Student Profile – Mary Baillie

Photograph of Mary BaillieIn each issue of Keywords, we profile one of the many student assistants who help make the Middlebury Libraries run smoothly.  This issue features Mary Baillie, who works at the Circulation Desk at Davis Family Library.


Mary Baillie grew up in the Nation of Brunei, on the north coast of the island, Borneo.  Mary’s mother is from Watford, England, and she has been teaching English in Malaysia, Italy and the U.K. She settled into teaching at a local Bruneian school for 21 years. Mary’s brother studies sports medicine at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.  Mary is a double-major senior, studying Theater and Anthropology and currently working on her thesis, Ethnography as Performance: Anthropological Research Methods in the Theatre.

As a United World College (UWC) student in Paud, (western) India, what prompted you to come to Middlebury?  

I was really drawn to the American liberal arts system.  I had no clue what I wanted to study, so I really liked how a liberal arts college would allow me to explore lots of different disciplines before deciding on an official field.  In the U.K. you have to choose one discipline and stick to it – that did not appeal to me at all.  Additionally, I chose Middlebury because of how it is very internationally-focused.  It has one of the highest amounts of international students of all U.S. liberal arts colleges, and so many cool language schools!  I felt it would be welcoming to people from all over the world and it is!

In choosing your majors, how did you become interested in each field?  Did you catch the theater bug at UWC?

At UWC I participated in a lot of theatre productions and workshops all over India.  I became particularly fascinated in using theatre for social change.  I am drawn to studying the ways theatre can interact with rituals of daily life, so it seemed perfect to take up an anthropology major alongside it!  Anthropology has granted me an insight into how different human societies/cultures develop; I have become very interested in studying this through the lens of theatre and performance.

You seem to have found your social niche at Midd. As a first year, was it a challenge to adjust to the culture in America, or was it more natural since you come from a well-travelled family?

Freshman year was very hard.  Despite having travelled a lot in the past, the U.S. was a very different place from anywhere I had been in my life.  It was my first time out of Asia, and the farthest I had ever been from my family.  I found it challenging to adjust to a new academic system and new social norms.  However, as time passed I became more accustomed to living here.  I found my friends and my student organizations and my social groups.  I began to assimilate into Middlebury’s way of life and now I will be extremely sad to leave. It has truly become my home away from home.

You seem to have adapted well to the American culture. Staying in touch with your college friends will be easier with social media. Will most of your graduating friends be living outside of the U.S.?

I believe most of my friends actually intend to stay in the USA.  It will be super sad to leave them – I’m not entirely sure of my plans yet but it’s likely I will be leaving.  I will try my best to keep in touch with them over social media because I have definitely made friends here for life.

How did you select your thesis topic, Ethnography as Performance: Anthropological Research Methods in the Theatre?

Last summer, I typed “anthropology theatre company” into Google.  I was pleasantly surprised to come across The Anthropologists, a theatre company in New York City.  This group creates devised theatre through analysing specific issues through an anthropological lens.  I emailed the director about possible internships, and a week later I secured a position as their Creative Marketing Intern!  I interned with them during J-term and became extremely fascinated by what they do.  I wanted to explore the concept of using anthropological analysis in performance more meticulously so I am now doing my thesis on it

Do you have a special place in Middlebury or on campus that you will remember fondly?

I love the Middlebury teahouse in Marbleworks.  I really enjoy sitting there on rainy days to read a book or study on my laptop.  I order the rose white tea, sometimes the masala chai.  I’m also really into thrift shopping so sometimes after I get my paycheck I like to check out Neat Repeats, Buy Again Alley and Round Robin!

What will you miss most when you graduate from Midd?

That’s a hard question!  Probably the incredible people I have met here.  I have met students, professors and staff members that I hope to stay in touch with for life.  There is such an interesting array of different characters here that are a joy to spend time with a get to know.  I will also miss the beautiful Vermont hills!

You have a couple of exciting options coming up for you in May. Can you elaborate a little bit on those?

I am unsure exactly what to do after I graduate, but I do have some possibilities.  I am considering a position on the founding team of a new UWC in Tanzania.  I would be working in the CAS office, so guiding students to work with different service organizations in the area.  It would certainly be an incredible adventure and a great opportunity to put everything I have learnt at Middlebury to good use.  However I have also applied to some other positions so we will see what happens.

Thank you, Mary, and good luck!