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Wander: Brandeis Abroad

Letter From The Editor


o my friends, far and wide,

I am proud to introduce this, the second issue of Wander: Brandeis Abroad. Our first issue featured essays, pictures, and paintings from students in places as far flung as China, Copenhagen, and Cameroon. Even more exciting, the increased number of submissions and the emphatic response from students, faculty, and alumni has shown us that the first issue was merely the first step in the journey of this publication. This time, our magazine will get you to into Beijing’s underground rock clubs, let you peer within the walls of a family courtyard in Ghana, reveal what life is like inside a Danish homeless shelter, and lend some insight to the thoughts of a French cheese addict. We’re glad to be a part of taking you on these journeys. Wander focuses on the intimate moments Brandeis students encountered while on their academic paths abroad. Brandeis students study abroad for any number of reasons. What they learn often times has nothing to do with what they set out to learn, but that certainly does not mean these lessons are any less valuable than those gleaned from hours of toil and research. Serendipitous discoveries reward the traveling student with an experiential understanding impossible to replicate into a classroom setting. We like believing that the paths one finds when hopelessly lost are just as meaningful as those inscribed upon maps. As an institution of the global liberal arts, Brandeis students and alumni conduct research, volunteer, and work all over the world to further our vision of Social Justice. Louis Brandeis, a man with a keen eye for subtlety while at the same time unwilling to turn his eye away from injustice, would surely be encouraged by the students who wear his name emblazoned upon the clothing they wear as they trek all four corners of the earth. After all, these stories are stories of social justice. Whether it is connecting (and finding connection) within the LGBT community of Bangalore or delivering a baby in a rural Kenyan health clinic, Brandeis students bring their own ideas of Social Justice wherever they go. Even more importantly, they leave with new ones. In the coming weeks and months, Wander will be expanding to include a more prominent online presence, as well as interactive copies available on the iPhone and iPad. We hope that ultimately Wander will serve as a nexus for collaboration and connection between prospective students, students considering studying abroad, students returning from abroad, and alumni reflecting on their international experiences during or after their time at Brandeis. Our connections as Brandeisians transcend borders in the same way miles and miles vanish in the turn of a page of this magazine. So let us once again travel together, and not worry where the road leads. Let us be content just to know that it is a road, and that we are wandering upon it. -- Jake Laband, ‘12

Jake Laband Founder and Editor in Chief

Ben Kalman Deputy Editor-in-Chief & Webmaster

Destiny D. Aquino Executive Editor

Jesse Appell Managing Editor & Photo Editor

Isaac Steinberg Associate Editor and Production Editor

Samuel Icaza Editor

Kelsey Grab Design Artist

With Support From: Brandeis Global Fund Brandeis Office of Admissions Brandeis Office of Study Abroad Yu Feng, Chinese Jane Hale, French and Francophone Studies Chandler Rosenberger, International and Global Studies Paola Servino, Italian Studies Aida Wong, East Asian Studies

Special Thanks: Dian Fox, Hispanic Studies Richard Gaskins, American Studies Charles Golden, Anthropology Donald Hinley, Politics J. Scott Van Der Meid, Office of Study Abroad

Special Thanks: Sabine von Mering, Center for German and European Studies Fernando J. Rosenberg, Latin American and Latino Studies Harleen Singh, South Asian Studies Courtney de Vries, Office of Study Abroad

TABLE OF CONTENTS A House Is More Than A Home Hanna Shansky


Thick-Air Freedom Ethan Geringer-Sameth


An Addiction Elizabeth Green


Copenhangin’ Mia Salmo


International Improbability Jesse Appell


Let’s Go Surfing Now Rebecca Berger


On Forgiveness Ashley Lynette


Body Fractal Alyssa Kerr


Perching on Passports Sarah Van Buren


Rock and Roll Coleman Mahler


L’amore Jaimie Cordier


Confronting Expectations, Embracing Change: Reflections on India Melissa Donze


Dr. Molly Nathanson Molly Nathanson


Contributor Profiles


World Map


PHOTO CREDITS: Cover Photo: Mara Rosenberg, Grenada, Spain; Inside Cover: Ilyana Rosenberg; Letter From The Editor and Editorial Board: Altinay Kangeldiyeva, Paris, France; Table Of Contents: Melissa Donze, Bangalore, India;

By Amy Bisaillon, 2012: Zermatt, Switzerland 9

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Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


A House Is More Than A Home By Hanna Shansky Class of 2012 Accra, Ghana


often sit in the shady courtyard of the compound with my host Papa as he listens to his radio and feels the occasional breeze. 70 year old Jacob Quainoo is mostly blind and his experience of this world is restricted to sounds, tastes, feelings, intuition, and memory. I am compelled that his most exercised physical sense appears to be his hearing. The radio is always on – a booming surround sound speaker system is housed in the living room, a stationary radio sits on the front porch, and a smaller portable radio is usually resting in his lap. All are always on the same station (104.3 Peace FM) so he can hear it wherever he goes – he lives in a world of sound. In the morning is Ghana news, mid-morning is talk radio, afternoon is popular music, evening is world news, and nighttime is Gospel music. Jacob Quainoo’s residence is huge, composed of three buildings – the main house, a guest house he rents out to international students, and a nursery/day care that he oversees. His wife passed away ten years ago, and his five children have all moved away since then, so he utilizes his expansive space in the benevolent nature of housing and educating others. His living room is a tribute to his deceased wife, walls lined with pictures of her at various ages which he can’t see, but encourages others to look at. In each she bears the same beaming smile, which I’m sure is even more vivid in his mind’s eye. He has been living in this place for fifty years, seen hundreds of occupants come and go, and remains in wonderful physical condition to fulfill his life’s work as caretaker to those who pass through here. For the children enrolled in the nursery, Jacob Quainoo’s compound is their school and 11

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playplace. His children are an energetic bunch of two and three year olds, exhibiting all the typical characters. The older and smarter one who goes first on the swing; the sweet girl who follows and smiles; the quiet one who sucks his thumb; the inquisitive one who inspects bugs; the twin girls who play off of each other’s antics; and the fearless one who throws rocks. Today this last child got a little too rowdy, grazing his classmate on the shoulder with a cement chip. Papa asked an older girl to bring him his cane, a tool I knew was used here but had never seen in action. Its purpose is mostly intimidation; its use is less common. Though the child attempted to scurry away, it must have been the practiced hand of a blind man that was able to strike this child strictly, but not abusively, on the tush. Tears streamed down his face as he wailed for a minute or so. I felt awkward as a neutral character in this situation; I wanted to comfort the child, though I knew this would offend Papa and discredit his authority as head of the house. But his grief subsided quickly, and within ten minutes he was running around with the other children, allegedly chewing on a stick, or so it was proudly reported to us by one of the older girls. As the afternoon edges on, parents trickle in to pick up their children until only one straggler remains – Agogo, sitting cross legged on the stoop with his secondhand (or likely, third or fourth hand) Mickey Mouse backpack. For Sister Yaa, the live-in househelp, this compound is her livelihood. She shuffles around the residence (people here drag their feet when they walk), her muscular arms performing the household chores that Papa is un-

By Ben Rifkin, 2012: Ampilao Village, near Faux Cap, Madagascar able to do, and which make this home, school, and workplace run smoothly. Her daughter Jessica is also in the nursery, and she loves to follow me around, identifying animals on Disney movie boxes, poking my tattoos and reciting their letters, and dancing to songs on the radio. On my first day here, the mother and daughter stood in my doorway watching me unpack, and Yaa offered me some homemade peanut brittle. I took it and gave her a chocolate bar in return. That was the beginning of our friendship – we didn’t talk much, but seemed to have had a quiet understanding. When I cook my meals in the kitchen, she observes and wordlessly steps in to help. I like to bring her cold drinks sometimes to show my appreciation for her, and she welcomes them with a simple “Me da ase” (thank you). I think she likes that I play with Jessica to give her a break while she works, and that I wash my own dishes after I use them. Her Ghanaian name Yaa means “fe-

male who is Thursday-born,” as I am also. We share a name, but our lives could not be more different. For Papa, Yaa, and the children, this place is ordinary – a school and a house mirroring thousands like it in Accra alone. As for myself, this compound is a flowering temple budding all the strengths and weaknesses of humanity, where simple observations of life have morphed into a storybook in my head, moving me in every emotional direction. As I sit under the pear tree with Papa, we are within view of the eastern horizon which displays majestically descending airplanes into Kotoka International Airport. He cannot see them, and I doubt he can even hear them due to the radio on his lap. But every time I see a plane it is significant to me, acting as a reminder that the outside world, the one I left behind and dearly love, is not so very far away after all.

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Thick-Air Freedom By Ethan Geringer-Sameth Class of 2012 Bangalore, India


ising over the rural outskirts of Bangalore, the craving that had lingered nobly behind my thoughts was satisfied as I headed north in a small propeller plane. The ground below me was laid flat as a map, or perhaps slightly curved, stretching outward and beneath itself. The fixtures of land at eye level shrank away into a larger truth of paddy fields infinitely reaching despite the tangled net of disappearing ox-carts on fading dirt paths. For a long time I had imagined moving through the dense medium of once distant sunlight, miraculously enhanced by the lush and saturated face of the world half-turned, where life flourished in the freedom of its vastness. I had thought about it greatly; so much so, that even the first sentence of this passage may have been pre-written in some form or other. And here it was. I came to India originally to study and practice tabla, an instrument that was born in India. This endeavor began when I was sixteen, having just seen the great sitar maestro Ravi Shankar perform, pursuing the sounds of his companion’s drum, goat skin and dark sheesham, tar and tight straps: tabla. The word in the mouth rises and tumbles like a wave lapping against ocean walls that cannot bear its weight. It rolls out like a carpet. It appears without introduction or presupposition when spoken of (lacking a foretelling ‘the’ that precedes other nouns). Just tabla, purely the sound of sound to its listeners. Having arrived, I awaited the freedom of the resonating air. It was nighttime when I reached at the hostel and the kitchen had already closed. My suitcase - soap and toilet paper, pieces of home in scraps and trinkets, school registration in13

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formation, the necessary phone numbers, mostly clothes - had not made it to Hyderabad, nor through the connecting flight from London to Bangalore. There is nothing to say about stepping into the open air through the indistinguishable barrier of the backseat of the autorickshaw that had taken me from the airport. There was not the feeling of thick-air liberation, so thick you could float on it. I was unattached and the Indian air weighed on me. Shiv Kumar rose his head from the concrete bench that he had been sleeping on in the courtyard of the hostel and greeted me from within the loosely draped scarf that encircled the perimeter of his face. It was much warmer than the icy Northeastern United States, where I had last slept, and his scarf seemed unnecessary to me. As he reached into my chariot for the luggage that I had not brought I could see only his quizzically folded brow, as though he had to reevaluate a preconception from within the warmth of his scarf. I asked him where I could find food as I rubbed my stomach. Through a series of planar hand movements, Mr. Kumar directed me towards a canteen nearby. Straight, right, straight, left. I nodded thanks to the propagation of creases around his eyes. As I walked along the main road my footsteps echoed against the pink plastered wall of the hostel for international students, my new residence, and over its barbed wire crown. A stray dog that had been sleeping in the hostel’s courtyard, out of the reach of Mr. Kumar’s stone throws, was now following behind me shaking its tail to the rippling of its swollen breasts. She was persistent, encircling

my pacing legs in a tightening gyre, biting at my thighs with each pass around. I could hear puppies yelping from within the hostel walls and realized the conviction of their mother’s pursuit. Soon another dog joined her, chasing after me, growling, until its fever pitched gallop skidded past me over the rough dirt and gravel. Its frantic gaze was unfocused as it swung its head on the hinge of a calloused scar that ran from the nape of its neck clockwise to its throat. I have heard before that dogs will react to the fear of others and I tried desperately not to encourage its frenzy with expressions of my vulnerable loneliness. I kicked up dirt as the dog had and strode forward with swift, deliberate steps that risked betraying the necessity of my speed. I entered the foreground of the canteen on this inflated stride.

ter a quick glance. The people around me were mostly men, some were women, suspended in the lull of night. They were migrant laborers who found work this dry season constructing new buildings at Hyderabad Central University, the federal institution that I would be attending for the next several months. Over my stay in India I would come to learn that these huddled masses, as my North American upbringing identifies, were people from the neighboring states of Orissa, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh, internally displaced by overt and covert rejection. As I awaited my turn at the canteen (for privilege is a space of shifting ground) I observed a woman and man sitting on the cool ground near the warmth of the hot plate. I imagined that they had already eaten what they would that night (though on later occasions I found

By Ethan Geringer-Sameth, 2012: Bangalore, India There were many people there, sitting and sleeping on benches like the one Mr. Kumar slept on, or gathering around the single hot plate that comprised the food stand. Some eyes rose from their plates or hands to meet mine as I approached. Most of them looked away af-

that they often ate with the middle-aged entrepreneur who operates the hot plate). Beneath the seated man’s clay face, defined by hardened rivers of skin, his hands wrapped around the closed fist of his wife. Her long cracked fingers asserted themselves through ever-closing gaps Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


By Missy Skolnik, 2012: Arica, Chile between his hands as they revolved around her fist, adapting to make each erected finger prostrate again. The dogs that had followed me were now fighting each other outside the perimeter of the canteen, held back from leftover food scraps by people throwing stones. As I left the radiating heat of the canteen, a freshly cooked meal of egg and masala folded in paper in my hands, the two dogs approached me again. One had apparently been injured during the time that I had been at the canteen and now ran with a limp. My pace was less confident when I exited the canteen grounds than when I entered, and the dogs gave chase when they saw me again. As I reversed the directions Mr. Kumar had given me, the dogs hastened their pursuit, louder and more violently than before. They jumped after the egg in my hand and as one leaped up 15

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my back, scratching its way to the summit, the other fit my hand entirely within its jaws and I released the meal that I had procured. Walking back to the hostel, to Mr. Kumar and the scarf around his head, I felt cold in the absence of the heat from the hot plate. In the coming months I would develop a relationship with the migrant communities that lived in makeshift homes surrounding my hostel. I learned to speak Hindi conversationally from Bhavani, a professor whose intelligence became manifest compassion; and, with her and her daughter Tanvi, then not yet three, we became acquainted with our neighbors. I had for a long time noticed the precocious Tanvi playing with young children outside at any hour under the hot sun. They were older than Tanvi but did not go to school. I learned at the University that India had passed a little enforced law which mandates that all children between the ages of six and fourteen have access to education. In time, Bhavani and I would go to each dwelling in the neighboring communities, gathering the voices of these underrepresented people. Tanvi and the other children would always be playing, pretending to be their parents or the Hindu god Hanuman. We brought the information we collected to the construction site manager, whom - in an air conditioned cubicle on the site - signed for the construction of a small school house for the duration of the workers’ stay. Under the cool breeze of the cubicle’s revolving fan, Tanvi and the manager shook hands. Bhavani’s smile mirrored the faces of the people whom we lived among and worked with. It showed in her daughter’s young eyes and running leaps. The freedom I had craved in the air was elsewhere. It was in the warmth of a smiling face, which must come from the friction between the folds of skin that spread from the corners of the eyes. Some liken them to the dark-knuckled feet of crows, though I think they more closely resemble the interlocking fingers of two friends recently reunited.

An Addiction By Elizabeth Green Class of 2012 Paris, France


y friends all say I’ve changed. My parents shake their head at me. I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. For three months I lived the high life, experimenting. At first I was tentative, trying small quantities, sticking with what I knew, but by the end of my adventure, it was a daily habit. I’d take anything I could get, and in France, there’s a lot to choose from. Three months came to an end though, and now I’m home without it. I tried to go cold turkey, but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I buy the good stuff from time to time, hoping the high will carry me through the daily consumption of lesser goods. I’ll admit it, I’m an addict. But you would be too if you got to live off French cheese.


Cheese. The finest of French arts (since I’m clearly too young to have an opinion on wine). A part of daily life in France, it remains the thing I miss the most about my adventure in Paris. Cheese is a staple of the French diet. Every night after dinner and before dessert, my host parents would pull out the day’s fresh baguette and the cheese board, always loaded with at least three options. Any new cheese was a learning experience. This one comes from the agricultural school outside of Paris, that one is illegal in the States, and this one is your host brothers’ favorite. Eating the main course is a rushed affair. After all, when you don’t eat until after 20:00, you’re pretty hungry. But eating the cheese and bread is a relaxed affair over which the family shares their stories from the day. Eating cheese in France is more than a dietary experience, and it’s certainly more than just a cultural experience. It’s a sense of belonging, and that’s why I can’t let it go. For three months I belonged in France, and now, some part of me belongs to France. Some say it’s my stomach, but my heart knows better. When I spy a wheel of real French Camembert in Safeway or a hunk of Gruyere in my local small-town grocery store, I remember wandering the streets of Paris and thinking, “This is home.” Am I an addict? I am without a doubt, but French cheese in my stomach and Paris in my heart are surely the best of addictions.

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Copenhangin’ By Mia Salmo Class of 2013 Copenhagen, Denmark


oming to Denmark I knew very little about this little country. My perception and imagination led me to think of it as fairy tale place. Tall, thin beautiful people with blond hair and blue eyes, “The happiest place in the world,” free healthcare, free schools, a “hygge” environment where everybody is treated equally. “Well this I can get used to,” I thought to myself. I just have to learn a few Danish words to get by such as “pas på” (watch out) and ”Jeg hedder Mia” (My name is Mia). Flash-forward to three weeks later and I find myself in a cold, tile basement handing out towels, mattresses and food to the homeless. Let’s just say, this was not my image of perfection. Men, women, and couples of all ages, colors and backgrounds filed into Kirkens Korshær any night of the week. Once the clock hit 8pm, people were allowed to create forts with bedding, wash their clothes and bodies and have a meal. There were sounds of people grumbling, yelling or unspoken cries for silence. Tired faces, tattooed arms, scarred bodies and smells of liquor, re-heated foods, coffee and cleaning fluids packed the room. For the past three months I have volunteered my time preparing dinners, setting up the tables with silverware and doing what any psychology student can do best, watch, talk and listen. For the past three months I have met the man divorced from Miss Taiwan, been serenaded by a former famous musician and been asked out to dinner. For the past three months I have witnessed the struggle of dealing with schizophrenia and those battling substance abuse. I have been exposed to the imperfections 17

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of what I originally thought to be a perfect society. Going to the homeless shelter has transformed me into becoming an intercultural leader. I have learned how to handle intense situations of people around me speaking to each other in a foreign language asking me for various things like linens and coffee. Aside from a bit of training prior to working at Kirkens Korshær, I was never told exactly what I was supposed to do, hence I was in complete control of what I wanted to get out of my experience. With this power over myself, I had the ability to make the most of my experience regardless of any barriers. I tried to have the most conversations possible regardless of the peculiar things that could come up about past relationships or addictions to drugs, but at the same time bond over the common goal of gaining something from one another. Although everyone hopes for the recipe to a perfect life, I have learned it’s these small idiosyncrasies that make a place unique, creating an environment filled with experiences and learning. I believe I have offered comfort through having a simple conversation that I have learned I have taken for granted. Looking back to my first time visiting Kirkens Korshær I was rather alarmed, but after becoming comfortable with the staff and the weekly routine for four months, I learned what I have experienced was reality.

By Sophie Krupp, 2012: Copenhagen, Denmark Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


By Ilyana Rosenberg, 2012: Copenhagen, Denmark 19

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International Improbability By Jesse Appell Class of 2012 Beijing, China


e are the legends of yesterday.

Tonight I ate in China with friends whose homes span the globe: An Israeli, a Russian, an Estonian, and one friend from that independent nation within a nation, the Republic of Texas. We went salsa dancing, where we were met by more friends, from Cuba and China. Five thousand years ago — a time the Chinese still recall in their histories — all these places were unknown to one another. Five hundred years ago, such a congregation would have been unheard of, even in the councils of kings and men of renown. Fifty years ago, a meeting of souls from such varied places—in China, no less— would still have only occurred as the culmination of a nearly impossible chain of events. Five years ago, I began to learn Chinese, in some way preparing for tonight.

By Fina Amarilio, 2012: Bologna, Italy

And five minutes ago, I reflected that it is now within the realm of possibilty for a commoner such as I to live a life that surpasses the imaginations of the kings of previous ages and the thoughts of ancient peoples, and bring my fellow world-lings and me to this place together. One thing is certain: this magical force of the universe that brought me and my friends together to one placetime continues to churn and froth, and five or fifty or five hundred years from now we can only imagine that the world will be unimaginable, and magical beyond our wildest reckonings.


Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012

Let’s Go Surfing Now By Rebecca Berger Class of 2012 Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


ouch surfing. You might have heard of it as a strange thing hippies do, maybe in the U.S. on an epic road trip or when backpacking Europe. Before I go on, please take this short quiz to find out if couch surfing is for you: Yes or No: (a) Are you okay with sleeping in someone else’s bed? (b) Are you okay with sleeping with three of your friends in someone else’s bed? (c) Are you okay showering in someone else’s shower? (d) Are you okay showering in someone else’s shower that consists solely of a shower head in the corner of a bathroom with a clogged drain? (e) Are you okay not having a towel to dry off with? (If the answer is no, it’s ok; you can bring your own towel.) (f) Will you be okay when, after all this, two Greek girls show up? (g) Are you literally ready for anything? Including not knowing where you are going to sleep that night? If you answered yes to each of these questions, you are officially ready to couch surf. Now for some background: is a website started by a Scottish man

who wanted to connect the world. The website’s motto is “Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time.” Setting up an account is totally free. When you do, you choose a username and put in however much of your real name you want to. Then, you choose if you’re looking to “surf” or “host.” As a traveler, you click “surf.” Depending on where you are trying to go, you may have a very limited choice of people to “surf” with. This is how my friends and I ended up staying with Benior in Paris. We were running out of travel money and needed to couch surf to save money on a hostel. Hostels are rumored to be super cheap, but an acceptable hostel is usually around $35 a night, and any hostel is always between $23 and $42. So, a month-long spring-break Eurotrip extravaganza is only made possible, for most of us, by the amazing institution of couch surfing. My friend found 22-year-old Benior in Paris, and he seemed like a nice guy, so we decided to roll with it. Also, nobody else agreed to host us. We arrived in Paris in the early afternoon, aftertaking a 7:30 a.m. bus ride for 9 hours from Amsterdam to Paris. The bus trip was nice. My two friends (both coincidentally named Anna: Anna R. and Anna W.) and I consumed an entire wheel of brie cheese, a bottle of red wine, a liter of guava juice, a box of melba toast, one tomato each and a container of hummus. We had a 45-minute layover in Brussels, and nobody looked at my passport during the entire journey, including when we embarked and disembarked the bus. We took the Paris Metro to Benoir’s house in the 18th arrondissement, in the northernmost section of Paris. Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


When we got there, nobody answered the door buzzer. So we waited. And waited… until a girl came up to the door. We asked her if she knew Benior. After a few seconds, she admitted that she was his ex-girlfriend who was there to clear out of the apartment. She said that she did not know where Benior was, but if he failed to host us, we could call her. She gave us the extra set of keys. Otherwise, she refused to take responsibility for Benoir’s actions. Well, okay, we thought, we have keys! Life is weird, but good. Benior’s apartment was tiny but beautiful in its own bohemian way: living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. One bed, but we were three small girls and could fit. The shower was the only disgraceful part; it was simply a shower head, a drain and a curtain. We didn’t remember to pack our own towel, but I had a washcloth which the three of us shared to dry off. We were not overjoyed, but we agreed that when you’re showing in the house of a

By Ashley Lynette, 2012: Durban, South Africa 23

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guy you’ve never met, you have no grounds for complaint. The apartment had yellow uncovered bulbs as lighting, a record player with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Credence Clearwater Revival amongst piles of vinyl and a makeshift wooden plank as a bookcase with a stack of philosophy books in French. Needless to say, we were in Paris, and we were excited. When Benoir came back, we would try to be friends with him, but until then, we were taking over his home. We got supplies from the supermarket and went to cook dinner. We had a lovely floor picnic and were getting ready to go out and explore Paris at night when we heard the buzzer. Oh no, we thought, did we lock the guy out of his own house? We pushed the intercom button and a girl said, “Hello! We are couch surfers from Greece!” What? No. We’re the couch surfers here! What’s going on? We let the two girls up.

We agreed if it had been guys buzzing up, we would have told them to fend for themselves, but we couldn’t leave fellow girls out in the cold. When the two girls come up, they told us they were Greek and lived in an Island near Athens. They are only 18 and 19 and both studied Industrial Design. The Annas and I had a powwow in the bedroom. We agreed that the Greek girls were very nice, but where in God’s name were they going to sleep? We needed to find Benior. We had Benoir’s number, but my cell phone had lost connection in Brussels and never got it back. (I later learned my cell phone carrier, Vodafone, doesn’t have automatic service in French-speaking countries). Anna R. had an overpriced international plan and sent Benoir a text. We waited with baited breath… until he answered! In broken English, he explained that his new roommate was playing a concert at the “Be There” Bar and we were invited to come. New roommate!? We had to find this Benoir guy! So at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night, we headed out to find the “Be There” Bar in Paris. When we got there, we all introduced ourselves. He explained that after his girlfriend left, he clicked “accept” on anyone who asked to couch surf with him because he had the space. He didn’t realize the dates would overlap. We stood outside the bar awkwardly for a few seconds. Neither Benoir nor his roommate spoke perfect English, and none of us could carry a conversation in French. Eventually we realized that we were all going to have to fit in that tiny apartment. Where? How? Who knows. We’d make it work.

By Elyse Phillips, 2012: Arica, Chile It was also Benoir’s friend Alex’s birthday. Pubs close early on Sunday in Paris (rather understandably) so we all agreed to just get some wine and party in the apartment, since most of us were going to end up there at the end of the night anyway. The rest of the night was awesome. When bedtime came, a little before 5 a.m., four of us girls shared the bed, sleeping in a row lengthwise, curled up or with our feet hanging off the end. The couch pulled out into a futon, and a bunch of other people ended up there. I wouldn’t say I had my best night’s sleep, but it was definitely a fun night and one I will always remember. The next day, the Greek girls found somewhere else to couch surf, and Benoir left to work at a music festival, freeing up the house quite a bit. We still had the set of keys and the freedom to roam Paris. At the time, it was a slightly stressful experience, but in retrospect it was amazing. My one qualm was forgetting to bring a towel, but I’ve learned from my mistakes.

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On Forgiveness By Ashley Lynette Class of 2013 Durban, South Africa


oliceman Eric Taylor was part of the force who committed the murders of the Craddock Four in South Africa under the apartheid regime. He and his team shot four teenage boys in the back for no crime other than being African. His daughter was four at the time of the shootings. This is a letter in her voice, to her father. Dear Papa, I cannot honestly say I remember you leaving that day But I imagine I watched you go, Tipping your cap with a wink to mama and me I knew you’d soon be back, Before dinner, To kiss me on the button And sew your arms around tight I remember how we felt before they branded you “killer”: You, in all your fuzzy-mustached, love-ridden glory; You, with your great bear hug, Airplane-lifting dedication to home, You, one of the enforcers, Stranded on the wrong side of history. Was it your bullet that announced Hector Pieterson’s death? Did he look old enough to be a martyr? And I want to know where you buried the remains – Did you reach deep between the crevices of your own sternum and lung To find you had room to spare? When you look there now, do you find more than dust? Do not ask me for forgiveness. Ngitshele (tell me) Father, what must their mothers think? Could you relay your story, watching their wrinkled hands as they wrang their baby’s old soccer jerseys, Overwrought with the unbearable grief of having survived one’s child But then, Who are you to apologize? You are no more than a ticking mechanical odium: 25

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Where did you leave your only heartBoiled in the thrumming kettle stomachs of our bloodied youth. Umuzi uyasha, ubaba (the house is on fire, father) South Africa is burning because you struck the match I hope you do not see me in your reflection— Do I deign to accept your eyes, Your hair - unruly as your adolescent ambition? Lalela, ubaba (listen, father) Tonight when you eat dinner without me I dare you to count the bodies that are missing by your hand Experience the chill of the room not filled with human warmth Tonight you will be entirely alone Do not try to mend your ill-fated heart Feel it beat itself for the first time Do not let it be the last. Dear Father, Sengiqedile (I am done) Do not miss me when I go. But I bid you not worryI will not leave your hard-earned blood on my hands I did not inherit your desperation. Do not ask me for forgiveness, And I will not ask it of you Umlilo uyavutha, ubaba (the fire is burning, father) And it’s only just begun Go ahead, Ask yourself why.

By Ben Rifkin, 2012: Faux Cap, Madagascar Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012



Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012

Body Fractal By Alyssa Kerr Class of 2012 Siena, Italy


hile living in the medieval Tuscan town of Siena, Italy, I produced this ambitious artistic work - entitled Body Fractal - highlighting the philosophical observations made during my experience abroad and in preceding years. The visual conception of the work is partly inspired by Medieval and Renaissance art of Siena and Florence, particularly Cimabue’s Crucifix of San Domenico, Arezzo, and Michelangelo’s work as a whole, which I studied intensively in 2010. In regard to its philosophical significance, my inspiration was multi-faceted, drawing from personal meditation on my immersion in a foreign culture, and reflection on the line between an individual’s sense of self and his world - a line I often find to be blurred. Not merely a process of design, I collected these ideas in a journal spanning five months, and continue still to mould them in my present works. In terms of the future, I hope to expand my horizons globally as I delve deeper into the study of foreign cultures and create a dialogue in my artwork that exhibits these intellectual progressions. I currently anticipate a challenging final year at Brandeis full of new projects as I move forward in my artistic career.

The original version of this charcoal drawing is 4' x 5'

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Perching on Passports By Sarah Van Buren Class of 2013 Chaing Mai, Thailand


ey! Hey, you! Do you speak English?” A motorcycle pulls up from within the rain. It squeaks under the pressure of the burly figure clumsily manhandling its body, his advent disturbing the puddles of black water that crowd the curb where I stand. Pollution laps at my ankles like shallow waves from an invisible ocean of traffic. I look up from underneath my sky blue umbrella, the one with such a wide brim that it keeps me in an endlessly dry chalk circle. His eyes are wide; not a wideness filled with curiosity or shock but a kind of hugeness filled with need. Two lenses held open with a kind of eagerness that I see as panic. “Yes. I do.” I lend him a small smile of comfort. He grins. His mouth is a brimming load of tough teeth; stained yellow by what I gather to be a life of habitual drinking and chain smoking. He dismounts off the bike; its tires give out a deep breath that had been held in for hours. The rain pours on. “Are you available right now?” From behind the question, a tuk tuk driver wanders into a right lane, cutting off a truck filled with what seems to be insides of someone’s house. A squat woman sitting in the passenger seat leans out the car window and rivers of obscenities run from her swollen lips. Her black hair spills out long while her words are drowned out by honking cars and dense rain. The tuk tuk driver turns his head; eyes filled with shallow pools of blue gaze blindly at the shouting woman. A dim rain clouds his mind and he floats off into a confusion of traffic lights. “What?” 29

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“I mean, can you come back to my hotel room with me.” His hands suddenly grab for my left breast, but he thinks better of it and instead reaches for my hand. He squeezes it hard, and the blood runs away from my fingertips. I am the dry riverbed, so saturated in confusion. “Come on, baby. I’ll pay you well enough.” The woman pulls her head back inside of the truck, and smacks her husband on the side of the face for not paying close attention. Her forehead is weeping with steady pulses of angry sweat and flowing rain water. The heaving truck hurtles back into the fray dragging with it a heavy cloud of black smog. “No…no. Get away from me.” It wasn’t meant to squeak like that. “Fuckin’ bitch…” My hand is tossed down. The wrinkles on his face crease deeply as his eyes narrow. They grow thinner, until they shrivel into two dark tears on his face. An imperious silhouette flickers in the filthy water around him. “I’m an American!” It’s not the firm statement my chin was attempting to convey. It’s an offering, a suggestion that might cause the muscles in his face to loosen just a little bit. To make his fist stop rising up. “American? Oh, American…” After that, it’s only the sounds of puddles splashing. I walk five steps into a noodle shop, and the rain on my shirt soaks me down to the skin. I am the red hot rage of midday August. I am the steaming pile of confusion, and it stings how much I don’t quite get it yet. A teenage girl hangs her face in front of mine, “Khun yàak

By Hanna Shansky, 2012: Accra, Ghana thaan à-rai jao?” Ah crap, what does that mean again? “Uhh… pasah ingrid, uhh… English, ok?” The girl gives a kind of mild smile. “Ok, ok… no problem.” She reaches to touch my hair and my eyes, “Same, same Thailand, chai mai?” I am the strange product of a silly collision of genetics. Never quite Asian, but not quite Caucasian either. Ambiguous light brown skin and dark hair serve as indicators toward a world of heritages. “Are you Mexican or something? No, no, let me guess… Hawaiian? Yeah, Hawaiian right? No, um… Filipina? Inuit? Spanish? Well, Christ, what are you then?” “Asia. The name was a gasp from a dying mouth. An ancient word that had to be whispered, would never be used as a battle cry. The word sprawled. It had none of the clipped sounds of Europe, America, Canada. The vowels took over, and slept on the map with the S. I was running back to Asia and everything would change.” I was born and raised in the heat of a continent that thrives on principles of inclusion and exclusion. I was born to the Pacific Ocean, just like the women at the Wildflower Home, just like the girl at the noodle shop. Dif-

ferent country, but same rules. You’re either a gaijin, or you’re not. You’re either a guilo, or you’re not. You’re either a farang, or you’re not. And I use my foreignness as a shield. I wasn’t harassed by a Thai man. I wasn’t harassed because I was an American tourist. These demographics didn’t really count for that moment. In the end, it was a Western man bothering me, touching me because I look how I look, Asian enough. I left the noodle shop with a desperate urge to go up to strangers in the street and shout, “Do you think you have the right to stop and touch any girl on the street and proposition them? Do I look like a prostitute to you?” And with that I fall back into silent selfdisgust. Faces of the women I love and respect slip through my mind like leaves in the fall. And the faces keep coming, more and more. Laughing, crying, bitter mothers. Faces that had been forced to endure a harder life because of some sick trick of fate. Meanwhile, my ticket out of that situation, and almost any situation, is my American passport. I can always shout out to the world “Don’t hurt me! I’m an American! I have rights!” And people would listen. My good friends. The attacked. The violated. The trafficked. Because of some little something in the way she looks. But that’s just it; no one ever looks like a prostitute. You are not born a prostitute. You are not born a victim. But I guess when you take away these familiar faces from the equation, that’s where I sit. On a moaning motorcycle out in the rain. Blindly, on a perch of immunity.

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Rock and Roll By Coleman Mahler Class of 2013 Beijing, China


stood outside of the bar waiting for my friends, watching the Chinese university students calmly smoking cigarettes and talking with one another. It was still Autumn, and Beijing had yet to endure the first signs of the inevitable slide into freezing winds. It was pleasant, warm, and while waiting, grabbed and sipped on a beer from one of the convenience stores that litter Beijing streets. I heard my name called and turned to see my friends, Lily and Kate, who were in the same intensive language program as I. They had brought others with them: a friend, Steven, who attended the same university as Lily,

By Avi Snyder, 2013: Huang Shan, China 31

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and Smith, a young expat currently working at a game design company in Beijing and trying to make a movie on the side. We spoke a bit (all in Chinese, because of the language pledge we had taken a month or so earlier) and then went inside. The bar looked like the dingy sort of club you’d find in any American city, just that the vast majority of people were Chinese, the chatter all in Chinese. However, they certainly weren’t your ordinary Chinese people, or the Chinese that Americans traditionally envision. They were dressed in fashionable plaids and wide black-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans and multi-colored con-

verse, the sort that you would find hipsters wearing in America. As we stood around waiting, three young men walked up on stage, and took hold of the instruments already set up, a guitar, bass and drum kit. Everyone in the bar turned to the stage and stared at them while the pulled on straps and sat behind the kit. The guitarist mumbled something into the mic, announcing the group, strummed a chord, and then the sound wave hit our ears. From the first note to the last it was a sonic apocalypse, the speakers turned to the max to assail those brave enough to be dancing in the front row But it was good. It was really good. It was better music than I had (unfairly, perhaps) expected to find in Beijing. It was punk, pure and simple, a 90s style jam with bright rhythms, heavy distortion, and the movement of American bands such as Pavement and Nirvana. It was sung in Chinese, but that didn’t change the fact of where its forebears lay. After the show ended and all the concert goers wandered around the bar ordering drinks, Steven brought over his friend, the band’s drummer, Wang Sun, and the guitarist. We spoke with them in Chinese and asked them about where they were from, who their favorite bands were. Like much of Beijing’s student population, they were from outside the capital, from smaller-tier cities in the north and middle of the country. They liked playing basketball and soccer and were majoring in England and Economics. But what was surprising was what they declared as their favorite bands: the Ramones, the Clash, a series of punk and new wave groups from the eighties and nineties. When I asked how they found out about them, they just shrugged and said, the internet. If you ask the fans of these new music groups, who are mostly focused in the largest cities, they will tell you that the bands are game changing, revolutionary in their own respect, and it is true: they are a huge departure from previous music in China, mainstream Chinese

music largely being Chinese takes on American pop. But these punchier bands also employ the same method of appropriating American music, only they’re looking at different genres. That’s not to disparage the groups, for they are creating really, really good music. It’s just to point out that as Chinese city-dwellers, and to a smaller extent the rural population, discover the internet and as they have access to a wider variety of content, the influences that they pull from become more varied, as well as the ways these influences are incorporated. You can see it in any Internet Cafe: dozens of teenagers and students staring intently at video games and movies from across the world. Or on any street, the obvious difference between the older and younger generations, the different ways they’re dressed and the way they act. It’s similar to the baby boomers and the generation before them: they have very different standards and expectations about what their life will and should be like. That’s what I loved about living in China for this past semester: it is never boring. Every walk down the street brings some new nuance to the fold. Of course every country and society is constantly changing, but if you wanted the country that is changing most rapidly, drastically, I say it would have to be China. Everybody knows that China is moving. Everyone knows that it’s changing and developing. My roommate, a Chinese university student knew it; my Chinese friends knew it, my fellow abroad students knew it. Every single person you see on the street knows it. I lived in a quiet neighborhood in which my program’s students were the only foreigners. The residents are all Chinese, not rich, getting by. They go about their lives the same as usual. But there are pressures exerting themselves, and everyone living on my street knows that in ten years it will look very different from now. And that is why I want to come back here; everyone knows that China’s changing, but no one knows where it will go. Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


L’amore By Jaimie Cordier Class of 2012 Siena, Italy


hat is it to fall in love with a place? For me, it was vastly different from what I had expected. Before I studied abroad in Italy, I had only left the United States once in my life. Right after graduating from high school, I traveled to Argentina and explored Buenos Aires and its surrounding countryside, as well as Iguazú Falls in the north and Uruguay. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures – I’m an IGS major here at Brandeis with a focus in Culture, Identities and Encounters – and have always been extremely passionate about meeting people from new places. My trip to Argentina was like a 10-day sugar high in which I was ceaselessly in awe of the South American/European hybrid flavor of the country, and came complete with a crash back to reality when I returned home to my small Connecticut town afterwards. I was sure I wanted study abroad to be part of my college experience, and I was sure I wanted to go to Italy. So how come, when I

By Jaimie Cordier, 2012: Siena, Italy 33

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012

stepped off the bus into Piazza Gramsci and into the heartbreakingly beautiful medieval streets of Siena, all I felt was disoriented? This had been my dream since I was 7; I was OBSESSED with Italy. What was wrong with me? I’ll attribute some of these initial emotions to my groggy state of post-travel – I had just spent about 14 hours in transit from Boston to Frankfurt to a surprise landing in Bologna due to fog, where I was then placed on a bus to Florence and then another bus to Siena. And of course, as I walked through winding cobblestone streets I was fascinated by the strange juxtaposition of modern Italians wearing stilettos and high fashion to take their babies out for an evening stroll, enveloped by a 12th century backdrop of ancient churches and medieval palaces. I thought the gelato was really good, I loved how famous early Renaissance artwork was dispersed throughout cathedrals that people still attend church at, my CET professors were hilarious people with names like Piergiacomo and Pierluca who only partially understood our English but a deep passion for the story of their homeland. But I still had an underlying feeling that I was not at home here. I missed my family and friends back at home and thanks to the six hour time difference it was hard to find time to call or Skype them. I couldn’t understand why when I tried to speak Italian to locals in stores and restaurants, they immediately knew I was American and stubbornly replied to me in English. I was freaked out when I switched on the light

in my bedroom one day and instead of turning on, the light bulb that hung from the ceiling simply exploded and shattered on the floor. The worst part though was the feeling of being an utter outsider – and I’m part Italian! Shouldn’t I be feeling some kind of intuitive kinship with this place or something? This is my ancestral homeland after all! No, it didn’t turn out to be love at first sight when it came down to it. But then, it never is really. Patience is a hard lesson for a traveler to learn. Like a new relationship, Siena and I had some fun getting to know the superficial parts of one another – oh, your coffee comes in itty bitty cups here and you’ll know I’m not Italian if I order cappuccino in the afternoon? Cool, where I’m from we get sugary coffee drinks with whipped cream in massive to-go cups. But it was the little things over a deep expanse of time that caused me to fall madly in love. I loved lying on the warm, sunny bricks of the Piazza del Campo, I loved buying biscotti and caffè macchiato from the guy who eventually recognized me and knew my order without me even needing to ask, I loved the bus ride through the breathtaking golden hills of the Tuscan countryside to get to Florence or San Gimignano, I loved the sassy tan old women who insisted on marching through the streets in towering heels and extravagant furs, I loved visiting the relics of Siena’s very own Santa Caterina (her 700-year-old head and thumb are proudly displayed in the church of San Domenico). I learned how to take the train to the fabulous towns of Cinque Terre in the north and Naples in the south, I learned to weigh my vegetables BEFORE getting into the checkout line at the supermarket, and I could eventually carry a conversation in decent Italian. I made friends with Italian students who brought me

By Ben Rifkin, 2012: Tolagnaro, Madagascar to the unique contrada parties (each of the city’s 17 neighborhoods throws a huge festival every year) and told me funny stories about their hometowns as I taught them English slang. The magic of Siena was there from the beginning, but in order to truly understand and embrace it, I needed to let it evolve over time and seduce me. As I got on the bus to Florence the morning I left Italy, my heart broke and my cheeks were wet with bittersweet tears. I had accomplished what I had wanted from the beginning: I learned how to feel at home in a faraway place and I had learned to understand the Italian mindset. I made amazing friends (both Italian and American, many of whom I still communicate with even now, nearly a year after first arriving), ate the most heavenly food on Earth, and learned more about Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Duccio than I ever could have fathomed. And just as I realized this, it was time to leave. I can’t describe my happiness and love seeing the lights of Boston twinkling from above just before I landed back in the United States in May, but Siena is a part of my heart now, and I will be forever grateful for the time that I spent there.

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Confronting Expectations, Embracing Change: Reflections on India By Melissa Donze Class of 2012 Bangalore, India


traveled to Bangalore, India during the summer of 2011 as a Social Justice WOW Fellow and a Brandeis-India Initiative Fellow to intern with MILANA, a family support network for people living with HIV and AIDS. For years I had dreamed of going to India. My interest in world religions drew me to India, the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. I had studied Gandhi and Mother Theresa, and I yearned for the rumored mysticism of India. I used to think of India as a medley of things: ashrams, Gandhi, yoga, ornate Hindu temples, vivid colors, Buddha, karma sutra, luscious forests, tranquil silence, exotic animals, and an overwhelming, omnipresent feeling of spirituality. However, three weeks into my twomonth stay, I found myself asking: Is this really India? To me, Bangalore felt like a bad imitation of the so-called “Western” world. I had come to India searching for the old India, and although I didn’t quite know what that meant, I felt I was not finding it in Bangalore. It was then that I hit my lowest low. I struggled to find purpose and intention in my work, and I felt like a complete outsider. In a city of millions, I felt so alone. I stuck out like a sore thumb and there was nothing I could do about it. The beautiful Hindu temples were lost among the chaos and confusion of this city. The vivid colors of the women’s saris and salwar kameez were beautiful, but I failed to see their beauty among the many buildings and overcrowded streets. Bangalore was beginning to take its toll on me, and I was tired of feeling lost. About a week later, I found myself. After 35

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a meeting with a local lawyer to discuss the HIV Bill that is currently proposed, my friend and I decided to check out a protest at the town hall in Bangalore being held by the LGBT community and its allies. The protest was being held in opposition to remarks made a day earlier by Indian Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad. Azad made comments about homosexuality being “unnatural” and claimed it was a disease that needed to be cured. The scene we came upon was incredible. A number of people had gathered on the steps

By Melissa Donze, 2012: Bangalore, India

of the town hall, and various media representatives were at the scene, filming and interviewing participants. Many who stood in the crowd held rainbow umbrellas open as a sign of government opposition, and it was truly a wonderful sight. The crowd was composed of such a wide variety of people: men, women, young, old, rich, poor, students, hijras, and more. Although some of their chants were in Kannada (the local language of Karnataka), some were in English, and I eagerly joined in. The leaders of the protest shouted “We want…” and the crowd shouted back “Justice!” They called for an apology from Azad and for his resignation as Health Minister, especially since his comments came almost exactly 2 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in India. Being at that protest was one of the highlights of my time in India. Sex and sexuality is such a hot topic in India right now, and to be a part of the movement to change certain notions of homosexuality was incredible. At that protest, I didn’t feel like I was being judged. I felt comfortable. For once, people weren’t looking at my gender or the color of my skin. It didn’t matter to them. What mattered was the fact that I supported them in their fight against homophobia. Finally feeling comfortable in Bangalore, I began to open myself up to the experiences and opportunities around me. I began to succeed at work, and I felt myself growing closer to the group of HIV+ women I worked with everyday. My greatest accomplishment was the program I planned and oversaw for a group of 27 of MILANA’s children in my sixth week. The title of the program was “A Journey towards My Future,” and our intention was to give the children, all of whom are affected by HIV, the chance to express their feelings and goals for their futures through art. The information we collected from these children was astounding. The children used their artwork to illustrate how HIV has affected them, the impact of MILANA on their

lives, and their goals and hopes for the future. As a result of this program, MILANA can use the information collected to better advocate for the rights of children affected by HIV. It was a fantastic day filled with fun, laughs and heartfelt expression, and some of my favorite memories of MILANA and India are from that day. That day, I finally understood what social justice is. I arrived at a point where I realized that what mattered the most were the small changes I was making in the lives of individuals. Helping a child to envision their goals and instilling in them hope for their future is just as important as launching a national movement against stigma and discrimination. Sharing stories and laughs with a group of HIV+ women is just as important as passing a bill to protect the rights of HIV+ people. Many Americans believe they can change the world in big ways. For most, this is social justice: going out into the world and doing good things for people. I came to India wanting to make big changes to the way that HIV/AIDS is understood and perceived there. Unfortunately, I took my American mentality with me. I realized, though, that making huge changes in the larger picture of HIV/AIDS in India is not social justice. I realized that, no matter how hard I try, there will always be a barrier between myself and the HIV+ women I was working with. However, once I let go of my American mentality and embraced the way of life in India, I found that I enjoyed my time with MILANA so much more. The women of MILANA were like my mothers, and our goodbyes were difficult and full of tears. On my way to the airport after spending two months in India, I realized I had grown so much as a person. My perspective and outlook on life was radically altered by my encounters and confrontations with cultures, ideas and people that were so different from those I was familiar with. Despite all my struggles, I had finally learned to embrace change. Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Dr. Molly Nathanson By Molly Nathanson Class of 2012 Maasai Mara, Kenya


or those of you who don’t know I want to be a nurse-midwife. While I’m in the Mara, I’m conducting interviews with Maasai midwives about the traditions of Maasai birth. It’s been incredibly fascinating. I was able to meet with a doctor at a clinic in the area who has been encouraging women to give birth at the clinic for safety reasons. After speaking with him, I gave him my phone number and told him to call me if any women came into the clinic in labor; I wasn’t really expecting anything but thought that it might be worth a shot. However, the next morning at 11 am I got a call from the doctor saying that a woman had come in at 9 am that morning in labor. What awesome luck! I couldn’t find any of the people that worked at my project; some were in the make-shift church and some were helping out at a camp that was being built by our organization. I frantically ran to find someone who could help me. We had two vehicles for our project and both were down at the camp helping with some hauling. The only other cars in the area were the ones owned by the Koiyaki Guiding School, the school with which we share facilities. Sarah, one of the people working at the school, was the only one with access to cars and after an hour of pleading with her she finally agreed to take me. When I finally got to the clinic in Talek shortly before 3, I was able to help the doctor examine the woman to see how far along she was. She was 6 cm dilated, though she had been having contractions since night before. We also listened to the baby’s heart beat by pressing what looked like a funnel to her belly. We could feel that the baby was turning so the head was 37

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facing downward. For someone that had never had the opportunity to see, hear, and feel these things, I was almost in tears. Then, we played the waiting game. As I waited, some very interesting things happened. I was sitting outside on a bench reading a book when all of a sudden a man came stumbling into the clinic with another man helping support him. Because I couldn’t see them very well, I assumed the man who was uneasy on his feet was suffering from malaria or some other ailment. However, as he got closer I could see blood dripping from the side of his face and from gashes on his arms and legs. As they approached, the man accompanying him told me in Swahili that the man had had a motorcycle accident and asked if I was the doctor. I told him I wasn’t and also told him the doctor had stepped out and I that didn’t know when he would be back. The women who were with the pregnant woman heard the commotion and came out to see what was happening. As soon as they came, the healthy man concluded that his work was done and left. They were yelling at me in Maa and Swahili to do something so I decided that I could at least clean the wounds. They were asking where the other doctor was while I was putting on gloves and answering “I don’t know.” I rummaged around to find some gauze, water, and iodine and began to clean out the wound. This involved pulling pieces of gravel from his cheek. I’m just glad that I’m not squeamish or anything that would have prevented me from helping him. As I was cleaning, the doctor finally returned and seemed completely at ease with me having stepped up to attend to the man. He took over from

By Molly Nathanson, 2012: Masai Mara, Nairobi, Kenya there and thanked me for the work I had done. I learned that when people here see a white person in a clinic, they automatically think you are a doctor. So for one day I was Dr. Molly Nathanson, specializing in random knowledge I have picked up over the years about medicine. At 5:30 the doctor decided to give the woman some medicine to speed up the labor. When the women with her (a neighbor, the woman’s mother-in-law, and the mother-inlaw’s co-wife; the husband had more than one wife, a common practice in Maasai culture), saw that we were giving her the medicine and asked what it was for, the doctor explained to the family what we were doing. They proceeded to pull out a rusty metal cup of chunky yogurt that they said would do the same thing. After giving me a quick glance and a smile, the doctor told them we’d try the drugs first and if it didn’t work, we’d resort to the yogurt.

At 9:22 she finally gave birth. I assisted. I was helping to pull the baby out, and held him as the doctor cut the umbilical cord. After we cleaned him up and put some khangas on him to keep him warm, we helped her deliver the placenta. When I say “we” I really mean it; the doctor was allowing me to do things that I probably won’t be allowed to do until I’m towards the end of midwifery school. As we weighed and measured him, they turned to me and asked me if I had a boy’s name that they could call him. I answered “Justin.” In a few years there will be kids in their village running around; one named Saitoti, one named Ngongoi, one named Keswe, and one named Justin.

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Contributor Profiles Fina Amarilio, 2012 Majors: Economics and International & Global Studies Minor: French & Francophone Studies Hometown: Thessaloniki, Greece Program Abroad: Academic Programs Abroad in Paris, France Email:

Jaimie Cordier, 2012 Majors: International & Global Studies Minors: Italian and Business Hometown: Hebron, Connecticut Program Abroad: CET History of Art and Italian Studies in Siena, Italy Email:

Altinay Kangeldiyeva, 2013 Majors: Economics Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan Program Abroad: Sweet Briar Junior Year in Paris, France

Jesse Appell, 2012 Majors: International & Global Studies and East Asian Studies Minors: Economics and History Hometown: Newton, MA Program Abroad: Intern at the Nature Conservancy, Beijing, China Email:

Melissa Donze, 2012 Majors: International & Global Studies and Politics Minor: Anthropology Hometown: South Hadley, MA Program Abroad: Social Justice WOW Fellow and Brandeis-India Initiative Fellow in Bangalore, India Email:

Alyssa Kerr, 2012 Majors: Studio Art, Italian Studies Minor: Creative Writing Hometown: Sutton, MA Program Abroad: Siena School for Liberal Arts, Siena, Italy Email:

Rebecca Berger, 2012 Majors: English and Creative Writing Minor: Philosophy Hometown: New York City, NY Program Abroad: The University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland Email:

Ethan Geringer-Sameth, 2012 Majors: African and African-American Studies Minors: South Asian Studies and English Hometown:Ossining, NY Program Abroad: CIEE in Bangalore, India Email:

Sophie Krupp, 2012 Majors: Health: Science, Society, & Policy, and Studio Art: Sculpture Hometown: Minneapolis, MN Program Abroad: Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark Email:

Amy Bisaillon, 2013 Majors: International & Global Studies and French Hometown: Tampa, FL Program Abroad: Middlebury in Paris, france Email:

Elizabeth Green, 2012 Majors: Politics and International & Global Studies Minors: French & Francophone Studies and Theater Arts Hometown: Sequim, WA Program Abroad: Academic Programs Abroad in Paris, France

Ashley Lynette, 2013 Majors: Politics and Womens & Gender Studies Minor: Social Justice & Social Policy Hometown: Short Hills, NJ Program Abroad: SIT Durban: Social and Political Transformation in Durban, South Africa Email:


Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012

Contributor Profiles Coleman R. Mahler, 2013 Major: Anthropology Minor: East Asian Studies Hometown: Lexington, MA Program Abroad: CET Intensive Language in Beijing, China Email:

Ilyana Rosenberg, 2012 Major: Health: Science, Society & Policy Minor: Business Hometown: Portland, OR Program Abroad: Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark Email:

Missy Skolnik, 2012 Majors: Health: Science, Society & Policy Minor: Legal Studies Hometown: Harrington Park, NJ Program Abroad: SIT Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment in Arica, Chile Email:

Molly Nathanson, 2012 Major: Health: Science, Society & Policy Minor: Sculpture Hometown: Sudbury, MA Program Abroad: SIT: Kenya Health Community and Society in Nairobi, Kenya Email:

Mara Rosenberg, 2012 Major: Physics Hometown: Portland, OR Program Abroad: IES Abroad in Granada, Spain Email:

Avi Snyder, 2013 Majors: IIM in Philosophy, Politics & Economics Minors: Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Hometown: West Hartford, CT Program Abroad: CET: Chinese Studies and Service-Learning in Beijing, China Email:

Elyse Phillips, 2012 Major: Health: Science, Society & Policy Minor: Anthropology Hometown: Olney, MD Program Abroad: SIT: Chile - Public Health, Traditional Medicine and Community Empowerment in Arica, Chile Email:

Mia Salmo, 2014 Major: Psychology Hometown: New Rochelle, NY Program Abroad: Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark Email:

Sarah Van Buren, 2013 Majors: Biology and International & Global Studies Minors: Women’s & Gender Studies and Peace, Conflict & Coexistence Studies Hometown: Tokyo, Japan Program Abroad: Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand Email:

Ben Rifkin, 2012 Majors: Environmental Studies and International & Global Studies Hometown: Sudbury, MA Program Abroad: SIT Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar Email:

Hanna Shansky, 2012 Majors: Music with a focus in Cultural Studies Minor in Peace and Coexistence Studies Hometown: Holliston, MA Program Abroad: SIT Ghana - Social Transformation and Cultural Expression in Accra, Ghana Email:

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Paris, France Siena, Italy Granada, Spain

Accra, Ghana

Arica, Chile

Interested in seeing your work published here? Send your written, photographic, or other visual art (paintings, drawings, sketches) to for the chance to have your art published in Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Issue III.


Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012

Copenhagen, Denmark

Beijing, China

Bangalore, India

Pune, India

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nairobi, Kenya Fort Dauphin, Tolagnaro, Madagascar Durban, South Africa

Wander: Brandeis Abroad, Spring 2012


Wander Spring 2012  
Wander Spring 2012  

Wander magazine seeks to highlight the process of exploration, adventure, and discovery that happens while students aren’t at Brandeis Unive...