Mystic-al Leisure

I am feeling thankful to be a resident of Mystic this semester; this town is so indescribably beautiful and full of things to do.

by Hayden Gillooly

Hayden Gillooly is one of our student bloggers for Spring 2019. She is a sophomore at Williams College, studying Spanish with a concentration in Maritime Studies. She is from North, Adams, MA. 

I am sitting in Green Marble Coffee, which is nestled in the heart of Mystic. I am sipping a hot chai latte, my fingers and cheeks still cold from the bike ride. I am feeling thankful to be a resident of Mystic this semester; this town is so indescribably beautiful and full of things to do.

While academics and field seminars are an important part of Williams-Mystic, they do not take up all of our time. In between the cracks of engaging classes, working on research projects and meeting with professors, there is time for leisure. And in this town, it is Mystic-al (I know, cheesy pun).

Downtown Mystic is a fabulous place to run to, walk and bike around in. Many of my classmates love working out at the Mystic YMCA; the program provides us each with a free membership to the gym. There are so many shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Bartleby’s, Mystic Depot Roasters and Green Marble Coffee are my go-to’s. Usually, I will camp out at a shop with a classmate to work on homework. And more often than sometimes, we end up having philosophical chats that leave me feeling rejuvenated and excited about the word. I really enjoy having long conversations with my classmates.

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Mystic Seaport Museum at sunset.

I have always loved sunsets, so it is of no surprise that Mystic sunsets have become near and dear to my heart. Nearly every night, regardless of what I am in the middle of, I head to the Seaport to watch the day come to a close. At that hour, the Seaport is still; I can hear geese in the distance, birds chirping and the water rippling quietly. The sun dances off the water and casts wild shadows across the shipyard. Tonight, I went for a run downtown and finished at the Seaport to bid farewell to the day.

I am not the only one to enjoy the simple pleasure of a still Seaport. My classmate Samuel (University of Rhode Island ‘19) said that his favorite moments on campus are “walking around after snowstorms and during the cold to watch ice at the edge of the river. The dark water and white snow and lack of activity make it so quaint and idyllic to experience.”

Speaking of community, the Seaport is full of interesting people, and is a spot for leisure in and unto itself. As Williams-Mystic students, we have full access to all of the exhibits here. One day after class, my friend and I spent a few hours going into all of the buildings on site and learning about the history of each one: the general store, blacksmith shop, printing shop, traditional home and watch shop just to name a few. We also toured the Charles W. Morgan tall ship, which is absolutely beautiful; we are so lucky to have such a treasure right at our fingertips. While on the Morgan, we compared it to our time on the Corwith Cramer during our Offshore Field Seminar in Puerto Rico; the beauty of experiential learning. We thought about how difficult it was to live on a ship in such close quarters for 11 days, nevermind the three– to five-year voyages that we learned about from a Mystic volunteer. Our professors take advantage of the Seaport as well; for Maritime History with Alicia Maggard, an upcoming assignment is to visit the exhibit “Voyaging in the Wake of Whalers.”

Living in houses and in such a tight-knit school community is something really unique about Williams-Mystic. I live in Carr House with three other students; it feels so nice to come home at the end of the day, debrief with them and cook dinner. On Sundays, Carr house goes out to brunch or lunch together, which is one of my favorite times of the week. We always go somewhere different and so far have been to Kitchen Little, Bleu Squid and Peking Tokyo. It is wonderful to check in with each other at the end of the week, and talk about the upcoming week.

Community bonding happens in more ways than just within our houses. A few weeks ago, Mary O’Loughlin and Laurie Warren, student life directors, organized for our class to go bowling on a Friday night. Around ten of us attended, and had a blast laughing and dancing while bowling.

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The Powerpoint Party at Albion House!

Another night, Albion House hosted a “Powerpoint Party & Potluck” where everyone made a five-minute presentation about anything, from random interests to life-long passions. I learned about trees from Henry, ‘power poses’ from Charlotte and the origin of the Kermit the Frog Memes from Dayana. Phoebe and Kevin talked about the joys of pickling foods, just to name a few.

Albion house hosts other houses for ‘leftover night’ where another house brings over the week’s leftover foods and hangs out. Before our California field seminar, Carr house was invited to Albion. We dined on quesadillas, salsa rice, guacamole and other yummy foods. We had so much fun spending intentional time with another house. Another common occurrence in Williams-Mystic are board game and card game nights. Carr hosted a stressbusting night of “Cards Against Humanity” and “Apples to Apples.”

I just drank the last sip of my chai latte. Off to bike back to the Seaport; I will take the scenic route, which traces the water, in order to catch the sunset. I’ll ask myself the recurring question, “Is this really my classroom?!”

A Spanish Major by the Sea

“When we all ran to see the dolphins, or when we came face-to-face with the coral reefs during a snorkeling excursion, our majors became blurry, no longer the focus of our academic identity.”

By Hayden Gillooly

Hayden Gillooly is one of our student bloggers for Spring 2019. She is a sophomore at Williams College, studying Spanish with a concentration in Maritime Studies. She is from North, Adams, MA. 

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Members of B Watch on the bowsprit. From left to right: Samuel (University of Rhode Island ’19), Chris (Clark University ’19), Phoebe (Smith College ’20), and Hayden (Williams College ’21).

I am a Spanish major at Williams College and have always loved the sea. I decided to come to Mystic because I was craving an immersive, hands-on, full-wonder type of learning. I wanted to run on the beach and explore tidal pools. I wanted to travel with my classmates and learn while doing. I wanted to play.

One month ago today, I moved into my room in cozy Carr House at Williams-Mystic and was greeted by a journal with a note from Executive Director Tom Van Winkle. Included was this quote by Rachel Carson: “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” Wonder.  

As we sailed off the coast of Puerto Rico for our ten-day Offshore Field Seminar aboard the Corwith Cramer, I fell in love with the sea immediately. I fell in love with the way the ocean seemed to change colors from deep blue to aquamarine. With the way everyone on the ship paused for sunsets and sunrises, and the way my soul felt while staring into the vastness. With the way the sun danced on the water droplets on my skin and on the waves. My thoughts flowed so naturally as I journaled, perched on the bowsprit:

1/29/19: I am watching the tail end of sunset. This stillness is incomparable. I’ve never noticed before now how the night grows hungrier and consumes the colors so gradually. There are impeding dark clouds approaching on either side, enveloping the pink and blue hues. Soon, the night will be here, and the stars and moon. Amazing how the colors & stars can coexist in perfect harmony, even if for a moment. It feels as if I am in a dream—staring at the masts, the stars, the sky. There are so many stars, untouched by the light pollution. A natural night.

1/30/19: On lookout tonight at the bow, I could see the bioluminescent plankton below me, feel the salty spray of waves breaking against the bow. I even saw a shooting star. I marveled at the way the dark waves looked: as if someone was shaking a sheet—fabric ripples. A sheet of stars and a sea of glowing foam. A while later, we went through a squall, and the wind was blowing my yellow rain-jacketed body.

1/31/19, 11:11am: I am sitting on the bowsprit and staring at the ocean below me. Ten feet below me lies water that is a shade of blue unlike anything I have ever seen. It looks icy, but it is warm. My heart feels full—it feels so ‘right ‘to be here. Crazy to think how many millions of creatures are under me right now. Heck, there were over 100 alien-like creatures in one Petri dish from a sample we took last night. With antennae and long legs.

1/31/19 1:03 pm: WE WERE JUST WITH A POD OF DOLPHINS!! Watching them flop and swim and dive and play alongside the ship—a real show. And all of our faces, so joyful, so childlike. Hands down one of the best moments. This is our classroom. We were the happiest. I think I shall hold this moment in my pocket, and take it out whenever I need a smile.

2/5/19 On our last day on the bowsprit, we were watching sunset, and three dolphins appeared out of the golden sidewalk right under us. Like something out of a movie. Later while on night watch, we went onto the bowsprit again and were read a passage of Moby Dick by one of our professors. And I saw a shooting star.  

When we all ran to see the dolphins, or when we came face-to-face with the coral reefs during a snorkeling excursion, our majors became blurry, no longer the focus of our academic identity. We are learning skills that can be applied to any classroom, field of work or study, and situation. We are learning to love our wonderful world, to get re-excited about learning, and how to build a community.

 

Now, back in Mystic, we are continuing to build community. We’re learning how to improve communications skills, as our houses of four to six students each manage weekly allowances, chores, and cooking. We’re learning how to be more inquisitive and curious learners, as our classes begin in earnest. We’re learning to ask questions, lots of them: to be curious about how the world works.

Williams-Mystic and the Mystic Seaport Museum are filled with people who are remarkably passionate about their fields. It’s inspiring. From them, I am learning the value of loving what I do, and of sharing that passion with those around me. Our professors make themselves very accessible, and it is so special to build relationships with them outside of the classroom. Last night, the whole community—students, faculty, staff—came together at Tom’s house for a chili cook-off. We laughed, played board games, and just talked. One of our classmates played lovely piano music in the background.

I have re-read Tom’s letter to me numerous times in the past month, and I have concluded that my ‘good fairy’ is Williams-Mystic, for she has given me a sense of wonder that I feel will reside within me for years to come. I can think of no other program in which the phrase “interdisciplinary learning” more truly comes to fruition. It is more than just a phrase here; it is a way of life.

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Being your true self: Devon Parfait’s (F’18) Williams-Mystic Story

“Williams-Mystic has taught me how to be a better academic and about the value of real connections. It is so exciting to see so many intelligent and young minds care about so many different issues.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

Devon Parfait (F’18) first encountered Williams-Mystic at a geosciences conference in fall 2017. Little did he realize the type of educational experience that would await him less than a year later.

At the conference, Devon met two geoscientists connected to the program: Ronadh Cox, a professor of geology and mineralogy at Williams College, and Lisa Gilbert (S’96), Williams-Mystic’s oceanography professor.

Devon was at the conference in his capacity as the future chief of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimatcha-Choctaw Indians in Southern Louisiana. Ronadh Cox connected Williams-Mystic with Tribal Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar in 2014. Now, every time the program travels to Louisiana, Williams-Mystic students meet with Chief Shirell and other community leaders to discuss the effects of climate change on her community.

For Devon, taking on the role of chief is a major responsibility. He believes that his experience at Williams-Mystic will help equip him to assume the role.

Williams-Mystic also changed Devon’s perception of the world and of himself. Sailing on the SSV Corwith Cramer was a catalyst for this change in his life.

“I was able to be my true self,” Devon said. “I had a feeling of pure joy and happiness that I never could have gotten anywhere else.”

Devon said being disconnected from the world outside while on the ship made him feel as though he was truly living in the moment.

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Devon also enjoyed traveling to the West and Gulf Coasts.

“All of the field seminars were absolutely incredible, and I felt so safe and comfortable traveling with Williams-Mystic,” Devon said. “Being in the vans was fun and I was impressed by the ways the staff and faculty did their jobs.”

In the Pacific Northwest, Devon did not feel the need to worry about food and traveling; he felt like he could enjoy the experience with his classmates. Devon has a vivid memory of being on Agate Beach, Oregon with Lisa Gilbert and talking to her about school and how she decided to pursue her Ph.D.

The Gulf Coast Field Seminar, meanwhile, was a trip home for Devon.

“It was really cool to be in Louisiana with Williams-Mystic and it was really nice for my classmates and professors to have me as their personal connection,” Devon said. “They were then connected to me and Louisiana. It was a great way for them to see who I really was and where I came from.”

For his classmates and faculty, Devon said, the field seminar was an opportunity to see Louisiana through his eyes. For Devon, meanwhile, the field seminar was an opportunity to see his home through the lens of Williams-Mystic.

“It was incredible to be [from] where I was from and see all the negative impacts on the environment and how that affects the community,” Devon said. “It was valuable and there were things that I learned about my community and state I would not have known otherwise.”

Travel is a large component of the Williams-Mystic experience, but so is research. Williams-Mystic makes it possible for students to utilize their curiosity to complete research projects that matter to them.

In Devon’s maritime history class, he researched the changing role of doctors from the 1700s through the modern era and looked at how these changes affected medical practices at sea.

In his literature class, Devon chose to focus his Moby-Dick research paper on cannibalism, savagery, and sharks.

“The whole book is meant to change the readers’ perceptions and has so many different hidden meanings throughout,” Devon said. “I wrote about how these perceptions change the way in which we view who were the real savages during this time.”

Devon credits Williams-Mystic with creating the supportive environment that helped him write and organize his paper.

“For the Moby-Dick paper, I definitely tried to organize it too much at the beginning,” Devon said. “Random quotes and summaries of the chapters filled the boards in Carlton [the James T. Carlton Marine Science Center].”

Many of the summaries and quotes did not make it into his final paper. However, he learned more from this in-depth research than he would have had he not tackled the novel in this way.

The same can be said for Devon’s Oceanographic Processes project. The opportunity to take this class was one of the main reasons he wanted to attend Williams-Mystic. Devon chose to research coastal erosion at the Barn Island salt marshes and in the Mystic River Estuary. In fact, his research was one of the first Williams-Mystic student projects to compare the two locations. He studied mussels and Spartina, a common marsh grass, while also looking at biodiversity and erosion.

Finally, in marine policy, Devon delved into ways that the California State Lands Commission might incorporate the perspectives and needs of traditionally marginalized communities into the way the commission manages public lands in the San Francisco Bay area.

“The goal was to help create policy recommendations that would allow lessees to better define the environmental justice communities they work with using a combination of tools that are available,” Devon said.

Aside from the research projects, participating in nineteenth-century maritime skills classes is another component of Williams-Mystic’s educational model. Devon chose to take shipsmithing — a nineteenth-century style blacksmithing class.

“Shipsmithing gives you the opportunity to have something tangible to bring home from each lesson,” Devon said. “You can go in and relax and work and have a good time.”

All told, Devon credits Williams-Mystic for challenging him in ways he never could have imagined — and changing his life for the better.

“I would never exchange this experience for anything else in the world,” Devon said. “It has taught me how to be a better academic and about the value of real connections. It is so exciting to see so many intelligent and young minds care about so many different issues.”

Alejandro Flores Monge’s (F’18) Williams-Mystic Story

Alejandro Flores Monge always knew he wanted to be an advocate for the environment. Williams-Mystic’s interdisciplinary curriculum and marine policy class helped him see how he could connect this goal to his other interests.

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

Since early in his educational career, Alejandro Flores Monge (F’18) has been looking for ways to challenge himself inside and outside of the classroom. Williams-Mystic is just the most recent step in this process.

A sophomore at Williams College, Alejandro plans to double major in environmental studies and art history. He hopes to focus on Latino/Latina studies to complete his degree.

Alejandro was born in Colorado and spent his childhood growing up in Colorado and Mexico. In seventh grade, Alejandro was required to do future education planning on a career preparation website.

“While I was digging through the website, I began to understand the distinction between the educational approaches of liberal arts colleges and larger universities,” Alejandro said. “I enjoyed the liberal arts approach more and eventually wanted to attend a university that was focused on it.”

Alejandro attended United World College in New Mexico for high school. He believes his passion for environmentalism came from this time in his life. His high school education had numerous liberal arts components too.

While searching for a college, he was drawn to Williams College because it paired a liberal arts curriculum with a strong environmental program.

“I was also very satisfied with the curriculum,” Alejandro said. “Another large factor in my decision-making was Williams College’s dedication to sustainability.”

The summer before he started his first year at Williams College, Alejandro visited Mystic with other incoming first-year humanities and social science students. He thought the area was beautiful but did not initially think of incorporating the maritime world into his environmental studies education.

“At the time, I was more focused on urban areas, water resources, and urbanizing arid environments,” Alejandro said.

As he made his way through prerequisites for his major, he heard more about Williams-Mystic from professors and the Williams-Mystic admissions team. By the fall of his sophomore year, he was ready to give it a try.

As a Williams-Mystic student, Alejandro has connected with his professors and believes the program operates under an effective model of interdisciplinary education.

From day one, he has also noticed Williams-Mystic’s commitment to building and strengthening communities — especially on field seminars.

Going into the program, Alejandro expected sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer in the Gulf of Maine to be rough and cold. In fact, F’18’s Offshore Field Seminar was warm and sunny. Learning to sail the Cramer together, Alejandro feels, helped him and his shipmates foster community. He doubts they would be as close to each other without having worked together to sail the Cramer.

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Alejandro, at far right, along with his housemates during F’18’s Pacific Northwest Field Seminar.

Back in Mystic, Alejandro soon found his marine policy project particularly invigorating.

Before his semester began, Alejandro assumed Marine Policy would be much like the political science classes he’d already taken at Williams. He quickly found out that nothing is quite comparable to the Williams-Mystic policy class experience — especially when it comes to the policy research project.

For one, Alejandro got the chance to connect with Williams-Mystic alumnus Jonathan Labaree (S’84) via Labaree’s work at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). GMRI seeks to improve shellfish aquaculture while minimizing harm to coastal ecosystems. This involves finding solutions that are sustainable not just for the ecosystems in question but also for the people who rely on coastal ecosystems to make a living.

As part of Alejandro’s research, he evaluated a variety of ecosystem models — including not just biological models but also economic, social, and even mathematical ones — to help determine the point at which shellfish farms start to have significant impacts on riverine ecosystems.

Alejandro’s policy research also led to some complex questions: How many aquaculture farms will riparian landowners tolerate? At what point might the success of commercial fishermen be compromised? How will aquaculture initiatives, even environmentally sustainable ones, impact locals’ ability to swim and fish for leisure? As Alejandro learned, questions like these rarely have a single, simple answer.

For Alejandro, the experience has helped him realize that there are a variety of ways to advocate for the environment. Like many alumni before him, Alejandro finds the prospect of working in law especially exciting.

Most of all, Marine Policy — and Williams-Mystic in general — has made it even more apparent to Alejandro that language matters. Alejandro is fluent in five languages and believes multilingualism is vital to a prosperous society.

“Language helps you understand the stories of individual people,” Alejandro said. “Law and policy add a tangible and physical reality to the idea that language dictates reality. What you say and what you write down has  the power to determine what you are and are not capable of doing.”

Maritime Studies Brings a Local Student to Williams-Mystic

“At the end of those seventeen weeks, I saw all my classmates as my family. I had never become as close to another group of people the same way I had with them. The community we created must be my favorite part of the experience.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

What happens when your academic advisor has a crazy idea for what you should do your second semester of your freshman year? You take their advice.

University of Connecticut, Avery Point sophomore Sarah Stratton Patulak walked into Dr. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards’ office in the fall of 2016 unsure of what classes she wanted to take in the spring.

“When Mary K. told me about Williams-Mystic I was hooked instantly,” Sarah said. “She kept trying to sell it to me and convince me to apply, and I remember thinking ‘Where do I sign?’”

As a maritime studies and geography double major, Sarah considers herself lucky to have stumbled across the program.

“It gave me a taste of the maritime world, it showed me the diverse options that laid ahead of me in my education,” Sarah said. “To not only see but experience all sides of the very interdisciplinary field was incredibly eye-opening. It also helped solidify that this major was the right track for me to be taking.”

Williams-Mystic brought out a side of herself Sarah had never seen before.

“I saw this both academically but also in a personal sense. I recently re-visited some of the projects and papers from the program and was amazed at the quality of the work I did,” Sarah said. “I was also surprised by how many times I was put outside of my comfort zone, and how well I adapted to those circumstances. The greatest example of this took place during the offshore voyage; I never imagined myself setting sails in the middle of the night during a squall.”

For Sarah, the list of memories from her time in the program is endless.

“Some of my favorite memories come from Albion House. Any memory from sitting in our kitchen is one of my favorites,” Sarah said. “I remember one night we were all totally consumed with some assignment and were all stressed out in our respective work spots. We decided that at 2300 we would all take a break and convene in the kitchen for a 30-minute ice cream break. It ended up being almost an hour and a half and a whole tub of ice cream between the four of us. We just got caught up in conversation and telling funny stories, and it was much-needed comedic relief. It is probably one of my happiest memories.”

Traveling to the Pacific Northwest was Sarah’s favorite field seminar.

“We traveled from Seattle down the coast into Oregon and reflecting on it, it is astonishing to think that it all happened over the span of only eight days. I didn’t think it was possible to learn so much about so many different things in such a short amount of time,” Sarah said. “This field seminar also had the most Van Life time, as well as time together as a whole group. It was really in those hours spent in the back of the vans driving down the Pacific coast that I felt I bonded with my shipmates the most.”

To Sarah, Williams-Mystic is the best decision she has made for herself both academically and personally.

“I lived outside of my comfort zone throughout the semester and I feel like I could do anything because of it. It really taught me that you should say yes to every opportunity you are given because you never know what will become of it. I tell people all the time, Don’t lock doors you haven’t even tried opening yet,” Sarah said. “It also changed the way I look at the ocean. After all my studies I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the ocean. I could fully live in and with it and explore my passion which I think it’s why I found it so beneficial.”

Sarah loved the friendships she forged while in the program.

“My favorite part had to be the friendships I created with my shipmates. At the end of those seventeen weeks, I saw them all as my family,” Sarah said. “I had never become as close to another group of people the same way I had with them. The community we created must be my favorite part of the experience.”

As far as Sarah’s future is concerned, she hopes to work in ocean stewardship and education and would like to get her captain’s license someday.

“I love what I do, and I want to share it with the rest of the world. As a student studying the environment and the ocean, it is constantly on my radar and I am constantly interacting with people who understand its importance,” Sarah said. “But there is an entire world of people who don’t know a lot about the ocean, or the issues facing it. I see an untapped potential for education and I would like to work in spreading that awareness and knowledge.”

The Semester of Two Halls: S’17 Alumna Bridget Hall Reflects On Her Williams-Mystic Experience

“Williams-Mystic made me more confident in myself, introduced me to 16 wonderful people that I’m happy to call my friends, gave me a chance to work in a world class museum, reshaped my career goals, and taught me how to cook dinner for four people.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

Going to school in Rhode Island gives a college student the opportunity to spend time exploring hiking trails and visiting the ocean. It also affords the opportunity to take a course on marine affairs that sparks curiosity about our nation’s oceans and coasts. For University of Rhode Island Senior Bridget Hall, this is exactly what happened.

After completing a marine affairs course taught by Dennis Nixon, once Williams-Mystic’s marine policy professor, Bridget realized how interested she was in the ocean and interdisciplinary education.

“I’ve always sought interdisciplinary connections in my studies, and was always happiest at URI when I could use knowledge from one of my classes in another course,” Bridget said.

Bridget knew a thing or two about the program prior to completing her application. Her mother is Attorney Katy Robinson Hall, the current marine policy professor for Williams-Mystic and an alumna of the Class of Spring 1984.

Katy and Bridget are the first alumni-turned-professor and child-turned-student pair in the history of the program.

Bridget looks back on her time learning and living at Mystic Seaport fondly.

“I loved living in Mystic and sharing house dinners, Carlton study sessions, classes on the grounds, and trips to Green Marble with some of the most intelligent, funny, and wonderful people I’ve ever met.” Bridget said.

Going offshore on the SSV Corwith Cramer gave Bridget a plethora of knowledge and memories.

“It was a surreal and wonderful experience to go to sea, and I deeply enjoyed the bonds I built with my shipmates out at sea,” Bridget said. “Also, you really can’t beat those Caribbean Sea sunrises.”

The experience of living and working at a museum is an aspect of this program that makes it stand out. As a history major, Bridget treasured her opportunity to work in Mystic Seaport’s collection.

“So few students get the experience of working in museums before they start graduate school, and I was fortunate to work and volunteer with multiple departments in the Seaport for the entire semester,” Bridget said. “This experience helped me get a job at the Seaport the summer after my semester, and redirected my career goal towards working with museums and cultural heritage.”

For Bridget, the hardest part of the semester was when it all came to a close. Leaving Mystic and her 16 new friends was incredibly difficult.

“I’ll never forget my last night in Mystic, when my class went out onto the grounds at 2 a.m. to sit in a whaleboat to watch a thunderstorm move up the river and reminisce about the semester,” Bridget said.

Bridget believes conducting multiple independent research projects at Williams-Mystic had a significant effect on her higher education experience.

“It also cemented my interest in pursuing a career in public history, exploring where climate change, cultural heritage, and memory intersect in the public sphere,” Bridget said.

Currently, Bridget is in the process of finishing her senior year of college. Two of her senior projects have ties to Mystic Seaport and the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program.

“For my history thesis, I’m focusing on the George Greenman and Co. Shipbuilding company and how they directly profited from slavery by building numerous ships for the cotton trade in the 1830s-1860s despite being vocal supporters of abolition,” Bridget said. “I’m also channeling Williams Mystic in my honors project, which is focused on Dulac, Louisiana, the history of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, and the threats the tribe and its cultural heritage is facing due to rising sea levels in southern Louisiana.”

The connections made at Williams-Mystic continue well beyond the end of each semester. What surprised and impressed Bridget was the vibrant Williams-Mystic alumni community, especially since the program is only one semester long.

“I go to a state school, so you don’t really know your entire class and there isn’t a strong culture of returning for alumni reunions or events,” Bridget said. “With Williams Mystic, alumni are really connected to the program and form a really tight knit community.”

The number of ways Williams-Mystic changed her life was too many for Bridget to count.

“It made me more confident in myself, gave me a lifetime of wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories, introduced me to 16 wonderful people that I’m happy to call my friends, gave me a chance to work in a world class museum, helped me work with renowned professionals and academics in policy, history, literature, and science, reshaped my career goals, and taught me how to cook dinner for four people.”

 

For Stewart Silver (S’18), Williams-Mystic is the Perfect Place to Make Connections (and Prize-Winning Chili)

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing. While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

An S’18 student’s opinion on making connections (and chili) at Williams-Mystic.

Exploration is an integral part of the Williams-Mystic experience. Students come to us from all educational disciplines to explore the maritime world through multiple lenses. They also come to use to learn more about themselves and where they want to go in their career and in life, which is true for University of Pennsylvania Sophomore Stewart Silver.  

“I am taking a semester to explore some things I would like to do both academically and career-wise,” Stewart said. “I have been studying biochemistry but will likely switch my major to biology or environmental studies.”

Stewart hopes to make connections both academically and socially over the course of the semester in our program.

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing,” Stewart said. “While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

To accomplish this, Stewart has taken on two different jobs at Mystic Seaport.

“I am working with the sailing department to help maintain and repair any projects that they have going on there,” Stewart said. “I am also working at the shipyard helping maintenance and reconstruct the Mayflower II.”

Stewart believes that both of these jobs will give him valuable experience that will help him in his future endeavors.

“I am planning on going to grad school of some kind,” Stewart said. “I don’t know exactly what that looks like right now. It could be anything from law school to medical school or anywhere in between. I may take time off of school depending on what I get interested in here and over the next couple of years.”

Stewart said that community living has been good for him in this phase of his life and academic career.

“I am a member of Johnston House and living there has been a really good experience so far,” Stewart said. “It has been fun to interact with the other houses and students here in the program. I would say we all get along really well.”

Stewart says that everyone has the people they spend free time and study with but that the group as a whole truly enjoys spending time together.

Williams-Mystic seems to be famous for the all-in-good-fun pranks that occur between houses during each semester. Stewart said that pranks are definitely happening between the houses — and that it makes the experience even more memorable and exciting.

“Some houses are taking things from other houses but it is just to have fun,”  Stewart said.

Aside from pranking other houses and having fun with his classmates, Stewart has enjoyed all things about the program related to food.

“I have enjoyed cooking as a house, having lots of snacks around, and participating in the chili cook-off,” Stewart said. “This was the first annual Williams-Mystic chili cook-off and it was awesome. Each house brought a specialty chili that one or a few people from each house made. We tried them all at our program director’s home, voted on the best one, and, of course, Johnston House won.”

Stewart said S’18 is hoping to do more potluck dinners together and find more ways to share food, friendship, and fun memories.

Exploring the Seaport invigorates Stewart’s appreciation for this program. Stewart chose to take ship carving as his maritime skill.

“We have only had the chance to meet once but our first class was really fun,” Stewart said. “It was an awesome experience to see all the things that can be done with carving into wood, signs, figureheads, and smaller decorative objects. I am really excited to expand this skill and have it be a vehicle for learning more about the history of ships and all the small things that go on behind the scenes to make them work.”