DEC 2012 • VOL. 14 • issue 4
THE PLAZA 8
Blue Devil goes blue: A Duke senior takes to Chicago to re-elect the president ALSO +Professor Dana Marks talks about being an actress, a wife and a Durhamite (p.7)
The Pratt Pouch: A Duke professor fights the spread of HIV with a product the size of a ketchup packet
ALSO +A glimpse behind the scenes of a Durham family farm (p.16)
FEATURES 18 LOCAL The 1994 Duke football team: our last shot at a bowl game BY CHRIS CUSACK
22 ABROAD A struggle to connect language and identity in Egypt, Senegal and Kenya BY CLAIRE SORRENSEN
A 2011 grad’s case for how members of Teach for America corps are like star quarterbacks
TOWERVIEW | 3
A NOTE From the Editors
the chronicle’s news & Culture maga zine
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Matthew Chase and Sonia Havele PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Addison Corriher Melissa Yeo Chris Cusack Ciaran O’Connor Nicole Kyle Yeshwanth Kandimalla
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ilana Wolpert, Claire Sorrensen, Alex Klein CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Allie Middleton, Claire Sorrensen, Sylvie Spewak, Faith Robertson
GENERAL MANAGER ADVERTISING DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR OPERATIONS MANAGER DIGITAL SALES MANAGER
Chrissy Beck Rebecca Dickenson Barbara Starbuck Mary Weaver Megan McGinity
Towerview is a subsidiary of The Chronicle and is published by the Duke Student Publishing Company, Inc., a non-profit corporation independent of Duke University. The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Duke University, its students, faculty, staff, administration or trustees. Columns, letters and cartoons represent the views of the authors. To reach The Chronicle’s editorial office at 301 Flowers Building, call (919) 684-2663 or fax (919) 684-4696. To reach The Chronicle’s business office at 103 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811. To reach The Chronicle’s advertising office at 101 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811 or fax (919) 684-8295. Contact the advertising office for information on subscriptions. Visit The Chronicle and Towerview online at dukechronicle.com 2010 The Chronicle, Box 90858, Durham, N.C. 27708. All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior, written permission of the business office. Each individual is entitled to one free copy.
4 | TOWERVIEW
Dear readers, Consider the last time you wrote a personal reflection—an assignment for class, an application essay, a journal passage, anything. For some of you (the poetic, introspective type), this experience may have been just last night, curled up in bed, jotting down thoughts in your Moleskine notebook; and for others (the rest of us) the memory could be months, even years, old—Writing 20, that ALP you had to take, the worrisome college essay. As journalists, a most difficult task—more than concocting an interesting idea, completing hours of background research, getting the thoughts on the page—is often just finding a voice. This is the first-person narrative that is the articulation and representation of you, the way you think, how you feel. The task can feel daunting, even scary. The words are you—there is no hiding behind the veil of Chronicle style, Associated Press convention and excessive passive voice. But, if written well, the singular perspective can be profoundly effective. The underlying theme of this December 2012 Towerview, the final magazine of the semester, is “Perspectives.” The majority of the stories woven through the issue give clear voices to Duke students across campus, both past and present: tales of travel from an adventurous senior who spent more than a year studying across Africa; an insightful reflection from another, hired full-time to work at President Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago this fall; the five-paragraph essay of a recent Duke graduate, paralleling his two-year Teach for America experience with the careers of two professional athletes. We hope you find their stories and the others as compelling as we did. Happy holidays and see you in January!
Something By Ciaran O'Connor
When I first found out I’d be working on the Obama campaign, I was purposefully playing a fourth or fifth round of FIFA to avoid thinking about my future. After returning to Duke last spring from studying abroad in Paris, I’d been drifting aimlessly from classes to parties to the same dorm-room couch I could always count on to envelop me while I put off confronting the paralysis I encountered whenever I tried to get my shit together. Much to the concern of my parents— who’d continually warned me not to put all my eggs in one basket—and the friends I continually reassured that “everything would work out,” the Obama campaign was the only internship to which I applied. While my fellow classmates were busy submitting resumes and constantly stressing about various case studies and rounds of interviews, I refused to give myself other options. And then, one night in late April, just when it was beginning to look as though the campaign wasn’t going to get back to me at all, I saw an email from “Obama for America” pop up on my phone. I paused the FIFA game and opened my email.“Congratulations,” it said. “Welcome to the campaign.” Three weeks later, I was off to Chicago with a suitcase full of hastily-packed clothes and a sense of
incredible possibility. I’d always harbored the vague notion that I wanted to “make a difference,” to be a part of something bigger than myself, to help fight for something I believed in—but mostly, I yearned to do something that mattered, something urgent and important, something I knew was worth doing. My first day was a whirlwind. I knew I was to join the rapid response team within the digital department, and I had a feeling I’d be working with social media. Other than that, all I knew was that I wanted to work as hard as I could to help President Obama get re-elected. After briefly introducing himself, my boss took me aside and offered me a lasting piece of advice that set the tone for the rest of my time on the campaign: “We’re really happy to have you,” he said. “Don’t fuck it up.” The stakes were high and the days were long. There was a lot to learn and very little margin for error. As the summer progressed, and I began taking on more responsibility—gradually assuming a role as a writer who could quickly and efficiently defend the President’s record, fact-check the opposition and crystallize the choice in the election—the campaign slowly became all-consuming. I began getting to work earlier and leaving later. At the end of July, I decided to fully commit myself
I paused the FIFA game and opened my email. “Congratulations,” it said. “Welcome to the campaign.”
TOWERVIEW | 5
to the effort. I told my boss that I wanted to take a semester off and stay on through the election—he nodded and smiled. Two weeks later, I was hired on staff. And that’s when my personal life began to slowly evaporate. Ego, health, sex, fitness—they all took a backseat to a singular objective. Gone was the five-day work-week of the internship. This was a sprint to the finish, and that meant spending almost every waking hour at the office and adopting a lifestyle in which I lived and breathed politics. Throughout the conventions, the debates and the crazy ups and downs of a ferocious, Twitter-fueled news cycle, I was constantly surrounded and buoyed by some of the smartest, most talented people I’ve ever met. And though our jobs, ages and backgrounds varied tremendously, we were united by common purpose and uncommon sacrifice. While I was only giving up half my senior year, there were staffers who’d been on the campaign for almost two years—men and women who’d turned down lucrative jobs to move into shitty studio apartments and put in insane hours. They let personal relationships fall by the wayside in favor of working for one man and what his re-elec-
My personal life began to evaporate. Ego, health, sex, fitness–they all took a backseat to a singular objective.
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tion would mean for the future of our country. As the campaign wore on, the gravity of what we were doing grew increasingly apparent. The election presented Americans with a clear choice between two fundamentally different visions of America and the people who call our country home—and each day I felt as though I was unequivocally on the right side of the battle to persuade swing voters and turn out our supporters. For the first time, I felt profoundly fulfilled by the work I was doing on a day-to-day basis. And even though I was chronically sleep-deprived, I knew it’d all be worth it if we won. The rest is history. On Nov. 6th, President Obama was re-elected with 332 electoral votes. The next day, he stopped by the office. To hear him express his heartfelt gratitude for the work we’d done—and watch him get choked up as he shared his pride in what we’d accomplished—was perhaps the most surreal, moving and inspiring moment of my entire life. It was us, he said, who gave him hope for the future. I’m honored to have been a part of this moment in history, and I’ll forever cherish the privilege of working alongside and learning from such a talented amd passionate group of people. I leave Chicago feeling energized and hopeful about the future—and I look forward to rejoining the Duke community. n
For the first time, I felt profoundly fulfilled by the work I was doing on a day-to-day basis.
jill of many trades
f Dana Marks were a cupcake, she would be a chocolate one with chocolate icing. At least, that’s the cupcake her husband Jay O’Berski brought her from Au Bon Pain after dinner one night. “I thought this one was very Dana,” he said, grinning, as he held out his hand, the cupcake delectably perched on his palm. Marks gleefully clapped her hands together at the sight of the dessert. “I have such a sweet tooth,” she admitted. She took a large bite of the cupcake. “Oh my god, this is so good.” Time set aside for indulgence comes rarely for Marks. As a theater studies professor at Duke, managing director and co-founder of Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, vivacious local actor and back-up singer in the band Curtis Eller, Dana Marks wears many hats. Free time exists mythically in her world. TOWERVIEW | 7
first met Marks in the atrium of Page Auditorium at Duke University. She greeted me warmly, shaking my hand, and I followed her to her office. She gestured to a chair opposite a large desk, the single piece of furniture in the room, save for our two wooden chairs. I sat. Marks sat too, then leaned back in her own chair, crossing her feet up on the desk. She’s sorry, she explained, gesturing to the white walls behind her, for the lack of decoration in her office. She shares it with her husband, and they haven’t gotten around to decorating it yet. So busy. Too busy. She laughed, reaching one hand to her head to ruffle her short auburn hair. The office isn’t entirely Spartan. A few minimalist posters of notable Shakespeare plays, such as “Hamlet,” adorn the walls. Marks wore a plain pink tank top, blue jeans, and a neutral colored sweater. She wore little makeup and no jewelry. Like the office, she decorated herself minimally.
e started to chat amiably. Marks’ genial, relaxed disposition and less than ostentatious dress differed drastically from her aura the very first time I encountered her. Though I really didn’t meet Marks at all during that encounter—I met Richie. Staged as a bar crawl throughout Durham, “Richie” took a new spin on Shakespeare’s “Richard II” by employing an all-female cast and transforming royal pompousness into drunken debauchery. “Richie” played off of the hypocrisy of fame and royalty, drawing on young partygoing celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton as inspiration. Playing the titular role, Marks assumed all the poise and haughtiness of a queen bee, which made her inevitable downfall at the end of the play seem that much more pitiful. Lionized by the Five Point Star for her strong vocal skills and commanding presence, Marks’ Richie’s pompous gait and executive tone intimidated even her own loyal band of followers. Triangle Arts & Entertainment called her interpretation of the role 8 | TOWERVIEW 8 TOWERVIEW
“brilliant and deftly played.” Indy Week revered her as “vivid.” Much like the chocolate cupcake, critics could not think of a bad thing to say about her performance. Marks made me truly believe in her arrogant character—so much so that I was admittedly a bit shocked when an entirely different character warmly greeted me and welcomed me into her office, several weeks after “Richie” ended its three-weekend run. “It’s actually a skill to learn how to leave [the character] at the theater,” Marks said. “But when you’re first training as an actor, you don’t know how to let go of that character right away. You might leave an acting class totally in love with your partner, because of a scene you just did.” She laughed. “It’s pretty common!” Still, staying in character for nearly three hours seems to be a trying task. Marks confessed that transitioning from extreme emotions back to reality simply comes with time. “As an actor, you always have to be conscious of your behavior and recognize that maybe that particular feeling is strong because you’ve never felt it before,” she explained. “We can manipulate those feelings and with time, call upon them at will. The more we do it, the easier it is to let go.”
“I’m working constantly here, more than I ever did in New York,” she said happily. “And doing roles that I never would have gotten cast in if I had stayed in New York.”
hough Marks has mastered the art of dipping in and out of character, she admitted that she can never leave acting at the door. “I am an actor. It’s just a part of me,” she said expressively. “But when I do a role, there is a script. There is an imaginary circumstance, and I have to find a way to live truthfully through that. In real life, I might engage in different behaviors depending on the situation and the person I’m talking to. I’m always conscious of behavior. But in my real life, I’m not a character.” Marks agreed that separating the character from the self isn’t easy to do. However, she flits from profession to pastime almost constantly, essentially playing multiple roles over the course of a single day. “Wife” happens to be one of these many roles. Marks works alongside her husband, O’Berski, in almost every aspect of her life. While Marks is the managing director of Little Green Pig, O’Berski is the artistic director. O’Berski directed the production “Richie” and directs many of the LGP productions in which Marks performs. Both work in the theater studies department, teaching classes on acting techniques and skills. They not only share an office, they share a home. “It’s great!” Marks said, and laughed. “Well you would think, ‘Oh my gosh, a married couple living, eating, breathing together might be a bit of an issue!’ But we work very, very well together, because so much of who we are is tied up into what we do. We get each other, we understand each other.” And understand each other they have to, considering that they run Little Green Pig as a two-man operation. Marks balances the books, while O’Berski takes care of the casting and the planning, and both constantly work on marketing. These jobs sound time consuming enough, but on top of them, both O’Berski and Marks teach, direct and perform. “It never ends!” Marks exclaimed, jokingly exasperated. She laughed again.
or does the end seem near for Marks and her career. Generally, people measure success in the theater world by fame. Making it on Broadway or in Hollywood qualifies you as a successful actor. But Marks measures success by passion. “I’m working constantly here, more than I ever did in New York,” she said happily. “And doing roles that I never would have gotten cast in if I had stayed in New York.” Getting one great role in New York, and then having to wait two more years for the next big break just doesn’t appeal to Marks. She wouldn’t be happy unless she was constantly busy, immersing herself in performing and teaching. After seeing LGP’s performance of “Richie,” I commented on Marks’ performance to two friends of mine who performed alongside her in the play. They too had mulled over the reason that Marks chose to stay in Durham over pursuing a more prestigious acting career elsewhere. “I wonder how Dana would do in the Royal Shakespeare Company,” mused senior Alyssa Wong, over ice cream later that night. She laughed and shook her head. “She’d blow them all away.” That said, Marks has spent time in New York as an actor. Living and performing in Durham, however, has given her an entirely different perspective on the Big Apple. When asked about Durham, Marks couldn’t gush enough. “I love it, I love it, I love it,” Marks declared, grinning. “And I’ve lived several places. I’ve lived abroad and worked abroad. But I like it here; it’s familiar because I grew up here. But it’s also doable here. The city of New York is great, it’s a Mecca for artists. But it’s so beyond saturated, that it’s hard to get a foothold there. And, it’s not the-be-all-end-all. There are wonderful people working all over the globe at the same level that people in New York are working. It’s not the only place to be.” For many artists today, Durham is the only place to be. The city itself is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts—
new restaurants are opening up downtown, it seems, almost every day. The local music scene is exploding with new talent and genres. It seems Durham is now becoming the Mecca for artists, and is drawing in more and more actors, filmmakers, dancers and inventors that are coming to Durham to explore their crafts. “It’s kind of waking up, it’s really exciting to be here right now,” she told me.
rowing up in Raleigh, Marks is no stranger to the Triangle area. She remained there for undergrad and graduate school before attending the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. After graduating, she moved to New York to look for work as an actor. While working on a film, she met O’Berski, who happened to be taking a hiatus from the theater group he had created in Chapel Hill. She moved with him back to Durham, where he had a job as a professor at Duke, coming full circle back to the Triangle.
ABOVE, part of the poster for “Richie,” starring Marks and directed by her husband, Jay O’Berski.
At first, Marks seemed to be a big fish in a small pond. Whereas in New York she spent less time working than she did seeking roles, she enjoys a constant chaos with her involvement in the Durham arts scene. A skilled actor in a smaller college town would clearly have no competition for roles, right? Wrong: Durham’s emerging status in the arts scene has attracted a vast array of talented performers. Competition has risen among Durham’s actors. Despite this, Marks still snags role after role in local productions— and enjoys status as one of the most sought-after actors in the Triangle area. Jeffrey Moore was working in an TOWERVIEW9 | 9 TOWERVIEW
membering that I was there. Moore high-fived me. “Yeah! Snowball!” “I haven’t read ‘Animal Farm’ since I was in high school,” Marks laughed, ruffling her hair. “It was a stretch.”
t’s Saturday night at the Emily Krzyzewski Family Life Center. People are milling around the food trucks, talking and laughing. The local band Curtis Eller, named after their lead singer, had an hour set reserved. Marks hopped on stage, wearing grey trouser capris, a plum colored tank top and a black vest. On her feet are classic green suede shoes. Her short hair is slightly spiked. She reaches for the microphone. “Check, check, check, check one, check two.” As the band prepared their instruments, Marks walked around stage. She teased and chatted with the other band members, laughing a lot. As the music started, Marks began moving to the rhythm, snapping her fingers and nodding her head. She clapped her hands vigorously to the beat, grinning ear to ear all the while. The tempo picked up. Marks danced all over the stage, jumping around, clapping her hands, shaking her head, tapping her feet. She acted out parts of the music, opening her eyes wide and looking at the audience knowingly, pointing her finger. At other moments, she danced wildly, her hair flying in an auburn whirl, arms lifted above her head. By the end of the first song, a flushed Marks grinned, grabbing her microphone. “Thanks for the dedication, everybody!” she called gleefully out to the unresponsive crowd. “Thanks for sticking around!” Before the music started up again, Marks spotted me in the crowd. She grinned and waved wildly. I waved back. Marks continued her high energy dancing until the very end of the set. During the last song, she completely let go.
“The great thing about being here is that it’s much more conducive to doing your own thing.... It’s Just manageable. I can see the world.”
PHOTO BY ROBERT WILLETT, THE NEWS & OBSERVER
improvisational group when he met Marks, who had come to the group as a guest. They later performed in several plays together, and eventually Moore joined the LGP family. “The more I get to know her, the more I ask her, ‘Where is your Achilles heel?!’” Moore twanged in his Southern accent, putting his hands on his hips in mock-frustration. “But seriously! That woman is good at everything. And not only does she do it all—acting, teaching, directing, whatever—but she’s also just so sweet.” “There are a lot of talented actors in this area,” he added, grinning knowingly. “But she’s at the top of every list.” At Manbites Dog Theater one Thursday night, Moore was preparing to read a passage from Animal Farm at the Durham County Library’s Banned Books Week celebration, which Marks and O’Berski were directing. Due to her busy schedule, Marks wouldn’t be able to make it to the performance a few days later, so she met up with Moore to provide some extra direction. Moore launched into his monologue. Hanging on his every word, a wide-eyed Marks leaned forward, halfway off the plush pink couch she sat on. Moore stopped, pausing to reevaluate his last words. How should he present this line? Should he maybe step forward here? Marks jumped up from her seat and started to walk around with him, acting out the scene with him in a kind of duet. He follows her, mimicking her motions. In a single moment, Marks suddenly had become the narrator, adapting that eerie, foreboding tone as she told the seemingly lighthearted story of a farm. “The other pig…Napoleon and that other pig?” Marks and Moore were trying to identify all the animals in “Animal Farm.” It was not an easy task. Way more animals lived on that square footage than legally allowed. “Snowball,” I supplied, and they turned, suddenly re-
A few people in the crowd nudged each other and pointed at her, giggling softly. Marks didn’t notice. Dancing uninhibitedly, shaking her arms and legs, bouncing several feet off the ground, Marks let the wave of passion wash over her. As the band packed up their instruments, Marks hopped off stage. She took a deep breath and pushed her hair back from her face, gulping down a plastic cup of water. She looked out into the crowd and smiled. A middle aged man walked past me, wearing a bright green shirt proclaiming “Durham: It’s Not For Everyone.” No, Durham isn’t for everyone. But as Marks gazed around the parking lot of the Emily K Center, smiling widely, Durham seemed to be just the place for her.
t the East Campus Union on a brisk Sunday afternoon, Marks ordered a decaf soy latte. She noticed a large bandage on the unsmiling cashier’s arm. “Did you burn yourself ?” she asked,
concernedly, eyes growing wide. The cashier shook her head. “Stitches,” she mumbled, averting her eyes as she handed Marks back her credit card. “Oh, wow,” Marks said sadly. “I’m sorry.” Marks waited patiently as the cashier prepared her latte. “Thank you so much,” she said warmly, when the drink was ready. “And I hope you feel better!” The cashier smiled. We sat down with our coffees. Marks told me about her week. “So busy! Too crazy!” Nothing extraordinary. “But all good things!” she quickly assured me, before inquiring about my own week. At the moment, Marks is directing a scene for Antic Shakespeare at Duke and a one-man show at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, among her other professorial duties and work for Little Green Pig. She won’t be preparing to perform in another show until April, so this break is much needed, but she’s already getting antsy to get back in the spotlight.
Marks informed me that she recently just signed with a national agency. “I know I’ll regret it if I don’t do it,” she said, about getting into television and film. “And let’s be honest, I’m not a spring chicken anymore!” She laughed and takes a sip of her drink. “It’s now or never.” The agency will give Marks opportunities to go on auditions in different locations, though she still will have roots in the local theaters. She has no plans to leave Durham permanently to pursue fame and fortune—she just wants to try out this new medium of performing. “The great thing about being here is that it’s much more conducive to doing your own thing,” Marks enthused. Acting, directing, teaching, singing— the constant changing of hats makes Marks happy. She can do all these things in Durham. “Here,” she said. “It’s just manageable. I can see the world.”
etting: the Bryan Center Rehearsal Studio. 3:06 p.m. on the dot. Scene: about 12 Duke
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students slowly milling around the room. Some were reading over scripts. Some were chatting. Some removed their shoes, and sighed loudly—as if a huge weight had been removed upon reaching this class. The weight of formality, it would seem—as Marks believes that in her Introduction to Acting class, all the students must be completely comfortable with one another. The students slowly congregated in a circle toward the center of the room. Marks joined them, dressed in a tank top, jeans and sneakers. The students first had to shake out all their body parts, in order to loosen up and prepare for class. Marks led by example. “One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four!” She screamed, waving her right arm, then left arm, wildly in the air. The class followed suit, until hollers of the countdown filled the empty room. One student, a little less engaged than the rest, peeked up through his hair at Marks. She was vigorously shaking her arm, concentrating on nothing else. He started to mimic
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her enthusiasm, shaking his legs and arms a little more rapidly than before. When the exercise ended, he was smiling. “I never wanted to teach!” Marks said, when we are safe in the confines of her office. “I kind of came into it by accident. It scared the hell out of me, because I never thought I could do it, but I went in there and found out that I really, really enjoyed it.” “Every day, it’s really fun. It is. I say that I’m a teacher second to performing, but—” Marks paused in thought. “But, you know, I think it’s pretty tied into acting.” “It’s actually kind of like I’m doing field research,” she laughed, ruffling her hair. “Working on my craft while I’m teaching other people to hone it too. Because I’m learning, every day I see someone do something new, and I get a lesson myself.” “Today, Marks’ students were paired up to do interpretations of scenes from the play “The Shape of Things.” The first pair of students went up to perform. The rest sat in creaky fold-up chairs in front of
them, watching. Marks stood at the edge of the room, in a corner by the door. Her face suddenly went devoid of all emotion. Her eyes grew wider as her mouth formed a perfect O. The actors began their performance. From time to time, Marks threw her head back and laughed, a genuine belly laugh. She gasped at all the right places, nodded vigorously during other moments, murmuring “uh huh” to herself. Her eyes never strayed once from the pair. The actors finished. “Stay up there!” she cried, running forward. “That was fantastic!” The actors grinned at each other, pleased with themselves, pleased with her approval. Marks continued to gush ecstatically as she gestured emphatically. “That was just words on a page before you guys interpreted that,” she said. “You brought that to life! You created a story.” Marks turned to face the rest of her class. “Without actors,” she said passionately, spreading her arms wide, “there is no story.” n
nd OST ehi b 0M her 1 c ear ” TOP “ res s e ’ h n t o , i in izat alk gan M r t r hO E TECHNOLOGIES obe alt V R e TI h H VA wit rd Wol INNO
A biomedical engineering professor and director of several Duke organizations that apply an engineering framework to the world’s great health inequities, Robert Malkin has made himself known—both at Duke and across the planet. Malkin’s “Pratt Pouch,” a ketchup-like packet that facilitates the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, was recently named one the World Health Organization’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Technologies,” and was recently selected as an awardee of the “Saving Lives at Birth” Grand Challenge. In light of the upcoming World AIDS Day, Towerview’s Matthew Chase sat down with Malkin to discuss the role that biomedical engineers play in the field of global health. Can you briefly explain how the Pratt Pouch works, and describe its design process? The idea is that a mother who is HIV-positive would, if given no other HIV intervention, have an HIV-positive child, and then there would be no hope for curing the AIDS/HIV problem because each generation would simply inherit it from their parents. That cycle can be broken with pharmaceuticals. The problem is mothers… who end up delivering at home for any reason—because they go into labor very late or the labor is very quick, or they are many, many, many hours from a hospital—they don’t have access to the drugs for their child. And you do need to provide a drug to both the mother and the child to give you the highest probability of preventing the transmission of the disease from the mother to the child. So the Pratt Pouch allows the mother to take the meds home with her, and if for whatever reason she can’t make it home to the clinic in time to have her baby there, she can just tear open the pouch and drip the medication into the child’s mouth, preventing the child from becoming HIV-positive, and then later on go back into the clinic and pick up a more consistent and steady set of meds for the child to prevent
longer-term exposure and transmission to the disease. So essentially it’s a drug delivery system that allows the medication to be preserved so that the mother can deliver it to her baby appropriately and safely to her baby at home. As you transition from design to implementation, what challenges are you facing? We’ve been meeting with Ministers of Health of Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Ecuador, Namibia and Kenya to see whether they’d be interested in using the pouch in their systems, but there are many significant problems. First of all, we’re only looking to solve the problem for the very hard-to-reach mothers. Any mother who is near the clinic should go to the clinic to have the baby…. They often, even at those very remote sites, have some access to midwives or other traditional birthing assistants, but that does not mean they have access to medication. Those traditional birthing assistants are, in some locations, allowed to distribute medications; and in other locations, they’re not. So that’s the first hurdle: how are we going to get medicine, legally, to somebody who actually distributes it to the mother, very far from a hospital or clinic or pharmacy? So for example, in Uganda, traditional birthing assistants and something called community health distributors are permitted to distribute certain medications. And so for Uganda, what we’re looking for is permission to add another medication to their list, and then those mothers whose status is known to be positive could have access to this medication through community health distributors. In other places, like Tanzania, there is no authority given to community health workers or traditional birthing assistants to distribute medication, so in Tanzania we are looking at these vans which drive out from clinics to these very remote sites—sometimes 5 to 10 hours from the site, the pharmacy— with health workers once a month. So once a month they go to this very remote village which is when they do all of the antenatal care…to try to prevent the transmission. In Ecuador, it’s completely different: there are enough clinics, but these clinics are relatively remote. So there is no question of legality: these are regular clinics, they are staffed by nurses who definitely have the authority to distribute, but they’re relatively remote, so the issue we are facing there is
PHOTO BY MATTHEW CHASE
g n i r alth e e n e i h g en world
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guage, so that’s one issue. Or they simply can’t get the supplies…. If I give you a washing machine, but you can’t find laundry detergent, is there really any value to the donation of the washing machine? Of course, that was just a metaphor—medical devices have much more complicated supplies that are required. And also broken parts; everything breaks, but you can’t find the replacement parts…. And so for all of these reasons it is very hard to donate medical equipment and make it work.
just training: how do we get the training all the way out to the end of the system there? You’ve recently publicly spoken out against interventions that merely provide donations of medical equipment to developing countries. Given that this ideology may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, can you explain this belief? I am a strong believer that donations do not help, at least in the realm of medical equipment. And just to give you a couple of quick facts, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, stated that 70 percent of critical donated equipment does not work, and 30-40 percent never worked. And in fact there is an interesting study that came out last year that found that 60 percent of donated equipment is known broken at the time of donation. I don’t know exactly what the right number is—our data show that the number is around 40 percent, actually—but the problem is if you go into these hospitals you see huge piles 14 | TOWERVIEW
of donated, unused medical equipment. And there’s a cost associated with that, not only in terms of square feet in a building, which could be used for patient care, but also the proper disposal of medical equipment is not cheap. The hospital across the street here is using $100 to $200 per piece of medical equipment to dispose of the equipment…. And so every time you donate something which doesn’t contribute to the hospital, you’re placing a burden on that hospital. The other end of the scale is that it’s really, really hard to donate something and make it work. We just completed a study… of almost 1,000 pieces of donated, not-used equipment…. And less than 50 percent of it is working two years later. Think about this for a minute: If I donated you a computer, but the keyboard was in Thai, or the keyboard was in Khmer, and so was the manual, could you really operate your computer, if every screen came up in Cyrillic or Mandarin? You know, we deal with populations all the time who don’t speak English, or English is their fourth or fifth lan-
What do you think of the role that biomedical engineers currently play in the global health community? Do you feel that your profession is under-represented? Well the answer to this is very simple—just think about the last time you went to the doctor. Probably within about 10 minutes of being called back, they had weighed you, taken your temperature, probably your blood pressure and they may have taken a blood sample, which would have to be sent off to a lab somewhere.... Every single one of those measurements—and you’re only 10 minutes into your visit at the doctor—has required a piece of medical equipment. The fact of the matter is that when you go into a developing world clinic, almost none of those things work. Simple things like taking your blood pressure may be impossible, taking your weight may be impossible, taking a blood sample and sending it off to a lab might be a dream. And so I think it’s very clear that biomedical engineers have a critical role for the future of global health, and I think we’re taking up the challenge. I think it’s slow, and I think the reason is fairly clear. Compared to other areas of biomedical engineering, there is relatively little funding for addressing global health challenges. But I don’t think that’s the only reason: I also think we’re relatively late to the game. Public health officials have been working on questions of malaria for probably 100 years or even more, not that they have ignored biomedical engineers in addressing that—remember that building dams
and other things is also a key part to fighting malaria. But biomedical engineers are relatively late to the game. It’s only in the past 30 or 40 years that you’ve seen biomedical engineers at all, and probably only in the past 10 to 20 that you’ve seen biomedical engineers focusing on global health.... And I think another issue its that, unlike the public health professionals which have realized for many, many years that they have to be on the ground to address the problem, biomedical engineers are just getting there, where we have key partnership in key locations on the ground.... Even the concept that an engineer would benefit from rotating through a developing world site for 5 to 10 months—or even 5 to 10 weeks for that matter—which is common in public health professionals that are interested in global health issues, even that concept is relatively new. So I think we need to give it some more time before we really develop a full head of steam in this area. Four years ago, you accepted a role as a representative to the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. What was that experience been like, and in general what role should the WHO play in addressing global health challenges in upcoming years? There are a few things that you need to understand to understand the role of the WHO. First of all, I was surprised—and I will take full blame for being ignorant—I was surprised at how political of an organization it is. It really is an organization of nations who are trying to cooperate and collaborate to solve these global health chal-
lenges, and there really is a huge range of views on these issues. So you end up with a really political body. But I’ll tell you another thing that you need to think about when you think about the WHO: the entire budget is like $850 million. My son’s school district has a larger budget to serve the county that we live in than the WHO has to serve the entire globe. So this is actually a very small organization, and yet the challenges are enormous. From the point of view of medical equipment, which is really what I know and have interacted the most with the WHO, there basically is now one person at WHO who is focused on medical equipment, exclusively. So of the entire globe, there is one person. As you can imagine, this is a very talented person, but a huge amount of responsibility for a small amount of staff. So I would like to be able to say that the WHO is going to play a very critical role in health care technology, but the reality of the matter is that they are a relatively small player. I think that companies, nongovernmental organizations and private sector actors, like universities, are going to play a much, much larger role moving forward than the WHO is just able to. I really want to encourage undergraduates to get involved in global health—they can make a difference right now, they don’t need to wait until they have an MD or a biomedical engineering Ph.D. or something like that. There are lots of programs on campus right now—from DukeEngage to the global health certificate and many others—that they can get involved in right now to make a difference. n
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BEHIND THE STAND by Allie Middleton A photo series produced for Alex Harris’s Documentary Studies course “Color Photography”
he Durham Farmers’ Market is a visual testament to Durham’s burgeoning local and sustainable food movement; dozens of stands boast colorful produce year-round. Take a wander through the market on a Saturday morning and you’re bound to see dozens of eager market-goers clustered around a particular stand, nestled permanently at the far corner, marked with its signature four-leaf clover sign. This photo essay explores organic local farming through the lens of this one farm— Four Leaf Farm—and the two farmers behind it, Helga and Tim MacAller. The farm, located in Rougemont, N.C. and founded in 1980, is a verdant cornucopia of sorts, with sustainably raised seasonal produce ranging from pea shoots and bok choy to kiwis and loofah. Helga came to farming from a childhood surrounded by farms in rural Denmark. Tim, graduated from Duke with a master’s degree in botany in 1981. Together, both have created a space of growth, health and sustenance.
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Duke Football’s la
story by CHR photos by SYLVIE SPEW and courtesy of Ch
red Goldsmith needed a motivational speaker. His 1994 Blue Devil team was 5-0, true, but none of his players had ever experienced a winning season, and Clemson stood in the way of that elusive sixth win. Who better than a friend from Sunday school? Better yet, she had just led her own team to an NCAA championship the previous April and had helped coach Team USA. There was just one problem: Sylvia Hatchell was the head women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. “We told the team, ‘Be real quiet, don’t tell anybody that the Carolina basketball coach came over and talked to you,’” Goldsmith said. “And I’ll be darned, we beat Clemson… and the first player they asked, he said, ‘It all started with the Carolina basketball coach.’” But Goldsmith couldn’t be too frustrated. Duke 18 | TOWERVIEW
football had just defied expectations by guaranteeing itself a winning season and potentially more. Goldsmith had been thinking about a bowl game from the moment he took the Duke job several months before. To go bowling then was a bigger deal than it is today. There were only 19 bowls in 1994—almost half of the 2012 total—and Goldsmith had just coached Rice to consecutive winning, but bowl-less, seasons in 1992 and 1993. “Duke didn’t have quite the speed and athletic ability that I might have left at Rice,” Goldsmith says, “but it was a good football team.”
atchell wasn’t in the locker room before Duke’s bowl-clinching win against North Carolina in 2012, but Duke didn’t need much of a pep talk in a sold-out game at Wallace Wade Stadium. It was an atmosphere starkly differ-
ast trip to the bowl
RIS CUSACK WAK, FAITH ROBERTSON hanticleer archives
ent from the one in which David Cutcliffe arrived four years prior—a sold-out crowd for a night game, along with ESPN production crew for a national broadcast. When Cutcliffe arrived at Duke in 2008, he found himself at the helm of “the softest, baddest football team” he’d ever seen. A Kentucky state court had just declared it the nation’s worst program. He spent his first offseason just getting players to lose weight. They didn’t have a full-length practice field or an indoor facility. The program wasn’t completely barren, though. Thad Lewis had a rocket arm, and the linebacking core of Michael Tauilili and Vincent Rey was dominant. The Blue Devils won four games that season and five in 2009, and Duke fans prepared for a bowl run in Cutcliffe’s third year. Without that core trio, though, the Blue Devils racked up just six wins over the next two seasons, and
Duke fans went back into hibernation.
hen Goldsmith took over in Durham in 1994, he met with outgoing coach Barry Wilson to go over the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Wilson was upbeat about the offense but wasn’t sure if the team had enough talent on the defensive end to compete in the ACC. So Goldsmith made some calls. He had to convince two key players to return to the Blue Devils after taking a year off in 1993: cornerback Jamal Ellis and offensive lineman Jon Merrill. “I just wasn’t happy here. The whole Duke scene didn’t appeal to me,” Merrill told The Chronicle in 1995. “[But] it just seemed like [Goldsmith and his coaching staff] were really genuine people…. That really sparked my interest back into football.” Even after convincing both to come back, though, there was little enthusiasm on campus. A new genTOWERVIEW | 19
“I started thinkin bowls, and every thought I was cra fred goldsmith eration of students separated the present from the post-bowl enthusiasm generated in the wake of Steve Spurrier’s meteoric rise—and there were 30 years of evidence suggesting that the Head Ball Coach was an aberration. “I started thinking and talking about bowls, and everybody thought I was crazy,” Goldsmith recalls. “I told [Athletic Director Tom Butters] if we beat East Carolina we would go to a bowl, but he said I was crazy.” Duke did beat East Carolina, an eventual bowl team, 13-12 and ran up a 7-0 record before falling to Florida State in Tallahassee. That was the only regular season game the eventual 8-3 Blue Devils lost by more than one point that season, dropping back-toback games to N.C. State and North Carolina to end the year. Goldsmith entered the 1995 football season confident in a repeat postseason appearance. A 34-20 defeat to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl had done little to suggest his team wasn’t good enough to compete with the nation’s best. Defensive coordinator Craig Bohl had left for a position at Nebraska, but the Blue Devils’ core players were returning on both sides of the ball. Better still, the bowl appearance had offered Duke enormous national exposure. Goldsmith struck gold on 20 | TOWERVIEW
the recruiting trail and welcomed a talented class of players in 1995. “We had seven guys make it that we brought in after that bowl season,” Goldsmith said. “They made it in the National Football League. Not just drafted or signed, they made it.” The rest of the nation was less convinced that Duke was there to stay, though. At the ACC summer meetings, long-time ACC head coach Bill Dooley approached Goldsmith about coaching in the Blue-Gray Classic, a showcase game held on Christmas morning. Goldsmith was insulted— he could only coach the Classic if his Duke season was over—but Dooley insisted he sign the deal, just in case. Dooley was right. The Blue Devils started off 4-3, but an injury to senior quarterback Spence Fisher derailed the offense, and subsequently the season. Three years later, Goldsmith was out of a job after winning only six of his final 33 games. “I had a lot of good job offers after that year,” Goldsmith recalls, “but I really thought we would [go to another bowl game].”
uke hasn’t maintained success on the football field since the 1960s. Goldsmith’s eight wins in 1994 represented
the most of any Blue Devil season in the modern era, but he couldn’t manage to string postseason appearances together. That goal immediately becomes Cutcliffe’s, even as he prepares to take Duke to its first bowl game since Goldsmith—and he already has an advantage over Goldsmith on the recruiting trail. Although the 1994 Blue Devils lost to N.C. State and North Carolina, Cutcliffe’s team earned its postseason bid and state supremacy with a win over the Tar Heels. “Geography has always been the No. 1 factor… in recruiting,” Cutcliffe said in the wake of Duke’s win over the Tar Heels. “We’re going to always start right here in the state of North Carolina.” Better yet, Cutcliffe now has the facilitie[nk1] s to match his lofty expectations, which include an ACC Championship within the decade. A new indoor practice center, along with massive improvements planned for Wallace Wade Stadium in the coming years, give the Blue Devils facilities to match their recent success. And it’s already working—for the first time since 1994, Duke controls its own destiny in the conference race after the season’s halfway point. Whether the Blue Devils can do so again is the new question. n
“GEOGRAPHY HAS ALWAYS BEENTHE NUMBER ONE FACTOR IN RECRUITING.” david cutcliffe
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March 2012 llahu Akbar. God is most great. The phrase is engraved in shimmering calligraphy on my ring. And every time a well-intentioned shopkeeper or taxi driver (why are they always smiling old men?) asks me if I’m Muslim, I grin sheepishly and mumble a negation. A trinket picked up in Cairo’s khan al khalili, a tourist-trapping warren of overpriced souvenir stores. But how will anyone back home know that? For them, I conjure up images of a true souk: glinting lamps and a cloud of oriental spices hanging over cobbled streets. Leering men crouched on doorsteps. Come here, yes, spicy spice girl verry nice.
s ’ r e l e v a r
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I kill my wife for you! Shakkkkira. I marry you – one thousand camels! Oh my god. “You speak Arabic?” And the ubiquitous reply, as if I’m choosing to disguise my true abilities. “Shweya shweya: a little.” My accompanying hand gesture, wavering between yes and no. His chuckle. “Ohhh, shweya!” As if we’re all in on the same big joke. I know lists of food, furniture, family. Slept. Ate. Came. Went. (Only verbs in the past tense: the present, our teacher informs us, is too difficult for now). And, proudly, to flaunt whenever possible: Felool (old regime). Beledy (my country). Baltagiya (thugs). Horreya (freedom). Tahrir. Pronounced, Tah-rir. Lean into that “h” sound. Only Americans say “Tareer,” flattening breathy Arabic with those nasally r’s. “You
coming with us to Tareer on Friday?” Ouch; I wince. Careening through the language that, as every study abroad student hastens to reassure you, is so beautiful. Nothing like the angry Arabic that most Americans absorb from their TV screens. Have you never read Arabic poetry? January 2012 n English, words tumble from my tongue. Frolick-stridemeander-hobble-trounce: in what other language can I summon so many words to say, “walk”? I alight in a foreign country. From the moment I step onto airport floors sweating dust and seeping humidity, my tongue is stoppered. And then, slowly. Hello. Bonjour. Assalam Aleykum. Ber Ahinya. Habari gani. Yes. As in, “Yes, I am married.” Waaw. Oui. Ndiyo. Aywa. No. As in, “No thank you, I do not want to marry you.” Déedéet. Non.
Hapana. Laa. And eventually, my tongue and I reach an uneasy truce: a friends-withbenefits arrangement. I’ll keep a low profile if you shut up and do the work you’re supposed to do. April 2012 till, my tongue betrays me occasionally. At the Egypt-Israel border, I’ve already removed my incriminating Allahu Akbar ring. Please, go ahead and search my bags. I can assure you that I brought no Arabic homework with me. Oh, you want to see the book I’m reading? “Game of Thrones,” not the Qur’an. The Israeli guard eyes my passport, lazily interrogating me as to why I don’t want the Israeli stamp on the passport itself (as if we both don’t know the symbol is a red flag in Lebanon, Egypt and other Arab countries). “Are you…ashamed to visit this country? Hmm?” Finally, he rolls his eyes and stamps the border
e u g n o T
s o t o h p d n a n y r e o s n st e r r o s e r i a l by c
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pass instead. I take my passport. “Shukran” (thank you). The Arabic slips so easily from my lips. Our eyes meet for a moment, then his slide away. “Next!” How in the name of whoever’s up there do I say thank you in Hebrew? November 2011 orrugated iron shacks spill into the alleyway backing one of the suburb’s sandy streets. Some days, Dakar seems to be nothing but sand. Sand, and heat. Sweat trails down the small of my back, staining my white business shirt indecently. A woman, squatting in the dust, washes a bowl and watches me with a blank expression—wary or disinterested; I can’t tell. “Assalam Aleykum.” She returns my greeting, her eyes ever fixated on me. Through the window of a Qur’anic school, the babble of children’s voices yields to the ragtag chanting of a religious verse. I reach the clearing that forms the neighborhood’s central meeting point. A gaggle of children playing football stop their game to chorus toubab-toubab-toubab (“white person”) as I pass. Normally, women cluster around the water pump, pausing to gossip before heaving plastic buckets onto their heads and returning home. But today there is no water; the first day of a weeklong na-
tional shortage. I arrive at the center late, exhausted after a full day of interviews. I am spending a month in the Yarakh neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal, conducting research and living with a theater troupe called Kaddu Yarakh (“Voice of Yarakh” in Wolof, the local language). This group of actors, commissioned by various non-governmental organizations, uses original, interactive plays to communicate educational messages to the local population. The conveyed ideas always reflect the mission of the NGO funding the initiative. Laughter erupts around me as I walk in and I grin uncertainly at a joke I didn’t hear and wouldn’t have understood anyway. Even though French is Senegal’s official language, Wolof is the language of choice among friends.
“FROM THE MOMENT I STEP ONTO AIRPORT FLOORS SWEATING DUST AND SEEPING HUMIDITY, MY TONGUE IS STOPPERED.”
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“Do you miss him?” “Yes I do. Very much.” “Things must be…very…cold right now.” “I miss him,” I repeat. Struck by a burst of inspiration, I add, “He’s visiting me when I go to Kenya in three weeks.” “I bet things will heat up there.” The men snigger while I flush and try to stay coy about my imaginary boyfriend. Mustapha, tall and gaunt and wearing his signature patchwork pants, fixes me again with that intense stare. I have recently found out that he is 40, not in his early thirties as I had assumed. Like the other men here, he sleeps on the floor of the center and lives off of the occasional commissions that the troupe receives. In the cramped, two-room space, sleeping has been an awkward arrangement. I sleep in the second room on a mattress next to Rashid, an older man who has gained popularity on many soap operas for his constant stutter, child-like frame, high voice and baleful eyes. (In the troupe’s plays, the audience bursts into laughter the minute he walks onstage). I change clothes under the sheets, or in the corner while he’s still asleep. Mustapha has invited me (jokingly?) to sleep in the other room with all the “real men.” “Are you always this shy with your friends back home?” Mustapha’s question comes abruptly and I prickle; do I really seem that shy? “You know, it’s hard because French isn’t my first language, and I don’t speak much Wolof. Back home I speak English, and I’m more comfortable.” “So why haven’t you learned Wolof ?” The truth is, despite having taken Wolof lessons for three months, I haven’t learned as much as I could have. Should have. I speak French well enough to conduct interviews and communicate in everyday tasks. As for the shopkeepers and taxi drivers, I know enough Wolof to exchange pleasantries and bargain—in short, everything
“How in the name of whoever’s up there do i say thank you in hebrew?”
The actors are sprawled in chairs dotted across the room, halfwatching the soccer game on TV as they toss around jokes and banter. As always, Samba crouches over a brazier tending to a pot of bubbling attaya. The elaborate process of making this thrice-brewed tea requires at least half an hour of the maker’s time. The three rounds of sweet, strong tea are passed around in shot glasses, topped with foam made by pouring tea back and forth between two cups. You sip your tea as quickly as the temperature allows, then pass the glass back to the tea-maker so he can replenish and give it to the next person. Among these underemployed men, as with much of Senegal’s jobless youth, sharing attaya is the national pastime. I shake hands with each of the troupe members, asking them how they are in Wolof, and take up my usual perch on the bench by the door. I listen to the Wolof ebb and flow around me, smiling when everyone laughs, tuning out and thinking about the interviews from today. Will I be able to get a good quote from all that nonsense the lady at the health organization was spouting? When can I call my advisor and talk to him about refining my research questions? Belatedly, I realize that the attention of the room has focused on me. Mustapha, staring at me intently, has switched into French to ask me a question. “Pardon?” “I asked if you have a boyfriend.” This question arises constantly, slung at me on the bus and the street and now here in this room full of unmarried men. I have no compunction about lying to avoid awkward situations like the one that’s unfolding now. “Yes, I have a boyfriend.”
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necessary for surface-level interactions in Dakar. I don’t voice any of these thoughts when I protest, “I’m trying! But it’s a very difficult language, and I’m also trying to improve my French right now.” Mustapha looks dubious. “So why don’t you get to know any of us properly?” “What do you mean?” “I asked you why you don’t bother to get to know any of us.” He’s seen my puzzled face, for he switches into acting mode. I hear my toubab voice emanate from him as he imitates me greeting each troupe member: “Cheikh, nanga def ? Waaw, mangi fii.” (“How are you? Yes, I’m fine”). “Ibrahim, nanga def ? Waaw…” Mustapha rattles off the names of the troupe members in the same fashion, accompanying his high voice with earnest hand shaking and nodding. The other guys double over with laughter, smacking their hands on the edges of their chairs in a staccato of appreciation. I smile feebly, feeling the blood rush to my cheeks. His comic jests show how my attempts at being culturally
26 | TOWERVIEW
appropriate never extend much beyond a brief exchange of meaningless phrases. Mustapha is far from finished. He holds an imaginary phone to his ear and imitates my imperfect French. “Ah, OK Monsieur Diallo, 11 o’clock tomorrow for the interview? Thank you very much. Bye. Hello Madame Diol. Are you available to meet for an interview on Thursday? Yes…Yes…OK, thank you so much. OK, bye.” Mustapha abandons the phone and scribbles into an imaginary notebook. I mutter something about this not being true, but he ignores me. He turns to his friend. “Samba, when can I do an interview with you?” Scribble, scribble, in the notebook. “I’m going to record this conversation, is that OK?” Mustapha imitates himself, nodding with servility. “Yes, that’s OK.”
Vigorous nodding and scribbling in the notebook on my part. “Mustapha, you’re part of that theater club…what is it called? AEC? ACS? Oh, right, ASC! Can you introduce me to the members of the troupe there? Maybe tomorrow we can go there together?” Having finished, he sits back in his chair and looks at me expectantly. I sputter out some feeble protests, but I know along with everyone else in the room that his little skit contains more than a kernel of truth. Samba hands me tea and I drink; the caffeine hits my system like a shot. The others return to watching TV, their live comedy show completed. Over the next few days, shame continues to prick at me. I’m embarrassed, somehow, to have been called out on my own game. I scoffed at our study abroad program’s enforced “cultural” activities: “OK, we’re hosting djembe drummers in this room, and now it’s time for you all to get up and dance in a circle!” The first week, the other students hung back as I haggled with taxi drivers. During our independent
projects, while most people rented apartments in a nice area of town, I took to the old fisherman’s village of Yarakh, living with a theater troupe. Haven’t I traveled around France alone at age sixteen? Haven’t I spent a summer in a Kenyan village, living in a mud house and working closely with the community? I’d slipped into the identity of “the jaded traveler,” valuing the idea of living with the theater troupe and what that said about me, rather than the experience itself. Having prided myself on constructing my own definition of cultural interaction over the years, I realized in this moment that I still had so much left to learn. Until now, I’ve felt overwhelmed walking into a room full of 10 or so people and trying to have in-depth conversations with each of them. Remembering to shake hands with everyone and recall their names seems hard enough. One of my first days at the center, I shake hands with the small man whose name I’ve forgotten. –“Hello, Claire” –“Hello! I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” –“Rashid.” –“Oh, Rashid”—I scramble for something to say—“That’s the name of my host father, too!” He stares at me for a few moments.
–“I know, that’s what you told me last time we met, too.” The troupe members love watching my frequent cultural faux pas. But Mustapha isn’t criticizing my bumbling interactions. He’s telling me that language is no excuse. Language is no excuse to sit in the center at night, numbed by a day of interviews and transcribing, and listen to the swirl of Wolof going on around me without trying to engage.
“I had slipped into the identity of ‘the jaded traveler,’ valuing the idea of living with the troupe rather than the experience itself.” I have made a weak attempt at “culturally appropriate” behaviors: sharing everything, shaking everyone’s hands upon entering a room, walking more slowly. The rhythms of these everyday rituals have lulled me into complacency; I never bother to scratch beneath the surface of a “How are you?” I’ve been viewing time as something to control rather than inhabit. When I flip that thinking, relationships take on a different meaning. Why not spend three hours chat-
ting and watching TV and drinking endless cups of tea, when the work following an interview can always be done tomorrow? Why not make an effort to learn Wolof even though I leave in two weeks? Language is no excuse; and so, I sit and have conversations about destiny in wobbly French and go play petanque with the troupe members and learn when to say, screw cultural appropriateness—get your hand off my leg, Mustapha. December 2011 rom Senegal to Kenya. Somehow, I hadn’t expected returning to be so hard. On the airplane, it was the Swahili: cold hard pebbles spat into the intercom. So different from Wolof, sweet and strong in my mouth like tea. My tongue curses me. For the next two weeks, I want to end every sentence with “Insha’allah.” Instead, I find myself finishing with, “If God wills it.” Any outsider would peg me as a born-again Christian. “Alhumdulileh!” Somehow, “Thanks be to God” feels dry in my mouth.
April 2012 ever before have I been watched like this. In Senegal and Kenya, men
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“I DRIFT, NOT A TOURIST AND NEVER A LOCAL, AND MY FEET SOMETIMES BRUSH THE GROUND.”
glance up idly as I walk by, merely the latest distraction in a chain of events. In Egypt, I find intent behind the gaze—I feel it burning into me as I walk away. Never have I felt this wary. Never have I been this tongue-tied. My tongue has hit a new barrier. Not just the throaty kh-gh-rr-q sounds of Arabic, but the scrawling script itself. I’m in Tahrir for the first time since the Port Said protests in February, when 74 soccer fans died in a soccer stadium riot rumored to have been started by thugs in the army’s pay. This time, people have gathered to protest against the sudden disqualification of several leading presidential candidates. Flags and banners whirl and flap; I see writing in black, red and white. Occasionally I detect words like “Masr” (Egypt), “horreya” (freedom), “a’skar” (army). Chants from competing groups swirl together in a hubbub of rhetoric. Amidst the politics, the incongruity of a man selling second-hand clothing (“ten guinea!”); face-painters darting through the crowd like clowns at a carnival; children hawking SpongeBob shirts. I look over and see yet another man panning the crowd with his camera phone before turning it on me. I catch his eye, double-click my tongue, wag my finger. The language of gestures is universal. After a moment’s pause, the camera swivels away. I edge towards a tightly bunched circle of Ultra soccer fans jumping up and down and singing raucously. The ringleader wears a V for Vendetta mask, the stiff black moustache at odds with his kufiyyeh scarf and hoodie. I hear the words “Port Said” and “army.” I take pictures, and look up to find that, this time, I’m on the receiving end of the no-pictures finger-wag. Through it all, I wonder. Would it be different? If I spoke Arabic, wielding a dual identity (“I’m Irish-Lebanese/American-Moroccan/Egyptian-German”) as many elite Egyptians do so adroitly? If I’d been here a year ago, when “it all happened”? If I disguised my short hair with a hijab, playing dress-up for the day? 28 |28 TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
“Yasqut yasqut hukm al a’skar!” (“Down, down with military rule!”). I understand the chant, but never would I dream of chanting along. The words don’t fit right in my mouth; there’s no history to back them up. I’m an observer, and yet there’s a sense of ownership to it all, however false. I chose to be here, now, at this moment. For the rest of my life, I’ll follow the news in Egypt. My head will shoot up whenever someone mentions the country. I’ll bond with others: Oh really, you’ve been there too? I’ll have a drunken conversation with a Sudanese taxi driver en route to the bar. I’ll trail a pair of women in the streets, stumbling up against their skirts, because they’re speaking in Arabic. On boring days filled with longing for something more, I’ll dig out my passport and flip through the stamps. The ink, stark on blue speckled pages, gives entry and exit dates, nothing more. I struggle to connect the disparate experiences, but perhaps that’s the point. I drift, not a tourist and never a local, and my feet sometimes brush the ground. Occasionally I’ll try to dig in my heels, saying loudly that I belong in spite of everything—as if, by repetition, the words might come true. In Tahrir, my tongue toddles through words like it’s learning to walk again. Sounding out, letter by letter: لب. B-e-l-e-d-y. Beledy? Oh, beledy—my country. The words ripple on a homemade banner. Nearby, a child watches me from her father’s shoulders, strips of red-white-black paint peeling from her cheeks. n
Tebow, Manning and My Teaching Career
In the summer of 2011, a few months after I graduated, I moved to Denver to teach language arts. Certified by an alternative licensure program for secondary education, I was hired to teach sixth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in varying capacities at Venture Prep Charter School. Since then, my position has changed, but it has been my job the whole time to figure out ways to improve students’ reading and writing skills. It has been the realization of a life goal—and a true honor—to have that responsibility. In my Denver classroom, concepts from education textbooks were immediately clarified with pure experience. My public policy studies degree was put to the test in a real school with a real community populated by real people. And—who could forget?!—the Denver Broncos made the playoffs with Tim Tebow, and then promptly gave him up for a gentleman named Peyton Manning. Tebow and Manning have become analogies for my teaching career. They have become so ingrained into my Sundays and my concept of myself that it makes sense that their jerseys are hanging on my wall, above the TV. They’re knock-offs (I’m a teacher) but the connections are real to me. What follows will provide a glimpse into my time as a teacher and the way I often organize my thoughts nowadays. Yes, it’s a five-paragraph essay. And, yes, I’ll be using it in my class in January to cover one of my third-quarter learning targets.
by ALEX KLEIN, Class of 2011 Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, Alex Klein—these three men have all carried their teams to victory. They have done so in different ways, though. The latter is me, Mr. Klein, language arts teacher in Denver. The two NFL players are metaphors for the experiences I have had in my first two years of teaching. Their seasons with the Denver Broncos in 2011 and 2012, respectively, have exposed similarities to my teaching career in three ways: Our entrances mirrored each other; our performance levels were synchronized over time; and people’s expectations of us followed a similar trajectory. Noticing the connections has been both eerie and motivational. The first similarity between the last two years of Broncos quarterbacks and my teaching career is our entrances to our positions. Tebow, functionally a rookie, was brought in to replace an overwhelmed Kyle Orton, who was unprepared to lead a professional team. I was hired three weeks after the school year began in 2011 because enrollment was higher than anticipated and had left the current teachers overburdened with too many students and classes. Manning, however, was selected for his position from many candidates; his veteran status made him more attractive for a big switch. Having completed my first year of teaching (rarer than one might expect), I was a “veteran,” and made the big switch to teaching only seventh grade. In the past two years, the Broncos quarterbacks and I had similar beginnings.
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Next, a trend emerged in the performance metrics of the Denver quarterbacks and me. Though Tebow was aiming for fellow Broncos—indeed, trying his hardest for touchdowns of any kind—his six interceptions, seven fumbles and 46.5 percent completion percentage held the team back. He ran the same three plays and could not manage the clock. In my first year, I had a limited understanding of curricular and planning strategies. Lessons tanked or veered from their charted course and variety in the classroom meant writing on the board with a different color dry-erase marker. Manning, on the other hand, is an expert in making adjustments and using data to inform his choices and priorities. Halfway through the 2012 season, he has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. There are hints of Manning’s style in my classroom this year: quarterly third-party assessments, 6 a.m. lesson re-writes, intelligent groupings by past achievement, robust plans and a blazing fast pace. Still, though, Manning and I stumbled at first. His three first-quarter interceptions in Atlanta were matched with my first-quarter struggles in Room 209, where my temper was flaring and I hadn’t yet adjusted to my much younger audience. The similarities between Tebow’s, Manning’s and my achievement levels during the year are striking. Lastly, the expectations that surrounded us as we did our jobs shared parallel trajectories. Tebow, who had thrown only 82 passes the previous year, was in his first real position of responsibility in 2011. His newness was endearing and earned him patience and gratitude for the most basic feats. Touchdowns were celebrated like Super Bowl rings in sports bars and apartments across Denver, and we were happy to scrape by, winning games by three points at the last second. In my classroom, I was successful if I taught my learning targets and did my best to be a professional. As long as I met the basic expectations—on time to my duties, accurate grades, written lesson plans—I was considered a success. Manning, on the other hand, arrived to expectations of excellence on the field and leadership off of it. He was to be father, coach, cheerleader and player, and he had better lead the team to double-digit wins or encounter the wrath of columnists. As middle school language arts department chair, I, too, encountered much higher expectations for leadership of others and high achievement 30 | TOWERVIEW
in my classroom. Facilitating student government means after-school snack must be served, the recycling taken out, the school store kept orderly and profitable. Just as the lower expectations for Tebow babied him, the high hopes for Manning have pushed him—and I followed closely to this model. The quarterback in me doesn’t have the national stage, the millions of dollars or the name recognition. However, I do have fans, followers and a lot of fun, just like Tebow and Manning. These two NFL players had very different experiences in Denver over the last two seasons, and so have I in my first two years of teaching. The Broncos quarterbacks’ two seasons are analogous to my two years in many ways. First, our arrivals to our positions shared common characteristics. Second, our levels of achievement in our professions followed the same curve. Third, others looked to us for similar levels of leadership as the years went on. Just as Peyton Manning’s age and neck injury leave his long-term staying power uncertain, the challenges of leading 78 students every day leave questions for me about the future. Life has imitated Broncos QBs all this way. I’ll be watching closely in January. n
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Published on Nov 27, 2012