BREATHING IN: LAS VEGAS DE HAVERFORD
On her back, lying in the walkway that passes between Leeds and Gummere, with her cell phone sutured to her ear while she talks to her mom in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Giselle Barreto '09, who's been on campus not quite two weeks, is suddenly hit by the beauty of the stars: "This place is gorgeous! The green leaves, the grass, the traditional and non-traditional buildings, the friendliness, the fact that you feel so safe, like nothing bad could happen to you, students are walking around you, nobody says you're in the way!" She squeals discreetly, and waves her arms. "Back home, I mean it's not dangerous, but you wouldn't go walking around so freely at night" [Guaynabo is a suburb of San Juan], "let alone stretching out on the walk...Here, the stars look so big!"
She's pre-med. Maybe going to concentrate in opthamology, or dermatology. It's too soon to tell. Right now, she has chemistry with professors Alexander Norquist and Dennis Collin; Spanish-American Colonial Writings with Roberto Castillo-Sandoval; Calculus I with Mark Skandera; and a freshman writing seminar, taught by Faye S. Halpern, Director of the Writing Center. A good beginning academic load, plus a PE requirement and some track-and-field..."I don't want to get beat up in B-ball!"
Giselle came to Haverford, aware of its outstanding academic reputation, but unprepared for its collegial warmth: Her sophomore "Customs People" [upperclass advisors], Karla Ovalle and Julie Dada, while orienting her to campus custom and practice — like using the "One Card" to get into nearly all buildings, or the use of "clickers" in class, or the mysteries of "Blackboard" online class reading notes — have gone further and become friends. Karla and Julie advise Giselle on what to wear to particular parties, and "give me kudos on how I look..." Their cultural backgrounds also make it easier for Giselle to relate: "I'm glad for the diversity on campus, but there is a difference from Puerto Rico — like the music. I like urban, hip-hop, and rock, for example, but ...they talk really fast, almost to the extent that you sometimes can't quite decipher what the singer is saying...But not [with] alternative or soft rock. Those I like. They tend to be more romantic."
The music she likes best at the moment, though, is salsa, reggaeton, and bachata, basically happy island inventions that depend on acoustic guitars, congas, mariachis, horns — dance music: "The rhythm is something that just pulls you up and makes you smile. You know in salsa , the feet go left to the front, then come back to the center, then right to the back and come back to the center, and then it repeats itself according to the music...Well, the bachata — you stand with both feet together, then you open your right foot to the front and then close it with your left; and you repeat this twice ...like rapidly, and then you sort of pause and continue the same sequence to the back...Like three steps to the front and then pause and then three steps back — make sure the three steps back begin with the foot that made the last step to the front...Then you can alter it by doing the same step to the side and so forth..."
"What else can we talk about? The Honor Code? I love the Code. No loud noises at three in the morning! Unless you want to receive a delegation! Everybody respects each other at Haverford. You don't find that everywhere. You talk things out. That's good, right?"