Study tour of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Kyoto, Japan
Jonathan Bruno, junior economics major

I was part of a group of students who completed a study tour of Kyoto, Japan, with religion professor James Dobbins. The trip was an extension of our fall 2004 class, Immanence and Transcendence in Buddhism, and was funded in part by a grant from the Freeman Foundation.

One of my favorite sites was Shisen-do, a Zen hermitage temple on the edge of Kyoto city. The temple is small and quaint, but its rock garden and wet gardens are alive with color, sound, and feeling. Tucked in the woods behind a street, it is a beautiful example of the hermitage-type temples found all over Kyoto and the rest of Japan.

Another favorite site was Fushimi Inari, a well-known Shinto shrine in Kyoto. The grounds wind their way up a mountain until the visitor is left at the peak with a magnificent view of downtown Kyoto. Because so many people have donated torii gates to the shrine over the years, visitors make their way through the grounds in virtual tunnels created by torii gates placed very closely together.

This trip was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. Before my class last semester, my attitude toward Buddhism was best described as a curiosity. Throughout the semester, however, I began to form deeper questions about this vast religion. Seeing Buddhism in action showed me a side of this religion that could never have been conveyed on paper.

Law intern, Lansner and Kubitschek, New York City
Tobias Smith, senior philosophy and East Asian studies major

Lansner and Kubitschek is a small, private, socially conscientious law firm co-founded by Carolyn Kubitschek ’70. I was one of seven Oberlin interns, each paired with a paralegal. I worked on everything from individual Social Security disability claims to large class-action lawsuits. We were all treated like full members of the office community; we sat in on client interviews, digested records, and even drafted legal documents. I saw the full breadth of the court system, from tiny family courtrooms to the imposing Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

My intention with this internship was to survey everyday experiences in a typical firm to see if they could be molded to my Oberlin values. I am still unsure if I will pursue a law career, but I realize that I owe it to myself to maintain the values engendered by an Oberlin education, and also to live up to the examples set by alumni who embody those values in the wider world.

Production assistant for the Gates Project Central Park, New York City
Jared Ravetch, senior, East Asian studies and history major

The Gates Project involved installing 7,500 16-foot-tall gates throughout the 23 miles of walkways in Central Park. A saffron-colored nylon curtain was suspended from the top of each gate and hung nine feet.

I worked at the operation’s command center, in an office trailer in the park, where for 14 to 18 hours a day, I solved problems and shuttled crew members to their various locations. I witnessed the Gates’ project go from an idea on paper to a finished installation.

This project was by far the most exciting and fast-paced job I have ever had, and one that will be part of history. I learned a multitude of skills, from problem solving and logistics to real-life time management. I always wanted to know how live events were organized, and this project let me see how much work is necessary to organize and plan large events. Watching those saffron sheets unfurl made all the hours of work worthwhile.

Oberlin Business Scholars
Ishaan Pohoomul, junior economics major

Oberlin Business Scholars (OBS) was a rigorous, four-week program, with a considerable number of activities and visits scheduled on campus and on site in Cleveland, Chicago, and New York. We met with alumni, analyzed and presented business cases, and managed online security portfolios. In these ways, we were able to hone our analytical, team, and presentation skills, as well as preview various business fields and network with alumni. The program required a great deal of commitment and interest but was also hugely rewarding; the insights, advice, and support from alumni were invaluable, as was the OBS experience as a whole.

A liberal arts education is about exploring many disciplines at the same time. OBS has added a new dimension to my education. It has given me a glimpse of the business world and an idea of what it takes to find a place within it. It was particularly interesting to note that even though the alumni participants encouraged us to follow conventional paths into the business field, most of them had taken more unconventional routes. This goes to show how Obies have always carved their own unique paths through life.

Above: Lee Fisher ’73, CEO of the Center for Families and Children, chats with students Shahriar Kabir, Zac Lewis, Alex Nichols, and Yakubu Budu-Saaka at a reception in Cleveland.