Sunday, March 7, 2010

Skype - and our global connections - The Lonely Soldier by Helen Benedict

I have mentioned that I am just learning how to Skype in a previous blog. Well, I am now putting it to good use in connecting with current/former students who are scattered around the globe. On Wednesday evening I was checking my email from home when Tom Robinson who graduated from SMC in the mid-90's popped up on my computer screen - Tom left here and studied at UVM in their Higher Education Student Affairs Master's program - he has had a number of positions within Higher Education over the years and we have remained good friends. When we connected through our computers, I asked him where he was and he responded Beijing. He is currently working for Northeastern University in Boston and is in China for two weeks working on a program where Chinese students study English in China and then come to the United States for three years for their undergraduate education. It was great to talk with him and to realize that I was in my home in Williston, VT talking with a friend/former student in China. Yesterday I Skyped one of my current students who is studying in Spain. Meghan Cormier is a second semester junior and one of my advisees. We are getting ready to begin pre-registration for the fall semester and she and I discussed what courses she wanted/needed to take her senior year. She was able to connect to the College's website, check her degree audit and tell me what courses she was interested in taking next year. Normally, with our Study Abroad students, it is a matter of either hoping to be able to talk by phone or many emails before academic advising is accomplished - this Skype thing is so much better. She is having an amazing time over there and was even able to get to Ireland for four days a week ago. Her Mom and sister are going over to visit her in a couple of weeks and she is so excited about that. I received an email from my friend/former student Matt Dunn who is an emergency room doctor - he is in Chile about to begin a grueling extreme racing event which, in spite of the recent tragedy of earthquakes IN Chile is still being held. I am going to see if Matt can Skype from where he is as the race progresses - he is in email contact with many of us here and we get to follow the progress of the race. I am amazed that the Chilean government is allowing this race to go on given the devastation but they want this to take place as it brings a great deal of money into the country and they need that desperately now. China - Spain - Chile all connected with SMC through technology - not bad!!!!!!!

Campus has been really busy with winter sports ending and spring sports just beginning. Many of our spring sports are heading to Florida for our Spring Break so that they can get a jump start on their seasons. I have some baseball players in my classes and they are looking forward to a lot of games while in Florida. With only a week before Spring Break, students are scrambling to get papers submitted and projects completed. Once they return we then have Easter break and then classes end on the last day of April - while they don't always appreciate my reminders that the semester is going by VERY quickly, they are working hard. I will, of course, remind all of them to use sunblock if they are heading to warmer climates :) Our weather has been amazing lately - I went skiing at Smuggs on Wednesday morning. While we haven't had a lot of snow lately, the slopes were well-groomed and the sun was shining brightly with temperatures in the mid-30's. I hope to ski every day of our Spring Break.

Thanks to an invitation from Kim Swartz, the Director of the Center for Women and Gender, last Tuesday I was fortunate to attend a luncheon with Helen Benedict who was speaking on campus that night. She is the author of a new book - The Lonely Soldier - she has interviewed a number of women who serve or who have served in the United States military. Specifically, she was interested in the experiences of women in combat. We met briefly and I told her about my Men & Masculinities class and that we were using Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams - Helen had just recently met Kayla and was impressed that there was a class here which WAS addressing this as an issue. Her luncheon talk was riveting and I look forward to hearing how my students responded to her evening presentation. This is an issue that has received very little coverage in the media. I asked her if anyone was listening as SHE has given a voice to those women who have no "voice" - she has appeared before Congress and knows that "some" in the military are at least aware of her book but she isn't sure that the message is really being heard. After writing The Lonely Soldier, she then wrote a play which has been on Broadway and is now writing a novel - all based on the interviews she has had with women in OUR military.......

Well, back to grading papers - please take good care and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


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