First Look at the Tahitian Lifestyle

After two full days of travel, we finally arrived in Papeete, Tahiti. It was late, it was hot, and we were all exhausted. Nevertheless, our semester abroad experience has officially begun. A lot of changes are about to happen, and we have no idea what we have gotten ourselves into.

After we had arrived at our “home” for the next four months, we were all a little bit stunned. Each room is equipped with only the essentials: a bed, wardrobe, desk, and shower. We are each given one plate, bowl, cup, fork, spoon, knife, and a pot and pan. No air conditioning, no wifi, no hot showers, no washing machines, but somehow we’ve made it through our first two weeks just fine.

We knew before coming here that we would be without a lot of what we are accustomed to in the U.S., but the adjustment wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated. Living without all of these things we are used to, we are slowly learnin that these things, especially the wifi, are just necessary evils. It is manageable to live without.. We get Internet every few days, and we just make it worth our while. When we aren’t sitting on our phones all day, we actually are able to experience the Tahitian lifestyle and immerse ourselves in their culture and spend quality time with each other.

Living the way the Tahitians do is definitely different from how we live back home. Tahitian lifestyle is all about relaxing. They do not keep a watch on to track their every minute and pack their schedules with things to do. They do not know how to follow a routine. A lot of these things have been challenging for us, who come from a structured class schedule, work schedule, and have every minute of our lives planned. Here, the class schedule changes weekly, sometimes the professor cancels class and we don’t find out until we get to class. Sometimes the bus just doesn’t come, so we don’t go anywhere then. The biggest thing that we have learned so far is how to be more flexible. Everything changes all the time, and we just go along with it.

There are a lot of things that were different from what we expected. We were told to expect things to be like nothing we expected. The lifestyle is very different, but we cannot complain because they live such a relaxed life that we are fitting right in. We have indulged in the traditional foods here: poisson cru, ceviche, several delicious island fruits, and of course dessert. Here they don’t have fancy cupcakes and cookies, they have eclairs, pastries, tartes, and macaroons. So far we have not found ourselves starving yet.

It’s hard to believe that is has been almost three weeks since leaving home, and we have done so much already. We have been lucky enough to live in the heart of downtown and are easily able to walk to everywhere we need. We have explored most of the city, including the marchée, which holds several different fresh fruits and vegetables from the island, and several little shops full of Tahitian souvenirs. We have traveled to Tahiti Iti, the smaller part of the island, and were able to see our fair share of beaches and sunshine. We also took a ferry over to Moorea and took a boat tour around the beautiful island and made a traditional Tahitian meal using only ingredients grown on the island.

Of all of the changes and difficulties we have faced so far, nothing beats the scenery here. The sun, the trees, the fruit, all of it makes living here worth it. While everyone at home is dealing with snow and freezing weather, we are in shorts and sundresses enjoying the 80 degree weather. We have been given this amazing opportunity to immerse ourselves in this culture that is not our own, and find new ways to challenge and change ourselves throughout the process. We are excited to see how we will grow throughout these next 3 ½ months.

See games created by first semester programming students

This fall, students in Dr. Craven’s CMSC 150 Introduction to Programming class created their own video games. See videos of the games they created:

Dr. Craven’s 4th Edition of “Program Arcade Games with Python and Pygame” soon to be out

The 4th edition Dr. Paul Craven’s book “Program Arcade Games” will be out soon. The book is published through Apress. The book can be found available for sale on Amazon and other locations.

The book is part of Dr. Craven’s popular website, used by thousands of people every day.

Arcade Games Book Cover

Philosophy senior Hannah Pettorini presents at humanities conference

Senior Philosophy major Hannah Pettorini presented a paper on empathy and literature at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Hannah describes her experience:

I presented at the MUCH conference over my Value Theory final paper. “Literature as an Agent for Empathy” is about the emotional engagement between the text and the reader. I was inspired by the works of Vernon Lee and her writing on aesthetics. By the time I presented at MUCH, I had already presented at the Simpson Undergraduate Research Symposium. Presenting the paper a second time help me find new things in the essay to work on and improve. Overall the experience was highly educational and a fun time.

Thanks, Hannah!


Simpson College student presenters at the Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (November 2015)

German major Kylie Pape presents paper at humanities conference

Senior German major Kylie Pape presented her academic work at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Kylie had this to say about her experience:

At the Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities this year, I presented information from a paper I’ve been working on for my senior capstone project in my German major. My project focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis in Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced earlier this year that Germany would accept any refugees who arrived there, up to 800,000 people. In my paper, I look at the history of Muslim people in Germany and analyze recent events to speculate about the successful assimilation of so many refugees. I’m extremely grateful to have opportunities to present research in settings like MUCH. Because I have not yet completed my research on the topic, this was a great chance for me to receive preliminary feedback and ideas of new directions to explore. I believe that my project will be greatly improved due to this opportunity.

Great work, Kylie!

Senior Applied Philosophy major Kate Morford presents paper at MUCH conference

Simpson senior Kate Morford presented an academic paper at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Kate describes her project:

The project that I presented at MUCH this year is titled “Moral Understandings of Success” and it is also my senior seminar project for my Applied Philosophy major. Since this project is still being completed, I presented only my main topics and arguments in my paper. The beginning of my paper is about what Americans think the word ‘success’ means and therefore what values it holds for them. The next topic I discuss is the kinds of values that traditional ethics holds and how these values are comparable and also influential to our current notions of success. Finally, I present a new moral philosophy that encompasses a revolution of ethics–one that is about engaging a process that does not promote sexist, racist, or heterosexual values. This new set of values is what I ultimately advocate for and think should be applied to how we define success as a culture. Overall, this conference was beneficial for me in multiple ways. Not only did I get to practice public speaking but I also got immediate feedback and questions that were extremely helpful for the ongoing research I will be doing.

Congratulations, Kate!

Simpson College PRSSA Offers Networking Opportunities to Students

Students at OctoPRfest last month.  Left to Right: Tori Halloran, Haley Stamats, Jordan Bahl, Bill Hitt, Kaye Taylor, and Robert Lyons Back Row (Left to Right): Nick Hermon and Jordan Pope

Students at OctoPRfest last month.
Left to Right: Tori Halloran, Haley Stamats, Jordan Bahl, Bill Hitt, Kaye Taylor, and Robert Lyons
Back Row (Left to Right): Nick Hermon and Jordan Pope

On October 20, thirteen Simpson College PRSSA members had the opportunity to attend OctoPRfest Fall Institute held at Mercy General Hospital in Des Moines. This event allowed these students to connect with local public relations professionals from various local businesses and agencies as well as hear various speakers present on a variety of PR topics.

Professor Jane Murphy, Simpson PRSSA advisor said, “The opportunity for students to hear firsthand how public relations works from those out there doing it every day is one of the many benefits of Simpson’s PRSSA chapter. Networking with public relations professionals gives students a more in-depth understanding of the varied aspects of public relations, and it allows them to make connections that later may lead to internships or jobs.”

By being a member of Simpson College PRSSA, students have access to many different events much like the OctoPRfest Institute to help sharpen skills and increase networking and connections.

To kick-off the institute, the first speaker was a dynamic husband and wife duo that with a valued reputation in the PR and media relations field. Alison and Gregory Pope are media trainers and executive coaches at Pope Communications. The Pope duo spoke about how to deal when a crisis within your company goes viral.

According to both Alison and Gregory Pope, “You are never going to win anything when it comes to the media.” Simpson students are trained to develop cooperative relationships with media through coursework and internship opportunities. Through the department curriculum, students learn strengths and weaknesses of media relations as well as cooperation in group efforts.

Attendees were then directed from the tips and techniques of handling a crisis situation to learning effective ways to maximize influence and communicating with impact. Gail Calhoun, President of Calhoun Consulting Firm showed us the important aspects of communicating. As most would believe that content is key, Gail informed us a shocking statistic that voice is a large portion of how someone may be perceived.

Students later had the pleasure of hearing about a project going on within one of Des Moines’ most influential companies. Principal Financial Group has a valuable and reputable presence not only in the Des Moines area, but nationally. Principal started an employee relations campaign called Campus Blueprint that was a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to transition the workspaces within the company.

Wrapping up the day, attendees of OctoPRfest Institute were asked to write down questions to ask the media panel. The panel spoke about the changing news formats and how they are trying to keep up with digital and mobile platforms. Simpson students utilized the panel discussion to gain more insight into their future career paths while connecting with members of the media.

PRSSA offers opportunities such as OctoPRfest to its members and interested students periodically throughout the year. Students from the group are attending the PRSA Central Iowa Luncheon: From Reporting to Pitching, this Thursday, November 19.

By Ashley Dalsing and Brittany Robb


Simpson senior Laura Smith presents literature paper at professional conference

Senior Laura Smith presented an academic paper at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Laura talked to us about her experience:

At MUCH 2015, I presented content from an essay I had written for a Spanish literature class. Although my essay had originally been written in Spanish, I delivered my conference presentation in English. I focused on the evolution of detective fiction since the emergence of this type of literature in Spain. Typically, in the past, detective fiction showcased a male-dominated character list, always having male detective leads. As times have changed, the female detective novel has come to light, showcasing female principal detectives and the struggles that they often face because of their gender.

LauraSmithMUCH2015In this presentation, I discussed struggles that female detectives face, gender expectations for female detectives, and the ways in which female detectives evolve over the course of their investigations. I felt that my presentation was successful, as I provided my audience with a basic understanding of my topic, as well as sources to back up the information that I was presenting. I enjoyed my time at MUCH and greatly appreciate the funding that was provided for me so that I was able to attend the conference.

¡Enhorabuena, Laura!

Maureen Snook presents preliminary findings of senior capstone project at MUCH conference

English senior Maureen Snook presented her academic work at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Maureen shares what she got out this professional experience:

At this year’s Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities, I presented my senior research project in English. This project looks at Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman and how they work in conjunction with one another to shift our perception of Atticus Finch and how we as readers establish character perceptions.


Senior Maureen Snook presenting at the 5th annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH) on November 7, 2015

I always think that the opportunity to present at a conference helps improve my speaking skills and my ability to articulate my arguments. This year’s presentation, although a little rough around the edges, helped me work out kinks and flaws in my argument that will improve my project overall. I greatly appreciate this opportunity and believe that without this presentation my paper would not be able to reach its full potential.

Victoria Kramer presents her academic work at professional conference at Wartburg College

Simpson senior Victoria Kramer presented her academic work at the 5th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities (MUCH), held at Wartburg College on November 7, 2015.

Victoria had this to say about her experience:

I presented my paper, “Queer Procreativity: Reclaiming Families within Christianity” at MUCH this past weekend. I have presented this before at the 2015 Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. The feedback for the presentation was good. I was surprised to see how members of the audiences thought one thing in regards to my title versus what I presented. One member pointed out how he thought the title was reclaiming families in Christianity for gay men and instead, my argument was inclusive to all members of the LGBT as well as other family structures. My goal was to create an alternate social way of life that is inclusive to everyone. I also found it interesting that members of the audience wanted more on certain areas of my paper. I never expected to expand on areas or points that I deemed unnecessary to expand on. It was good to see them pushing me further into the depths of my argument. I really appreciated the feedback.

Wonderful work, Victoria!