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Student Urges Action on Nuclear Sub Proliferation

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

nate_sans_r-lNate Sans ’14 thinks the U.S. Navy should redesign its nuclear submarines. And his opinion earned an impressive audience last month when an essay he wrote was published in the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.” While interning this summer at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), Sans won the Bulletin’s monthly contest for young people called “Voices of Tomorrow.”

“I think what they’re trying to do is figure out what people my age are thinking about,” said Sans. ”I can’t tell you how many times I heard at CNS that the perspective of younger people is particularly important to them. They came into the business in the cold war, and the perspective of someone who didn’t grow up during the cold war is valuable to them.”

A political science major with a minor in Russian, Sans argued in his essay that the kind of technology used in American nuclear submarines, which use highly enriched uranium, could offer countries like Iran a “back door” route to building nuclear weapons. He notes that a loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows military nuclear reactors like those on submarines to bypass guidelines that civilian reactors must follow.

“What I was pushing at was, let’s reconsider this: maybe the priority of nonproliferation could supersede the priority of having the best submarines. Maybe we can still have a satisfactory submarine and also do work on this nonproliferation priority.”

Sans, who has a strong interest in national security and international studies, happened on the topic while doing research for CNS. ”They were really good about offering us free rein on what we wanted to work on,” he said. “They had a bunch of projects and we could pick and choose based on what we thought was interesting.”

Sans landed the CNS internship as a result of his semester at the Monterey Institute of International Studies last spring. He happened to ask his Russian politics professor for suggestions about internships the day before the CNS deadline. She suggested he hurry up and apply.

He says the Monterey experience was an ideal complement to his Middlebury studies, in part because of the diversity of his classmates, many of whom had worked in fields he cares about. He also says he left Monterey with a better understanding of how foreign policy happens in the massive U.S. government bureaucracy. “You get a good understanding of who the players are and what they do, which helped me figure out what interested me and narrowed my focus.

Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of CNS, says an experience like this can really pay off for students. “The summer fellowship provided Nate a chance to shine and to share his passion and expertise with his peers, many from other top schools,” said Wolfsthal. “His writing and participation were terrific and we’d welcome more Middlebury students for the fellowship and course work in the future.”

As far as submarines are concerned, Sans says he’s always been fascinated with them, but he’s not about to become a submariner. He’s more interested in the nonproliferation policy implications and how they’ll play out politically. ”Any sort of contribution I made to the debate was that the administration could do more.”

Midd’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Tell Stories from the Field

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
 

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Rabeya Jawaid ’16 opened her presentation in sign language.

Rabeya Jawaid ’16 launched her presentation without saying a word, yet no one in the crowded Axinn classroom could look away. Jawaid was speaking Pakistani sign language, making a visual point about the work she did with impoverished deaf women in Karachi over the summer. After a minute, she began to speak.

“As a Pakistani woman, I can tell you it’s not easy being a woman in Pakistan,” she said. “It’s definitely not easy being a poor woman in Pakistan. So I just want you to imagine what it’s like being a deaf poor woman in Pakistan.”

Jawaid said an internship at a deaf research center in Karchi a few years ago sparked her interest in sign language and deaf culture. She wanted to do something to promote financial independence among the women she met there, who had little prospect for employment.

Sitting in her Middlebury dorm room, Jawaid hatched an idea to train deaf women in sewing, screen-printing and embroidery, giving them entrée into Pakistan’s flourishing clothing industry. This past summer Jawaid successfully launched her skill development plan, hiring skilled trainers – conversant in sign language, of course – and recruiting trainees. Most importantly, she took meticulous notes so that future trainers could reproduce the process.

Her project was one of four funded in part by summer grants from Middlebury’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Students from each group shared their summer experiences with the campus community at the Axinn Center on Friday. The projects, which also took place in Chicago, Swaziland, and Burundi, were a chance to test out solutions to a range of social problems.

“We saw a lot of collaboration with community partners, which was really important,” said Heather Neuwirth, associate director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “Most of these projects had a component of going home to a community that was really understood. It was a way of saying, ‘I want to work with my community.’”

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Gaby Fuentes ’16 worked with teen girls in Chicago.

Gabriela Fuentes ’16 returned to her native Chicago to offer a week-long workshop of dance, writing, and discussion aimed at curbing issues of violence and high school dropout rates among young teen girls. She partnered with Middlebury dance professor Christal Brown to develop the program, which took place at a women’s center in Chicago that serves victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

A pair of students, Betty Kobia ’16 and Armel Nibasumba ’16, developed a week-long peace-building camp, called Twese for Peace, in post-war Burundi for high school and university students. They hope to expand the program in coming years to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Watching Hutus and Tutsis openly discuss their frustrations and hopes for the future was a big win, said Nibasumba. “We were actually able to create that safe space where people made friendships and were free enough to break the taboo of discussing ethnicity.”

The final group, Platforms for Hope, told about their effort to design and build lap desks for schools in rural Swaziland. The four students — Mzwakithi Shongwe ’16, Jia Ying Teoh ’16, Adrian Leong ’16, and Roksana Gabidulina ’16 —used their grant funding to travel to Swaziland, and to manufacture and distribute the desks. They were pleased to find their desks were in high demand, which presented the new challenge of ramping up production and figuring out how to monetize desks throughout schools with varying abilities to pay. They’re also developing a version of the desk with solar lighting to be used in areas lacking electricity.

This was the second round of summer grants for the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Professor Jon Isham, director of the center, was impressed with the students’ work.

“I think what we saw above all was amazing leadership,” said Isham. “The projects had just the right level of ambition.”

For more information about the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, visit: http://mcse.middlebury.edu/

Getting Comfortable at Middlebury

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
The Studio Art Tour was one of 68 trips offered during Orientation.

The Studio Art Tour was one of 68 trips offered during Orientation.

When a cluster of first-year students dropped by the art studio and gallery of Sarah Wesson last week, the local oil painter showed works she had created in Italy, Maine, New York City, and Vermont.

She discussed her painting technique and her feelings about abstract art, and then she paraphrased Henri Matisse. When buying a piece of art, Wesson said, it should feel like a comfortable chair.

At that moment Matisse’s metaphor of the comfortable chair was fitting on another level. The students were on an Orientation trip that was all about getting comfortable: comfortable with their peers, with the Champlain Valley region, and with each other as members of the Middlebury Class of 2017.

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Sarah Wesson

The Studio Art Tour group was one of 68 MiddView Trips that set out from Middlebury on Friday, Sept. 6. The trips, which were a required component of Orientation, were split into three categories: Vermont exploration, wilderness experience, and community engagement, and each trip was led by members of the sophomore, junior, or senior class.

Organizing the logistics for off-site excursions for some 629 first-year students was the responsibility of the Dean of Students Office with Amanda Reinhardt in the pivotal role of trips coordinator.

The shape of Orientation trips at Middlebury has been through many changes over the past decade, Reinhardt said, but in 2013 a combined commitment by students (in the form of financial support from the Student Government Association) and the Administration (in terms of staffing and all other resources) created the new, comprehensive MiddView Trips program.

“This year the trips were built right into the Orientation schedule. The members of the incoming class selected their top four choices, and we did our best to accommodate their requests. Almost without exception, every first-year student participated in a MiddView Trip,” Reinhardt said.

There were, for example, wilderness trips such as hiking portions of the Long Trail, rock climbing in Bolton, sailing on Lake Dunmore, and canoeing on Tupper Lake. There were community engagement experiences at the John Graham Emergency Shelter for Addison County’s homeless and at Zeno Mountain Farm in Lincoln, a program that supports lifelong friendships for people with and without disabilities. And there were Vermont exploration trips designed to investigate local ecology, storytelling and folklore, rhythm and dance, and food systems in the Green Mountain State.

Anne Cady '73

Anne Cady ’73

After spending an hour with Sarah Wesson in the Battell Block, the Studio Art Tour set out for Bristol to meet Anne Cady, who has her studio and gallery in a former grist mill located behind a row of storefronts on Main Street.

Inside Cady’s spacious studio the students sat on stools and boxes in a semicircle around the artist and introduced themselves. They hailed from U.S. cities like Tucson and Buffalo and Los Angeles, and from China and Colombia and the United Kingdom, and all of the students, regardless of their hometowns, shared a deep interest in art.

Cady discussed her own background as an art teacher and gallery owner, and explained that she didn’t explore her full potential as a painter until the 1990s. “Now if I don’t paint every day, I lose my momentum. And I love to paint every day. But if you are doing this as your work, your income, then you have to realize that the business side of it will take a lot of energy too, so you have to balance that out.”

Surrounded by her recent paintings of hilly Vermont landscapes, the 1973 Middlebury graduate said, “For me it’s all about color and composition. Having clarity and a clean line help me go a little more wild with the color. I concentrate on form and color to tell a story in each of my paintings.”

Following a detour for ice cream at Lu Lu’s in Bristol, the next stop on the Studio Art Tour was Daniel and Dennis Sparling’s studio located a quarter-mile down a long dirt driveway in New Haven. Dennis, the father, is primarily a metal sculptor. He said “having practical artistic skills allows you to do the passion work,” and he showed the first-year students some examples of both: the things he does for money and the pieces he creates for the love of art.

Daniel, the son, inherited many of his father’s talents but has branched off into designing and building specialty masks, castings, and prosthetics for independent filmmakers. Most recently Daniel has been shooting aerial cinematography with his business partner — lavish sweeping shots for television commercials, films, and private enterprises. The partners have built a number of remote-controlled aircraft (“Okay, you can call them drones,” Daniel said) that will fly with a 10-pound video camera, which is also remote controlled from the ground.

Daniel Sparling

Daniel Sparling

“It’s tough to make a living as an artist. You have to swallow your pride a lot of times and take jobs you never thought you would have to take. But it also helps to be handy, to be able to do a lot of different things. The way I see it,” Daniel said, “Art is 60 percent tenacity and drive, and 40 percent talent.”

On Sunday the Studio Art Tour continued with leader-led activities and reflection, and concluded with a visit to the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury and a debriefing session.

“Bonding” is a term often used in reference to Orientation trips, regardless of whether it’s a strenuous hike in the Adirondacks or a visit to the organic farms of Addison County. Derek Doucet, Middlebury’s director of outdoor programs and club sports, put it a little differently when he said, “Intimate small-group experiences provide opportunities for students to make genuine connections across typical social boundaries.”

“They also offer to first years a welcome chance to catch their breath before delving into the semester, and they provide space for intentional reflection about what it means to be in this time of transition to college.”

Summer Scene: First Look at InSite

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Nearly 100 Middlebury students  had a hand in planning, designing, and building InSite, the college’s entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition. This weekend the public will get their first look at the results of all that work as the team hosts an open house in their newly finished home before they ship it out to California. We met with some of the team leaders this week for a sneak preview.

Summer Scene: Campus Beauty

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, video

Middlebury’s fickle summer weather is captured dramatically — and beautifully — in this time lapse of campus scenes. This is a debut piece for Matt Lennon ’13, who recently joined the college communications office as a graduate intern.

Coming Soon to Bread Loaf!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Summer may seem to be flying by, but there are still a few exceptional events not to be missed at the Bread Loaf School of English’s Vermont campus.

natasha portraitThis year’s Elizabeth Drew Lecture takes place in the iconic Bread Loaf Barn on Monday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m., and features Natasha Trethewey, the United States Poet Laureate. Trethewey’s poetry is an evocative blend of the historical, philosophical, social, and personal aspects of her own mixed-race heritage. She’s published several books and won numerous awards, and is also the state poet laureate of Mississippi. (Last summer, Middmag caught up with Trethewey at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, where she was a returning faculty member.)

pcs101-OurTown-webTaking the stage in Little Theater July 31 through August 4, the always-stellar Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble will present Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, directed by Alan MacVey. Tickets are available and free to the public beginning July 19—contact the Bread Loaf box office at 443-2771. Word from Bread Loaf is that the performance will take place in part outside the theater on the adjacent patio, weather permitting, and assistance will be available to those who might need it.

Summer Scene: PTP/NYC Season Opener Off Broadway

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
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A scene from The Castle

The Off Broadway sensation with a Middlebury connection has opened its 27th season to rave reviews.

PTP/NYC is performing both The Castle, an energetic epic by Howard Barker, and Serious Money, Caryl Churchill’s play about 1980s greed in London’s financial district, this season in New York. The two are in rotation Off Broadway at Atlantic Stage 2 and have already captured the attention of top reviewers from the New York Times, Broadway World, and Time Out.

The Castle, directed by Professor of Theatre Richard Romagnoli, features Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Jan Maxwell as well as alums David Barlow ’94, Rachel Goodgal ’13, Stephen Mrowiec ‘13, and Aubrey Dube ’12. Sumi Doi ’13 is assistant to the director.

Serious Money, directed by Professor of Theatre Cheryl Faraone, has a cast that stars alums Tara Giordano ’02, Mat Nakitare ’11, Alex Draper ’88, Aubrey Dube ’12, David Barlow ’94, Megan Byrne ’96, Molly O’Keefe ’12, Sarah Lusche ’13, Isabel Shill ’12.5, and Noah Berman ’13. Christo Grabowski ’12 is assistant to the director, and the crew includes Alicia Evancho ’12 as choreographer.

The collaboration between the PTP/NYC and Middlebury began in 1987 and it remains the only collegiate program of its kind to offer undergraduate students opportunities to work in professional theater.

If you’re in New York this summer, be sure to check out the performances! See the website for the most recent information on show times and tickets.