Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nico's Photography

Thanks to the considerably more advanced photography equipment and skill of a certain Marshall Scholar, we got a few proper photos in addition to my silly little lesson-captures yesterday.

Thanks much to Nico - check out and for more great photography and thoughts on life!

And now, your daily dose of cuteness:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Maestro and the Marshalls

Selection criteria for the Marshall Scholarships: Academic Merit, Leadership Potential, Ambassadorial Potential...and an interest in furthering British-American relations by mentoring a young Welsh-American child.

Okay, that last is not a formal requirement or part of the interview process. But Iorwerth and I had a lovely day visiting various Scholars today and receiving miscellaneous impromptu lessons.

Mummy and Iorwerth came into London from Norwich for a day-long meeting. We had a sleepover at Miss Becca's flat in central London on Tuesday, which was the cause of much excitement. And then we got to wake up, make chocolate chip cookies, and wander our way through the Tube delivering our morsels to Marshalls to and fro.

We got lessons in:
  • Arm-wrestling,
  • Photography and videography,
  • Reading music,
  • Playing guitar,
  • World geography,
  • and British universities.
A grand time was had by all. (Or, if the Marshall Scholars were a bit miserable with the child, they put on a good face and then got paid in cookies. So close enough.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Members' Night at the British Museum

The week is starting out ever-so-culturally, as I frolicked about the British Museum after hours with a Marshall mate. 

We get Members' Evenings once a month, highlighting the special exhibits (which we get free entry to) with a series of lectures by their curators, relevant hands-on activities, and often musical or other performances. 

Jake and I considered meanings of "beauty" in Greek art as well as getting our anti-colonialism on through an exhibit of indigenous Australian art. 'Twas a most delightful evening. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Society Pages

Check out a blog piece fellow Michigan State alum Evan Stewart and I did for The Society Pages, an open-acces social science project headquartered in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota bringing social science to broader public visibility and influence.

The post, as teased on the King's WaterWords Blog:

With co-author Evan Stewart, Farnum asserts that “California is facing record drought, water restrictions, and threats of wildfires. The solution seems simple—just find more water through increased pumping or desalination—but these quick fixes ignore deeper questions about how we turn public necessities into commodities and determine who can lay claim to natural resources. These issues can lead to cultural conflict, but struggles for water can also renew solidarity across different social groups.”

Read the rest at The Society Page’s post.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kensington Unitarians

I've mentioned church-shopping in London and visiting the Kensington Unitarians. In addition to having a fabulous location near Hyde Park allowing a fantastic post-service wander through the green on nice days, they have an amazing community that feels much like the Octagon Chapel, my faith community in Norwich.
After being asked by a new friend there to consider writing some opening words for a service, during which we always light the Chalice, I wrote up some thoughts on symbolisms of light and dark in religious life. You can read more about my new people, and my flame-philosophy ramblings, here:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mr. Turner!!

The one, the only, the singularly fabulous Mr. Garrett Turner was in town this weekend.

Garrett is a 2012 (my year) Marshall Scholar who (tragically, in my opinion) returned to America last fall when his scholarship ended. He's doing silly things like working for film schools and auditioning for theatre in New York.

But we got him back on this side of the Pond for a bit this weekend, as he came to sing in a close friend's wedding. Cue the dinners with old and new friends, impromptu musicals in my living room, and lazy brunches.

'Twas a wonderful weekend. And now, I really really really must do some PhD writing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Photos from Northern Ireland

I gave you an overview of the itinerary in my last's some proof that it happened!

Scholars' overlooking the Bogside area of Londonderry/Derry where Bloody Sunday took place

 Michigan State University Marshall Scholars meet PR2 at the University of Ulster

 Scholars walk the Peace Bridge

A light-hearted symbolic moment as the Protestant 2012 Marshall Class Secretary carries the Catholic 2013 Class Secretary

 Scholars on a tour hearing local perspectives

 The beauty of Londonderry/Derry

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

To Belfast!

On the road again! This time to Northern Ireland. Each spring, the Marshall Commission takes us on a trip to one of the devolved British governments (Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland on a rotating basis). 
We flew from Gatwick last night and stayed in the lovely Europa Hotel - rich in history and one of the most frequently bombed hotels in the world, as it was popular amongst journalists during periods of more active conflict. 
Our itinerary includes an overview of the Northern Ireland Assembly and tour of Parliament, a wander through the Modern History Gallery at the Ulster Museum, a day trip to Londonderry/Derry, and a reception at the US Consulate. Also happening is another of the Marshall 60th Anniversary Celebratory Lectures, this one given by 1986 Scholar Anne Applebaum. 
The trip is serving as a lovely catch-up with several Scholars I haven't seen properly in far too long as well as a happy return to the beautiful hills of Northern Ireland - I haven't been since spring 2013!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Madalyn rocks the London Philharmonic

So, today was rather cool. Marshall Scholars are really quite epic.
Madalyn Parnas, one of my favourite 2012 Scholars (not that I have favourites, of course), just soloed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Philharmonic has a residency with Eastbourne Theatres, so a group of Marshalls and I travelled to the southeastern coastal town for a lovely daytrip. We frolicked a bit on the rocky beach amidst the white chalk cliffs and had a lovely lunch on the deck of a beach café.
Then we went into the Congress Theatre to be wowed by the amazing musicianship of the London Philharmonic, who played some Elgar and Beethoven on their own, and for the main event, Mendelssohn’s violin concerto…with Maddy making glorious, lyrical…I don’t even have a word. It was amazing. I honestly cried five separate times.
Joseph Joachim (19th century violinist) said of this concerto: “The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most uncompromising is Beethoven’s. The one by Brahms vies with it in seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch. But the most inward, the heart’s jewel, is Mendelssohn’s.” And Mad’s performance certainly lived up to that.
Check out Maddy and her sister on YouTube:
And learn more about her music online at 
I’m a very proud Marshall Mama today.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Holt Hall Retreat

I do things other than stay at Holt Hall in north Norfolk, honestly I do. But there have been a lot of trips of late...

This is the last weekend of the Easter holidays for schools, which means that the Hall is quite quiet, without many bookings from students and teaching happening. Enter Becca, the cohort of MSc Water Security students from UEA, and one or two Low Carbon Mentors, for a few days of crashing. There's been a lot of table tennis, a good deal of Bop-It (I feel like I'm back in the 1990s), and plenty of food.

Last night, Japanese and Ethiopian students tried their first s'mores. It was rather entertaining to explain to a group of people without sweet tooths why this was such a big deal...but they were grand sports about the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy Easter!

It's not Sunday, but it's still Easter season!

After moving, I'm celebrating spring with some spring cleaning...made rather necessary by the utter delight that filled the flat Sunday night with a family dinner.

My cousin Effy and her flatmate Hantz came over, as did Alex's girlfriend Allie - and her visiting mum, aunt, and little cousin. They brought with them a family tradition of confetti-filled eggshells. A great deal of giggling commenced.

After the confetti toss, a bit of hoovering seemed in order...and I've still been working on getting properly moved in and whatnot. So here we are, some photos of my bits of the new flat:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Update from Becca

I've compiled the last few months of insanity into a newsletter that goes out to family, friends, and faculty. It's available on my website as well:
Check it out for more detail on recent happenings in the life of Becca, and comment below or email me if you'd like to be included on the newsletter's mailing list. I generally make one two or three times a year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Mo

This week has seen me once again in Norwich and Norfolk, this time to pilot a programme of educational activities at the Sheringham Museum, lovingly called "The Mo" after a girl named Morag who used to live in Sheringham. The Museum includes a great collection of lifeboats that used to service the fishing industry on Norfolk's coast, as well as a lookout tower and telescopes highlighting the Sheringham Wind Farm. We had a great time with a small but fab group of students on their Easter holidays and a lovely frolic about the coastal rocks. Jake (another Marshall Scholar) came back to Holt Hall again to reprise his role as Low Carbon Mentor.

I am heading back to London tonight to actually and properly move into the new flat - and perhaps even have an honest-to-goodness sit-down meal with the new flatmate for Easter.

I have no comment on whether or not the buoy makes Jake look like a Teletubby...