Work sparkles from academic majors, study abroad

Departmental presentations: Friday, Saturday.
Classrooms throughout Jeanmarie and St. Edmunds Halls

A mid-session visitor to the Friday presentations of Study Abroad – Research and Practicum with supervisor Peggy Imai of the Study Abroad office on the third floNatalie Ledueor of Jeanmarie was in time to hear Andie Gemme ’16 of Mansfield, MA, describing life among nomadic herding communities in Mongolia, where she studied and researched threats, environmental and otherwise, facing that population. The ”world tour” continued with the next speaker, Natalie Ledue ’16, who through a School for International Training Program went to three nations, Vietnam, South Africa and Argentina, during her semester abroad, in order to study ”social capital” available to women during child-bearing years in three very different cultural contexts. The biology major explained that her term “social capital” was a different approach from what she’s used to in biology research, in that it involves interpreting stories with an anthropological approach. Incorporating beautiful color photos of her travels to give listeners a feel for the cultures and her experiences, Ledue told of the matriarchal society in South Africa, the Catholic culture affecting policies and women’s experiences in Argentina, and the unique challenges and plusses of very different socio-political systems  and cultural norms that she found to be in place for pregnant women in communist Vietnam. (that's Natalie in the photo above during the later poster session in Dion, where she also presented her biology research).

Late Friday afternoon in Jeanmarie Hall, religious studies seniors covered topics from catechetical textbook series, Kosher food culture and tradition, Vatican II’s influence on Dominican Sisters, The Rule of Saint Benedict, Liberation Theology and the social teaching of Saint John Paul II. After the mid-session break, Victoria Barnum ’16 of Beverly, MA, described her study -- advised by the College’s faculty expert on Islam, Sajida Jalalzai – of  “Past and Present Orientalism in American Visual Culture.”  Her talk explored the ways that many Americans’ views about Islam for the past 100 to 150 years have been unfair or distorted due in part to influences rooted in  films and other artistic representations of Islam that emphasize  exotic or sinister motifs. During post-presentation questions, Jalalzai said that Barnum’s studies showed evidence of  the West’s portrayal of "a violent, anti-Christian East … a lavish, mystical East.” but these “constructions of the Orient” really are the creators trying to tell us what the West is in the biased view of these Western artists and culture – that is, rational, and peaceful by comparison; so it’s really “two sides of the same coin,” Jalalzai said.

Saturday morning in St. Edmund’s 104, as in recent past years, the room was something of a coffeehouse (without the coffee) for the sharing or original writing and poetry by students. A visitor walked in to hear the end of a fiction story by Riley Stafano’16 of Plymouth, MA, about a young woman’s romantic adventures in Ireland.  Next up was Colleen Knowles ’16, a philosophy major from Proctor, VT, reading poems, including one that was accepted in the recent edition of the campus literary magazine, The Onion.  One of her mentors, faculty poet Greg Delanty, chuckled knowingly to Colleen’s reference about her poem being untitled – apparently it was not the first time.  Lucille Franklin, a varsity swimmer for Saint Michael’s from Steamboat Spring, CO, held her audience rapt with a powerful account filled with thoughtful and vivid images about her first elk hunt with her dad, who was in the audience. The piece was titled, I Didn’t Get an Elk,” though it described all the things she did take out of the experience. She hopes for a teaching or creative writing career after graduation. Rahela Akbar of Afghanistan read from the start of a book she developed with a summer research grant this past summer -- a story of star-crossed lovers in the order of Romeo and Juliet, but this time between Shia and Sunni in her homeland.  English /theater double-major Lexi Goyette ’16  of Duxbury, MA, read a Boston-based fiction story about a screenwriter for a  network comedy. Tylik Williams-Prince ‘16, business major and Student Association secretary from Brooklyn, NY, read poems, including a reflection on clouds -- long a topic of interest for him; and a poem  with the recurring line “They are focused on everything you say,” about making an important talk, and the anxious urgency to get everything just-right.  The leader of the session, Elizabeth Inness-Brown of the English faculty, said in introducing him that Tylik “wants to be a well-rounded businessman who spends his free time writing books and poetry with the hopes of touching somebody’s life."  He asked for a possible title to one poem and got a good suggestion from English Professor Will Marquess after reading it – “Just,” since the word began many lines of the poem.

At the end of Saturday morning’s presentations by economics majors, Michael McNally ’16 of Queensbury, NY, weighed in on “The Price of a ‘Great Wall,” referring to candidate Donald Trump’s proposals and their possible effects on immigration and related economics. While he personally opposes Trump’s policies as “un-American and morally terrible,” he said, “I wanted to look at data as well.” He proceeded to lead his audience of professors and fellow students through that data, demonstrating that notions of immigrants taking jobs and hurting the economy just aren’t true.  “It’s a question of transforming perception of immigrants, looking at contributions and not detriments,” he said, observing his data shows “we should bring more of them in, not less.” He did not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants in his data, he said during questioning.

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