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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

Don’t feed the squirrels by Keri G. '10

In which I work with gifted children.

Two or three Thursdays before finals, Peach ’09 and I went to Au Bon Pain for a post-On The Air engineer training (me)/post-radio show (her) “let’s eat tons of food and talk about our problems!” dinner. While Peach complained about something or other, I began to enter the Summer Jobless stage that can only be described as Full-On Panic Mode. (I didn’t get final word about my job until mid-May.)

“Be a camp counselor!” said Peach. “I was a counselor at this one camp and I was supposed to do it again this summer, but then I got the ambulance job up here so I’m staying in Boston instead. But I can email them for you!”

In response, I said this: “At this point, any summer job will do, but I’m not sure if I want to be a camp counselor. Lots o’ kids, you know.

Two months later, I am sitting at the Spectrum duty desk in the lobby of McCulloch Hall at Northwestern University. (This dorm is pretty gross, by the way. Each floor has its own unique smell – on my floor, it’s poo! I miss Senior Haus, yo.) I’m an RA for 12 fourteen-year-old girls at an “academic enrichment program.” We plan and run afternoon and evening activities for the kids, such as kickball and Casino Night. When they aren’t at these events, the kids are hard at work on speeches for Persuasion and Debate or learning a full year of Latin in three weeks.

In short, I am a glorified counselor at nerd camp.

I do, however, absolutely love my job. The kids are awesome, and they always have something interesting to discuss. I also really love being able to play kickball, especially when there are only three other girls playing with thirty boys convinced that girls and kickball are a no-no. It’s just like middle school again!

Here at CTD, there are all sorts of ludicrous rules for the students and staff to follow (the title of this post being one – those squirrels, they’re almost as vicious as the chipmunks). These include not swinging the lanyard your keys are on, lest you put someone’s eye out. It actually happened a few years ago, which is why the rule was implemented in the first place.

Some of the more important rules fall under the “these should be obvious, but we know you’ll do these if we don’t tell you not to” category. For one, there’s no use of profanity or any derisive comments. Students are also not allowed to jaywalk – Sheridan Road, a fairly large and busy street, cuts through much of Northwestern’s campus. Both of these rules are integral to the following story.

On Monday afternoon, my fellow RA Indu (WashU ’09) and I were walking to Elder Hall for lunch. Going to Elder is mildly irritating – it’s almost directly across the street from Bobb-McCulloch, but the “no jaywalking” rule means we can’t cut across the street and must instead walk down to the crosswalk and back up to Elder. A group of students was also going to lunch and reached the crosswalk at the same time we did.

Anyway, one of the boys, not noticing that there were two RAs not five feet away from him, decided to take off across the street at a break in traffic. His fellow classmates then started yelling at him like only thirteen-year-olds can yell, but that I will attempt to reproduce here:

“Dude, what are you doing?!”

“Just keep going, man, just keep going! They can’t write you up if you run!”

“Come back across the street!”

“What’s wrong with you? Don’t you see the two of them right here?!”

The kid right next to us, though, took the cake. In a voice loud enough for everyone in the area to hear, he shouted, “NICE MOVE, (insert expletive here)!!!!”

So I ask you the same question I asked him: In terms of making poor decisions, who wins – the first kid for jaywalking, or the second kid for swearing loudly and publicly with the knowledge that he was standing right next to two people who could easily put him in detention for his actions?

Also, what are you all doing? Tell me about your summers! Ask me questions! Both! Neither! All of the above! Exclamation points!

15 responses to “Don’t feed the squirrels”

  1. José P. says:

    Ha-ha, crazy teenagers… wait, what am I saying? XD

    I love how their ‘excellence in academics’ accounts for nothing outside the classroom (mine too, I guess).

  2. José P. says:

    Oh, and which qualities, would you say, make a person “nerdy”? raspberry

  3. Hawkins '12 says:

    Haha, “come back across the street” is my favorite. This lame rule is for the safety of children who are uncommonly gifted, yet somehow instantly inept when determining a good time to cross the street… So some kid wants the offender to put himself in MORE danger by crossing the street AGAIN. Good advice, [expletive]. =P

  4. Sh1fty says:

    uhh jaywalking, i don’t remember a cop has ever reacted to that here :D i actually can’t remember the last time i saw cops going anywhere on foot.
    my summer is still kinda dull. i’m still working at home, trying to give something back to the open source community :D i’ll be among the organisers of IOI next month. we’ll have to set up a net of over 500 computers in 2 weeks, cover the campus with wireless and a bunch of other things. then i’ll be hosting(babysitting) one of about 80 teams that will be coming to IOI. it’s gonna be a lot of fun smile

  5. chris says:

    Google is now offering several scholarships for students. Check this out for more info:

  6. Wings '11 says:

    Haha, sounds like your job is exciting! I want to be a camp counselor one of these days, I love kids.

    My summer? I’m being incredibly lazy. I haven’t had a break since the summer before junior year, because last summer I worked. But this summer I’m SUPPOSED to be working on another piloting credential/studying for ASEs/cleaning my room. I will start, eventually, but hanging out with friends is just too much fun wink

  7. Hank R. says:

    Hahahahahaha. Man, CTD is harsh. At TiP, we wouldn’t get written up for any of that stuff, we’d just get a reprimand. Of course, my last year they were tightening down on the rules so that you couldn’t leave the bathroom wearing just a towel if you were a boy. Girls could do it, of course.

    Which lead to an hilarious episode of my roommate and I getting these extra long towels and wearing the towels pulled all the way up, girl style.

    Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well.

    Currently, my summer is consisting of training for track, thinking about studying for the Calc ASE, and thinking about my kick ass 24 hour train ride I’m taking to MIT. I’m crazy about train rides.

  8. Rose says:

    UGGHH! Last summer I was a counselor at a camp for elementary school students…never–ever–again…

    Anyways, this summer I am studying Astrophysics at MIT and absolutely loving it!!!! The program I am in here allows me to participate in a year-long research project on a certain astronomical topic–I will be studying the nuclear fusion capacities and patterns of normal (for lack of a better term) stars. I can’t wait to apply to MIT asap, BUT this summer and the rest of the school year I kinda get to pretend I am a student because I have my own personal Athena account!

    (okay, I never use exclamation points, but I am really really psyched about the latter fact mentioned in this post…)

  9. Maia '11 says:

    Ah, I remember TiP….they really were pretty lax on the rules, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t mind going back & being a TiP RA….though I don’t know how I could handle six weeks of North Carolina minus the AC…

  10. This year, I am helping to teach at a small local robotics course for middle school students and raising high school students. They can’t seem to get over calling each other “fat” or using other ways to insult each other. I thought middle schoolers are past that level.I have to say that some of them are REALLY smart, despite the bad behavior. They absolutely refuse to program anything or pay attention to anything that is programing related. So we worked on electric circuits and hands-on making simple/basically no programing involved robots( more like things that just move or RC robots) . Trying to teach them how to solder wasn’t really safe since they never listen to instructions. So I had to re-give instructions while they attempt to solder at the same time pointing out what to do without getting burned (NOT successful with the not getting burned part XP. Luckily I only got burn from the metal that they soldered onto not the soldering iron, which was around 650F). Couple days later, I got stabbed by a sharp steel wire that was connect to a servo on this robot I was testing, and started bleeding like crazy while failing to find a band aid…programing is dangerous!!!

    But the joy from seeing their fascinated faces when watching something they made work is really priceless, even though I’ll always be tired from yelling at them to behave.

    And regarding jaywalking, the guys from my robotics team jaywalked across an 8 lane street (4 going each way) while we were in Texas for robotics competition. They are still alive. =)

  11. Christina says:

    Oh God, LOL. It’s so funny to me that you actually have to/get to write kids up for doing what is easily 1/100 of what we college students (omg!11) usually do. I mean, have I ever had a conversation during which I cursed less than 50 times and have I not basically jumped over cars to cross to the other side of the street?

    Don’t even think about writing me up, KLAG.

  12. Keri says:

    Christina –

    I will write you up if I see fit. Unless, of course, you bribe me nicely. Baked goods will do. Pie, not cake.

    Larisa –

    CTY is a Johns Hopkins-based program, while CTD is run by Northwestern University. Both have expanded to other campuses, but they’re entirely separate programs.

  13. Larisa says:

    hey i went to this camp
    not that campus
    but when i went it was called cty
    why is it called ctd now?
    what does it stand for or did you say that in the entry.

  14. oasis '11 says:

    Your entry reminded me of getting caught in Boston for jaywalking by cops when I visited there.

    At first I thought it was because US people were very cautious in terms of traffic (I grew up in Taiwan), but it appears otherwise. =p

    Just as a passing notice, did you know there is *technically* a fine for jaywalking in Boston? It’s $1. Yup. Some trivia for you =p

    This might be a non sequitur, but how DOES one pronounce “Au Bon Pain?” I’ve wondered about that for quite awhile and your post reminded me of it. Je ne parle pas francais =/

    ^That’s about the only thing I can speak in French.

  15. deb says:

    haha yea your little bold thing? thats my facebook status right now. *mumbles* vicious little smart kids…