Category Archives: College

Simmons World Challenge: A New Adventure

hands-on-world1As some of you may know, I am beginning a new journey ay Simmons College. Over the winter break, I will be participating in Simmons World Challenge, a program that can best be described as an exclusive opportunity for twenty students of the sophomore class (Class of 2017) to explore their world through a series of special lectures, field trips, and research opportunities.

This year’s World Challenge topic is sustainability as it relates to social justice. A lot of this program will require self-reflection, which will be done in a blog format.

I have attached the link to my blog designed especially for the Simmons World Challenge, so you can follow my growth and development on the subjects as I learn more about the topics (and myself!) in the next few months.

I will also post here, on my original blog, to update when I have posted in my World Challenge blog. Happy reading!


Political Science Department hosts midterm panel

From the most recent issue of The Simmons Voice: Political Science Department hosts midterm panel.

Professor makes a difference in Afghanistan

One of my professors at Simmons is inspirational. She started her own organization, Afghanistan Samsortya, in 2008 to help revitalize the land in eastern Afghanistan. By planting trees and implementing irrigation systems in the area, Professor Mariam Raqib has done her part to be a “global citizen.”

Read more on her and her organization in my article from this week’s issue of The Simmons Voice:

Professor makes a difference in Afghanistan.

Political unrest causes protests in China

Political unrest causes protests in China.

Anti­war protests cause unrest in Russia

Anti­war protests cause unrest in Russia.

Human Rights Violations in N. Korea

Human Rights Violations in N. Korea.

Scottish independence, not today

Published in this week’s issue of The Voice

The Simmons Voice

By Amanda Bibbins
Staff Writer

Scotland –— Last week, on Sept. 18, Scotland held a referendum to see whether or not Scottish nationals wanted independence from Great Britain, and the votes came back with a resounding “no.” So far, the only short-term consequence of this decision is the resignation of Scotland’s pro-independence leader, Alex Salmond, who has since resigned his position as Minister.

Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron fought to convince Scottish nationals why it was in their best interests to remain a part of Great Britain, and why it was best to maintain the 300-year union with the United Kingdom. By the time the polls closed on Thursday, the Scottish population had been officially convinced.

Why did Scotland choose to remain in the politically complex union? The Scottish economy is aided by Great Britain quite significantly. In addition to being on the British form of currency, the pound…

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Terrorism around the world: The ISIS crisis

Dear Readers,
You may ask yourselves where I’ve been since my trip to Switzerland. And I must be honest, I have no better explanation than “I was taking a hiatus from writing”… I know, the seemingly unthinkable. But I have started writing for The Simmons Voice, and here’s the first piece I’ve written for them. It’s good to be back on the writing scene.
Happy autumn!

The Simmons Voice

By Amanda Bibbins
Contributing Writer

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, September 10, President Obama addressed the nation about the series of actions the United States will take against ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. But this prompts questions for the nation, and most importantly, students like ourselves who are faced already with a tremendous national debt that we incur when we pay federal taxes.

It’s important to understand why the president is choosing this course of action. After all, what threat are we really facing? The crisis abroad has more to do with us than perhaps we thought possible, so we at The Voice would like to shed some light on what you may be reading or hearing in the news, in order to help separate fact from ordinary media bias.

ISIS, ISIL… Who can keep it all straight?

It’s important to look first at the…

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Gender Roles, June 2013

I’m currently in a transitional phase, or as I’ve become accustomed to calling it: “Between Trapezes.” This feeling I have is neither filling nor empty, neither lonesome nor comforting. I have left high school (a retrospectively very secure stage of my life), and am waiting for this intermittent stage to settle on the next phase of my journey. For those who don’t know, I will be attending Simmons College in Boston in the fall. Making the college decision was a difficult one: I had a lot of great options to choose from, but at the end of the day, I made a decision based on size, location, and cost. (No, I didn’t have the opportunity to sit down with colleges the way I’d hoped in my earlier post.) One of the more interesting facts about Simmons, is: it is an all-women’s college.

Attention to you avid readers out there: you know I once promised you a gender-oriented post a while back. But as time has gone on, my thoughts on theimg matter have developed, and I hope you all will accept this accumulation of ideas as a peace offering. 

A lot of girls are turned off by the idea of an all-women’s college, but why? Through small talk with my close circle of friends, many seem more concerned with getting, what my parents would call, their “MRS. Degree”, than an actual education. Upon hearing this, my thoughts resembled something to the effect of: “Ohhhh great.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s novel, The Feminine Mystique. For those unfamiliar: in 1957, Betty Friedan sought to conduct a survey of and for her fellow Smith College classmates around the time of their 15th annual reunion. By chance, Friedan stumbled across a topic that lit a fire within her, and prompted her to pursue answers to a seemingly unanswerable question: Why are women wildly unhappy with their lives? After conducting multiple interviews with women who would not be considered anything but ordinary by any means, Friedan wrote her conclusions in her book, The Feminine Mystique. The thought processes of women were mandated by male-dominated advertisements and alternate forms of media, which portrayed two paths for housewives of the 1960’s: crazed working women or content homemakers. Taking into account societal pressures, the choice was simple. I was surprised to read in an article by opinion writer for CNN, Rachel Simmons (unrelated to the college), that 50 years later, women are still plagued by two conflicting life paths.

Simmons writes, “From the earliest age, girls are flooded with conflicting messages about their sexuality. They are socialized to be “good girls” above all: kind, polite and selfless. Yet they are also told — via media images, the clothing that’s marketed to them and the messages conveyed by some adults — that they will be valued, given attention and loved for being sexy. The result is a near-constant anxiety about not being feminine or sexy enough.”

Huh. Isn’t that true? I know I feel it, at the very least. With this confusing message sent to young women today, who could blame my peers for searching for a husband at such an early age?; the quest for male validation still runs rampant in the veins of feminine youth culture. I applaud Dove for their recent campaign, showing women their true beauty versus their perceptions of beauty. When I watched that video (a few times, I must admit) I cried. My thinking was changed immediately. What do I really look like? Do I have inner beauty I’m just not seeing? Who do I rely on to make me feel beautiful? 

But I refuse to join the onslaught of radical feminists who believe man-bashing is the solution to this ever-present problem. The societal norms and expectations have embedded themselves in the psyche of both men and women. I was discussing this very issue with a friend of mine over coffee the other day, and she presented me with two questions: “Amanda, when I say race, what do you think of? And when I say gender, what comes to mind?” My answers were, as I’m sure many others’ answers would be: black, and females. The history of American civil rights are engrained in my mind as a young caucasian female, and subsequently, I draw those two very clear conclusions on race and gender.

While I can assure you these are not the last of my thoughts on the matter, I will leave you, dear readers, with this parting thought: As a society, we need to eliminate the (now innate) boundaries we have established for ourselves between men and women. The issue goes beyond suffrage; that was resolved almost a century ago. But in our daily lives, literature, films, and television commercials, we as people need to take care to eliminate the daily double standards that stand on the matter of gender. For instance, why do young girls who skin their knees on the playground get, on average, 2 more minutes of coddling time than boys, who are expected to merely “suck it up”? Why envy the sex symbols of movies, when both men and women use such harsh language to condemn the sexual escapades of women in real life? As a starting point, I encourage you to be aware of these societal red flags around you. Give it a try!

Step aside colleges, Let me take it from here, I got this

The newest fad in high school has abandoned the fascinatingly awkward interaction between boys and girls around prom time. It’s strayed from the convenience of holiday dances, and what we’ll do with our weekends. And, while these things still exist briefly in the hallway, those discussions are quickly overcome with the latest and greatest news of college acceptances. With social media hard at work, college news can’t be escaped. One can’t log on to Facebook without seeing “So-and-so got into {insert name of college here}!”, or onto Instagram to see an image of a college acceptance letter peppered with congratulations and enticing offers of scholarships and grant money. I, too, am guilty of this blossoming fad. But why are things so intense for our generation? Why do we find college so magnetic? We take entrance exams as juniors and seniors, and practice entrance exams as freshmen and sophomores. As a result, schools can access our emails and information so long as they pay their dues to the College Board.

Since I’ve been a sophomore, I’ve received maybe a thousand emails littering my Gmail inbox. All offer subject lines saying, “Amanda! Have you looked at our school yet?” “Are you looking to apply yet?” “It’s not too early to look for schools!” Each school made their case as to why THEIRS was the best, because naturally they’re all accredited as the best, laying claim to the brightest students in the nation. After I came to understand the gimmick, I can tell you not a single one of those emails was opened again. And over time, the subjects have changed their tune. “Amanda, do I have the right email?” “Amanda, are you ignoring me?” “Where have you been, Amanda?” Had the emails not come from NO-REPLY addresses, I would’ve responded something to the affect of: “Quit it! You’re smothering me, colleges!” Let’s not even get into the snail mail being sent to my mailbox.

How these college emails sound to me. With the creepy glare and smile that says “Why are you running so fast?” For those unfamiliar, this is the recently popularized “meme” of “The Crazy, Obsessive Girlfriend.”

The pressures rise, and the colleges don’t “quit it”, until their deadline approaches and passes, when the subject lines change from “It’s not too late to apply, Amanda” to “We’re sorry we missed you, Amanda.”

In the midst of the college craziness, my godmother took me into Boston for an interview of sorts at Boston University. We sat in the cafeteria of the campus drinking Starbucks coffee, working on our caffeine addictions, whilst asking why it is colleges felt the need to pursue teens in the style of the crazy-ex-girlfriend. And so, we devised a new system of selection, making it easy for students to distinguish which colleges actually care, and which are merely in hot pursuit of our money.

And here’s how it goes:

I sit myself at the head of a long table, as if the chair of a business meeting. Representatives from each school that fits my extremely-selective criteria line the sides of the table. From there, I’ll ask each representative exactly about their academics, travel abroad opportunities, and what exactly THEY do for their students. Essentially, “How will you change my life?” When so much of college is advertised online or en-masse at some generic campus tour as some well-dressed admissions counselor rattles off facts and statistics, putting a face to my future would be a nice change of pace. But then, the questions become progressively harder. “Why exactly do you want ME?” Because, if a school is truly intent on catching my attention, saying “Your achievements have caught our eye…” in the subject line just won’t cut it. College: How about (if you wanna get really kinky) you do YOUR homework. I’d like an explanation, using specific details from my résumé relating programs to my interests, delving into why that school is good enough for ME.

From there, the process will be flipped around. My selection will be entirely my own, compiling the answers by the reps and financial aid into one final, and glorious decision.

Now, this may seem conceited, as I ramble on about my ideal college selection experience. And you’ll have to excuse my writing style which reads this scenario as some elusive fantasy…whoops. On the other hand, shouldn’t our learning be personalized right from the start? Not only will we be taking on mounds of debt for an exceptional degree from exceptional universities, but we’ll be dedicating anywhere between four to six years of our prime to call ourselves alumns of one establishment. Hm. Is it too much to ask for even a personalized letter, to ensure we won’t fall into “die grauen Mass” when we go away to school?

For an alternative outlook on four years of undergraduate studies, watch this. You may regret it, but then again you may not. The choice is yours…