Days 7 & 8

I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a week! Time has flown by so fast. I guess I’ve just been having so much fun that I haven’t realized it. I have been doing a lot of things with my friends Rachel and Candy after classes, plus I’ve been keeping up with homework and reading.

Yesterday was a very adventurous day. After classes, I introduced Rachel to geocaching. It’s kind of hard to explain the concept of geocaching to someone, so long story short it is like an adult scavenger hunt. Coordinates to “caches” are placed online along with hints. You go to where the coordinates are, and then you use the hints to find the cache, which can be as small as a pill bottle to as large as a toolbox! Rachel and I looked for 4 different caches around campus, and found 3 of them. Rachel and I really enjoyed it. After geocaching, we visited the Herbert Johnson Museum of Art. It was very interesting. There were old paintings, new paintings, marble busts of famous people, little ancient trinkets, and all sorts of neat stuff. At dinner, we met up with Candy and a girl named Kyra, and went geocaching again! It was really fun, and we plan on going again sometime as here are many more around campus that we’d like to find. After geocaching a second time, we found a (safe, marked, and legal) trail down to the gorge. At the end of the trail, there is a stone picnic table, benches, and a fire pit. It was very pretty, but we made sure to stay out of the water. I think we might head down there tomorrow at some point to read and possibly play cards or something. With all of this free-time on the weekends, it is hard to decide what to do. I think we got enough walking in today for a lifetime, so I think tomorrow we should stay on campus.

Today, Rachel, Candy, and I ventured into College Town because RPCC closed early because of a Cornell basketball camp orientation, and we wanted breakfast. We ate at a fancy place called Stella’s. The service was slow, and they prepared my eggs wrong, but it wasn’t too bad. The décor was very modern and they even had cloth napkins! It was very odd that it was located smack dab in the middle of College Town because its theme doesn’t match the other shops. We quickly realized that there wasn’t a whole lot to do in College Town, so we headed to sit down and figure out what to do next. All of the sudden, there was a tall man meandering past us, speaking in a way that made it impossible to understand him, trying to shove CDs into our hands. It was very awkward. We walked quickly away, and then watched from afar as he did this to several other people. He loped around very awkwardly, and seemed to be singing to whatever was playing through his headphones. We don’t really have people like this where I live, so it kind of scared me. It would have been different if he had asked for money for the CDs or had made eye contact, but he seemed to be in a dazed state. I wonder if he is mentally ill, or just a very bored panhandler. After that, we decided to head into the city. It was a long walk, but it was well worth it.

Our first stop was at Colophon Books. This was a cute, kitschy little bookstore with both new and used books. The owner was very nice, and helped us find books that are interesting. I bought The Catcher in the Rye, because I haven’t read it before and everyone says I should, and a NYT Bestseller by Scott Westerfeld called Leviathan. I hope that I get a chance to read at least one of these books during my stay here! We also stopped in at the comic book store next door, because Rachel really likes comics. I am not a fan, but it was an interesting experience. There were a lot of comics, both new and old. Across the street from these stores was a beautiful mural. Note the two butterflies near the center of the picture. These are origami butterflies that are taped to the building. I have also seen one on a decorative water display on campus and I saw one inside of a store today. I think someone is making them and putting them around Ithaca, but I am not sure.

So pretty! :)
So pretty! :)

Our next stop was at Sarah’s Patisserie. The first thing I noticed was that there was a small room to the side of the dining area with big glass windows. Inside, they made all of the chocolates by hand. The chocolatier wasn’t in when we stopped by, but I did try a small chocolate. It was $2 and about 1 inch wide. It was very good though, and very pretty. It was marzipan cloaked in dark chocolate and had a very cute design printed onto the top.

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Delicious! :)

We searched a bit for the next stop, but it was very interesting. The Vintage Industry is a small vintage store that had antiques such as a small typewriter, and vintage clothing, political buttons, and furniture. It was very different than any place I’d ever been before, but also very nice.

After that, we ventured to Ithaca Commons, which is currently under construction. The sidewalks and shops were open though, so we went into a lot of them. The first shop was called Tibet Shop, and it was very tiny, as you can see from the picture. The aisle inside was only about 3 feet wide, but the walls and every surface was covered in jewelry, scarves, decorative cloths, beads, trinkets, and many other Tibetan-inspired items.

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Next, we stopped at another bookstore that was much larger than the first one, but just as interesting. They had a whole cabinet of rare books. I cannot remember any of the titles of the books, but they looked ancient. I bought something from here for my sister, Jessica, but she will have to wait to see what it is!

Rachel then spotted a store across the way that she thought would be interesting to go into, and it sure was! It was called Jabberwock, and I can’t really describe it to you very well, but I will try. We walked in, and I felt like I had stepped into the sixties. There was a guy with long curly hair and John Lennon glasses running the place, there were peace stickers and hippie bumper stickers and pro-marijuana pins. It was a very odd store, so we didn’t look around too long, but it was like a blast from the past.

Next, I spotted a stationery store called Mockingbird Paperie, so we stepped inside. There were journals, cards, pots of ink, post cards, vintage-looking gift wrap, and many other interesting things. It smelled very earthy and of sandalwood inside of the store, which was pleasant. I bought a few more post cards and a birthday card for my dad, who is turning 43 on the 30th. He obviously won’t get my card before his birthday, but I am sure he will enjoy it nonetheless. Across the street, there was something very odd stuck to the front of a building:

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Aaah!!!

It is large and made of metal, and is not good for anyone with arachnophobia! My mom suggested that we should kill it with a large blow torch. J

Our next stop was American Crafts by Robbie Dein. There were a lot of expensive trinkets and baubles, but the main items that Rachel, Candy, and I noticed were pieces of jewelry made with real butterfly wings. They were so gorgeous!

Last fall, I learned about a company called Fair Trade that helps people in developing countries find jobs, escape poverty, sell their crops, find help from domestic abuse, etc. I didn’t realize it at first, but the next store we went into, One World Market, is a Fair Trade store. There were handmade items from developing countries across the world. I think that this is a great cause, because these people are being given a way to support themselves when they are faced with few options. I bought a chocolate bar made from cocoa beans that are farmed in a developing country, as well as a tiny, hand-carved owl figurine. I am definitely going to try to come back to this store!

Our last stop was at an odd clothing shop that I can’t remember the name of, but I took this picture of Candy wearing some interesting sunglasses!

Fashion forward!
Fashion forward!

After our long day of shopping, we took a bus back to Balch Hall. This was my first time riding a bus, so it was pretty nerve-wracking. I got a little grouchy because I was confused and upset because we kept wondering if the bus we were on was the right bus. Thankfully, we arrived safe and sound, even though the bus driver was driving pretty erratically. We headed to RPCC for dinner… and apparently so did the basketball team from earlier. They didn’t close RPCC again like they did this morning, but the boys ate all of the food and made the lines extremely long. Plus, it felt a little weird with a whole bunch of giants standing around. These boys were all mostly 6.5-7 feet tall, so I felt very miniscule next to them.

Tomorrow, Candy, Rachel, and I are going to most likely stay on campus. There has been too much excitement in the past 2 days – we need rest! We might go down by the gorge and sit at the picnic table, reading our books and playing cards. We’re such nerds!!

Day 6

Hello! I would rate today at an 8/10. It was pretty darn good. I woke up when my alarm went off, but then went back to sleep for another half hour, so I didn’t get to go to RPCC for breakfast. Instead, I had grapes, a cheese stick, grape juice, and Captain Crunch! I went to my first two classes, which were very interesting today. In The Personal Essay, we reviewed 2 essays of students who were in the class, and they were very good. The first one was about how technology is destroying society by creating a void where usually there would be casual conversation and face-to-face meetings. It really made me think how often I use my phone as a crutch. When I feel awkward, like standing in a room full of people that I don’t know, I pull out my phone instead of striking up a conversation with someone. I think I will try to make a point not to do this as often in the future. The second one was about how a student who moved from a foreign country to the United States learned an important life lesson in the form of what he calls the American Handshake from his track team coach. He said that his coach’s firm and sincere handshake after a good race “opened the gate to his assimilation to this foreign land”. Because I entered the class a few days late, I just finished typing up this essay and turned it in. I wrote mine about home. I think it is very interesting that the word “home” means a different thing to every person. I described my home, and how it makes me feel. I finished it in about an hour, so I don’t feel like it is the strongest essay that I have ever written, but it will do. In my Cell Biology class, we learned about carbohydrates, DNA, and RNA. This is a major oversimplification of what we actually covered, but I just wanted to give you the short version. :)

After class, I picked up a package from my mailbox, which contained my books for English. The Cornell Store was sold out of one of the books, so my mom just bought both of them on Amazon and had then overnighted to me (thanks mom!). I came back to my room and tried to write my essay for English, but I couldn’t come up with a good topic. I then headed to my other Biology class, which was okay today. The teacher and I are on totally different ends of the political and social spectrum, so we often have different stances on issues we discuss in class. Today, she asked the class: “Who here doubts the existence of climate change?”. I was the only one who raised my hand, so she asked me why. I become flustered when I am put on the spot like that, but I should have been prepared to answer that question long before I raised my hand. I answered that the Earth has been proven to go through cyclic changes, so the data around climate change doesn’t really add up for me. It was a weak answer, so she sunk her claws in deeper. She then had the audacity to state: “You can try to believe in different things than the rest of the community, but it will be a losing battle”. I believe that a difference of opinion is healthy in every situation. This reminds me of Galileo Galilei, who stated his opinion about the Earth revolving around the sun, even though everyone else told him he was wrong. For now, I will stand for what I believe, but I will also keep an open mind about other viewpoints. Some people seem to lack this ability.

Last night, I had turned off my light and was trying to go to sleep, when I heard what sounded like a door clicking shut loudly. I freaked out, because all of my doors were already shut and my sink-mate wasn’t even in her room. I called my mom, got my flashlight, and contemplated the existence of a ghost. I used to be afraid of the dark when I was younger, and often slept with my light on all night. I was especially afraid of what could be hiding under my bed, so at night, I would run and propel myself into the air about 3 feet away from my bed so that I could land safely before anything could grab my feet. I had thought that I had gotten over this, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Last night, I had a gripping fear that something was under my bed, waiting to grab me. I think that my old feelings of paranoia and phobia have returned because I am on my own in a strange place. It will take getting used to, and I hope that happens quickly!

Also, an update about the Cornell Summer Times. I sent the girl who runs the newspaper a few of my pictures that I included in my last blog post, and she really liked them, so she is going to put them into the next issue! :) I wish that I had time to write a quality article, but I just don’t see it happening. I have 3 beginnings of articles, but nothing completed. *sigh* I will definitely have something for next week though!

The only other interesting thing about today is that the gorge is angry-looking because of the deluge of rain Ithaca received yesterday. It actually makes you realize that while the gorges are breathtakingly beautiful, they are also extremely dangerous. I won’t be venturing near any of the gorges anytime soon.

Angry waterfall.
Angry waterfall.
The overflowing dam.
The overflowing dam.

 

Days 4 & 5

Hello all! Yesterday was full of all sorts of excitement. I woke up, went to my classes, and came back to my room completely exhausted. The walk to my classes is all uphill, and involves several flights of stairs, so my legs are not liking me. I’ll get used to it with time, but it’s hard for the time being. I also called the rental company that I rented my microwave/fridge/freezer combo from about my missing microwave. Apparently there was a mix-up and that meant that they forgot to deliver my microwave. I got it all sorted out, and although the woman on the phone said it could take a day or two before I would get my microwave, it showed up only a few hours later! I was pleasantly surprised, and now I can keep a wider variety of food in my room, and heat up leftovers. After that, Rachel and I ate dinner together at RPCC. On our way back, I could see about 20 feet away from me a large bird, that I at first thought was a chicken, standing on the ground near a building. As I got closer, I realized it was Pablo. To my horror, I noticed that Pablo had caught himself a tasty dinner… of cute little bunny. He was pulling fur off of it as it squirmed in pain. I yelled at him, thinking he would leave it alone, but he just picked it up and drug it across the ground for a few feet. The bunny could just barely touch the ground, but was trying to get a footing to run away. Rachel and I chased after it, but kept a safe enough distance away so that Pablo wouldn’t attack us. We kept yelling at him, but he was dead-set on having bunny stew. We realized that it was probably too late for the bunny, so we hung our heads and walked away. I realize that Pablo has to eat, but he could have done it more discreetly. He decided to catch his prey in a field next to a quidditch team, which wasn’t very nice.

Evil Pablo :(
Evil Pablo :(

After that hullabaloo, I decided to get started on my calculus homework that was due this morning. I worked on it for 2 hours, and managed to finish 11 out of 36 problems with the help of Rachel and Candy, and half of them weren’t even right. I started freaking out about failing, which would suck majorly, so I did the only thing that could help – I texted my mom. My mom is pretty awesome, and she is very different from most moms that I have met. She calmed me down, and talked to me about it. I vented, and she listened, and I decided that it would be best for me to drop the class and try something that is more of my forte. I searched for another 6-week course, and found a writing course titled “The Personal Essay”. I went to the academic advising office this morning, and was told that I should sit in on the class first to make sure that it would be a good fit. I got to sit in on the last 20 minutes, and I think I’m in love. I went back to the office after my Bio class and signed the papers. I feel so much better now that I’m not stressing about calculus anymore. Math has always been my hardest subject, but I know what I can and cannot handle. This writing course will be much better for me. We write 6 papers throughout the course, and have a few reading quizzes. I really like the teacher, and he talked to me about the class and answered all of my questions. That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, and I am glad to have the support of my mom in everything I do. :)

Not much else happened today out of the ordinary, except that it rained A LOT today, and I will be able to go to sleep at 11 at check-in because I won’t be up late doing homework. Yay! I’m even going to get up early enough to walk to RPCC and have breakfast before returning my Calculus book and going to class. My mom had to order my books through Amazon because the Cornell Store was sold out, and paid for overnight shipping, so I will get them tomorrow. I will not have them before class, but I will be able to read some tomorrow and work on my first essay that is due Friday. Oh! And I also had my first class of my second Biology class. It is in a very interesting building, as it has glass cases in the lobby filled with all sorts of animal bones, pinned butterflies, and taxidermy specimens. The teacher is nice, I suppose, but she comes off as slightly… bitter? She did a little “poll” at the beginning of class. First, she asked, “How many of you want to be doctors?” The majority of the class raised their hands. Then, she asked, “And how many of you who want to be doctors want to get married and have children?” About half of us raised our hands, and then she asked those of us who did, “Who is going to raise your children? You can’t have it all”. I’m sorry if you couldn’t “have it all” with your PhD, VMD, holistic clinic, and veterinary practice, but I know of many people who are doctors and still have families. I can do whatever I set my mind to, and I really don’t appreciate you trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with my life. I realize that it will be hard, and I have already thought of all of this. I am an independent young woman who has the whole world at my feet. I will do with it what I please. I think I will like this class nonetheless, because we will be meeting doctors, dissecting a chicken, going on a field trip to collect specimens from a field, and all other kinds of cool things.

In other news, I received an e-mail about some interesting upcoming events that are being hosted by Cornell. The first takes place tonight at 9, but I am not going to go. It is a “Speed Meet”, and apparently it is like speed dating, but you make friends instead of getting dates. Not really inviting for a shy, (and tired), girl. The second event is tomorrow, from 5-7. It is called an Intergroup Dialogue Workshop. The e-mail I got said: “Venture out of your comfort zone, and become better prepared for life at college and in our globally connected world. Join us for a series of free and open-ended workshops on communicating across differences. Theses peer-facilitated workshops will help you to see the world and your place in it in a new way. Bring an open mind and a willingness to talk honestly, listen actively, and explore .” Now THAT seems interesting to me. I am going to go, and if I like it, it is held weekly. The third event is being held on Saturday at the Level B Dance Club & Lounge in Collegetown. I will have to take the bus to get there if I decide to go, (which is still a frightening concept to me!), but I don’t think I will. It says to dress all in white, because there will be blacklights, and that they are going to hand out free glowsticks and t-shirts. That really isn’t my scene, but I bet it will be fun for anyone who goes. I forgot to mention in my last post that I signed up to help create the Cornell Summer Times! I can write articles on pretty much anything, I can submit pictures to be featured in each edition, and I can help edit and design the layout if I would like. I am excited to write my first article, but I am not exactly sure what I should write about. Cornell also hosts some free events, plays, and lectures throughout the summer. One in particular that I plan to attend is “Fifty Shades of Gray Matter: The Seductive Appeal of Popular Neuroscience” on July 2nd. I think that it will be quite interesting. I am also thinking about seeing the performance “Matuto” on July 1st. It is being described as “a Brazilian carnival in the Appalachian Mountains”. I can only imagine that it will be awesome. I also received an e-mail yesterday from a woman who works for the Joyce Ivy Foundation, who gave me a $6,000 scholarship so that I could attend summer college, asking if I would write a blog post for the JIF blog about my experiences thus far at Cornell. I am so excited to finish it up, and I am almost done. This whole experience has opened doors for me that I haven’t even begun to realize. I am so happy to be here. :)

I have decided to add some pictures that I have taken of the gorgeous Cornell Campus. :)

The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower
McGraw Hall
McGraw Hall

 

A statue of one of the founders of Cornell University, Andrew Dickson White.
A statue of one of the founders of Cornell University, Andrew Dickson White.
Stimson Hall, where I have my Cell Biology class.
Stimson Hall, where I have my Cell Biology class.
The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. So pretty!
The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. So pretty!
An interesting window on the side of Sage Chapel.
An interesting window on the side of Sage Chapel.

 

Cornell University Summer College Days 1 & 2 & 3

I have been very busy the past few days, so I am going to catch all of you up. I arrived on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York on Saturday June 21st, 2014. The trip there was kinda boring because it was so long, but we did stop at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum on the way there Friday. It was very interesting, as they had replicas of longhouses and a display on the history of lacrosse. They also showcased multiple beautiful paintings and authentic bead works made by local Native Americans. We stayed at a Microtel Inn & Suites in the not-so-scenic town of Bath, NY. It was a nice hotel, but Bath is a desolate little hamlet. Faced with few dining options, we settled for food from a Tops Market. It looked a little seedy from the outside, but the food was pretty good. I was happy that there would be much more waiting for me in Ithaca!

Saturday was a very busy day. We left the hotel and made the final hour of our trip to Ithaca. After driving around campus, lost, we found South Balch Hall, which will be my home for the next 6 weeks! A group of RCA’s and Cornellian volunteers graciously loaded my multiple bags onto a cart and took it to my room (on the fifth floor!) on the elevator. I checked in and got my room and mailbox keys, along with my Cornell ID card. Then, my mom and I hiked up the 5 flights of stairs while my dad found a place to park. Parking is scarce here on campus because many people bike, walk, or take the bus. He joined us at my room to help set it up. Looking around now, I think we did a fine job. I did not meet my sink-mate until later that night, Our rooms are connected by a small sinkroom. Her name is Bin-Bin, but I think she likes to be called Nancy. We don’t talk much, but she is nice. She is Chinese, but lives with a host family in Pennsylvania. She was nervous about being on her own the first night, but she is doing much better now. I killed two spiders that were on her window screen Saturday night, because she really does not like bugs. I have yet to meet my other neighbor, Jun-Jun, but I really don’t think that she even showed up. I haven’t seen her even once. The girl across the hall from me is named Marie, and she is from Austria. She came over and introduced herself shortly after my parents left. At 7:00 on Saturday, there was an Ice Cream Social in the Balch Hall courtyard for all of the summer college students. That is where I met Rachel Lisker. I think she and I are going to be best friends. :) She is just down the hall from me, so we see each other a lot. She is from Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. I did not know until Sunday that her brother was also studying here this summer. I found that out when I spotted a geeky-looking boy and pointed him out to her. I wasn’t trying to be malicious. We had noticed that most of the boys here were very hunky, and we were on the lookout for nerdy types to see if there were any! I wondered why she laughed so hard when I showed her, and then was mortified when she revealed that he was in fact her brother! I apologized profusely, but she wasn’t offended. She thought it was hilarious!

I have made many other friends. There is Teresa from Guatemala, Candy from China, Mye from Thailand, a girl from India who I cannot remember her name, but she is very nice and interesting, Helena from Italy, who is like 6 foot tall and so pretty, a girl from Seattle, and Kay from Thailand. This place is the epitome of a melting pot. I also made a dove friend, who I mistakenly thought was a pigeon at first. I have named him Howard. I met his girly friend this morning, and named her Harriett. I wanted to discourage them from nesting in my window, so last night I shoved the twigs off of the windowsill onto the grass below. They didn’t take the hint. 

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Harriett or Howard. They look the same. 

This morning, I woke up at 7 am and ate cereal in my room. I have a large supply of snacks and food, so I think I will have breakfast here often instead of at the Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC). RPCC has a huge selection of really good food, but I am too tired in the morning to walk there. Plus, it is in the opposite direction of my classes! I will be eating there tomorrow because Jessica, a girl in my Calculus class, invited me to go with her earlier. 7:30 am. I don’t think I can do that on a regular basis. Lol! My Calculus class starts at 8:30 am MTWRF, and then at 10 am MTWRF I have Introductory Biology: Cell and Microbiology. On W&R, I have another Biology class from 3:30 – 5.

Calculus was pretty intimidating today. I walked in and almost everybody was already seated. I took a seat in the front of the room next to an Asian boy and in front of a mean-looking girl. I followed along with the class okay, but there were some things that the whole class knew that I hadn’t even heard of. I guess my Edison edumacation doesn’t really help me here. Now, I am not racist, and I hate racial stereotypes, but all of the Asian guys knew every. single. answer. They also corrected the teacher, and elaborated on some concepts that were so foreign to me that I got lost pretty quickly. I really need to work hard to keep up here. My biology class was very fun, and I think it will be easy. The instructor split us up into groups of 4 for the remainder of the class, and I am seated with another high school rising senior, a college rising senior, and a college rising junior. I actually feel pretty comfortable there. After class, I headed to the bookstore to pick up my textbooks. I found out there that they do not do rentals in the summer. I was expecting to pay about $100, but to buy them it was around $200. I wasn’t prepared to spend that much money, but I tried swiping my card so that my mom could transfer the funds later. I have 24-hour grace on my card, so they give me 24 hours to get the money in the account for any purchases. It was denied, and I was so embarrassed that I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I had the cashier put them on hold, and then called my mom. She had me ask the lady if I could just have her type in my mom’s card #, but they couldn’t do that. Finally, about 30 minutes later, I had the money in my account to pay for the books. It is not fun to have your card denied here, because the swipe machine beeps loudly at you. I felt all eyes on me, and just wanted to escape. I’m glad to have my books now though. 

After that hullabaloo, I came back to my room to eat lunch. I was so tired from walking everywhere, that I couldn’t walk the extra 1/4 mile to RPCC for lunch. Pathetic, I know. Then, after resting, I grabbed Rachel from her room and we went on a walk. We went to the Cornell Store and I bought some post cards to send to relatives and close friends. We also hiked a bit and looked at some of the gorges from the bridges. The college showed us a scary video on opening day about drowning in the gorges, so now everyone is too afraid to even go near them!

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View of gorge from suspension bridge. 

I came back to my room after dinner and sat down to address some of the post cards at my desk. All of the sudden, I heard a loud thump at my window. It startled me, and then I was even more frightened to be face-to-face with a hawk! I have named him Pedro. He was attacking the nest that Howard and Harriett had made today, so I shooed him away. Howard and Harriett chased him off, and that’s when I noticed The Egg.

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Now I really can’t push the nest out of the window. I am now attached to the doves, and so are my friends. We are going to have a vote on the name of The Egg, but for now it is just The Egg.  I e-mailed my RA about the situation, and she suggested that I could call maintenance and they would dispose of the nest, but she didn’t seem too worried about it. At least for now, Harriett, Howard, and The Egg are staying. I just hope that Pedro doesn’t come back! 

Check-in tonight is at 11, so I will stop for now. I will continue to update as I go throughout my stay here at Cornell. Thank you for reading!! :) Feel free to post any questions in the comments.

Link to Seneca-Iroquois National Museum Website: https://www.senecamuseum.org/Default.aspx Check it out! It’s pretty cool!! :)