The Magazine of Rice University
BUSINESS FORCE Riceâ€™s MBA programs are recruiting more veterans than ever before, and a student club is supporting that mission.
ALSO: An archive packed with refugee stories, documenting Houstonâ€™s immigrant communities, a family athletic legacy, college traditions and 3-D printed blood vessels.
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The Magazine of Rice University
THE NEXT MISSION Rice’s MBA programs help veterans forge a career path. BY MICHAEL HARDY ’06
LOST AT SEA A Rice archive preserves Vietnamese “boat people” stories. BY JENNIFER LATSON
A VOICE FOR HOUSTON’S REFUGEES Documenting the modern-day immigrant experience. BY RYAN HOLEYWELL
DEPARTMENTS P R E S I D E N T ’ S N O T E
S A L LY P O R T 6 News and updates from campus S C O R E B O A R D Sports news and profiles
A B S T R A C T 15 Findings, research and more Steam rises from the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center competition pool during the women’s swim team practice on a cold January morning. See how swimmer Taylor Armstrong ’16 navigates her day on Page 14. photo by TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
S C E N E 20 Capturing student life A R T S & L E T T E R S Creative ideas and endeavors
FA M I LY A L B U M From Rice’s archive
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on the web FE AT UR E D C ON T R I BUT OR S JENNIFER LATSON
(“Lost at Sea”) is drawn to stories about ordinary people overcoming extraordinary challenges. She is the assistant editor of Rice Magazine, a former Houston Chronicle reporter and the author of a forthcoming book about a young man with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. TINA NAZARIAN ’16
A love of comic book series like “X-Men,” “Superman” and “The Fantastic Four” spans generations — and fuels Hollywood blockbusters — but only recently have comics been embraced as a vital and quintessential American art. Last fall, a space dedicated to the study of comics or “sequential art” opened in Rice’s Sewall Hall. The brainchild of Christopher Sperandio, associate professor in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, the workshop is both a classroom and research space, containing a collection of original art and books. “It’s great to be able to teach students by bringing them in here and showing them the original works,” said Sperandio, who teaches a class in sequential art each fall. ricemagazine.info/307
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(“Family Court”) is completing his 10th year of directing the publicity efforts for Rice Athletics. He’s worked at the University of Nebraska and in Major League Baseball for 11 years with the Houston Astros and Florida Marlins. SUKHADA TATKE
(“The Paleoanthropologist”) spent six years in Mumbai as a staff writer for two of India’s most influential newspapers — The Times of India and The Hindu. In Houston, she writes about culture, the arts and daily life. Tatke’s work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly.
ON T H E C OVE R James “Jimmy” Vu ’16, a former Navy SEAL, is a member of Rice’s Veterans in Business Administration (VIBA) at the Jones Graduate School of Business. VIBA was founded in 2011 to help students make the transition from the military to academia. See story on Page 22.
Photo by Tommy LaVergne 2
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B R A N D O N M A RT I N
C OM IC S AS VIS UAL ART
(“Rice Ring Comes Full Circle”) is a senior English major at McMurtry College. She interned for Rice Magazine last fall and has a background in journalism, including interning for the Houston Chronicle’s city desk.
The Magazine of Rice University WINTER 2016 Rice Magazine is published four times a year and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university. Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president EDITOR
Lynn Gosnell ART DIRECTOR
Tanyia Johnson CREATIVE SERVICES
Jeff Cox senior director Dean Mackey senior graphic designer Jackie Limbaugh graphic designer Tracey Rhoades editorial director Jennifer Latson assistant editor Tommy LaVergne senior university photographer Jeff Fitlow university photographer Jenny Rozelle ’00 proofreader Letty Treviño ’16 intern Tina Nazarian ’16 intern
TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
B.J. Almond, Jade Boyd, Jeff Falk, Amy McCaig, Ryan Holeywell, Brandon Martin, David Ruth, Mike Williams
One thing leads to another
t’s the inception of many Rice Magazine stories: One thing — a conversation, a news story, an email from an alum, a lecture — leads to a topic or idea. Next, we develop our idea into an assignment. Then the writers, photographers, designers and editors get to work. In this issue, one thing — a remarkable panel of Vietnam War writers co-hosted by Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business and the Baker Institute for Public Policy — led to a story about a student club, the Veterans in Business Administration (VIBA) and the Jones School’s leadership in giving vets a path to civilian success. In turn, we sought out war stories from another angle — the Vietnamese who fled their country after the fall of Saigon, many of whom eventually reached Houston. We were overwhelmed by a treasure trove of Vietnamese oral histories at the Chao Center for Asian Studies — and we’ve featured one remarkable story in particular. Last fall, we also learned about a new multimedia documentary project at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, which highlights Houston’s diverse refugee population, many of whom have fled war in their own homelands. Our cover portrait of Jimmy Vu, a former Navy SEAL who was born and grew up in Los Angeles, showcases the Jones School’s commitment to young veterans. But there’s more to that story, as we learned during Vu’s photo shoot. Like many in Houston’s Vietnamese immigrant population, Vu’s family escaped by sea after the fall of Saigon. The cost was dear — their boat capsized within sight of a Thai refugee camp, and his 2-year-old older brother drowned. After six months, his mother, father and sister made it out of the camp, eventually settling in L.A. In many ways, Vu connects all the threads in this issue — the resilience of refugees, the pride of service and the creative ways that Rice goes beyond the hedges to improve our community and world. One thing leads to another good story.
Lynn Gosnell firstname.lastname@example.org
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letters R E A D E R R E SP ONSE
THE RICE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FALL 2015: HELLO TRADITION!
This spring, “Hello, Hamlet!” makes its quadrennial return to Wiess Tabletop Theater. Last fall, we published a photo and story by Melissa Fitzsimons Kean ’96 and asked readers to identify some of the actors. We received replies from several Wiessmen — Earl Rodd, Doug Conly and Larry Flournoy from the Class of 1970 as well as Peet Hickman ’69.
TO THE EDITOR
This was so much fun! At the start of school in 1967, George, then a sophomore and our suitemate, came back saying he had written this musical over the summer. He sang/said it all to us the first night. The creative types kicked into action and found the only available slot [for a play] was two weeks into school, so George had to direct and star in it in that short time frame! — Earl Rodd ’70
George Greanias ’70, standing; Doug Conly ’70, seated with script, upper right; Earl Rodd ’70, on the floor, left front; Larry Flournoy ’70, with head off the floor, to the left
I saw the original production of “Hello, Hamlet!” and will forever remember Bill Blanton ’69 doing a hula dance to “Olga, Olga, From the Volga.” I also saw the 2012 production with my son, who was visiting the campus after his acceptance into the Class of 2016. He is now a senior in Wiess College and will have the opportunity to see the play a second time. — Peet Hickman ’69
SUMMER 2015: End of Semester = Sand and Sun
Last summer, we featured a fun beach scene, circa 1955, depicting Rice students and their impressive camping supplies. Thanks to Lester Veltman ’59, Donne Caddes ’58 and P. Mantor ’58 for helping us identify some of the characters. Where did 60 years go? The person in the middle of this picture is me, Lester Veltman. The person to my right is my first cousin, Arthur “Hap” Veltman ’58. We were both from San Antonio, and I came to Rice on a football scholarship, while Hap was a cheerleader. Fun playing back then, especially because we won a lot. I now own an insurance agency in Tulsa. Hap went back to San Antonio and got into real estate development and put the first restaurant, the Kangaroo Court, on the Riverwalk. There is a plaque under the Crockett Bridge that thanks him. He passed away a number of years ago. — Lester Veltman ’59
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David W. Leebron, president; Marie Lynn Miranda, provost; Kathy Collins, vice president for Finance; Klara Jelinkova, vice president for IT and chief information officer; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Caroline Levander, vice president of Strategic Initiatives and Digital Education; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Allison Kendrick Thacker, vice president for Investments and treasurer; Linda Thrane, vice president for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. EDITORIAL OFFICES
Standing, left to right: Terry Loucks ’58, Hap Veltman ’58, Lester Veltman ’59, unknown male and Carolyn Dearmond ’58
In the Fall 2015 issue of the magazine, you highlight Powderpuff on Page 6. It says that it began in 1965 as an official intercollegiate sport. That is true, but it started before that at Jones College, with freshmen/sophomores playing against juniors/seniors. I played blocking back for the freshmen/sophomores in the 1963 game. We got stomped, but it was a lot of fun. — Judy Arnold Huemmer ’66
Robert B. Tudor III, chairman; Edward B. “Teddy” Adams Jr.; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; Keith T. Anderson; Doyle Arnold; Nancy Packer Carlson; Albert Chao; T. Jay Collins; Mark Dankberg; Doug Foshee; Lawrence Guffey; Patti Kraft; Charles Landgraf; R. Ralph Parks; David Rhodes; Lee H. Rosenthal; Ruth Simmons; Jeffery Smisek; Amy Sutton; Gloria Meckel Tarpley; Robert M. Taylor Jr.; Guillermo Treviño; Randa Duncan Williams; Huda Zoghbi.
Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 Phone: 713-348-6768 email@example.com POSTMASTER
Send address changes to: Rice University Development Services–MS 80 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 ©February 2016 Rice University
president’s note We are involved in many Last spring, a Rice graduate passionate debates at this time student, Ismael Loera Fernandez, in American history, and one is was one of 30 students nationally about immigration. In this issue, awarded the Paul & Daisy Soros we feature the amazing story of Fellowship for New Americans. Vu Thanh Thuy and follow her Loera Fernandez came to the United harrowing path from Vietnam and States with his family at the age ultimately to Houston. of 11 and studied chemistry as an On the difficult issue of undergraduate at Emory University. immigration policy, I am reminded Every part of Rice reflects the of Miles’ Law: “Where you stand importance of immigrants and our depends on where you sit.” I am openness to international students, writing this sitting at my desk in who often become the parents of Allen Center, in the heart of one American citizens. We are, for of our nation’s most extraordinary example, now enrolling the children universities. At some level, I bear and indeed some grandchildren of responsibility for the quality of Rice graduates who came as foreign our student body, our faculty students. Twenty-two percent of our and our staff and what each of faculty members are foreign citizens, these components brings to the as are 18 percent of our staff. Our DAVI D W. L E E B R ON educational experience and our undergraduate population is now research contributions. Everywhere about 12 percent foreign students, I turn, I see how immigration as are 39 percent of our graduate has benefited our university and students. These numbers don’t count therefore our city, our nation and those who are naturalized citizens or indeed the world. permanent residents of the United In our undergraduate student States. body, another Vietnamese Many of us can identify with immigrant, sophomore Tram Thi these stories, even if at some distance Nguyen, came to the U.S. as a young in the past. My grandfather on my child in 2000. Her parents are father’s side came to the United commercial fishermen. Her family States as a young boy. His father home was devastated in Hurricane never arrived, his mother remarried, Katrina, and they moved to Lafayette, La., where she was the first and he was adopted by his stepfather. Eventually, he became a Asian student many of her classmates had seen. She undertook doctor and a pediatrician, providing services to poor families in the task of teaching them about Vietnamese culture. We have at west Philadelphia. least 24 students, undergraduate and graduate, with the family Even in the small group of our college masters, seven of 21 are name Nguyen (almost certainly all of Vietnamese heritage). I immigrants. Recently, when we set out to hire a chief information don’t know all their stories, but they are likely mostly children of officer for the first time, we were fortunate to find Klara Jelinkova, immigrants who arrived in the United States in the 1970s or later. who came to the U.S. from the Czech Republic at the age of 19 and Immanuel Saju Joy’s parents came from India. Although both studied at the University of Wisconsin. Our new provost, Marie were trained in medicine, they have not been able to practice Lynn Miranda, was born in Detroit, the daughter of immigrants in the United States. Immanuel was named one of the top 100 from the former Portuguese colony of Goa. And I wouldn’t want high school level programmers in the 11th grade and now is a to omit my wife, Ping Sun, who came from Shanghai, China, as a sophomore studying engineering at Rice. young student to study at Princeton, the university that provided From a different part of the planet, sophomore Mekedelawit Rice’s first president. Tsegaye Setegne moved to the United States from Africa at the More than ever, this is the world of mobility we live in. From age of 5. She embraces her Ethiopian culture and worked 20 where I sit, this world is greatly to the advantage of the United hours per week through high school before enrolling at Rice. States, where people from all over the planet come to find safety Arthur Vadim Belkin, a sophomore at Baker College, is a dual and opportunity. For Rice, it has become an essential part of citizen of the United States and Russia. While living in Russia, he building an extraordinary student body, an outstanding faculty had to conceal both his U.S. and Jewish identities. He participated and a remarkable staff committed to our mission. both in the Columbia University Science Honors Program and in a summer internship program at Bauman Moscow State Technical University.
J E F F F I T LO W
Our Enduring Immigrant Advantage
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News and Update s from Campus
C E L E B R A T I N G 5 0 Y E A R S O F B L A C K U N D E R G R A D U A T E L I F E
uring 1965 and 1966, the first black undergraduates were admitted to Rice, marking one of the most significant milestones in the school’s history. To celebrate 50 years of black undergraduate life, Rice, in conjunction with the Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA) and partners across campus, is organizing a series of events throughout 2016. The yearlong celebration kicked off with the annual Martin Luther King candlelight vigil, hosted by the Black Student Association (BSA) in January, and with a panel discussion, Reflections of the Past, Promises for the Future, in February. The panel — which included President David W. Leebron, Professor Emeritus
Allen Matusow, Centennial Historian Melissa Kean and distinguished alumni — discussed Rice’s desegregation experience. An exhibit will include Rice’s annual Soul Night event, a cultural extravaganza hosted by the BSA in March, and a reunion and celebration of Rice’s black student–athlete alumni co-hosted by ARUBA and Rice Athletics in April. The celebration will culminate with a gala in fall 2016. For more information or to register for these and other events, visit alumni.rice.edu/events/50-years-of-black-undergraduate-life. 6
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J E F F F I T LO W
chronicling the early years of black undergraduate life is on display in the Rice Memorial Center through May 14, 2016. Other events
T R AD I T I ONS | MARY GI BB S JONES C OLLE GE
T OP FIVE
Swivel Hips vs. the Golden Arm
HEN IT OPENED IN 1957 AS RICE’S FIRST WOMEN’S DORMITORY, Jones College had an open field to create its traditions. Powderpuff football — basically flag football played without shoulder pads — is one such creation, and since its inception has grown to be one of the most popular intercollegiate sports at Rice. Lacking any potential rivals, Jones divided itself into two geographical sides: Jones North versus Jones South. When Brown College joined the fray in 1965, recalled Le Anne Schreiber ’67, there was lots of excitement. The first game between the two colleges, Schreiber said, “was characterized in advance and in actuality as a contest between the Jones running game, centered on me, and the Brown passing game, centered on their spectacular quarterback, Linda Green [’66]. Some called it the showdown between ‘swivel hips Schreiber’ and Linda Green, ‘the girl with the golden arm.’ Her arm outscored my legs.” As the male colleges went coed, Powderpuff evolved again. Today, it’s played by women from all 11
We conducted an informal poll among students about their favorite eats in Rice’s serveries* and kitchens.** Here’s how they voted.
colleges, but Jones can lay claim to being the original. The rivalry with Brown was not limited to the gridiron. In spring 1968, Joan Gurasich ’68 and Virginia Flynn Hess ’68 organized teams to infiltrate bathrooms on all of Brown’s eight floors while the Brown women were at dinner. They removed all the toothbrushes they could find. “The toothbrush theft was intended to leave Brown women without toothbrushes before their Friday night dates,” Hess explained. The rivalry continued over the years. In one incident in the late 1970s, Brown women raided Jones to return the favor, planting the purloined toothbrushes along the paved pathway between Jones and Brown, like rows of plastic tulips. Charlotte Larson ’16, Jones’ current internal vice president, said that while the college’s feud has lately shifted toward Martel and Will Rice colleges, “there is a pretty infamous prank I heard about where Jones cut off a little bit of all of the chair legs from the [Brown] commons so that they were all uneven,” she recounted. “So cruel.” — Franz Brotzen ’80
2 3 4 5
Cinnamon Rolls West Servery (Chef Roger made them famous, and we can’t reveal the recipe.)
Salmon North Servery Culinary Team (Chef Alex prepares it baked, smoked, poached, grilled or stuffed.)
Sushi Sid Rich Kitchen (Sushi Night began with Chef Terry and now continues with Chef Verena.)
Pho Bar Seibel Servery (Chef Kyle’s Wednesday night special)
Gumbo Baker Kitchen (Chef Derrix’s secret blend)
Honorable Mention Gyros — South Servery *Servery: a dining hall housed in its own building, serving more than one residential college **Kitchen: a dining hall housed within one residential college
Powderpuff football players in action, Rice Institute (1956)
Students may eat at any servery or kitchen. On average, Rice’s dining staff prepares more than 163,000 meals each month.
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sa llypo rt | Unco nvent io na l wisdo m
THE PALEOANTHROPOLOGIST August “Gus” Costa spends a lot of time thinking about the past in innovative ways. As a paleoanthropologist, Costa studies “bones and stones,” artifacts that tell a story about the earliest human societies. A lecturer in Rice’s Department of Anthropology, Costa’s teaching mission, he said, is “to inspire others with wonder for the past.” Last fall, he taught Paleotechnology (ANTH 384), part of a broader archaeology curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning. “Our ancestors invented inventing. What better way for students to gain unconventional knowledge than to experience the technological foundations of humanity?”
TEACHING PALEOTECHNOLOGY Paleotechnology can be taught as a boring lecture-style class, but I don’t think the students will get much out of it. So I try to blow the students’ minds to show them something that they never thought was possible. The students get to discover how to make fire by friction, and they learn to make string and glue from plants on campus. 8
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SCHOOL OF HARD ROCKS Most of our lessons begin with a reminder that we are spoiled. It’s so easy to go and buy a container at the Container Store or IKEA. People don’t really appreciate how difficult it was to have to grow your gourd container or find an ostrich egg and make it into a container or weave the container, then line it with pine pitch to make it waterproof. Appreciating the past helps us value what we really have. GATEWAY TECHNOLOGIES One of the first lessons Rice students get in my paleotechnology classes is how to make a stone knife, a gateway technology that allows you to make all these other great things. You can work wood and make a lot of different types of wood tools
A DA M C R U F T
IN THE STONE AGE Most people’s exposure to the Stone Age and stone tools is through cartoons of guys chipping out stone wheels, things that are total misconceptions. You don’t get stone wheels until after the Stone Age, some 6,000 years ago, and they are made of wood, not stone. The Stone Age is 3.3 million years ago until 10,000 years ago — that is 99.7 percent of human cultural history.
once you have the stone tools. THE ART OF FLINTKNAPPING Flintknapping (the production of chipped stone tools from flint or flint-like rocks) can definitely be thought of as an art because it takes quite a bit of skill to make these artifact replicas. It is essentially stone sculpture, but it’s not as forgiving as carving out a piece of marble, for instance. These stones shatter like glass, so if you break a stone in the wrong way, the whole thing could be ruined. FORAGING AND SURVIVING I buried a bunch of potatoes on the south side of campus near the medical center. It was a scavenger hunt meant to reinforce our assigned reading on basic foraging. The students used digging sticks to dig up potatoes like huntergatherers who forage for wild plant tubers.
ONE OF THE FIRST LESSONS RICE STUDENTS GET IN MY PALEOTECHNOLOGY CLASSES IS HOW TO MAKE A STONE KNIFE, A GATEWAY TECHNOLOGY THAT ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE ALL THESE OTHER GREAT THINGS.
The students had all been sorted into different bands, which competed in class activities (like on the TV show ‘Survivor’) for extra credit. LEARNING FROM STUDENTS I have one student who is doing a class research project on pyrite firestarters. You can make a primitive
fire striker with any iron sulfide mineral and a hard rocklike flint. I had not realized that there was an archaeological record for those things in the later Stone Age of Europe. When students pick up on projects that I wouldn’t come up with, and we learn new things together, that is something I really appreciate.
WILL THIS HELP ME AFTER THE APOCALYPSE? When I explain what I do, a lot of people immediately identify how it might be useful in a postapocalyptic world. There are folks who think the Stone Age is important because you can get tips on how to survive in the wild. That is certainly true, because
there are practical aspects to being able to make a stone knife or string. For those of us who are focused on prehistoric archaeology, especially the Stone Age, what we are studying is the prehistory of survivalism. These guys put any of these celebrity survivalists to shame. We know that they were the best survivalists because we’re here. NO, BUT A COMMUNITY WILL. One of the most important things for paleotechnology to work is that you have to have a group. The false idea that one should be able to survive alone really doesn’t have any basis if you look at the archaeological record, because we know that humans are social animals. If you were isolated in the past, that essentially meant death, because you needed a group to survive. — Sukhada Tatke
A TEACHING FUND
From ostrich eggs to flint flakers, the teaching materials used in August Costa’s new course in ancient technology are both pricey and hard to find. To launch the course (and keep his students supplied with atlatl darts), Costa applied for and received one of eight coveted Brown Teaching Grants, which are awarded annually to support excellence in undergraduate teaching and can total up to $5,000. The wide-ranging grants also supported projects to translate a 19th-century Spanish novel into English, create a nanomaterials laboratory course, pilot language learning software to improve international students’ speaking skills and participate in a premier synthetic biology competition.
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sa llypo rt | sylla bus
Ways of Walking (Fall 2015) DEPARTMENT
Program in Writing and Communication pwc.rice.edu DESCRIPTION
This course explores the act of walking in theory and in practice. Through readings, discussions, writing assignments, and group and individual walks, it examines questions about the body and its movements; the construction and navigation of space; the planning of cities and parks; and the relationship between walking and thinking.
MIDDLE PHOTO: An image from Will Rice freshman Bryce Hackett’s photo essay
Wisdom in Walking
ew Rice campus pedestrians give much thought to walking, apart from the constant vigilance required to dodge errant skateboards. But for Andrew Klein’s first-year writing students, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has become layered with new meaning. Klein’s course, Ways of Walking, examined the cultural and historical significance of walking in its many forms: going on a pilgrimage, taking a nature hike and marching in protest or off to war, among others. While researching his dissertation, Klein (who earned his Ph.D. from Rice in 2013) was struck by the perambulations of several 20th-century American poets, including Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens and Frank O’Hara. O’Hara’s habit of writing poems during lunchtime walks particularly inspired Klein — and this class. We sat down with Klein and his students to discuss the path from walking to enlightenment.
COURSE HIGHLIGHTS Most radical walkers The Situationists were a group of artists and thinkers active during the 1960s, particularly in Paris, who cultivated an experimental walking practice they called a derive. “A derive — it literally means ‘drifting’ — is where you try to lose your typical flow through the city and drift,” Klein said. “They had a political slant, a form of social protest, going on, too.” Most contemplative walkers Monks in the Tendai school of Buddhism — the so-called “marathon monks” — follow a millennium-old practice of circumnavigating Japan’s Mount Hiei every day as part of the path to enlightenment. Biggest misconception Manika Daruka, a Lovett College freshman, found that her peers were sometimes baffled to learn that she was studying walking. Walking, she explained, is a vehicle for deeper analysis of issues ranging from urban planning to the perception of reality. “Our class conversations ventured into all different areas, covering history, sexuality, racism, etc.,” she said.
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Most eye-opening assignment For her book “On Looking,” the author Alexandra Horowitz walked the same neighborhood with 11 different “experts,” including a geologist, a sociologist and an artist — as well as with a child and a dog — to see the same space from very different perspectives. “We did that on campus, with students walking around trying to perceive their surroundings through a different specialty lens,” Klein said. Student insights Another assignment was a street photography project in which students created photo essays around themes of their choosing. Ani Kunaparaju, a Jones College freshman, explored Houston with an eye to the sights he usually misses by staring at his smartphone. His essay was a series of photo collages that featured his phone screen in the center, surrounded by the images he captured by looking around instead. The assignment was a highlight of the class, according to Kunaparaju, and it changed the way he walks. “Walking has become like watching a movie.” — Jennifer Latson
sallyport | writ i ng h om e
Hej from Sweden! RENEE GONZALEZ ’14
’m Renee Gonzalez, a 2014 Rice grad currently working on my master’s in applied cultural analysis (MACA) at Lund University in southern Sweden. What is applied cultural analysis? Think ethnographic/anthropologic consulting for businesses and organizations. I was initially drawn to the MACA program because of its partnership between Lund University in Sweden and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, which means I have classes in both Lund and Copenhagen (less than an hour away from each other by train). The diversity of the classroom setting is reflected in the teaching staff and, especially, the students. In fact, my 16 classmates represent 11 countries. The value of diverse learning environments was something I discovered as an undergrad at Rice — through study abroad trips to Cuba and Costa Rica — and it motivated me to seek a European educational experience. Although the Swedish education system is structured much differently than in the U.S., I find Lund University to be similar to Rice in many ways. Here in Lund, we have the nations system, which works like a relaxed version of the residential college system. The nations even have their own version of Beer Bike called Tandem, during which team members take turns riding a tandem bike roughly 163 miles from Gothenburg to Lund. Outside the university, however, Lund and Houston could not be more different. Founded around 990, Lund is a relatively small town with a population of 83,000, half of whom are students, in the southernmost province of Sweden, called Skåne (sk-OH-nah). Historically, Skåne belonged to Denmark, and it retains a strong DanishSwedish connection because of the Öresund Bridge, which links Copenhagen and Malmö. Lund prides itself on preserving its historical landscape, so old cobblestone roads remain in the city center, and the famous Lund Cathedral acts as the city’s North Star. While the adjustment from a big driving city like Houston to a small biking city like Lund has been challenging at times, it’s impossible not to get caught up in Lund’s small-town charm, which serves as a nice reminder of the invaluable opportunity I have to be educated in Sweden, both in academia and life.
ARE YOU A YOUNG ALUM LIVING OUTSIDE THE U.S.? We’d like to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
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sa llypo rt | NOTED + QUOTED
Disability arts celebrate humanity. Impairments do not disqualify us from [the arts]. The human condition is multifaceted, and disability arts is a celebration of that difference.
Ringo, a miniature horse, visited campus to publicize the Rice Equestrian Team, a club sport, founded in 2003. ricemagazine.info/309
Attacking immigrants in a country that was built by immigrants is a contradiction that offends the best tradition of the United States as an open society, which opened its doors to the world.
With its 2015 publication, the Campanile, Rice’s undergraduate yearbook, turned 100. This year’s theme? “Confessions”
— Mario Vargas Llosa, speaking at a press conference for the 2015 President’s Lecture Series, Oct. 31.
All you have to do is get a composition book and a pen and some privacy. And you must give yourself long runways, like two, three, four or five hours, where no one’s going to interrupt you. And you are going to force yourself to sit for that long. The longer you sit, the deeper and better your writing. Give yourself permission. Write as if no one’s going to see it; possibly no one will. ... It’s more important that you write than share or publish. The real process of writing is sending a mirror into our heart.
— Sandra Cisneros, speaking at the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, Oct. 12. Cisneros read from her new book, “A House of My Own: Stories From My Life” (Knopf, 2015). The event was presented in association with Rice’s Multicultural Community Relations in the Office of Public Affairs. 12
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The Baker Institute for Public Policy’s rank among top university–affiliated think tanks in the world, from 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.
Rice ranked No. 5 on Niche’s (formerly collegeprowler.com) list of 2016 Best Colleges. ricemagazine.info/310
Rice fared well in the Princeton Review’s 2016 edition of “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Buck.” ricemagazine.info/311
I write today to share my decision, based on an extensive consultation process that included many of you, to maintain Rice University’s policy of a gun-free campus. — President David Leebron, in a campuswide email announcing that Rice will exercise the “opt-out” provision of Texas Senate Bill 11, which allows individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry a weapon on college campuses. ricemagazine.info/312
TO M M Y L AV E R G N E | J E F F F I T LO W
— Catherine Branch Lewis ’08, speaking at Fondren Library, Nov. 13. ricemagazine.info/308
Sports News and Profile s
TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
FA M I LY C O U R T
aybe Zach Wright ’16 should find a banquet to attend every night before a Rice football game. Less than 24 hours after attending the Oct. 23 ceremony in which his mother —
Holly Jones-Wright ’87 — was inducted into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, the junior wide receiver from The Woodlands scripted a cinematic ending to her special weekend.
As Holly Jones, Zach’s mother was a dominant force in women’s basketball for four years, beginning in 1983. She was an immediate starter as a freshman and led the Owls in scoring, something she repeated in each of her four seasons on her way to scoring 1,791 points, the third-highest total in school history. She was a two-time winner of the Hackerman Award as the Owls’ MVP and earned first-team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1987. Jones-Wright watched her son accept an invitation to attend her alma mater as a walk-on. She saw him make the switch to wide receiver and appear as a reserve for the 2013 Conference
USA Champions, then grow into a productive member of the receiver rotation in 2014 before becoming a starter last fall. “One of my greatest joys these days is being able to watch my son play football for Rice,” she said. “Coach David Bailiff took a chance on Zach and fully supported him when he allowed him to walk on to the team back in 2012.” On that fall Saturday, Jones-Wright was introduced to the crowd of nearly 25,000 fans along with her fellow honorees near the end of the first quarter. The Owls held a 14-0 lead over Army West Point. continued on Page 14 W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 13
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DAY I N T H E L I FE | TAYLOR ARMST RONG
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WOMEN’S SWIMMING HOMETOWN
TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND COLLEGE
ANTHROPOLOGY/ PSYCHOLOGY COACH
Senior Taylor Armstrong’s Mondays are not like your Mondays. The standout swimmer has set a Rice record in the 200 backstroke while working on a double major. Last fall, the Kiwi also took part in the very American tradition of being crowned Homecoming Queen.
Wake up, grab a PowerBar, bike to pool
Morning swim practice
Change and eat breakfast
9 a.m. Classes
Lunch: “I’m starving by now.”
Afternoon swim practice
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Studying at Coffeehouse or Fondren Library
4:30 p.m. Cardio, spinning, running, etc.
Practice with Spontaneous Combustion, Rice’s improvisational comedy troupe
Training room for ice bath, massage or other treatments 14
Dinner, preferably at home (off campus)
TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
Army traded scores with Rice over the next two quarters before tying the game up late in the fourth quarter. Then, in a driving rain that signaled the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Patricia to Houston, Wright pulled in a wobbling delivery from quarterback Driphus Jackson ’16 to cap a frantic 75-yard drive in the final two minutes, giving Rice a 38-31 win. “It was just the ugliest, most beautiful ball I’d ever seen. I thought he’d punted it. I’d almost gotten in the end zone earlier, so I knew I had to get one for Driphus. I happened to be the guy at the end who got the call,” Wright said. “When Zach made that game– winning catch against Army in the torrential downpour, my first thought was how blessed we were to even be in such a tremendous situation, quickly followed by tears of joy,” Jones–Wright recalled. “I was so happy for Zach, and so happy for our football team. I had many teammates, friends and family that came to town for the festivities, and to enjoy such a fantastic weekend with all of them in such a way, it was almost beyond belief.” The win was the fourth in a season that would see Rice win only once over the last five games, but for the Wright family, a season record of 5-7 will never diminish what took place on that October day. Said Zach, “I am Holly Wright’s son, and I am proud of it.” As part of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame Class for 2015, Jones– Wright’s banner, alongside banners of the other inductees, is currently on display in Rice Stadium. — Chuck pool
Findings, Re search and more
T E XA S R A NC H Y I E L D S A NC I E N T R E E F
hen you survey the cliffs overlooking the Llano River in Central Texas, it’s hard
M. MUSCHICK/UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
to imagine that they were underwater a half-billion years ago and formed part of the North American coastline during the Upper Cambrian era. But that’s what brought Rice marine geologist André Droxler and his team of researchers to a rare land-based expedition. Droxler has spent most of his career studying the evolution of deep the ranch. The professor of Earth science also secured funding from ocean environments, from Belize to the Maldives and the Great four major oil companies that had interest in microbial reef research. Barrier Reef. Since 2012, the Rice professor and his graduate students have “I never thought you could discover something on land,” he said. made many trips to Mason County, drilled more than 150 core “To discover something in the middle of Texas, it’s pretty samples and virtually mapped the area using a drone. exciting.” According to Droxler, the Eagle Ridge Ranch in Droxler said the three summers here “have been some GEOLOGY Mason County near Fredericksburg has some of the best of the happiest summers I have had in my life,” and outcrops in the world containing fossilized prehistoric he returns with the same excitement as the first time bacteria and microbes. He believes these microbial reefs contained he paddled down the Llano River in search of half-billion-year-old the first forms of life on Earth. “time capsules.” Droxler’s team was granted access to the land after working with video: ricemagazine.info/315 Woodlands resident Donald Shepard and his wife, Rose, who own — Brandon Martin W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 15
FACULT Y B O OKS
After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed by Zoë H. Wool (Duke University Press, 2015)
The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture
Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities
by Richard J. Smith (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
by George Rupp (Columbia University Press, 2015)
Smith has written an engaging and insightful history of the Qing dynasty (1636–1912), a crucial bridge between traditional and modern China. In it, he explores the complex cultural interaction between the Inner Asian traditions of the Manchus, who conquered China in 1644, and indigenous Chinese beliefs and practices. He also places the Qing dynasty in a broad historical and global framework. One reviewer called the book “authoritative, up-to-date, careful, and — one must say, brave.” Smith is the George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities and a professor of history at Rice.
Modern Western individualism has led us into a global dead end. Against the backdrop of a distinguished career in higher education and humanitarian service, former Rice University president (1985–1993) George Rupp calls for a new communitarianism. His essays encourage readers to “think and act in ways that resist the power of special interests and press toward more inclusive communities.” Rupp, a Presbyterian minister, also served as dean of Harvard Divinity School and as president of Columbia University and the International Rescue Committee.
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OOL FOLLOWS THE STORIES OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO WERE SEVERELY INJURED IN THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WARS. Between 2007 and 2008, she spent time with the soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. Her goal was to understand Wool is an assistant and document the challenges they faced in transitioning professor of anthropology from unspeakable trauma back to ordinary civilian life. Wool at Rice. contextualizes their experiences within a broader political and moral framework. Author Tim O’Brien described the book as “sometimes painful, sometimes inspirational, always enlightening. Zoë Wool’s sharp eye and keen intelligence helps us to more wholly appreciate the terrible physical and emotional struggles of our wounded soldiers.”
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Bikes are for fun
Sun Belt residents are most likely to use bike-share programs for recreation, compared with users in the Midwest or Northeast, who regularly use the same programs for their daily commute, according to researchers at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Bike-share systems are a growing part of the transportation options and recreational landscape of many cities. They place rentable bikes at a network of kiosks with bike docks and pay stations across a city. At most hours of the day, users can check out and return bikes from any kiosk. The researchers grouped bike trips into four categories: weekday two-location (starting and ending at different kiosk locations), weekend two-location, weekday round-trip and weekend round-trip. In all four cities studied — Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and Denver — the overwhelming majority of kiosks generated more two-location trips than round-trips. And in all four systems, round-trip activity was concentrated at a handful of kiosks located in parks or along bike trails. “Recent discussions of bike sharing have focused on the large systems in Northeastern and Midwestern cities and tend to emphasize bike sharing as convenient means of commuting to work,” said Kyle Shelton, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kinder Institute and the study’s co-author. “While riders in Sun Belt cities make trips for a variety of purposes, including commuting, many riders — especially in the Texas cities — use bike share for recreation. Many of these kiosks near parks or bike trails are among the most heavily used stations in all four cities.” ricemagazine.info/316 — AMY MCcaig HISTORY
J E F F F I T LO W
A Rice archivist, a history professor and students working with the Rice Center for Civic Leadership teamed up with a Sugar Land community activist to document the practice of convict leasing — a little-known aspect of slavery’s historical legacy in Texas.
Jesse Adams, left, and Vivek Boominathan, both Rice University graduate students, set up a test shot with a recent FlatCam prototype.
“The first steps toward convict leasing in Texas happened right at the end of the Civil War and right at the moment of emancipation,” said Lora Wildenthal, professor of history and associate dean of humanities at Rice. “There was really no gap in time. Slavery, for some people, moved or passed right into convict leasing.” In 2014, Reginald Moore, founder and head of the Texas Slave Descendants Society, contacted Wildenthal to discuss the work that he and others in the society were doing to raise public awareness about the relatively unknown history of convict leasing in Fort Bend County and in Texas more generally. “The provision in the Emancipation Proclamation said that slavery or forced labor was only possible if a person had been convicted of a crime,” Wildenthal said. A system called convict leasing was developed, in which an individual, usually an African-American man, would be convicted of a crime and sentenced to labor. Convict leasing wasn’t abolished until the early 20th century. “When the convict-lease system started here in Texas in 1867, it was an atrocity how they treated those individuals,” Moore said of his motivation to research the issue and begin assembling a collection. “I just wanted to tell that story.” Last summer, a Center for Civic Leadership Houston Area Research Team (HART), composed of students Breland Coleman ’16, Ryan Deal ’16 and
Alexandra Franklin ’16, worked to create a permanent record of Moore’s personal papers and other materials. Together with Rice archivist Amanda Focke, the students digitized Moore’s collection and created a website to highlight the project. Moore’s materials will be permanently housed at Fondren Library’s Woodson Research Center. ricemagazine.info/317 video: ricemagazine.info/318 — Jeff Falk ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
No lens? No problem
How thin can a camera be? Very, say Rice researchers who have developed and patented prototypes of a technological breakthrough dubbed FlatCam. Invented by the Rice labs of electrical and computer engineers Richard Baraniuk and Ashok Veeraraghavan, the device is little more than a thin sensor chip with a mask that replaces the lenses of a traditional camera. Algorithms process what the sensor detects and convert the sensor measurements into images and videos. Traditional cameras are shrinking, driven by their widespread adoption in smartphones. But they all require lenses — and the post-fabrication assembly required to integrate lenses into cameras raises their cost, according to the researchers. FlatCam does away with those issues in a camera that is also thin and flexible enough to do things that traditional devices can’t. W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 17
Samantha Paulsen, a bioengineering graduate student in Jordan Miller’s lab at Rice University, holds a plate on which several 3-D-printed silicone constructs have been mounted.
Sweet scaffold for blood vessels
Using sugar, silicone and a 3-D printer, a team of bioengineers at Rice and surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania may have overcome one of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine: How to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells in an artificial organ or tissue implant that takes days or weeks to grow in the lab before a surgery. A research team led by Jordan Miller, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice, and Pavan Atluri, assistant professor of surgery at Penn, created an implant with an intricate network of blood vessels that bodes well for future lab-grown tissues and organs. The study showed that blood flowed normally through test implants that were surgically connected to native blood vessels. Tissue engineers have typically relied on the body’s own ability to grow blood vessels — for example, by implanting engineered tissue scaffolds inside the body and waiting for blood vessels from nearby tissues to spread to the engineered constructs. Miller said that process can take weeks, and cells deep inside the 18
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constructs often starve or die from lack of oxygen while awaiting slow-approaching blood vessels. “We wondered if there were a way to implant a 3-D printed construct where we could connect host arteries directly to the construct and get perfusion immediately,” Miller said. “In this study, we are taking the first step toward applying an analogy from transplant surgery to 3-D printed constructs we make in the lab.” It’s a technique Miller pioneered in 2012 — and it’s inspired by the intricate sugar cages pastry chefs create to garnish desserts. Using an open-source 3-D printer that lays down individual filaments of sugar one layer at a time, the researchers printed a lattice of would-be blood vessels. Once the sugar hardened, they placed it in a mold, poured in silicone gel and dissolved the sugar, leaving behind a network of small channels in the silicone. A John S. Dunn Collaborative Research Award supported the research. ricemagazine.info/321 — Jennifer Evans
It’s an American paradox: While more of us are becoming obese — one-third of U.S. adults — discrimination against heavy people is growing nearly as quickly. Surveys show that overweight people are judged to be less hardworking, less attractive and less conscientious. They are more likely to be discriminated against in health care, interpersonal relationships and the workplace. Obesity research has tended to focus on overweight women, but overweight men face serious prejudice too, according to recent research by Mikki Hebl, a professor at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, and two co-authors. To measure that prejudice in the workplace, Hebl and her colleagues launched a novel study at a mall in a large southern city. For their study, the team asked research assistants to pose first as obese job seekers and then as obese shoppers. First, the men visited stores wearing size medium shirts and pants with a 30-inch average waist. They revisited the same stores wearing special obesity prosthetics, extra-large shirts and pants with 40-inch waists. Using formal training and memorized scripts, the men went to 112 stores pretending to apply for a job, and 111 stores where they headed to the center of a store and waited for service. If no employee approached, the faux-shoppers followed a script in which they sought an employee, asked for help buying a present and then asked for a second recommendation. The results? Whether asking for jobs or customer service, the subjects faced no weight-related difference in what is called formal treatment: overt and illegal actions such as giving unequal access to resources. But when the “heavy” men applied for jobs, they faced far worse interpersonal treatment than they received without prosthetics: that is, subtle behaviors such as hostility that aren’t illegal, but can still drive off workers and clients. Hebl is the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Chair of Psychology and a professor of psychology and management. ricebusinesswisdom.com
J E F F F I T LO W
FlatCams may find use in security or disaster-relief applications and as flexible, foldable, wearable and even disposable cameras, Veeraraghavan said. FlatCam shares its heritage with pinhole cameras, but instead of a single hole, it features a grid-like coded mask positioned very close to the sensor. Each aperture allows a slightly different set of light data to reach the sensor. Raw data sent to the back-end processor — for now, a desktop computer — is sorted into an image. As in much larger light-field cameras, the picture can be focused to different depths after the data is collected. Baraniuk is the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Veeraraghavan is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. The National Science Foundation supported the research. ricemagazine.info/319 video: ricemagazine.info/320 — Mike Williams
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SI X D E GR E E S | PRABHA RAMAKRISH NAN
SIX DEGREES OF VALHALLA is inspired by Stanley Milgram’s experiments in social networks; actor Kevin Bacon’s eponymous parlor game; the stellar academic genealogies of Rice graduate students, alumni and faculty; and the enduring awesomeness of Valhalla, Rice’s graduate student pub.
TABOR’S lab studies how to program living cells to sense, compute and respond to information in their environments. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin and was advised by Andy Ellington (b. 1956).
ELLINGTON, a biochemist, was a postdoc for Jack Szostak (b. 1952), who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology and was instrumental in the success of the Human Genome Project. Another student of Szostak’s was Jennifer Doudna (b. 1964). DOUDNA developed CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary technique for accurate gene editing, and co-authored a 2015 publication in Science with Robert Tjian (b. 1949).
PRABH A RAM AK R IS H NAN GRADUATE STUDENT DEPARTMENT OF BIOENGINEERING
Studies systems biology and optogenetics — the use of light–sensitive proteins to study and control gene expression — in the lab of bioengineer Jeff Tabor (b. 1980).
TJIAN, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, biochemist and molecular biologist, worked as a postdoc for James Watson (b. 1928).
WATSON, along with Francis Crick (1916–2004) and Maurice Wilkins (1916–2004), won the Nobel Prize in physiology in 1962 for discovering the structure and importance of DNA. Watson’s postdoc adviser was John Kendrew (1917–1997). KENDREW also was a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 1962 for his research on the structure of the oxygen–carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin.
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Figaro! Photo by Ted Washington
n November, the Shepherd School of Music’s opera department and Chamber Orchestra presented Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” a 19th-century comic opera that took on a 1990s twist. The Shepherd School’s production was set in the town of Seville, Fla. A raucous comedy requiring virtuosic singing of the highest order, this “Barber” came complete with pink flamingos, pool floats and a hurricane warning (the threat of which adds to the confusion in this scene from the finale of Act I). Rossini’s story tells of a young nobleman, Almaviva, who wins his lover, Rosina, away from her lecherous guardian, Dr. Bartolo — but only with considerable help from Figaro the barber (provider of the rollicking “Largo al factotum,” one of the most ubiquitously quoted arias in all of opera). The production was conducted by Richard Bado, director of Rice’s Opera Studies Program, and staged by guest director Mary Birnbaum. W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 21
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MISSION by Michael Hardy ’06 photos by Tommy LaVergne
Since 2011, a unique student club has worked to increase the number of veterans enrolled in Rice’s MBA programs — not only by fundraising for scholarships, but also by bringing in national leaders and literary luminaries to spotlight their efforts.
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F P R EV I O U S PAGE
William Lyles ’17 HOMETOWN Hampton, Va. COLLEGE Virginia Military Academy SERVICE U.S. Army Special Forces
Four days after his 30th birthday in 2010, Maj. William E. Lyles was leading a team of Army Green Berets on a mission to meet with tribal leaders in the village of Garmab, in Afghanistan’s remote, mountainous Urozgan Province, when their Humvees began taking small-arms fire. Lyles directed his driver to take up a position on a hilltop to the north of the village, where he jumped out to assess the situation. He was in the process of radioing back to base to request air support when he stepped on a buried IED (improvised explosive device). “At first I thought it was a mortar round,” Lyles remembered. “All my teeth were loose. My legs felt heavy, but there was this cloud of dust so I couldn’t see what had happened. I was trying to get up and get back in the fight, and I just couldn’t.” When the dust finally cleared, Lyles saw that his right leg had been severed above the knee and his left leg was gone below the shin. “I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said. “I tried to take deep breaths, because if you freak out you go into shock, and I knew I wouldn’t have a chance.” Today, after four years of grueling rehab at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Lyles is a first-year MBA
student at the Jones Graduate School of Business. He’s adjusted to life without his legs — he uses a wheelchair and two prosthetic legs to get around now — but the adjustment to civilian life, which included the breakup of his marriage, has been rocky at times. “I miss the Army more than anything,” he said. “I wish I was still able to do what I did, but this is good, too. I’m going to get a chance to lead again, in a different capacity.” Lyles is part of a large and growing veteran presence at the Jones School — 10 percent of students enrolled across the school’s three MBA programs (full time, professional and executive) have served in the armed forces. In 2009, Rice was one of the first schools to join the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides federal matching funds to help veterans attend private schools where the post-9/11 GI Bill often doesn’t cover the full cost of tuition. Former Navy SEAL James Battista enrolled in the Jones School in 2011 after a decade in the military. “I realized that oil and gas companies operate in similar places to where I was operating — Iraq, Yemen, hard places to operate,” Battista said. Along with his fellow military classmates, Battista founded the Veterans in Business Association (VIBA) to provide
James Battista ’13
Steve Panagiotou ’16
HOMETOWN Port Richey, Fla. COLLEGE U.S. Naval Academy SERVICE U.S. Navy SEALs
HOMETOWN Worcester, Mass. COLLEGE University of New Hampshire SERVICE U.S. Army Special Forces
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mentoring for students making the transition from the military to academia. Support soon coalesced around the idea to create an annual scholarship to cover tuition, fees and living expenses for one veteran to earn a graduate business degree. Jones Graduate School of Business Dean Bill Glick, along with Rice trustees and members of Jones’ leadership team, inaugurated the scholarship in 2012. (Lyles is this year’s recipient.) “Here, veterans get a two-year window after they come out of the military to figure out what they want to do,” Glick said. “And in the process they figure out which parts of their military leadership training actually translate into the business world. They come in with advanced leadership skills in some dimensions, and we give them opportunities to grow and develop. And vets are very good at doing that. They’ve got a great sense of mission.” Admission officers at the Jones School take into consideration the specific challenges facing veterans — “You can’t take a Princeton Review GMAT course in Kandahar,” one veteran said. Annie Hunnel, associate director of recruiting and admissions at the Jones
Lillie Besozzi ’16 HOMETOWN Baton Rouge, La. COLLEGE U.S. Military Academy at West Point SERVICE U.S. Army Besozzi was trained as a combat medic platoon leader and, during her deployment to Iraq, served as a hospital administrator, overseeing clinical operations in 38 locations.
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Jimmy Vu ’16 HOMETOWN Los Angeles, Calif. COLLEGE UCLA SERVICE U.S. Navy SEALs
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School, travels the country to meet School and its veteran-friendly programs. potential students at service academy Organized by then-MBA student and career days and veteran job fairs. “When VIBA president Mike Freedman ’14, a veteran transitions out of the military, the event featured authors David Abrams they don’t necessarily understand (“Fobbit”), Lea Carpenter (“Eleven Days”), what their options are,” Ben Fountain (“Billy Lynn’s Hunnel said. “It’s hard to Long Halftime Walk”), Bruce understand how to put that Jay Friedman (“Stern”), Karl experience in a résumé, Marlantes (“Matterhorn: business.rice.edu/viba how to make themselves A Novel of the Vietnam attractive to an employer.” War”) and Rice alumnus Bill One of VIBA’s earliest and most Broyles Jr. ’66, who served in Vietnam generous supporters was Rice trustee before returning to co-found Texas Doug Foshee, the former CEO of the Monthly and go on to a distinguished El Paso Corporation and a 1992 Jones career in screenwriting. In 1983, Broyles School alumnus. “I was aware that many was one of the first American veterans of my fellow Houston CEOs were flying to return to Vietnam, this time to “meet to Boston every year to recruit military my enemy in peace,” as he wrote in the veteran MBAs from the Rice University of resulting chronicle, “Brothers in Arms.” the North, otherwise known as Harvard,” The event drew a full house and he said. “That didn’t make a lot of sense resulted in substantial discussion about to me — why couldn’t we grow our own?” the poignancy and pathos of war, the ethics In a very short period, Foshee said, the of reportage, and the impact of humor and Jones School has become known as one absurdity in such chronicles. “To be with of the most veteran-friendly business writers like Karl Marlantes, Bruce Jay schools in the country. Friedman and Ben Fountain was a rare That reputation is what helped attract opportunity,” Broyles said. “The discussion Steve Panagiotou, who, like Lyles, is a was deep and raw and honest, and the Rice former Green Beret. After 10 years in the vets were incredibly inspiring.” Army, Panagiotou was trying to decide Though they weren’t part of the program how to jump-start his career when a last fall, Broyles, Fountain and Marlantes friend told him about the Jones School. returned to campus to attend another “Rice valued my background in the VIBA-sponsored writer- and vet-friendly military, and when I came down and event marking the 50th anniversary of the got to meet some of the supporters, that Vietnam War (see Page 28). At that event, clinched it,” he said. “The support was Broyles noted “the same spirit of support almost overwhelming from alumni who and comradeship.” have been successful in their careers. At “A small group of dedicated men and that point it was a no-brainer for me.” women have been fighting a lonely war As the current president of VIBA, Panagiotou has played a role in sponsoring public events like the Rice Veteran Leadership Series, which has featured marquee speakers such as Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Pete Dawkins, a legendary American business leader, distinguished veteran, Rhodes Scholar and HOMETOWN Burbank, Calif. Heisman Trophy winner. The group scored a coup in 2013 when COLLEGE Arizona State University it brought to campus six major American SERVICE U.S. Army authors (four of whom were veterans) to help raise the profile of the Jones
for almost 15 years now,” he said. “I’m so proud of Rice for honoring and supporting these veterans, and of the veterans for making Rice an even better place.” Like Panagiotou, Lyles decided to come to Rice after sitting in on classes and meeting veterans already enrolled in the program; being awarded a full scholarship sealed the deal. Despite having lost both his legs in Afghanistan, the recently remarried father of four said he feels blessed to be given a fresh start. “I consider myself probably the luckiest person in the world. I hit the lottery, but instead of money, it’s a second chance at life. And I want to make the most of that second chance.”
Matthew Kukta ’17
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War Stories Renowned veterans and authors mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War
words by michael hardy photos by jeff fitlow tommy lavergne
N MARCH 8, 1965, PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON questions was about the importance of truth in war literature. “In DEPLOYED 3,500 MARINES TO VIETNAM, the first combat war, truth is especially elusive,” O’Brien answered. “I discovered troops in a war that would eventually kill almost things about myself that I thought were not only unknown but 60,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese. impossible. I could not behave the way I found myself behaving, Just over 50 years after that initial deployment, partly out of frustration, partly out of terror, partly out of love for four American veterans of the conflict — Tim O’Brien, Tobias my fellow soldiers. ‘The Things They Carried’ is essentially an Wolff, Philip Caputo and Larry Heinemann — gathered onstage attempt to grapple with this elusive, slick monster we call truth.” at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business to discuss their When asked how to write about war without glorifying it, memories of the war. The event was co-sponsored by the Baker Wolff admitted that even avowedly anti-war books like “All Institute for Public Policy. Quiet on the Western Front” or “A Farewell to Arms” can end If those names sound familiar, it’s because up enhancing the mystique of war, especially for each went on to become a renowned author after writers hoping to follow in the footsteps of their WATCH A VIDEO returning home from Southeast Asia. Together, literary icons. of the presentation, the four men account for two National Book “Before I volunteered for the Army, I’d read “The Vietnam War: Awards, a PEN/Faulkner Award, a Pulitzer Prize Hemingway, I’d read Mailer, I’d read Erich Maria 50 Years On” and a National Medal of the Arts (bestowed the Remarque,” Wolff told the audience. “And there ricemagazine.info/322 day after the writers’ panel, to Wolff). The idea to was no question at all that as a writer I regarded invite such a distinguished panel to Rice belonged war as an experience that would equip me for to Mike Freedman, who chairs the Baker Institute my career. There was this predatory hunger for Roundtable Young Professionals group. A Houston native and experience that can lead people into some pretty strange paths.” U.S. Army Special Forces veteran who served in Iraq, Freedman Somewhat surprisingly given their reputations as antireturned home in 2011 and enrolled in Rice’s MBA program, war authors, three of the four authors — O’Brien, Caputo and where he also led the Veterans in Business Association (VIBA). Wolff — said that if they had to do it all over again they would “Originally, we wanted to bring in historians or famous still volunteer to fight in Vietnam. The lone dissenter was Vietnam veteran business leaders or politicians. But writers Heinemann, who was drafted. “I didn’t want to go,” he said flatly. just bring a different perspective. These are people who basically “I was distinctly not interested in being in the Army. The kind served their country twice. They went to Vietnam, and then they of everyday, ordinary, garden-variety harassment that we were came back and spent the rest of their lives trying to process that treated to offended me.” experience through their writing,” said Freedman. To Freedman’s But the consensus view of the other three was summed up by surprise, the four authors, arguably the most accomplished writers Caputo, who said he might not have become a writer if not for his to emerge from the Vietnam War, had never shared a stage before. Vietnam experience: “When you ask that question, it’s almost like The panel began with each author reading an excerpt of his asking whether you would like to be born again. Who I was before work, followed by a wide-ranging Q&A session. One of the early Vietnam was pretty much mulch. Who I then became and am now 28
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Who I was before Vietnam was pretty much mulch. Who I then became and am now was born in the war, as a result of the war. Whoever I am now, I owe to that experience. So, yes, I would do it again. Philip Caputo was born in the war, as a result of the war. Whoever I am now, I owe to that experience. So, yes, I would do it again.” By many accounts, the stories of these aging Vietnam War-era vets — by turns poignant, profane, darkly humorous and anguished — resonated deeply with the younger vets enrolled in Rice’s business school. “While I was watching them speak, I was picturing them as young soldiers, and I was comparing them to some of the young soldiers I knew in the Army,” said Steve Panagiotou ’16, the current president of VIBA. “I’ve seen young guys get frustrated like that. You know, ‘Why are we doing this stupid stuff?’ These guys are in their 60s now, but I was imagining them as 18–, 19– year-olds. And the fact that as writers they’re putting themselves out there, opening themselves up, being vulnerable, I really admired that.” Lillie Besozzi ’16, a U.S. Military Academy graduate enrolled in Rice’s MBA for Professionals program, identified with the writers’ still-raw emotions. “They were heartbreaking and validating in many ways,” she said, adding, “I think we all need to forgive ourselves a little — I wish I could have done more to help the soldiers I knew.” Besozzi helped run medical clinics across Iraq during the 2007 surge and has worked in hospital settings as an administrator after her service. In addition to her graduate program, she works at Rice as the assistant to the director of the
new Doerr Institute for Leadership. The packed-house event included a diverse audience of community members, literary figures, and Rice alumni and staff. “It was one of those moments that makes you really proud to be part of the Rice community,” said Jones School alumnus and Rice trustee Doug Foshee ’92. “We had four of the greatest living American authors of the Vietnam era on a panel. For me it was one of the top events I’ve ever attended at Rice.”
Mike Freedman ’14 HOMETOWN Houston, Texas COLLEGE Tulane University SERVICE U.S. Army Special Forces Maaggaazziinnee 29 29 W IN T E R 22001166 | | RRiiccee M
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Lost at Sea How “boat people” fleeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War discovered safe haven in Houston — and how their stories found a home at Rice. words jennifer latson images tommy lavergne, vu thanh thuy infographics tanyia johnson
Vietnamese refugees escaping a sinking boat yards from Kuala Terengganu beach, Malaysia, Dec. 4, 1978. There were 153 on board, and all were rescued. A S S O C I AT E D P R E S S
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n the desperate days after the fall of Saigon, Vu Thanh Thuy didn’t know how she’d survive — or whether she wanted to. She felt like dying when she watched her parents and siblings leave Vietnam by boat, in the hope of being rescued by the U.S. Navy, and realized she might never see them again. She wished for death when her husband was sent to prison camp for aligning himself with the wrong side in the war — and once more when she herself was imprisoned. After escaping from prison only to be captured and tortured by pirates off the Vietnamese coast, she dreamed of death again. But Vu, who was a young journalist and a new mother when the Vietnam War ended (her first child was born just two weeks earlier, April 15, 1975), wanted to bear witness to the atrocities of war and its aftermath. And she could not abandon her daughter. “There were times when I thought of killing myself, but I couldn’t kill my baby,” she told a Rice University researcher. “So I started finding ways to survive.” Vu’s tale is one of a number of extraordinary stories of survival, sacrifice and resilience housed in the Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) at Rice’s Chao Center for Asian Studies. The oral history archive was the brainchild of project manager Anne Chao ’05, along with Rice history professor Tani Barlow, who had been appalled to realize that Houston had no collection of archival information about the immigrants and refugees who settled here. “Houston is the eighth-largest city for Asian-American immigrants in the U.S., but it didn’t have a comprehensive repository to preserve and honor their life stories,” Chao said. “HAAA pays tribute to their vital role in building this city, and it provides scholarly material that can help revise many aspects of U.S. history: the history of labor, immigration, the South, and AsianAmerican history as a whole.” Since its inception in 2009, the archive — which contains letters, diaries and other records as well as
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TOP LEFT Vu (crouched in back row) and other captives on Koh Kra greet the U.N. helicopter sent to free them. This photo was given to Vu by Ted Schweitzer, the American field officer who organized the rescue and who took the picture. TOP RIGHT Vu holds her daughter in their Saigon home while awaiting her husband’s release from a communist prison camp. BOTTOM LEFT Vu reporting from the front lines of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. She’d become so accustomed to the war’s carnage that she didn’t notice the human skull in the helmet on the ground. BOTTOM RIGHT Vu at the offices of Radio Saigon Houston, where some of her award-winning newspaper stories hang on the wall.
Houston is the eighth-largest city for Asian-American immigrants in the U.S. videotaped interviews — has become a sought-after resource for Asian studies scholars at Rice and beyond, including researchers in China, Hong Kong and Japan. Locally, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research relied on it in part to compile its 2013 Houston Area Asian Survey. The collection, which is online, publicly accessible and free to use, chronicles a wide array of Asian immigrant experiences, with a total of 230 oral histories to date from Korean-, Chinese-, Japanese-, Filipino- and Indian-Americans, among others, who were interviewed by Rice students and interns. And it includes a proportionally large sample of Vietnamese immigrants — fitting for Houston, a metropolitan area with the country’s third-largest Vietnamese population, after Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. People of Vietnamese descent outnumber those of all other Asian nationalities in Harris County, where the 2010 census identified 80,000 Vietnamese-Americans, nearly a third of the county’s total Asian population of roughly 250,000. In 2012, the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, a national nonprofit organization, donated 88 videotaped interviews with Houstonarea immigrants to the Rice archive, which was entrusted with making their stories available to researchers and the public. Like Vu, many of these interviewees identified themselves as “boat people,” refugees who fled by sea, beating enormous odds to escape the harsh conditions that followed the war’s end and the change of regime in South Vietnam. Vu’s story — recounted below based on her nearly three-hour oral history, supplemented with an inperson interview — epitomizes some elements of the larger boat people narrative. But it also stands very much alone, revealing the extraordinary
toughness and tenacity that were part of her story long before it became a tale of sheer survival.
An intrepid reporter In 1969, when Vu was 19 and in her first year of college, she embarked on what would be a lifelong journalism career when she answered a help-wanted ad from a Saigon newspaper in need of someone to translate French horoscopes into Vietnamese. Vu was soon promoted to society reporter — but what she really wanted to be was a war correspondent, covering the conflict that was ravaging her country. “I wanted to go to the front lines,” she said. “My editor said, ‘You are a child and a girl. No one would allow you to go there.’” Vu didn’t give up easily, however. Within a year, she had convinced a general in the South Vietnamese army to give her the press seat in his helicopter. Flying to and from the battlefields every day, she reported on the bombing of an elementary school that killed more than 100 children and the discovery of the mass graves of thousands of civilians killed or buried alive in Huê´. For privileged urbanites — like herself — the war seemed distant and abstract, and she wanted to convey its grim realities to the sheltered elite in Saigon. As she explained in her oral history, this position also gave her a striking glimpse of humanity in the compassion and bravery of people who risked their lives for each other. And it was on the front lines that she met her husband, Duong Phuc, the newsroom chief for the military radio station — her competitor. They married in 1974. When Saigon fell, Vu was in the hospital with their 2-week-old baby. (In Vietnam, women normally spent a month recovering from childbirth.) W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 33
HARRIS COUNTY’S VIETNAMESE POPULATION THROUGH THE DECADES 55,489
Every decade since 1990, the Vietnamese population in Harris County has grown by ~25,000 people.
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She worried it might be the last time she ever saw them. In fact, they returned the very next day. The voyage into international waters had been so easy that her father had sailed back to reassure Duong’s family of its safety. For the moment, at least, there were no military forces anywhere to be seen. Duong’s family was unconvinced, but Duong himself had a change of heart. He and Vu would go along, on one condition: If they didn’t connect with the U.S. Navy quickly, they would return to Vietnam, since a long trip in the open water would be hard on the baby. Vu’s father agreed.
LT. CA R L R . B EGY/ W I K I M E D I A C O M M O N S P U B L I C D O M A I N
<100 1975 1990
The chaos of the military takeover, however, forced the hospital to discharge everyone, staff and patients alike. Vu rode home with her newborn, watching through the car window as tanks passed in the streets and helicopters hovered overhead. “I saw people looting homes while other people were running for their lives. I saw dead bodies in the street. I was grieving for my country, but as a journalist I was still trying to make sense of it, to analyze what was happening.” Vu’s father was a successful businessman with the means to obtain boat passage for everyone in his family. He hoped to sail into international waters, where he had heard the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet was waiting to rescue anyone who could get that far. If they made it, they’d be among the first wave of the 1.6 million people who fled South Vietnam over the course of the next two decades — the majority of them by boat. It would, however, be a dangerous journey. While there are no exact figures on survival rates, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that as many as 400,000 boat people died along the way. Vu’s father offered to bring Duong’s relatives as well, but they were afraid they’d be attacked by North Vietnamese forces along the coast. Duong was unwilling to leave without them. He was also optimistic that life would improve if they stayed, after a period of upheaval. “We’re the losers; they’re the winners,” Vu recalled him telling her when North Vietnamese forces occupied the city. “We’re no threat to them anymore. Why should they hurt us now?” So Vu went to the dock to say goodbye as her parents and siblings boarded a boat without her.
D E PA RT M E N T O F D E F E N S E / D E PA RT M E N T O F T H E N AV Y/ N AVA L P H OTO G R A P H I C C E N T E R / W I K I M E D I A C O M M O N S PUBLIC DOMAIN
... the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that as many as 400,000 boat people died along the way.
The best-laid escape plans Reaching international waters was easy, as Vu’s father had said. Locating the 7th Fleet was harder. The group sailed for three days without luck. Finally, Vu’s father reneged on his promise and turned toward the Malaysian coast. But their boat was almost out of fuel, so he flagged down a fishing boat to buy some of its oil. When the fishing boat was close enough, Duong jumped aboard it. Vu, carrying her baby, jumped too. She felt torn; her father was beside himself. He begged the fishermen to send Duong back. But when Duong reminded him of their agreement, Vu’s father relented. Three hours later, the 7th Fleet picked up the rest of Vu’s family, while she and her husband and child returned to Vietnam. Duong and Vu made their way back to Saigon, but it wasn’t long before Duong was sent to a “re-education camp,” one of the 150 or so communist-run prisons where an estimated 1 million South Vietnamese military officers and government officials were
TOP METROPOLITAN AREA DESTINATIONS FOR VIETNAMESE IMMIGRANTS IN THE UNITED
2 million Number of Vietnamese immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. as of 2012 — the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam
SOURCES: Roy Vu, “From the Ashes of the Cold War: Constructing a Southern Vietnamese Community and Identity in Houston,” published in the Houston Review, 2006; Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Asian Survey, 2013; www. migrationpolicy.org/article/vietnamese-immigrants-united-states; U.N. Refugee Report; crfimmigrationed.org; Pew Foundation; Refugee Council USA; National Archives; www.migrationpolicy.org/article/humanitarian-economicchanging-face-vietnamese-migration; MPI tabulation of data from U.S. Census Bureau pooled 2008-12 ACS.
TIMELINE OF THE BOAT PEOPLE DIASPORA April 30, 1975 Saigon falls and the diaspora begins
By the end of 1977 U.S. takes in more than 175,000 refugees, many of them South Vietnamese military officials and other American allies
The second wave of refugees — the “boat people” exodus — begins
Overwhelmed by the number of asylumseekers, officials in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand close their borders to refugees; President Carter announces that the U.S. will double the number of refugees it admits, from 7,000 to 14,000 a month
The U.N. assembles an international conference to address the refugee crisis; the Orderly Departure Program makes it possible for Vietnamese refugees to migrate directly to the U.S.
American sentiment takes an anti-refugee turn; a CBS News/ New York Times poll
finds that 62 percent disapprove of the recent increase in immigration
March 17, 1980
The U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 is approved, raising the annual refugee cap and streamlining the admission process
End of 1980
The U.S. hits a record for annual refugee admissions: 207,000
Members of the Ku Klux Klan in Galveston County rally against Vietnamese shrimpers, whom they perceive as a threat to the local economy
The diaspora trails off; over roughly two decades, the U.S. has admitted more than a million Vietnamese refugees
BOAT PEOPLE FACTS AND FIGURES
1.6 million Number of those who eventually settled in the U.S.
400,000 Number of people who fled Vietnam by boat each month in 1979, at the peak of the refugee crisis
Number of refugees who fled Vietnam after the initial wave of evacuations, the majority by boat
880,000 Number of boat people the U.N. estimates died at sea from exposure, piracy, starvation or illness
The Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown metropolitan area has one of the highest distributions of Vietnamese immigrants
U.S. Australia Canada Top three recipients of Vietnamese refugees
held without trial after the war. He was told he would be gone for 10 days. After two years, during which Vu survived by selling most of what she owned — furniture, clothing and even some of the baby formula she had stockpiled before her daughter was born — she decided she couldn’t wait any longer. She began to plot Duong’s escape. The prison camp was in a remote area, and although Vu was not allowed to see her husband, she began making the long trek to the camp several times a week. She watched as the guards marched their prisoners deep into the jungle to do forced labor. “I could stand on the road and wave at him. That really kept me alive,” she said. “I started to study the area, study the guards. I could see that they were walking for miles through the jungle, and the guards had no CBs, no way to communicate inside the prison. They only had their guns. So if I picked him up on a motorcycle, it would take them a while to come after us.” She had begun bribing the guards with cigarettes, bringing a pack for them and asking them to slip her husband another pack. She had seen someone in a James Bond movie write a note and slip it inside a cigarette, and so she communicated with her husband that way. Meanwhile, she got a motorcycle ready, arranged for seats on a boat out of the country and had ID cards made. But on the designated day, when she brought Duong a cigarette with the instructions for his escape, he had a new guard — one she hadn’t buttered up with cigarette bribes. The guard found the note, beat Duong and locked him in a 4-by-6-foot container. “I came back that afternoon to pick him up, not knowing they had found the letter, and I walked right into the trap,” Vu recalled. “They searched me and took me away at gunpoint.”
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already. Her daughter, whom she’d left with a babysitter on the day of her failed rescue attempt, would be sent to live with a foster parent. “My husband was gone and my baby was with a stranger,” she said. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to die, better to get it over with quickly.’” But although she was half-starved and harshly interrogated, she wasn’t killed. One day, months later, the prison chief told her that her husband had escaped. He demanded to know where Duong might be. When Vu swore she didn’t know, he released her. It seemed like a trap, but Vu wasn’t sure what kind. If her husband was still alive, and really had escaped, then surely she was being used as bait to draw him out of hiding. She guessed that she’d be followed as soon as she left the prison, so she tried to elude her trackers. “I found out that my husband had escaped, and my network of friends had helped him hide. I went into hiding with him and the baby, who by now was almost 3 years old. We had friends helping us hide, but we moved almost every night.” What followed was a succession of failed attempts to leave the country — 20 total — each of which cost a small fortune. The money came from Vu’s parents, who had settled in the U.S. by then. What Vu didn’t know until later, however, was that her parents scraped together everything they sent her by working two jobs each: her mother on assembly lines and her father as a field inspector for the Dallas Water Department, among other minimum-wage positions. Finally, Vu, Duong, their now4-year-old daughter and their new baby, born while they were in hiding, made it out to sea. Two days into the journey, however, the boat’s motor died. They drifted for 10 days, rationing their food and water. Then the pirates found them.
… Into the fire While pirates — or really, fishermen who supplemented their incomes through piracy — had roamed the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand for centuries, the postwar 36
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LEFT Vu, Duong and their daughters find safety at a refugee camp in Thailand. RIGHT Pirates held Vu and others captive on the large island at the back of the photo.
diaspora gave them a fresh supply of vulnerable targets. Piracy “swelled like the tidal waves that also plague these waters,” according to a 1986 account, published in Reader’s Digest, by investigative reporters Clark Norton and Howard Kohn. Because they operated in unpatrolled international waters, pirates easily eluded law enforcement. Some were after valuables; others seemed motivated purely by malice. The first pirates who encountered Vu’s boat robbed the refugees of the few possessions they carried, then left them adrift. The second set moved on when they saw that there was nothing left to steal. The third set became enraged and rammed the boat, cracking the hull. They were preparing to ram again when a fishing boat intervened and the fishermen begged them to stop. They did; instead of killing the refugees, they took them to Koh Kra, a remote, uninhabited island about 30 miles off Thailand’s eastern coast. Koh Kra had become its own kind of concentration camp, far off the grid, where the pirates brought their captives to be raped, tortured and killed. When Vu and her fellow refugees landed, they found an abandoned lighthouse, its wooden sides charred and scratched with messages in Vietnamese. They were instructions for survival. “Women, find a hiding place right away,” one message read. “Cut your hair and pretend to be a boy,” another suggested. So the women hid. According to
a U.N. official’s account, one woman found a sea cave and stood in waistdeep water for more than two weeks to avoid discovery, ignoring the crabs that bit chunks of flesh from her legs — and the piercing screams of her fellow boat people. Some hid in patches of tall elephant grass, but pirates set fire to the grass, scorching the women and obliterating their cover. Pirates tortured the men to find the hiding places of the remaining women. Some did not survive. Vu lived through the abuse, in part, by thinking of herself as a journalist, not a victim. Instead of trying to hide from the harsh realities of her captivity, she imagined her experience as an undercover reporting assignment. “At my darkest times, it helped me keep my sanity,” she explained. “I promised God that if I could survive this, I wouldn’t forget it. I would tell everyone about it.” Vu and her family endured three harrowing weeks on the island. On Nov. 18, 1979, an American field officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees landed on Koh Kra after a helicopter pilot noticed the captives. The officer, Ted Schweitzer, accompanied by Thai marine police, rescued the 157 prisoners who’d survived their ordeal. In the Thai refugee camp where they were taken, Vu and her family found themselves safe from immediate danger for the first time in years. Vu kept her promise, however: She and Duong began sending a continued on Page 38
The Asian–American Experience at Rice
T Cindy Dinh ’11 and her father, Duc Cong Dinh
Duc Dinh carried few possessions when he fled Vietnam by boat in April 1975. They included this identification card, some family photographs, two pairs of clothing and enough food to last three days.
One of Dinh’s only mementos of his life in Vietnam is this photo of himself, taken during summer 1973, when he was visiting family in the southern coastal town of Vinh Long. Less than two years after arriving in the U.S., Dinh had saved enough money to buy his first car: an orange 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle, which he drove to work and to night school — and on this occasion, to the beach in Galveston.
o complete her coursework for a senior-year history class, Cindy Dinh ’11 had to record the oral history of an Asian immigrant living in Houston. She chose one close to her heart: her father, Duc Cong Dinh, who was among the first wave of boat people to flee South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. Now part of Rice’s Houston Asian American Archive, Duc Cong Dinh’s account was revelatory for his daughter, giving her a new appreciation for the scope of her father’s ordeal and the extent of his sacrifice in leaving home. His story, along with others in the archive, helped Cindy Dinh put the Vietnam War in a new context. “So much of what I learned in public school came from the military perspective and whether it was a wise decision to enter the war. But the oral history interview was a chance for me to learn from someone who lived through it and [came to] a new country as a refugee,” she said. “I always wanted to learn what happened to the Vietnamese diaspora in the aftermath.” In fact, Cindy Dinh, who is now enrolled in a joint degree program in law and public policy offered by the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, had been part of a student initiative pushing for a course on Asian-American immigrants. Rice hadn’t offered a class like it for more than a decade, although there were plenty of courses about Asian countries and cultures themselves. In 2011, Cindy and her cohort got their wish: a seminar called The Asian American Experience. And she got the assignment to interview her dad. In spring 1975, Duc Cong Dinh had just graduated from high school in Saigon and was headed to college — then, he hoped, to medical school — when his education was interrupted by war. The night before the city fell, Dinh and one of his six brothers (he also had three sisters) boarded a 50-foot-long metal boat packed with about 300 evacuees. As he told his daughter in the interview, their plan was optimistic: They would return to Saigon shortly, just as soon as South Vietnam pushed the communists out. The rest of his family stayed behind to wait for his older brother, a police officer who was required to help defend the city. The next day was April 30. On the boat, someone’s radio broadcast a message from the president of South Vietnam: The army had surrendered, and he was stepping down as the nation’s leader. All around Dinh, people began to cry. “We knew we cannot come back,” Dinh recalled. “It was the point of no return. We didn’t prepare for this or have enough fuel, but we knew we couldn’t go back. We just went out to sea. We had an uncertain future.” They ran out of food. Then they ran out of water. The sun burned their skin and rain chilled them to the bone. They happened upon a barge carrying another 2,000 or so refugees, and since their boat was almost out of gas, they climbed onto the barge. No one there had food or water, either; a number of people jumped overboard, killing themselves to end the torture. When she interviewed her father, Cindy Dinh ached to imagine him, just younger than she was at the time, enduring such bitter hardships. His story put a human face on what she knew about the humanitarian efforts to aid the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people — or, as she noted, the lack thereof. “While my father was drifting at sea, there were nine boats that passed [the barge] without stopping. Nine boats. The 10th boat, a U.S. merchant ship, finally stopped.” That boat could only carry about 500 more people — less than a quarter of the refugees — but Dinh was among those who made it aboard. His brother was not. Dinh was shuffled between temporary refugee camps before ending up at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. “That was the first time in my life I ever left my country,” Dinh said. “This was the first time I felt like an orphan.” — J.L. *EDITOR’S NOTE: Dinh’s brother was later rescued by another boat and taken to a refugee processing center, where the two reunited. W IN T E R 2 0 1 6 | R i c e M a g a z i n e 37
LOST AT SEA continued from Page 36 series of open letters to their contacts in the international press, telling the boat people’s tale. The news stories that followed were the first many Americans had heard of the catastrophic proportions to which the refugee crisis had swelled. The news coverage helped spur the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, which allowed more refugees to enter the U.S. and streamlined the process for doing so. That year, according to Refugee Council USA, the country admitted an all-time high of 207,000 refugees, mostly from Southeast Asia — including Vu and Duong. They settled in San Diego, where some of their friends had founded a group called the Boat People S.O.S. Committee. Almost immediately, Vu and Duong became the group’s spokespeople, visiting Vietnamese communities across the country to tell their stories. “As journalists, we only wanted to share information about the boat people, to keep the community aware of what was happening and send the message that parents should not send their daughters alone,” Vu recalled. “But then people started sending us money … We got millions of dollars of donations, and then we started our rescue missions in the South China Sea.” With rented ships and volunteer crews, in cooperation with Médecins du Monde and the German organization Cap Anamur, the group rescued more than 3,000 boat people during the 1980s and ’90s. On a 1988 mission, Vu was accompanied by Stone Phillips, then a reporter for the ABC news program “20/20,” which aired a segment about the group’s work. Vu’s own journalism career was far from over, however. After becoming fluent in English, Vu spent 13 years as a reporter for The San Diego UnionTribune. What brought her to Houston was an opportunity for Duong to return to his roots in radio broadcasting. In 1997, Houston’s Vietnamese radio station was up for sale; Vu and Duong took the leap from California to Houston and into business ownership, co-founding Radio Saigon Houston. 38
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LEFT Vu hosts her weekly talk show on Radio Saigon Houston. RIGHT Duong and Vu co-host a news radio program at the Thai refugee camp, circa 1980.
A calling to talk At the radio station, in the back of a shopping center on Bellaire Boulevard, Duong, 70, still hosts a morning news program every day, while Vu, who is now 65, has a weekly talk show about family and relationships. Their children — five daughters — are fully grown now, and they have four grandchildren. It’s been almost a decade since the couple won a lifetime achievement award from the Asian American Journalists Association, honoring their “courage and commitment to the principles of journalism over the course of a life’s work.” Vu considers herself “semiretired,” even though she still travels frequently for speaking engagements around the world. She didn’t hesitate to provide an oral history for Rice’s archive in 2011. “I never say no when someone asks me to talk about my time as a boat person,” she said. “That’s a calling. I have a duty to talk about it, if it can be helpful to someone else.” That doesn’t mean it’s any easier to tell her story now than it was three decades ago. “Talking about it makes me emotional, but it gives me a clearer picture of life. And it keeps me humble. I didn’t come by that naturally. Being a female war correspondent in the ’70s, you couldn’t afford to be humble.” Although Vu’s story is singular, resilience like hers is a powerful theme in the Rice archive, according to Arthur Cao, a Jones College senior who collected and transcribed inter-
views as an intern in 2013. Another commonality, per Cao: Many of the subjects underestimate the significance of their stories. “All of my interviewees overcame enormous challenges to be where they are today, but almost all of them thought their stories were not worth anyone’s attention because they ‘just did what they had to do,’” he said. “I found it fascinating and somewhat worrisome that these exemplars of human resilience thought so little of their own history.” For scholars, the archive is a treasure trove of primary sources, Cao said; for the general public, it’s an eye-opening resource. “Immigrants and refugees show up as mere numbers in mainstream media, where they’re often portrayed as enormous threats to natives,” he said. “HAAA, on the other hand, gives immigrants a voice and an opportunity to tell their side of the story.” At a time when refugees are once again front-page news and terrorism has become a war with no front lines, Vu hopes her and her husband’s story will offer an uplifting message to anyone who feels afraid. “We wanted to tell our neighbors how bad it was during the war — and that we survived,” she said. “You will, too. Of course no one wants bad things to happen, but once they do, there’s always something more that you can make from it. You learn more from suffering and trouble and pain than you do from happiness. You grow from hardships.”
Courage and Luck We spotlight three more refugee narratives housed at the Chao Center for Asian Studies On April 29, 1975, Nguya heard a coded message on the American Radio Service station: “The temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising.” His American friends had told him to listen for the message, which meant, “Drop everything and get the hell out,” as he recalled in his oral history. Nguya, then 39 years old, had befriended high-ranking American officers while teaching hand-to-hand combat to the U.S. Marines in Saigon. Now he was able to leverage those connections into an invaluable payoff: safe passage for his entire extended family, a total of 33 people, on a massive Marine helicopter, the CH-53 Sea Stallion. The helicopter was too heavy to land on the roof of the U.S. Embassy, so the pilot hovered about 5 feet above it and lowered a ramp. Nguya climbed it, gripping his 66-year-old mother’s hand with his right hand and his 5-year-old son’s with his left. His 3-year-old son was tied to his back; his 1-year-old daughter was tied to his wife’s back. Once in the air, Nguya could see the chaos that gripped the city. “Saigon was burning. Burning everywhere,” he said. “All of a sudden we took fire from the ground. It was friendly fire. ‘Why are you leaving us down here? If I don’t go, you don’t go.’ That was how people felt.”
NGUYA GIA TUONG
After Saigon fell, Chuong’s father was imprisoned, leaving her mother to provide for six children on her own. As the years passed without him, the family grew increasingly poor, hungry and desperate. So in 1980, when Chuong was barely 17, she set out on a perilous journey through Khmer Rouge-controlled Cambodia in the hope of reaching a Thai refugee camp where she could apply for asylum in the U.S. The fate of her entire family was at stake, since she would sponsor them as refugees once she made it to America. “I had to get out so they could have a future,” she explained. She joined a dozen other people making the journey to Thailand — on foot, through the jungle — but she was soon separated from the group. Only a few of them ever made it to freedom. Some were killed by land mines, some by animals and some by the Khmer Rouge. Chuong herself was captured three times by the communist cadre. The first two times, she slipped away from her captors while they slept. The third time, she was taken to a camp for Cambodian dissidents where escape seemed impossible. “A couple of Vietnamese people who’d been arrested were already there. One of them came over and said, ‘Whatever happens, try to deal with it. Accept it. This is a journey that you have to take. This is a time to survive; it’s not a time to fight, it’s not a time to resist.’ I did what I had to do to survive.” A week after her capture, Red Cross workers came upon the camp, and one of the Vietnamese prisoners convinced them to take Chuong with them. They paid for her release with rice.
D E PA RT M E N T O F D E F E N S E / D E PA RT M E N T O F T H E N AV Y/ N AVA L P H OTO G R A P H I C C E N T E R / W I K I M E D I A C O M M O N S P U B L I C D O M A I N
In 1978, when Roff was 12, her family gave up their home and business in Saigon and boarded a wooden boat for Malaysia. But the boat broke apart in a storm, and of nearly 400 passengers, only 52 survived. Roff was one; she bobbed on a piece of the wreckage for 12 hours before being rescued by fishermen. Her parents, two sisters, grandparents and much of her extended family died. The water was so cold that many of the people who initially survived the wreck ultimately succumbed to hypothermia. A boy Roff’s age floated on a plank next to her for hours, but eventually went limp and began to slide into the sea. She pulled him up and kept him afloat. He survived. When Roff made it to a Malaysian refugee camp, she saw people dying needlessly, of dysentery and treatable infections, but was powerless to help. The horrors she witnessed motivated her to pursue a medical career; today, she’s a doctor specializing in wound care. During her training, she worked at a VA clinic where many of the veterans she treated had served in the Vietnam War. “Every [Vietnam] vet I meet, I thank them for trying to protect me and my family,” she said. “I’ve had more than one vet say, ‘No one’s ever thanked me before.’ It feels very FOR THE REST OF THESE STORIES,, symbolic for me to care for them after they risked their lives to protect me.” including oral history recordings and
NOTE: Nguya and Chuong’s oral histories were recorded by the VAHF and donated to Rice. Roff’s story was recorded by HAAA interns.
transcriptions, visit the Houston Asian American Archive at the Chao Center for Asian Studies: ricemagazine.info/323
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A FOR HOUSTON’S
REFUGEES BY RYAN HOLEYWELL
R i c e M a g a z i n e | W IN T E R 2 0 1 6
A NEW PROJECT THAT DOCUMENTS THE LIVES AND EXPERIENCES OF HOUSTON’S IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES JOINS AN ESTABLISHED, STUDENT-FOUNDED NONPROFIT TO RAMP UP RICE’S OUTREACH TO THIS BURGEONING POPULATION.
Yehuda Sharim is the Aubrey ’42 and Sylvia Farb Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies and a scholar at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice. A native of Israel whose parents immigrated there from Iran, Sharim’s research chronicles the creation of Sephardic-Mizrahi identity. In addition to his teaching duties, Sharim is leading a project that documents the lives and experiences of Houston’s growing refugee and migrant communities. The multipronged project, dubbed “Houston in Motion: Empowering Houston
Migrant and Refugee Communities,” will bring together video footage, oral histories, educational events, research, technology and survey data to document and engage with Houston’s diverse refugee and migrant communities. The project has received funding from the Rice University Center for Civic Leadership’s Hilda and Hershel Rich Endowment for Student Community Service as well as the Kinder Institute.
Elizabeth Long, a Rice professor emerita of sociology, and Yan Digilov ’11, a strategist
for the Firestarter Group, a nonprofit social impact investment firm, are also leading the project. Sharim spoke with editors at Rice Magazine and the Kinder Institute about his work. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Filming migrants from the Congo who have been living in Houston for five years BELOW Rice’s Yehuda Sharim teaches an undergraduate course called Art and Activism: Critical Study of Hope in Times of Crisis
It’s always been the focus of my work. I’m from a family of refugee immigrants. It was a different experience than refugees face in Houston in 2016, but I’m aware of the struggles that are acts of migration. It’s about reinventing oneself in a new place, reinventing home when you don’t know what home is. When I came to Houston, I began contacting refugee resettlement organizations and met Yan Digilov, of the Firestarter Group, who is a Rice alum and a Russian immigrant. Our project is working with communities to humanize and give a face to the experiences most of us don’t know about. Harris County receives more refugees than any other county in a state that received more refugees than any other in the country last year. Houston is the world right now.
What are the biggest refugee communities in Houston, and what do you know about how they arrived here? They are Afghan, Cuban, Burmese, Somali, Congolese, Iraqi, Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Syrian, Iranian and Bhutanese. It’s a big mix. Last fiscal year, the U.S. admitted 68,000 refugees. In the early 1980s and 1990s, it was 200,000. Refugees on average spend eight years in a refugee camp. Some spend 20 years. You’re born there, you come here, and you can be in total shock.
What support do refugees get when they arrive in Houston? There are five resettlement agencies here, and they’re doing an incredible job. Most of the people who work there have been refugees themselves. They’ll pick them up from the airport, help them with their phone and bank accounts, enroll their kids in schools. Thirty years ago, these agencies had funds to aid resettlement for two years, but now, they can only help refugees for three to six months, so there is a big gap. Nonprofit organizations and religious institutions also play a huge role in resettlement. 42
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Tell me about a particular individual who’s made an especially meaningful impression on you. One Congolese refugee I met, Riziki Muloba, spent 20 years in a refugee camp. In the days of the civil war, you’d run back and forth to the forest for refuge. You go to Kenya, then to another camp in Ethiopia or elsewhere. You don’t know where your dad or some of your siblings are. It’s just you and your mother and younger sisters. Ten years down the road, you find yourself in Houston, in your mid-20s and with no education. He was fascinated at the idea of making films and started working with our film crew.
Can you tell us more about the Burmese population? The Burmese are one of the largest and most diverse groups that come here. They spend on average 15 to 20 years or more in the refugee camps in Thailand or Malaysia. I’ve encountered families of 11 that lost seven of their kids in the refugee camps. I want to help those communities and empower their leadership to make things possible for them rather than see them wind up being estranged or exploited.
Y E H U DA S H A R I M | TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
How did you become interested in working with refugees?
How will Rice students be involved? That’s a big part of the project. We want students to be involved both in and out of the classroom. Right now, we have nine students working in an internship capacity. They interview various subjects, collect and analyze data, edit film, organize events and manage our website. One of my former students, Marica Sharashenidze ’16, had an interest in podcasts and is developing these for us. Also, I’m teaching an undergraduate course this spring, Art and Activism: Critical Study of Hope in Times of Crisis, in which Houston communities will serve as a case study.
Other than the documentary film, what other goals do you have for this project? We want to know about the refugees’ short- and long-term experiences. What happens to these people three or five years down the road? Are they staying in Houston or moving someplace else? What are the outcomes? Are they employed? We are developing surveys and maps that can help gather and communicate such information. We’re also working on an app that connects refugees to resources like transportation, mental health and education, which we’d offer in multiple languages. There are local ethnic communities that are growing, and they want to support one another.
How has Houston reacted to the rhetoric around Syrian refugees? Some NGOs are getting more support because of it. Mosques are becoming aware of the need to support refugees and come together. This kind of rhetoric influences migrants and refugees who themselves are Muslims. They feel they need to defend themselves. They’re more cautious. The story of Muslim immigrants is complicated. Some of them, like some recent arrivals from Afghanistan and Iraq, worked with the American forces. They made sacrifices — I’ve met some who are severely disabled — and now they feel betrayed because they’ve been lumped together with terrorists. It’s intense to live with this kind of VIEW A TRAILER rhetoric, when you feel of the “Houston in you’re being targeted. Motion” documentary -in-progress here: What do you hope will be houstoninmotion.org
the outcome of this project?
That people will think of refugees and immigrants as “we” and not “they.” We want to assist in and improve refugee arrival and resettlement, especially through our data visualization, multimedia projects, reports and Web resources. By telling these stories and gathering this data, we hope that the community will be encouraged to respond to refugees’ immediate needs.
A Decade of Refugee Partnership
ince 2006, an organization founded by Rice students has been working with Houston’s refugee youth to help them improve their language skills, assimilate into the American educational system, and plan for college and careers. Called the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees (PAIR), the organization started modestly when three students, Christina Lagos Triantaphyllis ’08, Elaine Chang ’07 and Alex Triantaphyllis ’06, began visiting refugee communities and learning about the resettlement process. “We were struck by the rich and difficult history they brought along with them,” said Christina. “We met a Congolese refugee who invited us into his apartment and laid out all the challenges his nieces and nephews were facing in American classrooms. We invited him to visit the Rice campus, and when he saw the language resource center, his eyes just lit up.” Employing considerable organizational, diplomatic and logistical skills, the Rice students were able to host refugees at the resource center during weekend hours. They also set up a tutoring system at area high schools, teaching reading, writing and math. They soon formalized the effort as an official student organization. A key milestone in their growth happened when PAIR won $10,000 as a finalist in a social enterprise competition hosted by the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. As the founding students began to graduate, they also began to think of sustaining their organization. “We were definitely thinking big and hoping that the idea would survive and sustain More than 100 Rice students volunteer itself,” Christina recalled. So, the weekly in Houston public schools via PAIR, the Partnership for the Advancement and students incorporated PAIR into Immersion of Refugees. an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Their foresight has more than paid off. With student chapters at Rice and the University of Houston, an executive director and small staff, PAIR now mentors more than 400 young refugees each year. Reflecting Houston’s recent refugee profile, the majority of these students are from Bhutan, Burma, a variety of African countries and Iraq. Its volunteers can be found at HISD schools and community centers during the school week and on Saturday mornings. During the summer months, they hold academic camps at sites throughout Houston. Josiah Yarbrough ’18, a chemical and biomolecular engineering major, joined PAIR as a freshman and began working with high school students. “The essence of what PAIR seeks to do is to empower these refugee kids we meet with in high schools, middle schools and elementary schools,” Josiah said. “We do that through an academic approach, which is really just helping with the classes that they have,” he said, adding that learning English is usually a big obstacle at first. While Josiah and his fellow volunteers are reaching hundreds of refugees in Houston, there is ample room for growth. More than 3,000 are enrolled in Houston-area schools and about 1,500 are in grades that PAIR programs serve. “PAIR hopes to expand and strengthen partnerships and share knowledge about its unique model so that its efforts have a multiplier effect,” Christina said. “It is a shining example of what’s possible when Rice’s passionate students go beyond the hedges to solve complex problems.”
— LYNN GOSNELL
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creative ideas and endeavors
A GA R D E N O F WO R D S
atasha Bowdoin’s large-scale and complex paper constructions are secret gardens of words and imagery. An assistant professor in Rice’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Bowdoin will bring her ongoing exploration of language and image to Dallas’ Talley Dunn Gallery opening April 1, in a show titled “Spelboken.” The work assembles drawn transcriptions of literary works celebrating nature — like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature” and selections of Gary Snyder’s poetry — with mixed media for an effect that blurs, she said, “the boundary between
as more of a primordial event than a codified system.” Since 2012, Bowdoin has taught drawing, painting, collage, sculpture and other special topics classes at Rice. Last year, she hosted a series of public drawing events that culminated in the Sumi Ink Club exhibition at the Rice Media Center and a symposium titled On Drawing, both with the assistance of a Rice Arts Initiative Grant. www.natashabowdoin.com — L.G. 44
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N ATA S H A B O W D O I N
looking and reading.” In her installations, Bowdoin aims to “present a new experience of the written word, celebrating language and story
arts & Lett ers
R IC E GA L L E RY | T HORST E N BRI NKMANN
Found Objects ARTIST’S SCULPTURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY CREATE A WORLD BOTH STRANGE AND FAMILIAR
T H O R ST E N B R I N K M A N N & VG B I L D K U N ST B O N N , 2 0 1 6 | C O U RT E SY PA B LO’ S B I RT H DAY G A L L E RY, N E W YO R K
erman artist Thorsten Brinkmann has not been visiting Houston’s usual tourist sites during his residency at the Rice University Art Gallery. To create his new site-specific installation, “The Great Cape Rinderhorn,” on view from Feb. 4 to May 15, 2016, Brinkmann has been combing thrift store shelves, junkyard heaps and warehouse inventories. A self-proclaimed serialsammler (“serial collector”), Brinkmann keeps whatever catches his eye as he sifts through the stuff people endlessly accumulate and discard. Brinkmann uses his finds to create sculpture and photography. Items like fabric scraps, old pleated skirts and trash cans become vests, cloaks and helmets that he photographs himself wearing. Never showing his face, Brinkmann anonymously strikes the poses of regal knights or monarchs in his creative costumes. The images marry the traditional and THE GREAT CAPE absurd, drawing from centuries RINDERHORN of Western painting’s by Thorsten Brinkmann conventions of Feb. 4–May 15 portraiture. Sewall Hall For his large-scale (ground floor) Free and open installation at Rice to the public Gallery, Brinkmann www.ricegallery.org combines his photography and sculpture to create a place where the familiar becomes strange. “The Great Cape Rinderhorn” is full of surprises, as visitors can crawl through a tunnel to a secret bedroom, spend some time in a surreal cinema, and see Brinkmann’s photographs and foundobject sculptures.
AND THE WINNER IS ... Three alumni of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music received 2016 Grammy Award nominations in various categories, either as individuals or as part of an ensemble. The award ceremony is Feb. 15, 2016. Blanton Alspaugh ’87, who won a Grammy in 2013, was nominated for classical producer of the year. He is senior producer at Soundmirror. Caroline Shaw ’04 and fellow members of the ensemble Roomful of Teeth were nominated in the chamber music/small ensemble performance category for their song “Render.” The ensemble won a Grammy in 2014. Shaw received a Bachelor of Music degree from Rice. www.roomfulofteeth.org Lauren Snouffer ’09 and fellow members of the Austin-based vocal ensemble Conspirare were nominated in the choral performance category for their album “Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings.” Snouffer received her Bachelor of Music degree from Rice. conspirare.org
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arts & lett er s
Author Q&A “Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism” by Mark R. Stoll ’77 (Oxford University Press, 2015)
OW HAS THE CALVINIST TRADITION SHAPED AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM?
Stoll, an associate professor of history and director of environmental studies at Texas Tech University, traces the Calvinist roots of America’s environmental pioneers, finding that religious beliefs provided “a moral and political center” to the early conservation movements. He shows that specific religious denominations corresponded with ideas about nature and art. At Rice, Stoll lived at Lovett College when Sid ’57 and Mary Burrus were masters. He started out as a physics major before being “seduced to the academ side” and was a KTRU DJ when it was located in the RMC basement. His son, Alex, graduated in 2008.
What did you learn in your book research that surprised you?
Where do we most clearly see Presbyterian beliefs in the work of 20th-century environmentalists like biologist Rachel Carson and Sierra Club Director David Brower?
So much of what I found was completely unanticipated. I expected New England advocates of parks, forestry and conservation to rely on those two heroes of modern environmentalism, Emerson and Thoreau. To my surprise, hardly anyone paid the Transcendentalists any attention at all. Instead, everybody kept referring to the New England town. No Transcendentalists: They were almost all Congregationalists. Still staunch Calvinists in the early 1800s, Congregationalists descended from Puritans. Conservation, parks and forestry emerged from Puritan ideas of a godly society.
How was the New England town a model for future parks? Congregationalists regarded the New England town as a model for rising states in the west. Town commons evolved into the first public parks and inspired city, state and national parks. The Congregationalists opposed rapid destruction of land and forests and foresaw that an exhausted landscape would impoverish future generations.
What was your inspiration for bringing art and aesthetics into the book? In art, you can see how different religious denominations tend to view nature. The art of Hudson River School painters like Thomas Cole depicts characteristically Calvinist landscapes. They emphasize the works of God in nature and minimize the presence of fallen man. The ethereally beautiful unpeopled landscapes of artists like Georgia O’Keeffe or Ansel Adams similarly represent the aesthetic values of Calvinism. In other Christian art traditions, the landscape tends more to be a stage for the people.
How would you characterize the relationship between environmentalism and organized religion today? Mutual suspicion has divided the two since the 1970s. Since environmentalism always has its moral aspects, one can imagine areas where the two might work together.
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Mark R. Stoll ’77 Read more about “Inherit the Holy Mountain” at markstoll.net.
I was amazed how many environmentalists were raised Presbyterian — Congregationalism’s Calvinist cousin — beginning with John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and lasting until Carson, Brower, Edward Abbey and even John Denver. Many had a minister as a close relative or had once considered the ministry. Again, few were orthodox churchgoers as adults, but Presbyterianism trained them to be effective environmental leaders. They saw natural landscape as in some sense holy, because Presbyterians and Congregationalists believed that in God’s creation we are closest to the divine.
Does Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change help build a modern dialogue between religion and environmentalism? How influential is this? Pope Francis really changed the debate. His encyclical came out a few weeks after my book was released, which did have the gratifying effect of attracting a lot of attention to it. It put globalwarming-deniers (most of whom are American conservatives) on the defensive. Hopefully the encyclical will also cool down the unfortunate mutual hostility between environmentalists and religious conservatives.
The wilderness movement seems to have a fragmented relationship to religious framing. Why? None of the founders or leaders of wilderness groups like the Wilderness Society or Earth First! was raised Congregationalist or Presbyterian. They came from a hodgepodge of other denominations, with Methodists, Jews and sometimes Lutherans most numerous. This indicates that wilderness is not a moral movement in the way that environmentalism (think Sierra Club) is, with its Calvinist roots. Anti-modernism mixed with nostalgia for the frontier or the rural past seems to be the main motivation.
d here with reference to Sloterdijk’s understand the new mode of spatiality of ur world is involved in a process of mass cept of the global mass ornament is the g is effectively changing the physiognomy or a cultural transformation that employs from traditional advertising and from we have yet to properly understand. This
The City in Texas: A History by David G. McComb ’62 (University of Texas Press, 2015) “To understand Texas, it is necessary to know what it once was, to know what it has become, and to know how that came to happen,” writes historian David McComb. Between 1940 and 1950, Texas shifted from being a rural state to one where the vast majority (almost 90 percent of the population) live in urban areas — albeit on just 6 percent of the state’s vast expanse. The result is not only a challenge to myths of Texas frontier identity but the advancement of ideas, innovation and creativity. McComb narrates this transformation from the Spanish Conquest to the present. The author of 14 books, McComb taught history at Colorado State University.
Building the Inclusive City
mples of corporate brand-building from Munich and Anting New Town). Additional space-branding activities of companies s an innovative poststructuralist h the space philosophy of Peter Sloterdijk. makes the city enter into a mode of al urban” and, ultimately, the “global mass
ON T H E B O OKSH E L F
NILSOM ARIEL ESPINO
ND URBAN DESIGN
non of branding and its transformational ality. It develops a novel understanding e architectural complexes that relate to cts. The author suggests that what we ”, of a thorough ornamentalization of the
arts & lett ers
NILSON ARIEL ESPINO
Building the Inclusive City THEORY AND PRACTICE FOR CONFRONTING URBAN SEGREGATION
n Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths ess degree from Berlin’s Freie Universität. or the last few years. He reported from er Welt am Sonntag, and worked as e he also edited a business magazine rrently Editor-in-Chief of the architecture ublishing house Callwey. His academic well as concepts and processes of
ROUTLEDGE RESEARCH IN PLANNING AND URBAN DESIGN
Building the Inclusive City: Theory and Practice for Confronting Urban Segregation by Nilson Ariel Espino ’05 (Routledge, 2015) A practicing architect and urban planner in Panama City, Espino studied anthropology at Rice in order “to better understand the cultural and social dimensions of cities and urban development.” Here, he examines the challenge of urban segregation — the unequal social geography that generates the myriad inequalities of urban life. This book serves as both an analysis and guide to professionals and students who want to intervene in the power dynamics and processes that create segregation. Espino is also a lecturer with McGill University and the University of Panama; he directs the Urban Forum and Observatory at Santa María La Antigua Catholic University in Panama.
Power Score: Your Formula for Leadership Success
by Geoff Smart, Randy Street ’92 and Alan Foster (Ballantine Books, 2015) Street is a managing partner at ghSmart, a firm that specializes in management assessment, leadership development and organizational performance. The book draws from the firm’s client data — more than 15,000 interviews with CEOs, managers and other business leaders — to come up with a “PWR score.” The acronym stands for priorities, who (right people in right roles) and relationships. Executives are asked to assess each third on a scale of 1 to 10, then multiply them for the score. “Most leaders only do one, or maybe two of those, really well,” said Street, in an interview posted on Knowledge@Wharton. “Those who do all three well are easily twice as successful as the average leaders.”
by Laura Davis Hays ’73 (Terra Nova Books, 2016) In this fast-paced, metaphysical thriller, Santa Fe scientist Kelsey Depuis begins to have nightmares and visions set in the mythical world of Atlantis. Could the green-eyed girl who shows up in her waking dreams be a visitor from a past life? The dangers and abuses once faced in this ancient world resurface in Depuis’ present-day trials. Reviewer Donley Watt said the book “transcends the fantasy genre with a depth of wide-ranging knowledge and lovely phrasing that gives the story strength and credibility.” Hays graduated from Rice with a B.A. in mathematics and psychology and lives in Santa Fe with her husband, Jim Hays ’73. Read more at www.lauradavishays.com.
In Their Right Minds: The Lives and Shared Practices of Poetic Geniuses
by Carole Brooks Platt ’89 (Imprint Academic, 2015) CORRECTION: In the Fall 2015 issue, we included inaccurate information in the description of Carole Brooks Platt’s book. Here is the corrected description. We apologize for the errors. “In Their Right Minds” examines the lives and atypical minds of poetic geniuses — including William Blake, John Keats, Victor Hugo, W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, James Merrill, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Drawing on the latest research, Platt brings neuroscience to the humanities, connecting diverse topics — a genetic predisposition to an enhanced right hemisphere, childhood trauma, paranormal experiences and occult practices — to exceptional poetic accomplishment. Platt earned a doctorate in French at Rice and also has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, the Sorbonne and Georgetown University.
Arthur Gottschalk, professor of composition and theory, recently released a recording of an original composition, “Requiem for the Living,” on Navona Records. Recorded by the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir, Gottschalk’s composition “is a blueprint for the living, here and now,” wrote Global Music Awards, which gave the album top honors in 2015. Gottschalk’s work found its genesis in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedies and celebrates a common humanity — and multiple musical traditions. Shepherd School alumni Lauren Snouffer ’09 and Andrea Jaber ’02 also are featured on the recording. https:// soundcloud.com/ parmarecordings — L.G.
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Rice Ring Comes Full Circle Raymond Winters ’52 by
tina nazarian ’16
aymond Winters Jr. went to sleep one night in September wearing two Rice rings. One he had gotten from his father, Raymond Winters ’52, who died in 2009. The second was his father’s long-lost original ring, which had made it back to the family after several decades. When Winters Jr. got the call from Anne-Marie Axilrod, a former alumni relations coordinator at Rice, telling him that they had his father’s ring, he was “kind of shocked.” Growing up, Winters Jr. saw his father always wearing his Rice ring. Winters Sr. never mentioned that it was a replacement for the lost original. Axilrod sent Winters Jr. photos of the ring, explaining that a woman had found it sometime in the 1950s. In fact, Eula Mae Allen first found the ring roughly 60 years ago and stored it in a jewelry box. After her death in 1972, Allen’s daughter got the ring, and around 2000, she gave it to her son, Dean Swinney. “In those days, you couldn’t look on the Internet,” Swinney said. When his niece matriculated at Rice in fall 2014, Swinney grew interested in locating the ring’s original owner. He took the ring to a jeweler, who read the inscribed name. Then he called the alumni relations office. “I just felt like it was something that needed to go back to the original family,” Swinney said. The Winters family has pieced together a theory about how the ring was lost. “[Winters Sr.] was more than likely on the way to Fort Bliss via Dallas, and my mother was probably with him, and I think another couple was with them,” Winters Jr. said. They probably stopped at Big Spring National Park, in an area with a bluff overlooking the city, and ate a picnic lunch or dinner. “At some point, he either took it off to do something or he lost it — that’s the real mystery,” Winters Jr. said. Rice rings have been a university tradition since 1916. Jack Stoetzel, the assistant director of alumni programs, said that approximately one-third of the undergraduate student body purchases a ring every year. Roughly 15,000 rings, he estimates, are in circulation. “The current students that I’m talking to view the Rice ring as a great networking tool,” Stoetzel said. “They can start a conversation with, ‘Oh yeah, I went to Rice, here’s my ring.’” At the Rice Ring Celebration in October, Michael Donatti, a Duncan College senior, was excited to receive his ring. “I thought it could be a really cool way to express, on my person, that Rice is where I came from. And Rice is where I got my education and where I made many of my lifelong Balfour has manufactured Rice rings — always friends and had some of the greatest experiences with the same design, of my life.” And if Donatti loses his ring? Rice’s academic seal — “Well, I got an insurance policy, so I would since 1917. probably try to replace it.”
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Summer internships mark the next step for an alumnus committed to professional mentorship. When Steven Bender ’05 volunteered to give Michael Devine ’18 and Vera Liu ’18 a glimpse of a career in the energy industry, the manager of oilfield equipment company Cactus Wellhead was intent on tapping into Rice’s talent pool. On their one-day job-shadowing experience, the students visited the company’s Louisiana manufacturing facility to see every step of operations — from customer service to manufacturing to installation. Now, Steven is taking his professional mentorship to the next level by offering a 2016 Owl Edge Internship. This summer, a Rice student will help implement a smartphone app for technicians in the field. “What makes Rice students unique,” Steven said, “is their world focus and global perspective. That benefits companies regardless of the field, and these are the people I want to bring to Cactus Wellhead.”
Vera Liu (left) with Steven Bender (center) and Michael Devine
“It was a privilege to spend the day exploring a potential career with a Rice alum and experienced professional. Steven gave us the chance to see how everything comes together.” — Vera Liu Owl Edge Internship hosts like Steven are providing Rice students with a hands-on, résumé building experience that complements their work in the classroom. To host an internship for a Rice student at your workplace this summer, please contact Debbie Diamond, director of special projects for Development and Alumni Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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NEXT UP: THE ART OF SCIENCE FICTION — Dave Seeley ’82 calls himself an image junkie. The former architect and current full-time artist creates exquisitely detailed illustrations for science fiction and fantasy books, video games and movies. His materials are pen, pencil, photography, software, handmade models — and a prodigious imagination. Last year, Insight Editions published a handsome retrospective of Seeley’s work, accompanied by first-person essays that delve into the artist’s technical process and more. (The chapter on illustrating “Star Wars” book jackets will delight fans of the Force.) Look for an excerpt of Seeley’s book in the Spring 2016 issue.
Published on Feb 19, 2016
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