Web Exclusives: On the Campus...

March 23, 2005:

Showing off; leaving ‘home’

By Christian R. Burset ’07

The Princeton Alumni Jazz Quartet arrived onstage with a mission. Tom Artin ’60, Alan Bergman ’58, Peter Blue ’58, and Ed White ’56 came to Richardson Auditorium to recreate a time when, as Artin said, “jazz was the music of choice.”

The quartet’s uniquely Princetonian first selection – “East of the Sun,” written for the Triangle Club in 1935 – drew an enthusiastic response from the audience of 500, and the musicians seemed equally excited to be back at Princeton.

“It’s nice to be the kid in the band again,” Artin joked.

The quartet was the opening act for “This is Princeton,” a Feb. 17 showcase featuring 16 faculty, staff, alumni and student performances. Jazz would yield to other sounds: the fast-paced dissonances of Lauren Carpenter ’06 and her brother David ’08 performing a Prokofiev violin sonata; the dueling tattoos of Jeff Alpert ’05 and admissions officer Kelly Sortino ’03 engaged in a tap dance “battle”; and the calm, measured voice of Professor C. K. Williams reading his poetry. It was a show without a lead act – nobody got top billing, and it would be impossible to pick a single audience favorite among the performers – but rather a community performance, designed to show off Princeton as much as the individual artists.

“This is Princeton” grew out of Tiger’s Night and Tiger’s Roar, orientation-week shows that introduce freshmen to many of Princeton’s performing groups. Based on the programs’ popularity, last year Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne and Undergraduate Student Government Projects Board co-chairs Rishi Jaitly ’04 and Jen Albinson ’05 (also a PAW columnist) decided to offer a similar program to the entire University. The event doubled as a fundraiser for Community House, a University-run community service program; nearly $3,000 was raised to support local youth arts scholarships.

“ ‘This is Princeton’ creates a forum to celebrate all the talent that makes Princeton such a special place,” Dunne said.

Nassoons President Dave Jangraw ’07 agreed (although the Nassoons’ first song, “Princeton is Free,” wistfully suggested another reason the University could be special).

“Princeton a capella is a good opportunity to share your talent with a huge variety of people,” Jangraw said. “ ‘This is Princeton’ is such a cool show because not only do we get to share our voices with others, but a variety of talents are also being shared with us.”

* * *

STUDENTS LEAVING Princeton to study abroad often worry about adjusting to a foreign country, even if learning a “foreign language” only means acknowledging the New England Patriots don’t really play “football.” But during their time abroad, most Princetonians adjust quickly to their temporary homes; despite looking forward to returning to Princeton, many students find it difficult to leave.

“I felt like I had to leave home to go home,” said Christine Stahl ’06, a molecular biology major who spent the fall semester in a research program at the University of Oxford. “I made some of the most difficult goodbyes I’ve ever had to say.”

Despite spending nine hours each day in a laboratory, Stahl had a much more social experience than she had anticipated, including playing the bassoon with her college’s orchestra and with a local church.

Steve Anderson ’06 also studied in an English-speaking university this fall – in Budapest, Hungary, at the Central European University. Because it draws students from 88 nations, the University uses English as its lingua franca.

“I went because I knew I’d learn more abroad [than at Princeton],” said Anderson, a concentrator in the Woodrow Wilson School. “I knew the classes would have a different perspective and a new style, and I would learn so much from the students there. It was an incredible experience.”

According to Dean Nancy Kanach, director of the study abroad program, a record 170 students studied abroad during the last academic year – up from only 58 students 10 years earlier. Many more study or work internationally during the summer.

Students have traditionally favored the United Kingdom – over the past five years, it has been the destination for more than a quarter of those going abroad during the year – but programs in France, South Africa and Australia are also popular. Recently, Panama has ranked second in popularity, thanks to the department of evolutionary and ecological biology’s “semester in the field” there.

“Students always remark on the ways that study abroad has changed them, made them more mature, given them a new perspective on themselves and their own culture,” Kanach said. “They often come back with a new confidence in themselves and their own resourcefulness, and they take even better advantage of the faculty and resources at Princeton.”

Christian R. Burset ’07 is from Bernardsville, N.J.