Lessons from “East” Germany

Hands-on visit to the basement prison used by East German officials

Hands-on visit to the basement prison used by East German officials

Last weekend my host family and I went into the Harz Mountains, the tallest mountain range in Northern Germany. While the Brothers-Grimm-esque scenery was stunning, what caught my attention was a road sign: “Germany and Europe were divided here until the 21st of December 1989 at 8 AM.” I’ve taken modern European history both in Exeter and elsewhere and only now have I begun to understand World War II’s legacy on the modern German conscience. I’ve been learning history “hands-on” here. Our history teacher took us to an Inner-Border Museum several weeks ago.  During the hour trip there and back, he told us about how he often crossed the border to visit family members stuck in the East. He explained how they’d smuggle bananas, quality coffee, blue jeans, and other western goods into the country. When we pulled up to the museum, formerly a vehicular border-crossing, he commented on how the building seemed friendlier when East German guards weren’t swarming the place. 

The museum told not only the story of Germany, but the story of separation. The first room we entered was a short film on walls that are still exist, or, “walls still to fall.” If you broaden the idea of “walls” to include divisions such as cultural misunderstandings or various phobias, it’s interesting to then analyze the German approach to the events surrounding Charlie Hebdo and the so-called “Islamization of Europe.” It’s not an easy topic but, as an Exonian, I prefer the harder discussions. The talk lately has centered on PEGIDA, a German anti-Islamic organization. Most Germans disapprove of PEGIDA. They view a multicultural society as stronger and more successful. 

Not just another strip of land.  This used to be dotted with a razor-wire electric fence, watch towers, and mines.  Now, it's a nature reserve.
Not just another strip of land. This used to be dotted with a razor-wire electric fence, watch towers, and mines. Now, it’s a nature reserve.

For me, it’s a lesson in learning from the past. The Germany I’ve been living in is not the Germany my grandparents and great-uncles fought against. As much as I’ve been able to understand the history of German, I’ve been able to learn more about  the current views of German and they give me hope that the past won’t be repeated. 

Welcome Ms. Lisa MacFarlane!!

Hi All,
Maya and Ms  Marfarlane (2)
As you may know, this year is Principal Tom Hassan’s last at Exeter. Next year, Exeter will welcome its 15th Academy principal and only the second female, Professor Lisa MacFarlane! I am really excited! Although she is an alumna of Phillips Academy Andover (it’s okay, we Exonians are a forgiving people), both her children attended Exeter.  She received her PhD from the University of Michigan. Being from Michigan and having a mother who is also a Michigan alumna… I like the principal elect already! Go BLUE!! 
Dr. MacFarlane will be visiting Exeter next week to get acquainted with the school,  the students, and faculty! 

Superbowl – Amen Style


As most of you all know, Superbowl was this past Sunday. This means two things, food and football. Before I came to Exeter, the only football lingo I knew were “quarterback” and  “touchdown”. I am pleased to say that that clearly changed this past weekend.

We were thoroughly prepared with snacks, ranging from pizza to guacamole to fresh strawberries, thanks to our lovely proctor, Margaret. It was an enormous feast, for lack of a better word. The fourth floor common room was our rendezvous location, and at 6:30 pm sharp the good spots were filled up and bowls of chips were passed around. Apologies for not taking pictures during our bonding time, but here’s a pre-superbowl picture.

I hadn’t realised how big of a deal football was here, until I experienced it myself. I must say, the debate on whether or not Katy Perry lip synced during the halftime show got pretty heated in the common room, however was nothing compared to when the Pats won.

I am cutting this post short, because I think that the image pretty much sums our party up. Don’t mind the antics.

Catch you guys later!!


The Exonian

Hey everybody! We are officially more than half-way through winter term, which is exciting. One of the biggest changes this term is that instead of being a writer for The Exonian, our school paper, I am now a news editor! The first week of winter term, the lower board members (usually writers in their junior year at Exeter ) submitted their applications (usually upwards of 20-30 pages) for the editorial board, and then interviewed with the then current editorial board. After the board deliberated, they announced the new board on my birthday, December 7th, and from then until next December, the other, new board members and I will be running the entire paper.


As we have quickly learned, managing the production of the paper is no easy task– as news editors, we have to come up with article ideas, assign them to lower board writers/ new writers, keep in touch with the writers to ensure progress, enforce deadlines, edit articles when they are submitted, and most importantly, lay out the entire paper on a computer program called InDesign, so that all the pages look neat and pleasing to the eye when they are printed.

Since the paper is printed at a press in Boston and sent up to Exeter each Thursday, and we only have half-day classes on Wednesday, this usually means that the editorial board spends around eight to nine hours in the office each Wednesday. It is a lot of work and a lot of stress, but it is also one of the most fun environments to be in at Exeter. The newsroom is filled with editors, writers, and the faculty advisers (who make sure we are printing strong, yet appropriate articles); everyone knows everyone, and so there is rarely a moment when someone isn’t cracking a joke or laughing incredibly loud.

Still, the number one focus is producing a great paper, which we definitely do. Each issue is usually fourteen pages long, with a news, life, opinions, humor and sports section, and the Exonian often covers important issues on campus that get students and faculty talking. It may be a lot of work, but for the three years I have been a part of the Exonian, there is not one moment I regret.


The top pic is the entire writers staff, the bottom is a typical moment in the newsroom.


Exoplanets, RC Planes, and Manhunt

Hey Guys!

It’s been a cold winter — but that won’t make any of us slow down! Exeter has been as busy as ever.


For Astronomy Class, we’ve been analyzing 246 different stars through the Kepler I Mission to see how many of those stars have habitable exoplanets such as our own Earth. Kepler, a space-based telescope launched in 2009, has found 4200+ exoplanets to date. We are analyzing periodicity graphs to learn of the different ways the luminosity of stars can vary, either by intrinsic forces or by a planet transiting across our field of view. Here’s a photo of Killian ’16 and Mr. Blackwell helping us analyze our data.

analyzing dataMy team and I have been hard at work building this RC Plane — we intend to finish by the end of this term and fly it by Spring when it stops snowing! We’ve just finished the fuselage and are now working on the motors for propulsion and the servos for constructing our control surfaces. Thanks to Owen ’16 and Megan ’16 for their hard work!

RC plane

Yesterday’s assembly was also great — we had professors from Stanford come over to teach us about design. They emphasized that a hollistic approach to every discipline IS the process of design, that there are aesthetics in everything we choose to do. They are wonderful, prominent architects, who had established a Stanford-Exeter summer study program last year and who intend to participate with our school this coming summer for another architectural/design venture with current students. Here’s a  picture of John Barton ’78 and Amy Larimer, who came to our school yesterday.

Stanford professors

To end a wonderful week, our dorm decided to play manhunt in the gym this past weekend. 60 people were split into two teams,one of which was allowed to hide anywhere in the gym and the other to chase and bring them back to a designated “jail”. Our dorm had lots of fun — here’s a picture of our entire dorm together!

manhunt group

There is so much to do, and so much more to accomplish in the following weeks. What has always amazed me is that, no matter the weather, Exonians never slow down in what they do. Whether it be sports, or clubs, or school in general, we are always on our feet. Here’s to a winter filled with fun and work, in light of Spring Break to come!

Greetings from Germany

Hallo aus Deutschland!

front door of an old town hall

One of my favorite things about Exeter are the opportunities for immersive, global learning experiences.  One of the requirements for Exeter students is to take a foreign language through the third year level.  While some stop after that point, many, like myself, continue.  What lures many of us to continue to the fourth year level and above are the many abroad opportunities where you can experience the language, and its culture, first-hand.

stained glass window telling the history of Göttingen

I’m writing this post from my room in Göttingen, Germany.  From my desk, I can see woods, the crazy-environmentally friendly German houses, and, Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

Hey Everyone!

I hope all of you are having a very relaxing holiday vacation! Applications are due soon; something that can be both stressful and exciting. No matter what holiday you and your families celebrate, I hope you got some time to spend  with friends and family.

This Christmas, my family and I traveled to Vermont to visit my uncle and his family. They recently sold their home in Boston, and retired up north to run their very own farm. We got to spend time visiting with them as well as having fun on their property. I stepped way outside my comfort zone, and played around with ATV’s and even a tractor! As a girl living in Suburbia, this was definitely a new and exciting experience.

Jenn's ATV pic

After a fun-filled day, we all had a great dinner and talked for hours. Living away at Exeter, I do not get to see some of my family as much as I would like. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized the importance of spending time with family, and that the holidays are not about receiving but giving and making and sharing memories. I definitely will never forget this special weekend- I mean, when will I ever drive a tractor again in my life!

Once again, I know that these two weeks before apps are due can be super stressful. However, one of the best feelings is putting that package in the mail, or clicking the “submit” button. Each one of you put so much work and dedication into these applications! Congrats! The first step of the application process is almost over, and you are one step closer to being an Exonian!

Happy Holidays!


Gingerbread House Making!

A winning team

Hey guys! Although winter term at Exeter is not my favorite time of the year (since I grew up in Florida), there are still many perks. The snow and cold may trap you inside, but you are offered many opportunities to build amazing memories with friends. Because of the weather, I have grown much closer to many of my friends throughout my time at Exeter and spoken to a variety of interesting people I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Gingerbread house

This term I participated in the annual gingerbread making contest and was fortunate enough to have won! Here’s a picture of the gingerbread “boathouse” we made, modeled after PEA’s actual boathouse. The two guys in the picture with me are rowers, which was how we got inspired with the idea.

Stay warm! I’ll keep you guys posted!