Students live with Tibetan families in Kathmandu, and learn about their language,  culture, history, way of life, religion, border politics, and struggles as a people. The program also deals with various Tibetanoid and Himalayan peoples, including Dolpo, Sherpa, and Mustangi people.

Tsarang, Upper Mustang
Tsarang, Upper Mustang

Recently, we just returned from two weeks in Upper Mustang, a high alpine dessert region tucked away in the mountains. Hidden in a sandstone valley carved deep through the millennia, Mustang is one of the more remote regions of the Trans Himalaya, and has struggled in the face of rapid modernization in the last five years. I had to leave the trip a bit early, but nonetheless I managed to capture some good pictures of this beautiful and harsh landscape. I have taken over five thousand digital photos since coming to Nepal this past February, a hundred or so of which I have put on a blog (link below).

Every SIT program culminates in month long independent study, where each student travels and researches a topic of choice by themselves. In two weeks, I will be headed to Dolpo, another remote Himalayan district. It will take two flights and three days of walking to reach the valley where I will stay; there are no roads in Dolpo. I will study yartsagunbu, a fungus whose market valley has skyrocketed in the last twenty years. Valued by the Chinese for its properties as an aphrodisiac, yartsagunbu is now the most expensive biological commodity in the world. Its overharvest, mostly by foreigners, has lead to flagrant humans rights and environmental violations that I will be investigating. I will take many pictures during my time in Dolpo, and in my travels in India and Nepal after the conclusion of this program.

I update the blog every few days.  Here is the link.  Be sure to check in often!

Eleanor Whitney ’00

Eleanor-1998-Berklee-Champs_2 (1)Eleanor Callott Whitney ’00 is an entrepreneur, writer, rock musician, and educator who is living in Brooklyn, NY.  She is the proud recipient of a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College. For over a decade, Eleanor has worked with world-class museums.  As a Program Officer for Fiscal Sponsorship at the New York Foundation for the Arts she managed and expanded a national program that enabled artists to increase their fundraising capabilities. She has also worked at the Brooklyn Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, and at POV/American Documentary. She is currently the Community Outreach Coordinator at Shapeways, a 3D Printing community and marketplace and is the author of Grow, a practical field guide for starting a creative business. You can watch the video of her February 2015 presentation at Upper School Assembly linked here.  You can check out her other activities on her website, linked here.


Misha Linnehan ’14 Writes Home from History Class

Sometimes a Waynflete education comes in handy in unexpected ways. Such was the case recently for Misha Linnehan ’14.

Hi Debba,

Today in my American Politics lecture, we were discussing the Constitution. Since the State of the Union was last night, someone asked what part of the Constitution decreed that the President needed to make that speech. My professor responded, “Article II section 3…I forget the exact quote.”  She then looked down at the podium, and realized she had forgotten to bring a copy of the Constitution from which to read said quote. She halfheartedly looked up and asked, in a disappointed voice, “Does anyone happen to have a Constitution with them?”

While I heard the noise of 70 of my fellow classmates thinking “Why on Earth would anyone have a copy of the Constitution with them,” I immediately thought “HOLY COW, THERE’S LIKE A 50% CHANCE I HAVE ONE OF THOSE LEFT OVER IN MY BACKPACK FROM HIGH SCHOOL.” Sure enough, upon thorough inspection, I found not one, not two, but three separate copies of the Constitution scrunched up in my backpack.

I quickly raised my hand and said “Yes! I do!”, walked up to the stage, and bestowed one of the copies upon my obviously impressed professor. She asked me my name and wrote it down. Class participation is 15% of our grade. I have a feeling that small act may help me down the line, and it’s entirely due to you throwing Constitutions with the persistency of a woodpecker.

So thank you, Debba, for both your direct and indirect contributions to my grades at college.


PS: I’m considering adding a class called “History of Revolutionary America: 1763-1815.” Do I already know everything or is there substantially more to learn?


Matthew Jarrell ’14 Writes Home from the Collegiate Mock Trial Circuit

I read somewhere once that the biggest fear most people have, even eclipsing fear of death, is that of public speaking. There’s something about having to stand up in front of a large group of people and deliver a statement that is understandable, well-written, eloquent, and engaging that is uniquely frightening. That said, if you can keep the nerves down, master the formula for an effective speech, and memorize thoroughly, public speaking can become something of a routine that gets less scary with practice.

Now imagine this: performing that same routine, but having someone repeatedly interrupt you with an argument about how what you’re saying is wrong. Then, on the spot, you have to come up with a strategy to explain why you’re right. And if it’s decided that you are indeed wrong, you have to completely reorganize your thoughts and keep going without appearing at all flustered. That would be a new level of scary.

Amazingly, there are some incredibly twisted people who do this for fun by signing up for mock trial. Before my time at Waynflete began, I didn’t think I would ever be one of those people. Nonetheless, I have just completed my first semester at Brown University, and my fifth semester of competition on the mock trial circuit. What once was unthinkable has become a favorite activity that I couldn’t imagine leaving behind when I graduated.

As I explained before, mock trial is hard. It’s a chemical compound of countless other pursuits – it’s the intellectual exercise of a debate, combined with the dramatic flair of a theater performance, and the competitive intensity of a sporting event. If you take on the role of a witness in the case, you have to be ready to be shredded on cross examination. If you’re an attorney, you better be able to do the shredding. Whatever your role might be, you have to be well-prepared and flexible. Most importantly, you have to be confident. If you believe that you’re unflappable, chances are you will be.

Caught up in an objection battle with a polished senior adversary recently, it occurred to me just how much my day-to-day life in high school contributed to my ability to do this. At Waynflete, as anyone who has ever gone here will tell you, you can’t hide behind others. From a purely numerical standpoint, the classes are small enough that you will inevitably get called on. When you do, you’re expected to have a thought or a question that furthers the conversation. Teachers here want you to be able to think critically and then express those thoughts in a public setting. I didn’t realize how ingrained in my psyche that instinct had become – until it was put to the test in the intimidating arena of collegiate mock trial.

Waynflete Mock Trial Team '13
Waynflete Mock Trial Team ’13

I owe a major debt of gratitude to Waynflete’s resident mock trial miracle worker Debba as well as all my other teachers and classmates for encouraging me to embody confidence in mock trial and outside of it. Using the skills that Waynflete helps to develop, it’s easy to be confident. That makes both public speaking and everything else a whole lot less scary, more enriching, and more enjoyable.

Hannah Finegold ’07 Writes Home from Hollywood

Since graduating Waynflete in 2007, I have definitely been on a journey. I originally was accepted to my first choice college at the University of Vermont where I studied Jazz Performance for two years. In the midst of those years I became intrigued by the recording aspect of the music industry and found myself interning at The Studio in Portland, Maine. Soon intrigue turned into a passion and I transferred to the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music where I was awarded a Merit Scholarship in audio production.  In 2012, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Jazz and Commercial music with a concentration in Audio Production.

The day after graduation, I packed my car up and drove to Los Angeles in hopes of starting my career as an audio engineer and music producer. I’ve been living in Hollywood for about two and a half years now. Life out here has definitely been a roller coaster but has taught me more than I think I actually realize. I first started working for one of the top music producers in LA helping him with projects such as Maroon 5, Aerosmith, Florence and The Machine, and Better Than Ezra. It was a humbling and surreal experience to say the least. From there I had expanded my networks and started work at smaller studios. There, I didn’t feel I was reaching my full potential, so I took out EVERY album that has changed my life, researched and contacted all the engineers and producers in hopes one of them was in need of an assistant engineer.

Luckily for me, I got one response out of the 100 emails I sent! Matt Linesch (Linny), the recording and mixing engineer for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, was moving back to Hollywood and needed some assistance setting up and wiring his studio. Fun!! To add to my excitement, Linny was moving his studio to United Recording Studios (formerly Ocean Way Recording)- one of the top recording studios in the world built by Frank Sinatra Many of my favorite artists have recorded there: Tom Petty, Beck, Green Day, Radiohead, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton – the list could go for miles.

After meeting Linny and having a successful day of setting up his studio space, he gave me an open invitation to come by whenever I’d like. So, I did. All the time. Most every day. I’d help keep the studio tidy, make sure the gear was running smoothly, take notes while he mixed an album, catered to his clients, and helped him with small edits such as tuning vocals until one day he introduced me to an industry top dog as his assistant engineer. Small step in the music industry, HUGE leap for Hannah Finegold.

The moral of my story thus far, though may sound cheesy, is stay driven, persistent and work hard- it WILL pay off! I have Waynflete to thank for this mindset and I am so grateful for all the supportive staff that helped me grow through those four years.

If people have any interest in the recording world, they can follow me on Instagram @thefinestofgold .