Posts by Stephanie
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Norberto Orellana ’20 wants people to know that success is always imminent. The CC sophomore has overcome a lot in his 19 years; he’s been extremely successful and continues to have big aspirations.
Orellana was born with right spastic semihemiplegia cerebral palsy and has been through many surgeries to limit its effects. While often moving between states, Orellana also experienced homelessness in high school. Despite all of this, he was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He graduated with honors, as well as an associate’s degree, and now is a chemistry major at Colorado College. He hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Orellana drew from many of these experiences for his talk titled “Success is Just Around the Corner” at the TEDx Colorado Springs event earlier this month.
After spending this summer on campus for research, Orellana wanted to find a way to become more involved in the Colorado Springs community. Through his searches, he discovered TEDx Colorado Springs. Orellana had already spoken at TEDx Youth Miami in February, so he knew right away he would be interested in speaking again. Orellana explains, “I enjoy being able to speak to [groups]. It makes me extraordinarily happy that my message can have such an effect on someone. I often don’t think much of this journey that I’ve been on, but I know that my journey is one of trials and struggles — and thus one that I feel the need to share.”
At the TEDx event, Orellana was the second speaker of the day, so he had the opportunity to watch the other eight talks. One particularly struck a chord with him; a talk about mental health and suicide. Orellana says he hopes to incorporate these tough but crucial topics into his own speeches in the future.
TEDx reaffirmed Orellana’s love for public speaking; inspiring even one person makes it worth it for him. He also hopes to influence the way people think about life. “If we move forward in a loving and righteous direction we will find success and fulfillment,” he says. “We are not a fluke, our existence is not unsubstantial, we are not here on some sort of probation — our existence is absolutely fundamental. Success is always just around the corner.”
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Recent CC grad Lykkefry Bonde ’17 put her CC education to good use over the summer; she had an article published in the September issue of the journal Kierkegaard in Process. Kierkegaard in Process is an academic journal based out of the University of Copenhagen that allows undergraduate and graduate students a place to publish their own research and writing on Soren Kierkegaard.
Bonde is an international student from Denmark, and majored in Philosophy at CC. She wrote this article while doing an independent study with Professor Rick Furtak during her junior year. She drew from her knowledge of the Danish language to analyze Kierkegaard’s concept of love. In the article, she compares his two pieces Works of Love and Stages on Life’s Way, as well as the roots of the Danish words for “to live,” at leve, and “to love,” at elske. Through her analysis, Bonde explains the similarities between growing plants and loving other human beings. Bonde did not write this piece with the specific goal of being published, but did submit it to a number of journals so Professor Furtak could cite it in his own work. This is Bonde’s first published article, and she says it makes her happy that “someone finds my work interesting enough to publish.”
Currently, Bonde is working as a philosophy teacher at an international school in Armenia. She explains, though, that she misses being a student, and is looking to start a master’s degree at some point in the future. This publication is a step in the right direction, she says.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Colorado College is celebrating Diverse Learners Week.
Diverse Learners Week was initiated in 2016 with the goal of “celebrating and embracing the diverse ways that members of our campus community learn and contribute to learning environments at CC,” says Sara Rotunno, assistant director of Accessibility Resources. This year, Accessibility Resources collaborated with other partners to expand the events. Rotunno says she thinks the week will become an important tradition for CC “as it truly highlights CC’s commitment to value all persons and to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives.”
Events throughout the week were sponsored by a variety of campus organizations and offices, including Accessibility Resources, the Butler Center, and the Colket Center for Academic Excellence, among others.
There were a variety of events aimed at engaging the broader CC community on the topic of diverse learners. The main event was Eli Claire’s speech titled “Defective, Deficient, and Burdensome: Thinking about ‘Bad’ Bodies.” The presentation included poetry, stories, history, and politics to explain why some bodies are considered defective.
Another interesting event to celebrate diverse learners was a volunteer opportunity at the Cheryl Schlessman Bennett Children’s Center. Organized by the Collaborative for Community Engagement, the event invited students, faculty, and staff to volunteer one or multiple days this week with children at the center. Niki Sosa, community partnership development coordinator at the CCE, says volunteers worked with children on outdoor and reading activities and had the “opportunity to adapt their methods of engaging with the children as they work through activities together.”
Other events this week included a workshop for faculty on working with students with learning disabilities and a tutor training for ESL students put on by CC Refugee Alliance. Upcoming events include a local hike this afternoon at 3 p.m., sponsored by Outdoor Education, and a faculty luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 31, titled “Practices Towards Accessible and Inclusive Classrooms.”
For more information, see https://www.coloradocollege.edu/offices/accessibilityresources/get-involved/diverse-learners-week.html
by Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Interdisciplinary artist Raven Chacon is the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s first Mellon Grant Artist-in-Residence, and is an internationally known performer, composer, educator, and artist. He currently has an exhibit, “Lightning Speak”, at the FAC and worked with professors Carrie Ruiz, Spanish and Portuguese; and Vicki Levine, Music; to teach the Block 2 course Song, Poetry, and Performance in the Southwest.
The interdisciplinary course was bilingual, and cross-listed between the Departments of Music, Spanish and Portuguese, and Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies. This is the first time CC has offered the course and Levine says she would absolutely teach it again. Intercultural performance and collaboration were essential themes to the course. Students worked together on group projects, presented on the final Monday of the block. The assignment was to collaborate across disciplines, as some students in the class spoke Spanish and others were music students who did not speak the language. Projects ranged from multi-media videos to original songs to installation art, and incorporated both Hispanic and indigenous cultures. Levine says the course encourages students to think about intercultural interactions and understanding, and exposed them to music and Hispanic and indigenous cultures of northern New Mexico. One big takeaway Levine hopes students have is the value of creative collaboration across disciplines.
Chacon is participating in many other events around campus in addition to the course with Ruiz and Levine. A member of the Navajo Nation, he is part of an art collective called Postcommodity; the artists’ work is activist in nature and challenges expectations of “native art” in dynamic and engaging ways. The collective’s work has been exhibited internationally, and has recently been featured in many popular and critical press articles.
All members of Postcommodity will be on campus Friday, Oct. 27, for a performance titled “We Lost Half the Forest and The Rest Will Burn This Summer” that will take place at 6 p.m. in the Cornerstone Art Center Celeste Theatre. The performance will include song variations from their latest album, which features eclectic sounds such as hacked electronics, voices, rattles, animal calls, and Mexican whistles.
Additionally, Indigenous musicians from Taiwan, Norway, and North America will be featured Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the event “Sound Alliances: A Celebration of Indigenous Music and Culture” in Mohrman Theatre.
Chacon’s “Lightning Speak” is on display at the FAC until Jan. 7, 2018. The exhibit features individual and collaborative group projects that combine music composition, sound art, visual art, and activism. Colorado College is hosting events throughout the month of October to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, officially commemorated Oct. 9.
Senior Hayley Bates is representing Colorado College on the national stage, heading to Missoula, Montana, this weekend to compete in her final Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championships. Bates says regular season racing this year has helped prepare her for the stacked field at nationals.
“It was the biggest and fastest field we’ve ever had in Colorado; we’re the most competitive collegiate state for mountain biking. And, with heading to Missoula, we have had the opportunity to train at altitude and in the cold.”
The races, Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, include a cross-country course that lasts about 90 minutes, and a short-track course, which is a 20-minute race plus three laps on a short course. Missoula is home to professional mountain biking races, too, and Bates says it should be a fun place to ride. She hones her skills training in Colorado Springs’ Ute Valley and Palmer Parks.
It’s her third time toeing the line at the mountain biking nationals, though this season, she’s had an extra challenge to tackle.
“The idea of hitting my face again really affected me,” says Bates. Bates had a serious crash at the end of the 2017 road cycling season. She crashed two weeks before nationals and while she sustained a broken nose, broken teeth, and severe facial trauma, she was cleared to get back on the bike within a week of that crash. “My first ride outside was the day before nationals; it was great to have the support from everyone at that race, and people were so happy to see me there. It was a good comeback,” she says. “And it was intense.” Just days after that crash, Bates won a sprint to the finish and placed fifth in the nation in collegiate club road cycling.
While she is CC’s only representative at the collegiate mountain biking national competition (this is her third year as the team’s sole qualifier), her leadership has helped grow CC’s presence during the regular season. “The team at CC got huge this year, with an average of 20 cyclists going to races. I remember my freshman year six people going to races was huge; now, I think we’ve had a max of 24 which has been a significant increase.”
Bates says the growing cycling community at CC helps in her own training, with more riders on group rides. “It’s really nice that we can train together, even if we are doing our own efforts,” she says.
Wrapping up this final mountain biking season is bittersweet for Bates. “Collegiate cycling has done so much for me at CC. Initially, I had to convince my parents to let me bring my bikes out here (when she moved to CC from her home in California). From there, I’ve built myself up to get my pro card and be considered for professional cycling teams; and so many of my friends are from cycling; it’s such a supportive community.”
Now, while Bates considers her next steps — likely law school eventually, and internships in the political science field — she’s also talking with teams in the competitive world of professional cycling. She says her strong suit is road cycling, which is what she plans to pursue post-collegiately. “I love mountain biking; it’s 100 percent your own effort when you’re out there. In road cycling, I like having the group dynamic, reading the field and that analysis element of it.”
Bates will get her chance to be a part of that group dynamic when road cycling season starts up in the spring. “I’ll take a break after nationals this month and will continue training year round. Then we’ll start road racing in March,” she says. Her family will be supporting her in Missoula this weekend and the campus community wishes her the best of luck!
By Joy Li ’18
This month, 2016 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize-winner Sharon Dodua Otoo came to CC for a reading of her novellas, “the things I am thinking while smiling politely,” “Synchronicity,” and her prize-winning short story “Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin” (Mr. Gröttrup sits down). She was invited by the German Program, in conjunction with the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series. During her visit to campus, Otoo took time to talk with CC student and German major Joy Li ’18 about her path to becoming an award-winning writer.
Born in Brighton, England, into a Ghanaian family with two other siblings, Sharon Dodua Otoo began her journey to Germany as an au pair in Hannover in 1992. Since then, she’s moved to Berlin, where she’s lived for 11 years with her four sons as a full-time writer. Otoo describes herself as a “Black British mother, activist, author, and editor,” and it’s exactly these intertwined identities that lend her work a perspective that, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper puts it, “you have to go searching for . . . because it hardly knows how sought after it is.”
Even though Otoo says she had always been interested in writing, until recently she never thought of writing as a serious career option. Before she became a full-time writer, she worked as a race and equality consultant for local authorities in London and organized anti-racism forums with people from different sectors like education or law enforcement. In Berlin, her activist work mostly involved working with local NGOs that promote racial equality and the ISD (Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland), an organization that represents the interests of black people in Germany. In 2012, she took a break from her work to spend more time writing (her two novellas were published in 2012 and 2014). In 2016, she was invited to participate in the Festival of German Language Literature in Klagenfurth, Austria, where she won with her brilliant and witty short story “Mr. Gröttrup Sits Down.” Earlier this year in January, she finally decided to make the transition to writing full-time, and she continues to engage in activism.
Interestingly, as a mother of four, Otoo claims that being a mother is also a form of activism. As she says: “Activism is very optimistic, you’re hoping something will work and you don’t know if it will in your lifetime; motherhood is a bit like that.” Defying societal expectations and pressures imposed on motherhood, Otoo has created a “fluid structure” for child-rearing with support from her network of friends and family. She also beckons for the recognition of the underappreciated work as a mother. According to Otoo, “I would like to encourage a culture where we integrate being parents or carers into everything we do. Nobody should do this alone.”
Her focus on creative empowerment is also visible in her literary texts that focus on the experiences of people of color. Both of Otoo’s published works, “Synchronicity” and “the things i am thinking while smiling politely,” feature strong, resilient black women and their perspectives on what it’s like to live in Germany, or specifically in Berlin. She was the first black writer to win the prestigious Ingeborg Bachman Prize for “Mr. Gröttrup Sits Down,” the first story she ever wrote in German. “Mr. Gröttrup” is about a white German pensioner (Helmut Gröttrup is a stereotypical white German male name), a former rocket scientist who first worked with the Nazis, then with the Soviet Union, and the repetitive breakfast routine he shares everyday with his wife. The story includes a section that is narrated from the perspective of an unboiled egg.
In an attempt to share her access to publishing houses with other people of color, Otoo has also edited a book series called “Witnessed” (published in English). The series of five books provides a platform where people of African descent living in Germany can share their work.
Otoo’s success is a story of resistance. By continuing to engage in activism and stressing the element of resistance in her work, she will continue to challenge the field of literature in the English- and German-speaking world. Her next project will be a novel expanding upon “Mr. Gröttrup setzt sich hin,” to be published by Fischer Verlag, one of the largest German publishing houses and a leading address for literary publications.
Students, faculty, and staff learned about the complex system of infrastructure that feed water to Colorado Springs from over mountains on a Sense of Place water tour this fall. They visited Catamount Reservoir, Princeton Hot Springs, and local farms on the Lower Arkansas River. The water tour is one of several trips in the Sense of Place program put on by the Offices of Sustainability and Field Study. View a full gallery of the trip. Photos by Jennifer Coombes.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Last year’s Big Idea competition highlighted the work of many talented CC students. FlyPhone won the competition, and the six then-seniors are still pursuing their startup idea here in Colorado Springs. The company designed technology to pair cell phone cameras with drones as a hands-free mode of adventure filming, and was recently featured in Denver’s 5280 magazine, in an article titled “Where to Find Colorado’s Next Tech Hubs.”
But things don’t always go exactly as planned when it comes to starting a tech business. Dan Keogh ’17, one of the six FlyPhone creators, says the company is having to make adjustments and must be nimble to succeed. Keogh explains that FlyPhone is currently focusing on two things: integrating their software into hardware other than drones; and fundraising. “Over the summer we did a lot of great work both developing our software as well as implementing it onto drones,” he says, “and were able to capture some pretty awesome shots.” Despite these positive developments, “murky” conditions around patenting and high barriers to entry for the drone industry have necessitated a change for FlyPhone. Keogh explains that the group is now targeting markets that are more accessible than the drone industry, and they have modified the FlyPhone software so that it’s applicable to a broader a wider range of organizations.
With all these changes, the FlyPhone creators are now hoping to make their first sale to an organization. Keogh says they hope to make the initial sale to a group in Colorado Springs that could use the FlyPhone software as a training tool. “In many ways, a lot of our software development is done,” Keogh explains, “and we’re looking for the right match between the value FlyPhone can bring to an organization, and what that organization is willing to pay for that value.” Despite all the changes FlyPhone has undergone since its start in 2015, the group has made itself into part of the burgeoning Colorado Springs tech community, and hopes to continue the develop of their company and software.
Collaborative for Community Engagement Hosts Event Oct. 4
By Alana Aamodt ’18
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, members of the Colorado College community and the greater Colorado Springs community have the opportunity to come together to help clean up the area around Monument Creek as part of the second-annual Colorado College Day of Service.
The event, organized by the Collaborative for Community Engagement and the Office of Sustainability, will contribute to Fountain Creek Watershed’s “Creek Week,” which organizes over 70 similar clean-ups. This is an effort to “improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and health of our local waterways while fostering community and environmental stewardship,” according to Jonah Seifer with CC’s State of the Rockies Project.
The CCE is partnering with the Office of Sustainability and the State of the Rockies Project to mobilize the CC community. Grits and the Ponderosa Project, two CC clubs focused on homelessness in Colorado Springs, will also play a role in this year’s event, helping to organize information sessions on ways to engage with the homeless community.
Radke shares, “the broad goal of the CC Day of Service is to support a culture of community engagement on our campus by raising awareness around stewardship of our local watershed, as well as the numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness in our city. We hope this event will serve as an educational space and way to inspire the CC community to engage in these issues in ongoing ways.”
So far, groups like the Community Engaged Scholars program, EnAct, Office of Sustainability interns, Greek organizations, and athletics teams have committed to help out.
If you’d like to be part of improving and engaging in the community surrounding CC, form a clean-up team or sign up solo: register today! The event will consist of small groups spread over three two-hour shifts: 9-11 a.m.; 1-3 p.m.; and 3:30-5:30 p.m. All groups will meet at the Van Briggle Building, 1125 Glen Avenue, at the start of their shift to collect materials and proceed to their site. CC will provide gloves and trash bags; remember to bring your own water bottle. Sign up by Friday, Sept. 29.
Staff members: Check with your supervisor for approval before registering for a shift at this CC-sponsored event. Read more about the College Sponsored Community Service Policy.
Colorado College alumna and accomplished musician Abigail Washburn and her husband, musician Béla Fleck, perform a piece for an informal gathering of students, faculty and staff in Packard Hall. The performance was part of a workshop Washburn and Fleck hosted with Keith Reed’s bluegrass ensembles. Photos by Andy Colwell.