Travel

Your favorite search engine will tell you that there are about 225,000 instances of the term “MIT golf”out there. Not overwhelming, but it’s more sizable than a search for “CalTech Golf,” which yields a mere 2,000 results.

Source: Pound Ridge Golf Club.

Pound Ridge Golf Club.

Somewhere deep in that query is Ken Wang ’71, who owns Pound Ridge Golf Club and who is hosting the first annual MIT Golf Outing on May 20 in Westchester County, New York. The tournament will benefit MIT’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation.

Offering his course to MIT for a day caps years of service to the Institute.  Currently a member of the corporation, Wang is also a former Alumni Association board president, MIT Club of New York president, and member of over a dozen visiting committees and advisory boards over the years.

But Wang is always eager to advance MIT’s brand into the world of athletics.

“I really believe that as MIT evolves, and the people involved with it evolve, it’s important that we start doing more mainstream stuff,” says Wang. “Plus, it’s just good fresh air.”

Pound Ridge has been a favorite among New York celebrities and politicians over the years. Its challenging 146-slope design came from Pete Dye, who also designed TPC Sawgrass and other world-famous courses.  Wang bought the course in 2008; four years later, Pound Ridge was named second among the New York City area’s top courses by Golf Magazine.

At the tournament to support DAPER, MIT golfers will face Pound Ridge’s signature boulder in the middle of the 13th fairway and pray for luck on the backboard headstone behind the 15th green. But Wang won’t be among them.

“I’ll be there, but I won’t be golfing,” he says, adding, “I’d rather not have my game seen in public!”

Asked to name the best golfer in MIT history, Wang replies, “He’s going to kill me for saying it, but I’d say Robert Turner ’74, who’ll be there. He’s a very good golfer.”

Ken Wang '71. Photo: Tanit Sakakini.

Ken Wang ’71. Photo: Tanit Sakakini.

In an interview on the Golf Trips blog, Wang lists the Blue Monster at Doral as a favorite course and says he prefers Jack Nicklaus over Arnold Palmer.

As for Tiger Woods, Wang says, “I don’t necessarily approve of the shenanigans, but I love Tiger. He’s the most important person in the sport.”

When he’s not thinking about golf, Wang serves as president of the U.S. Summit Corporation, founded by his father CC Wang SM ’45 and three of his classmates. Between these two roles, Wang puts his MIT economics degree to good use.

Wang didn’t golf during his years at MIT, though he loved playing intramural hockey. At times, his relationship with DAPER was less than appreciative. “I didn’t pass the swim test, although I’d like you to know that I could have. I just wasn’t a very competent swimmer, so I took swimming because I hoped it would make me better. I was finally able to splash my way through it.”

Update: We have a winner! The foursome of David Tohir ’79, Brian Tohir, Frank Granito and Sasha Mrdelja finished in first place. Greg Turner ’74, John Wang ’14, Paulina Mustafa ’13 and MIT Director of Athletics Julie Soriero finished in second place. MIT head football coach Chad Martinovich sank a hole-in-one. View a photo gallery of the first annual outing.

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An Emerge participant showing off some of her jewelry creations.

An Emerge participant showing off some of her jewelry creations.

For some women—and girls who have had to grow up too fast—hope is a rare commodity. In Sri Lanka, for example, girls who survive rape or incest and who choose to confront their attackers in court are ostracized from their homes and denied schooling, many pregnant or with infants in tow.

Alia Whitney-Johnson ’08 first encountered these girls in 2005 on a tsunami-relief mission to Sri Lanka sponsored by the MIT Public Service Center. She visited a shelter housing them and was struck by both their courage—they were fighting for the safety of their younger sisters and for a better society for girls in general—and their lack of community. Some of them would not talk to one another or work together.

Though there was a communication barrier, Whitney-Johnson found common ground through jewelry making. She shared beads she’d brought (she’s an avid jewelry maker), taught the girls how to fashion necklaces and bracelets, and witnessed a transformation. “The girls were hesitant at first,” Whitney-Johnson says. “They needed permission to use every single bead. But over the course of just one day, the girls began to open up. They began to make their own designs, to laugh, to share their favorite pieces with one another, and to look after each other’s children.”

As part of Emerge Global’s Beads-to-Business program, girls learn business skills as well as a craft.

As part of Emerge Global’s Beads-to-Business program, girls learn business skills as well as a craft.

Beading proved to be so therapeutic for the girls that Whitney-Johnson left Sri Lanka with a desire to help in a more substantial way, and Emerge Global was born. The program helps girls emerge into who they want to be, despite what they’ve endured. They make and sell jewelry on Artfire as part of the Beads-to-Business program, generating savings for their futures (50% of the selling price of each piece goes to the girl who made it) as well as business skills, leadership, and confidence. The girls also receive instruction in life skills and mentorship and are supported in transitioning back into communities after they leave the shelter.

Emerge uses a collaborative capital-creation model in which the girls generate income and learn how to manage that capital without risk. They are free to acquire new skills and build a business without having to worry about repaying a loan or incurring start-up costs.

Emerge Global was used as a case study in the recently published book, "Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation," which offers a step-by-step guide to effecting social change.

Emerge Global was used as a case study in the recently published book, “Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation,” which offers a step-by-step guide to effecting social change.

To date, Emerge Global has helped more than 315 girls overcome trauma in their lives and become stronger, more empowered women.

“Some have utilized their skills and resources to build houses, run businesses, go back to school, and support their children,” Whitney-Johnson says. “We believe that by equipping these girls with the tools that they need to lead healthy, self-sufficient lives and to become leaders in their communities we can build a movement where these young women will end abuse in their spheres of influence.”

Whitney-Johnson’s goal for emerge is to be locally run and completely self-sufficient. To that end, Emerge created its own local implementing partner, Emerge Lanka Foundation, a separate legal entity with a local board that works with groups already running shelters to improve support for Emerge participants. “We want to transform these shelters into dynamic entrepreneurship hubs and learning centers where girls gain something really special,” Whitney-Johnson says.

Eventually, she dreams of helping girls across Sri Lanka. For now, Emerge is focusing on helping current participants and alumnae succeed in transforming their lives, increasing local sales and fundraising, and building the Emerge Lanka Foundation. They got a little help last year, when Miss Sri Lanka became their celebrity spokesperson and Emerge was featured on the cover of the country’s biggest popular-culture and society magazine. The press and word of mouth from mentors and alumnae have starting building awareness for the plight of sex-abuse survivors as well as changes in attitudes toward them, Whitney-Johnson says.

Emerge Global was also used as a case study in the recently published book, “Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation,” for which Whitney-Johnson authored a chapter. The book has received great reviews from the likes of  Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristoff, among others.

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Christopher Cassidy SM ’00, P ’16

MIT alumni are everywhere—more than 126,000 spread across at least six continents. And beginning Thursday, March 28, PlanetMIT can add another virtual pushpin to its expanding community map: outer space.

NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy SM ’00, P ’16 will join two Russian cosmonauts on the Expedition 35 mission that will travel from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 28 at 4:43 p.m. EDT. The journey, scheduled for six hours, marks the first time that a crew-carrying spacecraft will dock to the ISS within hours of launching. (Most flights general take at least two days to reach the station.)

Upon arrival at the ISS, the team will join three waiting astronauts for a 168-day journey that, according to NASA, will include several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science. Expedition 35 is scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 11, 2013.

The March 28 voyage will be Cassidy’s second trip to space. As part of the 2009 NASA mission STS-127, Cassidy was designated the 500th person in space. He logged more than 376 space hours, including more than 18 hours of extra-vehicular activity during three spacewalks. That mission featured a record 13 astronauts representing all five ISS partners—U.S, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

Cassidy, a U.S. Navy commander and former Navy SEAL, served during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, where he was awarded two Bronze Stars. He is one of nearly three dozen MIT alumni astronauts, a list that includes Buzz Aldrin ScD ’63, the Apollo 11 pilot for the first manned lunar landing, and Rusty Schweickart ’56, SM ’63, who piloted the Apollo 9’s first manned flight.

The MIT Club of South Texas will provide updates of Cassidy throughout his journey. NASA Television is covering pre-flight activities throughout the week and will provide live coverage of the launch beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT on March 28.

Good luck and safe travels, Commander Cassidy!

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The joint MIT/Harvard alumni club in Colombia recently welcomed Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick when he was in South America on the Massachusetts-Colombia Innovation Partnership Mission to promote job creation and expand economic opportunity in the Commonwealth.

US Ambassador P. Michael McKinley hosted a special reception at his residence in Bogota, and the MIT Alumni Association partnered with Governor Patrick’s office to invite local alumni. At the event, the club made Governor Patrick an honorary member and gave him three books: one each about Harvard, MIT, and Colombia (shown below).

From left: Luis Ricardo Paredes (Harvard), past club president; Juan Fernando Ribero SM '82, past club president; Governor Deval Patrick; Pablo Acosta '03, club board of directors; Mauricio López (Harvard), past club president; and Juan Fernando Jiménez (Harvard), club president.

From left: Luis Ricardo Paredes (Harvard), past club president; Juan Fernando Ribero SM ’82, past club president; Governor Deval Patrick; Pablo Acosta ’03, club board of directors; Mauricio López (Harvard), past club president; and Juan Fernando Jiménez (Harvard), club president.

During his visit, Governor Patrick and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize collaboration between Massachusetts and Colombia in the areas of science, technology, and innovation. According to Governor Patrick’s office, the MOU will promote “collaboration and partnerships among public and private institutions, universities, research centers, non-governmental organizations, and citizens. Included in the MOU is a call for partnerships in health and several life sciences industry sectors, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and tropical disease research.”

The agreement also calls for collaboration on clean energy, transportation, urban development, agriculture, and information technology sectors including aerospace, security technology, and health.

Learn more about the trip.

Prior to the Governor’s visit, the MIT Harvard Club of Colombia was honored with the Harvard Alumni Association Clubs and Shared Interest Group Recognition Award for its outstanding and innovative work in areas such as membership, technology, community service, succession planning, programming, schools and scholarship, and outreach.

Find the club on Twitter and Facebook.

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NerdWallet logoWhen it comes to financial services, companies use everything from talking babies to Vikings to persuade people to use their products. You practically need a degree from MIT to decide on the best checking account or credit card rewards program. Which is exactly why the friends and family of Jake Gibson ’04, who majored in math and finance at the Institute, sought him out for basic financial advice.

“I realized that there was no trusted resource for them to find answers,” Gibson says. So he left his job at JPMorgan Chase and cofounded San Francisco-based NerdWallet, a website that helps consumers make informed choices about their personal finances by creating free, simple tools and resources using a numbers-based, analytic approach. Users can do personalized searches based on their spending habits and receive unbiased results—the company’s tagline is “We do the homework for you.”

Here are just some of the comparison tools on the NerdWallet site:

  • Credit cards based on the best balance-transfer offers, lowest interest rates, or most cash back
  • Brokerage firms broken down by best data-analysis tools or research reports or lowest fees
  • Checking accounts filtered by age and stage (teens, college students, seniors, or everyone else) as well as by type of financial institution (big, community, or Internet bank or credit union)
  • Student loans based on estimated repayments
  • Online shopping deals organized by cash back, points, or miles for purchases as well as those offering coupon codes and promos (there were nearly 46,000 deals and promos at press time, and you can sort by independent retailers and Etsy coupons as well)

One of numerous tools NerdWallet offers to compare financial services, like checking accounts, brokerage firms, and student loans.

Articles on the NerdWallet site provide advice on everything from investing to food stamps. NerdWallet Education offers a scholarship search and compares colleges based on highest employment rates and salaries for grads as well as schools with the most students volunteering or traveling after graduation. The education section of the site is completely free of ads and commercial referrals.

NerdWallet also provides advice on travel with a feature called TravelNerd. There’s an online tool to compare various airline fees, and a newly launched smartphone app helps at the airport by recommending parking and transportation (including any taxi-sharing offers and phone numbers for car/shuttle services), amenities, and terminal maps.

The site has been getting great buzz this year, with its services and tools recommended by and mentioned in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Time, Money, Huffington Post, and more.

NerdWallet is a labor of love for Gibson and his employees, many of whom took pay cuts and gave up successful corporate trajectories to help people and further the company’s mission of transparency in the realms of financial, travel, and educational services.

So, has it been worth it?

Joseph Audette ’05, VP of education and financial literacy, says it has. “My cousin just emailed me saying she used our site to know which bank was the best on her campus,” he says. “You don’t get those emails when you are working at a hedge fund.” A site like NerdWallet would have helped him with his own finances. “After MIT, I consolidated my loans privately and ended up paying much more than if I had consolidated using the federal system,” he says. “I just didn’t know that was an option for me. That is why we created NerdWallet Education as a pro bono resource.”

In the coming year, NerdWallet plans to release additional resources that focus on financial literacy and college affordability. It’s also expanding nonprofit partnerships by working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a new grant to help first-generation students and parents complete the FAFSA.

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Born in the Ukraine and raised in Ghana, Arthur Musah ’04, MNG ’05 knows something about leaving the comforts of home to enter the rigorous, intense, humbling world of MIT. He studied electrical engineering and computer science at the Institute, worked as an engineer for four years, then became an Annenberg Fellow in the graduate film production program at USC’s School Of Cinematic Arts. Now, the engineer-turned-filmmaker is documenting the coming-of-age process of five African students from the Class of 2015 over the course of their four years at MIT.

The students featured in the film, from left: Fidelis Chimombe (Zimbabwe), Mosa Issachar (Nigeria), Sante Nyambo (Tanzania), Billy Ndengeyingoma (Rwanda), and Philip Abel (Nigeria).

The students featured in the film, from left: Fidelis Chimombe (Zimbabwe), Mosa Issachar (Nigeria), Sante Nyambo (Tanzania), Billy Ndengeyingoma (Rwanda), and Philip Abel (Nigeria). Filmmaker Arthur Musah ’04, MNG ’05 has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the upcoming year of the four-year project.

His film, One Day I Too Go Fly,follows students from Tanzania, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe as they seek to become engineers—they are majoring in civil engineering, chemical engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science—and make their way in America. Filming in Cambridge and in Africa, Musah aims to uncover how the relationships these students have with their home countries evolve and how their time at MIT influences their dreams to make an impact on the world.

Musah began shooting in August 2011, when the students touched down at Logan airport. He’s  received MIT’s permission to film on campus (something Hollywood studios typically don’t get) and has equipped each student with a portable camcorder for making video diaries.

“I think the intimacy of the stories I’m following will make them connect with anyone of any nationality,” Musah says. “But I also think that observing how these teenagers transform into adults within the MIT context will provide some insight into a modern Africa, whose inventive and ambitious youth are not satisfied to rely on others to determine their countries’ and their continent’s destinies.” Take a look at the trailer below.

“I plan to follow the students on the most intriguing tangents their lives take, be they in Africa, Asia, Europe, or elsewhere,” Musah says. This past summer, he spent two weeks in Nigeria following one student as he taught his newly acquired technical skills to Nigerian high schoolers in a revolutionary robotics program run by other MIT students. The experience will be a short spin-off documentary he’s hoping to complete in a year. Read more about it in the Q&A below.

Production still from One Day I Too Go Fly.

Production still from One Day I Too Go Fly.

Musah plans another trip to Africa to film the other students interacting with their families and home communities and engaging in tech projects there, assuming he can raise the funds via his Kickstarter campaign.

The film is a labor of love for Musah—and a second job. He supports himself as a software engineer and carefully plots his vacation days for overseas production work. Donations to the Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the upcoming year of the project, are accepted until the morning of Dec. 19.

The film is Musah’s first feature-length project, though his other films have also explored issues of identity shaped by different worlds, often Africa and North America. Learn about his earlier film work in this Slice post.

Musah is aiming for a June 2016 completion date for One Day I Too Go Fly. What’s it like filming a documentary over four years? Read the production blog, and learn more in the Q&A below.

Q&A with filmmaker Arthur Musah ’04, MNG ’05

This film is inspired by your own experience of coming from West Africa to study at MIT. How have the students’ experiences compared to yours?
Musah: The students now seem to be a lot more plugged in overall. I think it’s partly a consequence of how pervasive the internet and social media are in Africa today. Most of them were on Facebook before they arrived. I think participating in this global discourse has accelerated parts of the process of adapting to a foreign society for them. Sante is an avid tweeter, for example. The US and its culture aren’t as strange to these students as they were to my African classmates and me. We never joined frats or sororities because the culture wasn’t a fit, but most of these students are members of Greek communities. [click to continue…]

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Guest blogger: Flat Tim Beaver

Flat Tim Beaver wearing a seat belt.

Safety first!

Hello, MIT community! My name is Flat Tim. You’ve likely heard of my cousin, Tim the Beaver. Although you probably don’t know it, I am a member of the MIT Admissions Office. I don’t get to admit students but neither do I have to read applications.

However, I am a popular figure every fall when I visit different areas of the country to meet prospective students and educational counselors (those alumni volunteers who interview and recruit applicants).

My cousin pretty much sticks to campus, but I like to travel. And I don’t even need memberships in frequent-flyer plans or a rental car, since I just catch a ride with my friends in Admissions when they go out on the road.

Flat Tim Beaver meets a badger

Flat Tim Beaver meets a badger.

As you can see, we always wear our seat belts.

I’ve had a pretty busy couple of years! I’ve checked out The Big Easy, got lucky in Las Vegas (I won 21 cents), remembered the Alamo, checked out Half Dome, trekked the Oregon Trail, and asked an SR-71 pilot for a lift home (he told me I needed to fly commercial).

I have learned to love coffee (Starbucks, my friends don’t give me a choice), enjoyed ice cream and milkshakes in California, and savored deep-dish pizza in Chicago.

Flat Tim Beaver enjoying an In-N-Out shake in California.

Enjoying an In-N-Out shake in California.

I even got to visit to that school in Pasadena last year (you know the one I’m talking about) and checked out their cannon, but the pictures are classified, and I was incognito so you wouldn’t recognize me anyway.

Now that all of my Admissions Officer friends have settled in for the winter to read applications, I get to take a break and enjoy our beautiful campus here in Cambridge.

Though, to be honest, sometimes I wish I got to travel a little in the winter. It gets pretty cold here as I’m sure you remember.

I asked my friends in the Alumni Association if they would allow me to share the pictures from my travels over the last 18 months.

I hope you enjoy seeing some of the places I have been. Check out more on my blog, The Adventures of Flat Tim.

I can hardly wait to find out where my journeys will take me next year. Perhaps I’ll come to see you!

Left: Tim at Multnomah Falls in Oregon, the second-highest year-round waterfall in the US. Right: Tim at the Married Giants’ grave in Seville, Ohio.

Left: Tim at Multnomah Falls in Oregon, the second-highest year-round waterfall in the US. Right: Tim at the Married Giants’ grave in Seville, Ohio.

Flat Tim Beaver with a cup of coffee

Just chillin’ here in Cambridge.

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Visiting Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

MIT travelers learn about the Elephant Leg columns that support Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.

The meeting of Chip Wood ’56, SM ’57 and Jack Cinque SM ’53 was just one of many new connections made during the MIT Alumni Travel Program’s trip, Turkish Treasures: The Lost Worlds of Anatolia, Oct. 19–Nov. 2.

Both men graduated from MIT in chemical engineering in the 1950s, landed their first jobs for oil companies in Texas City, TX, and a few months later, got fixed up for the company’s spring dance with blind dates—whom they later married. And they met for the first time two weeks ago as part of the 23 alumni and guests exploring modern and ancient Turkey.

The trip began in Istanbul, a vibrant city offering spectacular ancient sites such as the Blue Mosque as well as a modern building boom and international influence in politics, trade, and art.

Gokbeli Tepe is the oldest known place of worship, dating to 9800 BC.

Travelers view the oldest known place of worship.

As a staff host, I accompanied the travelers and our guide, Turkish archaeologist Gokhan Ozagacli, as we toured the 6th century Hagia Sophia, now a museum, sailed the Bosphorus strait, bargained in the Grand Bazaar, and viewed treasures at Topkapi Palace, home of Ottoman sultans.

And then we flew to Gaziantep, the ancient Silk Road city that brims with archeological ruins and boasts the world’s best pistachios and baklava. The ancient world was all around us from sites the Biblical Abraham visited to exquisite mosaics excavated from the ancient Roman city of Zeugma to the Assyrian fortress of Rumkale Castle, guarding a strategic turn on the Euphrates River.

Floating over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.

Floating over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.

In nearby Urfa, we visited Gobekli Tepe, the oldest known place of worship dated to 9800 B.C., and the next day we hiked half a mile to the peak of Mount Nemrut, where giant limestone heads, carved in the first century B.C., regard the 7,000 foot visa.

Later in Cappadocia, we explored cities carved out of rock, and many of us floated via hot air balloon over fairy chimney dwellings. One moonlit night, we ventured into a 13th century caravanserai for a dervish performance of music and whirling dancers. And that’s just a taste of our adventures.

Solving astronomy problems for fun.

Besides expanding our perspectives, this trip nurtured new friendships among the travelers. Mike Feuer ’64 and Jack Russell ’68 began working on an astronomy problem (how can you calculate the amount of daylight knowing only the latitude and date of any locale?) as we drove through the countryside. We also made new connections by inviting MIT graduates living in the Ankara area to dinner. The conversations were fabulous—our weeks in Turkey made us eager to know more about contemporary life and many local alumni were delighted to meet each other for the first time. Ah, global connections! It’s so MIT.

Learn more Turkish Treasures (next scheduled Oct. 4-19, 2013) and other MIT Alumni Travel Program adventures.

 

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Guest blogger: Alice Waugh, Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) communications director

Dannielle Sita, Christie Simpson, Wendy-Kay Logan, Liron Azrielant, and Natallia Pinchuk in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

Dannielle Sita, Christie Simpson, Wendy-Kay Logan, Liron Azrielant, and Natallia Pinchuk in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

There are class reunions, and then there are reunions with your classmates, which sometimes happen in surprising ways. Such was the case for several women from the MIT LGO Class of 2011 who’ve gotten together in far-flung locales not once but twice, first in Israel and last summer in Russia.

It all started when Liron Azrielant and some of her classmates took a trip to her native Israel shortly after graduation. It seemed like a natural thing to do, “because we’d gone on so many trips during the course of LGO experience, and we loved traveling together and seeing things,” said Emily Edwards. “On the last night, we were talking about how everyone’s scattering to the four corners of the world, and wouldn’t it be nice to do this every year.”

Last spring, Edwards spoke to classmate Min Hsieh, who was engaged to be married, “and Min said sort of as a joke, ‘Why don’t we go to Moscow for a bachelorette party?'” recalled Edwards, who was also engaged. The resulting July trip wound up including Azrielant, Karla Krause, Wendy-Kay Logan, Tabassum Rahman, Dannielle Sita, Christie Simpson, and Belarus native Natallia Pinchuk as well as Hsieh and Edwards.

In Moscow's Red Square, Karla Krause, Natallia Pinchuk, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards, Min Hsieh, Tabassum Rahman, and Christie Simpson leap into action.

In Moscow’s Red Square, Karla Krause, Natallia Pinchuk, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards, Min Hsieh, Tabassum Rahman, and Christie Simpson leap into action.

“Natallia did a great job organizing. She sent us a survey to get an idea of what activities we were interested in, and she even sent us a detailed Excel spreadsheet with booked events highlighted for each day prior to the trip—but I would expect no less from an LGO,” Azrielant said with a laugh. Pinchuk’s attention to detail even included having T-shirts made that said “LGO’s Devichnik” in English and Russian lettering (a devichnik is a bridal shower).

On a tour of the ornate Moscow subway system, “I thought we were going into a theater—the intricate detail, the marble work, the statues were beautiful,” Edwards said. When told by a guide that almost 10 million people ride the Moscow subway each day, “the first question someone asked was if that number was unique riders or the total number of rides. Only an LGO would know to ask that question,” Rahman said.

On a side trip to St. Petersburg, the women visited the summer palace of Peter the Great and visited a banya, where they experienced a traditional Russian steam bath, a dunk in a cold pool, and a massage with a birch broom (“‘massage’ is a very loose term,” Edwards said).

Wendy-Kay Logan, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards, Natallia Pinchuk, Min Hsieh, Christie Simpson, Liron Azrielant, Tabassum Rahman, and Karla Krause on a bridge over the Moscow River.

Wendy-Kay Logan, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards, Natallia Pinchuk, Min Hsieh, Christie Simpson, Liron Azrielant, Tabassum Rahman, and Karla Krause on a bridge over the Moscow River.

The highlight of the trip was the bachelorette party itself. After an elegant dinner at a rooftop restaurant, the women traveled by limousine to the Moscow River. “Following Russian tradition, Emily and Min released two doves over the river and wrote their names and their fiancés’ names on a pink heart-shaped lock, placed it on a ‘lock tree,’ and threw the keys into the river,” Rahman recounted.

Afterwards, the limo drove the women all over Moscow. At one point, they unexpectedly encountered a tour group of retired Israelis. “They took pictures of us and wanted to know everything we could tell them—where we went to school, how we all knew each other, where we work—and ‘Would you like to meet my son?'” Azrielant said.

Looking back on the trip, the women agreed that the camaraderie and collaborative spirit of LGO haven’t dimmed in the slightest. “It was fantastic, like no time had passed,” Edwards said.

“Even though we’re pursuing careers in different industries and locations, we’ve been able to maintain the strong bond created from the transformational experience that makes LGO such a unique program,” Logan said.

“I think it’s the type of relationship that could grow only in a close and collaborative program such as LGO,” Azrielant added.

Read other stories about the women of LGO.

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The Etak Navigaot. Photo: LiPo Ching.

The pre-GPS (global positioning system) days when drivers relied on maps and verbal directions are long gone. For most trips, an in-car navigation system has evolved from a luxury to a necessity, and to some, an afterthought.

While GPS popularity is a phenomenon from the past decade, the first publicly available automobile-navigation system, the Etak Navigator, first came to market in the mid-1980s. Over 25 years later, it’s believed that only one functioning Navigator still exists.

It’s located in the Toyota Camry of Jon Landes, a former Etak software engineer, who installed it in his car in 1989. Alongside Tristan Thielmann, an MIT visiting associate professor, Landes recently took the Camry for a spin, using the Navigator to guide its journey. According to Landes and Thielmann, the Navigator’s direction was accurate and precise.

View a slideshow of their journey from The Mercury News.

To call the Atari-looking Navigator–which retailed for about $1,500 in the late 1980s–a GPS would be a misnomer, as it does not use satellites to position itself in space.

From The Mercury News:

“Instead, it uses ‘dead reckoning,’ comparing the car’s location to a fixed spot. Landes’ system includes a compass affixed in the rear of the car, a central-processing unit about the size of a large loaf of bread, a series of cassette tapes that contain the digitized maps, and a choice of two green vector monitors, one large and one small. Inside the rim of the wheels is a series of magnetic beads that feed information to the computer about how fast the car is going, when it is turning, and so on.”

Thielmann, who studies mapping and media and is writing a book on the rise of navigation systems, recorded their journey in hope that the footage will be part of the evolution of media technology.

Does anyone remember the Etak Navigator, or know anyone who paid $1,500 to have it installed in their car? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.

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