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FALL 2015

Rescue Why do so many dogs like Albie come north to find new homes? And who are the people behind the effort?

Me Also inside Inda Schaenen ’82 teaches English in the St. Louis County school district that graduated Mike Brown


14 Fa l 2 015 Volu Fal olume me 68 N No. 1

Fair Attitude!

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18 What They Are Thinking

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24 On the Road, With 80 Lucky Dogs

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Empathy is what breathes life into ensemble music, writes Anna Dalton ’19 in her college admission essay.


2 College Row U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke in Johnson Chapel; a cat’s thyroid medication inspired a professor’s math paper; three students caught a glimpse of Pluto; and more 10 Sports As soon as classes start, the fields turn purple and white 12 The Big Picture Welcome to the most photogenic season at Amherst 33 Beyond Campus WEBSITE / Beatriz Wallace ’04 puts female philosophers in the spotlight CONSERVATION / Jeff ffrey Cody ’72 is heading to Rome BUSINESS / The Queen of England bestowed a royal honor on Sung-Joo Kim ’81 START-UPS / Agostine Ndung’u ’12 helps entrepreneurs across Africa ECONOMICS / Eric Budish ’00 says the stock market should trade its need for speed 39 Amherst Creates PHOTOGRAPHY / David Shriver Soliday ’74 turns agricultural history into art FOOD / Millennials go out to eat POETRY / A debut collection by Kirun Kapur ’97 MEMOIR / Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 on the world above the clouds FICTION / Margaret Stohl ’89 wrote the new Black Widow novel 46 Classes 112 In Memory 120 Amherst Made Howard W. Jones ’31 and the nation’s first IVF baby

Video l From above, see the FOUR NEW RESIDENCE HALLS now under construction. Scheduled to open in fall 2016, they will house close to 300 students and will feature community gathering spaces, study rooms and fabulous views.

l “Let no one persuade you that a liberal arts education is a luxury

or that it is anything other than real life,” said PRESIDENT BIDDY MARTIN at Convocation. The purpose of the liberal arts, she said, is to search for truth.

More News l Professor JAVIER CORRALES and student researchers are putting together a comprehensive chronological record of events that have infl fluenced LGBT rights in the Americas.

l Meet the new Amherst faculty members. They include DEBORAH ffers courses in social psychological research, and 31 HOLOIEN, who off other scholars in disciplines ranging from Spanish to statistics, black studies to film and media studies, biology to philosophy. Photos

ffi put out a call to students who spent l The Study Abroad Office

time in other countries last academic year: send us your photos. See GREECE, Jordan, Costa Rica, China and many other places through the eyes of these young people.


remember, as if from a dream, the blue sea of air over the Mediterranean, the blaze of an ordinary afternoon in Tripoli, and my lunch on the air stairs, in the shadow the plane brought to Libya and then took away.”

† MARK VANHOENACKER ’96, pilot and author, page 44



Betsy Cannon Smith ’84 (413) 542-2031

Lawrence Douglas Mark Edington Ann Hallock ’89 Darcy Jacobs ’87 Ron Lieber ’93 Megan Morey Meredith Rollins ’93



Amherstt welcomes letters from its readers. Please send them to magazine@amherst. edu or Amherst Magazine, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002. Letters must be 300 words or fewer and should address the content in the magazine.


Emily Gold Boutilier (413) 542-8275 magazine@amherst. edu ALUMNI EDITOR


Katherine Duke ’05

Photograph by Dana Smith

Amherst (USPS 024-280) is published quarterly by Amherst College at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000, and is sent free to all alumni. Periodicals postage paid at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000 and additional mailing offices. ffi Postmaster: Please send Form 3579 to Amherst, AC # 2220, PO Box 5000, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000.

4 Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor spent an hour taking students’ questions 6 A bottle of cat pills inspired an award-winning math paper


Amherst Fall 2015


College Row

For his 99th birthday, Lou Dolbeare ’40 flew cross-country to give his son and two of his grandchildren a tour of campus.


Making Music, TOGETHER


RETURNS U The gray rental car arrived at Kirby Theater at noon on Sept. 28. Out stepped four members of the Dolbeare clan—a son, two grandchildren and the guest of honor himself, dressed in purple and holding a cane. “This is my first day of being 99,” announced Lou Dolbeare ’40. It was his first full day. For his actual birthday, on the 27th, his family, after flying from the West Coast, had thrown a party in Marshfi field, Mass., where he’d spent summers as a boy. That party had run late—until 4:30 p.m. Now he was in Amherst to tour his alma mater with three of the partygoers: son Niles, grandson Emmanuel O’Kane and granddaughter Rose O’Kane. Kirby was their first stop. “I spent my entire allotment of nonacademic time working in this theater,” he said— on sets, props and lights. After an impromptu tour of the scene shop with Professor Suzanne Dougan, the group headed by car to the War Memorial. morial As he gazed at the Holyoke Range, I asked what it was like to be back on campus. He paused. His grandson remarked, “Is this the one time he’s lost for words?” It wasn’t. “I feel elated,” Dolbeare said, “that I’m still able to get around, although not perfectly. And I have a thorough feeling of Photographs by Jessica Scranton

well-being and happiness to see that this old place is hanging together so well.” Dolbeare is one of six living members of his Amherst class. He grew up in Brookline, Mass., and lived in North Dormitory his freshman year, in a room with a working fireplace. (“I don’t know where the wood came from,” he said, “but we used it.”) He made lifelong friends in college. “And now he’s friends with their kids,” said his son. Dolbeare retired after a long career in city planning. Ever since his days at Kirby, he’s maintained a deep interest in the theater. In 2009 he moved from Maryland to Seattle to live with his daughter, Mary Oak, and son-inlaw, David Fries. Standing near Memorial Hill, Dolbeare remembered an undergraduate summer spent working on the College grounds crew. His job was to remove trash from bramble bushes that bore “stiletto needles.” He said, “I wish I had a photograph of my w wounds. I did it all for good old Amherst, and for my education.” Dolbeare turned around. He gestured towards the Quad. “Those trees are all new,” he said. But they’re so tall. He explained what he meant: “They were planted after 1938.” EMILY GOLD BOUTILIER


Lou Dolbeare ’40 traveled from Seattle to Amherst to mark a very big birthday.

SHOW U The Music at Amherst series hosted saxophonist Archie Shepp (above) and The Dar Gnawa of Tangier for its first fi performance of the academic year. Inside Buckley Recital Hall, the artists presented a fusion of musical ideas from as far away as Morocco and Paris, and as nearby as Louisiana and New York. In the U.S. debut collaboration for Shepp and The Dar Gnawa, the concert combined Shepp’s saxophone with elements of the Gnawa’s Moroccan ritual lilas, including ceremonial songs, dances, costumes and healing rites based on folk traditions of their home country. The Dar Gnawa of Tangier descend from West African slaves and civil servants of the Arab empire. They perform under the guidance of master musician Abdellah El-Gourd. The night before the performance, Shepp sat for a public interview with Jason Robinson, assistant professor of music. Their discussion focused on Shepp’s work with The Dar Gnawa, as well as his long and influential fl career composing music and performing around the world. Near the end of the Q&A, a member of the audience asked Shepp, who is 78, to think back on his career and pinpoint moments or recordings that still inspire him today. “I always looked at my recordings the way I look at my children,” Shepp said. “At each instance, I tried to do my best.” The music series continues for the rest of the academic year. Future performances will feature, among other groups, The Campbell Brothers, the Borromeo String Quartet and the Pacifi fica Quartet. RACHEL ROGOL

lVIDEO: Watch the Shepp interview at Fall 2015 Amherst 3


Sotomayor said that when her name was first floated for the position of associate justice, she made a list of pros and cons. The cons list was longer.


LEGACY” In Johnson Chapel, Justice Sonia Sotomayor roamed the aisles and took questions from students. TALK U From the moment she arrived in Johnson Chapel, Sonia Sotomayor avoided the podium. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court justice wandered the aisles. She perched on a pew. She posed for photos. “I want to take a picture with every student who’s brave enough to get up and ask a question,” she said. During the hour-long Q&A, she did exactly that. Speaking to a full house on Sept. 8, Sotomayor devoted all but her first few minutes to answering questions from students, who quickly formed a line that stretched along the front of the room. She delivered advice on citizenship: “If you haven’t registered to vote, you have failed.” And on ignorance: “I’m never ashamed to ask what I don’t know.” And on college course 4 Amherst Fall 2015

loads: “Religion controls most And so I fought back.” The of the politics in the world. measure of one’s character, Learn about a religion other she told the crowd, is “the than your own.” number of times you get up Sotomayor is the first fi Hisand try again.” panic and the One stuthird woman dent asked ↑ The Chapel was filled with students who’d lined up outside to serve on the the justice an hour in advance. Sotomayor nation’s highto comment also had dinner with students. est judicial on “being a body. When woman in her name was first floated a man’s world.” Sotomayor for the position, she said, she told a story from her Yale made a list of pros and cons Law School days, when she on a yellow pad. The cons list was the only student to earn was longer. But she recalled honors in a particular course. the words of fellow judge A classmate suggested it Constance Baker Motley: was because of her gender. “When you have a chance to Sotomayor replied, “No, it’s open the door for others, you because I’m the only one who don’t have a right to say no.” read the textbook.” When you During Sotomayor’s 2009 focus too much on being the confi firmation process, she reonly woman in the room, she membered, some complained said, “you don’t get the job publicly that she wasn’t smart done.” enough for the job. “At fi first Sotomayor became a judge that really got me down. Then because she believes in the my stubbornness kicked in. law, she said. She character-

ized her fellow justices as equally passionate. “I love the process of law. I love the Constitution. And I love our system of government.” Asked if she feels pressure to represent women and minorities on the bench, she said she bases her decisions not on her identity but on the law and precedent. Sotomayor also spoke about her 2013 memoir, My Beloved World. (The College gave away copies of the book to students the next day.) Early in her talk—after the standing ovation that marked her arrival—Sotomayor noted that people frequently ask about her legacy. She told the crowd: If I say something tonight that inspires you, that you remember, that infl fluences you for the better, “that’s my legacy, and I will live as long as you live.” E.G.B. Photograph by Shana Sureck


What do LeBron James and Biddy Martin have in common? The Mead director explains. MUSEUM U David E. Little, Ph.D., is the new director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum. He was previously curator and head of photography and new media at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and director of adult and academic programs at the Museum of Modern Art.

Did you love going to museums when you were growing up, or were you dragged to them against your will? Honestly, I didn’t catch the bug for museums until college. But I grew up as an Army brat in Europe, so my parents did bring me as a child through museums and historic sites in Italy and Germany—wearing lederhosen, no less! People “curate” everything these days, from their Facebook page to their sock drawer. Does that bother you? No. It suggests people are more conscious about how they make choices. Also, the exciting part of media today is that we do have more choices. It’s hard to think back to a time when you couldn’t binge-watch a series. The quality of curating is really the question; there will always be those curators whose outstanding work will separate them from others. Now that everyone has a cellphone camera and access to Instagram filters, what do you think about the democratization of photography? Photography has always been democratic; its popularity was one reaPhotograph by Jessica Scranton

son why many didn’t consider it an art form. But now it is cheaper than ever to own a camera and make images. More than anything, I love the fact that people can take and share images immediately. It is magical, especially having taken so many bad analogue photographs myself. Much like with curating, more people are taking photographs, but there aren’t necessarily more great photographers in the world. What is your greatest extravagance? It is the time I get to spend with artists and traveling to see art. It seems too much fun to be a job... and there is also golf. Who do you follow on Twitter? LeBron James and Biddy! What time in art history do you wish you could have lived in? I would have loved to have hung out with the Dadaists and Surrealists. You’re having a dinner party and can invite five artists— living or dead. Who do you invite? What do you serve? I will focus on the dead: James Baldwin (with his former schoolmate Richard Avedon as guest, and Gordon Parks too), Leonardo da Vinci, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Artemisia Gentileschi, Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp. Hard to leave out Hannah Höch, André Breton, Vladimir Tatlin, John Cage, and the list goes on. I would have Gertrude and Marcel “curate” the meal with a chef. If you could commission any artist in the world to make your portrait, who would you pick? That’s hard. Can I say Picasso? You got your master’s at Williams. Who will you root for at the Amherst–Williams game this fall? The team wearing purple. INTERVIEW BY SHEILA FLAHERTY-JONES Fall 2015 Amherst 5



Natasha A cat’s thyroid medicine inspired an award-winning math paper. FACULTY U Giving a cat a pill can lead to many things: frustration, anger, possibly stitches. For Professor Daniel Velleman, it inspired an award-winning math paper. Here’s what happened: His cat Natasha was losing weight. The vet diagnosed a thyroid disorder and prescribed “one half a pill daily.” Every day, Velleman or his wife shook a pill from a bottle and broke it in half. One half went to the feline, the other back in the bottle. Eventually, the day came when they shook out a half pill, and they gave that to the cat. “The pills solved Natasha’s medical problem,” Velleman—the Julian H. Gibbs 1946 Professor of Mathematics—writes. “But they created an interesting mathematical problem.” He wondered: How does the mix of half and whole pills in the bottle change over the course of treatment? What is the expected number of whole pills removed before the first half pill is removed? What’s the expected number of half pills remaining after

the last whole pill is taken? In “A Drug-Induced Random Walk,” published in The American Mathematical Monthly, Velleman devotes 18 pages to proofs and theorems around these questions. The paper won a 2015 Mathematical Association of America Halmos-Ford Award for “arti-

’87 ALUM IS NEWEST TRUSTEE Dwight Poler ’87 began his term on the Amherst board of trustees in July. He joined Bain Capital in 1994 and was named managing director in 1999. He lives in 6 Amherst Fall 2015

London, where he opened and manages Bain Capital’s European private equity business. He oversees investment of the €3.5 billion Bain Capital Europe Fund-IV.

Earlier, Poler was a consultant at Bain & Co. and worked in mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley & Co. He has served as

cles of expository excellence.” Velleman—a former editor of the journal—is drawn to questions that are “easy to understand but hard to answer,” he says. To answer the cat-pill questions, he used principles of probability and differential ff equations. As he explains:

a director of Bluecoat Systems (U.S.), Ewos (Norway), Brakes (U.K. and Europe), Edcon (South Africa), Cerved Lince (Italy), Team System (Italy), Toys R Us (global), Boart Longyear (global) and Jack Wolfskin (Germany). An adjunct profes-

If you flip fl a coin 20 times, it will land on heads roughly 10 times and on tails roughly 10 times. The actual results might be 11 and 9, but they probably won’t be 19 and 1. This is called the Law of Large Numbers. Assuming all of the cat pills are equally likely to be chosen, the balance of pills in the bottle changes daily. That’s because if a whole pill is removed, a half pill is returned, while if a half pill is removed, nothing is returned. So he turned to Euler’s Method, used to approximate solutions to diff fferential equations. The result is a series of graphs that show the “path the distribution of pills in the bottle is going to follow.” Velleman also found that in a bottle of 100 pills, the expected number of whole pills removed before the first half pill is removed is around 12. The expected number of half pills after the last whole pill is roughly five. fi Natasha died last year at the old age of 20. Happily, she lived to see the paper’s publication. E.G.B.

sor at the London Business School, he serves on the boards of The Private Equity Foundation, the American School of London, Right to Play UK and the Camp Dudley Foundation. Poler earned an MBA, with distinction, from Dart-

mouth, where he was a Tuck Scholar. At Amherst he majored in history and completed the Certificate Program in International Relations. Poler and his wife, Kirsten ’88, have three children, including a daughter now at Amherst. Illustration by Flavio Morais



A representative survey of alumni is informing how the College plans for its future. ALUMNI U What excites alumni most about Amherst? The liberal arts. What do they most value about Amherst? Its impact on critical thinking and its faculty. What College priorities do they view as most important? Financial aid, and facilities for excellent education. These are among the results of a new survey of Amherst alumni. Conducted between April 28 and May 15, 2015, the study probed alumni perspectives on a range of issues, including College priorities, the Strategic Plan, communications, the mascot, donor preferences and more. The data help inform related work across the campus. Here is a small sampling of survey results. The full results are available online at

About the Survey

Alumni Views of College Priorities

10,000: Alumni invited to take the online survey (a randomly selected representative sample) 2,988: Number of survey responses 1.9%: Margin of error

Among these initiatives for Amherst to pursue over the next several years as part of its Strategic Plan, how high a priority should each be? Percentage answering “very high� or “fairly high�

How Alumni Stay Informed How important is each of the following to you personally as a way of staying informed about Amherst? Percentage answering “very� or “somewhat� important Amherst magazine

E-mails from the College

Amherst e-news

Amherst website

Amherst Facebook page

Amherst Twitter feed

Alumni Views of Amherst Percentage ranking each among the top four

What makes you proudest or happiest about being an Amherst alum?

Financial aid


Curricular breadth/depth

Faculty committee on 21st-century liberal arts curriculum

Strengthening link between academic skills and careers

Making diversity a source of learning, understanding and change

Environmental sustainability

Investing in undergraduate research

Intellectual challenge/think critically

Academic education

Reputation as one of best liberal arts colleges


Leadership as one of best liberal arts colleges

Career preparation

Commitment to diversity

Continuing the Greenway Project

Expanding opportunities for alumni and parent engagement

 Fall 2015 Amherst 7



Prototype of the new homepage

FOR TODAY The redesigned site will use modern features to share the College’s academic, intellectual and cultural life. CHANGES U Back in 2008, iPhones were a rare luxury, the iPad didn’t exist and a billion fewer people used Facebook compared to today. The design of the current Amherst College website dates back to that year. Now, a new site is on the way. The redesign—which began its research phase in summer 2014 and will launch in January—uses the latest in Web-development techniques to feature the intellectual life, creativity and collaborations of the people of Amherst through word, image, video and social media. It also simplifi fies navigation through a radically pared-down site structure, improves the search engine and focuses on making pages uncluttered and easy to read. The redesign responds to the ways different ff visitors use websites, starting with the homepage. Admission prospects almost always begin their online journey on institutional homepages, and then begin exploring. Current students, faculty, staff, ff alumni and parents, on the other hand, typically seek out specific fi content or information. With these realities in mind, the new homepage is meant foremost to meet the interests of admission audiences. Meanwhile, under the “people” and “wrench” icons along the top banner of every page, and in the banner tabs, alumni, students, staff ff and parents will find links to the content serving their most frequent needs. In developing the site, the Office ffi of Communications consulted with students, faculty and staff; ff researched the online habits of admission prospects, alumni and parents; examined website best practices and sites of peer institutions; and sought a fresh way to emphasize the personalized learning experience the College offers. ff The offi ffice’s redesign partner is Fastspot, an award-winning firm fi that has built many college and university sites. Pages throughout the new site will feature multiple panels that make it easy to scroll vertically in the manner popular with today’s Web users. On interior pages, panels and content will be customized to particular audiences. (To see examples, go to Consistent with the increase in mobile Web browsing, the entire site will be fully responsive—pages will automatically adjust to fit any display, whether on a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. E.G.B. 8 Amherst Fall 2015

THE FIRST PANEL OFFERS regularly changing quotes. These will underscore Amherst’s intellectual life; bring attention to ideas and activities of students, faculty and alumni; and provide footnotes and links that encourage deeper dives.


WITH ADMISSION audiences squarely in mind, the second panel features brief facts about Amherst academics that link to related content, and uses photos and captions to highlight student and faculty collaborations.


THE THIRD PANEL BRINGS full-page video to the Amherst homepage for the first time, featuring glimpses into the vibrant academic and cultural life refl flected in College events and including links to a library of recent videos.


IN THE FOURTH PANEL, visitors can choose from any combination of four disciplinary areas to see related courses and then click to read brief course summaries, full course descriptions and profiles fi of faculty members.


THE FIFTH PANEL features news and upcoming events at the College and gives visitors a one-click pathway to an upcoming event’s full details.


THE SIXTH PANEL BRINGS dynamic feeds from Amherst’s social media pages, including Twitter, Flickr and Instagram, into one easy-to-access location.


THE FOOTER, WHICH appears on every page, provides commonly sought tools.


In Timaru, New Zealand, observers including Aaron Resnick ’16 (left) used a 14-inch telescope to watch Pluto pass in front of a distant star. They were rewarded with rare views of Pluto’s atmosphere.



Three students flew to the other side of the world to glimpse the dwarf planet. STUDENTS U Three Amherst students traveled to the other end of the world to glimpse the other end of the solar system. Carolina Carriazo ’18, Jason Mackie ’17 and Aaron Resnick ’16, on an internship with the Southwest Research Institute, trekked to New Zealand and Australia this summer to spend 100 seconds watching Pluto block a distant star, aff ffording once-ina-lifetime views of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere. “You fly halfway across the world,” says Resnick, “and you lock on this tiny portion of the sky at 4:50 in the morning. A little star is sitting there, and then it winks out as Pluto goes in front of it.” The data gathered in those brief moments on June 29, supplementing information gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, will

give a better picture of our most distant neighbor in the solar system. “There are a few things that we look at that are a little bit different from what the spacecraft looks at, in part because we’re so far away, and in part because we can put people at a lot of diff fferent sites,” says Eliot Young ’84, principal scientist for SwRI’s Department of Space Studies in Boulder, Colo. When Young offered ff to send Amherst students on the data-gathering mission, the College arranged funding through undergraduate research fellowships. To observe the big planetary event, the students headed out with experienced astronomers to far corners of the world: Carriazo went to the Australian island of Tasmania, Resnick to New Zealand’s South Island and Mackie to New Zealand’s North Island.

It was Carriazo’s first fi trip outside the United States. Mackie set up in bucolic Napier, New Zealand (“It looked a little like Hobbiton”), only to find that his field telescope was broken. After some fast networking with locals, he and his mentor drove three hours to meet up with an amateur stargazer in Gisborne, where they watched Pluto from his observatory. That mission was fortuitous, as clouds ended up ruining the view in Napier. Back in the States, the undergraduate team— which also included students from Pomona and Brown—started to break down the data. Their observations, Mackie believes, are “almost guaranteed to unlock a wealth of secrets kept far out of reach for the past 4 and a half billion years.” WILLIAM SWEET

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this image of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The work of the Amherst students supplements information gathered by New Horizons.

Fall 2015 Amherst 9



FROM THE FALL Autumn is not only about yellow, orange and red. At Amherst, the fields turn purple and white. BEGINNINGS U With 11 varsity fall teams, Amherst fields and courts are busy during New England’s most colorful season. This year, early fall brought many successes. To name three: Mohamed Hussein ’18 fi finished first overall in the first two cross-country meets, goalkeeper Thomas Bull ’16 allowed just one goal in the first six men’s soccer games, and field hockey’s Emily Horwitz ’17 led the NESCAC in save percentage. Here are photos of four other moments from the season.

Williams scrimmage A week before the offi fficial season opener, the football team scrimmaged Williams at home. “I know there’s no one we can’t beat, but I also know there’s no one we can’t lose to,” said head coach E.J. Mills in September. “So that’s the fear and driving force of motivation.” The “Biggest Little Game in America” takes place Nov. 14.

Building on last year’s success “There is a collective intensity and spirit about this group,” said field hockey head coach Carol Knerr in September. “We know the results we want to achieve.” The women entered the fall season looking to build on last year’s success. In 2014 field hockey posted a 12-4 overall record and a 7-3 mark in the perennially tough NESCAC.

10 Amherst Fall 2015

Returning talent


Women’s soccer entered the 2015 season with an eye on competing in a 16th consecutive NESCAC tournament and advancing to a fifth straight NCAA Championship. Under the guidance of head coach Jen Hughes, the team relied on its depth and experience while vying for a place as one of the top teams in the country. Despite the loss of seven seniors to graduation, the team returned all five of its top point and goal scorers from last year. One earlyseason highlight came on Sept. 19, when Emily Hester’17 scored her first goal of the season with 15 seconds remaining in regulation as the women defeated Middlebury, 2-1, in Amherst’s fourth straight win.

In the home opener, an important win On Sept. 12, the home opener for men’s soccer was a rematch of last year’s NESCAC Championship against Bowdoin. Amherst prevailed this time around with a late score, 1-0. The win was revenge for the men, who in 2014 fell short of a fourth straight league title after the Polar Bears advanced in penalty kicks.

Fall 2015 Amherst 11



BIG Picture ORANGE TREES and blue sky, together at Johnson Chapel e If you would like a reprint of this photo, email with your name and address, and we will send you a complimentary copy.

Photographed by ADAM GRIM

Fall 2015 Amherst 13

Fair Attitude! Y In a classroom near Ferguson, a teacher tries to convey that students can learn to successfully navigate more than one world. | By Inda Schaenen ’82

Illustration by David Pohl

14 Amherst Fall 2015

may be right.

s an eighth-grade teacher who nt the 2014–15 school year in at some people call the worstforming district in the state of Missouri, I learned to say this a lot: You may be right. The technique is called fogging, and it’s used to de-escalate a conflict with someone who is either all riled up—up in her feelings, as my

students say—or trying to get a rise out of me for the sake of The Show. I came to imagine The Show as a high-stakes scripted series produced by students to ascertain whether teachers like me really did care. Time: August 2014. Mike Brown, who graduated from Normandy High School, was killed by police officer ffi Darren Wilson a couple of weeks ago a mile away from my Normandy Middle School classroom. Peaceful protests by day, violence and looting by night. My students are attending the latter as observers. Enter me. First year in middle school, second in Normandy, trying to create a peaceful classroom environment so that we can read, write, think, talk and listen to each other. I’m not doing so well. (Please see the sidebar for a note on how and why I have represented dialogue.) “You showin favoritism.” “You ain’t even teachin.” “I ain’t even do nothin.” “This ain’t even no ELA class—all we do up in here is read and write.”

saying ‘shut up’ to someone was worse than saying the f-word. If I say ‘shut up,’ something is wrong with me. My whole thing is teaching self-control, not how to be controlled.” They shook their heads. “You just gotta be more like some of these other teachers, Dr. Schaenen.” “You may be right.”



HEN THE SHOW WAS PLAYING, IT DIDN’T matter that I felt myself to be acting fairly. It didn’t matter that I believed and replied that I was, in fact, teaching. It didn’t matter that I actually saw the student do the thing she or he claimed not to have done. It didn’t matter that, from my perspective, students in English Language Arts classes are supposed to read and write. (The reason my eighth-graders do not believe ELA classes are for reading and writing is because teachers in vulnerable, low-income districts are told to hit standards—to identify nouns and verbs, to distinguish similes from metaphors—rather than to carefully consider the meanings of novels and poems. There’s nothing wrong with anchoring lessons in standards; the problem is when the entire point off school in poor communities is to get kids to select standard answers on annual high-stakes tests. When this happens, they stop developing as readers.) What did matter was that in a 20-by-25-foot room among eighth graders I was growing to love, a room in a statefl I spent a lot of last controlled district in a community aflame,

I am teaching my students that questioning authority is what secondary school is all about. year trying to expose the depth and quality of my care. And many of my students spent a lot of last year taking a highstakes measure of my credibility. Was I for reall for real? Was I a trustworthy authority figure even though I was white? “You don’t understand, Dr. Schaenen,” certain students would say in an ongoing sidebar conversation. “Some of these kids up in here won’t stop clowning and listen unless you put your foot down and tell them to shut up.” “But that’s not how I talk,” I said. “Growing up in my family, 16 Amherst Fall 2015

ALL 1978: PROFESSOR PRITCHARD’S ENGLISH 10 IN Johnson Chapel. What are we to make of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”? Beats me. But I’m 17 and will do what he wants. We’re sitting in a rectangle, Pritchard hedging, questioning, goading from his seat. I respond to his probing questions. Most of us do. Professor Pritchard doesn’t put his foot down and tell us to shut up. On the contrary, he’s trying to get us all to talk, and he doesn’t have to work very hard at it. The way most Amherst students learned to speak, listen and read at home and school aligned with what our professors expected of us in college. Not so for many of my students, who have learned that some people are always telling other people what they may and may not do, how they may and may not speak. Sociologist Victor Rios refers to the acculturation and treatment of young people in marginalized communities as the youth control complex. Adult voices in multiple domains—schooling, policing, criminal justice and the media—establish, enforce and promulgate rules about how children in low-income communities of color ought to be. When these rules are broken, and sometimes even before they are broken, children are punished. Moreover, rules that establish compliance are there for reasons that extend beyond home and school; for the sake of their own safety, my students have learned that if you do not comply with communicative rules established by others, if you are perceived as talking or acting rudely to someone in a position of authority, you are likely to be thrown to the ground and handcuff ffed, and you may very well get shot dead. (This can also happen even if you say or do nothing at all.) Given this reality, I try every day to convey to other people’s children that they can learn to successfully navigate more than one world, that they can practice multiple ways of communicating with multiple kinds of authority figures. Indeed, my students can grow up to be authority figures who know how to communicate in multiple ways. I am teaching them that questioning authority—that of a text, a scientific fi finding, an authority figure—is what secondary school (and higher learning) is all about. And I have to begin with who and where they are today. Now, in my third year in Normandy, it’s reasonable to question how and why I got so deep into this work in the first place. I attribute it to a scary run-in with other people’s crap. In the summer of 2002, I was creeping forward through dense traffi ffic to make a left out of my bourgeois neighborhood onto a busy, two-way, four-lane street that has a fifth lane in the center for turning and passing. I live two miles from Normandy, a stone’s throw from the east-west line that separates mostly black from mostly white neighborhoods in St. Louis. As I advanced, a truck hauling Porta Potties came zooming down the center lane from the

The Wayy We Talk /How social status

shapes our perception of language, and why it matters WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE to teach in a place where diff fferent cultures mix it up— social spaces that scholar Mary Louise Pratt calls contact zones? I love listening to my students speak— the animated, creative, confident, often ritualized way they use language. It’s not a monolithic style, and different ff students, depending on what they’re talking about and to whom, express their thoughts and feelings in different ff ways. Still, nearly all my students can speak a variety of English, evolved from Southern English, that goes by various names among linguists: Black English, African American English, African American Vernacular English, Black English Vernacular and so on. As an English teacher, there are some sociolinguistic principles I teach my students so they will have optimal opportunities to succeed in high school, college, graduate school and the mainstream world: All people speak in dialects; dialects (synonymous with languages) are everevolving and made up of sounds, meaningful words, arrangements of words in sentences and ways of saying those words. All dialects are grammatical, which is to say rule-governed and patterned. Social status shapes our perception of

languages, and of varieties within languages. The cultural customs of those with power are generally assumed to be correct, better, more proper, more professional; these customs become norms against which all other customs are valued. This is true worldwide and has been for all of history. Knowing and being able to use more than one dialect, and knowing how to alter one or more features of your dialect for the sake of a social purpose, is important for everyone, but especially for students such as mine, who come to school speaking a nondominant variety of English. In class, we talk about words and sounds as being appropriate or inappropriate in this or that social context—and why. In relaxed discussions I concentrate on meaning, not syntax or verb forms. When I restate a question, I may shift the student’s words into mainstream English, but not always. Unless

north and T-boned my minivan. I was okay, but my Odyssey was wrecked. The accident felt like a wake-up call from a fiendish but loving Nabokovian deity. Getting blindsided by fi fast-moving shit signaled a need for radical change.

POET FRIEND HAD BEEN LEADING ENRICHMENT classes in the St. Louis Public Schools, and suggested I apply to do the same with creative writing. Ever since my Amherst graduation, I’d been writing for newspapers and magazines and freelance editing, while also trying to get my fiction fi published, albeit without laserlike focus; 19 years is a long time to knock on a closed door. My three children were now settled into their own schooling and didn’t need me from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. And so I wrote up a lesson, auditioned, got the job and loved the work. As if by magic, finding my way into a classroom coincided with getting things into print: a well-received oral history of schooling, a parenting guide, four young adult novels, an adult novel, a book on teaching writing, a couple of short stories, an essay in a book called Mommy Wars. I don’t publish like a


I am demostrating style-shifting, I speak in my own mother tongue (a mainstream variety of English I acquired in my first 10 years). Because language expresses identity, I do not speak of correct and incorrect grammar; doing so is like saying my students are correct or incorrect people. We play. Using old flip phones, we act out scenarios that require style-shifting. We read poems, plays and essays that feature mainstream and nonmainstream varieties of English; I turn to writers Jamila Lyiscott, Jamila Woods, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Amy Tan and others. And we talk a lot about the way we talk, and about how we can all learn many ways of speaking many languages. When it makes sense to throw in a mini-lesson on linguistics, I do. When I write about my teaching, I never translate my students’ words into a mainstream dialect; that’s not how these young people sound. Worse, translating their speech into standard form—masking their mother tongue—would suggest that they themselves are unacceptable or shameful, which they are not. It is difficult ff to unlearn things we think we know for sure about something as personal as language. But in the struggle for educational equity, the path forward requires all of us to shift. I.S.

person who is 100 percent devoted to getting published, or as I thought I would as an Amherst English major, but so it goes. In the meantime, my students see my name on the cover of a handful of books, double-check the author photo to make sure it’s me, and conclude that I’m rolling in dough. And then a few will assume something is wrong. “Why you here if you rich?” By way of response, I do not offer ff a nuanced description of my comparative wealth, such as it is. I also do not express my dismay at their certainty that a person of means, a person with options, would never choose to spend time with them. Instead, I speak from the bone of my motives. “Because writing gives you power, and I want you to have power because I care about you, and because teaching you is interesting and fun.” It’s the same thing I say to people who know a little more about my background and wonder the same thing. It’s not the whole story, but it’s all I can say for now without fogging. k Inda Schaenen ’82 is the author, most recently, of Speaking of Fourth Grade: What Listening to Kids Tells Us About School in America (New Press). She teaches and writes in St. Louis. Fall 2015 Amherst 17

A Scandal on TV

Growing Up Stateless



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18 /



At Home With the Oboes

Cross-Examining the Enemy



At Home With the Oboes



Seeking connection, away from the orchestra.

HE LOW BRASS SECTION blares six succinct notes in perfect synchronicity. The violas tiptoe in with a timid melody that gains confi fidence as it sweeps into long runs of arpeggios. Collectively drawing their bows across the strings, swiping breaths and swaying as they play, the musicians resemble blades of grass in a wispy field fi moving at the mercy of the same wind. From my spot in the oboe section, behind the strings and in front of the brass, I am at home. Playing Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino,� I experience synergy among the players, as each of us consciously responds to the interpretations of the people to our right and left. Whether we are performing in a high school auditorium, on stage at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, or in a centuries-old amphitheater in Milan, Italy, this is where I am perfectly content. Ensemble music requires a group committed to practicing the technical and artistic elements of the repertoire. But beyond that, what breathes life into the performance is empathy. Empathy enables players to use every tempo marking, accent and trill as a clue to the composer’s vision. Of course, our own experiences and thoughts make each of our interpretations slightly dissimilar. Therefore, it is essential that we use empathy again when we listen to one another to best contribute to the sounds around us. When my sound converges with the sounds of those around me, there is no pretending that I am merely independent. The lines of music preceding mine inevitably affect ff my performance, and my notes lay the foundation for what follows. This creates a unique space where we are encouraged to focus on what others are feeling and examine how our sound infl fluences the whole ensemble. When we listen, we are able to adjust our volumes to main-

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tain a balance. Even though there is only one piccolo player, the sound he produces is just as important as the sound of the sixperson trumpet section. Every instrument adds richness of character, so it is vital that we play in a way that each voice is heard. Unfortunately, this spirit of cooperation is not so easily fostered outside my orchestra. In the wider world, cultural, political and economic diff fferences are often approached as barriers rather than opportunities for depth of discourse. This is why I make a conscious eff ffort to seek connections and understanding with a diversity of people. When creating a documentary on religions in my community, for example, I listened to and included views not commonly represented in the discussions of religion in the Bible Belt. Just as is the case in my orchestra, the more voices that were heard, the more vibrant the film became. This year, I participated in a “trialogue,� where youth from a local Muslim mosque, Jewish synagogue and Christian church met at our houses of worship to learn about each other’s faiths. By listening to each other’s differing beliefs, we invigorated our discussions and opened our minds to new insights. When my orchestra effectively connects its various voices, the result can be beautiful. When we finish a piece with a balanced decrescendo, and the last note withers away with a ring from the opposite wall, it is often followed by a period of total silence. After a few moments, I look around slowly just to check that everybody else feels it too. Twinkling eyes and subtle smiles show me that they do. These experiences have led me to believe that once we see our unique traits as opportunities ffor richness, rather than as barriers, and strive to listen to one another, we can create beautiful music together.

 Ȥۡ  Exactly 8,568 students applied to join the Amherst class of 2019—the largest application pool in the College’s history—and the College accepted 14 percent of them. Here are some facts about the 477 students who make up the class.


Cross-Examining the Enemy



The event: a debate tournament. The location: a food desert in the Bread Basket.

ASSIONATELY SCRIBBLING DOWN the claims of our opponent, I grin widely, nudging my partner. She looks up; our adversary has presented an incomplete advantage to his plan. We now have a foothold to debate against his case. He elaborates: “By outlawing bottom trawling, fish populations will rebound and sustainably caught fish will increase, leading to more available fish throughout the fi world, solving for Third World food scarcity.” I smile at the irony of this debate tournament’s location: a USDAdesignated “Food Desert” in the middle of Kansas, the world’s “Bread Basket.” Having lived part-time on my grandparents’ working farm, I watch my grandfather and uncle as they plan and grow crops limited by economic infrastructures such as global markets, government regulations and forward contracts, as well as by various physical infrastructures. Local “people food” is imported from other states and countries. To reduce local First World food scarcity, I wildcraft and grow produce organically as a 4-H Plant Science project, and I have run a four-season small local CSA, “Doorstep Harvest,” for four years. Even though vegetables are not bluefin fi tuna, I am combat-ready. He continues: “Bottom trawling hurts the economy, reducing funds available for education and lowering the United States’ global academic standing.” I shake my head. Trapped in dysfunctional family systems or split between two homes, many classmates are not performing to the best of their abilities. I empathize. Until last year, my mother traveled for two weeks every month for “equalized” parenting-time with my younger sister, while I stayed with my grandparents, a home filled fi with myriad discussions. Invariably, transitions led to missing homework. Stabilizing families would support students’ academic performance more than outlawing bottom trawling. Moving on, our opponent states: “Destroying coral reefs, bottom trawling eliminates potential cures for diseases, such as Ebola, HIV and cancer.” We scan our computers for evidence. I wish I had the WHO resources recommending acupuncture

for these diseases. Kansas is one off six states yet to recognize my mother’s profession of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Having observed her service expansion efforts ff within our local hospital and legislative activities, I settle on a card that states HIV cases are dropping. Our opponent closes his case. Cross-examination begins. I stand, walk to the lectern and ask: “What funds your program?” “A five-cent tax on each trash bag sold.” I rapidly fire back, “How many trash bags are in an average box?” “About 50.” “What does the average box cost?” “About two and a half dollars.” Calculating, this is a significant price increase. “What is five cents times 50 bags?” He pauses. “Two-fi fifty.” “So, you are effectively doubling the cost of each box?” Hesitant, he replies, “Yes.” Although teaching elementary kids how to swim is what I have loved most, grocery store employment has its merits. Catching a snippet of fluent Spanish as we take our respective seats, there is no hope of understanding him; I am only two months into Spanish I. If only he had spoken German; I am currently taking German IV and might have translated. I remember as a 12-year-old trying to learn Potawatomi by cutting vocabulary words from my tribal newspaper, taping them onto their corresponding objects and sounding out the phonetic alphabet. As I prepare for my speech, I glance towards the judges and gauge what notions each may have about me. Living in a small town in predominantly “white” rural Kansas for the last eight years, I stand out. Here, peers whom I have known for years continually expect me to grow an afro, excel at sports and “act black.” An enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, my diverse ancestry allowed me to seamlessly blend in with the crowd when living on either coast. My own identity is shaped by more than genes; diverse life experiences influence fl who I am. Notes in hand, I return to the lectern and secure eye contact with the judges. Taking a breath, I begin.

Ȣ‫ ל‬ȫ࢚ Ȩ߶ Ȍগ ɝሠ ȡ֭ WOMEN






Fall 2015 Amherst 21

A Scandal on TV



The dialogue was snappy. The jokes were good. So what was the problem?

HE FIRST TIME I watched “A Scandal in Belgravia,� an episode of the BBC television series Sherlock, I liked it. I thought it was a fun new take on the Sherlock Holmes stories, that the dialogue was snappy and the jokes good. It took me a few months to realize what was wrong with it. The episode’s main antagonist, Irene Adler, was, frankly, tantalizing upon first glance. She was a powerful, ambitious woman who could match wits with our hero, Sherlock Holmes. She was the first and only character in the series that Sherlock could not instantly read. She referred to herself as gay, something which not enough fictional characters of any gender are, let alone women. She could have been one of the most brilliant and empowered female characters on the modern television screen. Instead, her entire character arc was nothing but an extended display of misogyny by the writer of the episode, who was also the series showrunner. Adler was powerful, yes, but her method of being powerful? She was a dominatrix, who blackmailed the people she serviced to ensure her own safety. Now, I have nothing against a show that depicts sex workers, but the only woman in the show up until that point with any kind of power should not have that power because she is a dominatrix. A world in which the only powerful women are dominatrices is a

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world in which women can only gain power through sex: the ultimate heterosexual male fantasy. Moreover: Adler came across as shrewdly intelligent, yes, but was she? At the end of the episode, we learn that everything she did, all of her clever plans and brilliant schemes, were orchestrated by James Moriarty, the overarching villain of the series. She was nothing but a piece in the larger game he was playing with Sherlock. Finally: She was gay, yes, but eventually, somehow, she fell in heterosexual love. Her relationships with women are essentially nothing but fetish material for the heterosexual male audience, her queerness only feeds directly into her sexual objectification, and when push comes to shove, not only does she end up falling in love with the male protagonist but her entire plan fails because she’s essentially too obsessed with him to make rational decisions. This would be disgusting even if she were straight. But why is this important to me? Because it was a big part of my intersectional feminist awakening. Because I saw someone who was like me, a queer woman, on a television screen, and then I saw her disrespected, denigrated, her agency destroyed. Because I saw proof that the showrunner, and people like him, people with power in society, hated me, hated people like me, hated our very existence. And I got angry.

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Growing Up Stateless



Of the few rights he had, attending school was not one of them.

RECEIVED MY FIRST JOB PROMOTION when I was 13! I was a laborer in an alcohol bottling factory. The work was routine: paste bottle labels, then arrange and seal bottles in cartons. Then one day, the company clerk quit and the factory owner gave me the job! I was in charge of recording inventory and ensuring the steady supply of raw materials. Looking back, the experience was amusing. There I was, a 13-year-old making calls to suppliers, faxing order statements, dealing with invoices—assisting in the production of a beverage deemed globally as the welcome fixfi ture of manhood. These are my memories of growing up, but why was I working instead of being in school? Well, I am stateless. I was born in Malaysia to illegal immigrant parents who had fled Myanmar after the upheavals of 1988–89. Citizenship is not an automatic right to those born in Malaysia, and this had heavy consequences in my upbringing. Of the few rights I had, attending public school was unfortunately not one of them. My parents did attempt to enroll me in school when I was 7, but after three months, without any legal identification, I was not allowed to continue. Up until I was 13, the only formal education I had, apart from the three aforementioned months, came from my parents and sporadic periods of private tuition. Hence, I ended up working when we moved to an industrial part of town, as the rent in the suburbs became too expensive. My parents were well aware of the elephant in the room. With each passing day, I was being more left behind. They had heard of a charity home about 30 km. away which also ran a little school for refugee children from Myanmar. Through the home, I was also enrolled in an afterschool self-


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learning and self-paced program for math and English. As I couldn’t even perform basic division at the time, I was taught the basics of arithmetic. My written English was just as dreadful; hence I’d sit next to kids at least four years younger at the learning center. Undeterred and fully motivated, my progress escalated. In 2.5 years, from learning negative numbers for the first time, I was doing advanced calculus; from struggling to compose a paragraph, I was critiquing Macbeth. At the refugee school, I met Renee, a volunteer who taught English there. What she saw in me I may never understand, but I’m forever grateful to her. Renee went beyond her line of duty in search of a place where my potential could be developed. She knew the founder of Cempaka, a private international school, who then requested that I be brought to the school for testing. The rest, at least to me, is history. I was offered ff a scholarship at the institution, and a chance to start school again, aged 16. A myriad of contradictory thoughts and emotions permeated my first days in school in almost a decade. As excited and grateful as I was, I also felt restless and a little out of place. Only four years before, I was almost prepared to content myself with working through my adolescent years. Doubts as to whether I’d cope and fit fi in filled my mind. Slowly but surely, I shrugged them off ff, realizing that I couldn’t have possibly imagined a better place to be. Five years ago, I would’ve laughed at the thought of applying for college. But here I am, pursuing my dreams not unlike millions of my contemporaries. The journey I’ve made has taught me to prepare for every opportunity, no matter how improbable it may be. Having come this far, I’m excited for what the future holds.

ɐ๡ 62% public, 38% independent/ parochial



Fall 2015 Amherst 23

On the Road, With

After landing in a high-kill shelter in Louisiana, a Lab named Albie boarded a tractortrailer to New England, and his new owner, Peter Zheutlin â&#x20AC;&#x2122;75, began to wonder: Why do so many Southern dogs come north? And who are the people behind the effort? Before long, Zheutlin was on the highway, in a truck, surrounded by kennels.

80 Lucky Interview by Jim Kennedy â&#x20AC;&#x2122;75 Photographs by Dana Smith

24 Amherst Fall 2015


Fall 2015 Amherst 25

Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway is ostensibly a book about a transport service for lost, stray and abandoned dogs, told through the lens of author Peter Zheutlin ’75. He rode along in the cab of a truck that, twice a month, takes 60 to 80 dogs from the South to new “forever” homes in the Northeast. But the book is much more than a road-trip story with dogs. It’s also about the people involved, and about cultural differences between North and South. And ultimately, it’s the story of the author himself, and the transformation he and his family experienced as a result of adopting Albie. In this interview, as Albie rested at his feet, Zheutlin talked about becoming a dog owner, about rescuers who “make Sophie’s choice” every day and about nights spent in the back of a tractor-trailer, wedged between two rows of kennels.

You describe your adoption of Albie as the Berlin Wall falling. Albie came to us after a 20-year tug-of-war with my wife and kids about whether to get a dog. I was adamantly opposed: I was concerned about allergies. I was concerned about the mess and shedding fur, and about getting up in February and walking on sheets of ice so the dog could do his business. But one day I was with a friend who had a dog, and the switch flipped. I said to my wife, “All right, you can look into it.” How did you and your family find him? We found Albie on Petfi, the of the animal world. His profi file was posted by a group called Labs4rescue, which is based in Connecticut. But Albie was in a high-kill shelter in Louisiana at the time. We fell in love with him from a photo and short video. How much did you know about rescue dogs? If you’d asked me three years ago, I would have said that a rescue dog is a Saint Bernard in the Alps with a barrel of whiskey under its chin. The experience of adopting Albie led me to write the book. I was curious: How he had come to our home? Why are there so many Southern dogs coming north on these transports? Who were the people extending their hands and hearts to help lost souls like Albie? The central figure in your book is Greg Mahle, who drove the tractor-trailer that brought Albie north. What got you interested in Greg? Greg drives this truck 8,500 miles every month in two loops from his home in Ohio to the Gulf Coast and then to the Northeast. Greg makes good use of Facebook to keep people informed as their dogs are coming north. One day, when Albie was on his truck, my wife, Judy, came to me and said, “Look, it’s Albie!” We were already very much attached. Greg had posted a picture of himself with Albie around the Mason-Dixon line. Albie had his paws in Greg’s hands. Who is this guy who is bringing me this dog? He turned out to be the window into this much bigger world. At first, Greg was wary of having a journalist ride along with him in the truck. The truck is his home for half of every year; it’s a private, self-contained world. It’s him and one other driver. It’s a little bit like being in a submarine with a small crew. When I first rode with him, for an article I wrote for Parade magazine, he didn’t know me from Adam. I had to earn his respect and his trust. For that article, I met Greg in Pennsylvania, spent the night with him in the trailer and did the drop-off ffs with him the next day. He had never al-

l VIDEO Watch the full Amherst Reads book club interview at

Fall 2015 Amherst 27

28 Amherst Fall 2015

“I wasn’t ready to be done nurturing,” says Zheutlin, at left, with Albie in the woods near their Massachusetts home. At right, Greg Mahle, the central figure in Zheutlin’s book, chauff ffeurs dogs to the Northeast in a tractor-trailer.

When I picked up the book, I thought it would be about the Katrina rescue dogs. But this problem did not start with Katrina. It’s a cultural problem, and the people involved in these rescues are the only line of defense. When people meet Albie and I tell them he’s a rescue from Louisiana, they often ask if he is a Katrina dog. He’s not old enough to be a Katrina dog; he’s about 6, and Katrina was 10 years ago. If people are aware of the problem, they tend to associate it with the influx fl of dogs that came north immediately after Hurricane Katrina. But this problem preceded Katrina, and it’s going to go on, unfortunately, for a long time, because there are no obvious, easy solutions. In the book, I relied on Southerners—veterinarians, volunteers, shelter directors—to tell me about

how they see the situation. One young man from Louisiana who’d saved a litter of puppies said, “We love my dog, but she lives in the yard. If she gets hurt, she goes under the house until she’s better.” The idea that you’d have a dog in the kitchen while you’re cooking a meal, or sleeping with you in bed, was foreign to him. This is not universal—I don’t want to paint this with one broad brush—but dogs in the South are seen by many people as property often obtained for a purpose: as hunting dogs, for example, or for protection. If they outlive their usefulness they are often discarded. Particularly in high-crime areas, you see dogs that live their entire lives chained to a stake in the yard.

But why do so many dogs come to the North, as opposed to being adopted in the South? It’s the sheer numbers. Some are adopted by local families, but to put it simply, the supply—the vast supply—is in the South and the demand is up North. There are no transports bringing rescue dogs from New England to Louisiana; that would be like bringing coals to Newcastle. Where do all these dogs come from? Some dogs are taken from puppy mills, dogfi fighting rings, hoarding situations. Many are picked up as strays and brought to public shelters. Albie was a stray. The overpopulation problem is enormous. In


lowed anyone to ride along before. For the book, I spent the summer of 2014 riding about 7,000 miles with Greg. He is the guy who gets these dogs to their “forever homes,” but as he’d be the first fi to tell you, he’s just one cog in a wheel of people who sacrifi fice enormously and endure a lot of heartache to rescue as many needy dogs as they can. This is a particularly acute problem in the Southern states, for a variety of reasons, social, cultural and political. For example, there isn’t a strong culture of spaying and neutering in many parts of the South, and many dogs live their lives out of doors.

Fall 2015 Amherst 29


The tractortrailer has 80 kennels secured to the walls, with about 24 inches between rows. At night Zheutlin would settle into a sleeping bag in this narrow space and try to get some sleep.

Houston, the consensus estimate of the number of dogs living on the streets is 1.2 million.

You write about “the forgotten dogs of Houston’s Fifth Ward,” and all around them “the forgotten people of America.” You saw these dogs under cars, chained up in yards, moving through openings in abandoned houses. What did you think when you first saw that? It was otherworldly. I was there in the summer, and as the heat of the day subsides and it moves toward dusk, you can be walking down a street that two minutes ago was empty, turn around and see that you’re being trailed by 15 dogs. They seem to materialize out of thin air. The concentration of these dogs tends to be in very poor neighborhoods that are themselves neglected—streets filled with trash, high crime, gun violence. This is not a political book, but I did observe that only five miles away from the Fifth Ward are the headquarters of the world’s biggest and richest oil companies. Into these situations come the people you follow. Greg, the truck driver, is the star, but these dogs wouldn’t be rescued in the first place if it weren’t for many people. I spent a lot of time with the adoption coordinator who helped save Albie. She has raised four kids, and when I went to Louisiana they were about to take their first-ever family vacation. She has been devoted nonstop to saving as many dogs as she possi-

30 Amherst Fall 2015

bly can. She gets three to four hours of sleep a night. She goes out to find dogs who congregate around Dumpsters, and dogs that are thrown in the trash or leashed to the fence of the veterinary clinic where she works. She goes to public shelters. Folks like her are making Sophie’s choice every day, and they are haunted by the dogs they can’t save.

How many dogs are never saved? In the shelter where Albie survived for four months, roughly 90 percent of the approximately 3,500 dogs that come in every year never make it out alive. And how many dogs never even make it to shelters? Nobody knows. Do the rescuers have a sense that they’re making progress? They know they’re not getting on top of the problem. They’re on a hamster wheel, and they’re just trying to save as many dogs as they can. The compassion of the people who do this work is off ff the charts. They’re burning up marriages, burning through bank accounts, just to get the next dog to safety. They know they aren’t changing the world, but for the dogs they save and the families that adopt them, their worlds are forever changed. Let’s talk about your trip with Greg. You’re in the cab of the tractor-trailer, day in and day out, and sleeping in the back with the dogs. What was it like? The truck has 80 kennels secured to the walls, with

Fall 2015 Amherst 31

stuff ff. It’s inherently dispiriting to see dogs behind bars waiting for somebody to take them in. At the other end of the road are the happy endings, but for every happy ending there are Godknows-how-many dogs who never get this second chance.


Why do you think you relented and got Albie? My youngest son was going into his senior year in high school. I wasn’t ready to be an emptynester. I wasn’t ready to be done nurturing. Unlike kids, who grow up to be self-reliant, hopefully, dogs are dependent on you for the rest of their lives. They are vulnerable, and every day they look at you the way you wish your kids would look at you when they’re 14 and rolling their eyes at your every utterance. Your heart just explodes for these dogs.

At the last stop, just before hopping out of the truck, Mahle, the driver, turned to Zheutlin and said that a few days earlier the dogs had been castaways, and now the door was going to open and sunlight was going to pour in. “This,” Mahle told Zheutlin, “is heaven.”

about 24 inches in between. At night I was in my sleeping bag wedged between these kennels. When I was riding with Greg, it was all hands on deck. I was expected to clean kennels, walk dogs, comfort nervous dogs. I rode with one dog—a Lab like Albie, named Sadie—from Louisiana to Connecticut. She had epilepsy and couldn’t ride in the back for fear she’d have a seizure, so she rode with me in the cab, and it was my job to give her medication.

Will you describe the route? Greg leaves his home in Ohio every other Monday. That night he tries to get past Bowling Green, Ky., and, if he can, even past Nashville. By the next day they’re in Louisiana. Then he detours into Texas and back through Louisiana, skirting north of Lake Pontchartrain and up through Mississippi. The drop-off ffs begin Saturday mornings in New Jersey. He’s back in Ohio on Sunday. The weather can be unpredictable, but he lives by the Postal Service motto: “Neither rain nor snow….” I asked him about heating the trailer in the winter, but he said that with 80 dogs, if it’s zero degrees outside it’s about 72 inside, just from the heat of the dogs. What was it like to deliver the dogs to families? At the last stop, just before hopping out of the truck, Greg turned to me and said that a few days earlier these dogs were unwanted castaways, and now the doors are going to open and the sunlight is going to pour in. “This is heaven,” he said. I think it’s his heaven too, not just for the dogs. It’s a joyous scene. Immediately after being handed over, the dogs are posing in family pictures, literally smiling. They do seem to be. Some of them hop off ff and they’re unguided missiles—they’re just so excited to be off ff the truck. But so many seem to know they are home at last. Working on this book, I saw some grim

32 Amherst Fall 2015

You were an anthropology major, and in our 25threunion book, you wrote that after law school you became a delivery boy for a liquor store and then did “two brief stints at prestigious but boring law firms” where your “main achievement was to bill fewer hours than every other lawyer in the firm.” Yes, I had a very distinguished legal career. It turned out not to be for me. But I don’t regret having gone to law school. I never had a career plan. I was shot out of Amherst like a pinball, and I’ve been careening around ever since. You’ve written other books. Among them are The Unoff fficial Mad Men Cookbook k and Around the World on Two Wheels. How did those come to be? My wife, Judy Gelman, is a cookbook author. We did a cookbook together based on the food of Mad Men. It turned into culinary anthropology, an in-depth look at food culture in the Mad Men era. The other book started when I got a letter from a stranger in the early 1990s. He was researching the story of the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world. His research had led him to believe that my mother was a descendent of this person. I set out to uncover this piece of family history: My greatgrandfather’s sister waved goodbye to her husband and three children in Boston—the kids were all under the age of 6—to take a 15-month jaunt around the world by bicycle. This was in the 1890s. And she was every bit as outlandish as she sounds. k Jim Kennedy ’75 works for the Associated Press as senior vice president for strategy and enterprise development.

34 You’ve heard of Rousseau. Why not Cavendish? 35 Six months in Rome, immersed in the work of an Italian architect

Photograph Courtesy Sung-Joo Kim


Beyond Campus

Sung-Joo Kim ’81 built a fashion empire. Now she’s an honorary officer ffi of the Order of the British Empire.

Fall 2015 Amherst 33


Neglected Philosophers BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 WEBSITE U Whether or not y you’ve formallyy studied modern philosophy, you’ve probably heard of René Descartes, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and JeanJacques Rousseau. But even if you have studied it, you might not know about Margaret g Cavendish,, Anne Conway, Émilie Du Châtelet and Damaris Masham. At Duke University, y Beatriz Wallace ’04 has helped to build a website to draw attention to these long-overlooked female philosophers of 17th- and 18th-century Europe. Andrew Janiak, an associate professor at Duke, led a sixperson team of students, faculty and staff ff—in association with 34 Amherst Fall 2015

A new website highlights 17th- and 18th-century female philosophers.

Beatriz Wallace ’04 MAJOR: ENGLISH

Many works by women in early modern philosophy are out of print.

colleagues at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania—to launch Project Vox in response to a “vicious cycle”: Many works by women in early modern philosophy are out of print, untranslated or left out of anthologies and course syllabi, making it difficult ffi for graduate students to study them extensively. So, as these students become professors and published authors, they continue to neglect these works in their teaching and writing. The male domination of the field continues to this day, with women receiving only about 30 percent of all philosophy bachelor’s degrees and doctorates nationwide. To help remedy this, the Project Vox website, which went live in March, includes a growing body of biographical information, sample syllabi, lesson plans, images and a timeline to contextualize the lives


Yo Y ou u’’ve v hea eard ard d of Hobb obbes es and L Loc ocke. Why Wh W hy no nott Caven avendi av d sh and Con nwa way? y?

and ideas of Cavendish, Conway, Du Châtelet and Masham. Scholars around the world can add and share content. As a digital humanities assistant for Duke University Libraries, Wallace says, “My focus was to honor the text and images with eff ffective HTML, CSS, content management system and design elements, to make the content most easily and clearly available to the viewer.” As she worked, Wallace—who had no previous background in philosophy—enjoyed reading the texts and learning about the female philosophers. Wallace is also studying math and statistics while working toward her MFA in experimental and documentary art. “It was so exciting to be reading about logic, proofs and infinity fi in a math class while also reading about it in these texts,” she says. She credits the wide variety of courses she took at Amherst with allowing her to delve into the “intellectually rich” and highly interdisciplinary work of Project Vox. And she hopes someday “to teach design, illustration, programming, information visualization, poetic essay and other such classes” in a similar environment, where “students are encouraged and supported in their curiosity to study multiple subjects in order to bring intellectual rigor to a focused problem.” Project Vox continues to develop and publish new content. Its work has been touted in The Washington Post, in The Atlantic and on Businesswoman and philanthropist Melinda Gates, a personal hero of Wallace’s, has tweeted her support. The team even received a letter from a scholar in England who had read about Project Vox in The Times and had just written a report on Conway that she was happy to share. The scholar was an 11-yearold girl. Katherine Duke ’05 is the assistant editor off Amherst magazine.

He’ll spend six months in a villa, living with scholars and artists, reading, writing and studying the work of an important Italian architect.


When in Rome


months in a villa in Rome, immersed in the work and travels of an influential fl Italian architect.

This is Jeff ff Cody’s reality. He is among 29 scholars and artists to win the 2016 Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome. From January to July he’ll live and work alongside fellow scholars and artists in a villa overlooking the city. There Cody will study the work of Saverio Muratori, who helped develop the theories and processes for urban architectural conservation as Italy rebuilt its cities following World War II. Few scholars outside of Italy have studied Muratori. Cody is a senior project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, where he leads training programs in conservation for architects and city planners, helping them to be “sensitive stewards of fragile urban fabric,” he says. His trainings take place primarily in Southeast Asia. Cody first learned about Muratori while co-editing a forthcoming Getty anthology on urban conservation. He plans to spend his time in Rome studying Muratori’s theories, visiting the architect’s own built work, interviewing Italian architects and educators and writing about what he learns. He’ll carefully examine the architect’s major 1959 study of Rome. He’ll also visit architectural landmarks, comparing the view today with that observed by Muratori 50 years ago. In addition, he’ll travel throughout Italy, includ-

On the Janiculum hill, the American Academy in Rome overlooks the Eternal City.

Jeffrey Cody ’77 MAJOR: HISTORY

He helps cities to protect their “historic fabric” even as they create new buildings.

ing to Modena, which houses an archival collection of Muratori’s papers. Cody also plans to paint watercolors, read novels and write a memoir for his children and grandchildren. The memoir is about a life-changing trip he took with his late wife from 1976 to 1979. Only three months after meeting, the couple embarked on a walk from the Shetland Islands to Jerusalem. “We walked for about three months but then realized the money wouldn’t last,” he says. So they took breaks to work, mostly waiting tables and dishwashing. They made it to Jerusalem (although not entirely by foot) and eventually decided to continue to Asia. “We traveled overland on an old hippie trail across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” he says. “We ran out of money in Sri Lanka and found teaching jobs in Iran”—just as the Shah was falling. “We got caught in the Iranian Revolution. Our school was burned down. It took a month to leave.” His interest in travel never ceased. Cody and his wife spent 10 years raising their two children in Hong Kong, where he taught architectural history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Now, as he prepares for another adventure, he is also thinking back on his years at Amherst. While in Rome, he says, he looks forward to mingling with other fellows: art historians, musicians, writers, studio artists. “It’s the approach to learning that Amherst refl flects,” he says: “the notion of putting together a group of really interesting people and giving them a chance to explore, gain knowledge and learn from each other.” Fall 2015 Amherst 35


A Businesswoman’s Royal Honor


y fi BUSINESS U Twenty-five years ago, Sung-Joo Kim ’81 began building a fashion empire. This year, Charles Hay, the British ambassador to South Korea, stopped by her offi ffice in Seoul to share some unlikely news: Queen Elizabeth II had chosen Kim to become an honorary offi fficer of the Order of the British Empire. She would be the first Korean woman ever to receive this award. “I have no idea how they found me for that!” says Kim. But she’s built her career by defying expectations and expanding opportunities for women in her country and throughout Asia. As an international transfer student at Amherst, Kim was influfl enced by the “very active feminist movement going around America” 36 Amherst Fall 2015

The head of a fashion empire is now the first Korean woman to be named an honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire.


Her father bequeathed his multibillion-dollar business only to his sons.

in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She went on to pursue graduate studies at the London School of Economics and Harvard. Her father bequeathed his multibillion-dollar energy business only to his sons and expected his daughters to enter into arranged “power marriages” with other wealthy Korean families, she says. Instead, Kim married a middleclass British-Canadian man whom she met at Harvard. “My parents ff,” she says. completely cut me off “I had to drop out from school and instead find work.” Kim got her start in business at Bloomingdale’s in New York. In 1990 she returned to South Korea to start her own company distributing European luxury brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent to the Korean market. Today Sungjoo Group owns the German luxury brand MCM, employs more than 1,500 people around the world (the

majority of them women) and exports handbags, designer clothing and other goods to 35 countries, including the U.S. market. Kim accepted the royal honor— in the form of a medal and a certificate signed by the queen—at Ambassador Hay’s home amid a cozy gathering of family and friends. It recognizes Kim’s “contributions to UK-Korea relations,” says a statement from Hay. In addition to sending her daughter, Jeehae Kim Goddard ’13, to junior high and high school in London and owning an apartment there, Kim has donated funds to British institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Wales Evangelical School of Theology and London College of Fashion, among others. She serves as a trustee of Asia House, and she founded the Pan Asian Women’s Association to foster advocacy and cultural exchange among “accomplished Asian women living around London.” And Sungjoo Group owns the Korean franchise for the British retailer Marks & Spencer. Inspired by the humility and philanthropy of her devoutly Christian mother, Kim believes awards like this one—and the honorary doctorate in humane letters she received from Amherst in 2000—come with the responsibility to be a better leader and role model. “I feel God is giving me more homework to do,” she says. Geun-hye Park, South Korea’s first female president, has given Kim plenty of work to do, too. Kim co-chaired Park’s campaign committee and helped her win the election in 2012. Last year Park called on Kim to become president of the Korean Red Cross, a position traditionally reserved for the country’s elderly male former prime ministers. Kim accepts no payment for the Red Cross role; she sees it as a chance to use her business expertise to continue helping poor and disabled people, as well as suff ffering people in North Korea. Her motto, she says, is “succeed to serve.”

BY NATHANIEL GORDON START-UPS U As violence broke out in his home country of Kenya, amid the results of a disputed presidential election, Agostine Ndung’u ’12 sat in an internet café, trying to submit his Amherst application before the looming deadline. This was in December 2007, and as Ndung’u typed his information into the Common Application, the owner of the café yelled derogatory phrases about the people from Ndung’u’s community. To keep from revealing his family background to the owner, the young man positioned his browser so that his name was hidden. “There was sporadic violence,” Ndung’u recalls, “and it was a very scary time, but I really, really wanted to submit my application.” Ngung’u became one of only a few students from his Kikuyu settlement, located in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, to attend a U.S. college or university. “I selected Amherst

based mainly on the Five College system,” he says. “I wanted to have access to that, and I got a scholarship.” Knowing that youth unemployment was a chief cause of interethnic confl flict in his country, Ndung’u returned to Kenya as a Dalai Lama Fellow during his junior year at Amherst. There he founded the Amani Seed Project in partnership with Baraka Agricultural College and the Center for African Development and Security. This project uses agribusiness initiatives to forge multiethnic cooperatives among the youth of rural Kenya. In the first phase of the project, two youth groups merged to establish a potato seed production enterprise. Today, Amani Seed has expanded to include a microlending business. Since graduation, Ndung’u has worked for two organizations that help people establish themselves as entrepreneurs around the globe. At Ashoka, he fi first worked in Washington, D.C., to revamp the organization’s global internship


“Working with entrepreneurs gives me a great sense of purpose.”

The Amani Seed Project uses agribusiness initiatives to forge multiethnic cooperatives in Kenya.

program. He moved to Nairobi and became venture program manager at Ashoka East Africa, where he managed the search and selection process for Ashoka Fellows in that region. This allowed him to work directly with entrepreneurs. In April he joined Impact Hub as the regional incubation lead for Africa. In this role, he helps to set up programs that support entrepreneurs. “Working with entrepreneurs gives me a great sense of purpose,” he says. He recalls one woman who had a promising idea related to mental health and trauma in high-conflict fl areas across East Africa. This woman went on to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with an international development agency. Ndung’u, whose parents teach primary school in Kenya, is now applying to business school. Wherever his career takes him, he says, “I never really imagine myself living in one place for a long time.” Nathanial Gordon was a summer intern at Amherst magazine.


Seeds for Change

From his home country of Kenya, an alumnus helps entrepreneurs in cities across Africa.

Fall 2015 Amherst 37



of high-frequency trading, submitting your trade a thousandth of a second faster than your competitor can be the diff fference between gaining or losing millions of dollars in the stock market. Trading fi firms therefore spend fortunes in an arms race to get everfaster communications infrastructure and technology. “What is it about market rules that makes it a good idea to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on thousandths of seconds?” wondered Eric Budish ’00. And are these market rules best for investors and society? A professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Budish researches answers to these types of questions. In November the Quarterly Journal of Economics will publish his paper “The High-Frequency Trading Arms Race: Frequent Batch Auctions as a Market Design Response.” In it, he argues that the current rules are economically inefficient ffi and proposes a new system. To explain the ineffi fficiency, Budish gives an analogy: Imagine you’re selling your home. At the open house, 10 buyers show up at the same time, all willing to pay the asking price. What would you do? Most likely, you’d see if any of the buyers is willing to pay more. But what if, instead, the 10 buyers have to run laps around your house, and whoever wins the race gets the original asking price? “It’s a competition, and buyers might invest in fancy running shoes, but it’s a form of competition that isn’t constructive,” Budish says. A more effi fficient system, he says, would have the 10 potential buyers competing in an auction. In the paper, Budish suggests exactly that: he’d replace the current design of the stock market with 38 Amherst Fall 2015

An economist argues that the stock market needs to trade its need for speed.

Millions of Dollars on Thousandths of Seconds auctions held as often as once per tenth of a second. “I’m not a communist,” Budish says. “I like free markets; I like competition. But I’m trying to encourage competition in a more constructive dimension—price instead of speed—which ultimately leads to better outcomes for investors and for society.” There are three main benefi fits of frequent batch auctions, he says: They enhance liquidity for investors, they stop a socially wasteful arms race and they simplify the market computationally. At Amherst, Budish wrote his senior thesis on Internet auctions. Professor Walter Nicholson, the Ward H. Patton Professor of Economics, Emeritus, remembers it as “the best development of an origi-

Many regard Budish’s idea as a serious and creative alternative.


“It’s a form of competition that isn’t constructive.”

nal model I ever encountered in teaching 44 years at Amherst.” Budish’s paper has already won substantial attention, with many in the business world regarding his proposal as a serious and creative alternative to the current market design. For example, SEC Chair Mary Jo White described such auctions as a “competitive solution … to minimize speed advantages.” Today, Budish continues to present his research and argue for the merits of his idea. “A lot of the discussion about high-frequency trading,” he says, “has been moralistic: are high-frequency traders good or evil? I’m studying the system at a more structural level. Sometimes technocratic details can make a big difference ff in how well our markets work.” k


ECONOMICS U In the world

44 A ’96 pilot’s memoir reimagines the sky as a physical place 45 Meet Margaret Stohl ’89, the alumna behind the new Black Widow novel

Photograph by Shriver Soliday


Amherst Creates

David Shriver Soliday ’74, as photographed by his late son Shriver, to whom he dedicated his recent exhibition of aerial images

Fall 2015 Amherst 39


THE RICE FIELDS THAT USED TO BE Before cotton took over, more than 100 varieties of rice grew in the South. Slaves constructed and cultivated the fields. | BY RACHEL ROGOL

REMNANTS OF THE RICE CULTURE: AGRICULTURAL HISTORY AS ART David Shriver Soliday ’74 City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Charleston, S.C.

PHOTOGRAPHY U Since moving to Charleston, S.C., a year after his Amherst graduation, David Shriver Soliday ’74 has been photographing areas of the charming Southern city that most residents have never seen. At least, not like this. A commercial photographer by trade, Soliday has spent his spare time documenting the South’s now-dormant rice fi fields. At ground level, they simply “look like marsh,” he says, but from 600 feet in the air, the fi fields become art. “The view from above these fields is absolutely captivating,” he says. He recently exhibited his aerial rice-fi field photography at Charleston’s City Gallery at Waterfront Park. The exhibition, Remnants of the Rice Culture: Agricultural History as Art, in-

From an elevation of 600 feet, views of the now-dormant rice fields dwarf those of bridges, interstate highways and cities.

40 Amherst Fall 2015

Photographs by David Shriver Soliday ’74

cluded 75 photographs of fields stretching from Florida into North Carolina, approximately 400 miles, where more than 100 varieties of rice once grew. The photographs capture a lesser-known history of the South—and a story of humanity. “Looking down at these rice fields,” he says, “I see (or imagine) eight or so generations of enslaved people constructing and cultivating those fields.” South Carolina was the largest producer of rice in America during the Colonial period, dependent entirely on the labor of slaves. “Rice was a huge and profi fitable industry preceding cotton by about 100 years,” Soliday says. The intricate fields, designed with signature canals and ditches for irrigation stretching hundreds of miles along the Carolina coast, “were constructed by hand and shovel alone.” Soliday’s images provide a closer look not only at the hisI see eight tory of rice cultivation but also generations at the contributions of Africanof enslaved Americans and the central role of slavery in the making of people conAmerica. structing “The very core of it all those fields.” has always been the simple thought of giving credit where credit is due,” he says of the project. Consequently, the Smithsonian Institution has taken notice of the photos, recently acquiring a selection that will be on view at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2016. In addition to capturing this piece of American history, Soliday’s work simultaneously preserves a landscape that, a century from now, won’t exist. “So much is already gone with time and natural erosion,” he says. “The landscape represents, or is reflective fl of, many people, values and sheer history. It can’t be preserved physically, but being preserved in photography may be valuable in the future.” A TRIBUTE TO HIS SON Soliday dedicated the City Gallery exhibition to his son, David Shriver Soliday IV, who took his own life on July 1, 2014, at age 17, not long after sustaining his third severe concussion in 18 months. By sharing this personal tragedy, Soliday hopes to educate other families about concussions and suicide, and perhaps spare them the same pain. In the dedication he wrote for the exhibition, Soliday said that while he does not readily bring his personal life into his work, “using this soapbox to spread the word about my son’s unexpected suicide and its probable connection to concussion is well worth a hit if it saves just one child.”



Meditation, music, modern media, mealtime, Mao, Mark Twain and much more. BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 Wake up to Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in y by Evan Thompson ’83 Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy, (Columbia University Press). Then feast on Blueberries & Broccoli: A r by George Ayoub Scientist’s Guide to Improving Your Odds with Cancer, ’77 (self-published) and Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven, by Molly Gilbert ’06 (Workman Publishing Co.). Drawing from his Amherst thesis, Zheng Yuepeng ’09 contributes the chapter “Jazz from the 1920s to the Present: The Musicians, the Spaces and the Music” to Singapore Soundscape: Musical Renaissance of a Global Cityy (National Library Board, Singapore). Frederick C. Teiwes ’61 and Warren Sun take us to The End of the Maoist Era: Chinese Politics 6 (Routledge). During the Twilight of the Cultural Revolution, 1972–1976 Ethan B. Katz ’02 is author of The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Harvard University Press) and coauthor, with Ari Joskowicz, of Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times (University of Pennsylvania Press). William McKay and Charles W. Johnson ’60 straddle the Atlantic in Parliament and Congress: Representation and Scrutiny in the TwentyFirst Centuryy (Oxford University Press). Harold H. Kolb ’55 celebrates the all-American Mark Twain: The Gift of Humorr (University Press of America). Brian Hochman ’03 describes Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technologyy (University of Minnesota Press), and Joel Simon ’86 reveals The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom (Columbia Journalism Review). Fiction fans will thrill to 404, by J.G. Sandom ’79 (Cornucopia Press), and Burnout, by Joe Uricchio ’55, M.D. (CHB Media). K a new biannual Alexey Sokolin ’06 is managing editor of INK BRICK, magazine of “comics poetry.”

Fall 2015 Amherst 41


EXPERIENCING A GRASS-FED BURGER At a time when employment prospects are down, why do Millennials spend so much money at restaurants? | BY JENN SALCIDO ’05


with her peers. Talking about who had eaten where, and what, was like a social currency. Her social media feeds lit up with snapshots of culinary conquests. She recalls her father, the writer Scott Turow ’70, returning from a meeting at which it seemed everyone’s daughter was an aspiring food writer. “That’s a bizarre life goal,” she says. “He asked me, ‘What’s up with your generation?’ I realized, I actually had no idea what was up with my generation.” Turow—a psychology major at Amherst—began a three-and-a-half-year exploration that turned into Generation Yum. The book seeks to understand the value that “yummers” (that is, food-obsessed Millennials) place on a good meal. At a time when employment prospects are down, restaurant spending is up among her generation. Turow posits that Millennials can find fi the identity, control and validation in food that they’ve been denied in traditional avenues (think employment). In the book, she treks out to organic farms in Vermont and follows unemployed San Franciscans to get a $4 cup of coff ffee. She describes young adults who value the exquisiteness of experience over the pain of expense, and who seek to connect with other foodies, be it in person over a beverage or on social media over #brunch. In addition to her own research, Turow includes interviews with some of the biggest names in food, including Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and Anthony Bourdain. The latter has this to say: “Absolutely the engine of dining, even fine dining now, across the board, is this generation of seemingly food obsessed people who are willing to drive an hour and a half for a sweet taco or save up money—that my generation would have spent on cocaine—to go to Le Bernardin.” Turow also takes time to ponder how the food choices of Millennials might shape food studies and policy in the future. As Pollan says in the book: “We get three votes a day.” COURTESY EVE TUROW

In addition to her own research, Turow includes interviews with some of the biggest names in food: Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Anthony Bourdain.

FOOD U It’s been a while, but Eve Turow ’09 remembers her Valentine ritual: mixing together beans, cheese and tofu at the salad bar, steaming it alongside broccoli and rice in the microwave, and making it work. “I lost weight every time I went back to school,” says no one ever, except Turow, it turns out. “My interest in food has progressed,” she admits, laughing. It’s no wonder, maybe; she lives in New York City now, home of the Cronut and the $99 burger. But the progression goes deeper than taste trends. In her new book, A Taste of Generation Yum, Turow explores her generation’s obsession with food. Turow found the muse for her investigation in bits and pieces. One of the biggest came from listening to a friend describe a frozen-yogurt shop tucked into Bloomingdale’s. “The flavors changed every day,” Turow says, “and she put the number in her phone so she could call every day and see what the flavors were. I remember thinking: This is a bit absurd.” Food was dominating Turow’s conversations

42 Amherst Fall 2015

Jenn Salcido ’05 is a writer and editor living in Providence, R.I. Her work has appeared in The Providence Journal and Rhode Island Monthly, y among other publications.




Kapur captures a kind of eddying repetition—a story building on itself with sonic, rather than narrative, logic.

POETRY U Where do the constellations we name as the self begin? What does it mean to belong to a family, a nation, a past? “Anthem, m ” the first poem in Kirun Kapur’s debut collection, opens into such questions, saying: “I’m not talking / about a place, but a country: / Its laws are your mother, its walls / Are your dreams. The flag it flies // Is your father, waving.” These lines are a fair map of lyric terrain—an inquiry into the geopolitics of imagination and nostalgia, an exploration of the trade routes of the heart. Indeed, Kapur has rich subjects to probe: the past lives of her mother, once a Benedictine novitiate; of her father, an immigrant whose family was divided by India’s 1947 partition; and of her family itself, which, to her, is at once unfathomable and intimately beloved. These poems are equal parts love song and reckoning. Weaving together strands that include Hafi fiz, Islamabad newspapers, Bollywood film and the Ramayana, Kapur traces tribal and national violence, circling the unsettling places where these eruptions converge on her family’s life. Often her poems are split with jagged omissions, like when the speaker (a proxy for Kapur) asks her father for answers about saving relatives lost in partition’s violence, and gets told, “You should eat more loki.” There’s evasiveness here, the kind of absence that makes a daughter lean in toward a story, wanting to know what’s in the space that’s been obscured. Her speakOther times, Kapur capers leave the tures a kind of eddying repetition—a story building on mysteries of with sonic, rather than legacy tanta- itself narrative, logic. Kapur often lizingly open.” plays with the pantoum, in which end words from the first and third lines of one stanza repeat in the second and fourth lines of the next, so that a poem cascades with echoes. In one such stanza, Kapur writes: “In a family you have to share everything/ I can hear my father explain: / Whatever may rage between brothers, / A family shares what it has.” But why, exactly, the rage? And what does it mean to share it across time and continent? The poem repeats its end lines without telling exactly. Kapur’s speakers leave the mysteries of legacy tantalizingly open, as in the poem where a relative says: “Good girls know how to make good puris / AMHERST READS featured book:


What does it mean to belong to a family, a nation, a past? | BY TESS TAYLOR ’00

They don’t ask for the old stories.” Nevertheless, Kapur wants to ask. She feels certain that the past persists. Her epigraph comes from Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!: “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fi fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five fi notes over for thousands of years.” Indeed, Kapur is at her strongest when she’s contemplating the mysterious way her father’s story, especially, echoes again in the life she has now. “Those moments we were wholly foreign to each other…,” she writes, “he said enough to strike me dumb, to make me / struggle for some sense. He was arming me / with shoes to wear, with fury, feathers, flight.” Tess Taylor ’00 is the author of a book of poems, The Forage House. Her second book, Work and Days, is coming out in 2016. She is the on-air poetry reviewer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Fall 2015 Amherst 43


REIMAGINING THE SKY A pilot’s memoir is a poetical investigation into life in the air. | BY NICHOLAS MANCUSI ’10

SKYFARING: A JOURNEY WITH A PILOT By Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 Knopf

Vanhoenacker writes not of jet-lag but of “place lag,” wherein one can be in an English wood in the morning and a neon Tokyo suburb that night.

MEMOIR U Frequently, when writing about a book, a critic will refer to a “zooming out” of the narrative, if and when the author decides to set aside the groundlevel issues of the characters and instead focus on the proceedings with a wider aperture. This is the view “from above,” which captures, sometimes but not always dispassionately, a view of the situation that characters on the ground could never fully perceive—of time, of history, of the movements of peoples and the advancement of society. Who better to write from this stratospheric point of view than a pilot? Skyfaring, by Mark Vanhoenacker ’96, could most succinctly be described as a memoir of years spent flying an Airbus and 747 for commercial airlines,

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but Vanhoenacker (who, in addition to his flying duties, writes for The New York Times, Slate and other publications) commands such captivating prose, and his interests and attention are so sophisticated, that the book functions more as a poetical investigation into the freedomseeking spirit of man that first fi drove us into the skies. Sure, there are plenty of facts and anecdotes to interest aviation geeks. For instance, did you know that early models of the 747 had a port fitted fi into the roof of the cockpit though which a sextant could be used to plot a course using the stars? But it’s passages like the following that make this book such a stunner, worthy of comparison to the work of naturalist writer Rick

Bass, or to James Salter (himself a former pilot, and the only other author I have read who can write so beautifully about the sky and the mercurial dynamics of flight): How could it be, I ask myself, that I have gone to Africa today and returned? I blink and look around at my friends and the crowded restaurant, at the twinkling glasses and the dark woodwork. And I remember, as if from a dream, the blue sea of air over the Mediterranean, the blaze of an ordinary afternoon in Tripoli, and my lunch on the air stairs, in the shadow the plane brought to Libya and then took away.

Vanhoenacker’s goal is to guide the reader on a reimagining of the sky as a physical place, constructed both by its own features that ground-dwellers might never have considered, and by Illustration by Monika Aichele


I’ve been to Maastricht, on the ground, but if you said the name to me, I would not think of the Dutch city, of earth-Maastricht. I would think instead of sky-Maastricht, this invisible block of the heavens resting on the fragmented history of the northwest corner of the continent. Sky-Maastricht is not Belgium or Luxembourg or the Netherlands, yet its cold aerial polyhedron, sharply bordered and as meaningless as sliced air, blankets them all—a new, improbably named country above Europe.

To be a long-haul pilot is to radically distort traditional notions of home and place, which have woven themselves into the fabric of human experience for thousands of years, only to be unraveled in the last 60 or so. Vanhoenacker writes not of jet-lag but of “place lag,” wherein one can be in an English wood in the morning and a neon Tokyo suburb that night, and it can radically reorient a pilot’s life. So this might be a book about the nature of home, and how it is preserved in a shrinking world: “The deepening gratitude I feel for home relates to it as the place that, wherever I am flying, I know I will return to and be still,” he writes. “All those miles, all those hours over ice or sand or water, to return to a snack taken from a cupboard, to a photograph on a shelf, to the closet quietly closed with the suitcase at last at rest inside.” Perhaps, during a rough flight over some ocean or desert, as the turbulence jostles you awake and people begin to make the small sounds that indicate that surely nothing could be wrong, you have told yourself a story about the brilliance, confi fidence and experience of the people in the cockpit. If your pilot was anything like Vanhoenacker, you were right. Reviews by Nicholas Mancusi ’10 have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, w The Washington Post and elsewhere.

Marvelous Meet the alumna behind the new Black Widow novel. | BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 When Marvel Comics asked Margaret Stohl ’89 to write the first novel for its new Young Adult division, she “completely freaked out,” she says. “It was my dream job.” The novel, published in October, centers on Black Widow, who has appeared in numerous comic books, as well as in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2 and the Avengers movies. Stohl previously spent nearly 20 years working for video game companies, including 7 Studios, which she co-founded with her husband and “sold just as my Young Adult writing career was taking off,” ff she says. Today she’s known for three popular series of YA novels—Caster Chronicles, Dangerous Creatures and Icons—and has “a reputation for being a giant nerd.” She also co-founded two annual teen literary festivals, YALLFest in Charleston, S.C., and YALLWest in Santa Monica, Calif., where she lives. Here she is in her own words. Fantasy nerd rule set Everything I learned about “world building” I learned by building worlds in 3-D for video games. I fell in love with sci-fi working on Dune 2000. I was able to hone my fantasy nerd rule set during the Zork games. I’ve been a big Marvel fangirl ever since I worked on Spider-Man for the PlayStation, more than 15 years ago. Black Widow: a primer Natasha Romanoff ff, aka Black Widow, is a former Russian spy who defected to the U.S. after surviving a deadly “spy school” called the Red Room. Romanoff ff now works for S.H.I.E.L.D., a shadow intelligence group, and for the Avengers Initiative. She’s highly trained, highly guarded and incredibly tough—but very flawed and deeply human. The fandom world is obsessed with Natasha’s romantic entanglements, but I’m much more interested in the nature of her heart. Black Widow: Forever Red is technically continuous with the comics, but written with the assumption that some readers will have only seen the movies. It follows two teens as they become entangled in Natasha’s life. It’s an origin story, and I get to reveal much more about Black Widow than we’ve seen in the


the rules that the aviation community has invented to explain and explore it. He writes:

Stohl’s Black Widow: Forever Red is an origin story.

past. I also got to create a new character for the Marvel universe, which was a huge honor, and that news will hit in the near future, so stay tuned. Why adults read YA A huge number of YA readers are actually adults, but we authors still feel the need to stay true to our teen readers. My agent, Sarah Burnes, wrote in The Paris Review w that she believes reading YA allows adults to knit together who they once were with who they are still becoming. We are still, in part, the teens we were, just as we Amherst alumni still come around because we connect to our old Lord Jeff ff selves. In YA, teen characters are written more respectfully, intelligently and truthfully, and adults are allowed to reconnect to those truths and characters. Her next book In June, Royce Rolls will debut. This book is very diff fferent from anything else I’ve written. It’s about a teen named Bentley Royce, one of three siblings in a “famous-for-being-famous” reality-TV family, who suddenly wants out. I’ve been cracking myself up writing it, on and off ff, for a long time now. Hopefully it will be as funny to my readers as it has been to me. k Fall 2015 Amherst 45


From the pages of Amherst magazine and its predecessor titles, a look at what Amherst people were talking, thinking and writing about at different points in history. 100 YEARS AGO


Be a Man

Forgotten Portraits

U Bruce Barton, Class of 1907 (who later served in Congress as a Republican from New York), wrote a six-page essay in the 1915 Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly contrasting college men with mere college graduates. The latter, he said, may know the fight songs, but they do not enlighten the earth. His argument: other schools produce graduates, while Amherst produces men—people who “in a hundred places are driving darkness out before their light.” Here’s his description of one of them: I REMEMBER GREGORY (DON’T look him up; that isn’t his name) out in a near city of the middle west. I met him in the office ffi of the newspaper that he edits, sweating through the long summer night and praying that truth crushed to earth would rise somewhere in the world in time to give him a story for the next morning’s front page. If you read the alumni columns of this periodical for 50 years, you will never hear of Gregory: he is forever buried in that town where the trains stop an instant, snort and go on. But four counties round about Gregory are lighter because he is an Amherst man. There are no saloons in those four counties; the schools are more nearly effi fficient, government is more nearly clean; righteousness rides through the streets triumphantly instead of slinking by ashamed, because Gregory has run his paper in the spirit of Henry Ward Beecher and Charlie Garman and Nungie and Old Doc.

U Five daguerreotypes of famous Americans—including two U.S. presidents—were discovered at the Mead Art Museum. These included a portrait of Andrew Jackson taken shortly before his death—an image far diff fferent from the familiar one on the $20 bill. Martha A. Sandweiss, then Mead director, wrote about the find in 1990 in the magazine. LAST SPRING, WHILE INVENTORYING MATERIAL IN A STORAGE CLOSET AT Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum, we found a small cardboard box. Inside were 10 small bundles carefully wrapped in brown paper and tied up with twine. I unwrapped one, then opened the daguerreotype case I found inside. There was Andrew Jackson, staring with calm resignation at the very face of death. “It is an extraordinary find,” says historian James Barber, curator of an exhibition of Jackson portraits opening on Nov. 9 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. “It is the only new image of Jackson to appear in fi five years of intensive research.” Jackson was not the only familiar face to emerge from the long-forgotten box. As I opened the daguerreotypes one by one I saw the great American heroes of the 1840s: the aristocratic ex-President John Quincy Adams, General Winfield fi Scott, popular poet William Cullen Bryant, painter Thomas Sully, spell-binding orator Edward Everett. It is, says Connecticut daguerreotype dealer Joe Buberger, “the finest group of material to be discovered in a long, long time.”


Newly Schooled U In a 1965 issue of the Amherst Alumni News, a short article quoted one admission off fficer on a change he’d been starting to see in the College’s applicant pool. NEW COURSES AND PROgrams in secondary schools are making an increasing impact on the preparation of college applicants and on the academic orienta-

tion of students once they are admitted. Van R. Halsey Jr., associate dean of admission, said recently that “the big change in pedagogy” in secondary schools is producing students who have been active in the learning process, not merely passive classroom spectators, and who have had a chance to do independent work. Some Amherst applicants have had four years of a foreign language. … More and more have had at least a year or two of

foreign language study in elementary school, and indications are that in the future many will apply with 10 years of foreign language experience. … But the major change during the coming years will probably be in classroom attitude. “The kid is no longer sitting in class and learning by rote,” Dean Halsey said. “He may have memorized less factual material—may not be able to quote much poetry—but he will be able to handle material, to work in the library on his own, and to deal with problems in a manner that his predecessors could not.” Fall 2015 Amherst 119



BABIES The alumnus behind in vitro fertilization

Back in 1981, an Amherst alumnus and his wife became known as the medical team behind America’s first “test-tube baby.” They never liked the term. “The baby certainly isn’t developed in a test tube,” Howard W. Jones ’31 told Amherst magazine that year. “In fact, a test tube is never involved.” Instead, as Jones explained in those early days of the procedure, the egg is removed from

120 Amherst Fall 2015

a patient and fertilized by her husband’s sperm, then implanted in her uterus, in the hope that the embryo develops and the woman bears a child. On Dec. 28, 1981, at 7:46 a.m., Elizabeth Carr Comeau became the first fi baby in the United States born as a result of what we now call in vitro fertilization. (Louise Brown, born in 1978 in Manchester, England, was the first fi in the world.) Jones, a gynecological surgeon, and his wife, the late endocrinologist Georgeanna Seegar Jones, conducted the IVF

procedure that resulted in Comeau’s birth. The Joneses had retired from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1978 and founded the first U.S. clinic for in vitro fertilization, in Norfolk, Va. It became a leader in developing IVF technology. In the 1981 interview with Amherst, Jones predicted that IVF would soon become commonplace. And today, more than 5 million babies have been born as a result of the procedure. In 2011 Jones offered ff Amherstt magazine some new predictions: A cen-

Illustration by STUART BRADFORD

tury from now, he said, artifi ficial wombs will allow fetuses to grow to term outside women’s bodies. And many years down the road, doctors will be able to combine the genes from a man with the genes from a woman, taken from any cell in each partner’s body, to create a baby, thus making sperm and egg banks obsolete. Howard Jones died on July 31, 2015, at the age of 104. Over the years he stayed in touch with Comeau, who has said she considers him “like a grandparent.” E.G.B.

What Is

THE ALUMNI EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE? A GROUP OF 18 ALUMNI, the executive committee acts as a direct line of communication between alumni and the College. Your connection to Amherst doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t end after you graduate; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lifelong association with the College and generations of other graduates. Alumni involvement has made Amherst into the institution it is today, and your participation is needed to keep Amherst a vibrant, inquisitive and thoughtful place far into the future. HAVE FEEDBACK or ideas for new initiatives? Want to know how to be more involved in the life of the College? Let the executive committee know. Visit ffeedback to get the conversation started!

Illustration by JAMES YANG

AMHERST PO Box 5000 Amherst, MA 01002

“Working with entrepreneurs gives me a great


Agostine Ndung’u ’12, Page 37

“I get to reveal


Margaret Stohl ’89, Page 45



“THE LANDSCAPE REPRESENTS, or is reflective of, people, values and history.”

Sung-Joo Kim ’81, Page 36

David Shriver Soliday ’74, Page 40

Amherst Magazine Fall 2015  
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