360 Degrees: Life Lessons

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Life Lessons :: Education Goes Full Circle Spring 2011 :: Issue 25

Joel Heath :: Illustration, Sophomore # Jensen "& " '

(&'% ' #" #$ # From !#% Orinda, CA

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As a kid, I always enjoyed fantasy stories with & graphic depictions, and my major very * ,& " #, "' &, much focuses on using the imagination. While &'#% & * ' % $ $ ' #"& " !, I! #% ) %, !( # (& & #" (& " ' do enjoy my studio classes, I really enjoy art history and have # " #, !, &'( # found Professor Judith ! " ' #" Meighan’s class, " #, %' &'#%, " ) to be particularly exciting and && & % creatively stimulating. I find it very invigorat #(" %# &&#% ( ' "-& && ing to learn about differenet periods in history '# $ %' ( % , + ' " " % ' ) , and how artists respond to events. &' !( ' " ." ' ) %, ") #% ' " '# Aside from art, I am an avid guitarist and %" #(' % " ' $ % # & " &'#%, enjoy writing music. " #* %' &'& % &$#" '# ) "'&

& %#! %' ! " ) ( ' % &' " " #, *% ' " !(&

Crystal :: Illustration, Senior %,&' Choi #

(&'% ' #" " #% From Saratoga, CA % '#

Illustration is all about visual storytell (&'% ' #" & #(' ) &( &'#%,' ing with various mediums, and I love to " * ' ) % #(& ! (!& " #) '# draw scenes. % * & " & The most interesting art class I took at !#&' "' % &' " %' && '## ' SU has to be Electronic Illustration. We & '# '%#"

(&'% ' #" learned how to digitally , $ "' * ' ' paint with tablets '& in %" #* '# ' Photoshop and Illustrator. Digital skills & are & " #'#& #$ "

(&'% '#% ' a % !(&' #% ", &$ % " must for any aspiring illustrator, and it’s (&'% '#% " clean and fast. I also regularly anima '-& " " &' &# % (attend % , '' " tion conventions. And I love eye-enlarging " ! ' #" #") "' #"& " #) , colored contacts. " % " # #% #"' '&






Since kindergarten, my teachers have always told me that their purpose was to prepare my classmates and me for the next grade level. But now that I face my college graduation, my professors now tell me that Since kindergarten, myreal teachers they’re preparing me for the world. have always told me that their purpose was to prepare my classmates and me for the next grade level. But now that I face my college Woah, talk about scary.


graduation, my professors now tell me that they’re preparing me for the real world. Woah, talk scary. I think about allabout that I’ve learned in those 17 years—balancing equations, combating shyness, and dealing


I think about all that I’ve learned in those 17 years – balancing equations, combating shyness, and dealing – and realized the cliché not all lessons students are There are no classes to learnwith howconflicts to assimilate into a new culture, butthat Syracuse University come learned in the classroom is absolutely true. from more than 100 countries and have to adapt quickly to American culture. But, as Melia Robinson


with conflicts—and realized the cliché that not all lessons are learned in the classroom is absolutely true.

discovered on page 16, resources, like the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Students, aremake no classes learnAnd howSU toboasts assimilate a new culture,sobut offerThere ways to it a littletoeasier. seveninto abroad locations, U.S.Syracuse students have to figure University students come from than 100 countries and have to adapt quickly to out how to navigate new countries andmore languages, all while keeping their GPAs up to snuff. It becomes American culture. But, as Melia Robinson discovered on page TK, resources, like the more difficult when you go abroad your first college experience, but as Erica Murphy learned from two Lillianonand Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Students, offer ways to make it a students pg 26, it can also be very rewarding.

little easier. And SU boasts seven abroad locations, so U.S. students have to figure out

howstudents to navigate new countries languages, allluxuries while keeping their GPAs upfood to by dear-old College are also forced to say and good-bye to many from home, including snuff. It becomes more difficult when you go abroad your first college experience, but Mom (Oh, how I love my mom’s mashed potatoes!). That means our diets disintegrate to Wings and Pita as Erica as Murphy learnedfinds fromout two on pg TK, it canhealthy also be very rewarding. Pit. Luckily, Jillian D’Onfro onstudents page 8, learning to cook and delicious food is simple. Collegefind students aretoalso to say good-bye to manyKristin luxuries from home, includSU alumni returning the forced classroom as teachers rewarding. Hunt shares insight on SU’s ing food by dear-old mom (Oh, how I love my mom’s mashed potatoes!). That can leading employer, Teach for America, on page 12, and how new teachers look to share their knowledge. our dietsBrandt, disintegrate toeditor Wingsinand Pita Pit. Luckily, Jillian D’Onfro out foster Andmean while Christen our own chief emeritus, didn’tasbecome a teacher,finds she helps on page TK, learning to cook healthy and delicious food is simple. education through her non-profit organization She’s the First. Learn about She’s the First and Christen’s role on page 34. SU alumni find returning to the classroom as teachers rewarding. Kristin Hunt shares

SU’s leading employer, Teach on page and how new Andinsight as I faceon graduation this spring, I know thatfor I’mAmerica, far from done withTK, learning. So as you read this issue teachers look to share their knowledge. And while Christen Brandt, our own editor in of 360 Degrees, I urge you to remember Albert Einstein’s words: “Intellectual growth should commence at become a teacher, she helps foster education through her birthchief and emeritus, cease only didn’t at death.” non-profit organization She’s the First. Learn about She’s the First and Christen’s role on page TK.








And as I face graduation this spring, I know that I’m far from done with learning. So as Disclaimer The views expressed in 360 Degrees are not necessarily those you read this issue of 360 Degrees, I urge you to::remember Albert Einstein’s words: of the entireand staff.cease 360 Degrees welcomes contributions from all members “Intellectual growth should commence at birth only at death. ” of the Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF community but retains the right







to publish only material 360 Degrees deems acceptable to the publication’s editorial purpose.

Mission Statement :: Since its debut at Syracuse University in 1998, 360 Degrees has always strived to achieve a balance between tradition and change. Founded by Lanre Mayen Gaba as a new lens to view culture, 360 Degrees has a different focus, format, and feel than its predecessors. What remains constant is the publication’s firm dedication to inform students about cultural and political issues found on campus, in the community, and the world at large.







Life Lessons Learned in College words :: Tina Ferranro art :: Brianna De Moll

More often than not, the most important lessons in life are learned outside the classroom. Knowing the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb, whether an equation is linear or not, or the atomic weight of hydrogen doesn’t really matter in the real world. In college you learn what to do when life hands you lemons. Or peaches. Or cherries. And if you haven’t learned it yet, here are 10 little gems of wisdom:

Dress appropriately. If you think you’re going to be cold, you will be. A Columbia or North Face is a necessity when temperatures reach the negatives. In Syracuse, even if it looks warm and sunny out, it’s not. Don’t expect people to believe that you’re toasty in shorts or a skirt when your goosebumps say otherwise.

Manage your time. SU planners aren’t meant to collect dust on a shelf; use them. Set your own personal deadlines a few days prior to the actual due date, eliminate unnecessary stress, and place yourself closer to that coveted A.

Eat before a night out. Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t guarantee a more exciting night, unless getting your stomach pumped sounds like a good time. (Yogurt does not count as food, and neither does salad.)

Sharing is caring. Going to college is sort of like going to kindergarten. Lending friends your snacks, shoes, or toothpaste fosters relationships. Plus, sharing clothes with a friend doubles the size of your closet. Just make sure to return them.

What, what, what are you doing? If you don’t question your decisions, you might get caught in a vicious cycle, making the same mistakes over and over. Find a studying habit is getting you C’s? Change the location of your cram sessions. Employers aren’t banging down your door? Update and revise your résumé.

Move on. What’s done is done. Attempting to be “friends” when a relationship is over only complicates things further (see “Jersey Shore” season two for clarification).

Make it count. Living for the weekends is equivalent to wishing your life away. Life is short, so make every day count.

Done your best? Do better. Apply for that coveted internship; run for that esteemed position, regardless of the competition. It will drive you to achieve personal success.

Keep it classy. If you plan on sleeping elsewhere, consider bringing a change of clothes or calling a friend to come get you in the a.m. Doing the “walk of shame” past a tour group on Saturday morning isn’t a college experience you’ll enjoy.

When registering for next semester, check out these unconventional courses compilation :: staff art :: Brianna de Moll

Live by the clichés. What happened yesterday was yesterday. Today is a new day; make the most of it. When there is little sunshine, especially in a city like Syracuse, be your own sun.




words, photos :: Jillian D’Onfro art :: Brianna de Moll

DINNER ON US GIVES OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS A TASTE OF DIY FOOD. NO MOM REQUIRED. They pass out the white aprons, and I start to get a little nervous. All I can think about is how these people are going to set me free in the kitchen, and I have the cooking skills of Bridget Jones—mmm, blue soup. We’re on the second floor of Lyman Hall, in one of the experimental test kitchens I didn’t even know existed until tonight. Ten students, three teachers, and fifteen recipes: this was going to get interesting. Dinner on Us—You Do the Cooking, a seminar led by Darya Rotblat, director of the Office of OffCampus and Commuter Services, teaches students basic cooking techniques. So when the dining hall isn’t an option, they have choices besides takeout or unhealthy eating. The program runs three times a semester for three hours each. The theme for this session was “Cooking on the Cheap.” Once the aprons are handed out, we split up into groups of two, with each pair responsible for three recipes. My partner, Bobby Portorsnok, an undeclared freshman,


is just as inexperienced as me. “I pretty much only know how to make Pop Tarts and mac and cheese,” he admits, which is on par with my own two specialties: toast and Betty Crocker cakes. Despite our lack of technical skill, we are eager to start our assigned recipes. We quickly line up the ingredients and gather pans for our chili, golden sweet cornbread, and four-bean salad. “For a while we tried the idea of not having recipes, just giving the students ingredients,” Rotblat says when asked about the history of the program, which started in 2006. “But that just confused people. Ultimately, though, that’s what we want students to get to. Well, you have some chicken, you have some noodles, you have some carrots, what do you do?” First up: the chili. Personally, I’m glad Bobby and I have a recipe in front of us, and that it’s easy to follow. Ground beef, stewed tomatoes, chili powder, kidney beans—none of these ingredients even require using a knife. But then we hit an unexpected snag.

“Uhh, how do you dice an onion?” Bobby’s inquiry stops me in my tracks. Dice an onion; might as well ask me if I know how to fly a 747. Just as I’m about to suggest sort of, you know, stabbing into it and seeing what happens, Nicole LaTouche, a student teacher and restaurant management major, rushes to our rescue. She expertly demonstrates the proper technique, letting Bobby take over after a few minutes. Turns out onion dicing isn’t so bad. With everyone’s meals in full swing, the kitchen gets pretty crazy. I dash to the refrigerator to grab some milk for our cornbread and nearly knock over someone else’s broccoli cheddar quiche. Rushing around the kitchen, I could be a contestant on “Top Chef” as I dodge open oven doors and brush past someone hammering away at raw chicken. Time flies by, and I learn how to properly chop celery while Bobby dices a green pepper like his last name is Flay instead of Portorsnok. We’re a dynamic duo, expert chefs, and probably, at least in my case, a little too confident. I sprinkle a pinch more pepper into the four-bean salad and wish for one of those tall white hats. Disaster strikes when we take the cornbread out of the oven. Instead of a hot, delicious bread, we lift out the pan to find pale, yellow mush. The oven hadn’t been on.

UHH, HOW DO YOU DICE AN ONION? - Bobby Portorsnok Not to be discouraged, we laugh, and pop the cornbread into another oven. By the time 7:30-ish rolls around, we have enough food to feed an army. With a buffet of 15 dishes laid out before us, I wish I had a bottomless stomach. Creamy-avocado and white-bean wraps, beer-batter bread, tuna noodle casserole, lasagna, and more—what a feast. As we sit down to taste each other’s food, the room fills with a mood of satisfaction. We started out as meek college cooks, but end feeling like Iron Chefs. Eat your heart out, Ernie Davis.



All they knew was that they didn’t want to give up their weekends to go to a camp and learn about God’s love. Hell no.

This member of the God Squad found religion when she looked outside the chapel words :: Carolyn Clark art :: Liz Borchert


t’s 4 a.m. in January. Apple cider mix and homemade macaroni and cheese are the only things keeping me conscious. I sit at a table with a few new friends, but the cabin in the middle of the woods is silent. The lights are off, and eight votive candles illuminate the paper in front of me. I ignore the other people and focus on the task at hand: writing letters. One of these letters is only for me, the others for those who changed my life in the span of one weekend. That’s a normal Saturday night at Antioch, a weekend retreat for Confirmation candidates. The peer ministers—I was one of them—were


there to teach about God and the power of religion, while learning something about God and ourselves. I will never forget the three Antioch retreats I was part of. And even though my participation in the retreats has ended, I always think about how they changed my faith. Okay, fine. I’m a Jesus freak. A member of the God Squad, if you will. Teasing and taunting are expected, as are judgments and debates. My religious outlook, and even these labels, have become part of my identity and my own moral code. The plaid skirt and knee socks associated with Catholic school used

to define my religious life. I went to St. Mary’s School in Hackettstown, N.J., where teachers taught catechism everyday, and we prayed the rosary on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Once a month, classes would take turns “hosting” a mass, which included reading during liturgy and presenting the bread and wine for Communion. But all I took away from this Catholic-school experience was a keen sense of grammar (I’m that weirdo who diagrams sentences…for fun) and a fear of public school. As for faith, I wasn’t really sure what to think. The regimented experiences in my life didn’t leave any extraordinary

impression on me. Reciting grace before lunch period, memorizing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and analyzing papal doctrines seemed to define my religious experience, but it lacked passion and direction. So when my family’s church invited me to be a peer minister, I felt hesitant. I was a confirmed Catholic teenager, but the same age as the Confirmation candidates I was supposed to guide because of diocesan differences between my school and my family’s parish. Plus, I didn’t know any of the peers from my church, who were all best friends. I was shy and painfully quiet. And I had no idea how my catechism training would apply to our goal: planning and running a meaningful Antioch. During the months of preparation, I got to know my peers I was working with really well. They had all been on one of these retreats before, loved it, and really wanted me to share their enthusiasm. I had no clue what to expect because of the cardinal rule: What happens at Antioch stays at Antioch. This secrecy creates a safe space for the peers and candidates and nurtures relationships based on total honesty and trust. Without that, the experience would be empty. But even though the peers’ excitement rubbed off on me and I found myself counting down the days until the retreat, I was still apprehensive. When January finally rolled around, I discovered what it was. There’s something about a lack of sleep, an overabundance of sugar, trust-building activities, and personal

narratives that really cause something spectacular: emotional breakdown. People share personal stories about events and people that have changed their lives and their relationships with God. These stories were secrets, things that few people outside the cabin in the woods understood. But the Confirmation candidates who arrived Friday didn’t know this would happen. All they knew was that they didn’t want to give up their weekends to go to a camp and learn about God’s love. Hell no. They wanted to hang out with their friends, watch movies, and sleep in. But by Saturday afternoon, the barriers broke down. Everyone gathered around their peers and shared how they had found God through the good and often terrible times in their lives. Cliques had no place at Antioch; everyone was united. Religion, I realized at Antioch, had nothing to do with reading the Gospels every night, or being able to rattle off the books of the Old Testament, or even naming all the popes and ecumenical counsels. That’s merely the institution of the church, just the surface of a deeper, faith-filled experience. Instead, my faith took on an entirely different meaning. When

people channel the values and morals of spirituality, that’s religion. I found it in the personal relationships with friends and families. It becomes more than a label: it’s a way of seeing a higher power at work through the good we see in others and even our own selves. You find that God—in His various forms and acknowledged names—exists. So when I proudly admit I am a member of the God Squad, I am saying that through relationships I’ve made, I formed my own morality. And that morality has nothing to do with knee socks or scheduled rosary recitations and everything to do with friendship and apple cider.



WHAT UP, TEACH? Post-Grad Job Hunt Sends Alums to the Front of the Classroom words :: Kristin Hunt art :: Nastacia Chubinsky and Liz Borchert

goes that those who can’t teach. It seemed only natural Tthen,hedo,saying that last year, when a bleak job market allowed college graduates to “do” very little, large numbers turned to Teach for America, a national organization currently employing 8,200 recent college graduates as teachers across the country. Yet the members of Teach for America


are hardly desperate, jobless kids pouncing on two years of security; the men and women who earn positions in this corps are highly motivated individuals dedicated to eliminating education inequality in America. Idealistic? Maybe. But since its inception 20 years ago as an undergraduate thesis at Princeton University, Teach for America has

reached over three million students in 39 regions, ranging from Hawaii to the Mississippi Delta. The program targets low-performing public schools, and recruits recent college graduates from all different majors and backgrounds. The minimum commitment for any corps member is two years, though roughly 45 percent stay a third year or longer at their school.



Teach for America hired 28 members of the 2010 Syracuse University graduating class, making it the number one employer of SU alums. They came from a pool of 155 applicants, meaning 5.4 percent of the 2010 class applied for a spot in Teach for America. “I’ve worked with other schools, and there’s something really unique and special about Syracuse,” says Ian Hillis, recruitment director at SU. “I’ve seen so much passion coming from the [SU] students, because they’ve seen [education inequality] firsthand through opportunities like the Literacy Corps or Say Yes to Education. As corps members, it really makes them passionate about the issue, and that’s something that I’ve noticed really sets these students apart.” Teach for America begins searching for new hires long before the application deadline. Hillis and his fellow SU campus recruiters start by working off recommendations from faculty members and students, as well as visiting classrooms in the fall semester to get the word out about Teach for America. This was how Kyle Coleman, a 2010 graduate in policy studies, first found out about the program. He was struck by the - Ian Hillis


enthusiasm of the recruiters, and the inspirational stories they told. He applied in his senior year, and was accepted two months later. “I chose Teach for America because it gives me the opportunity to do three key things every day,” says Coleman. “Close the achievement gap, prepare the neediest scholars to get to and through college, and show America that poor kids and their families care if they succeed in school, that it’s possible for them to do so in an academic environment that’s rigorous and led by teachers with high expectations.” To be selected for the program, candidates must first complete an online application, which includes a 500-word letter of intent, résumé, and questions about campus involvement. The next round is a 30-minute phone interview with someone from the admissions team. The final interviews take place on campus in early April. Candidates present a lesson plan to both the Teach for America representatives and fellow applicants, complete a group activity, and participate in a 45-minute, one-onone interview. Those that make it through the multi-tiered process are sent to what Teach for America calls “Institute” the summer before they begin teaching. During the five-week program, new corps members attend sessions to prepare them for their new jobs and teach summer school part-time. Akshay Gupta, a public administration graduate student at SU, saw all the training as useful, since, like a lot of his peers, he hadn’t majored in education. “It’s a really busy time,” says Gupta. “You wake up at 6 a.m. and don’t really go to bed until 11 or 12 because you have to prepare lessons for the next day. It really helps you once the fall semester starts.” Having grown up along the East Coast, Gupta chose to teach in Memphis, Tennessee, for a change of pace. He taught economics during his time at Kingsbury High School, as well as a theater elective in his second year. Since most of his students were juniors or seniors, Gupta had to motivate them to graduate high school and potentially pursue college. He did so by forging strong bonds with the

kids not only as a teacher, but also as coach of the swim team. “Doing a lot of those things lets you get to know the kids on a different level,” says Gupta. “It shows you’re not just there to pick up the paycheck and go home, but you really are interested in being a part of the community.” Coleman, currently teaching at KIPP: Central City Primary in New Orleans, Louisiana, also values his relationship with his much younger second-grade students. He’s proudly filed away 118 letters and pictures from his pupils and never loses sight of his responsibility towards them. “We have our fun, but when it’s time to turn from silly to serious, they know I mean business,” says Coleman. “Every second counts, and we certainly embody that in our classroom.” Coleman plans to continue in the education sector when his commitment to Teach for America is up, but not all corps members stay in the field. Only about half pursue a career in education after their twoyear terms are complete while the remaining 50 percent may choose law, banking, science, or other tracks. But Teach for America can be an important résumé builder for even the non-teachers. Employer partners like Goldman Sachs, GE, Google, and J.P. Morgan recruit alumni for full-time jobs after they’ve left the classroom. In addition to career benefits, Teach for America offers an unforgettable experience. Hillis says that passionate alumni are becoming major movers and shakers in the national education reform movement, as they claim elected offices – more than 40 are currently serving terms – and government positions. But even for those who choose not to teach beyond their two years or pick up a picket sign outside Capitol Hill, time in Teach for America has a deeply personal impact. “I think it kind of opens your eyes to a different world that many of us don’t really know,” says Gupta. “It’s different to read about it in a newspaper or hear about how these schools work through a book. You really learn a lot about yourself, overcoming adversity, and really what it’s all about.”




The Slutzker Center for International Services fosters cultural connections despite insufficient funding


nad Mialeh weighs a Milano cookie in each hand as he stares intently at the four young women sitting around him. He asks them to imagine that one cookie is wrapped nicely in plastic. It is protected and clean. The other is exposed, and fleas cling to it. “Which cookie do you choose?” he asks his group of new friends, sitting around a kitchen table on a Thursday night. Mialeh explains how the cookie wrapper is a metaphor for the headscarves women wear in his homeland, the West Bank. The headscarves protect a woman’s beauty and purity by warding off inappropriate attention. “In my opinion as a Muslim, the woman who is uncovered is less preferable since parts of her body are

seen by other people,” says Mialeh, a disability studies graduate student at Syracuse University. A member of the group shouts: “How can you compare women to cookies?” Her open palms slam the countertop. Mialeh’s religious convictions hold firm, but the other dinner guests are determined to win this argument, one they’ve debated many times before. They are all graduate students at SU, but that’s the only similarity in the group. Alevtina Durmashkina, a public health administration and international relations dual major from Russia, plays hostess to Mialeh and students from Estonia, Mexico, and the Philippines. At the kitchen table, they cover a wide array of topics, including religious traditions,

sex before marriage, friendship with Americans, civil war in the Philippines, living conditions in nursing homes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and—for Mialeh’s benefit— how to use Facebook. Their diverse backgrounds give them unique perspectives in each debate. These conflicting viewpoints sometimes inflame a conversation, as demonstrated during their discussion of women’s rights in the West Bank. Anna Ebers, a doctoral student in environmental economics from Estonia, believes the variety of opinions strengthens the group rather than divides them. “The differences are there, but what we’re hopefully going to do is understand why this person is saying what they’re saying,” she says. “How continued on page 20

words and photos :: Melia Robinson art :: Liz Borchert







we think is forged by our upbringing, our culture, our understanding of things. I feel it is important to not judge other cultures before you understand those things.” The eclectic group of dinner guests first met in February at an overnight retreat called Orange Dialogue for Peace. The two-day event, organized by the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services, brought 32 SU students to Adams Eden Camp in LaFayette, N.Y. The students originated from Afghanistan, China, Estonia, Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the West Bank. Eight were from the U.S. Participants stayed in cabins tucked away in the dense woods and banned all electronic communication with the outside world. The purpose of Orange Dialogue is to unite students from different backgrounds and provide an open forum for discussion of world issues and conflict-resolution strategies. Participants learn about other cultures through team-building challenges, outdoor ropes courses, and in-depth conversations with their peers. Dr. Elane Granger, the associate director of the Slutzker Center and the program coordinator,


takes pride in Orange Dialogue because it reflects the diversity of the SU community. Students from both the U.S. and abroad take part, although financial difficulties inhibit its inclusivity. Granger received the budget she proposed for the trip in full, but wishes she could extend the opportunity to more students. “In economic hard times, what’s the first thing you have to cut?” Granger says. “Programming.” The Sluztker Center receives funding from two primary sources: The Division of Student Affairs and

park in LaFayette, 20 minutes from campus, and cut the program by a day to accommodate the allocated budget. Students have never before had to pay for the trip, which could cost between $135-150 per person, and Granger worries a program fee would put a severe dent in interest. “I’m applying now for another Adirondacks trip next year, but [Division of Student Affairs] doesn’t like to fund the same program more than once,” Granger says, although she appreciates its support in previous semesters. “What I’d like them to do

You can’t tell people what you’re trying to teach them. You have to show them. [Otherwise,] they resist. Dr. Elane Granger Dr. Elane Granger a private beneficiary. Each year, it submits budget proposals to DSA for specific co-curricular funding. The money draws from a pool shared by 23 other units funded by DSA, including the Counseling Center, Health Services, the LGBT Resource Center, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. While funding for most Slutzker Center programming renews automatically each semester, Granger has to apply for additional grants to cover the costs of Orange Dialogue. The fall 2010 retreat in the Adirondacks cost about $6000, including lodging, food, transportation, equipment, access to the ropes courses, and facilitators. Granger moved the spring 2011 retreat to a

is put it right into our budget. … This should be funded annually because this is so important to the future of the world and to our campus.” While the primary function of the Slutzker Center is to manage international students’ immigration documents, it provides other programming in addition to Orange Dialogue to promote communication between different cultures. English Conversation Group brings together international students and an American discussion leader, giving those who do not speak English as a first language the chance to practice in a casual environment. A group called Connections focuses on supporting international students in an academic and psychological context. The Slutzker Center also coordinates International Education Week, which explores what it means to be a global citizen. The week’s events are meant to appeal to both international students as well as Americans. The goal of generating peace and understanding is the common thread in programming at the Slutzker Center. Students sometimes come from feuding countries, which can result in hostile, unproductive arguments. At the first Orange Dialogue last fall, a heated discussion broke out between two students from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Historical prejudices and loyalty to their own countries prevented the students from seeing eye to eye. Granger encourages students to leave behind the biases their home countries may have instilled in them.

“There’s a lot of hate and a lot of resentment,” Granger says. “What’s relevant is their personal pain.” When students share how they’ve suffered, their stories take on a level of humanity. It’s easier for a person to empathize with personal suffering than it is to listen to his politics. “You can’t tell people what you’re trying to teach them. You have to show them,” Granger says. Otherwise, “They resist.” The challenge of listening to a perceived adversary is a daunting task, but students at Orange Dialogue learned that the patience to listen to an opposing opinion could develop in the kitchen. During the retreat students split into groups of six or seven, and teams were responsible for preparing part of dinner. Thirty-two students were in the kitchen at once, competing for access to appliances and utensils. They tripped over each other and dodged flying pieces of food. The kitchen was utter chaos. Marineth Domingo, a public administration graduate student from the Philippines, says the informal nature of the task creatively forced students—who may have quarreled

otherwise—to work together in a non-confrontational way. Domingo looked around the kitchen and saw people who worshiped different gods, wore different clothing, and spoke different languages working in unison. The cultural barrier began to crumble. “I could see people working so hard, preparing the meals,” she says. “And you could already see the difference.” Domingo says the simple act of cutting vegetables together creates a situation where people set aside their prejudices and ease into conversation. From there, collaborations flourished, and when it came time for the night hike, students willingly helped their new friends cross the rocky path. Granger finds this level of cooperation encouraging. “Just imagine if you could get young people really interested in saying, ‘Enough is enough,’ from both sides, whatever the conflict is,” she says. “That’s why I come to work every day.” Granger’s work extends beyond the one program. In 2007, she launched Mix It Up, a weekly social mixer for international and American students. Each week, students meet in the Slutzker Center and feast on chips and salsa before the group discussion. Granger asks students to volunteer a topic, but she rarely confines the conversation to any particular subject. She says Mix It Up is a good

opportunity for American students to teach the international students about U.S. customs and college life. Facing budget issues, Granger resorted to paying for supplies out of pocket some weeks. She prepared the food herself, slicing vegetables and setting out tubs of dip. Two years later, DSA awarded it funding in the annual budget, and Granger was able to cater the event. She believes in the power of food to bring people together, like in the kitchen at Orange Dialogue. “At the last Mix It Up, I even said to [the students], ‘Are you here because the food has gotten better?’” she says with a laugh. “That would be a shame, but it goes to show you how much I need the money to do what I do. The reason they come doesn’t matter if you do your job right.” What matters is what students take away from the Sluztker Center. Granger hopes students gain greater awareness of the world than what she knew as a college student. “I’d like students to go into the world with confidence that they can understand others or they will at least … have the skills to seek understanding,” Granger says. The capacity to be empathetic and curious about people who are different is largely lacking in our society. “Our leaders don’t have that,” she says. “It starts here.”

Alevtina Durmashkina, of Russia, ponders a thought in discussion at Orange Dialogue

Sayeed Mahdee Sanglakhee, of Afghanistan, and Elane Granger, of the U.S., share a laugh in the kitchen at Orange Dialogue





Students reach out to kids in Syracuse by teaching them photography and seeing things from their point of view. photos :: Liz Borchert & Arielle Knapp words :: Carolyn Clark


Students at Smith Edward Elementary School explored with the cameras and took photos in various locations. They started in the hallway but soon ventured to the library.



The gymnasium gave students the chance to practice action shots as they walked around and played basketball. Others experiment with perspective, using stairs to get a new angle as friends posed.


Fifteen Syracuse University students taking TRN 310: Literacy, Community, and Media this semester take their photography skills out into the world of community outreach. Professor Stephen Mahan, who heads up the class, and on a weekly basis, the students work with elementary and middle school students in Syracuse schools as well as P.E.A.C.E., Inc, a communitybased non-profit organization. Using cameras that the class provides, the kids get a chance to experiment with point of view, zoom and manipulation. SU students demonstrate to them about photo composition, including foreground, background, and manipulation. They also incorporate props to help inspire the kids

to think creatively. For Valentine’s Day, the kids used a large paper-heart cutout to take photos, often using it as a border around things that they love. The SU students don’t stop at just assisting with photography, but help the students with creative writing. Students respond to writing prompts given by Professor Mahan. Once the students write their short stories and poems, the words are combined with their photography in Photoshop. The finished work is then displayed at the Warehouse where students at the College of Visual and Performing Arts can admire the younger students’ work.




words :: Erica Murphy art :: Katherine Hampton

Passport to College One group of SU Freshmen choose the streets of Florence over the hills of Syracuse


developed an interest in Doctors Halloween as “The Night of the hey sauntered through Without Borders, an international Colorful Wigs.” They took a weekend the streets of Italy, slurped medical humanitarian organization. trip to Spain and began their evening spaghetti in a café in Florence, While Ross admits that Florence isn’t in Barcelona. Back in Syracuse, they and learned the language from exactly a city in need of medical care, might be perfecting their “Snookie scrumptious Italian men. she still felt it was necessary to see poof,” but in Barcelona, they were Bellissimo! what living overseas was like. about to take on a whole new hairdo. These don’t sound like typical “[Discovery Florence] was an The girls arrived at a club and were college freshman experiences, but for important opportunity to get her Alexandria Ross and Angelica Haas, this in complete shock. A sea of people in started,” says Laurie Ross, Ross’s outrageous wigs took over the dance was just another day of the semester. mother. “She wants to help treat floor. After gathering up the nerve, Freshmen accepted into Syracuse children all over the world. Now she Ross and Haas asked someone where University’s College of Arts and has the experience to go somewhere a they got their wigs, and made plans to Sciences have the option to study little more in that direction.” purchase them. abroad in Florence for their first When Ross and Haas weren’t They found the wig store the semester through a program called hitting the clubs or pondering their following day and bought their own Discovery Florence. It allows students futures, they were learning about crazy accessories. In broad daylight, to submerse themselves in another Italian culture in the classroom. All the girls got dolled up with hot culture. When Ross and Hass had to the freshmen in Florence must take pink and bright orange wigs. They decide whether to spend their first political science, which focuses on the frolicked around Barcelona and struck semester at SU or in Florence, their Italian Renaissance; art history, which modeling poses. “Families started choice was obvious. Homemade engages students with the culture of coming up to us and taking pictures spaghetti and Italian museums beat Florence; and first-year forum, which with us,” Haas says. “They thought we out dining hall pasta and Syracuse helps students adjust to the program. were famous or something.” architecture, no contest. Depending on transfer credits, It was this total cultural A week into the experience in students can opt out of the required submersion that attracted Ross, who Italy’s city of romance, Ross and Haas writing course and choose from found out about the option on SU’s put on their most fashionable outfits provided electives, and hit the town. In hopes of finding says Susan a hot spot, the girls spent the first part Loevenguth, an of their evening trying to navigate the associate director streets of Florence. “We didn’t really for SU Abroad. know where we were most of the time,” “In addition Ross says. “We were still learning the to getting content ins and outs of the city.” or skill building They finally settled from the general on a disco dance club RIGHT AT HOME requirements, and talked their way Sporting an outrageous you’re getting the in. Once inside, the wig, Haas stands out in culture and history girls bumped into the Barcelona piazza. that other students two Italian men who Photo courtesy of :: don’t get,” she wanted to give them a Angelica Haas says. “They get to tour of the city. They see works on site exchanged Facebook instead of on a information with the slide.” pair and planned a double date for Students also later in the week. The young Italian take a six-credit men became Ross and Haas’s tour Italian course, guides of Florence. which meets four “They ended up taking us to the days a week and Piazza Michelangelo,” Ross says as a smile creeps across her face. “It is one When Ross and Haas weren’t hitting the prepares students for understanding of the most romantic spots in the city.” clubs or pondering their futures, the language. Ross and Haas didn’t arrive back until 5:30 a.m., which wasn’t a big deal they were learning about Italian culture. Instructors conduct activities because they lived with a host family in Italian and use who had no rules. They were allowed culture to encourage further learning. website, to the program in the first to go out every night of the week and The girls went to Italy not knowing place. She got to experience living frequently took advantage of it. a word of Italian, but came home somewhere new, giving her a glimpse “You never knew what was going nearly fluent. The academic aspects of life in a foreign country. As a to happen at the end of the night,” of the program have received mostly freshman in college, she experienced says Haas, an undeclared major in positive feedback, Loevenguth says. something many people never do. the College of Arts and Sciences. “I The only complaints come from Even before studying in Florence, don’t think we ever went out without students who are unhappy with the Ross wanted to make traveling a part something interesting happening.” regimented schedule. of her future. In high school, Ross Ross and Hass will remember



Ali Mierzejewski London, England Ali Mierzejewski, a junior magazine journalism major, admits she personified some obnoxious American stereotypes when she started her spring 2011 semester in London, England. But throughout her semester, she’s become more aware and more respectful of diverse cultures around her—and she’s

become more respectful because of it. And Mierzejewski finds that being on her own in a foreign country has given her more confidence. Because she’s in a foreign place, she often finds herself in situations where she’s not entirely sure what’s she’s supposed to do. “It’s obvious to people around me that I have no idea what I’m doing,”

Mierzejewski says, “but that doesn’t embarrass me anymore.” That doesn’t mean Mierzejewski doesn’t miss being in the U.S. or at SU. She’s learned just how great dining-hall food can be; even if it’s not the highest quality, dining halls, she’s realized, always have hot meals prepared for her on a regular basis.

words :: Erica Murphy art :: Katherine Hampton

Students share how they found independence while living abroad. words :: Tory Wolk photos courtesy of :: Ali Mierzejewski and Melanie Gunderson

Passport to College One group of SU Freshmen choose the streets of Florence over the hills of Syracuse


Melanie Gunderson Strasbourg, France After learning French in high school, Melanie Gunderson decided she wanted to go abroad and learn about different cultures. In fall 2010, she traveled to Strasbourg, France. Gunderson was nervous about leaving behind her friends and boyfriend at SU. Even though she was used to not seeing her family in Oregon while at SU, she was still concerned about the distance. And she found it difficult acclimating to the time difference when communicating with people back home. In Strasbourg, she found other

struggles: navigating. Gunderson had trouble getting back and forth between her classes and her home in Strasbourg. She says she never realized how condensed the SU campus was until she faced a 45-minute commute each morning. To make matters worse, she had to bike or walk when a public transportation company went on strike. “The strikes were horrendous, happening about twice a week,” Gunderson says. “It made taking the South Campus bus sophomore year look so simple.”

Aside from transportation issues, Gunderson loved the experience of living in France for a semester and particularly loved Chriskindlmarkt. This Christmas market was held from the end of November until the end of December and offered holiday goods for locals and visitors to peruse. Along with cultural differences, Gunderson also dealt with a language barrier. She didn’t know if her host family could not speak English—or would not. But eventually, French became natural, and Gunderson learned how to be independent.



words :: Kasey Panetta art :: Andrew Colaprete

rian Iglesias always wanted to work in film. When his 13 years in the Marine Corps ended because of a back injury, he thought that it was the perfect time to make it happen. With the combination of his military discipline and a film degree from Temple University, he assumed it would be doable. But, he soon realized it wouldn’t be easy at all. Iglesias, who served two tours in Iraq, tried for years to get his business off the ground, trying to make his dream come true. “I had a really hard time with just employment and finding the right opportunities. I was kind of lost,” he says. “I figured it would be a natural occurrence to have my own company and it wasn’t working out that way.” After watching him struggle, Iglesias’s mother-in-law told him


about the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a program started at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, designed specifically to provide mentorship and education about small business management for veterans. In 2007, the inaugural year, 21 post-9/11 veterans became the first to participate in the program. “For a lot of guys in the program, we have this dream or this goal or this passion, and we know we want to do it,” Iglesias says. “It’s just what’s the vehicle or how do we get to that point.” Since then, 200 veterans have passed through the program, and 70 percent of the 2007 graduates have their own businesses. Those businesses, says national program coordinator Raymond Toenniessen,

range from one veteran who releases doves at special occasions to landscaping and construction businesses to real estate firms. In January of 2009, Iglesias started Veterans Inc., his own film and media production company. Since then, the company has produced three films. The first movie, Chosin, a documentary about the Chosin Reservoir Campaign of the Korean War, debuted in movie theaters in 2010 and will make its television appearance in September. DVD sales for the documentary have topped 10,000 and it was chosen as the Best Documentary at the Dixie Film Festival. The other movies, The Cemetery and Cross Bearer, are both horror films expected to be released this year. Soon, he’ll be busy

shooting another movie on location in L.A. and working on a web series for the Vans Warped Tour, a punk rock music festival. The company is also publishing three graphic novels later this year. Needless to say, it’s been a busy few years for the growing company. Back in 2008, Iglesias applied to the prestigious, privately-funded EBV program, which requires two letters of recommendation in addition to a résumé and personal essays. He was accepted into the Syracuse program, one of seven campus choices in the consortium, including UCLA Anderson School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, Mays Business School at Texas A&M, The Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, The University of Connecticut School of Business, and E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University. Applicants can select any of the locations, but the Whitman School remains the main campus. The first leg of the 10-month program is the “self-study curriculum,” during which the veterans participate in an online course and develop their own business plans under the guidance of a mentor from one of the seven campuses. Phase two is a nine-day trip to one of the universities where the candidates are immersed in an intensive workshop, learning about topics like business plans, budgets, marketing, and outsourcing. Extensive networking takes place during this phase as the veterans spend time with fellow entrepreneurs as well as professors, guest lecturers, and business mentors . Each location puts its own campus personality into field trips—Syracuse vets can expect a trip t Dinosaur Bar-B-Que—to give the veterans a more relaxed atmosphere for conversation. Iglesias says the residency was especially demanding but the late nights and intense classes were worth it. “It matters to us. We’re not just taking this free course to get a passing grade,” he says, “This is the rest of your life.” The best thing that came from the experience was the confidence he had the knowledge to succeed and people supporting him that he could turn to. The continued mentorship is the third step in the process, and Iglesias says the guidance has been priceless. Because of the business school’s connections and the wide range of

you have this really great sense of purpose, and when you come home sometimes you lose that,” he says. “For me, it was difficult coming home and being unemployed, so I figured if these guys are home and they’re unemployed, only bad things can come out of that.” He figured his company could give them a place to grow and hopefully begin to pursue their own dreams. As for his own dreams, he credits the support of the program with some of his success. “We’re out there protecting people’s rights to pursue the American dream,” he says. “Now these same people are giving us the opportunity to pursue that dream ourselves.”

specialties, he can call to ask questions about anything from government contracting to taxes to quirks that come with running your own small business. If his mentor doesn’t know the answer, it doesn’t take long to find someone who does. Part of Iglesias’s mission was not only to start his own company, but also to help other returning veterans find work. Almost everyone who works with Veterans Inc. is a veteran. Transitioning from the battlefield to the home front was something he and other veterans struggled with, and he saw his company as the vehicle to help his military brothers and sisters. “When you’re in the military, you’re serving your country, and you’re part of something bigger than yourself. You’re putting on a uniform;














sign sign hangs hangs in in the the front front of of the the classroom, classroom, spelling spelling out “You Belong.” EachEach letter is out “You Belong.” written marker squares letter isin written inon marker of colored construction paper and strung on squares of colored together. On the opposite wall, together. another construction paper and strung signthe reads “Your wall, the best.” Despite On opposite another sign reads misspellings andDespite tears inmisspellings the paper, each “Your the best.” and sign isinuniquely beautiful. tears the paper, each sign is uniquely This room at the West Side Learning beautiful.Despite misspellings and , but centerisissomething home to Inner Beauty Parlor, there beautiful about each an after-school one of them. program for girls 12 to 18. Emily In thisFrank room created at West the Sideprogram Learningin Januaryabout 2008 when wasgirls a creative Center, five toshe seven ranging writing graduate at Syracuse from age 12 to 18student spend every Tuesday University. Inspired by a at children’s and Thursday afternoon the “Inner story about a self-conscious snail, Beauty Parlor.” A large table in the center Frank wanted to create community of the room offers appleaslices, and the of support new opportunities for girls and SUand students lounge informally girlscouches and young in localof on andwomen chairs inliving one corner impoverished the room or theneighborhoods. beanbags and the rug on largeside table center of Inner the A other of in thethe room. Beauty Parlor’s offers slices Inner Beautyroom Parlor is anapple after-school and healthy while University the girls and program runsnacks by Syracuse their mentors from SU lounge informally students and coordinator Emily Frank. on couches chairs instory one about cornera Inspired by aand children’s of the room or beanbags and a rug self-conscious snail wit, Frank, whoin another. pairswriting and small was a SUThe creative gradgroups student, discuss issues like suicide, depression, wanted a community of support and new and self-mutilation—situations the girls opportunities, with mentors available for may in experience without knowing how to girls local, impoverished communities. cope.founded The mentors help to educate them, They the program in January foster self-esteem, provide an outlet of 2008. The girls inand Inner Beauty to discuss thein problems they have. Parlor all live Syracuse’s West Side Eleven mentors attend theissues weekly neighborhood and deal with like program,depression, held on Tuesdays and suicide, and self-mutilation. Thursdays. With the girls,these they focus Mentors help to educate girls, on education by encouraging to foster self-esteem, and providethem an outlet read and write. They also teach them to deal with problems. howToday, to handle and therehurtful are 11gossip coming weekly


____, ___, and Anna work on a group reading activity about how gossiping can hurt people. The whole group discusses personal experiences they’ve had with this type of bullying. Anna __ and __ play a game, breaking up some of the serious talk that filled the afternoon.

Girls at Inner Beauty Parlor discusshow gossip hurts people. The whole group discusses personal experiences they’ve had with this type of bullying.





Girls from Girls from Syracuse’s Syracuse’ West s West Side Side neighborhood neighborhood learn learn thethe importance of inner beauty inner beauty words and photos photos::::Talia TaliaRoth Roth build confidence through readings to work with the girls weekly, focus and discussions. In the Westthem Side to on education, encouraging Learning Center, girls benefit from read or write. On the a regular basis they programming on various teach the girls focused about hurtful issues like topics health wellness, during hurtfullike gossip andand building confidence which a personal instructor through readings yoga and discussions. came to teachLearning the group. They plan In the in Westside Center fun activities forfrom outside the learning the girls benefit educational center, like field trips to SU, dinner programming that focus on atopics like party program coordinator Alonna healthatand wellness, during which a Berry’s house, and overnight hiking personal yoga instructor trips. activities came These in to teach the show these girls aspects of Syracuse group. Other topics they covermight not have access to and otherwise. hurtful gossip building Berry says they try to make sure confidence and mentors the experience things that they use girls readings and discussion wouldn’t normally able to, like to guide and teach.be They the She says alsoyoga planclasses. fun activities likethat those activities theaones theatgirls usually fieldtrips are to SU, dinner like the house most. and overnight Berry’s Frank believes program hiking trips to givethe these girls fills a gap in that deals to aspects ofsociety Syracuse that theywith may the of to underdeveloped not messages have access otherwise. communities. “It’sthe a very different Alonna Berry, program experience as a coordinator,than saysgrowing they try up to make middle-class girl; expectations sure the girls experience thingsreally that are says. be able to, theydifferent,” wouldn’t she normally is something the likeThe the program yoga classes. She says that community andShe thesaid girlsthose needkinds to of those activities keep them doing well they consistently, activities are the ones usually end Frank says. When girls stop coming up enjoying most.ys to the program, Berry found A co-founder of thehas program, them going Emily failing Frank, classes, believesnot theeven program to orsociety bouncing fillsschool, a gap in thatfrom dealshouse with to house. the messages of underdeveloped Berry explains caring for communities. “It’s that a very different these girls, especially when experience than growing up they as a don’t necessarily to carereally for middle-classhave girl;others expectations them, is large she partsays. of what mentors are different,” andWhen the program do. “If we to have girls stop coming theto

be their personal cheerleaders, then program, Berry has found them failing that’s what do.” classes, not we even going to school, or Eleven-year-old Nany Bizarro, who bouncing from house to house. starting to theisprogram twothe She sayscoming the program something years ago, says learned many community andshe thehas girls need to keep lessons from it. “I’m not getting in so them consistent. much trouble at school anymore,” Berry explains that caring for says Bizarro, now in sixth grade. these girls, especially when “There they don’t are older people teach necessarily have [here] othersthat to care foryou lessons.” She says mentors give her them, is large partthe of what mentors someone to admire.

the participants. Withnothe new Berry thinks she has one else partnership, Syeisha Bryd, to about or wants to talk to director no one of the SU Office of Engagement, else about. She said those organic has began creating a recruitment relationships built on trust between committee formentees the entire and is mentors and areoffice so integral also seeking more financial support to the program. she says. While the for Inner Beauty coordinators say Parlor. feel like the program While the they program is successful, hopeconstantly to expland changing, theThe mentors hard12-15 the program. goal iswork to have to develop consistency give onethe mentors and mentees totowork girls something to constant depend on. Onofof on-one. In need these consistencies is how end more resources andthey supportIn order to have this happen, the program joined the SU Office of Engagement this fall. Berry says this new partnership gives the group great resources. With this, the program is Berry now at a turning-Alonna point with opportunities to improve and each day: Everyone joins hands in a expand the activities. circle in theBryd, front director of the classroom. Syeisha of the SU One woman starts the activity Office of Engagement, is in theby process saying something she likes about the of creating a recruitment committee person to heroffice left. Each hears for the entire and person is also seeking something nicesupport about them, making more financial for Inner them special—much like the signs Beautyfeel Parlor. hanging the room—despite Whilearound the program constantly their mistakes or faults.work “Youhard think changing, the mentors the things you do go unnoticed,” she to develop consistency. One of the says. “It’s kind the the time that we ends constants is theofway program acknowledge all of the great things every day. Everyone joins hands in about person andof who are, a circlea in the front thethey classroom. it’s that’sthe lacking forby most Onesomething woman starts activity people. It’s alwaysshe good to know saying something likes aboutwhat you’re doing being the person toisher left.appreciated.” “You think the things you do go unnoticed,” she says. “It’s kind of the time that we acknowledge all of the great things about a person and who they are,

If we have to be their If we cheerleaders, have to be their personal personal cheerleaders, then that’s what we do. then that’s what we do. Berry defines success in the program as the moment when a girl and the program do. “If we have to shares extremely personal be theirsomething personal cheerleaders, then that is going through. Berry says that’sshe what we do.” sheEleven-year-old takes that as a sign theBizarro, girl might Nany who not have coming any one else to talk with. two starting to the program She those yearssaid ago, saysorganic she hasrelationships learned many built on trust lessons frombetween it. “I’mmentors not getting in and mentees are soatintegral the so much trouble school to anymore,” program. While the coordinators say Bizarro, now in sixth grade, says. “There feel like the program is successful, are older people [here] that teach you they hopeShe to expand program. lessons.” says thethe mentors give her The goal istotolook haveup12-15 someone to. mentors and mentees work one-on-one. Berryto defines the success in the In order to access greatly needed program as the moment when a girl resources, the program joined the comes up to her and shares something SU Office of Engagement in fall 2010. extremely personal that she is going Berry saysBerry this new through. says partnership she takes that gives the the group ability expand as a sign girlthe might notto have any the available for oneprogramming else to talk with or something

The Snail’s Tale

The Kathleen idea for Founds the program was astems creative from writing a storybook graduatecalled student “Salome when she the Snail”. wrote Salome In the book the Snail. a snail The realizes children’s that her inner storybeauty taughtisthe more importance importantofthan self-esteem what is on and the confidence, outside. “Salome showinggazed how people at her should reflection focus in the on swamp, their inner all beauty her beauty rather parlor thanfinery looks.looked sad and fake,” the book reads. “What I need is an inner beauty parlor “Salome she murmured…a gazed at her character reflection peel in theand swamp, an injection all her of beauty confidence parlor finery wherelooked someone sadcould and fake,” do a makethe over on book reads. my heart.” “What Kathleen I need is Founds, an inner abeauty graduate parlor, student she murmered...where at SU at the time, someone wrote the could book, do anda in makeover January of 2008 on my heart.”Instead the program developed of the glitz off anditsglamour theme.of cosmetics, Salome learns what she needs is a character peel and an injection of confidence.



with CHRISTEN BRANDT words :: Carolyn Clark photo courtesy of :: Christen Brandt

Syracuse University alum (and editor in chief emeritus) Christen Brandt brought took her passion for education to a new level when she co-founded She’s the First, a non-profit organization sponsoring girls’ education in developing countries. Brandt now serves as vice president and executive director of STF, and here, she discusses a recent trip to Guatemala, the re-launch of STF’s website, and how the organization got started.

How did She’s the First start and how did you get involved?

I met Tammy Tibbetts, who started STF, in 2007. We became Facebook friends, but we didn’t really talk until May 2009, when she posted an article from a Libyerian newspaper. The writer was completely biased and all the practices he wrote about were over-the-top discriminatory toward women and girls. I sent her a Facebook message about the state of girls’ education today; she wrote back and told me that she had this idea for a directory of schools. I got really excited, and we started this ridiculously long message chain, followed by a long e-mail chain, followed by countless phone calls. Our first team meeting was in NYC on a sweltering hot day in a room with no air conditioning. We had pretty humble beginnings.

What are your responsibilities as vice president and executive director of STF?

My main job is to stay in touch with all our partners by heading up a team of researchers. Once per quarter, they have to do a formal report, which consists of financial data, how many schools have sponsorships, and how many are from STF. I use the data to write blog posts. Partner organizations who want to join apply through me. And I work on the team side of things– make sure everyone’s in the loop. I also oversee the branding and art for STF, to make sure it stays on target. And Tammy and I exchange about 200 e-mails everyday.

What is the directory?

When we first started, STF was going to be a directory of schools and a media campaign to raise awareness about a problem and give people a way to act on it. But STF grew to proportions that we just weren’t expecting, and the opportunities meant we had to grow as an organization. So that’s why we applied to get 501(c)3 status, which we’ll get by the end of March. With that, we’ll be financially responsible for sponsorships. Originally you would come to our site, click on whichever partner organization you were interested in, and that go to their site. When we re-launch our website, you’ll be able to donate straight to a school without leaving our site. We’ll be able to track exactly how much funding is


During a recent trip to Guatemala, Brandt, Maisy Page, and Kate Lord met 13-year-old Ana :: Left to Right: Page, Ana, Brandt, and Lord

It’s very different having a mental picture of what these schools are like and actually seeing what’s happening and meeting the girls. going for girls’ education and garner a relationship with that network of sponsored schools. If one of our schools is having an issue getting kids to stay in school during certain months, like during harvest season, we have this world-wide network for advice on what other schools have done. It works out because it’s not only a way for American supporters to connect to schools abroad, but it’s also a way for those schools to connect with each other.

You have a few PSAs out. What was the process like for putting those together, and how did you get a celebrity endorsement from JoJo?

We lucked out with JoJo because she knew Tammy through an organization. Tammy reached out to her when we were talking about getting this PSA together, and JoJo was really interested. All the space was donated, the cameras were donated, the girls who appear in the video and the make-up artist were all volunteers. And the footage was shot and directed by Rachel Datello, my former roommate at SU. It was a crazy process, but it was fun. The next series of PSAs we did were at the Matrix Awards Show, an award show held by New York Women in Communications. This is actually where Tammy and I met. The organization set up both our journalism careers and laid the groundwork for us to set up STF. It’s an organization that’s close to our hearts. I was the first student journalist to interview people on the red carpet at the show. Walking down the carpet were Sheryl Crow, Gayle King, all these luminaries in the field. And because this is a day not only about communications, but also about scholarships for student women in communication, education was a big theme. We asked them why education was important and what it could

mean for girls. They gave us their answers, and Rachel, again, produced that video. I like that one a lot.

What was the purpose of your trip to Guatemala this winter?

So we started STF 360, which is a “voluntourism” program to show supporters in the U.S. what a day in the life of a girl in the countries we work with is like. We have two partnership organizations in this hemisphere: One is in Haiti, and one is in Guatemala. The school in Guatemala was one I had personally vetted and brought into the organization. It was an amazing, mind-blowing experience. It’s very different having a mental picture of what these schools are like, and actually seeing what’s happening and meeting the girls. We drove out to one of these towns where we met this girl Ana. Ana was 13, and when she was nine, her father had leg cancer. He had to get his leg amputated, and that meant he couldn’t work anymore. All of her older siblings quit school and found jobs. Ana tried to do the same, but no one would hire her because she was nine years old. So instead she started feeding chickens and pigs after school at a butcher shop. Over the next four years, she had eight different jobs, and she did all these while going to school. One night, she was hit by a bus when she was coming home from school. She tried to go to the hospital, and she had a broken leg. But she came back to go back to school and keep working her jobs. So after that, two STF workers and I decided that we were going to personally sponsor Ana. We met her and couldn’t believe she would put herself through so much to continue her education and have the strength and resolve to keep going every day.



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