Mount Holyoke sp r i n g 2018
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President’s Pen percent have lived outside the United States for an extended period of time, and you begin to get some sense of how global the Mount Holyoke campus is. As this edition of the Alumnae Quarterly so beautifully illustrates, our alumnae extend this community—and our reputation and reach—worldwide, with almost 3,000 Mount Holyoke alumnae living outside the US in 137 countries (approximately 12 percent of all living alumnae). In a recent video, Telling. Compelling. Propelling. (which you can view on the College’s YouTube channel), Ariya Lawson ’18 shares that “so much richness comes from who we are and the fabric that makes our community. I think that [Mount Holyoke’s] diversity is what makes it so strong.” Javeria Kella ’19 expresses that being surrounded by so many international students makes learning about global affairs so much more real. I have been very privileged to see how powerful the global Mount Holyoke educational experience can be and also to witness the alumnae network in action. In February, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives hosted its biennial Global Challenges Conference, with the theme Global-Local Inequalities: Social Change for Sustainable Communities. The event brought together local and global leaders, many of them alumnae, to address social and economic Acting President Sonya Stephens at the MHC Shakti Program in 2017 structures, constraints, and international students. Add to this that and opportunities for change, particu68 percent of the Mount Holyoke faculty larly as they relate to food security, the speaks a language other than English and 78 built environment, and educational and
I have been very privileged to see how powerful the global Mount Holyoke educational experience can be and to witness the alumnae network in action. — S O N YA S T E P H E N S
income-generating activities for women. The remarkable range and impact of the work of our alumnae is testimony to the value of a liberal education—a Mount Holyoke global education in particular. The networking opportunities the conference provided, as well as the skills workshops, were truly a showcase for what global learning and engagement means. Whether our students go on to make a difference in public affairs, business and finance, education, the nonprofit world, or as entrepreneurs, the global education they receive at Mount Holyoke shapes an international awareness and a commitment to finding solutions to problems that, in the interconnected and interdependent world in which we now live, we all share. A Mount Holyoke global education also develops ethical reasoning and an understanding that local and national events or policies can have international (and planetary) implications and gives our students an appreciation for and ability to work productively with people of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The Mount Holyoke experience is strengthened by our network of alumnae around the world—a global community that shares not only a common experience, but these values, as well as a loyalty that is a commitment beyond national boundaries.
Courtesy of MHC Office of Communications
M OUNT HO LYO K E CO LLE G E’S first known international student, Susanna Major, came from Canada and graduated in 1843. The first from outside North America, Toshi Miyagawa, was a Chinese citizen who grew up in Japan and graduated in 1893. (Learn more about Miyagawa on page 34.) Since then, we have grown to be a truly global community, with 605 international students comprising 27 percent of the College’s undergraduate population in 2017. While Massachusetts residents account for almost 20 percent of Mount Holyoke’s enrolled students, those on campus this year come from fortyfive states and sixty-nine countries. A recent survey conducted by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives showed that the faculty also bring a global perspective to the classroom, with more than half conducting research with an international focus, often abroad, 79 percent incorporating global issues into their courses, and 81 percent encouraging classroom discussions that leverage the perspectives of both domestic
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Contents S PR I NG 2 018
VOLU M E 10 2
N U M BE R 2
F E AT U R E S
D E PA R T M E N T S
18 Extraordinary Harmony
2 LYONS SHARE
Mita Radhakrishnan ’90 has built a life and a career in Auroville—a unique and evolving community in India that is dedicated to human unity
Magazine and Makerspace kudos, love for the campus trees, Native American lessons, campus ice rink
5 UNCOMMON GROUND
Global Challenges Conference, alumna named president of Agnes Scott College, Nancy Pelosi to speak at Commencement, college updates, MHC ice cream flavor
tk 15 The Maven Susanne Ollmann ’89 on seeing the world
12 Female Gaze Gallerist Lyndsey Ingram ’01; authors Laurie Glazer Levy ’53, Marinella Lentis MHCG’02, and Shoba Narayanaswamy Narayan MHCG’87
16 Insider’s View The Mount Holyoke Seminary in Turkey
34 MoHOME MEMORIES
14 Ten Minutes With Human rights advocate Memory Bandera ’04
Toshi Miyagawa, class of 1893; fan-shaped book
Cover wraparound and Auroville: Anna + Elena = Balbusso Twins; Memory Bandera: courtesy of Memory Bandera ’04; Lyndsey Ingram Gallery: courtesy of Lyndsey Ingram Gallery; Japanese fan book detail: Deirdre Haber Malfatto
36 On Display Orator’s stool 37 Then and Now Study abroad 38 A Place of Our Own Pontigny, 1944
40 CLASS NOTES
14 26 On the Map
A look at the 138 countries where Mount Holyoke alumnae live
80 MY VOICE
Sadia Khatri ’15, “How Chai Made Me a Feminist”
28 Where Books Are Wings
How Sajia Darwish ’18 is helping girls’ literacy in Afghanistan through her work establishing and supporting the Baale Parwaz Library
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L ET T E R S
EM A IL
FAC E B O OK
I NSTAGR A M
L I N K E DI N
READING THE MAGAZINE . . . Makes me want to apply all over again so I
ON CAMPUS TREES I’m big on background in stories, which leads
can try out the Makerspace (“In the Making,” winter 2018, p. 16) and touch every one of those campus trees (“Trees That Teach and Are Remembered,” winter 2018, p. 28). I’d better at least visit. I need to see that Chihuly in the library. Loved the article about Ruth Muskrat Bronson (“The Best of Both Worlds,” winter 2018, p. 22). How did it happen that we had never heard of her before? I can remember when the first pages in the class notes were early-1900s graduates and people from the 1940s were just the more mature folks in my local Mount Holyoke club. —Muriel Pillsbury Allen ’67 via email
me to point out that “Trees That Teach and Are Remembered” (winter 2018, p. 28) might have included mention of the role Frederick Law Olmsted played in imagining the landscape of Mount Holyoke. He died in 1903, before much could be done about implementing his general plan. The son of one of Olmsted’s colleagues resurrected the concept and, in the 1970s, some work was done. Olmsted had worked as an orchardist on his farm on Staten Island before beginning his career in design with Central Park in the late 1850s. The love of the full range of arboreal beauty and function has been expressed on the Mount Holyoke campus whether or not Olmsted’s design was fully brought to life. —Lisa Lansing ’64 via email
MAKERSPACE ENVY After thirty-five years traveling the globe as a
travel writer and photographer I retired and found myself with time on my hands. At age eighty-two and with disabling arthritis, there was just so much I could do to fill the time. Then, I began to make things with beads. My creative juices revived. I love the idea of a Makerspace (“In the Making,” winter 2018, p. 16) at Mount Holyoke. As a student I would have enjoyed working on ideas both as a creative outlet and as a release from the stress of studies. Kudos to the school for realizing this need and acting on it. —Sally Choate Moore ’58 via Association website
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I was very pleased to see this article. I just attended Reunion and, since I am a birder, I noticed Mount Holyoke’s incredible trees! I wrote in my reunion comments that there should be a tree tour. This article was like a tree tour. Thank you! —Anne Webster-Leight ’77 via Association website As a graduate student in chemistry who came from northern Wisconsin, I totally loved spring at Mount Holyoke. From my seat in Carr I had the most wonderful view of the flowering dogwood and the huge copper beech tree. The chemistry was tough; the trees an inspiration! —Wilma Baldwin Hanson MA’62 via Association website What a lovely and informative piece. I didn’t know we had class trees on campus and am delighted that we do. I will try to find out if the class of 2001 has adopted/planted any trees. Love the tree exercises history—new to me as well. —Siobhan Mulvey ’01 via Association website
@mhcalums Awesome sign pic from Saturday’s #womensmarch via @ mpeacock (Marisa Peacock ’01) #repost #mountholyoke #findyourpeople
What a great article! Thank you. I will notice the trees a little closer the next time I am on campus. Reading this may even get me there sooner! —Mary Curran ’85 via Association website REMEMBRANCE AND CONCERN After reading your interesting article
“The Best of Both Worlds” (winter 2018, p. 22) I thought you might be interested in learning about Mary Owl Melquist ’57. Mary was at Mount Holyoke for several years before she left to attend the University of Idaho. She was a wonderful, talented person and good friend. I believe she was able to obtain a job in Yellowstone as a chambermaid. Unfortunately, she had to be on site before she was through with her duties at MHC. As a scholarship student she was required to stay to attend to the reunion
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classes. As my job didn’t start for several weeks, I stayed and did her chores. After my summer work I took a train out to Pocatello, Idaho, where Mary lived with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes on the Fort Hall reservation. Sadly, when we picked Mary up from her job she had made the decision not to come back to Mount Holyoke. Our great loss. —Susan Lum Hammen-Winn ’58 via email I am writing with concern about the somewhat benign portrayal of government boarding schools for Native Americans in the article about Ruth Muskrat Bronson. I was surprised that the author did not describe government boarding schools with a more critical perspective, because of the documented systematic cultural genocide and familial trauma inflicted by these institutions. The stated purpose of these schools was erasure of Native American culture and forced assimilation. Students were harshly punished for speaking their native languages, dressing in traditional clothes, practicing their native religions, or engaging in tribal singing and dancing. If readers are interested in learning more, one important resource is the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (boardingschoolhealing.org). —Aimee Durfee ’94 via email While I am glad that you featured a Native alum, I was appalled and offended by how the author romanticized Bureau of Indian Education (formerly known as the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, or BIA) boarding schools. My mother and many of the adults in my life were survivors of BIA schools. What the author missed is that historically these schools were off-reservation, government-sponsored schools, where young Native Americans were sent after being ripped from their families. Students were physically abused if they spoke their native tongues; sexual abuse also occurred. The creator of BIA schools was Colonel Richard Henry Pratt, and his motto was: “Kill the Indian, save the man.” Studies have shown that there has been a direct correlation between BIA survivors and domestic/substance abuse. In a time where Native history is being erased in schools and Native people are openly mocked, I expected more from Mount Holyoke. I hope that next time a Native writer is considered when including a piece about a Native alum or that the author does proper research. —Emma Boisselle ’13 via email EDITOR’S NOTE: A sincere thank-you to the alumnae who reached
out with concern and important feedback about the lack of accurate historical context around boarding schools in the Ruth Muskrat Bronson feature. We regret the omission and apologize for the error. Please note that the online story was immediately redacted. We also have instituted an additional editorial review process of content—by a faculty or alumnae expert, or by a person who is a self-identified member of a group whose story is being told.
I stand for using
evidence to address challenges faced by vulnerable populations. What do you stand for? #evidence #data #globalequality #globalequalitymhc @mtholyoke @aamhc @2011MHC
– at Cleveland Hall @N K _ NAU S H NAU S H E E N KHAN ’ 11
WE S HAR E D
Friends donned Mount Holyoke knit hats and enjoyed a mini-reunion aboard the Moonlighters rail trip across Canada. Left to right: Helen Weinland, Phyllis Rutter Ellickson, Sally Donner, Alice Godfrey Andrus—all class of 1963—and Barbara Kubida Sethian ’73.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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WINTER MEMORIES John D. Rockefeller donated a rink to MHC (“A Celebrated
M OUNT HO LYO K E ALUMNAE QUARTERLY Spring 2018 Volume 102 Number 2 EDITORIAL AND DESIGN TEAM
Jennifer Grow ’94 Editor and Interim Senior Director of Marketing & Communications Millie Rossman Creative Director Anne Pinkerton Assistant Director of Digital Communications Jess Ayer Marketing & Communications Assistant CON T RIBUTORS
Kyley Butler ’18 Alicia Doyon Emily Krakow ’20 Maryellen Ryan Elizabeth Solet
Lisa Hawley Hiley ’83 Carolyn E. Roesler ’86
ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67 President-elect Maria Z. Mossaides ’73 Vice President Susan Brennan Grosel ’82 Treasurer and Chair, Finance Committee Tara Mia Paone ’81 Clerk Markeisha J. Miner ’99 Alumnae Trustee Elizabeth A. Wharff ’75 Young Alumnae Representative Tarana Bhatia ’15 Chair, Nominating Committee Nancy J. Drake ’73 Chair, Classes and Reunion Committee Melissa Anderson Russell ’01 Chair, Communications Committee Marisa C. Peacock ’01 Chair, Volunteer Stewardship Committee Charlotte N. Church ’70
The Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly is published quarterly in the spring, summer, fall, and winter by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc. Spring 2018, volume 102, number 2, was printed in the USA by Fry Communications, Inc., Mechanicsburg, PA. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA, and additional mailing offices. Ideas expressed in the Alumnae Quarterly do not necessarily reflect the views of Mount Holyoke College or the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College. The Alumnae Quarterly welcomes letters. Letters should run not more than 200 words in length, refer to material published in the magazine, and include the writer’s full name. Letters may be edited for clarity and space. To update your information, contact Alumnae Information Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-538-2303.
Chair, Clubs Committee Elizabeth McInerny McHugh ’87 Directors-at-Large Katherine S. Hunter ’75 Amanda S. Leinberger ’07 Alice C. Maroni ’75 Executive Director Nancy Bellows Perez ’76 ex officio without vote
Winter Respite,” winter 2018, p. 34)?! I can’t help but feel a bit of a disappointment that this fabled rink no longer exists and had such an obscure ending with its use as a service building. I wonder where we can take the skating to when we return to campus. —Jarin Chu ’12 via Association website I remember some of us trying to skate on a solidly frozen Lower Lake and being chased away by security, only to return anyway. Ice skating seems a natural for Mount Holyoke’s campus and could easily be enjoyed by so many. What a shame the rink no longer exists! I would have loved to have a place to skate. —Anna Allen McGrath ’74 via Association website Didn’t [the College] flood the field behind Creighton Hall on the way to the Mandelles for ice skating in the late 1950s or early 1960s? It was shallow and frozen, and I have a recollection of skating there legally. The dorm, of course, was not there, nor was security, but safety was not a big issue. Am I fantasizing this through the veil of memory? —Dana Feldshuh Whyte ’60 via Association website RUNNING FOR OFFICE As an active Democrat in northwestern Connecticut I read
your article (“Running for Office,” winter 2018, p. 13) with interest and a sense of déjà vu. Your five pieces of advice for others, especially women, who might be considering a run for public office are valuable, but I think you may have overlooked an important one: use of social media. A new generation of voters has come of age. We have found email addresses and social media indispensable tools to reach them. —Fran Rose Besmer ’62 via email
Molly Winters Diallo ’96 Named Teacher of the Year in Miami-Dade County Public Schools
The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc. 50 College St. South Hadley, MA 01075-1486 413-538-2300 alumnae.mtholyoke.edu email@example.com POSTM ASTE R
(ISSN 0027-2493; USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Alumnae Information Services Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association 50 College St. South Hadley, MA 01075-1486
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FEM A LE GA ZE
TEN MINUTES W ITH
T H E M AV E N
I NS I DE R ’ S V I E W
Uncommon Ground McCulloch Center Presents Global Challenges Conference ON FEBRUARY 16 AND 17, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives
Built Environments, analyzing the availability and affordability of housing, electricity, transportation, and more. A Skills Workshop for Changemakers included presenters Kait Szydlowski ’09, Ann Blake ’85, Susan Lowenthal Axelrod ’84, Nausheen Khan ’11, Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91, Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, Vijaya Pastala ’89, and Evgenia Sokolova ’01. Each presented specific tools from her line of work, ranging from ways to get funding for innovation to addressing gender discrimination to using storytelling for social change. A post-event survey captured overwhelmingly positive feedback from student participants, who were pleased to learn of “many great ways and ideas for starting with your own social entrepreneurship path” and who “loved [the] discussion format that allowed for open sharing of ideas and collaboration between alums and students.” To continue the momentum of productive engagement among alumnae and students interested in social-impact activities, the McCulloch Center has established a LinkedIn group called MHC Social Innovation. There, visitors may share experiences and knowledge; ask questions and offer advice; post blogs and webinars; publish profiles of alumnae; list jobs and internships; and develop mentoring structures in the area of social innovation. To learn more about the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, including upcoming events and programs, visit mtholyoke.edu/global. —BY ANNE PINKERTON
hosted their biennial Global Challenges Conference. The event, this year themed “Social Change for Sustainable Communities,” brought together scholars and practitioners from around the College and the world to analyze issues and provide cross-disciplinary and cross-national perspectives on pressing concerns. “This conference has been one of the most powerful we have held on campus in the past fifteen years,” said Eva Paus, Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center. “Attendees called it focused, insightful, stimulating, and life-changing.” More than 120 students and forty alumnae participated in discussions about strategies for reducing growing inequalities at the global and local levels along with networking and career-coaching sessions. The event was tied to a current course on campus, Global-Local Inequalities, a multidisciplinary team-taught course that addresses how institutions, policies, and distribution of power shape access to resources around the world. Among the many alumnae who returned to share their expertise were Evgenia Sokolova ’01, founder of impact advisory firm Aktivera, Ltd, and Jyot Chadha ’02, from the Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the World Resources Institute India, who sat on a panel called
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“Ice cream runs deep in Mount Holyoke tradition,” Acting President Sonya Stephens told an eager crowd assembled to hear the announcement of the College’s official ice cream flavor on January 30. “We enjoy it on the top of Mount Holyoke on Mountain Day, and we gather for ice cream and hot drinks at Mary Lyon’s grave on Founder’s Day.” Now the College has its own official flavor of ice cream, thanks to a partnership with Herrell’s Ice Cream & Bakery of Northampton and the ingenuity and spirit of the Mount Holyoke community, including Ellen Berman ’87, from whom the inspiration came. A contest for an ice cream flavor was held in the fall, with more than 280 ideas submitted by the Mount Holyoke community. The staff at Herrell’s chose three flavors and created a version of each to be tasted and voted on. Acting President Stephens, Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall, and three students—chosen at random from those who had submitted flavor suggestions— met at Herrell’s in Northampton in December to taste each flavor and cast secret ballots with their favorite flavors. M & Cs, a flavor inspired by the submission of Nicole Palmer ’19, which features an ice cream base that tastes like Chef Jeff’s chocolate-chip cookies with crunchy, fresh-baked gingersnaps mixed in, won by an overwhelming margin. After the winning flavor was announced—and Palmer was presented with a silver ice-cream scoop—faculty, staff, and students enjoyed a first taste, as the ice cream was dished out in the College’s new Dining Commons. M & Cs is among Herrell’s more than 300 flavors and has been added to the ever-changing rotation of ice creams available at the shop.
Leocadia Zak ’79 Named President-Elect of Agnes Scott College
Leocadia (Lee) Zak ’79 has been named presidentelect of Agnes Scott College, a women’s institution in Decatur, Georgia. Agnes Scott was founded in 1889 as a seminary and renamed Agnes Scott College in 1890. After graduating from Mount Holyoke with a double major in history and Spanish, Zak earned her law degree from Northeastern University. She worked for a private law firm in Boston and Washington, DC, for eighteen years. In 2010 she was appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the US Trade and Development Agency, where she implemented programs promoting the interests of middle-income countries around the world. Under her leadership, the agency was transformed to include many more women and people of color in leadership roles. Zak, whose term begins July 1, says that assuming the presidency of Agnes Scott is a kind of homecoming. She noted that her enthusiasm for women’s colleges has only grown since her time at Mount Holyoke. “When I visited Agnes Scott, I met a number of Mount Holyoke alumnae,” she said. “The campus, the traditions, the ideals are very similar. Clearly, women’s colleges are a wonderful place for women to develop the skills that will put them into leadership roles.” Read a Q & A with Zak from 2014 at alumnae. mtholyoke.edu/zak.
Zak: courtesy of MHC Office of Communications; ice cream: Joanna Chattman; flower show: Jennifer Grow ’94; Sutton: courtesy of the Sutton family
Mount Holyoke Reveals Custom Ice Cream Flavor
Gateway to Spring
The forty-seventh-annual spring flower show at the Talcott Arboretum featured a fountain and sculpture inspired by the College’s Fidelia Nash Field Gates. Three students designed and created the fountain in the Mount Holyoke Makerspace. Read more at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/flowershow18.
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Class Color Cup a Success
In Memoriam C. Sean Sutton, professor of physics from 1987–2011, died on February 12, 2018. After receiving his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, Sutton came to the Pioneer Valley as an assistant professor of physics at Smith College before joining the faculty at Mount Holyoke five years later. Sutton conducted research at the Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire in Orsay, France, for the US Department of Energy, and at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, and he was principal investigator on a number of grant-funded research projects. In addition to his work as a physics professor and department chair, Sutton was a member of the College’s Radiation Safety and Environmental Health and Safety Committees and organizer of the Mount Holyoke College Women’s Invitational Regatta. He also served on the South Hadley Appropriations Committee for many years. Among his survivors are three siblings.
During the Office of Advancement’s annual FebruMary campaign in honor of Mary Lyon’s birth month, a new event took place: the Class Color Cup, a three-day participation challenge. Classes of shared class colors joined forces, with red pegasus alumnae coming in with the highest number of individual donors. The monthlong campaign surpassed both its participation and fund goals, with 3,650 donors raising $577,853—a 27 percent increase in donors and a 70 percent increase in dollars from FebruMary 2017. Learn more at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/classcolorcup18.
US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to Speak at Commencement
# of donors by class color
Join the Alumnae Stay Program
Alumnae Stay provides free, temporary, and safe housing to Mount Holyoke College students or alumnae traveling to pursue academic and professional growth. Volunteer or find a room at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/alumnaestay.
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the US House of Representatives from California and the first woman to have served as Speaker of the House, will give the commencement address at Mount Holyoke on Sunday, May 20. Pelosi will also receive an honorary doctorate of human letters from the College. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Shirley J. Wilcher ’73, executive director of the American Association for Access Equity and Diversity, and to educator, author, and social justice activist Sonia Nieto. Read more at alumnae. mtholyoke.edu/pelosi.
Recommend an Alumna
Each year the Alumnae Association recognizes the unique accomplishments of alumnae through several distinguished awards. By recommending an alumna, you can help the awards committees identify those in our community who are really making a difference. For more information and to recommend an alumna for an award visit alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/award.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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College Seeks Carbon Neutrality by 2037 SAVE THE DATE
From November 9–11, 2018, alumnae will return to campus for the Black Alumnae Conference. The event will feature engaging lectures, cultural events, networking, and conversation. Alumnae will have opportunities to reconnect with other Mount Holyoke alumnae and leave campus recharged and ready to go forward. Learn more at alumnae. mtholyoke.edu/BAC.
In March, the Board of Trustees of Mount Holyoke College announced a goal of reaching carbon neutrality on campus by 2037, the College’s bicentennial. This commitment is a crucial step toward addressing the recommendations of the College’s Sustainability Task Force, a group convened in January 2017 with the charge of developing a plan to increase campus sustainability in accordance with The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021. To achieve carbon neutrality the College will implement a strategy of investing in energy efficiency and conservation, retrofitting historic buildings, and transitioning to carbon-neutral heating and electricity sources, with a progress assessment every five years. “The goal will direct future decision making and institutional actions, as well as provide a framework to evaluate our progress,” Acting President Sonya Stephens said. “Now more than ever it is important that the College take this position to manage its carbon emissions efficiently and to identify every opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint. We are committed to reaching this carbon neutrality, and to identifying new technologies in our search for clean energy systems that move us toward it.” To read more about the commitment and the work of the Sustainability Task Force, visit alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/sustainability.
We learned of the November 29 death of Mary Fay, who worked at the College bookstore for more than twenty years, starting in 1972. Among her survivors are three daughters, all alumnae: Mary Fay Fedora ’71, Sally Fay ’84, and Janis Fay Kordana ’85.
Carbon neutrality: Joanna Chattman; Greene: courtesy of MHC Office of Communications
Mount Holyoke Black Alumnae Conference
Essay Contest Update
Thank you to the alumnae who submitted their work to our Resilience essay contest. Look for the selected essays to be featured in the summer issue of the Alumnae Quarterly!
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College Welcomes New Vice President for Communications and Marketing Charles L. (Chuck) Greene II, a communications leader with more than twenty years’ experience in the field, was named Mount Holyoke College’s vice president for communications and marketing. He started February 5. As a senior officer and member of the president’s cabinet, Greene will play a key role in shaping Mount Holyoke’s internal and external messaging and in developing a voice and narrative that communicate the College’s rich history and vision for the future. “Chuck has the forwardlooking communications skills to advance the College in the contemporary landscape, as well as a keen appreciation for Mount Charles L. (Chuck) Greene II was named Holyoke’s history and legacy,” Mount Holyoke College’s vice president for communications and marketing. said Acting President Sonya Stephens. Greene served most recently as the director of communications and marketing at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts, where he led a campaign to rebrand the historic school, developed a communications team to support the holistic needs of the institution, oversaw a relaunch of the alumni magazine, and implemented a digital engagement strategy that enhanced the school’s reputation and reach. Greene received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Boston College’s Wallace E. Carroll Graduate School of Management. “I look forward to joining the Mount Holyoke community and working with Acting President Stephens and the communications and marketing team to enhance and refine the reputation of an institution that has played such a significant role in providing an outstanding liberal arts education,” Greene said.
Don’t Miss Upcoming PaGE Application Deadlines: alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/page
Support the Founder’s Fund
Your gift to the Founder’s Fund at the Alumnae Association supports strategic initiatives connecting our global alumnae community to each other and to the College. Most recently, a distribution from the Founder’s Fund supported the Powered by Mount Holyoke marketing campaign and other strategic priorities of the Alumnae Association as outlined in the 2020 Strategic Direction. Established in 1901 as the income fund to support the mission of the Alumnae Association, the Founder’s Fund relies on financial contributions from alumnae and is administered by the Board of Directors of the Alumnae Association.
Learn more and donate now at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ff
Join an Alumnae Association Trip Abroad
Village Life® in Dordogne September 20–28, 2018
We invite you to join one or more of the Alumnae Association’s upcoming travel opportunities, including a week in the medieval village of Dordogne, France. For more information and to register visit alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/travel.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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The International It has been many years since the Alumnae Quarterly has published a themed issue, and we are excited to share with you this volume, devoted entirely to telling stories of international members of the Mount Holyoke community. You’ll find that the content is focused on alumnae—and in one impressive case a current student, Sajia Darwish ’18 (page 28)—who at one time lived and/or worked outside of the United States. The process to determine content for this issue was challenging. Our editorial team worked to identify stories that are unique, that inspire, that speak to the history of the College and its graduates, and that look to the future. In these ways, putting together this issue was not unlike the process of planning any other. As always, it is impossible to include every alumna’s experience and worldview within the pages of a single volume, and we present this work as the smallest of samples of the international Mount Holyoke community. We hope, as with each issue, that every reader will find something that resonates within these pages. 10
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l Issue When it came time to put the content on the pages, our creative director, Millie Rossman, commissioned a team of award-winning artists—twin sisters based in Italy—to produce all of the illustrations. Not only is their work featured on the cover, but you’ll see it in the Maven (page 15); a feature about Mita Radhakrishnan’s ’90 groundbreaking work in India (page 18); My Voice (page 80); and, on pages 26 and 27, a map that shows the scope of the global alumnae presence. In our work to produce this issue we uncovered far more stories than we could include here, and you’ll continue to read in future issues about alumnae who live and work in all corners of the world. The Mount Holyoke experience, on campus and beyond, is as diverse as it is inspiring, and it is our privilege to share your stories with each other, wherever you may live. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback, and your ideas. —Jennifer Grow ’94, editor firstname.lastname@example.org Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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FE M A LE G A ZE
GAL L E R I S T
Compelling Art Work IN NOVEMBER 2017 Lyndsey Ingram ’01
opened her eponymous art gallery on a quiet, cobblestone street in central London. Her shop joins many other galleries in Mayfair, a posh neighborhood and international art hub. From Ingram’s space on Bourdon Street, it’s just a ten-minute walk to Hyde or Green parks. It’s just minutes more to landmarks like Piccadilly Circus and Marble Arch. Ingram’s gallery fills a converted carriage house, built at the turn of the twentieth century. The 990-square-foot interior rises to a vaulted-glass ceiling, but the two gallery spaces shun the modern “big white box” look of many art shops, says Ingram. “We designed it to be domestic in its feel, where people feel comfortable and enjoy being here,” she says. “We built this from scratch, and we had an opportunity to make it just the way we wanted.” At thirty-nine, Ingram may seem young to have hung out her own shingle, but she’s been paying dues in the art world since she was a teen. In the summer between her sophomore and junior years, with a grant from the College, Ingram interned in the print department of Sotheby’s in London. The opportunity was invaluable in helping her embark on her chosen path. “I will be eternally grateful to Mount Holyoke for that money,” says Ingram. In turn, she has opened her doors to rising seniors, including Ellie Dolan ’18, who interned with Ingram in the summer of 2017, doing everything from packaging art to social media outreach. “I learned about being in the art world and what it takes—the business ethics behind it—while gathering an appreciation for the art Lyndsey sells,” says Dolan. Ingram’s relentless positivity made an impression on Dolan. “When you love what you do, it makes for a great gallery,” she says. Seeing that passion years ago, Sotheby’s hired Ingram back the summer before her senior year. After graduation she
joined Sotheby’s full time for a few years before taking a director position at Sims Reed, a prominent print gallery in London, where she stayed for more than a dozen years. At Ingram’s new gallery she deals in museum-quality post-war and contemporary prints and works on paper, mainly by British and American artists, including David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, and Bridget Riley. Ingram has cultivated a love of, and expertise in, prints. It’s a powerful medium, she says, and often misunderstood. “People think these are posters or reproductions because of the nature of the way they’re made, and somehow inferior because they’re in multiple,” she says. But they are often an artist’s most compelling original work. “It’s an interesting niche place in the market, because we get to ABOVE Jane Hammond, Champagne Bucket with Black Fritillaria, Cockscomb and Raffelesia, 2017. 127 cm x 96.5 cm; BELOW Interior of the Lyndsey Ingram Gallery
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FE M A LE G A ZE
The Stendhal Summer Laurie Levy
Courtesy of Lyndsey Ingram Gallery
AM I K A PRESS
work with all the best artists, [and] we get to educate people. The price point is more accessible, so you get to see more pictures go home, be in people’s houses and in their lives, and enjoyed,” says Ingram. In addition to drawing global collectors to her gallery, Ingram travels to art shows internationally and holds a handful of exhibitions per year. This spring, collage artist Jane Hammond ’72 will be showing at Ingram’s gallery. She will offer fourteen complex pieces drawn from several methodologies of printmaking, including hand-painted elements, graphic reproductions, and photographs. Hammond brings them together from a multitude of sources. “The project becomes, ‘Can I get these things to unify to the retina and to sing in a certain way?’” she says. The result is a stunning tapestry of different natural “arrangements” depicted in various vessels, including mosque lamps, champagne buckets, and Japanese ceramic. Ingram was drawn to Hammond’s work in New York years ago, and it was only later they realized they had Mount Holyoke in common. It’s their second time working together in the past few years, and Hammond, whose work already has graced fifteen European shows, is excited. “Lyndsey has a kind of infectious appreciation of art and a great charismatic—but genuine—ability to communicate to others how much she loves it. When you’re around her, she’s really warm and positive,” Hammond says. In running a high-end gallery, Ingram draws on her education and experience, even summers spent selling T-shirts on a wharf in Newport, Rhode Island. “There are lots of fundamentals that carry through, and I’m grateful for those jobs I had as a teenager because I do think I learned things that are really still relevant to me now, like a good work ethic, and how to be public-facing,” she says. Despite the mystique around having a career in the arts, Ingram says it is entirely possible. “You can make a living in this industry just as much as you can anywhere else, but you have to be passionate about it and be prepared to do a lot of grunt work. . . . You just need to work hard and be committed, and there’s every reason to believe you can have a meaningful life and career.” — B Y H E AT H E R B A U K N E Y H A N S E N ’ 9 4
In the summer of 1992, public relations writer Alison Miller takes her savings and flies from Chicago to Europe in search of information about Stendhal, the nineteenth-century French author. Traveling to the same cities, walking the same streets, and taking in the same vistas, Miller hopes to write a new biography of Stendhal, with whom she feels a deep affinity. Laurie Glazer Levy ’53 is a Chicago author and journalist, who traveled to research Stendhal’s life thanks to a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Levy has published three books of nonfiction and a short story collection and edited two collections of fiction by Chicago authors. This is her first novel.
Colonized through Art: American Indian Schools and Art Education, 1889–1915 Marinella Lentis U N IVE RSIT Y O F N E B R ASK A PRESS
Colonized through Art explores how American Indian schools taught children to abandon their cultural heritage and produce artificially “native” crafts that were exhibited at local and international fairs. The purchase of these crafts turned students’ work into commodities and schools into factories. Marinella Lentis MHCG’02 is an independent researcher specializing in historic Native American arts and education. She received her doctorate in American Indian studies from the University of Arizona. She has previously published in American Indian Art Magazine and the Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure Shoba Narayan ALGO NQU I N BOO KS
In this memoir, Narayan writes of leaving Manhattan and moving back to Bangalore, where she befriends the milk lady. The two women bond over not only cows, considered holy in India, but also family, food, and life. After Narayan agrees to buy her milk lady a new cow, they set off looking for just the right one and what at first was to be a simple economic transaction becomes a much more complicated story. Shoba Narayanaswamy Narayan MHCG’87 writes about food, travel, fashion, art, and culture for many publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. She writes a weekly column for Mint Lounge, an Indian business daily. Her commentaries have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. Narayan is the author of Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes, and her essay “The God of Small Feasts” won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. WEB EXCLUSIVE
See more recent alumnae books at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ spring2018books.
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TE N M I N U TE S WI TH
HUMA N R I GHT S A DVO C AT E
Establishing Networks for Girls M E M O R Y B A N D E R A ’ 0 4 grew up in Zimbabwe and learned about Mount Holyoke from an admissions counselor with whom she was invited to meet. Bandera already had co-founded the Girl Child Network (GCN) of Zimbabwe, a nonprofit that promotes empowerment and education for girls. After earning a master’s degree in international relations at Suffolk University, she moved to Uganda to work for Youth Action International, a nonprofit that rebuilds war-torn communities in Africa. Today, Bandera is the director of programs at DefendDefenders, a nonprofit that provides emergency protection to human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa.
On helping women in post-war Uganda: When I came to Uganda I was working with Youth Action International, and we were focusing on conflict areas. I was working in the northern parts of Uganda, which were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army for more than twenty years. They were abducting children, mostly, to take them into the bush and train them. And they were taking young girls, mostly teenagers, to be given to army commanders as wives. We were working on programs to reintegrate the former child soldiers. There was a whole category of people returning—girls who had children. That’s when I founded Girl Child Network Uganda. The entry point for those
teen mothers was economic empowerment. Now there are programs for at-risk girls that focus on sexual violence prevention and response; a women’s role models program; and mentorship programs for young girls in the country.
On her job at DefendDefenders: One thing I valued most [at Mount Holyoke] was Complex Organizations, taught by Professor Frederick McGinness. That really gave me different perspectives on managing companies. And because of my experience with GCN, which started in an informal way, I started thinking more about leadership in the nonprofit sector. At that point, I didn’t know that I’d end up doing this kind of work.
All I knew was that I wanted to come back to the region and give back.
On the power of networks: When I finished high school, I was selected for the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP), at the time run by the US Embassy. Students who were part of that program ended up at different colleges in the US. Alumni of the USAP program and MHC are two strong networks. And my current job has been a great platform for my career growth, as I work in a network organization with membership in eleven different countries within the East and Horn of Africa. — I N T E R V I E W BY H A N N A H WA L L AC E ’ 9 5
We were working on
programs to reintegrate former child soldiers. We needed something to address their needs.
On the need for the Girl Child Network: There were no girls in positions of leadership at my high school, and girls were not speaking up in class. Some of us started meeting after school, discussing injustices in the classroom. People started sharing experiences from their homes: sisters who weren’t able to continue with school because they were expected to stay home and do chores, experiences around abuse and sexual violence. The organization was made official just after I finished high school. We got our first grant from the US Embassy, enabling us to secure office equipment. Then we received a grant from the Global Fund for Women that provided funds for office rent and incubating activities. I left to go to Mount Holyoke, but the organization continued. GCN was the first organization to have village empowerment centers outside of the city.
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T HE T RAV E L MAV EN
Seeing the World By S US ANNE O LLMAN N ’89
Courtesy of Memory Bandera ’04; Anna + Elena = Balbusso Twins
TH E M AV E N
I believe in the transformative nature of travel, both on a philosophical and a practical level. Exposure to new cultures and ways of life expands our thinking and gives us a new lens through which to consider our own values and lifestyles. When I connect with new friends from other countries, stereotypes are replaced by faces, names, and shared experiences. This year, my ten-year-old daughter, Elise, and I are traveling the world. I am homeschooling her as we go, using textbooks scanned to my featherweight laptop, and, more importantly, offering her hands-on exposure to currencies, maps, museums, archaeological sites, and ancient monuments. Elise wants to be a veterinarian, so we are seeking out places with wildlife. She has swum with sea lions and giant tortoises in the Galapagos, petted llamas on Machu Picchu, toured an animal sanctuary in the cloud forest of Bolivia, and had dozens of adorable squirrel monkeys clamber all over her trying to get her bananas in the Amazon. I truly believe that international exchange programs may be the best way to reduce world conflict. At the very least, the travel Elise and I are doing is enriching our lives. But as comfortable as I am hopping on a plane, I hear from many that travel feels impossible.
A R E YOU A M AVE N? Pitch your area of expertise to email@example.com.
Skip the travel agent: Consult free services such as Google Flights price map to get ideas for inexpensive destinations from any city. To visualize and refine your flight path around the globe, enter your desired destinations into bootsnall.com and then use google.com/flights to find the best prices on flights.
The question I am asked most frequently is how are we financing our trip. How can I afford to take a year off from work? The answer isn’t so complicated. I’ve employed a range of strategies to make our adventure possible. Here are a few that have worked for us:
Eliminate expenses: Before you embark, pare down your non-traveling expenses as much as possible. Rent out your home or apartment, lease your car, and cancel all subscriptions. Be flexible in your destinations: Consider visiting countries where your dollar goes a long way. You can travel for less than $50 a day in many countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Morocco, and Egypt.
Rely on frequent-flier miles: Apply for credit cards with frequent-flier-mile bonuses, as well as free health insurance and baggage and trip protection. Check out the latest offerings at cardsfortravel.com. Get the most out of your miles by looking into individual airlines’ super-saver programs. Save on lodging: Check out services such as booking.com or hostelworld.com to find accommodations in a specific price range, location, and with specific amenities. Or sign up for couchsurfing.com, which lets you stay for free with locals in every country. Not only will you be stretching your dollar, you might just make new friends across the globe.
Susanne Ollmann ’89 took a year off from her social media design and marketing business, ollmanncreative.com, to travel with Elise. Although she grew up just a few miles from Mount Holyoke, she has also lived in Japan, Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. She has traveled to more than fifty countries, a total that she expects to grow to more than sixty by the end of this year. Follow her travel adventures and view photos at worldtravelmama.com.
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I NS I D E R’ S V I EW
The Mount Holyoke Seminary in Turkey Just seven years after graduating from Mount Holyoke, Charlotte and Mary Ann (Mary) Ely, both class of 1861, established their own version of the Mount Holyoke Seminary in Bitlis, Turkey, a city situated more than 5,000 feet above sea level in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. A sepia-toned photograph of the exterior of the school reveals the original four-room, two-story building nestled beneath low mountains with few trees. Walls were constructed of large rectangular stone blocks. Small square windows appear on the first floor, and windows twice as tall open out from the second floor. The flat-topped roof is framed by decorative pointed cupolas. A low wall, made of the same rectangular bricks as the main structure, encloses the grounds. Another photo provides a view into a classroom. The ceiling is supported by many close-set, rough-hewn rounded beams, and another beam stands in the center of the room like a column. An oil lamp hangs from the ceiling, and abundant natural light streams through windows on two sides. The ledges of the windows house dozens of leafy potted plants, a few
of which have vines so long that they are growing up onto the walls, where framed artwork is hung up high. A multitude of patterned rugs covers the floors. A globe is set on a table in the back; a small piano against one wall. A dozen or more desks made of wood and iron are set up in neat rows facing the front of the room. In these classrooms, the sisters taught courses in physiology, physical geography, grammar, algebra, natural and moral philosophy, zoology, astronomy, botany, and “much study in the Bible,” according to a letter from Mary housed in the College’s Archives and Special Collections. “In making out rules and routines for the new school enterprise our aim has ever been to follow as nearly as might be those with which we were familiar at our beloved school home— the grand New England mother of this far away Mt. Holyoke of Koordistan,” she wrote. In its forty-seven years, students “secured a pretty good education within these walls,” according to Mary, who died in 1913. With Charlotte’s death just two years later, and the Armenian Genocide an imminent threat to citizens of Turkey, the school closed its doors. —BY ANNE PINKERTON
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Read more about the history of the Mount Holyoke Seminary in Bitlis at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/turkey.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
MHC Archives and Special Collections
I NS I D E Râ€™ S V I EW
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Extraordinary Harmony Mita Radhakrishnan ’90 has built a life and a career in Auroville—a unique and evolving community in India that is dedicated to human unity Written by
Heather Baukney Hansen ’94
Illustration by AN N A + E L E N A = BA L BUSSO TWINS
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Residents of the town of Auroville total about 2,800 people, representing fifty-four nations.
All photos courtesy of Mita Radhakrishnan ’90
n a typical day Mita Radhakrishnan ’90 leaves her eco-historic home in rural India, hops on her moped, and rides less than a mile to work on red earth roads flanked by forest. Seated in front of her is her co-pilot, a white Pomeranian named Foxy. They buzz by palmyra, ficus, and wild date trees fed by seasonal monsoon rains. Minutes later Radhakrishnan rolls up to her two-story office, the new language lab in Auroville, a small town in the southeast of the country. Foxy jumps down and runs into the building, looking for Tapas Desrousseaux, Radhakrishnan’s partner and co-director of the language lab. Radhakrishnan follows, also touches base with Desrousseaux, and, depending on the day, says hello to some combination of children and adults, students and teachers.
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On a day in early November Radhakrishnan knew she faced a busy schedule: a new Tamil language class starting, testimonials to be finalized for the website, a computer to be repaired, volunteers to be managed, and more. But even typical days are extraordinary ones for Radhakrishnan. To begin with, Auroville is no ordinary address. Its geography is easy enough to describe—it sits close to Puducherry, a beach town on the Bay of Bengal—but its look and feel are unique in India, if not the world. That’s why Radhakrishnan has been living and working there for more than twenty years.
THE MOTHER’S VISION Auroville was established in 1968 when roughly 5,000 people from 124 countries gathered near a banyan tree at the center of the would-be township. Representatives of each nation brought with them soil from their homelands to be blended in a lotus-shaped urn. The “City of Dawn,” as Auroville is also known, was founded by a French woman, Mirra Alfassa (a.k.a. “The Mother”). She was inspired by the ideas and ideals of Sri Aurobindo, a Cambridgeeducated poet and philosopher. While jailed in India for protesting British colonial rule, Aurobindo described having a mystical experience that, upon his release, led him to abandon politics in pursuit of yoga and spirituality. He felt humans had mastered the outside world but in the
Students at the Auroville language lab use technology for individualized lessons; THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM:
Tapas Desrousseaux outside the home she shares with Mita Radhakrishnan, who drives a moped to work; the home the two share after a heavy rainfall; Radhakrishnan at work in the language lab.
process had abandoned their inner development. In Puducherry he established an ashram—a community focused on spiritual realization. After a long-term spiritual partnership, Alfassa took Aurobindo’s vision further to found Auroville as a place where people could live, according to its charter, “above all creeds, all politics, and all nationalities.” At its core now is the Matrimandir, a ninety-five-foot-high spheroid covered with gold-plated discs. It is a concentration center meant to be the harmonious soul of Auroville. From that center, consciousness is meant to radiate into various zones (residential, cultural, and industrial), which unfurl like bands of celestial bodies in a galaxy. Modest clay homes with thatched roofs intermingle with sleek, futuristic-looking glass structures. Surrounding it all is a green belt that looks to a bird in flight like an oasis surrounded by traditional villages and parched land.
Over the decades, the township has continued to evolve. It’s not a utopia immune from disagreement or instances of crime and discontent, but its focus on social diversity and environmental sustainability (including renewable energy, organic agriculture, and reforestation initiatives) makes it someplace special. During an October 2017 visit to the township, the director general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), Irina Bokova, described Auroville as “a unique place that stands for one humanity united around common values and respect for diversity.” Today roughly 2,800 residents from fifty-four nations call Auroville home.
DISCOVERING AUROVILLE “I fell in love,” Radhakrishnan says. Not with the place, at first, but with the person who brought her there. Radhakrishnan was working in New Delhi in the 1990s when a serious
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accident left her with a broken collarbone and shoulder blade, and four broken ribs. Desrousseaux suggested Radhakrishnan would convalesce better away from the teeming city and a stressful job. She arrived in Auroville in a wheelchair and, after getting back on her feet, she decided to stay. During her twenty-two years as a resident, Radhakrishnan has become a believer in Auroville’s special mission, and her contributions to the experimental community have been innovative and immense. “I feel like I was lifted up by the scruff of my neck and brought to Auroville because it needed these skills that I have,” she says. Auroville’s vision—and appeal— remain the same as decades ago. Residents there strive for diversity, unity, spirituality, and utility. Those qualities may initially seem at odds, but for The Mother, like Aurobindo before her, the ideal of human harmony did not mean uniformity. To the contrary, both believed growth from within should be pursued as a law of nature. They encouraged individual development and freedom of thought, because they surmised that diversity is necessary for a community to be complete. That’s a big part of what appealed to Radhakrishnan about the place. Diversity is the center from which all other values extend. Without it, Aurobindo professed, a society should expect to stagnate or even decline. “It’s so fun, so wonderful, to
LEFT: The language
lab in mid-construction; BELOW: Foxy waiting
patiently to go home. She arrives at the lab with Radhakrishnan (left) and leaves with Desrousseaux.
be able to do that work of bridging those differences—not just differences of race, caste, color, gender, but perspectives,” Radhakrishnan says. In many ways South Hadley was her training ground for that task. “The necessity of looking at different points of view is something that’s instilled in us at Mount Holyoke. . . . You had to see and analyze different perspectives in everything. That’s a really good skill to have, and a lot of who I am and the way I see things was shaped by that. It was totally key.” Given the deep divides in many societies worldwide, Radhakrishnan believes that valuing diversity has never been more important. “It’s really incredible how one discovers, in this world so taken in by our differences, that we have here a place we’re supposed to go to beyond those differences, go to the soul underneath all of that, to find that oneness,” she says.
That holds for spirituality as well. Radhakrishnan came to Auroville as a self-described atheist, so, at first, she grappled with the spiritual aspects of the community vision. But along the way she discovered that universal religion is not the goal but instead a spiritual presence that, again, insists on freedom and variation. “The goal is to open the way to spirituality beyond religion, to a spirituality that unites everyone,” she says. Diversity is also integral to the final tenet of Auroville, that of usefulness. In its charter, Auroville is intended to be a place of “unending education” and “constant progress.” Its original vision assumes that residents of this model city will excel individually and as a unit by utilizing their unique abilities for the benefit of all. Radhakrishnan has seen that happen when people who can cook, farm, engineer, build, negotiate, or teach share their talents, whether they have three advanced degrees or none at all. “Whatever you have in your capacity, you have to give it, you have to use it for others,” she says. Radhakrishnan has done many different kinds of work to advance that community vision, but it is her work with Desrousseaux in the language lab in Auroville that she is most proud of. Auroville’s universal belief in diversity also extends to education and, specifically, to the study of languages. The value of understanding multiple languages was one of Aurobindo’s teachings. He called language the “sign of the cultural life of a people,” which “enriches its soul in action.” He said, “Diversity of language is worth keeping, because diversity of cultures and differentiation of soul-groups are worth keeping, and because without that diversity life cannot have full play.” The Mother, in particular, considered critical the study of English, French, Sanskrit, and Tamil.
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ESTABLISHING A LANGUAGE LAB
TOP: A view of the roof of the language lab, a building project overseen by Radhakrishnan, who worked to be the “go-between” with the engineers and skilled village craftsmen; ABOVE: Students play a game while using headphones to learn and improve communiciation.
When Radhakrishnan came to Auroville, Desrousseaux had already been teaching French out of her home for a few years. After a foray into collective Auroville administration, Radhakrishnan began teaching English and Hindi. In the late 1990s, they started wondering if there was a way to broaden that work, to make it more widely available. “Tapas brought together the language teachers and asked them, can we do something more structured? Can we create a proper language lab for Auroville?” says Radhakrishnan. “Just as Auroville is a city being built following the spiral movement of a galaxy, we wanted to build a language program from the inside out,” she says. They wanted to create a program that would serve their community and the villages beyond it, and to reach out from Auroville to India and the world. In 1998 they wrote their first project proposal, and they received their first grant the next year. They used those funds to buy dictionaries and other
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supplies for the different languages. Their home remained the organizing center for the larger vision/project until 2003, when Auroville granted them use of a building that had been vacated by its previous occupants. To keep costs down, a local teenager and tech wiz helped them build the lab’s first computer and their first router. Since then the program has evolved and recently was moved into a newly constructed building in Auroville’s international zone. Radhakrishnan and Desrousseaux had to act as contractors for the sustainably built and operated Auroville Language Lab and Tomatis Research Centre. In the bright, airy language lab and “mediatheque” area, twenty-nine languages are available year-round for study with audio, video, and software resources. Roughly eight languages are also available with live instruction. By pooling ingenuity and expertise, a recently finished recording studio was completed for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars. They are continually trying to manage and grow the program with a small budget and a staff of mainly volunteers. “We have to stretch our rupees in all directions,” she says.
Along the way they’ve received help from other Mount Holyoke alumnae. When Radhakrishnan returned to Auroville from her twenty-fifth reunion her suitcase was jammed with donations of books and games collected by alumnae from neighbors in their respective communities. For her twentieth wedding anniversary, Radhakrishnan’s classmate Mary Picarello Bozza Wise ’90 asked her friends to give money to the language lab, and those donations paid for a hard drive for its main server. Sarvar Kothavala ’92 donated a high-end audio recorder. Other alumnae have shared language materials and expertise. And a project to provide the Tomatis listening training in English for local women was recently accepted to the international crowd-funding charity GlobalGiving, with alumnae making up 54 percent of the donors to the successful campaign. It’s all drawn what Radhakrishnan calls a “circle of love and support” around her work. She hopes to continue widening that loop to include current students as interns at the lab. Jane Wheeler ’78 has taken a personal and professional interest in Auroville and Radhakrishnan’s work there. Wheeler
is associate professor in the College of Business at Bowling Green State University. She’s been to Auroville three times, most recently in December 2017. Wheeler teaches leadership and human behavior and has been studying Auroville’s special brand of collaboration and the role of compassion, trust, and understanding in that society. After her first stay, Wheeler says, “I left wanting to talk about a place and experience that has risen above competition.” She believes that the business environment, like humanity itself, can continue to evolve for the better. “We’re transitional beings,” she says, and “we can help that process” by studying an uncommon place like Auroville. The College stays with Radhakrishnan in other ways. “Because of Mount Holyoke I have a very strong wish for justice and a sensitivity to people who are discriminated against. I want to argue for those less fortunate and use my position to do good. It’s been my driving force since MHC,” she says. That translates into her daily work at the language lab in several ways, particularly in her work with children. Radhakrishnan and Desrousseaux had the life-changing opportunity of meeting with the founders of a field known as “Audio-Psycho-Phonology,” Dr. Alfred Tomatis and his wife, Lena. Their method has applications that address language learning, communication disorders, developmental delays, and learning disorders. Based on Tomatis’s lifetime of research into listening and the ear’s connections to the psyche, nervous system, and brain, the method uses special equipment to exercise the muscles of the middle ear and stimulate the brain in a very particular way. Radhakrishnan has done some of her most gratifying work since incorporating these unique applications of the Tomatis Method into her work. In the new audio studio Radhakrishnan and her staff were looking forward to helping a mother of a child with learning disabilities to make a recording. “We use the filtered voice of the mother of the child doing the Tomatis program for the child’s treatment, which tends to make the work more effective,” she says. It’s essential for
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at least one parent to do listening training alongside their child. “When you work with a child you also have to work with the family. First, we have to help the parents relax, because their own stress and anxiety levels are often high,” Radhakrishnan says. “Then, in some cases, parents of special needs kids can feel disconnected from their children, unable to communicate. They may feel that their child is not fulfilling an ideal, so they may feel bad or embarrassed or find it difficult to accept the child’s disability. “It’s so sad,” she says. “So, we have to listen to the parents, to affirm them, to strengthen them. We have to tell them that we know it’s hard, but
Radhakrishnan outside the language lab in Auroville, which opened in 2017; BELOW: A room in the language lab lit by natural light; a full view of the sustainably built two-story building.
if the parents don’t change their relationship to the child, how will the child grow?” The method itself and the technology go a long way, but what Radhakrishnan calls “the family constellation” must also be in alignment. The Tomatis listening training brings parents and kids into resonance, which helps this process. On that morning in November with Foxy in tow, Radhakrishnan received an email from the father of a would-be student with severe epilepsy who was falling behind in school. At first the parents didn’t want to participate personally in the child’s training. “I explained to that father why it’s so important for a parent to accompany that child, to come into resonance. A judgmental eye from a parent can affect the self-esteem and increase the anxiety levels of the child,” she says. In that email the father told Radhakrishnan that, in a sharp reversal, both parents had decided to do the program. The news thrilled her. It’s all part of how Radhakrishnan continues to contribute to the visionary community. “We’re here creating something together,” she says. “It’s a privilege to live for a higher ideal.” Heather Baukney Hansen ’94 is an independent journalist who last wrote for the Alumnae Quarterly about Helen Pitts Douglass, class of 1859. Her most recent book is Wildfire: On the Front Lines with Station 8.
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On the Map
TK Headline Here Dektk alumnae are demanding that companies remove toxins from the products women use every day By Author Lastnametk
Illustration by AN N A + E L E N A = BA L BUSSO TWINS
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Among the more than 37,000 living alumnae of Mount Holyoke are nearly 3,000 who live in 137 countries outside of the United States. These alumnae with international residences span in graduation year from a 1942 alumna in Canada to nearly one hundred members of the class of 2017 who live in more than two-dozen countries.* While this map is not intended to represent, comprehensively, the given population of alumnae within certain regions, we hope that it is a fun way—including with a few landmarks and animal icons—for readers to see the breadth of our far-reaching presence in the world. We purposely commissioned the map to be drawn in a way that might shift your view beyond the way many of us are accustomed to viewing the world on paper. —BY JENNIFER GROW ’94
* Data as of February 13, 2018 Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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4/6/18 4:49 PM
Books Wings Where
How one student is helping girlsâ€™ literacy in Afghanistan
Written by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich Portrait by Deirdre Haber Malfatto
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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sk Sajia Darwish ’18 her favorite part of Williston Memorial Library, and, as she leans forward in her seat at the Thirsty Mind Coffee and Wine Bar, her eyes suddenly light up. “It used to be a place in the common area,” she says. “I would see everyone working and get inspired, and that would put me in the zone.” But this year, as a senior, she’s been able to reserve a carrel of her own on the fifth floor, and that’s become her new favorite. She grows animated talking about waiting in line with the other seniors at 5:00 a.m. to make her reservation for the year, and how she’s chosen to decorate her carrel, covering it with clippings and pasted-up sayings. One reminds her to be where her feet are. She put it up, she says, because at first, at Mount Holyoke, while she loved it here, she found herself constantly thinking of home. Her voice softens. “And it’s a waste of time to do it that way,” she says. But the other? The other says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s a slogan Darwish has taken to heart, creating change at her home in Kabul, Afghanistan, with the very thing she loves at Mount Holyoke: A library. Darwish is the only Afghani student at Mount Holyoke, and she thinks often about the distance between the country she came from and where she lives now. The distance hit her particularly hard in 2015, when an angry mob in Kabul attacked a young woman named Farkhunda, beating her to death. “I felt sick for two weeks,” she says. Reading of the attack brought her back to her own childhood. “You’re always afraid. Even when I was
young—I never felt safe saying this, but people need to know. I remember walking home from school and I was scared—I would run all the way home.” She travels back to Kabul every summer, and on her next trip home after the attack she found herself looking closely at the men she passed by on the street, wondering if any among them had been in that mob. “Probably,” she says, “I have looked into the eyes of men who were there.” When Darwish entered school as a child in Kabul in 2001, the future looked bright for Afghanistan’s girls. The United States had just routed the Taliban from the city, after fifteen years of its rule. The Taliban had outlawed the education of women, closing every school for girls except the Kabul Medical Facility, which they left open because female patients had to be examined by female doctors. But with Hamid Karzai the new president, the government promised to educate every girl in the country. The international community threw its support behind the effort, with the US allotting $759 million to overhaul Afghanistan’s primary and secondary educational systems. But the promise didn’t last long. By 2014, when the US and NATO combat mission in Afghanistan ended, the Afghani government was under attack not only by the Taliban, but by Uzbek, Arab, and Pakistani fighters. These splinter groups, along with multiple fronts opened by the Taliban, stretched Afghan security forces. Violence became widespread—much of it targeted at the new education effort. In 2015 the United Nations counted 185 attacks on schools and hospitals, most committed by groups opposed to the education of girls. And far from defeated, the Taliban now contest up to 40 percent of the country’s land. Today, Human Rights Watch estimates that only a third of Afghanistan’s girls attend school. Legally, they are entitled to education—but the security threat, government inaction in opening
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Photos courtesy of Baale Parwaz Library
FACI N G PAGE: Sajia Darwish sits at her library carrel at Mount Holyoke; members of the Baale Parwaz Library Children’s Reading Club enjoy a discussion outdoors on the grounds of library in Kabul, Afghanistan. The club was formed to encourage children to develop into lifelong readers with critical thinking skills. THI S PAGE , LE FT TO RI GHT: Three members of the Farsi book club read in the Baale Parwaz Library; participants in a workshop on teamwork display signs they made together.
schools—most families don’t live anywhere near one, and a lack of resources keep families away. In 2017 the international nonprofit advocacy organization ONE ranked the ten worst countries in the world for girls to get an education. Nine were in Africa. The other? Afghanistan. “[Girls’] futures take a different path from [those of] boys and men,” Darwish says. “So it doesn’t occur to people to educate them.” That her own path differed so dramatically was due to Darwish’s initiative, the support of her parents, and the luck of timing. Growing up as the fourth child in a family of eight girls, she loved school and quickly rose to the top of her class. She was trusted to monitor attendance and even to sign the teachers in and out. This let her get to know them, and they her. Then came the experience that she credits with changing her life. In 2009 Darwish took a placement test for students interested in joining the summer camp program Seeds of Peace, which brings students from war-torn countries together. She had studied English outside of school, and had already studied more levels than the other students. She had the highest score on the English portion of the test. A teacher she had become friendly with called her to deliver the news: it was she the school would send to America for the one-month camp. “I said, ‘No, I cannot do this!’” Darwish says, recalling. She would be the youngest in the program. But the teacher believed in her. She could, he said.
The situation in Kabul at the time had become dangerous enough that, she says, families had stopped even allowing their daughters to have sleepovers, constantly worried about security. To travel across oceans was unthinkable. But Darwish’s parents encouraged her. The camp was “the first time I flew, the first time I was away from home,” Darwish says. “I still have the T-shirt! And I still remember the camp song: ‘I am a seed of peace,’” she sings. “I guess it reminds me that one person can bring change. I believe in the domino effect. It’s as though you throw a stone in water, and there are all these waves.” It’s a lesson that’s proven true over and over again in her life. Seeds of Peace introduced Darwish to scholarship opportunities in the United States, and at age fourteen she returned to the US to study, leaving her home and family behind to attend the Ethel Walker School in Connecticut. An anonymous donor promised to support her education as far as she might pursue it. That support sent Darwish to Mount Holyoke. But after her first year at Mount Holyoke, the donor’s funding suddenly disappeared; Darwish still doesn’t know why. Mount Holyoke was able to increase her scholarship, but the cost to her was still too great. She thought she’d have to go home. Then an unexpected email arrived. Mount Holyoke had reached out to the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF), a scholarship organization that would now support her education. She could stay.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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The five most popular books at Baale Parwaz Library Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human by Leo F. Buscaglia The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini The Color of Water by James McBride Please, Don’t Be a Sheep! by Mahmoud Namani*
Deirdre Haber Malfatto
*We were unable to obtain this rare book.
It took her some time at Mount Holyoke to realize just how many resources were available to students, to fully appreciate them. In Afghanistan students were expected to study eighteen subjects at once, in half-hour blocks that focused on rote memorization. Here, she could study what she wanted, and she quickly switched from the medical career she’d planned to a focus on international relations. She fell in love with the library, too. “The notion of a library in Afghanistan is a place where you can go to get books. But not to do work, not to go find resources.” Here, she saw her fellow students working and what a hub of activity the library could be. She saw, too, how easy it suddenly was to get books. She was on the phone with Joseph Highland, a volunteer from AGFAF, when the idea came to her. Every student who benefited from AGFAF was expected to undertake a project. All had done internships, but she knew an internship wasn’t for her. Instead, why not build a place where girls could go and get a book of their own? Why not build them a resource that Darwish had come to treasure at Mount Holyoke—a library? “For girls, the first question a father asks when she asks him for spending money, even if it’s for a book, is, ‘You’re a girl. What do you need that for?’ The but is always there. I always thought how it would be if [there was a place where] a girl could walk up and get a book. This was one thing I could do, at least for girls.” Right away, she says, “I got so excited about the idea. I was writing lists, I was writing proposals. I had so much energy.” With Mount Holyoke on summer recess, she had already been planning to go home to Afghanistan about three weeks after the phone call with Highland. Now she went with a plan. “At first, we thought of renting a place for the library on its own. But I talked to families and others and realized to do so would be so bold, too bold in that time and place.” Security would be an issue. And even if she managed to figure out how to keep the patrons of the library safe, there would be the challenge
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L E F T TO R I G HT : Girls in a school classroom in Afghanistan; Sajia Darwish listens to a seventh grader read her a story she wrote
Photos courtesy of Baale Parwaz Library
using one of the wordless books at the Baale Parwaz Library; students decorate the walls of their school with painted handprints.
of the perception of safety—how to convince families that it truly was. Instead, Darwish realized, it would be easier to locate the library in a school girls were already attending. The answer was in her own past: the Mohammad Asif Mayel High School in Kabul, the same school she had attended. She could reach young girls like her sisters, young girls like she herself had been. She reached out to the principal of the school and asked him about the idea. He was supportive, she recalls, but also told her he couldn’t do much. Because it was a public school, she’d have to talk with the Ministry of Education. So she did. When Darwish describes this part of the process, it can almost sound simple. It’s not that the process isn’t daunting—but rather that Darwish herself is chronically undaunted. Indeed, she says, far from being thrown by the size of the challenge, she was instead frustrated by the government minister’s slow pace in signing the paperwork. “I wanted to confront them!” she says. She laughs. “Then I realized how strange this was for them.” The minister likely had no idea what to do with a young woman advocating for such a bold idea. Advocating for it—and building it. When the only space the school had available for the library was a balcony, Darwish found and hired a carpenter, then supervised him as he enclosed the space and built shelving for books and reading tables. She chose the 2,500 volumes that now fill the library,
See more photos of Baale Parwaz at the library’s Facebook page at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/wings.
and when she couldn’t find someone she trusted to run it, she trained her sister. Now her sister oversees the library as it helps some 500 students a day. There are literacy classes for adults who work at the library, and two book groups. The voice Darwish has found for herself is something she wants to help her sisters, and girls like them in Afghanistan, find. “There’s an expression here [in the US], ‘Hardships make character.’ No one [in Afghanistan] is just a teenager.” She credits their drive with why self-improvement books have quickly become the most popular genre at the library. “Here they call it self-help. But I don’t like calling it that. They’re really self-recognition books, to help you recognize your potential. The girls have these personalities, they have so much to say. And these books, they tell them that they can—and how.” And to Darwish, they also set in motion that domino effect. Time and again, she’s watched students who use the library spread the impact to their families. When a girl comes to the library and becomes emboldened by everything available to her, “they see her acting differently. They see her, and they get inspired.” And the same has been true of AGFAF students. There are now two other libraries in Afghanistan founded by students from the program. And it is fitting that Darwish is now the one reaching out with support. All has come together in the name she gave the library she founded: Baale Parwaz—wings to fly. “At first I was thinking [I’d name it something to do with] flight. But you can’t really fly without support. And that’s wings.”
Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. Visit her online at alexandria-marzanolesnevich.com.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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F R OM T H E A R C H I V E S
ON DI S PL AY
T H E N A N D NOW
A PL AC E OF OU R OW N
MoHomeMemories A Transcendent Journey IN 1890 Toshi Miyagawa arrived in South Hadley after a long journey from Japan. The first international student to enroll at Mount Holyoke from outside North America, Miyagawa was one of the last graduates to receive a degree from Mount Holyoke Seminary. Just months after she was awarded a degree in 1893, the institution formally became Mount Holyoke College, after having been given a charter in 1888. When she first enrolled in the literary course of study, one of the three offered at the Seminary, Miyagawa had already worked as a teacher for five years in Japan. Having been born in China and lived with her birth parents, then with foster parents, and later adopted by a Japanese man, Miyagawa already had lived a life full of transitions and change when she arrived on campus. Miyagawaâ€™s attendance at Mount Holyoke had been the vision of her foster mother, Emily Gulick, who had visited the College in 1872 and immediately hoped that her foster daughter, at that time called Martha, would attend the school. Just eighteen years later, and many years after Emily had passed away, she enrolled at Mount Holyoke as Toshi Miyagawa, having been renamed by her adoptive father.
An undated photograph of Toshi Miyagawa, likely taken at the Kobe Girlsâ€™ School in Japan.
MHC Archives and Special Collections; Deirdre Haber Malfatto
Toshi Miyagawa, class of 1893
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FR OM T HE AR CHI VES
A “Modest Little Book” Fan-shaped and fan decorated
Upon graduation on June 22, 1893, Miyagawa traveled in the United States before returning to Japan and to her teaching career, joining the faculty of Kobe College. While she never came back to the College as an alumna, she stayed engaged with her classmates through letters, many of which are housed in the College’s Archives and Special Collections. Due to her failing eyesight, Miyagawa’s husband, Rev. Yoshimichi Hirata, whom she married in 1899, and their children read the letters she received aloud, and they transcribed her responses. In one letter, Miyagawa wrote, “Don’t you wish that ‘the glorious ’93’ could gather once more in that old lecture hall and fight our battles o’er again? You do not know how your letters make me wish we were all together again at Mount Holyoke and digging again, though the gold lay deep in the mountain.” — B Y E M I LY K R A K O W ’ 2 0
View a timeline of major events in Miyagawa’s life and a selection of her letters at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/miyagawa.
When opened, this book measures just 10 inches across.
Bequeathed to Mount Holyoke by Josephine Purtscher Fellows, class of 1924, when she died in 1986, Painted Fans of Japan: 15 Noh Drama Masterpieces is covered in brilliant red and gold fabric and takes the shape of a quarter of a circle. The book opens to the shape of a fan, the subject it was designed to illustrate. Pages of sturdy paper stock introduce the history of “the glorious paintings found on fans used in the traditional Japanese Noh drama” and feature small, painted reproductions of fifteen fans. The book’s editor, Reiko Chiba, describes Noh dramas as Japanese performances conducted almost exclusively for nobles. The artists who painted the fans in the book are unknown, and time periods for their creations are estimated to range from 1600 to 1867. This unique book, copyright 1962, is part of the Archives and Special Collections rare book collection. A number of other items from Fellows, including Chinese snuff bottles and silver pieces from the 1500s, are held at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. —BY ANNE PINKERTON
Keep up with Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections at mhc-asc.tumblr.com or follow them on Instagram and Snapchat at mhcarchives and on Twitter @ASCatMHC. Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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O N D I S PL AY
History Lessons Orator’s chair
JAMIE COLLINGS ’18 begins his research with the objects in a collection that immediately catch his eye. “I might do background research on the provenance/provenience of an object—trying to understand its history or how it came to be part of the collection,” says Collings, the John R. Stomberg curatorial intern at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. “But, typically,” he says, “I will just jump right in.” Usually that jumping in means Collings will type a few key words into a search engine and launch his work from there. A history major, Collings was a frequenter of the museum while he was enrolled in department courses on the history of money and material culture. “We were in the Carson Teaching Gallery every week,” he says of the classroom in the museum where faculty and students may examine objects that are not already on view in the galleries. Last summer Collings was offered a summer internship at the museum— for which he opted to use his Lynk funding—and he continued his work into the academic year. One of his current projects is researching a collection of objects given to the museum by Mary S. Olmsted ’41, who served as the first US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea in 1976. In 1979 Olmsted gave sixty objects to the museum, shipping them to the College directly from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. “We hired Jamie to research the collection so we can begin to integrate these important materials into our Teaching with Art program and gallery spaces,” says Associate Curator of Visual and Material Culture, Aaron Miller. Among the collection is a wooden orator’s chair, or debating stool, more than six feet tall and intricately carved by hand. Through his research Collings has
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TH E N A N D N OW
Debating stool (Kawa Rigit), mid-20th century. Iatmul (from Korogo Village, East Sepik Province, New Guinea). Wood with shell, natural pigment, and boar tusk. Gift of Mary S. Olmsted (Class of 1941).
Study Abroad In 1980, the first year for which official study abroad records were kept, eighty-five students spent a semester or academic year studying outside the United States. During the 2017–2018 academic year 185 students studied abroad as part of their Mount Holyoke education.
View more images of objects from the Olmsted collection and learn more about Mary S. Olmsted ’41 and her work as US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/olmsted.
learned that the stool was made by the Iatmul people of Korogo Village in East Sepik Province. In New Guinea, he says, “traditional living and culture remained until World War II, when the island became a battleground for strategic position within the Pacific Theater.” While the chair given by Olmsted is estimated to be from the mid-twentieth century, orator’s chairs continue to be made today and are a central part of cultural customs and rituals in the region. “Orator’s chairs are built to be sat in by the spirit who presides over meetings or resolves disputes,” Collings says. “The orator stands next to the chair and calls the spirit to support his speech, and he will hit the chair with a bundle of leaves or grass to punctuate his speech.” Other items in the Olmsted collection that Collings is researching include masks, a bowl, shields, and the intricately carved wooden prow of a boat.
Mount Holyoke students have studied abroad since 1980.
FI VE M O ST PO PU L A R STU DY A BR OA D CO U NTR I E S SI NC E 2003:
COUNT RIES WHERE ONLY ONE S T UDENT HAS S T UDIED S INCE 2 0 0 3 :
United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Taiwan, Syria, Serbia, Namibia, Madagascar, Finland, Cambodia, Bhutan
—BY JENNIFER GROW ’94
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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4/6/18 4:36 PM
A PL ACE O F OU R OWN
My one aim in the very complex organization of Pontigny
is to promote some degree of international understanding by inviting to the campus those who, free from ‘qu[e]relles intestines,’ best represent foreign thought.
MHC Archives and Special Collections
— F R E N C H P R O F E S S O R H E L E N E . PAT C H , C L A S S O F 1 9 1 4 , I N M A R C H 1 9 4 4
Read more about the history of Pontigny at Mount Holyoke at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/pontigny.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly
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M Y VO I CE
E S S AY
How Chai Made Me a Feminist By S ADI A KH ATRI ’15 I F WA LLS COU LD TALK , the walls of the Eliot House lounge could tell you the stories of our lives. The stories we shared with each other of our childhoods and college years, our loves and losses, and the fervor with which we could spend an entire night comforting a friend. How we found ourselves opening up in ways we never thought possible.
classroom, I learned to theorize on feminism for hours, but it was in Eliot House, among these women, that I finally claimed the term. It was here, the first time I told a woman, aside from my sister, that I had survived child abuse. Here it was that my friends had a sort of intervention, helped me see that perhaps my boyfriend’s behavior was emotionally abusive. *** How many cups? Hands go up around the room and women (most Here is where we gave each other courage. of whom I know) have already begun to congregate in one corner Until these chai circles, I had not allowed myself to own the of the lounge. We will end up glued here—I am sure of this—for at power created by a women-only space. I had assumed that a closed least the next couple of hours. For if there is a first round of chai, space—one that excludes men—is hostile, uninviting, and contrary there must be a second. One half hour becomes two hours. And one to our movements. But in a patriarchal world, women are so rarely by one we have readjusted our plans for the day; we are looking for given a space to dissociate, breathe, laugh, and learn untethered by excuses to make each other stay. insecurities and preconditions. I had never paused to think perhaps More women join us, and our circle widens. We slip in and out a women-only space isn’t a contrary space at all. That in fact, it is of each other’s conversations and rants, joining one friend pasessential: before we tackle the rest of the world, we must first build sionately, listening to another with pride. The faces and positions from within. around our circle shift, but they always If our coming together is grounded return; we come back to join the in the kinds of relationships and larger circle, to become whole again, spaces where we can divulge our greatto slide back into that sacred space est fears and regrets, where we can let We slide back into that sacred that we have—without realizing— ourselves be silly till morning, where space that we have—without realizing it— created together. we are willing to stay up with a heartAll we are doing, really, is talking broken friend all night, how much created together. and filling ourselves up with caffeine. more powerful will that make the rest Still, I begin to consider this space of our politics? sacred, because I have rarely encounThis sounds so simple, but it is the tered anything like it in my life. most radical lesson I have learned. The first night I slept on the orange *** In the comfort of these brown women, couch in the Eliot House lounge, I woke I touched upon an experience I had up to watch sunrise from the terrace. never allowed myself before: the I didn’t know it at the time, but that power of an intimate, all-women spot, place, and time would become space. I began to think of my politics my safe haven, and my touchstone for differently. solidarity. I had classes, professors, a whole Many years later, I think it is range of electives and readings helpinstructive that this solidarity began ing me grow intellectually. I could with shared cups of chai. finally articulate my beliefs and experiences in a sophisticated language! Sadia Khatri ’15 lives in Pakistan, I could now name the workings of where she is a member, with other power, its hold on me, cite theories to Mohos, of the feminist collective Girls back up my statements. at Dhabas, a project that grew out of her But here, in a corner of Eliot chai-filled conversations at Eliot House. House, where brown women were This essay is adapted from a longer gathering and affecting each other’s piece Khatri published in August 2017 learning, a different kind of politics in the women’s zine The Ladies Finger. was making its mark on me. In the
Anna + Elena = Balbusso Twins
4/11/18 9:29 AM
“I started making gifts from my IRA for my 50th Reunion,” says Susie Beers Betzer ’65. “Being able to make these distributions as a charitable gift* is a wonderful way to make a contribution to Mount Holyoke.”
Her College, their legacy *Individuals age 70½ or older are eligible to contribute up to $100,000 per year directly from their IRAs to charity, tax-free.
Susie’s husband, Peter, took advantage of charitable giving from an IRA and surprised his favorite green griffin by establishing a fund in her honor. The Susan B. and Peter R. Betzer ’65 Endowed Fellowship Fund
supports students conducting multidisciplinary research across any combination of fields. As a legacy gift to the College, the Betzers also named Mount Holyoke as a beneficiary of their retirement accounts.
Contact Anne Vittoria FP’05, director of gift planning, at 413-538-2754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the Betzers’ story and explore IRA giving at mtholyoke.edu/go/betzer
4/11/18 9:45 AM
50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075
4/6/18 10:59 AM
The International Issue