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Pamplin Society of Fellows » Fellows - A society of scholars, athletes, and resolute leaders at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon

Fellows

Highlights from Fall Retreat 2011

Posted in Activities, Fellows, Professors on September 29th, 2011 by lnash – 1 Comment

Last weekend, the current Pamplin cast (short only two) shared YMCA Camp Collins’ snazzy facilities with students from Beaverton High School and a Girl Scout troop. By the end of the car ride to Gresham, Oregon, I had already realized how lucky I was (and am) to be part of such a cohesive, energetic, driven group.

On the first night, our new Pamplin professor of history, David Campion, introduced himself by presenting a brief autobiography. He told us about his beginnings at a Jesuit high school—his first inspiration to become an educator. We learned that he paid for college by joining the Naval ROTC program, and subsequently went to grad school for engineering (against his better judgment) before becoming an officer on a ship in the first Gulf War.

Before bed, about half our ranks went on a nighttime walk to admire the stars. A handful of us played Banana-grams—a fast-paced word game using Scrabble-esque tiles. Katy ground most of us into fine dust.

In the morning, we met up with a couple of men who would guide us through team-building exercises and ropes courses. Laura Bogar, despite a nagging cold, was the first to volunteer to run as far as she could, while screaming as loudly as she could, stopping as soon as she ran out of breath. Zach, Benjamin and Micah raced her, Zach soon disappearing around a corner, the clear winner.

After everyone else had had a chance at the climbing wall, Professors Campion and O’Sullivan scrambled up like it was nothing, putting many of us to shame.

While waiting for our guides to prepare the zip line, we passed up the usual fall-back-and-trust-your-teammates-to-catch-you exercise, and went for the human gyroscope. That means that we all gathered around Kyle and Erica, in turn, and passed them hand over hand so that they each performed a back flip without touching the ground.

Nikki’s scream pierced the air as she stepped off of a platform in the trees, hurtling along a zip line toward a tree across the way.

In the afternoon, we had a few hours of free time. While the more adventurous among us rented bikes, went on runs or took advantage of Camp Collins’ bouldering and obstacle courses, the rest retired to the cabins to sleep or study. I fell asleep reading Zhuangzi, and a few minutes after waking up was summoned to a yoga session led by Kyle. Erica, Pirtle and I performed sun salutations while “My Heart Will Go On” played in the background on Micah’s Celtic pan-flute.

As soon as we had finished off our hamburgers (or veggie burgers) and ice cream sandwiches, Professor Johnson and Professor Campion introduced a “moral dilemma,” posing a situation in which we had to decide whether to drive a car with a bomb into a hotel, at which we were the manager; or to drive to a police station, at which point the IRA would kill our wife, who they had hostage. There was more to it than that, but I won’t go into detail. The discussion lasted about an hour.

Later, we separated into committees for the semester, each more popular than the last, everyone contributing grandiose ideas.

Back at the cabins, after the professors had left, everyone gathered around the snacks and talked—about school, about spirit animals, about superpowers. At some point, the circle turned its attention to Micah, who held us in thrall with ghost stories, many taking place on Lewis & Clark’s south campus. In the end, he promised to arrange a tour of the Corbett mansion with Campus Safety.

Driving back to Portland the next morning, everyone in my car stared sleepily ahead listening to the top 40. After a fantastic weekend, it was difficult to think about homework and the week ahead, but I have to say that I was more excited about the Pamplin Society than I ever had been before.

100 Projects for Peace Grant in Ethiopia

Posted in Fellows on April 10th, 2011 by scottzec – Be the first to comment

This is Leah Scott-Zechlin ‘11. I am just writing a quick post about my work this summer. Four LC students, all with roots in Ethiopia or Eritrea, and myself received a grant from Davis Projects for Peace. This grant is allowing us to fund and facilitate the building of a well in Borena, Ethiopia, which is an area that has seen a lot of conflict over resources. We will also carry out a workshop in conflict mitigation while focusing on entrepreneurship as well.

A well in Borena

A well in Borena

We are keeping very busy planning logistics in Ethiopia while also fundraising and doing publicity in the U.S. to make our project possible. This past weekend, we were special guests on the international radio show “La Voix de la Jeunesse Africaine/The Voice of African Youth” to talk about our project as well as our opinions on development aid. You can read more about us on the LC website. We are hoping to raise enough funds to even build a second well in the region. For those who would like to support our project, please visit this site to contribute.

The team, L to R: Seile, Temesghen, Leah, Brook, Mihret

The team, L to R: Seile, Temesghen, Leah, Brook, Mihret

If you are interested in attending our fundraising banquet on Monday, April 18th, at Lewis & Clark College, tickets are available in the college bookstore for $20. The banquet will feature a reception, an Ethiopian meal with bar and a silent auction. If you would like to contribute to our project by volunteering at the banquet, please contact me at scottzec@lclark.edu. Thank you for your support!

Banquet Flyer

Banquet Flyer

I am excited to update the blog after summer when our project has been completed. Thank you!

Fellows Receive National Awards

Posted in Fellows on April 2nd, 2011 by Nikki – Be the first to comment

The Society is happy to announce that three resident Fellows recently received national awards honoring their achievements. Below is a brief description of each of the awards and their recipients.

Laura Bogar (’12), a biology major, was awarded a Udall Scholarship on the basis of her demonstrated commitment to environmental issues. Udall Scholars are selected from a highly competitive pool of college students who intend to pursue careers related to the environment or to tribal policy. Laura will attend a conference in August where she will receive her award and meet leading figures in environmental and tribal policy. Find more information on the Udall Scholarship here.

Ana Rodenberg (’12), a double major in mathematics and physics, was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to college students who seek to pursue careers in math or science. The selection process is nationwide and is highly competitive. The Society is proud to announce that resident Fellow Benjamin Hoffman (’13) received honorable mention for the 2011 Goldwater Scholarship selection. Find more information on the Goldwater Scholarship here.

Nikki Myoraku (’12), a double major in history and art history, was awarded a SHEAR/Mellon Fellowship. SHEAR/Mellon Fellows are given the opportunity to conduct two weeks of research at the University of Pennsylvania and at other institutions in Philadelphia as part of the process for completing a senior honors thesis in early American history. Find more information on the SHEAR/Mellon Fellowship here.

Congratulations to everyone!!

Bangladesh Conference

Posted in Fellows on February 22nd, 2011 by scottzec – Be the first to comment

This is Leah Scott-Zechlin ‘11 blogging in my final months at LC. This year I received a grant from the Student Academic Affairs Board (SAAB) here on campus to attend a social development conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh over Winter Break. One conference topic was nebulous ownership, which was the field of my senior thesis in Economics last Fall. Also, Bangladesh is the origin of the microfinance movement. I am currently an intern at Kiva, an online microlending platform to people around the world, so the microfinance theme also interested me. Fellow Pamplin fellow Alex Simon helped me spruce up my application and I am so lucky to be funded by SAAB!

I started out the trip with a 24-hour layover in Beijing, where I got to see the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I’ve never been to Asia before so this was quite the crash course. Upon landing in Bangladesh, I was very unsure of what to expect. In a few words: colors, people and traffic EVERYWHERE! I arrived at the fancy conference hotel that SAAB graciously funded me to stay in for the first night. Over the next days, I enjoyed meeting people at the conference and attending some interesting sessions, interspersed with many tea breaks. Dr. Muhammed Yunus, 2006 Nobel Prize Winner, was supposed to speak at the conference, but unfortunately the commitment has not been checked with Dr. Yunus himself-nevertheless, my first academic conference was very exciting.

I then spent my remaining days in Bangladesh attending the wedding of a cousin of a former LC student and friend. This was an amazing, beyond-words immersion experience. I feel so lucky to have had the serendipity of being in the right place at the right time. Between the many wedding festivities (receptions, holud, henna parties, music nights, the wedding itself), I also had the chance to venture out on my own to explore Old Dhaka. An exciting surprise was that Dr. Muhammed Yunus was at the wedding reception-the groom’s father had studied under Dr. Yunus and I had the opportunity to talk to him for awhile. He is incredibly gracious and also a jokester! He was familiar with LC and had been to Powells various times.

A general rule I would apply for Bangladesh is you needn’t worry about being totally lost or disoriented; you will always immediately be adopted by one, or often more, Bangladeshis. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard “you are my guest.” According to my guidebook, which was confirmed by my experience, the complete absence of foreign visitors gives you an experience beyond that of a mere tourist. Everyone I met considered it both a pleasure and a duty to be of service to a foreign guest; you become a personal project to anyone you meet, usually including offers of cha (tea), tours of sights, rickshaw rides, introductions to the most important people they know in the city, meals, friendship, etc. I’ll close my narration with one final example of hospitality. My 5 am flight leaving Bangladesh was delayed due to extreme fog. Standing at the counter with 30 other irate, yelling Bangladeshi men, I found out I wasn’t on the passenger list. The man next to me yelled at everyone in Bengali about my plight (Bengali uses a fair amount of English words, a legacy of British colonialism) and the next five minutes were filled with every single man there turning on the man at the counter, yelling in Bengali heavily interspersed with the word “foreigner,” and gesturing at me. I was then invited to the office where they simply added me to the flight list. I then wound up being hosted at the Prime Minister’s nephew’s house nearby the airport until our flight in the afternoon. You are never alone in Bangladesh, for better or for worse. Bangladesh is beautiful but its people are even more so!

On the train from Chittagong to Dhaka-had to jump back on the train when it started moving!

At the train station. We had to jump back onto the moving train after this photo was taken.Dr. Yunus and I at the wedding receptionWith Dr. Yunus at the wedding reception

The heart of Bangladesh-it's rivers! I went out on a boat here.

Old Dhaka. I went out on a launch here where I took this photo. Bangladesh is a country of rivers.

New Friends

Typical day-in-the-life as a tourist: Celebrity status! This is before about thirty or more people would join them to see who the foreigner is, cell phone pictures usually required. I was always offered cha by the nearest vendor and invited to sit down.

Old Dhaka

A random example of the beauty of often forgotten Bangladesh.

お腹、空いた!

Posted in Fellows, Uncategorized on October 2nd, 2010 by Diane – 1 Comment

Every once in a while, my appetite goes from Diane-sized voraciousness to Michael Phelps-sized voraciousness. Meaning, I want to eat everything ever all the time, even if I’m so full my stomach hurts. The last week or so has been one of those weeks, so today I’m going to talk about my food experiences in Japan.

First of all, getting fed in Japan is very easy. On top of the restaurants that are everywhere, you can walk into a 7/11, Lawson’s, Family Mart, et. al. and pick up pasta, bento (Japanese-style lunchboxes), onigiri (triangular balls of rice with stuff inside, wrapped in seaweed), noodles, sandwiches, and much more for less than 500 yen a piece. I’m sure there are a good bit of preservatives in there, but it’s real food, and it’s delicious. Especially the onigiri. Now that I’ve learned to like the seaweed, I’m officially in love with tuna-mayo onigiri. Another thing I picked up recently was “omu-raisu doria,” which is an omelette filled with rice and meat, with cheese on top and a red sauce on the side. Drool.

On top of ridiculously easy-to-obtain pre-cooked deliciousness, cooking at home has been really easy and fun this semester. This is partially thanks to CET’s “Room of Requirement.” (Take heed, future Osaka CET-ers!) The students from last semester bought cooking and living supplies, but when they left they left everything in Japan, so this room is full of tons of stuff–pots, pans, utensils, etc. Therefore, my kitchen is ridiculously well-stocked.

The other thing that makes it so easy has to do with the way you buy things here. In the States, we typically go to the grocery store about once a week, stock up, and don’t go back until the next week. In Japan there’s no space to stock up, so unless you have leftovers you’re probably going to go to the supermarket. Now, because of that (this is the magic thing!) you can buy foods–specifically, meat–in much smaller portions and therefore you can just make something on the spot.

So, I’ve had a ton of fun making delicious food for myself. Japanese-style cooking is overall pretty simple, so I’ve been able to try a lot of interesting things. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of my favorite (and super-easy!) recipes so far.

First up is a little something called ochazuke. You take a bowl of rice, add toppings (you can buy packets in the grocery store: this one was seaweed as well as some other things. I also added some veggies), and then–here’s the kicker–pour hot green tea over it and eat. It makes this wonderful, hot, rice soup with a delicious-tasting broth.
Next is udon. You can buy these noodle pre-cooked at the supermarket for about 25 yen, and then all you have to do is throw them in hot water to warm them up and add broth and other ingredients. For this bowl, I added some fresh veggies and also some beef and vegetable teriyaki (ish) stir-fry from the night before. In Japan udon tends to be served without too many extra things, so I was happy to be able to change up the recipe a bit. (Ps. udon is so much more delicious than ramen)

Finally, we have tonight’s (and last night’s) dinner. Now, if you ask anyone who’s known me for a while, they would know that I have been a really picky eater since forever. But since I came to Japan, that’s all changed. There are too many interesting foods for me to be picky about them. I mean, there are still foods I think are disgusting (katsu-don with mayonnaise on top!), but I don’t just write off foods because I’ve never had them before.

In any case, this dish combines two things I have recently discovered to be delicious: kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) and tofu. Best of all, all you have to do is cut up the tofu and throw it and the kimchi into a frying pan, stir-fry, and serve. It really spices up the tofu, which is super bland on its own. And then the rice is for consoling your aching taste buds after attacking them with kimchi. I also made it cute by adding cut carrots, because I am OCD like that.

And of course, the leftovers go in my bento for lunch the next day :)

Basically, I have a happy tummy.

Bonding at the Beach: Reflections on the Fall 2010 Pamplin Retreat

Posted in Fellows on September 29th, 2010 by Nikki – Be the first to comment

“What exactly does the Pamplin Society do?”

This is a question I’ve been hearing quite a bit in the last few days. While I can’t account for why the frequency of these questions should increase at this point in the semester, the following account will hopefully shed some light on a matter which seems to befuddle the greater LC community.

Each semester, the current Pamplin Fellows, accompanied by the four Pamplin Professors and the Pamplin Society Director, go on a retreat to a very special location. I say “special” for both the stunning scenery that often characterizes these places and, more importantly, the opportunity that these retreats provide to interact with a diverse, multi-talented, and entertaining group of people. This fall, our destination was Lincoln City, located on the Oregon coast about two hours’ drive from campus. We left in shifts during the afternoon and evening of Friday, September 24, and the early arrivals, myself included, started prepping dinner. Below are some photos of our collective efforts at delivering up homemade Mediterranean cuisine (yum!), as well as of the walk on the beach that some of us took while waiting for everyone to arrive.

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Katy making dinner

Our yummy soon-to-be Mediterranean food!

Our yummy soon-to-be Mediterranean food!

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Walking on the beach

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Sunset at Lincoln City

After everyone arrived, we had dinner and played an icebreaker called “Popcorn,” suggested by Becca (’11). For those unfamiliar with it (and I know I was), players each write down two words on separate pieces of paper, which are all placed in a single receptacle. Players then divide into two teams. The game begins when a player draws a word from the receptacle and attempts to describe it using any words except the word that he/she drew. That player’s team has thirty seconds to guess the word on the paper and to get through as many other words as possible. Then the receptacle is passed to a player on the other team and the process begins again. Teams receive a point for each correctly guessed word. When the receptacle is empty, the next round begins, in which players can only use one word to describe the word on the paper. The final round involves acting out the word with no verbal contributions. Sadly, I have no photos of the latter part of our evening, but I can tell you that “debonair,” “Warren’s glasses,” and “colonoscopy” all came up in the course of the game. (I am also told that my impersonation of the rapper Lil’ Bow Wow was rather amusing.)

Saturday morning, we got right down to business after a delicious breakfast that included oatmeal, raspberries, yogurt, toast, tea, and coffee. During the academic year, the Pamplin Society generally functions as a set of committees which are determined according to the qualities that Pamplin Fellows are expected to exemplify. Each committee is chaired by one or more current Fellows. Our committees presently work in the areas of selecting new Fellows, organizing or contributing to service projects, leading on-campus discussions pertaining to relevant issues, inviting distinguished guest speakers to campus, networking with LC alumni, and determining the recipient of the Teacher of the Year award. Thus, one of the key objectives of the Pamplin retreats is to determine who will be on which committee and to set dates for committee and Society meetings over the course of the semester. Of course, that isn’t to say that the Pamplin Society is all work and no play…

Our committees chosen, we packed sack lunches and headed for the pristine greenery and thundering waves of Cascade Head. Although we started in a relatively flat area, the trail quickly wound uphill through a silent forest filled with ferns and clearings dappled with dancing sunbeams. A few hours and many breathtaking views later, we stopped in a meadow at the top of a tall hill for lunch and down time. Apart from a chilly wind that blew through every few minutes, it was quite peaceful to sit on the golden-green grass with the other Fellows, chatting, eating, and admiring the panorama of frothy ocean, jagged mountains, and waving treetops spread out below and around us. Here are some more photos, because my words can’t fully capture the loveliness and vitality of the scene.

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Beautiful sky and sea at Cascade Head

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View of the meadow where we ate lunch

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Brr! Group huddle!

We had about an hour to relax and study after the hike, before heading to Professor Beckham’s beach cottage at Neskowin for dinner and more Pamplin activities. Professor Beckham very kindly invited us as his first guests following recent renovations at the cottage, and our first activity upon arrival was to explore the cottage and the beach that fronts it.

When we returned to the cottage for a pizza dinner, followed by an absolutely scrumptious dessert of blackberries, raspberries, whipped cream, Tillamook ice cream, and the best marbled brownies on the face of the planet, we encountered both Professor Beckham’s adorable grandchildren and Professor Johnson’s famous “moral dilemmas.” Traditionally a part of Pamplin retreats, moral dilemmas involve splitting the Fellows into groups and asking each group to resolve a scenario containing a moral conflict. For example, my group was asked to imagine ourselves as Socrates’ jailer and brother, who, being a “highly moral person” and also knowing Socrates is innocent, must decide whether or not to offer Socrates a chance to escape or to administer to him the fatal dose of hemlock which the state has decreed will be his punishment for corrupting the youth with his teachings. Each group proposes a solution (or several solutions) to the rest of the Fellows, and a question and answer period follows, during which both professors and Fellows can challenge the group’s argument(s). Moral dilemmas are, as demonstrated, quite intellectually stimulating, and it can be both fascinating and entertaining to listen to Fellows debate one another. The evening ended with an informative and inspiring talk from Professor Beckham about the history of the Neskowin area and the value of pursuing your dreams.

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Whatcha doin', Alex?

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Hmm, what WAS he doing?

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So then Riley decided to have a go...

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Aren't we cute?

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Chillin' at Professor Beckham's cottage

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A very big thank you to Alison, our lovely Society Director, for organizing such a wonderful retreat!

In short (or not so short), this is what happens at Pamplin retreats. The highlight of the retreat for me, which was difficult to describe for those who weren’t present, was the chance to interact with the Society in a relaxed and social environment. I hope that I’ve at least addressed it obliquely by describing the more general events of the retreat and my personal take on them. All of the Fellows that I have gotten to know are intelligent, friendly, and engaging conversationalists, and, as always, the best way to truly understand the unique individuals at the heart of the Society is to talk to them yourself!

- Nikki (’12)

Hello from Japan!

Posted in Fellows on September 20th, 2010 by Diane – 1 Comment

Hello, all!

I am spending the semester abroad in Japan, and so far it has been amazing. I’m looking forward to a lot more fun, too.

This post is all about being a gaijin (or gaikokujin, foreigner). I think I will keep my posts on this blog academic, so if you’re interested in reading more about everyday life in Japan, feel free to check out my blog at girlinjapan.wordpress.com

In the United States, if you see a person with a different colored hair or skin, you don’t bat an eye. Unless they open their mouths and come out with a really outlandish language or accent, they belong in your country.

In Japan, everyone can see on first glance that you are not one of them. And after that–well, there are plenty of glances.

There are the gawkers, who are just plain rude. A lot of these are children who haven’t learned manners yet, but there are a few people who just downright stare. It’s somewhat fun because if you meet their eyes they’ll often get really embarrassed and pretend they weren’t looking. Except for this one guy on the train who just stared back (yikes). People like these make you feel like there’s something wrong with you, and sometimes I feel kind of ashamed to be different from everyone else.

There are the ones who assume you don’t speak a word of Japanese, like the man I mentioned earlier, whose face changed to sheer panic when I opened the door, thinking he was going to have to dredge up stuff he learned in high school. It’s good if you’re able to show them you know something.

There are the ones who are super psyched to meet a foreigner, like the girl who asked me to correct her English paper in the middle of a store. I’ve only had one of these experiences, but they are fun because you can do them a favor, and do something they can’t.

There are the ones who are stunned that you can do anything at all (use chopsticks, use basic Japanese words). They hold you to a separate standard: “You speak Japanese so well!” (I’m about as good as your elementary school kid) “Oh, you are so good at using chopsticks!” (So is everyone else in this country).

There are also super sweet friendly people. There’s a drugstore near us that Karen and I visited together. We had a little conversation with the people working there, and the next time I came back without Karen, they asked after her. There’s also Godai-san from the curry shop down the street from school, who started telling us all about Kyoto and showing us some beautiful photos she had taken. I love the people who open up to differences and share something of themselves with you. But even with the nice people, you’re still defined by the fact that you’re not one of them.

I don’t mean to complain, just inform. I’ve been mostly enjoying being a gaijin in this country. It’s either opened things up for me or provided me with some good laughs. I’ve never been in the minority like this, so it’s a really interesting experience. But it’s definitely made me realize how accurate the idea of the “American melting pot” is.

I did read an article (Thanks, Uncle Charlie!) about a woman who had a different experience from mine, and much more negative. It’s a very good article and it’s given me a few good ideas for messing with the rude people. Definitely worth a read.

I think the reason it’s easier for me is that I have American and Japanese friends here to support me, a group to belong to in a country where I don’t. I’m really glad for that! The few forays I’ve had into completely Japanese groups have been very daunting and stressful, but I hope I can continue on and learn more!

Pamplin Society Welcomes Class of 2013

Posted in Fellows on September 13th, 2010 by Nikki – Be the first to comment

The Pamplin Society extends its congratulations to the seven newest Fellows: Ben Hoffman, Alex Nishida, Daniel Shaver, Laura Nash, Jordan Buysse, Kim Takinami, and Kyle Yoshioka. Welcome, class of 2013!

International Fair!

Posted in Fellows, Uncategorized on March 21st, 2010 by wkluber – 1 Comment

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Hello!

Hello readers of the internets! Whomever you may be, my name is Warren, and it is a pleasure for you to meet me. I am thrilled to be embarking upon my first web log ever, and I hope that you will stay with me until the end. I have put off this moment for some time because, unlike my fellow fellows, I do not spend my Thursday nights saving the children of Haiti, or advance the frontiers of human knowledge about butterflies on the weekend. I wanted to have something worth blogging about.

Then Nikki (the experienced blogger and author of such inspiring pieces as “The Story of a Pamplin Newbie: A Semester in Retrospect”) came up with a brilliant suggestion. “Why don’t you blog about the International Fair, Warren?” “That is a wonderful idea Nikki!” I replied, “I will get right on that!” Then midterms happened and French Play happened, and somehow blogging did not happen. So now, two weeks after the fact, I am sitting down to write about the glorious Lewis & Clark tradition that is the International Fair!

So smart!

So smart!

The International Fair is put on every March at Lewis & Clark, coinciding with Parents’ Weekend, to celebrate the rich array of cultural backgrounds of LC students and to trick parents into thinking that this is what the school is like all the time. Lewis & Clark prides itself on the emphasis it places on international studies and global awareness, and the overwhelming majority of students here spend either a semester or a year abroad. We also have a large population of international students on campus, as over 50 countries are represented. At the Fair, we had food and performances from all corners of the globe.

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I had the pleasure of performing in a preview of this year’s French Play. Every spring, the French Department puts on a play, but this is the first year that we’ve also done a preview at the International Fair. The actors are all French students who are at the 300 level or higher, and the director is the French teaching assistant (my roommate, the very charming and very French Lilian Lahieyte). This year’s play is Ubu Roi, written in 1896 by Alfred Jarry and considered the first absurdist play. I would like to invite you all to come see it, but unfortunately it closed last night (my fault, for two week delay in posting blog).

Ubu Roi

Ubu Roi

Anyway, Ubu Roi went very well, and we had great audiences. It’s interesting performing for people who don’t all speak French – after each joke, about half the audience laughs, then you can hear them whispering to the people next to them, then the other half laughs a little less loudly. Doing a play in another language is also a fun way to practice that language in a non-academic environment. The French Club on campus is very active, and offers students many opportunities to use French. I live in the French Apartments at LC with 11 other French Majors/ French people, and it has helped me immensely to use French in my everyday life.

I also performed at the International Fair with my a capella group, Section Line Drive (representing America). A Capella is popular and growing on campus, and there are four different groups on campus now. There is still time to invite you all to our end of year concert/ CD release party, which will be on the last day of classes (May 1st?).

Section Line Drive.

Section Line Drive. Don't we look nice?

There were many other wonderful dances, songs, and musical performances at the International Fair, and instead of trying to describe them all, I think I will just upload a bunch of pictures. Also, I should mention that the Fair was organized and run this year by the Pamplin Society’s own Shelley Zhao. Actually, now that I think of it, she would have been a much more appropriate and well-informed person to write this blog. Oh well. Here are the pictures:

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The brains behind the operation.

The brains behind the operation.

Well, that’s it I think. I hope this blog was everything you ever hoped and dreamed it might be. If not, feel free to leave a comment about how I might better meet your needs as a reader of blogs. I think I’m scheduled to do another one of these sometime next year. Talk to you then! Bye!

A Semester Abroad in India

Posted in Fellows on January 21st, 2010 by Emily Nguyen – Be the first to comment

Exploring Tughlaqabad with Sunil and my classmates

Exploring Tughlaqabad with Sunil

“How was India?” my friends and classmates ask as they pass me in the hallways of Howard. After hearing that same question five times in row, I have developed a standard response: “It was chaotic, it was frustrating, it was hard, but–so far–it is the best thing I have done in my life.”

This fall semester, I spent three and half months traveling and studying abroad in India with twenty-four of my classmates. While we were there, we learned about Indian history and culture as well as the country’s modern-day social and environmental issues through field trips, lectures and independent projects. We lived in about five of India’s major metropolises and several other small and rural villages; however, the bulk of the program was centered in Delhi and Varanasi. The contrast between the culture and infrastructure between these two cities is quite astonishing, as one is a developing economic and political capital while the other is a handicraft center and key pilgrimage site for Hindus. We were able to explore the unique features of both places with help from University of London professor, Sunil Kumar and his sister Nita Kumar of the Nirman School. Sunil and Nita provided with us endless opportunities to look at the various cultures and subcultures of these two cities, such as the Sufi community in Delhi and the the silk weavers district in Varanasi.

I consider my month in Varanasi the most rewarding experience of the India program because it was where I did my home stay and independent research. In Varanasi, I spent a week living in a neighborhood called Kabir Choura with Mr. Kanhaiya Lal Mishra, his wife Mala, sons Aman and Dirage and daughter Chinkee. The Mishras are a family of musicians and dancers; Kanhaiya is a professor of music at Benaras Hindu University while his oldest son is a professional tabla player. The Mishras are also devout Hindus; therefore, I was not only able to experience Diwali (the festival of lights) in a major Hindu pilgrimage center but also through traditional Hindu activities and customs.

Saree wearing workshop for Diwali

Saree wearing workshop for Diwali

Like most other Hindus in Varanasi, my host family adores Mother Ganga: the holy river that flows along the edge of the city. According to Hindu mythology, Gangaji was formed from the hair of Lord Shiva and can remove sins, dispense life and provide salvation for the deceased. However, Gangaji also suffers from a vast amount of pollution due to point source and non-point source human activities. Due to my interest in waste management and religion, I decided to do my independent research in Varanasi on the connections between Hindu ideas on the human-nature relationship and actual observed environmental practices towards the Ganga River. For three weeks, I surveyed Hindu residents about their feelings towards Gangaji and then talked to professors and researchers about the objective facts on Ganga pollution. My main contact was with the Sankat Mochan Foundation, an organization founded by Varanasi’s high priest and former civil engineer, Professor Veer Bhadra Mishra that combines science and faith to raise awareness of pollution in the Ganga River. During my time spent with Professor Mishra–more commonly known as Mahantji–and his colleague R.K. Mishra, I learned about a great deal about Hindu philosophy and the difficulties that they faced in motivating local residents to protect Gangaji. Some of my most memorable moments from the trip were spent at Tulsi ghat with Mahantji in his room overlooking the Ganga River.

At the banks of the Ganga River

At the banks of the Ganga River

Making an earthen bund at Young India Project

Making an earthen bund at Young India Project

Aside from Varanasi, another noteworthy part of the program was when we stayed with the Young India Project in Penukonda. YIP is an organization started by Mr. Narinder Bedi that aims to educate rural workers about their rights to work. For about a week, we lived on Mr. Bedi’s farm, learned about India’s National Employment Guarantee Act, talked to city officials and union workers and even spent a whole day doing manual labor to earn barely fifty cents each. The entire experience was humbling and eyeopening; a week that will forever remain in my everyday thoughts.

Three and a half months ago, I did not expect that the people I met and the places I saw in India would make such a large imprint in my life. Now, as a I re-enter my fast-paced and quiet lifestyle in Portland, I am constantly reminded of India, and most of all, how fortunate I am to have the opportunities that I do here at Lewis & Clark.

-Emily Nguyen ‘11