Fatik is a student who comes to college with many interests: world cinema, psychology, economics, and Spanish being foremost among them. He has been attracted to the Global Liberal Studies program primarily by its required junior year at a global site, but is torn between spending that year in Shanghai or Buenos Aires.
Patrice is his first year writing teacher
Girish is his advisor and teaches the senior colloquium Fatik plans to take in association with his thesis.
Fatik takes a writing class in his first year in which the instructor, Patrice, puts a heavy emphasis on maintaining a portfolio of work on which one periodically gathers comment, then revises and synthesizes shorter preliminary drafts into longer, more polished pieces to share online with a wider audience than the class itself. Being interested in cinema, Fatik begins by uploading to the portfolio space he uses for the class a large number of streaming video clips (both from theatrical films and his own work) that he may want to discuss in his first essay. He invites comment from other students on the clips themselves and also on his draft essay; when he submits the essay, which includes embedded clips, for a grade, Patrice returns an open comment in Fatik's class portfolio page, while individually and privately sharing the grade with him. Fatik is struck by an insight in the comment, and posts that segment of the comment to his network blog page.
To help him coordinate his many interests into a coherent academic plan, Fatik's advisor, Girish, reviews the larger portfolio he maintains as a required element for students in GLS. In building this portfolio, Fatik has drawn upon his Writing class portfolio and organized this and other materials he has uploaded (which include essays submitted for classes, photos he has taken, some of his favorite blog posts from both his own and his classmates' blogs, materials instructors have provided as background, and audio clips of his own music) into a set of categories that he has devised himself and chosen from among several visual metaphors for displaying his work. Girish, notices that Fatik has organized most of his portfolio by genres that closely relate to the courses he has taken - "Art," "Philosophy," "Literature," "Writing," "Economics," and "Film" - but that he has also included a category called "World." Intrigued, he leaves a comment on his organizational plan; he then toggles to a view that shows the number and titles of the files in each area, and notices that Fatik has uploaded far more material into the "World" and "Writing" categories than anywhere else. Looking at some of the individual items in the "World" category, he discovers an essay with illustrative film clips on tango as an art form that is among the best pieces of freshman writing he has ever seen; he also finds and adds to a lively discussion between Fatik and Patrice concerning the piece.
The online discussion leads to a meeting in which Fatik decides he will choose Buenos Aires as his junior year site. While there, he reorganizes his portfolio, totally changing the way he has categorized his clip library and uploading into the portfolio a great deal of material relating to his Economics course on developing nations and his internship with an NGO. Toward the end of junior year, Girish, the teacher of the arts-focused senior thesis course for which he has registered examines the portfolio; an exchange of comments, which includes Girish looking back at the first organizational plan Fatik had used and contrasting it to the current version to gauge how his taxonomic assumptions have changed, leads both of them to the conclusion that Fatik ought really to work on the psychological effects of transnational aid programs with a different advisor in a different colloquium.
Using his portfolio as a basis for his thesis, Fatik rediscovers his forgotten first year essay on film, and discovers that its ideas about the effect of the gaze, though embryonic, are exactly what he needs to consider in reaching conclusions about the psychology of aid programs. When he graduates, he chooses to display the whole sequence of work that shows the growth of his ideas from freshman to thesis in a portfolio he submits for a UN job to which he has applied.