About The Rope Swing

The Rope Swing is a Green Mountain College Student run blog. We hope that you enjoy learning about the college as you follow each of our eleven bloggers. Each student has a different unique story to tell and will guide you through their own journey at Green Mountain College.


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By Seraphina Mallon-Breiman

This blog goes out to any Green Mountain College student who has or is interested in taking a class with GMC Math professor Kenneth Mulder. As a graduating senior this semester, I realized that to meet my requirements and walk (on time) in my cap and gown when it came time in May, I would have to take a math class, something I had desperately tried to avoid. However, this semester, I am taking Kenneth's mathematical theory class, titled 'Game Systems and Sustainability' and not feeling as burdened and overwhelmed as I'd thought! This past week, he asked everyone to create their own game, whether it function as a card game/ board game/ live-action model, etc. and this is what I came up with! Feel free to contact me with any questions (or to let me know you've had a great laugh) about this theoretical board game titled: Millenial Addition: The Game of College --- Enjoy!

CONTEXT: ‘Millennial Addition: The Game of College’ is a board game controlled by a six-sided die for 2-5 players at a time. The board is laid out as an average college campus. Including buildings/stops such as a dining hall, gymnasium, dormitories, auditorium/theater, admissions office, library, main hall, classrooms/faculty offices and security and residence life office. These buildings connect by a spiraling sidewalk and path structure between lawns and recreational fields. Each cement side-walk space contains a positive (+) or negative (-) sign.  

The Aim (Objective) of the Game: As in any normal college environment, there tends to be great pressure to succeed academically and socially within the surrounding collegiate atmosphere. There are multiple variables in surviving and thriving within this fast-paced Arms Race, i.e. traits that confer a positional advantage, two species or cultures evolving and each trying to get ahead of the other. Within this game, the players must remember to excel in their social groups and community as well as succeed scholastically: meaning they must consider their academic GPA as well as their contribution to the community development in which they are investing their time. The selective pressures in this game include the positive and negative spaces/cards which randomly conclude your destiny. This is all based on chance and luck. The places you land determine your mechanism for change and ability to meet the objective within the game. The rewards and punishments for greater or lower fitness in this game mean you are either continually doing well or poorly over time. The faster you are getting to the “graduation” line, the better you are excelling.

Rules of the Game: There are two decks of cards, one deck is labeled with positive (+) cards and one is labeled with negative (-) cards. Upon each round, the player in turn will roll the die. Depending on the number displayed on the die, they will move that many places on the board. These places exist as side-walk space, which contain positive (+) or negative (-) sign symbols, correlating with the two separate decks of cards.

There 30 places on the board. (If you get a negative symbol when beginning and go into negative numbers, just return to your beginning spot) There are also side-walk spaces that have question-mark (?) symbols. When a player lands on a question-mark, they choose one of their opposing players and have the option of making them pick up either a positive or negative card. This adds depth to each interacting entity/character, because it gives them the option of either helping or hindering a friend doing well or poorly in the game. Consider here, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In order to win the game, the player must travel around the board once completely, finding themselves at the last building (the auditorium/theater) so they may officially “graduate”.

Explanation of the Cards: include different variables that could be applied to succeeding or failing within ‘Millennial Addition: The Game of College’:

Negative Cards:

-Mono (move backward three spaces)

-Academic dishonesty (move backward two spaces and forgo your turn next round)

-Fail your English test (move backward one space)

-Late fee at the library (move backward one space)

-Student parking ticket (move backward two spaces)

-Written up (move backward three spaces)

-Break a bone and have to wear a cast around campus (move backward four spaces)

-Your refrigerator breaks and all the food your mom brought goes bad (move backward two spaces)

-Your friend gets wasted and you have to spend your night taking care of them (move backward one space)

-A rumor is spread about you (move backward two spaces)

-Your school begins requiring a uniform (move backward one space)

-You fart in the middle of a public space and embarrass yourself (move backward one space)

-You break up with your significant other = endless distraction (move backward two spaces)

Positive Cards:

-Tater tots served in the dining hall (move forward one space)

-You win a student government election (move forward two spaces)

-You’re cast in the new theater production (move forward two spaces)

-Impress your Professor and become friends (move forward one space)

-Break a sports record (move forward two spaces)

-You’re offered a position as a TA (move forward two spaces)

-You get into the Honors program (move forward two spaces)

-You’re granted approval to get off-campus (move forward three spaces)

-You’re granted approval to have a pet live in your dorm room (move forward two spaces)

-Applicable for a work-study position (move forward three spaces)

-Sibling card: increases your financial aid (move forward one space)

-Ace your math midterm (move forward one space)

-Make a new friend (move forward two spaces)


Nepal Travelogue: GMC Study Abroad - Ethnographic Blog Series pt. 2

By Seraphina Mallon-Breiman

While traveling to Nepal, my main form of research came from practicing ethnography and using methods such as participant observation, self reflection, interviews and field-journal entries.

Upon arrival in Kathmandu, we were immediately greeted as the tourists we were. We had signed onto the services of the Shambala Trekking Agency. Our first experience with this agency was being welcomed onto a bus at 12:30am with necklaces of marigolds placed around our necks. We would get to know this bus very well over the course of the next three weeks. Porters began hoisting our bags onto the top of the bus to secure our luggage during travel- a sight that was shocking at first but quickly became routine.  Waking up the next morning in our hotel, we were all as sleepy and confused as ever. 'Hotel Tibet' was so beautiful and so foreign. I arose on the fifth floor, looking over rooftops strewn with drying laundry across brightly lit verandas. Mountain peaks peeked between clouds in the distance. We were greeted by a guide who immediately began shifting our views of consciousness and identity. When we inquired about his name upon being introduced to him, he responded by saying “Name is ego, I am not my name. I am not even really here.”

After a quick run down of our schedule with this man, we boarded the bus and headed into the city. Homeless animals such as wandering cows and goats scattered the streets. Traffic was unorderly and fast-paced, yet everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Our bus jutted in and out of the right lanes, quite nearly hitting something or someone every other moment. Were we dreaming?

Our first stop as tourists was in a nearby temple called Swayambhu, littered with hundreds of monkeys on every surface. This temple immediately began to elicit confusing, yet ironic thought. We were given so many lectures explaining the significance of certain Tibetan deities and colors of prayer flags – dwelling seriously on the Bhuddist concept that “you cannot take anything with you” and that “we’re born with nothing and we will die with nothing.” Yet we were also consistently targeted as American tourists by vendors who claimed, as if utterly shocked, “You don’t need anything?! No, you must need something,” as we kindly turned down their offers for a purchase. During our first day of the trip, my friend Bella exclaimed in response to the vendors “Okay okay I’ll come look, I’m not going to buy anything but I’d love to see your work!” This promoted an unfriendly and frustrated response. A tangible disconnect existed here between vendor and non-Nepali person. One had to wonder: do tourists have to remain unfriendly and guarded in this space to get through each day? Doesn’t this perpetuate the awful American tourist stereotype? Is there any way around it? 

There was also the question of touristic perceptions of Bhuddism. It seemed that it was common to easily adopt this religion based on the minimal information tour guides offered. Why not? Touristic Bhuddism encompassed such beautiful romantic concepts such as, “Come with nothing, leave with nothing”- it just made sense! But was this rightfully authentic?

...to be continued


Nepal Travelogue: GMC Study Abroad - Ethnographic Blog Series 

By: Seraphina Mallon-Breiman


It was a last minute decision to attend the Nepal informational meeting. Per usual, Joe Petrick sent out a campus-wide email, alerting the school about an upcoming study abroad trip to trek throughout the Himalayas and conduct ethnographic research within adjacent cities. My curiosity was sparked; I began remembering the unbelievable stories I’d been subjected to by friends who’d sought out the experience two years earlier. My advisor was convinced this trip would change my life, reminding me casually to sign up every intermittent moment we saw each other between class and around campus. Nepal was a part of the world that I knew nothing about. My knowledge regarding Asia overall was limited, at best, aside from the facts I’d learned throughout my sociology and anthropology curriculum. The more I fantasized about the experience, the more I felt like I didn’t have a choice; I had to go to Nepal. I wrote the admission essay and was accepted, prompting a nervous realization that I had no idea how to come up with the thousands of dollars required. However; after working a few jobs, receiving a lot of help from my extended family and the creation of a GoFundMe account- I made it happen. I was going. It was months later, during the 4am taxi ride to the JFK International Airport that I could even begin to consider what I was about to experience.

Of the many intricate ways that the Western world starkly contrasts the developing world, tourism is at the forefront of this divide. I visited Nepal under the false impression that I would be able to generate genuine, authentic research regarding Nepali people. I had my topic picked out. I would write an ethnography titled, ‘Coming of Age in Contemporary Nepal- Stories from Young Nepalis Amidst Post-Traumatic Societal Reconstruction.’ However, I forgot that I would be traveling with a group of twenty other American people to a country whose economy inherently depends on our wealth and existence. This was only one of what felt like hundreds of contributing factors to the separation and hierarchy in which naturally existed within any relations I shared to the Nepali people I encountered. I immediately realized how impossible it would be to elicit authentic research by the end of three weeks within a culture whose language I didn’t understand while moving to new places every few days. The inequality between our cultures was too extreme, promoting extreme feelings of guilt no matter what way I tried to view it. 

...to be continued


MLK, Identity, Inclusion - Workshop and Presentation with Champlain College’s Ame Lambert in the East Room

By Seraphina Mallon-Breiman
Photography: Robert Layman

This past week Green Mountain College celebrated a week long series of events to honor Martin Luther King Jr. - These events were predominantly facilitated by junior Alex Ruffins in conjunction with CSC (Coalition for Student's of Color) and ran as follows:

Martin Luther King Jr. Day & Week Celebration Schedule

Monday (January 18th 2016, MLK Day)

7:00am –  9:00am Free Breakfast @ Methodist Church.

8:30am  Community Service Opportunity at the Methodist Church

10:00am Workshopping MLK’s Speeches - What can we learn from them & how can we apply his vision to our community? Coalition for Students of Color in East Room

11:00am Hip-Hop Playwrights Workshop for the Poultney Community (kids 5th to 8th grade)  with Corey Fletcher, Rob Holloway, Angelica King, Seraphina M. in the Gorge

1:00pm Community Service with the sustainability office , meet at the free store

3:00pm  Nonviolent Communication Workshop with Simon in the East Room

7:00pm Selma - Film Screening & Discussion in the Gorge

Wednesday (January 20th 2016)

10:00am Race & Feminism Presentation with Heather Keith in the East Room

11:15am MLK's Spiritual Foundation Presentation with Shirley Oskamp in the East Room

7:00pm Black Power Mixtape - Film Screening & Discussion in the Gorge

Friday (January 22nd 2016)

1:00pm MLK, Identity, Inclusion - Workshop and Presentation with Champlain College’s Ame Lambert in the East Room

2:30pm Diversity at GMC - What Have We Done and Where Are We Going? With Tom Mauhs-Pugh in the East Room

8:00pm Women, Poetry & Music @ The Coffee House with Angelica King 

The presentation held on Friday afternoon at 1pm with Champlain College's Ame Lambert significantly caught my attention.

 Ame spoke in detail regarding the power of privilege, acknoweledging it's existence and accepting ones placement: the ability to just be, to sit with your identity. "It just is, it's there," said Ms. Lambert, "Diversity inclusion is coming!"

Ame explained that diversity means everything and nothing and is considerable only within dimensions: cultural, societal, personal. One must focus in multiple areas. For example, the same term can include different or multiple causes, constantly overlapping and interacting spheres/dimensions of experience. Our values are learned and impact every single thing that we do. 

Within educational or conversational settings, one must must also include a framework for all of this. Grit can not be measured by a metrics framework. 

Resilience is important. If you have a non-normative identity, life is harder. The American dream is not inclusive of this. The research highlights the dominant experience which only encompasses a small percentage of people. 

Diversity training: Only way to move forward is to focus on the historically under represented groups. It's a representation challenge for access and success. 

Expanding ideas regarding judgement and humility. Great leaders only became great by having developed their understanding of inclusion. Justice is always present, everyone must develop a moral compass. We can't override each other's ignorances or wrong answers or misunderstanding, forgiveness is the only way to move forward, as MLK day reminds us each year. 


Trans Wellness Day & the Non-Binary panel


          By: Jenna Ring


   Last Wednesday on campus two Green Mountain students Lou Woodly and Jesse Winings, hosted a student run panel on the gender spectrum and non-binary gender. The panel was incredibly informative and hosted tons of information. Ranging from statistics on Trans violence, the idea of gender being a spectrum, why it’s import to recognize everyone’s pronouns and, many other though provoking ideas.  There was pretty large turnout of students and even some facility. It’s always nice to see community come alive, and have facility and students interact outside of class. The panel was a great opportunity to educate students about Tran’s issues and introduce them to Trans Wellness Day. An event that happened a few days this later.

                This past Saturday Activism Club and the Coalition for Students of Color hosted Trans Wellness day. Trans Wellness day was a wonderful event that brought in awesome speakers such as Toni Maviki. Student’s held presentations such as “Intersectionality of Trans Issues and Racism” and “Non Binary identities and Neo pronouns”.  Events like these are really important for a place like Green Mountain. Not only does it bring students together it also spread awareness. Along with giving people a voice that isn’t always as heard as it should be and broadening peoples understanding of these issues.