Trying Dance at Rice

Last year, I decided to really step out of my comfort zone and try something I’d never tried before: dance.

I’d always been awkward at events like hoco and prom, where they’d set up a light-up dance floor replete with strobing lights and expect people to utilize it. I much preferred to stand by the refreshments or on the outskirts of a ring of people, watching a more talented friend break out their moves and start freestyling.

The start of college came with new resolutions, though, and one of those was to try learning how to dance. Several of my friends were a part of a group at Rice that learned hip-hop and k-pop choreography, so one evening, I hesitantly showed up to a BASYK practice.

While I found that going through the warm-ups was tough (body rolls and chest pops are surprisingly difficult), learning the choreography to songs I liked was a lot of fun. The choreographer in the front of the room broke things down to a manageable level for beginners like me to follow, and everyone was there to have a good time. As I continued to show up for practices throughout the year, I gained a lot of new friends from different majors and residential colleges, along with a lot of good memories and better dance moves.

While BASYK isn’t a competitive dance team, we learn choreo to perform at a lot of different events around Rice, including at Rice Dance Team’s (RDT) Showcase in the fall, the Chinese Student Association’s (CSA) Lunar New Year Show, the Korean Student Association’s (KSA) Korean Culture Night, and the Rice Taiwanese Association’s (RTA) Night Market in the spring. We also get invited to perform off-campus sometimes, like we did last weekend for the Houston Korean Education Center.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been fearless enough to try to learn how to dance on my own, and I think I definitely wouldn’t have gotten into dancing if it weren’t for the low-key, fun-focused atmosphere that BASYK had when I joined. I’m thankful that I found a place to comfortably step out of my comfort zone here with friends who like the same music and are eager to try new dances with me.

On that note, here are two of my favorite performances from last year:

Why I Chose Rice

Today after my economics class, I checked in at the admissions office to grab a lunch host card and round up a few prospective students and their parents. As a volunteer for the Student Admission Council, this has been a semi-regular occurrence since I first came to Rice. (If you come to Rice for a tour, I’d strongly suggest you stay for lunch—you’ll learn a lot and you might even get to talk to me!)

I lunch-host for several reasons. One of them is to push myself out of my comfort zone (I’m introverted by nature); another is that it’s a way to remind myself about the great things that happen at Rice. Most importantly though, I do it because I enjoy talking to prospective students and hearing their questions, stories, interests, aspirations. Over time, I’ve heard a lot of questions, and today I want to talk about one of the most common ones I get asked: “Why did you choose Rice?”

My answer when I first committed and now, a year later, is still the same—because of the people. Rice is an institution of learning, just like other colleges and universities across the nation and around the world. However, each school is truly defined by the people within it—the professors, the staff, the students; without the people, a university is simply a collection of buildings and spaces.

I remember visiting Rice during Owl Days (which is coming up again soon!) and meeting people that I eagerly wanted to become friends with (and later on, did befriend). I met so many students who were down-to-earth and actively interested in reaching out. I met professors who were excited about not only the material they taught, but also the students they were teaching.

A year from now I can say these things are true with more certainty; I see it every day. I continue to meet cool people and make friends as the year progresses. Rice students take an active interest in helping their community, whether it be at their residential college, the entirety of Rice, or outside the hedges in Houston. Professors are excited to be here and teach, and mine have always been happy to answer my questions in order to give me a deeper understanding of the material.

These are just some of the more obvious things I see because of the people. Small things, like making magic through music with the Nocturnal a cappella team, or big things, like getting to attend a talk by Joe Biden (and more recently, an Apollo 13 astronaut) also happen because of the people here.

Incredible things happen every day because of the people. That’s why I chose Rice.

I’m thankful to be at Rice 🙂

A cappella at Rice

Last semester as a very fresh freshman, I decided that I wanted to try out for one of the a cappella groups at Rice. In case you haven’t heard of it, a cappella is a vocal style of music where all sounds are made using only the mouth (without musical accompaniment).

There are five a cappella groups on campus: Nocturnal (co-ed), the Philharmonics (co-ed), the Low Keys (girls), the Apollos (guys), and the Basmati Beats (co-ed). As an aside, one of my friends on campus is working on the formation of a sixth, Chinese-pop focused group as well, so that goes to show that you can make things happen at Rice if you want to!

Each of the groups consist of approximately twelve to sixteen people across voice parts, plus a beatboxer. It sounds like a lot, but you need a lot of people to make sounds to fill up the RMC Chapel, where the groups hold their concerts.

I was fortunate enough that my auditions and callbacks led to me becoming a member of Nocturnal. It’s been an experience nothing less than anything I would expect at Rice: different, challenging, but fun.

Nocturnal 2016-17!

You might wonder what the difference between the three co-ed groups are. Well, in comparison to the Phils (who perform mostly pop) and BB (who do South Asian/Western fusion), Nocturnal sings songs that could be classified as alternative or ‘hipster.’ We’re a diverse group of people with really different tastes (for example, I don’t listen to anything in English, while four of the radio stations on our president’s dash are decades) and that usually results in set lists where I know zero of the six songs before we break out the sheet music. It’s a cool experience anyway; I’ve come to like songs I’d never have listened to on my own, and it’s very indicative of how the diversity at Rice leads you to try new things, too.

Last semester, I was lucky to make music with some of the most musically talented people I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait for the years to come. As a last note, here’s my favorite performance from our most recent concert: “All These Things We’ve Done” by the Killers, soloed by alto Clair Hopper:

 

I got to breathe the same air as Joe Biden!

At Rice, you know something’s really big when you hear about it from not only all of your friends, but also secretaries, multiple Facebook pages, and a certifiable metric ton of emails.

Granted, Biden isn’t your average Joe.

As part of the Baker Institute’s Medicine, Research and Society Policy Issues series, the Vice President of the U.S. was invited to speak at Rice last Friday about the White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative. This once in a lifetime opportunity had me ready to get in line. The ticket prices did too: as a Rice student, I didn’t have to pay a thing to attend! In my book, free tickets to see the VPOTUS talk = win.

joe-biden

Note the word free: every college student’s dream.

On the day of, I discovered that this equation seemed to hold true for the rest of Rice, too:

biden-audience

Tudor Fieldhouse packed to the seams!

The line to get in to the Tudor Fieldhouse (a huge auditorium used for assemblies, the career fair, basketball games, and more) blocked up a good length of sidewalk along the inner loop, but somehow everyone managed to squeeze in like the family we are.

As Biden entered, we rose to the occasion by giving him a couple of standing ovations. Many rounds of applause followed as he related his own experiences with cancer (his son, Beau Biden, died just last year from cancer at 46) and his own vision for the initiative.

As a freshman, this talk brought me to a realization. Sharing “unconventional wisdom” is the norm at Rice. Whether it’s the talk of a single politician or the results of a flotilla of doctors and researchers, you have access to the pulse of the world. People of all sorts come to speak and interact with us: the next generation of movers, shakers, and world changers.

At the intersection of so many brilliant minds, what can’t we accomplish together?