WWS Blog

Math Camp + Do-Si-Do = Welcome to the Woo

Oct 22, 2014
Published by:
Alex Kasdin, SINSI-MPA '18

We all thought it was a joke, a mistake on the schedule that was code for something else. But when we walked into the dining room, we saw a band and an excited John Templeton, director of graduate admissions, and knew: we were seriously square dancing. 

The Woodrow Wilson School’s MPA curriculum is very quantitative, so to ensure that all incoming MPA students are prepared for the mathematical rigor of the courses, the school sponsors three weeks of math camp prior to the start of the fall semester. While this entails three hours of math class each day, the schedule also includes activities, such as public speaking training and diversity workshops, that help us meet our classmates and orient to the Woo. In many ways it is more camp than math, with ample time to make s’mores with our new classmates, beat other grad students at trivia nights, and converse at BBQs.

But a square dance? Surely this was someone else’s idea of fun programming. I was skeptical. 

However, as soon as the band started playing and we were helping each other remember the steps, I no longer doubted. The laughter could probably be heard from a mile away. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t execute the dances correctly or that I had no rhythm. It was the perfect way to blow off steam before what is sure to be an intense semester. And I will always remember that the way I met a number of my classmates was on the other side of a do-si-do.


Bio: Alex Kasdin is a recent graduate of Princeton University and is taking part in the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative (SINSI) program at the Woodrow Wilson School.  Her interests are in biodiversity conservation policy and wildlife management issues.  She has interned at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the non-profit Climate Central, and as a teacher of environmental education in rural Kenya.


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