Tag Archives: community

College Community Chorus Launches New Season

We welcome all who love to sing to join in rehearsals at the start of a new season, as we prepare music for our spring concerts in early May.  You’ll have an opportunity to explore uplifting music that celebrates the wonder of star-filled nights and an awakening to new possibilities, from a rarely heard song by Beethoven to traditional African music and breathtaking new works by contemporary American composers.

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Community members and College staff and faculty rehearse in Mead Chapel

College faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members rehearse together on Sunday and Tuesday evenings, 7-8:30 p.m. We begin on Feb. 5, 7 & 12 in Mahaney Center for the Arts (room 221); on and after Feb. 14 rehearsals move to Mead Chapel.
Concerts are slated for Saturday evening, May 6 (Brandon Town Hall) and Sunday afternoon, May 7 (Robison Hall, Mahaney Center for the Arts). We ask singers to join no later than February 21 and to attend at least one rehearsal each week.

Here’s a preview of the program:

  • Two beautifully crafted classical works that speak of hope in the midst of grief: Elegischer Gesang by Ludwig van Beethoven and Let nothing ever grieve thee by Johannes Brahms.
  • Inspired by the legend of the phoenix, contemporary Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo and poet Charles Silvestri recently wrote Across the vast, eternal sky, scored for piano and string quartet. ‘This is my grace, to be restored, born again, in flame; do not despair that I am gone away; I will appear again when the sunset paints flames across the vast eternal sky.’
  • The traditional song Shosholoza originated among migrant works traveling from Zimbabwe to work in South African mines. Featured in the movie Invictus, its meaning may come from a combination of both Ndebele and Zulu words meaning to push forward, endeavor, or strive.
  • American composer Randall Thompson creates a stirring setting of Robert Frost’s poem Choose something like a star. ‘It asks of us a certain height, so when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be staid.’
  • Thirty-year-old composer Daniel Elder recently completed an energetic arrangement of Sara Teasdale’s poem May Night. ‘The spring is fresh and fearless and every leaf is new… Here in the moving shadows I catch my breath and sing—My heart is fresh and fearless and over-brimmed with spring.’
  • Two settings of a James Agee text, entitled Sure on this Shining Nightone by 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber and the second, an expressive arrangement by award-winning contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen. ‘Sure on this shining night of star made shadows round, kindness must watch for me this side the ground…’
  • The Awakening, with words and music by pianist-composer Joseph M. Martin. He portrays a dream in which no choir remains ‘to sing to change the world, only silence…’ But then we ‘Awake! All voices join as one! Let music live!’

Contact conductor Jeff Rehbach (rehbach@middlebury.edu) or 802.989.7355 with any questions, and check out the Chorus and its history at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus.

National Mentoring Month

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The end of January is approaching which means we’re also coming to the end of National Mentoring Month!

National Mentoring Month, NMM for short, was created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR in 2002. This month aims to focus national attention on the need for mentors, highlighting how we all – individuals, business, government agencies, schools, faith communities, and nonprofits – can do our part. For the past 14 years, NMM has celebrated mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives with the goals of 1) raising awareness of mentoring in its various forms, 2) recruiting individuals to mentor, and 3) promoting the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring. This year, NMM’s theme is “Mentor in Real Life”, lending way to discussion of mentoring’s real life benefits. In Vermont, the organization Mobius: Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership is an NMM ambassador.

This month works to celebrate and set apart the special role that mentors play in the lives of others through various events and days of gratitude. All the while, we must remember that our involvement, gratitude, and excitement for volunteerism and mentorship cannot be contained to a single month, and instead carries us throughout the entire year. So, with one week left to this special month, go forth: thank the mentors in your life and consider stepping up as a mentor in the life of someone else!

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Maeve on Juntos

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When people ask me what I do with our compañero, I tell them honestly that we just chat. As part of the Juntos Compañeros program, two other Middlebury students and I go to visit a farmworker named Gustavo every Friday for a couple of hours. I often get some confused looks and uncertainty about what the purpose behind “just chatting” is.
Sometimes we practice English words and phrases and work on specific things like communicating with staff at the bank or post office to send money back to his hometown in Tabasco, Mexico. Other times we will talk about the movie he was just watching on his “dia de descanso” (rest day) and get into a conversation about pop culture, television shows, and our favorite fútbol (soccer) teams. Most of the time though, the conversation slips into how he is doing day to day. If he’s warm enough when he goes out to milk in the early morning in the winter. If his employer has increased his payment above minimum wage at all. Gustavo puts a face to the issue. As an undocumented migrant farmworker in Vermont he works long untraditional hours, he is paid low wages, and he suffers hard conditions on a family dairy farm.

We are by no means solving the issues that Gustavo faces by just chatting. We are not confronting the crisis of immigration. We are not doing anything that would be published in the newspaper as revolutionary engagement in the community, but I think our little nuggets of conversation in broken English and Spanish provide some form of companionship and insight for both of us. It’s fun to talk about soccer and TV and our favorite foods. It’s two hours for Gustavo that don’t revolve around the farm’s milking schedule and two hours for us that don’t revolve around squeezing in lunch at Proctor between class and meetings. Just chatting lets us all take a break and just exist with one another for a while. It’s not the structural change that’s needed with immigration, but it feels like a little baby step to creating solidarity and a partnership across difference.

 

– Maeve Moynihan ’17

Cook dinner for the Charter House!

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Are you looking for a fun new activity to do with your friends? Why not try something that isn’t only fun, but also a great way to give back to your community? Cooking dinner for guests staying in the warming shelter at the Charter House is a wonderful way to spend time with friends while also benefitting others. Although you are welcome to simply cook the meal, you are encouraged to drop it off yourselves and enjoy dinner with the guests of the shelter. 

Go to go/charterhousedinner to sign up and for more information! 

Questions? Contact Lydia Gordon ’15 lgordon@middlebury.edu

Seeking Fresh Voices, Ideas, and Task Masters

Hello, everyone. My guest bloggers this week are SGA President Rachel Liddell ’14, Assistant Director of Student Activities Jennifer Herrera, and Student Activities Programs and Events Manager Dave Kloepfer, writing about the social scene on campus. We look forward to hearing your comments and ideas!
—Shirley M. Collado

Welcome back! This last week, the new academic year kicked off in a major way with events like the First Chance dance party in the Bunker, Pub Night in Crossroads with WRMC, the DMC and WOC welcome-back BBQ, and McCullough Fest. Plus, Crossroads presented our palates with some pleasant surprises, such as creative, tasty smoothies and milkshakes and fresh-made sushi. When the Student Activities Fair was rained out last Thursday, McCullough became a hot spot for hanging out and reconnecting. For the first time in a while, it looked and felt alive with students—as it should be. Every seat, table, and booth was filled.

McCullough is the student center, your hub for anything, from checking your mail, to munching on a delicious snack like a “Dr. Feelgood” or a tempura shrimp roll, to studying, and even dancing the night away at Café con Leche Latin dance party. These are some of the amazing events at McCullough. Plus, they represent a fraction of McCullough’s potential. The possibilities are endless. And this is where you come in; it just takes your ideas and initiative to realize them.

We want students who are willing to “roll up their sleeves” to make things happen to come forward with ideas. We’re eager to hear what you have to say and want to do.

  • What ideas do you have for making McCullough a more attractive, cool, and fun (less institutional) space?
  • What kind of events and live music do you want to see here in Crossroads?
  • Do you want to be involved with enhancing the social scene? Tell us how.
  • Let us know what ideas you may have for improving outreach and communications about the rich activities already available, and those to come.

Feel free to contact Rachel at sga@middlebury.edu, Jennifer and Dave at student_activities@middlebury.edu, or leave comments here on this blog. We welcome ideas for new programs or events or anything else related to social-life programming that you’re burning to tell someone about.

 

A View from the Bubble

My guest blogger this week is Jamie McCallum, assistant professor of sociology. Being relatively new to Middlebury (he moved here from Brooklyn in the summer of 2011), he makes some interesting observations about life here and things that separate us. I hope you will join in this discussion in the comments section—we’d love to hear what you think. —Shirley M. Collado

I moved from Brooklyn to Middlebury last year. As a newish professor, I’ve experienced some of the same bewildering frustrations facing many new students—the urban-to-rural transition, learning to ski, the paucity of Mexican food, etc. I can deal with all that (I think). But no facet of life at Middlebury causes me more lingering consternation than The Bubble.

Whenever I ask students about their lives, they often discourse disdainfully about life in the bubble, which is shorthand for the stomach-roiling feelings of parochialism, security, bliss, and terror that come with living in a kind of glorious walled city. For a place with such an international presence and a deserved reputation for foreign-language learning, our borders often seem simultaneously invisible and impermeable.

Faculty, especially newer and junior professors, live in bubbles too. Most of us live close to work and keep work close to home. A typical Venn diagram of student and faculty life overlaps only a sliver, the time we meet in the classroom each week, plus some office hours and the occasional extracurricular activity. Our respective bubbles contribute to that separation. While recognizing the fact that we do live different kinds of lives—I’m the type who enjoys his own company and personal space—the faculty-student divide deserves some attention.

At a campus event on faculty diversity last week, students expressed a sincere interest in engaging professors on what was continually referred to as a “human level,” reiterating concerns voiced at the recent PossePlus retreat. I take this as a desire for greater opportunities to learn about each other’s lives outside the classroom and outside the bubbles. Both events were primarily places where students could openly elaborate about where they are coming from. Forums where faculty members are able to convey as much to students might also be useful.

Recently I asked a student what he meant by saying we live in a bubble. He said, “It doesn’t keep us safe; it keeps us apart. And it even keeps us from ourselves.”

I think I know what he means. For every lacrosse player who rules the weekend party scene, there is one who wishes the pressure to drink excessively was not there. For every hardline divestment activist, there is one who sees the issue as part of a generalized struggle for justice for all. There are economics majors who would rather be studying dance, but they are too scared to stand up to their parents and too insecure to admit it to their friends. And just as there are students terrified to speak up in class, there are professors worrying about how their lecture will be received. In other words, things are not as they seem.

Can students and faculty gain a deeper understanding of each other’s lives? Although no one seems to think that bubbles are a good idea, too often we, myself included, act as if there is no alternative. I have certainly not provided a concrete solution here. But someone once said that the point of philosophy is not just to understand the world but to change it. So maybe the point of education is not just to recognize the bubble but to burst it. Continue reading

The Power of Discomfort

My guest blogger this week is Jordan Seman ’16. She attended the PossePlus Retreat in Silver Bay, New York, which was devoted to talking about class, power, and privilege in America. Like most people who participate in these intense weekends, Jordan was moved and changed by the powerful, frank discussions and exercises, and returned to campus hoping to bring the essence of the retreat back with her.

—Shirley M. Collado

On Friday afternoon, March 1st, I got on a bus full of students I didn’t know, many of whom I only recognized as being Posse scholars but had never interacted with at Middlebury. During the ride, I overheard bits and pieces of conversations in which students said they hoped the retreat would be “worthwhile.” I even heard the PossePlus Retreat described as “emotionally exhausting.” Not knowing what to expect, I soon realized that my experience on the retreat depended on my willingness to engage on a personal level with many students I’d never even seen before on this campus. That was an intimidating thought.

In sharing my concerns with other students and administrators there, I began to understand that feeling uncomfortable is part of the reason PPR is so successful. The activities we engaged in made me aware of the wide range of backgrounds that Middlebury students come from and allowed us to bring the topic of this year’s retreat, “class, power, and privilege in America,” closer to home.

In doing so, I was forced to reflect on my life of privilege, which I feared would not be accepted by many of the students who came from radically different home situations than I came from. I remember distinctly when the retreat leaders asked students to stand up if their families own more than one home. Only four people in the room stood, and one of them commented that, although his father works hard for what he has, he wasn’t sure that “having two homes was fair when so many in the room did not even have one.”

I think many people look at these types of experiences with an abiding cynicism and think that the bonding that occurs is shallow. When relating my experience at the retreat to another friend back on campus, she commented that it sounded like a “big pity-party.”

While retreats such as this one often get very emotional, I think the main purpose of it was not to feel sorry for one another, but to recognize how our backgrounds and life experiences shape the social makeup here at Middlebury. Through learning about others’ hardships and reflecting on my own upbringing, I began to think a lot about our campus and how wealth, class, and privilege shape our experiences here.

Now that I am back from PossePlus, I want to bring these conversations to this campus. If anything, I learned that there is much to be done to make our college community a more open and inclusive environment for students of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. So, I invite Middlebury students to reflect on their experiences here and to question how the social scene is shaped by wealth and class, if at all. Think about the activities that students partake in, the culture that exists, and the types of students who tend to hang out together on campus.

After my own serious reflections on this topic, I am surprised by how little we talk about social segregation at Middlebury, and I would like to see the conversations taking place here rather than just at the PossePlus Retreat.