Wrapping Up Our Blog and Rapping Up Candler

At Emory, it seems like most students are on the typical pre-business or pre-med routes, limiting their appreciation of other esteemed graduate schools. (If you would like to learn more about the Goizueta Business School experience, please check out our previous blog post). When we signed up for our final post, we chose Candler simply because it was the last remaining graduate school yet to be covered. However, upon further research, we realized that this often overlooked school is actually a notable institution of its kind.

Candler is a rather small school that goes unnoticed alongside the Psychology and Chemistry buildings. Though it does not look like much from the outside, Candler is actually a place full of history, resources, and opportunities.

To our surprise, Candler was Emory’s first graduate school program. Its esteemed alumni include James Armstrong, America’s youngest Methodist bishop, and Martin Luther King Junior’s daughter, Bernice King, who received her ministry from Candler. Reading this alone made us rethink our initial assumptions of the school. Our appreciation continued to grow as we learned of Candler’s impressive progressiveness. In 1935, Emory’s School of Theology expanded its admits to include non-Methodist students, and in 1997, Emory opened its chapels to same-sex commitment ceremonies. Intrigued, we continued to delve into how Candler provides for its students today.  

Candler grants its students an exceptional education. It is not uncommon for its inspiring classes and award-winning teachers to receive standing ovations from engaged students. Furthermore, because of its home at Emory, Candler students have the freedom to explore other departments, even majoring in Bioethics, Business, Development Practice, Law, Public Health, Social Work, along with theology. With easy access to Pitts Library, home of over 620,000 volumes and approachable librarians, students can conveniently obtain support in their studies. Clearly, Candler accommodates for its students’ love and passion for learning. This initiative pays off, with 70% of alumni serving as church pastors.

In addition to its academic resources, Candler provides outlets for students who want to engage in opportunities outside of the classroom. There are 15 official student organizations, including the Office of Student Programming, a team of united staff and students who plan Candler events. Additionally, all members of the Candler community are welcome to services, held weekly at the Cannon Chapel on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is more than an educational community, it is a spiritual one.

Despite our initial lack of knowledge about Candler, over the course of our research and firsthand exploration, we quickly learned that the school is one to be reckoned with. To bring this deserving energy to Candler, we decided to rap up our blog posts in the only way we deemed appropriate – to parody your favorite song and mine, “In My White Tee” by Dem Franchize Boyz. Prepare yourselves.



I go to Emory, here at Theology

Trying to earn one of the 16 degrees

Pray with community, home of Pitts Library

A seven to one student to faculty  

First grad school at Emory, OG in Tennessee

Moved to ATL ‘cause Cola Company

Now OG’s named Vandy, but Candler sticks with me

In ‘35, non-Methodists included in theology

[Verse 1]

Step on the scene opportunities are obscene

Student programming ‘bout to convene

We all have integrity, we all work

Amount of diversity is berserk

ATL is right by me, no place I’d rather be

Special interest programs – there is one for you and me

Scholarships lower the fee, 88% near free

Rhyming is so hard, hope we are staying on the key

Cannon Chapel nearby hosts events so lively

I go here for Mass and worship so mightily

Jan Love is queen bee, she’s Dean with high authority

Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist choice of study

Take any class at the university  

To apply you need transcript but no GRE

Academic ability, textual literacy

Required for admission at Candler Theology


I go to Emory, here at Theology

Trying to earn one of the 16 degrees

Pray with community, home of Pitts Library

A seven to one student to faculty

[Verse 2]

Well I hit class on a learning spree, fifty-two to teach me

Esteemed professors ‘cause they shine so brightly

Classroom learning, critical reflection, hands-on ministry

The most influential religious leader in the country  

James Armstrong went to Candler, now acclaimed critically

MLK’s daughter also in student body

Offers many programs for international study

Class so good, don’t be absentee

Not uncommon to get standing O’s – they’re a hit

Unlike Sandro’s mad fits

Everyone at Candler, ‘cause they simply love it

Has some grad school festivities

Thanksgiving dinner and awesome end of year party

Candler chronicle highlights this glee

Candler prepares real people like you and me

To make a real difference, you see

In the real world, motto of theology


We go to Emory, here at Theology

Trying to earn one of the 16 degrees

Pray with community, home of Pitts Library

A seven to one student to faculty


In our white tees, we out!

“Emory University | Atlanta, GA.” Candler School of Theology, 3 Nov. 2017, candler.emory.edu/index.html.

Dem Franchize Boyz. In My White Tee, 2003.

Humans of the IDF

The “Israeli Soldiers Tour” began like any other Lecture Series. A confused freshman speeding to an unfamiliar classroom, anxious to have enough time to find the proper room and choose a seat that is not too far or too close to the front before the lecture actually begins. Indeed, this extra time was necessary, for I spent the minutes preceding the lecture frantically strolling through Tarbutton hall and consulting my phone to ensure it was not yet five p.m.

The flyer for the event, which was posted in my residence hall.

When I finally found Tarbutton 111, I realized that this would not just be any other lecture. Relieved, I walked into a small room full of familiar faces –my best friend, Hebrew classmates, other Emory Jewish community members, and even my Sophomore Advisor. In contrast with previous lectures I have attended, the buffet dinner and informal seating arrangement fostered a comfortable and casual atmosphere. Refreshingly, the age of this audience would bring down the average age of any other lecture by at least half. As opposed to knowledgeable graduate students and professors, the room was enlivened by passionate and committed undergraduate students. In fact, this lecture was so casual that the presenters arrived ten minutes late, attributing their tardiness to “Atlanta traffic.”

Two Emory seniors initiated the lecture, reading the bios of Eden and Joey, the speakers who would be recalling experiences from their military service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). This student-led introduction demonstrated the active role students took in the presentation, as opposed to passively listening. The event itself was held by student groups – Emory Students for Israel, Emory Hillel, and the Emory Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Eden and Joey, the two speakers, analyzing a photo of a threat that they stopped.

Following the introduction, Eden began her presentation by projecting photos of her best friends, boyfriend, and the city in which she grew up. She wanted to establish that soldiers are more than their green uniforms, advanced machinery, or media coverage – they are normal individuals who treasure their loved ones. Yet again contrasting most lectures, Eden and Joey’s PowerPoint was full of vivid pictures, lacking any text at all. Their visual presentation demonstrated the engaging, well-rounded nature of the lecture. Eden continued by describing her childhood, which she deemed pretty typical. However, she added that living in Israel, she always entertained additional worries. With every brown envelope delivered in the mail came a chance that her father would be called to the army reserves. Furthermore, Eden dreaded the day that she herself would be recruited to join the IDF, which relies on a mandatory draft. Her parents reassured her that by the time she was 18, Israel would not have a draft, but this has yet to prove true. Eden now finds herself sharing these same words of reassurance with her younger brothers.

When asked about her biggest takeaway from her army service, Eden responded that “the word responsibility gets a whole new definition.” Only in her young 20s, Eden commanded 70 female soldiers and led their basic training. When her soldiers were granted weekends at home, Eden felt responsible for ensuring that they all arrived home safely, demonstrating her care and the seriousness with which she approached her job. With Eden’s responsibility came an increased sense of worry. When bomb threats went off, she could not console herself by referring to the slim chance that it would directly affect her or her family. She was responsible for 70 soldiers that spanned the map of Israel, and a bomb threat meant that any one of them could be in danger.

Eden’s thick Israeli accent was then replaced with a strong and unexpected American voice. In his presentation, Joey immediately addressed this surprise, sharing that he grew up in Las Vegas. He jokingly clarified that no, his mother was not a stripper, his father was not a casino owner, and he did not live in a hotel. Joey’s involvement in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), a Jewish youth movement, inspired him to enlist in the Israeli army. On a trip to Poland, Joey visited Jewish death camps with a Holocaust survivor. As the survivor was sobbing and grieving for his lost relatives, Joey watched a group of Israeli soldiers march through the camp. This juxtaposition of Jewish pride and strength in the face of the sadness and loss of the Holocaust hit Joey. He knew he must enlist.

During college, Joey remained involved in Israeli causes, and immediately following graduation, he made Aliyah (Hebrew for “the act of going up”), officially becoming an Israeli citizen. At the beginning of his service, Joey did not even know Hebrew. Since all army commands are delivered in advanced Hebrew, Joey learned the language by doing endless push-ups as punishments for his inability to understand or perform the orders.

Like Eden, Joey’s army service was life-changing and informed all of his future endeavors. From it, he derived that “You are a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.” Joey has continued to pursue his passion for Israel by working at Stand With Us, an organization committed to Israel education and advocacy. He also volunteers at The Lone Soldier Center, where he ensures the physical and social health of Lone Soldiers, soldiers who voluntarily join the Israeli army from abroad, like himself.

The audience posed for a picture with Joey following the presentation.

While the Israeli army faces extreme media and political scrutinization, this event humanized the members of the IDF. Israelis our age are enlisting in the army and defending their country. Both Joey and Eden’s stories demonstrated the life experience that army service provides and how embedded this service is in Israeli culture. Hearing these relatable, well-delivered retellings in a communal environment made the message loud and clear: through their army service, Israelis gain a self-awareness and clarity about their dearest values that is beyond their years.

Promoting Plasticity (Especially for Freshman)

This past Monday, we attended “Developmental plasticity and language reorganization after pediatric stroke” at 4:00 p.m. in the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (PAIS) building. As we entered the room, we noticed that the audience was composed of many adults, most of whom were faculty in the Psychology Department. Hannah and I even saw our psychology professor and his TAs. The audience was also very dressed up, showing off their fedoras, blazers, and dresses, which made us feel out of place as we looked like we had just finished our day at the gym. As a graduate student introduced Elissa L. Newport, the presenter for the lecture, it quickly became clear to us that Dr. Newport is very well known in the realm of psychology. She began her lecture by stating that she was about to present newly discovered information, which sparked excitement from the crowd. Dr. Newport was also very modest, frequently mentioning her esteemed collaborators from Georgetown University and John Hopkins University.

Dr. Newport framed her lecture by introducing the research questions that she and her colleagues explored during their study: “Is everything endlessly plastic? (Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and change). How could this be true?” Their questions provided the audience with a map for Dr. Newport’s lecture. Upon presenting these questions, she gave a disclaimer – “I’m of course not going to answer them, but we’re going to try.” This playful comment added some charm to the lecture and engaged the crowd members, who were responsive to her jokes throughout.

To answer these questions, Newport tested children with perineal strokes, strokes that occurred anytime from the 28 days preceding birth to the 28 days following. These subjects all had left hemisphere strokes, impacting the brain area that is dedicated to understanding and producing language. To determine how the strokes affected the subjects’ language abilities, if at all, Dr. Newport performed several tests on them. The first was the Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WAIS) test, which evaluates intelligence on multiple scales. Rewardingly, I had learned about the WAIS in psychology, and was proud of my familiarity with the terminology. Dr. Newport also gave her subjects an Auditory Description Decision Task (ADDT), in which they had to listen to a sentence, such as “a big, gray animal is an elephant,” and press a button if the sentence is correct. She then compared each subject’s results to his or her sibling’s to determine if the stroke impacted their abilities.

Dr. Newport concluded that when children have left hemisphere strokes, damaging their brain networks for language, the brain reactivates language networks in the right hemisphere. She used brain images to demonstrate that following the stroke, areas in the right hemisphere were activated during language tasks. As the pictures flashed on the screen, Dr. Newport remarked, “I’m assuming that most people in the audience aren’t used to looking at brain imaging,” and preceded to explain their meaning and significance in regards to her research.

Finally, she presented two explanations for how this reorganization occurs. The first and more popular opinion, “Reorganization of Function,” holds that healthy areas of the brain can take over the functions of injured areas. Dr. Newport presented her contrasting thesis called “The Developmental Origins Hypothesis.” In her thesis, Newport asserts that language is more bilateral in children than in adults because children astonishingly utilize both hemispheres of the brain. Therefore, if a child injures one hemisphere, the other undamaged hemisphere is prepared to compensate for any lost abilities.

While the room was intrigued and excited by Newport’s lecture, her presentation was clearly catered to an audience full of other experts in the neurological field. She made jokes for “all of the radiologists in the room,” and as she used complex terms, the crowd rhythmically nodded their heads while we innocently consulted Google. Despite our confusion, the audience’s expert knowledge was inspirational. The room was clearly full of experts in the psychology field, and it was motivational to see that these established individuals were so passionate that they committed their Monday afternoon to learning about new psychological discoveries.

At the end of her lecture, Dr. Newport said “Feel free to ask me questions,” consistent with her accessible demeanor. The passion-filled audience took her up on her offer. Inclined to learn more about the subject, nearly all audience members, uncharacteristic of Emory, remained glued to their chairs during question time.

Unfortunately, lectures that require prior knowledge can be daunting and unappealing to freshman. Although we may not have understood everything in Dr. Newport’s lecture, we found the experience worthwhile. Dr. Newport’s presentation not only taught us groundbreaking brain research but also gave us a true experience of learning for learning’s sake. Emory should advertise these lectures in a way that encourages undergraduate attendance, particularly freshman. Because we know that Emory is busy fixing its wifi (we hope), we took advertising lectures into our own hands.

Attention Freshman


“Elissa L. Newport.” Association for Psychological Science, www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/25at25/elissa-l-newport.html.

“Elissa Newport, Ph.D.” Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery | Georgetown University, cbpr.georgetown.edu/faculty/elissa_newport.

“Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos.” Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos – iStock. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.istockphoto.com/photos/human-brain?excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&page=2&phrase=human brain&sort=mostpopular.

“Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics – Current Episodes – RS 149 – Susan Gelman on “How essentialism shapes our thinking”.” Rationally Speaking Podcast, rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs-149-susan-gelman-on-how-essentialism-shapes-our-thinking.html.

“Emory Infant and Child Lab.” Philippe Rochat, www.psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/lab/Rochat.html.

“Arnon Lotem.” Https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arnon_Lotem.

Sandro Hijacks Jared and Hannah’s Blog Post

“Maybe we can just pretend that we went,” I thought to myself as our Uber’s estimated time of arrival extended from seven minutes to half a century. After 15 minutes of waiting and two missed calls to the Uber driver later, we canceled the ride and ordered another one. This time, a lovely gentleman named Daran picked us up. Little did I know that this man would soon become my best friend. After discussing his graduate studies at Georgia Tech, war, my family origins and global warming, I wondered whether I could ask Daran for his number, knowing that I would probably want to catch up with him later and find out how he and his girlfriend were doing. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world dictated by social norms that deem asking your Uber driver for personal information to spark a friendship “weird”.

Sandro befriending our Uber driver Daran.

When we arrived at Centennial Olympic Park, I shook Daran’s hand, wished him and his girlfriend the best, and sadly bid him adieu. “Wow,” I thought to myself as we exited the Uber to see the historically significant and beautiful Centennial Olympic Park before us, “this is about to be really boring.” All I could think about, besides Daran, was that I would finally get to walk backward with Jared.

We began our journey by learning about the park’s origins. The park commemorates the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games, which Atlanta hosted. The city dedicated $75 million to developing Downtown Atlanta, ensuring it was fit to house the games and creating a commercial center in Atlanta, including the Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, CNN, Delta Airlines and the World of Coca-Cola. Centennial Park continues the legacy of the 1996 games and its subsequent impact on Atlanta.

Confused about where to begin our exploration of the park, we were relieved to find that it had an accompanying Audio Tour. Today, we will take you along with us as we tour the park and share our experiences.

Allen Family Tribute

The Allen Family Tribute has been fenced off during construction of the park.

Our tour begins with the Allen Family Tribute. This 15-foot-tall structure pays tribute to the three generations of the Allen family, who helped shape the city of Atlanta. On the note of family, this part of the park always reminds me of my first experience at Centennial Olympic Park nearly six years ago with my family. My parents were so excited to show me and my younger brother the spot where they watched the 1996 Olympic Games together, and I vividly remember them pointing out this landmark as a testimonial to the importance of family. Come along so we can see what else this place has in store…

Gateway of Dreams

Stop Two.
Sandro poses alongside Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The Gateway of Dreams is a monument of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games. Coubertin’s sculpture is three times his height, representing his legacy and impact on the Olympics. The plaque below the sculpture describes Coubertin’s “dream of a world united in peace through sport.” But the only thing going through my mind was that this man could rock the stache, and honestly, not everyone can. I bet Hunter could, though.

Androgyne Planet

Stop Three.

“What do aliens have to do with the Olympic Games?” I thought as I looked up at the vast statue before me and put on my tin foil hat. This totem represents the Games’ spirit of international unity. To create this spirit of unity, each host city donates a piece of art to the next city. At least my tin foil hat won’t let the statue’s telekinetic powers into my brain. This is what the planet must really be built for, let’s be honest.

Children’s Garden and Playground

Stop four.
An activity at the accessible Children’s Playground.

We are now stepping on the rubber floors of the Centennial Olympic Park’s Children’s Playground. This play space is dedicated to the younger kids that frequent the park and is designed for children with all ranges of physical abilities. The aisles between various activities are wide, and all activities on the playground are accessible, capturing the essence of the park as an all-inclusive venue. I am reminded of my frequent trips to Aiden’s Playground, an accessible park in Los Angeles, with my mother, previously a Disability Rights Lawyer, who was highly supportive of its design.

Paralympic Legacy

Stop Five.
The four pillars of “Paralympic Legacy.”

On the note of inclusivity, the monument that we are now approaching commemorates the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a sports competition for athletes with disabilities. The pillars that surround the monument represent the commitment, leadership, diversity, and excellence that characterized the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. “Paralympic Legacy” serves as a reminder of the pursuit of excellence that the Paralympics inspire.

Quilt of Nations

Stop 6.
The Quilt of Nations.
Sandro planking on the water that weaves through the five quilts.

A man-made series of beautifully landscaped, cascading water features weave through the five Quilt Plazas, including the Quilt of Nations. The Quilt of Nations honors all 197 nations that participated in the 1996 Games. This was the largest number of countries ever represented in the history of the Olympic Games. Seeing the flag of the Country of Georgia, I feel a sense of pride that Georgia was a part of this historical Olympic Games. For the first time, I began to realize the significance of the park.

Quilt of Olympic Spirit

Stop Seven.
Jared pointing to his parents’ brick.

This landmark salutes the 10,000 athletes who participated in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Inscribed in granite is a list that names all 184 medalists. The names “Soso Liparteliani” and “Eldar Kurtanidze” immediately catch my attention. Not only did I meet these Georgian Olympic medalists personally, but seeing these names reinforces the park’s focus on international unity. These names were engraved beside those of fellow Russian athletes, citizens of the same country that occupied Georgian territories and bombed our cities 12 years later.

Quilt of Origins

Stop Eight.
The Quilt of Origins.

We’re now at the Quilt of Origins, a sculpture that depicts the advancement of the Olympic Games from ancient Greece until today. The work of art weighs eight tons and features three figures: a nude man (representing Greece – where the first Olympics were held), another man who looks much more contemporary (representing the style of the modern Olympics), and a female (representing the Atlanta Olympic Games). As you can see, there are bricks implanted in the pathways all around us, covering the entire park. These bricks are the names of the individuals who donated in securing this structure that stands before us. My parents even purchased one, serving as a unique reminder of their time that they spent living in Atlanta. Let’s now go on to the Quilt of Remembrance.

Quilt of Remembrance

Stop Nine.
The quote that captured Hannah’s experience at the park.

This mosaic acts as a reminder for those who were injured from the bomb that went off during the Atlanta Olympics. 111 stones are placed here from all around the world to pay respect to the 111 people hurt by the bombing. My parents remember hearing the bomb at the Olympics, and the chaotic scene that followed. They, like the rest of the world, also remember the Games reopening soon after this domestic terrorist attack, serving as a triumph of the human spirit and great character of Atlanta. Alice Hawthorne was the only person who died from this tragedy, and the eternal light is always shining at this site in her memory.

Quilt of Dreams

Stop 10.
Sculpture of Billy Payne.

The quilt above us holds tribute to Billy Payne, CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Payne is responsible for bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, a 10 year quest that was successful on its first bid. Another dream of Payne’s, this park is the physical manifestation of countless inspirational feats. As we walk along the quilt, I would like to point out a quote that encompasses the importance of the Atlanta Olympics: “I can think of no better event than the Olympics to introduce the world to the progressive capital of the new South” (Andrew Young). In a sense, exploring Centennial Park has introduced me to downtown Atlanta – to its many opportunities and its deeper significance.

Hermes Towers/Centennial Plaza

Stop 11.
Centennial Plaza and the stormy clouds above.

Even the dimensions of our next stop are symbolic. Centennial Plaza is 100 meters squared, equivalent to the distance of the 100 meter Olympic race. The flags of the 23 past host cities circle the Plaza. Eight “Hermes Towers” are also mounted around the Plaza to emulate the indicators that directed Ancient Greek spectators to public happenings.

Fountain of Rings

Stop 12.
The Fountain of Rings during its daily water show.

We’re now at one of the most iconic landmarks in this park and the city of Atlanta…the Fountain of Rings. The fountain has four daily shows (at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.) that combine music, lighting, and, of course, water. The fountain is also a great place to play and relax. I still see a view of the fountain whenever I take an airplane ride from Cleveland to Atlanta, and this reminds me of the Olympic Games my parents attended as well as my family’s Atlanta history.

Southern Company Amphitheater

The 13th and final stop.
The Southern Company Amphitheater.

We will now conclude our tour at the location that embodies the true purpose of Centennial Olympic Park as a communal space. This open venue hosts events on 186 days of the year, committed to providing free entertainment for the whole family. Olympic Park is central to the Atlanta community, appealing to individuals of all ages and all ranges of ability. All visitors need is the openness to learn and to be inspired.

Our Uber ride back simply wasn’t the same. I did not connect to our driver in a powerful way. Perhaps this is because I didn’t get to tell him about the public executions of my great-grandfathers or because I was too side-tracked reflecting on my ultimately positive experience of Centennial Olympic Park. The park inspired thoughts about unity, peace, and internationality. But a single thing I had learned from the day’s outing truly stuck out to me: “Humanity is always being tested in some way, shape or form” (Daran).

“God damn it Daran, why didn’t I ask for your number?”

To follow along on the official audio tour that inspired this post, please visit https://www.gwcca.org/park/visiting-the-park/audio-tour/.

Returning to an Onslaught of College Small Talk

I have never been particularly good at engaging in small talk. I much prefer sharing deeper conversations with those who really know me, my close circle of friends and immediate family. During monumental stages in my life, this dreaded small talk was especially, painfully prevalent. Family-friends and community members always managed to bring up my least favorite topics of discussion. In eighth grade, everyone wanted to hear about high school. What were my options? What were the considerations? I was always somewhat frustrated by these questions, as I was not particularly enthusiastic about my choice of schools, and rather wanted to avoid the subject matter entirely. “Ask me about eighth grade!” I always thought, “That’s the grade I’m in now.” The college process brought even more questioning. Where was I applying? What were my top choices? These questions felt higher-stakes and sparked unwelcome stress. The application and decision-making process were anxiety-producing enough, but now I was forced to discuss them with countless members of my community.

As Fall Break approached, I eagerly anticipated my return home and reunion with many of the special people in my life – family friends, neighbors, and even past high school teachers.

Excitedly reuniting with my grandparents.

But carried away by my excitement, I failed to consider and brace myself for the onslaught of personal questions that I would be forced to answer yet again. At every shared meal or community gathering, I was asked the same questions. “How’s school? How’s your roommate? Your friends? Your classes? What is your major? What classes are you taking? Are the bathrooms communal?”. The list goes on. I responded by delivering generic answers with as much enthusiasm as I could muster up. “It’s good! My roommate and I are getting along well. I am undecided right now, but I’m taking psychology, sociology, freshman writing, and Hebrew.” People asked me these same questions so many times that I developed automatic responses to deliver on cue. The pestering continued. “Isn’t it great?” they would persist. “I miss college! It’s the best, I just wish I could go back.” “Yes!” I responded, but I sensed the insincerity in my own answers. Sure, college was going well, but it had only been two months. I was still adjusting to a completely different lifestyle. I was transitioning away from my home, family, and friends, and into a new city, with new people and friends. While I was impressed with the way I was navigating the adjustment, I knew it would take time to feel fully at home and settled at Emory. No matter their intention, these questions gave me a sense of inadequateness. I felt like they posed unrealistic expectations for this stage of the adjustment period, and this sparked doubt about how well I was truly handling myself.

Talking to family friends about my experience at Emory.

My initial inclination was to be somewhat resentful of the people who asked me these questions, putting me on the spot and leading me to doubt my confidence when I was just excited to be home. I tried to remind myself that these frustrating questions come from a place of care. Part of adult life is engaging in these polite interactions, even smiling through them. And returning from my visit, now automatically programmed to answer all of these questions, I am reassured to know that at least my community is invested in my happiness and success.

Advice from Res. Life

When I drove up to Raoul Hall on move-in day, I was greeted by three eager-looking sophomores ready to help. After exchanging brief introductions, they proceeded to lug all of the boxes to my room, leaving my mother and me empty-handed. Although these students had just moved in a few days ago themselves, they were committed to making my move-in day experience seamless.

Emory’s culture of designating Resident Advisors (RAs) and Sophomore Advisors (SAs) to oversee freshmen’s college transition and well-being speaks to the strength of the greater school community. These students may end up in the same classes, clubs, and parties as their residents, but they commit themselves to helping new students face the same challenges they have.

While Residence Life staff are all motivated by different goals and appreciate different aspects of their roles, they come together to foster community for themselves and for incoming students.

Freshman, reach out to your RAs and SAs. Use them as resources. They have found their places at Emory, and they are here to help you find yours.

Anisha Verma’s Emory profile.









*What’s your name?*

Anisha: Anisha Verma.

*Where are you from?*

Anisha: Wisconsin

*What Emory class are you in?*

Anisha: I’m a senior.

*What Emory clubs do you belong to?*

Anisha: I am in ECAST which is the Emory Climate Analysis Solutions Team, and EUSAC which is the Emory University Sustainability Advisory Council. And I’m part of Campus Kitchens. Um, I’m really into running. I like reading, writing, working.

*What motivated you to be an SA/RA?*

Anisha: I really liked my RA my freshman year. She was just a lot like me, I guess, in terms of like of how she was super sarcastic and people thought she was being mean but she was just being herself and, like, making jokes, and I have that problem a lot too. So I just kind of like try to establish some ground form of, like, friendship before I start, you know, cracking jokes, being mean, that sort of thing, yeah. And, um, I thought that Res. Life would be a cool and welcoming community to be a part of throughout the next three years at Emory. And yeah I really like helping the First Years with their adjustment to Emory.

*What has been the most rewarding part so far?*

Anisha: I think when like I see my residents from sophomore and junior year, and they’re like still really excited to see me, and they — because I think there’s like no way to tell whether or not you’re doing a good job as an RA, and so like when there – they still wanna be your friend and wanna be around you it kinda makes me feel that I’m doing something right.

*What was the hardest part of your freshman year?*

Anisha: Um, all my friends joined Greek life, and I did not, so they were kind of like we don’t really need you anymore because we have all of these new, hip, and cool friends who are in my sorority and fraternity. And then, I was kind of left alone with no friends. (Laughs) But it’s fine.

*What would you tell your freshman self?*

Anisha: I would tell my freshman self to stop talking as much, because I still have this problem where I’ll have something to do but then somewhere I’ll see someone and I’ll be like you know this conversation will be worth more in the long run than me studying for this test and getting a good grade, which isn’t always true. Um, so, you know like prioritize more efficiently I guess.

*What do you think makes the Emory community so unique?*

Anisha: There’s an Emory community? I don’t know. I think people are just kind of like doing their own thing. You’ll know what I mean when you like spend more time here.

Josh Fishbach’s Emory profile.









*What’s your name?*

Josh: Hi, my name is Joshua Fischbach.

*Where are you from?*

Josh: I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

*What Emory class are you in?*

Josh: I am part of the Class of 2020.

*What Emory clubs do you belong to?*

Josh: I really like soccer, music, uh, different cultures, language. So I’m part of the club soccer team at Emory. I’m part of, um, Emory Students for Israel. I’m, uh, hopefully going to be part of TEDx at Emory. Um, and then I do, uh, and then I do, um, Coaching Corps. Um, I’m also part of Res. Life, so I’m a Sophomore Advisor.

*What motivated you to be an SA/RA?*

Josh: I thought it’d be a good way to get involved in the Emory community, uh, and it’d also be a great way for me to reach out and meet, uh, a diverse range of people from different backgrounds and be able to help them transition into college.

*What has been the most rewarding part so far?*

Josh: So far I’ve really liked, uh, the relationships that I’ve formed, um, both with my fellow SA — fellow Res. Life staff members and also with, um, the residents.

*What was the hardest part of your freshman year?*

Josh: The hardest part of my freshman year was probably, um, figuring out ways to manage my time, uh, efficiently so that I wouldn’t, um, be stressed out or constantly drag out work so definitely organization — time management in order to succeed here.

*What would you tell your freshman self?*

Josh: I would tell my freshman self to, you know, don’t worry about anything, like, social pressure, academic pressure, you know…it’s all trivial…just be happy and enjoy yourself, where you are in life.

*What do you think makes the Emory community so unique?*

Josh: There’s a diverse range of people in the community, so you can find really any type of person that would sort of — sort of fit into any type of category or label that you want, so there’s –there’s people for everyone here which is really nice. There’s not just one type of student or one type of person.

Caroline Rosen’s Emory profile.









*What’s your name?*

Caroline: Caroline Rosen.

*Where are you from?*

Caroline: Pennsylvania.

*What Emory class are you in?*

Caroline: I’m the Class of 2020.

*What Emory clubs do you belong to?*

Caroline: I’m on the club gymnastics team. Obviously, I’m involved in Res. Life, and I’m on the executive board for Emory Miracle.

*What motivated you to be an SA/RA?*

Caroline: I was very close with my SAs and RAs last years, and I really liked their role of getting to know the residents and helping people adjust to college, and I wanted to do that too.

*What has been the most rewarding part so far?*

Caroline: Meeting my residents.

*What was the hardest part of your freshman year?*

Caroline: The hardest part of my freshman year…was probably getting sick. That sucks. And like the whole hall was sick, it was a nightmare.

*What would you tell your freshman self?*

Caroline: Um, calm down. Everything will be fine in terms of your social life, and academics, and everything

*What do you think makes the Emory community so unique?*

Caroline: I think we all are, you know, very involved in academics, but also really value spending time with spending time with the people we care about and being involved, uh, outside of academics.

Kevin Niu’s Emory profile.









*What’s your name?*

Kevin: My name is Kevin Niu.

*Where are you from?*

Kevin: I’m from Canton, Ohio.

*What Emory class are you in?*

Kevin: I’m part of the Emory Class of 2020.

*What Emory clubs do you belong to?*

Kevin: Some of my interests would include definitely music, I play piano, I’m an avid rock climber. Um, in terms of extra-curriculars I’m part of the club swim team here, I’m part of Student Programing Council, and as well as Emory Student Ambassadors.

*What motivated you to be an SA/RA?*

Kevin: Being an SA sounded like a really good opportunity to meet people while also having fun. The idea of second year housing just didn’t seem appealing to me, in the sense that nobody was going to try and establish a sense of community. Um, and I thought first-years would be more willing to have engaged conversations with people who they lived near — they live near.

*What has been the most rewarding part so far?*

Kevin: I think it’s been really neat to see everybody kind of find their way through Emory and see, like, who these people were when they got here and kind of the things they get involved with afterwards, and kind of see people discovering new things.

*What was the hardest part of your freshman year?*

Kevin: I think the hardest part of freshman year was there were a lot of times where you’d feel very alone just because you had a lot of friends, but you’ve only known them for, like, two or three months and so you don’t really trust them the way that you did people back home. And I think that was one of the most significant challenges, learning how to cope with issues and problems on your own.

*What would you tell your freshman self?*

Kevin: I would probably tell my freshman self that the biggest way to, like, succeed in college is to just push through, uh, because there’s a lot of stuff that happens in college, um, a lot of times where you feel like, you know, you’re just under way too much stress and under way too much pressure. Um, and I think being able to find things to look forward to is a great way to kind of keep yourself moving.

*What do you think makes the Emory community so unique?*

Kevin: I think the fact of the matter is that anybody who really tries to fit in to the Emory community will fit into the Emory community. I think at other places in it at like state schools or extremely small liberal arts college it is very possible that it’s not a good fit for someone, but I think at Emory, like, everybody is, like, welcome and everybody has the potential to find a community here.


Lost, Even in a Sea of Jews

Growing up, I always felt stuck between two worlds. My family has always observed Jewish rituals and commandments, and therefore, belonged to a traditional congregation. However, we also identify with the more modern Jewish community’s ideology and warmth, where observance is often less common. While I was partially drawn to Emory because of its active and vibrant Jewish life, I did not consider that, despite the large number of Jews, the observant population would be quite limited.

One of the most central aspects of Jewish observance is the Sabbath, or Shabbat. Friday to Saturday evening marks the Jewish day of rest. For this period of twenty-five hours, acts of creation and work, such as the use of electricity, writing, and driving, are prohibited. Disengaging from these activities can be isolating, and therefore, having a strong community to celebrate Shabbat with is integral to the experience. As my first Shabbat at college approached, I grew concerned about how I would sustain my observance without a community to support me.

I began my Shabbat by attending Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life that hosts weekly Shabbat dinner and prayers. With tunes reminiscent of my summer camp and a traditional Friday night meal, this experience certainly gave me the familiar sense of community that I was striving to find. However, as I arrived at my dorm, I immediately returned to my apprehensive state. Twenty-four hours of Shabbat still remained, and I did not know who I would spend them with when everyone was busy binging on Netflix, doing homework, or exploring Atlanta while I was restricted to reading in my bed.

I frantically called my parents, willing to use my phone on Shabbat if it meant gaining some insights and support. “Be easy on yourself,” they told me, and this was not the first time I needed this reminder. “This is a period of adjustment, and you can only do what feels manageable. Give yourself time to find an arrangement that you feel comfortable with.” Until then, they encouraged me to strive to maintain the spirit of the day, even if I found it unsustainable to adhere to all of the legalities.

Frantically on the phone with my parents.

As my parents spoke, I began engaging in an internal dialogue about my thoughts on the matter. They had been so understanding, but was their approach too generous? I had been observing Shabbat my whole life, and I let it go so easily. Too easily? My failure to practice Shabbat alone must indicate a lack of commitment to Judaism, I judged. And what will my friends and teachers – who invested so much and were so confident in my religious connection – think about this sudden development? Even though I am using my phone, should I resist opening the Facebook app, so my friends do not see that I am active? No matter how much justification I could offer for my personal choices, I could not help feeling ashamed, blaming myself for taking the easy way out, even as I repeated the motto “be easy on yourself” in my head. The dialogue persisted, and I felt little relief.

Internal dialogue about my approach to Shabbat.

Even though I did not immediately arrive at a conclusion that I had full confidence in, there was nothing to do but compromise. I spent my day resting, taking a tranquil walk at Lullwater Preserve, and joining a community for a traditional Shabbat lunch. I also settled for a little Netflix watching. Of course, there were still holes in my day, but I felt fairly positive about my approach, despite its limitations.

My experience of this single day spoke to a larger truth about the college transition. I cannot expect it to be effortless, and there will be unforeseen challenges. It will take time to adjust and make choices I feel comfortable with as I gain independence. Sometimes I miss the comfort of spending Shabbat at home, but I know that as I find a way to sustain this practice in college, I will develop true ownership over it, and that will be incredibly meaningful. Isn’t that what college is about?

Prototypes, LLC Clever. “Storyboard Creator | Comic Strip Maker | Graphic Organizer.” Storyboard That, www.storyboardthat.com/storyboard-creator.

The BeltLine Was Lit (well, kinda)

Initially, the two of us were planning to cover separate events for this week’s blog posts. However, through a series of unanticipated events, what started as two posts became one. Here is our story.


Though this may come as a shock, I have never seen Star Wars. Sure, I know that the little green creature called Yoda talks weirdly, and I know that someone is Luke’s father; I’ve just never understood the hype behind some odd space phenomenon. Nonetheless, this past Saturday, September 9, I ventured to Candler Park to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even did some research about the previous films to have some prior knowledge. Upon arrival, I  found the park deserted. However, there was an older gentleman taking down a nearby stage. I asked him if he knew where Star Wars was being played, but he angrily replied that he had no idea what I was talking about. Alarmed, after digging through the park’s website, Facebook page, and recently uploaded newsletter, I discovered that the film was postponed until next weekend. I couldn’t believe it. Frustrated but eager to find a new topic for my blog post, I remembered that there was a lantern festival starting at Ponce City Market very shortly. I knew that Hannah was covering the event, so I called her frantically and explained my situation. Before I knew it, I was ordering a Lyft to the parade.

Jared with misleading sign advertising the night’s alleged Star Wars showing.


When I found a magnet listing unique Atlanta events plastered on the entrance to my dorm room, I noticed one that peaked my interest: the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade. Upon research, I learned that this was an annual, community-wide tradition that kicks off a series of art exhibitions on the BeltLine. After looking through a series of beautiful photos of the event, I enthusiastically gathered a group of friends to attend it with me.

On Saturday, we met at Woodruff Circle to catch the free Emory Experience Shuttle, but to our surprise, we were not the only ones eager to leave campus and capitalize on this free opportunity. As 6:15 p.m. approached, students around the circle started congregating at the shuttle stop. My friends and I assertively forced our way onto the shuttle, refusing to wait for the next one.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at Ponce City Market. I immediately felt a sense of relief. It was a pleasant day, and was freeing to briefly escape the sometimes confining “Emory bubble.” We walked around the market, which had a very clean and rustic aesthetic. Almost simultaneously, we all commented on how refreshing it was to see families with younger kids and dogs. Our company was not just restricted to students between the ages of 18 and 22.

The restaurant area was crowded, but gave off a positive energy. After exploring a number of dining options, from fresh to-go food to acai bowls to pizza to southern barbeque, we settled on a Chinese restaurant that certainly outshined the quality of the food at the DUCling. In the middle of my meal, I received a call from Jared, anxiously asking if he could join us at the parade. Minutes later, we met him at the top of the BeltLine.

Hannah making her way to the BeltLine’s festivities.

Together at the Parade:

We made our way down the BeltLine, passing crowds of people sitting on folding chairs and blankets, others watching from the windows of their high-rise apartments. Without something comfortable to sit on, we begrudgingly settled for an empty space on the cement floor and dug into Jared’s unopened movie snacks. People were walking down the BeltLine holding their lanterns, and we joked that this was the actual parade, since we had no idea when it would start.

A small marching band wearing “Krew of Grateful Gluttons” shirts began walking, finally signaling the official start of the parade. We later discovered that this group, under the leadership of a woman named Chantelle Rytter, founded the Lantern Parade to bring people together and celebrate an otherwise ordinary landmark. The event fulfilled this objective.  

The band was followed by a parade of individuals, families, couples and groups of friends. Members varied in age, from kids fighting sleep in their strollers to rowdier adults with beer breath. Anyone was welcomed in the parade, as long as they carried their own lantern. The designs ranged from Harry Potter to life-size dragons to a whole group of coordinated emoji lanterns. No matter the theme, the bright lights and creativity never failed to catch our eyes.

When it was time to catch the shuttle back, we approached the exit, fighting the huge influx of people who were simultaneously entering and leaving the parade. The crowds were highly unpleasant, as people were shoving their way through the lines and yelling at each other in frustration. We both fell, victims to the merciless crowd.

After finally breaking free and reaching the shuttle, we found that it was at its full capacity. We, along with half of the student population, waited impatiently for the next ride. As the shuttle came to a stop, the driver shielded her eyes from the students flooding the seats, aisle, and everything in between. She even generously let a few desperate stragglers sit on the bare floor.

On the unpleasant ride back to campus, we each reflected on our eventful nights. Though our initiation into the greater Atlanta community on the scenic BeltLine was certainly worthwhile, we both agreed that this was a one time feat.

Check out our highlights from the Lantern Parade below:



Cox, Caroline. “Lighting the BeltLine: How a Motley Krewe Created an Atlanta Tradition.”Choose ATL, www.chooseatl.com/features/beltline-lantern-parade.

Parade, Lantern. “Help Illuminate One of Atlanta’s Great New Traditions!” The Atlanta BeltLine, 2017, art.beltline.org/lantern-parade/.

Kellee Maize. “Crown.” CROWN, J. Glaze, 2017.