Phi Theta Kappa members, alumni, and advisors gathered for the 2010 Honors Institute at Chapman University in Orange, CA. There they participated in an intense week-long study of "The Democratization of Information: Power, Peril, and Promise," which took place June 14-18.
After the participants were checked into their dorm rooms on the university campus, they were treated to dinner in the gourmet dinning hall, where they would be served their meals for the rest of the week.
The first seminar followed with a message by the inspiring Jessica Jackley. Jackley, who is the co-founder and spirit behind Kiva.org, spoke about her journey as a college student and how she started Kiva, a non-profit organization where people like you can make non-interest loans to start-up small business owners in third world countries. Jackley embodies the old adage, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
Attendees then split up into their groups, which had been assigned by numbers during registration. The groups then went to their meeting rooms for their seminar meetings which were located in Argyros Forum and Beckman Hall.
During each seminar meeting the groups took part in a discussion based on the previous speaker's topic. Each group was moderated by a faculty scholar, who stood in as the all around go-to person for their group.
After the first seminar meeting, everyone congregated for the Welcome Social. Pizza was served as people mingled, met new friends, and greeted old ones.
Day two began with a session lead by Dr. William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ferris is also the author of the book "Blues from the Delta" and the director of the film "Mississippi Blues" which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival.
During his speech he focused on the cultural influence of the blues and African American history. "When an old man or woman dies, a library burns to the ground," Ferris said discussing how verbal history has influenced this country.
Later the third general session was held featuring Jonah Lehrer, author of "How We Decide" and "Proust Was a Neuroscientist." Lehrer took a different approach than the other speakers by asking the crowd if there was such a thing as too much information and are we on overload. He also discussed how caffeine is an addictive substance, how reading novels exercise the brain, and that our brain is on default when we daydream.
The third day of the Institute brought the Town Hall meeting, moderated by Professor Rob Carry and Dr. Liesl Ward Harris. Topics ranged from Betty White hosting SNL to the use of torture on terror suspects.
That evening a session was held with Phi Theta Kappa prodigy Wes Moore, author of "The Other Wes Moore." Moore told his story and that of another man who shared his name, focusing on their two very different fates. He also shed light on America's falling academic status versus other parts of the world.
Thursday was the much anticipated R&R day. Phi That Kappas were free to roam about CA, and see the sights such as Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Old Town Orange, and Hollywood.
Friday, the last day of the institute began with a inspirational and informative session with Arianna Huffington editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. Huffington spoke on the transformation of news from newspapers to blogs and about the importance of following dreams. "Don't give up and don't have fear. Read biographies, all people have failed, but the real success is how you persevere." she said.
Evening brought the Reader's Theater, where Phi Theta Kappas were able to perform scenes from plays, movies, poems and articles all revolving around this years study topic. The institute concluded that evening with a Farewell Social. People said goodbye to their newfound friends while snacking on cookies, fruit and lemonade. The next morning's departure was bittersweet, but the thoughts of all Phi Theta Kappa members now turn toward... Seattle.
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