Last night in the US

Today has been a big and beautiful day.

I had breakfast at the hotel at a table by the window where I could soak up the morning sunlight. I had avocado and poached eggs on toast with a black coffee. It was good.

Towards the end of breakfast I was joined by one of the mentors, and we had a good chat about life and study and the future. I feel like everyone on this trip has become part of my family (yes… I know it’s a cliché), and I am going to miss everybody so much when we inevitably have to say goodbye and fly back to our respective corners of Australia.

After breakfast I caught an Uber with the other mentor and one of the other Scholars to Harvard, and killed a bit of time in Urban Outfitters until it was time for my appointment (that shop will be the death of me I swear, so much good fashion).

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a seminar by Dr Safiya Umoja Noble about her book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. It was a fascinating talk, and the members of the audience had some very interesting questions which yielded very interesting answers.

In the afternoon I ducked across to MIT for a meeting with an academic administrator there, and found out a bit more about their HASTS program (History / Anthropology / Science, Technology and Society). Unfortunately she couldn’t answer all of my questions (like if I could squish science fiction in there somewhere under the anthropology or society banners), so I will have to email some of the professors from the department to find out.

By 4pm I was back at Harvard for a panel discussion that followed on from the seminar earlier in the day, entitled ‘Before Algorithms: A History of Bias and Oppression in Computing’. Again, fascinating, interesting.

Then it was back to the Science Center (where I spent most of my day yesterday) to attend a meeting of the Anthropology of Science working group which I had been invited to. One of the PhD students presented his research and received feedback from his peers (from other disciplines), a practice which is fairly common at Harvard, apparently. And if there’s no working group to suit your specific needs, you can just make one!

And then I finally caught up with the other Scholars for dinner. We went to the most delicious Mexican restaurant. It was the first time on the trip that I ate all of my food. It was fab (Border Café, if you ever end up in Cambridge, Massachusetts).

I finished up the day by packing my suitcase ready to fly out tomorrow, and am now lying in this super comfy hotel bed trying not to fall asleep while I type!

Harvard is working its way into my heart, I think. I really like the History of Science course, and think I could tailor it to my research interests fairly easily. I like Cambridge—there are so many trees and parks and the river is gorgeous and the sky is bright and clear. AND. AND. I FOUND GOOD COFFEE.

And the academics here are amazing, and so lovely and welcoming. I have really enjoyed my time here and am sad to be moving on.

I think, after a year or two, I may just have to apply to study here.

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The view from the fourth floor of the Wexner building at the Kennedy School, Harvard

Today was a good day

I had a bunch of meetings at Harvard today, and all of them were fantastic. I didn’t really expect Harvard to be a good fit for me, but I am being very pleasantly surprised.

I began the day with breakfast at Tatte café with my current roomie (hi Faith!), then went to a meeting at the English department. The lady I spoke with was so lovely, and we had a good chat about the program and life in general. Like all of the people I met today, I hope we can stay in touch once this tour is over.

I spent the afternoon at the Science Centre, meeting with academics and program coordinators and current students. All of them were wonderful, and all of our conversations were stimulating, energizing, and inspiring. Professor Sophia Roosth even gave me a copy of her book! Our research interests are quite similar so I’m looking forward to reading it when I get home after these hectic few weeks.

The cold is still going strong but I’m continuing regardless. Harvard and surrounds are feeling like they could be home for a while, maybe. Stanford now has serious competition for top spot on my list!

I’m getting regular E30 and puppy dog updates from my friends at home, and I’m missing both car and doggo (…and friends) terribly. I’m still absolutely loving my edventure, but I’m looking forward to coming home and seeing all my family and friends and companion animals and inanimate objects.

In the meantime, I keep acquiring books (whoops!) which will need to be posted home so that my suitcase isn’t over-weight. Ahh the trials of being a bookworm.

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How gorgeous is this tree! It lives in a sunken garden bed which is hidden from view until you go right up to the fence. What a treat to see this in the middle of the lawn!

It has been a day

Well, it seems I have a cold. I am not feeling very well and the fatigue is building again.

But I am still enjoying Boston. The weather is lovely at the moment—the air is brisk and there’s a low fog hanging over the city. The buildings here are beautiful. Some of them are clad in shingles and the neat rows remind me of the weatherboard houses in Vic Park back home. It’s nice.

We had a lunch at HUNAP (Harvard University Native American Program) today, where we heard about the services available to Indigenous students at Harvard and some of the courses taught there as well. Unfortunately I had to leave halfway through to have a lie down, but it was definitely still worth attending.

In the afternoon I stopped by the Coop (Harvard’s merch store—everybody here calls it the coop [like chicken coop] rather than co-op [like co-operative]) and then bounced around four or five different shops in search of new shoelaces for my boots. I had success just in time to jump on the shuttle back to the hotel!

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent napping. I am taking a brief break from rest to write this blog post and do some admin tasks before my full day of meetings tomorrow. I might stop by the chemist in the morning for some cold and flu tablets to make my day more bearable.

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A nice view from my Uber this morning

Our Systems and Theirs

Today we attended a symposium entitled Our Systems and Theirs: Indigenous Knowledge, Racial Identity, and Higher Education hosted at Harvard. We were joined by some Native American and Canadian students to discuss our identities and how we can exist as indigenous peoples in traditionally Western/European higher education institutions.

It was a wonderful day, honestly. I loved hearing everybody’s stories and making some new friends. One particularly bookish member of the Canadian party has promised to visit Perth one day, and I think I will have to return the favour! Perhaps in the meantime we can send each other book recommendations every now and then.

After the symposium a couple of the other Scholars and I found the cutest little basement café, where we had some delicious tea and soup and killed some time before the group dinner in the evening. We also took a wander through the Harvard Book Store and I fell in love with the place. It’s massive, and has an amazing selection of both new and used books. Pictured below is one that I picked up which I have heard many good things about—and which won both Hugo and Nebula awards. I’m excited to read it!

Dinner was fab. We ate at the Harvard Faculty Club, and the food was so good. There were vegetables! Vegetables!!

Everyone had a great time chatting and getting to know each other better. The camaraderie continued back at the hotel, with some Scholars playing a game or two of pool, and others of us just sitting around and continuing our dinner conversations.

Tomorrow we have a group lunch, but I’m going to head into Harvard early with my roomie for some breakfast and a wander around campus since I will miss the tour on Thursday (I’m visiting MIT!). There are two other bookshops I’ve been told are worth checking out, one of which is called Raven Books (my fave bookshop back home is Crow Books, so obviously I have to drop in).

But now, heat pack and bed. Goodnight!

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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor has won both Hugo and Nebula awards, and it’s only 90 pages long!

Hello Massachusetts!

We have arrived in Boston (well, Cambridge, technically).

We left our New York accommodation at 8.30 this morning to avoid the complication of trying to navigate through the New York Marathon, and then had three hours to kill at the airport. Some of the Scholars found little nooks to nap in, while others amused themselves with comparing terrible coffees with worse ones.

I found a bunch of magazines with AI features and accidentally bought them. And also one on Mars (as research for the short story I’m writing).

We had dinner at a little Japanese restaurant—which was delicious—and then came back to our hotel for a debrief and a chat about the week to come.

Boston (Cambridge) is so pretty. It’s nice to be under the open sky again and surrounded by trees. And I’m looking forward to my Harvard meetings; I’ve also been invited to a seminar discussing how search engines reinforce racism. It should be interesting!

On Thursday I’m going to sneaky sneak over to MIT for a meeting about a super cool PhD program which mashes together History / Anthropology / Science, Technology and Society. Excitement!

Oh, and the fatigue is starting to subside. Hooray!

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Trees!! I am happy.