Lesotho Bound

Ben Simone is a senior who will be graduating in May. He double majored in Mathematics and Political Science. He has three older siblings and one younger brother, who is 12 and sometimes a handful. As a former SGA president and a former trustee and now a member of SERVE, he has certainly made an impact on our campus.



What do you do in SERVE?
I’m a badger alternative breaks co-leader, so we run trips that go across the country. We’ve done local trips in the past, too. It’s bringing students on this trip where they have a chance to make a difference in communities and participate in meaningful community service. This year Heather White and myself led a trip to New Orleans to do disaster relief work. We helped a woman who had been a victim of contractor fraud three times and helping her fix up her house. It was a great experience. There was a total of ten people and it was a weeklong event. It was wonderful.



What are your plans for after graduation?
In September, I’m going to be leaving for the Peace Corps. I’m going to the country of Lesotho in southern Africa to teach high school math and do HIV work for two years. My going is contingent on a series of medical and background checks.



Why do you want to do that?
It’s something I’ve always been thinking about. Friends of mine -—their parents have been in the Peace Corps and they met in the Peace Corps. It’s always been something in the back of my mind. “I should sign up for that.” Because if I don’t, I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life. It’s really a commitment to service unlike any other. You’re going somewhere else where you don’t know the culture, you don’t know the language, and you’re working to make a difference. That speaks to me.



What is your dream job?
I’ve gone back and forth throughout my four years here so many times that I’m still at a point where I don’t really know yet. I’m hoping that this upcoming experience helps me figure that out. I started here as a communications major, and then with political science. I dabbled in sociology, I’m still in political science and then eventually to math somehow. I just go where it takes me.



What’s your dream vacation?
I really want to go to Yosemite and spend a solid week there. My mom went there last summer, and she said it was one of the most gorgeous experiences she’s ever had, unlike anything else in the world.



What are you going to miss about JSC?
I’m really happy that I came here. I think coming here was definitely life changing. It provided me with a lot of the support I needed, and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve stayed here. I thought that when I came here I was just going to transfer out after two years, which is why I’m doing creative audience now. Margo has been very helpful. But what kept me around here was just the support structure that the community creates. It’s hard to get that feeling on a tour, but after four years, the support that I’ve gotten here has helped me build up a structure that I know I can count on moving forward in my life.



What won’t you miss?
I’m kind of looking to go someplace a bit warmer. It’s just really cold here. There’s a reason that when I came here I had finished touring a college in Canada, and it was this gorgeous spring day. The sun was shining, and I didn’t realize that the ice hits your face for half the year continuously. I mean, if you’re into that, kudos to you, but, yeah, I could use someplace warmer. It’s gorgeous in the summer, though.



What is your greatest accomplishment?
I think transitioning from who I was as a high school student to who I am now. It took a while but I really consider that transition really vital to the success I’ve had here. That’s due in part to the help I’ve had here and just getting my shit together. Now I know that moving forward I’ll be fine to some extent, and that wasn’t always a guarantee.



What were you like in high school?
I was a pretty poor student. Just kind of all over the place. College really focuses you. The real world becomes so much closer, and you start to realize, “This is it.” Just this realization that didn’t happen. I’m proud of that transition.



So you feel prepared for the world?
I don’t think there’s any way for me to become absolutely prepared. What college gives you is like a tool kit that you can use. You never know where you want to be but having a series of successes and failures teaches you how to deal with them in the future. Definitely, getting the four years of education gives you a real step up. Especially when you consider how much of the world does not have the same opportunity to have an education like that.



Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
That’s the hardest question you’ve asked me. So a horse is roughly six feet tall? I don’t really spend that much time around horses. Man, ducks are vicious, though. They don’t screw around. They’re 100 duck-sized horses. So a duck’s two feet tall. That’s a lot. Man, I feel like either way… I’m going to go with the horse-sized duck because there’s no way you’re getting away from 100 duck-sized horses. They’re pretty damn quick. I bet it could move faster than a cat, probably. I’m putting way too much thought into this.



What do you want written on your gravestone?
I don’t really want a gravestone. That’s not something I’m into. I’m not a terribly big fan of cemeteries. I get the symbolism, but as far as a space issue goes, I’m all for cremation. I don’t really want anything like that.



Do you want anything written on your urn, then?
Not really, no. I think that people’s memories of you should speak for you when you’re gone, not what you’ve written. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. I’d rather have stories told rather than something physically written.



If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Something involving mashed potatoes. I don’t know what would go with it. I eat everything with mashed potatoes. God, I love mashed potatoes.



What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?
It’s hard for me to think of exact words, but I have a really strong memory of just an expression of gratitude when I did something. It just fills you with the warmest feeling, knowing you made a difference in someone’s life. On the BAB trip, there was this woman, who was the victim of contractor fraud, her name was Carol, she was wonderful, mid-seventies who just was thanking God left and right that we were there. I could tell the impact that we made. It was a fantastic feeling.



What’s the meanest?
I think it’s funny that everyone has this mutual feeling when your parents say they’re disappointed in your actions. That’s worse than “I’m angry at you.” That sticks with you. If I ever have kids, I’m totally using that, because it works well.



What inspires you?
Thinking back through college there are so many things I get curious about and pursue further. I have a whole lifetime to do that. Just the drive to continue learning new things, innate curiosity.



What’s the meaning of life?

That’s a reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?
Yeah. I read all of them. They’re so good. The second one was excellent. [Douglas Adams’] sense of humor is fantastic. Actually, he does this one lecture where he’s telling a story about how he’s studying dolphins in this Chinese river and wanted to film something, but they needed to put their cameras underwater, so they had to go around this Chinese town, looking for condoms to put over their camera. Having to try to find contraceptives — it’s hilarious. I’m not doing it justice.



What do you binge watch on Netflix?
I go back and forth. One of my favorite shows that I want to get out there because it’s so good is Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula. It’s this 1980s tv show where this scientist leaps through people’s lives in this science experiment gone wrong. It’s one of the most beautifully produced shows I’ve ever seen. He leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald at one point, which is just crazy, or people going through one of the worst moments of their lives. It’s one of the best shows about the human experience I’ve ever seen.



Who are your five favorite presidents?
Lincoln. FDR. Carter. LBJ. Obama. They all had a positive outlook on what we could have been. Being president is the most difficult job in the world. You not only have to try your best to solve what issues the country is facing but you have to provide a positive outlook so people have something to aspire to. I think every single one of those people did their best to do so. They saw a vision of a better world and tried their best to make that happen.



What do you have nightmares about?
I think dreams are so interesting because you can’t invent anything in your dreams. The people you meet in dreams are people you’ve met in real life. Your mind can’t create a new person you haven’t met, which I find fascinating. But I had a dream that I lived in a small cave and didn’t come out and it was horrible.



What do you obsess over?
It goes back and forth. One week I was obsessed with the banjo and dropping out of school and picking up a banjo and driving my Subaru out West. When I obsess over something, I go hard into it. I was talking route maps, I had Google Maps up and out, I had route stops, I had monetary situations figured out. Then that week ended. Then another week occurred — and actually this still kind of is [an obsession] but to a lesser extent — where I was really into paramotoring, which is when you have what is essentially a big fan attached to your back and you can — it’s one of the easiest ways of flying. I looked up cost estimates, I looked up where I could do it, see if there was anywhere in driving distance in New Hampshire or Mass. It’s only like a $500 cost, which, considering it’s flying, is relatively little. More continuously, I’m such a big public radio fan. I pretty consistently listen to “This American Life” and “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” on Saturdays and Sundays.