I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
On Wednesday, my sponsors, MQP advisor, and I met. That day I spent nervous, wondering if I should prepare more than simply printing all the products out and organizing them neatly in folders. Eventually I calmed down and worked until 5:45, when my anxiety roared back: John Trimbur, my MQP advisor who visited London for two weeks, planned to meet us at Commonside at 6:00. I paced and waited and sat in the green across from the office, trying to read but really waiting for the 152 bus because Trimbur intended to catch that to us. Logical, since only two buss routes really service this area.
At 6:20 he waved to me across the street. Selena, the project manager, Trimbur, and I proceeded to Suzanne and Adrian’s home. Adrian, employed by the Merton Council to environmentalize their borough, has sponsored numerous WPI IQPs as well as having played an integral role in Commonside’s existence and development: he chairs their board, essentially kick-started it as it exists now, and even designed their (generally agreed-upon hideous) logo. I would have liked to see Commonside with a new logo before I left, but they love it far too dearly and the mere suggestion of such heresy would probably have resulted in my quick expulsion from their premises. Adrian could also talk the horns off one of the Parisian cow statues pictured here. When we arrived he began talking; I estimate 50% of the words spoken originated from his vocal cords, although as the night progressed and BAC levels rose I noticed a distinct shift towards vocality in general. While at first people listened politely, by the end interruptions and talking at once prevailed.
Little of that talking involved me, my project, or my progress. I passed out my carefully prepared materials, which only Adrian had not yet seen. He complimented me on it, which meant something since he received an art degree; then the discussion moved on. They later asked what I’d learned at Commonside, and I replied that I’d begun to understand the value of listening and learning on my feet. We ate out in the garden, under a suspended blanket, and watched cats come and go and heard them fight. Suzanne served vegetarian – bread, chopped vegetables in vinegar and oil for a spread, tofu slices, salads, pasta with homemade red sauce, with very chocolatey ice cream for dessert (not enough of that). Everybody but me drank red and white wine and champaign and, after later, Adrian and Trimbur enjoyed shots of some Italian after-dinner drink.
They drank Italian because Suzanne and Adrian had just returned from a brief vacation to Venice, where they hung out with…FABIO CARRERA! The WPI professor deeply enmeshed in the WPI overseas IQP program, that abhorred bane of students, possibly the most hated of IQP advisors, the man for whom students cannot find one single nice word, the man who Ian (who doesn’t hate easily) loathed for the horrible interview he gave his IQP group, the man who sells off his students’ IQPs, without their approval or knowledge, for personal money. Adrian met him through his WPI contacts and somehow Fabio and he hit it off to the point of visiting each other in Italy and London. Far too much of the dinner ended up devoted to singing Fabio’s praise, with my struggling to contain first my incredulity and then later my shocked desire to try to rebut their happy praises. But! But! But! I have grown up, and I know it because I didn’t say anything, however badly I longed to. I held my tongue, said nothing, and simply listened to them praise the man who sells WPI students’ IQPs – which are required for graduation, which they pay through the NOSE for, which are supposed to teach the value of engineering for society – for personal profit! How can this be legal? How can he not tell students that he’s going to sell their projects, and get away with making money off of their sweat/blood/tears work? How is this not stealing their IQPs? Personal gain without any real work on his part…If somebody sold my work without telling me or kicking back to me, I would…well…!
Now it’s time for me to stop writing, because this can’t get any better. The meeting went well, they liked my work, the food tasted delicious, Suzanne and Adrian’s house and garden were lovely, I got back quite late but God blessed me with tubes and busses perfectly timed. That was my whole official meeting, my Final Presentation, and I believe I may see the A Train’s headlights far down there on the tracks.