Moderated by Hannah Gensheimer
Happy holidays from Bates College! The snow is falling, the decorations are going up, and the caffeine-driven Bates students are filling the library. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, finals are upon us! Despite the fact that this is the craziest time of year for college students, I was lucky enough to be a part of a very fun, Apogee-filled study break and catch up with four of our leaders, Mia Taggart, Emma Perkinson, Chris Opie, and Matt Neckes. Mia, a former Apogee student, led both biking and hiking trips along the West Coast on our Pacific Coast trip and the Northwest Explorer last summer. Chris (AKA, “Opie,” “Opes,” the “Opinator”) worked on the support staff team in Brunswick. Emma and Matt led along the East Coast on our Vermont to Montreal and New England Mountain
’s & Coast trips. Let’s see what’s going on in Lewiston, Maine and check in on how our leaders are handling the craziness of finals.
Hannah – Hello, lovely Bates friends! I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you are all able to take time to hang out and catch-up during this busy time of year. Oh, the Apogee family is back together!
[Despite the fact that I know they are all in the midst of tests and papers, they all look surprisingly alert and happy to be here… Must be early in finals week?]
Hannah – So what’s going on with everyone? Are you all just swamped with work?
Emma – Right now, I am focusing on my Senior thesis. I’ve gotten to do my research at the Library of Congress in DC, and I have had access to the American Philosophical Association’s archives in Philadelphia. [Ed. note: we asked Emma to explain here thesis after we were done: “I’m doing a year-long thesis on the role that print media (specifically women’s journals and mainstream newspapers) plays in spreading eugenic ideas to American women in the 20th century.” Whoa…] In terms of thinking about post-college life, I’m not sure where I’ll end up with, but I definitely want to do something with education. And hopefully another summer with Apogee!
Hannah – Impressive! Mia, you do education as well, right? Do you and Emma ever cross paths?
Mia – Emma and I have class together!
Hannah – Who has a better grade in the class? Just kidding, don’t answer that… [I always know how to make the conversation just a little bit awkward] But Matt, what’s new with you?
Matt –Besides finals, I’ve been playing a lot of tenor saxophone with some friends. A few weeks ago my friend, who plays piano, and I put on a little concert outside of the dining hall. And I actually have a concert tonight!
Hannah – Nice, Matt! We should make an Apogee band. Start thinking about good band names. Mia can sing in your band. Have you heard her a cappella group sing? They’re really good. Mia, are you enjoying it?
Mia –Yeah, it’s going really well. We are only singing Christmas songs right now, and it makes me really happy! And it gives me a nice break from all of my work. I’m taking five classes right now so it’s been a crazy semester. But actually, working with Apogee has taught me a lot about my thoughts on various educational systems and what I want to do next semester with my thesis. I’m not really sure the details of it all, but I know that I don’t want to work in just a day school. I want to work in an environment that emphasizes building great relationships, and I’m interested in looking at how educational paradigms coincide with my experiences with Apogee.
Hannah – That’s great, Mia! Opie? What’s Junior year looking like?
Opie – Well, finals… so that’s fun. [Everyone laughs and Emma looks at me with a big thumbs up.] But I’m also looking forward to Regionals for Cyclo-Cross in two weeks. [What’s Cyclo-Cross, you ask? Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWY7rRxIs8s. More whoas!] Basically, that means I’ll finish finals week then go to a two-day race in the freezing cold.
[Opie is a pre-Med, English major with an Education minor, who spends his “free time” doing that crazy Cyclo-Cross stuff… and somehow he is telling me everything with a huge grin on his face. Just amazing!]
Hannah – So guys, I’m going let you get back to the grind, but what has been your favorite thing you’ve taken away from working with Apogee?
Matt – One of my favorite things I experienced on my Apogee trips was the kindness of strangers. There were times when we had to ask others for help, and so often, people went out of their way to help us even when we didn’t ask. That really inspired me, and I think in the future I will be more likely to help somebody out, even a total stranger, if they’re in need. All-in-all, I’ve learned we’re all in this together!
Hannah – That’s definitely true. What about you, Opie? What have you taken away? Did your cooking skills get any better? [Opie went into the summer a little nervous about cooking for the East Coast leaders between their trips.]
Opie – [Opie laughs] Yeah, I definitely got better, but maybe should’ve helped out in the kitchen a little bit more. I had to rely on a couple of the other support staff members at times. But I have definitely gotten better!
Emma – Yeah, me too! I’m definitely more creative in the kitchen. But for me, the best part is now I get daily Snapchats from my kiddos, and it makes me SO happy! Between classes I open them and it makes me smile!