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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.
From waterfalls to greenhouses to a glacial lagoon, students explored the far reaches of the Icelandic landscape, immersing themselves in the country’s culture and thriving ecotourism industry. This summer, two guides and 10 students embarked on the second-ever international trip with the Office of Outdoor Education, a partnership with the Office of Sustainability.
“Iceland has been on the top of my bucket list as a travel location for years because of the untouched wilderness,” says Matt Cole ’18 of why he wanted to participate. “This trip was the perfect opportunity to travel to Iceland and see a wide variety of all that the Icelandic wilderness and culture had to offer.”
Students completed an application process and attended pre-trip seminars before being accepted into this summer’s nine-day Iceland summer program. The trip itinerary was based on outdoor activities, with educational elements delving into sustainability and aspects of Iceland’s growing ecotourism industry.
“When we put a trip like this together, we want it to be thematic and intentional,” says Ryan Hammes, director of the Office of Outdoor Education and one of the trip’s two guides. “This one combined sustainability and the timely ecotourism topic with outdoor experiences in the natural environment.”
The group tackled hut-to-hut backpacking treks, as well as numerous day hikes. They visited a farm using greenhouses heated by geothermal to grow tomatoes, an exceptional feat, the group learned, for a country where growing such produce wouldn’t otherwise be possible because of the climate. They traveled to a horse farm and learned about the Icelandic horse, a significant part of the country’s culture. And they took a boat tour into a glacial lagoon. “In 60 years, that glacier will be completely melted, so it was a special part of our trip to get to see it,” says Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability, who co-led the trip with Hammes.
“Traveling and having the opportunity to explore the world is a wonderful experience we should all do at least once in our life, especially when it’s with a purpose,” says Jubilee Hernandez ’20 of why she wanted to be a part of the trip.
Hernandez and the rest of the group experienced all four season during their visit — from blue sky to snow. “What really makes a trip memorable is taking the time to truly explore the area, by going on walks, hikes, car rides, taking a ferry, as well as getting to know the others on the trip and making friends with strangers,” she says.
When talking about first impressions, Johnson says many students were surprised at how clean the country is, especially in the big cities and urban areas. Another theme students discussed was the environmental impact of tourism and how Iceland is working to balance tourism and preservation.
“We saw how all of these natural resources can be an asset and something to be protected; it’s very different than how we have our national park system set up,” Hammes says. “The students were doing personal reflection on how this place is different from what they call home.”
“I learned a lot about the geothermal process and what makes Iceland such a sustainable country, and that this geothermal energy potential could be possible in theoretically every country on Earth,” says Cole.
One-hundred-percent of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable resources — primarily geothermal and hydroelectric; a small percentage also comes from wind power. It’s also historically been a self-sufficient country, with many sustainable farming and fishing villages.
“Since 2010, tourism has been picking up, due to the nature, waterfall, geysers, hiking, black sand beaches, glaciers, puffins, whale watching; all of the things we experienced here,” says Johnson. “As a country, they’re struggling with it and how to [support tourism] responsibly.”
The group got a behind-the-scenes tour of a geothermal energy plant and saw how the “wastewater” from the plant spills into Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon.
“The thing that stands out to me weeks after the trip is the connections with the group of students as well as the leaders. I knew no one on the trip and would have never crossed paths with any of them at school, however we all became very close,” Cole says.
Building relationships with one another also empowered students to embrace opportunities to venture outside their comfort zones.
“Every day brought a new adventure spent outside,” Hernandez says of her experience. “Most challenging was the trekking. I absolutely hated my life when we were hiking, but I wouldn’t have changed any part of it. It was the slips, falls, and challenging paths that I remember the most.”
Hammes and Johnson say there was certainly enough student interest in the trip to offer a similar program in the future.
This spring, ten Bridge Scholars embarked on a trek through the steamy tropical jungles of Colombia in search of a lost ancient city. It was the first trip of its kind: Taking the outdoor education experience to an international location. When they returned, they brought back much more than the physical mettle they earned on miles and miles of mountain hiking (though the physical aspect was certainly grueling).
“I didn’t realize how much more we’d get than a hiking trip,” says Dylan Compton ’19, after returning from the eight-day trip to the jungles of Colombia. “We had the cultural aspect and learning from our local guides, supporting and encouraging one another, and the physical aspect. I do think everyone underestimated how much we should physically prepare for this,” Compton says.
The trip took place over Spring Break 2017 and was a collaboration between the Office of Outdoor Education, the Butler Center, the Office of International Programs, and the Academic Dean’s Office. The participants were first-year and sophomore students in the Bridge Scholars program, which serves as a gateway into college life for first-generation students, who applied for the opportunity to travel to Colombia over Spring Break.
Throughout the trip, students got to explore and experience the local culture, learn about its rich history, and develop their own leadership style and skillset. All participants completed CC’s Ahlberg Leadership Institute Backcountry Level I Training curriculum throughout Blocks 5 and 6. Now, they’re qualified to lead fellow students on Outdoor Recreation Committee and New Student Orientation Priddy Experience trips.
“Our goal is to help these students develop as leaders,” says David Crye, assistant director of the Office of Outdoor Education and one of the trip guides. The trip was the culmination of a two-year process initiated by the Office of Outdoor Education to make CC’s outdoor experiences more inclusive.
“The college has had several conversations about the outdoor culture at CC, outdoor education, how to continue to engage a spectrum of people with different levels of experience, and with different ideas about outdoor culture,” says Paul Buckley, director of the Butler Center and assistant vice president, who led the trip along with Crye. “This is an ongoing collaboration; we are always in pursuit of ways to make these (outdoor education) opportunities more inclusive.”
Compton says he experienced the trip both as a participant and also through the lens of being a future trip leader. “It’s interesting to recognize how much the group dynamic can affect what people get out of a trip, and learning how to foster that positive dynamic.”
It’s a positive dynamic that can make a difference for students as soon as they arrive at CC. NSO trips are important in developing students’ initial connection to the campus community. “The investment to develop this more diverse group of leaders, who also have a keen interest and ability to help nurture an inclusive experience for those new students, the importance of that can’t be overstated,” Buckley says.
For many of the participants, it was their first time traveling out of the country; for students like Karina Grande ’20, the success of the jungle trek has empowered her to explore other travel opportunities.
“After going to Colombia, I feel like I could travel anywhere,” she says. “I’m starting to make a list of where I want to go; it made it possible to think that I can actually go outside the US and travel. I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity to travel abroad and experience the outdoors abroad.” Next up for Grande is this summer’s trip to Iceland with the Office of Outdoor Education. She says trips like the one to Colombia not only built her confidence, but also strengthen relationships with other students.
“You get a different connection with people in the outdoors. You’re not tied to the internet, or your phones. My favorite part was connecting with one another, the talks we had over dinner. In the span of a week we became a little family together,” Grande says.
Buckley says experiencing a trip like this creates strong bonds among participants. “It helped me to understand firsthand how meaningful it can be to develop relationships with people on these trips. Having the shared experience creates a unique connection. That’s special.”
They also got a taste of the local culture, with guides preparing locally sourced meals for them at the camps where they stopped each night along the trail.
“It was better than what I cook at home, and this was out in the jungle,” Crye says. “Fish, fresh juice, plantains; it was very local, we ate whatever what the locals would eat. And everyone would try things. The group was awesome – they were very open to experience it all.”
Grande says she embraced local meals at the end of each long day of hiking. “After the six hours on the trail, we got to have coconut rice and plantains and fresh fruit, the food was really great,” she says.
The long hours of hiking were often followed by group discussions about the region’s culture and history; Buckley says it was also a chance to think intentionally about the definition of “the outdoors” and how we engage with it. “It doesn’t have to be extreme, it doesn’t have to be expensive. It is about the relationship between the environment and people. We were thinking about how to nurture this interest in the outdoors for a range of students, students with a range of experience in relation to the outdoors; these student leaders will now help their peers to engage with their environment differently while they’re here at CC,” he says.
“We’re excited to see how this ties in to the greater goal of the college to make sure our experiences are welcoming and open to all,” Crye says. “Making sure we have knowledgeable, experienced leaders that reflect the diversity of our student body will help ensure there are different perspectives on every trip.”
Buckley says he will continue to foster support for this new program, and would gladly lead another trip. “I’m all in with this partnership. I strive to facilitate the cultural exchange and to help the leaders think about how they themselves will help facilitate a more inclusive experience for other students. That’s my passion point, that’s why I do what I do.”
For those who haven’t experienced a trip like this, or an opportunity to get outside their comfort zone and test physical and mental limits, Grande says, don’t be discouraged. She learned she’s stronger than she thought she was.
“A lot of it is not just physical strength, it’s mental strength. If anyone’s hesitant about not being able to do it, don’t worry about your physical abilities. It’s all mental strength, and you’ll acquire that on the trip. It will make you a stronger person. For us, it was a shared intensity; and we were in it together.”
Photos courtesy of Padah Vang ’19.
By Stephanie Wurtz
The hints of summer that are finally in the air on the CC campus might cue a flashback for Cari Hanrahan, senior assistant director in the Office of Admission, to the end of the 2015-16 academic year, when she was preparing to embark on the trip of a lifetime with Dan Morris ’16, paraprofessional in the Department of Music. It was last summer when she headed out on a six-week-long trek that began two hours south of Charleston, South Carolina, in Huntington Island State Park. As the two group co-leaders for the organization Overland Summers, Hanrahan and Morris were taking a group of high school students on the “American Challenge,” a bike trip all the way across the United States.
The trip took the group of 16- and 17-year-olds and their guides across the country, through small towns (and larger ones) experiencing “some of the best hospitality imaginable,” according to Hanrahan. “People were constantly asking if we needed anything. Strangers at campgrounds lent us their cars to get groceries; we had a state park ranger give us five pounds of pasta for one of our dinners when our group forgot to buy it.” It was a sense of generosity they experienced across the varied terrain and communities that make up the US.
The crew met up and assembled their bikes right in the Charleston airport. From there, the route took them through the deep south: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, as they made their way west. 13 riders: 11 high school students, Hanrahan and Morris.
Accommodations were modest, with the group camping part of the time and staying in community centers and churches the rest. “We stayed in a lot of churches,” says Hanrahan, “in the south there was nowhere to camp, and churches were the hub of these small towns; some even threw us potlucks. Or we cooked on camp stoves outside and took showers under spigots.”
The cyclists gained a new respect for the Great Plains when crossing into Kansas. Think it’s flat? Well, it’s actually a 3,000-foot climb. The route through Colorado meant climbing La Veta Pass and 10,800 feet of Wolf Creek Pass. “The kids crushed it!” Hanrahan says. Then they hit the four corners, the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and headed into the Mojave Desert.
To beat the scorching summer heat, the group crossed the desert in two days, 110 miles the first day and 111 miles the second, and woke up at 2:30 a.m. with temperatures already in the triple digits. Those were the only two days they rode directly with a support vehicle; it followed the riders with headlights to light the route before the sun came up. “It was like we were biking through the moon,” says Morris, “as the sun started coming up, the desert was a weird grey color.”
Each region of the country had its own challenges and beauty to share. “Every day was a new landscape and incredible scene,” says Hanrahan. “Every state is different and has a different culture. Every day, we met new people and were blessed to learn their cultures.”
One might think covering an average of 90 miles a day for 44 days would be the hardest part. Or crossing the San Gabriel Mountains, covering 50 miles of climbing. Or maybe it would be the biggest mileage day: 121 miles from Cortez, Colorado to Kayenta, Arizona. Actually, for the high school students, the two leaders say it was about learning efficiency and teamwork.
“For such a long trip, it’s about getting into a routine and these kids hadn’t done it before,” says Morris. “We got up at 4 a.m. until they could prove they could get camp packed up faster; the hardest thing to teach them was to pack their panniers (the bags on the sides of the bikes for carrying gear) to get things onto their bikes effectively and efficiently.” Fortunately, the high schoolers were given a three-month training plan to get them ready. Hanrahan says that helped. “Our kids were quick, strong, and athletic. And fun — they were so much fun!”
The cumulative effect of 39 full days of cycling, added to the stress of being responsible for the high school riders, left an impression on Morris and Hanrahan.
“It was terrifying — this is the ultimate trip that Overland Summers offers; there’s a lot of trust involved in that,” Hanrahan says. “We had to focus on things day by day. It forces staying present in the moment, relying on your co-leader and trusting each other. That’s how you shoulder it.” Plus, to participate as a leader, she took a leave of absence from her work in the Office of Admission, which added stress.
“I would do it again, but I will never be able to do it again. How many jobs give you two months off? The trip itself was amazing, but the prep was crazy,” she says. “I worked and worked to get things done in the office so that things were still running when I got back. It was tough to prep two months of work in advance. But it was worth every extra hour.”
Wrapping up the end of the academic year and preparing for a multi-month bike trip took a toll, leaving Morris little time to train. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done — that or graduating from CC,” Morris says. “I was a double major, so wrote two theses, had graduation, then biked across the country. On the last day of the trip, during breakfast I was signing a lease for a place to live, it was a little chaotic.”
The chaos was a distant memory as the group pulled in to their final stop, ending at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. “They had blocked off the pier for us!” Hanrahan remembers. “There were hundreds of people there with signs, cheering for our group: Parents, grandparents, friends, and a number of cheering tourists all there for the team.”
While she may never be able to recreate this cross country trip, Hanrahan says she’s inspired to do parts of it again, in the company of another very special rider. “My dad had stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; he’s in remission and doing incredibly well. He’s creating a bucket list now, and riding across the country is on it. I plan to do part of that with him.”
Heading into a new summer provides the opportunity to get back to the basics, Morris says, reflecting back on the forced simplicity of the trip. “Cari and I miss it. When we came back to this routine it was so much more complicated. Car, house, job, benefits. On the trip, it’s just ‘what are we going to eat today? ‘which pair of socks are the cleanest,’ it’s so simple.”
What did you do last summer? Or better yet, what will you do this summer? Wisdom from last year’s two CC riders still resonates: not thinking about the end or the destination, but thinking of every day as its own adventure.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
Faculty, students, and alumni of the Physics Department came together last block for a weekend of talks, reconnections, and celebration in honor of a Physics Homecoming and the retirement of longtime professor Barbara Whitten.
The festivities began with two talks by world-renowned physicist Kip Thorne, who spoke on his personal role in the discovery of gravitational waves in a more intimate physics talk and prior to his broader lecture to campus and community members. One of the most influential living physicists, Thorne also served as the graduate advisor to Patricia Purdue, associate professor of physics and department chair, who introduced each of his talks. The evening concluded with an opening reception and time for alumni, faculty, and students to socialize with one another and with Thorne.
The following day was full of various alumni speakers and current professors giving talks such as “The Secret Life of Stellar Interactions” by Natalie Gosnell ’08, a new tenure-track CC professor, and “Household Energy and Health in Developing Countries” by Michael Johnson ’99. The day’s festivities concluded with a dinner in celebration of Whitten’s retirement, where friends, colleagues, and students spoke about her character and career.
Whitten received her B.A. from Carleton College in 1968 and went on to receive her Ph.D. in Computational Atomic Physics from University of Rochester. She was the first female faculty member in the Physics Department at Colorado College, where she explored her passion for diversifying physics and played a major role in shaping the department to become what it is today. Over the course of the last few decades, she has expanded beyond the realm of physics, exploring environmental science, feminist and gender studies, history, and sociology in conjunction with her love of physics. She’s played a pioneering role in encouraging inclusivity in the physics community, publishing papers covering topics like “What Works for Women in Undergraduate Physics? What We Can Learn from Women’s Colleges,” and she is part of a team to receive over $700,000 in grant money to develop a mentoring network for isolated female physicists.
After many years working as a professor, leaving CC is not easy for Whitten. When asked what she’ll miss the most about working at the college, she replied, the “sense I have of a community where we support each other. With all the things I’ve done here, I’ve had a sense that you were all behind me.” Even more so, she goes on to say she’ll miss “teaching and working with students. I love working with undergraduates, when you have something exciting you want to do, helping you figure out how best to do it. Helping you figure out the next step in your lives. And of course, helping you learn physics.”
Of her favorite part of the event, Whitten says “the most wonderful and memorable moment was when [the] women physics majors stood up together. [They] were behind me, so I turned around and saw them all standing there together—I still can’t talk about it without getting choked up.” She goes on to explain, “When I was an undergraduate many years ago, I was the only woman, not only in my class but in the five years around me,” accentuating the pride she has in her students.
In honor of Whitten and her contributions to CC, the college created the Barbara Whitten Prize for Women in the Natural Sciences this year; it will be given to “a woman student in the natural sciences who exemplifies Whitten’s model of achieving personal scientific excellence while helping others do the same. Personal scientific excellence is a combination of an excellent academic record in the natural sciences, and/or exceptional research in a scientific field. The recipient should also demonstrate a significant commitment to the advancement of women or underrepresented groups in the sciences through scholarly, community, pedagogical, or other work.”
This year’s recipient is Zoe Pierrat ’17, an environmental physics major and chemistry minor. A crowdfunding campaign is also underway to increase the dollar amount of the award.
Pierrat shares, “Barbara taught my first ‘real’ physics class, Modern Physics, and she didn’t hold back in terms of making the course difficult, but every step of the way she was encouraging and helpful with anything we needed as students. She has the ability to see people’s potential and always pushes them there.” After receiving the award at the Honors Convocation, Pierrat says, “I can’t even begin to say what it means to receive the Whitten Award, but overall I’m just incredibly grateful to have gotten so much support from fellow students and faculty.”
Whitten says after she retires, she’s planning plenty of travel, including trips to Iceland, Hawaii, and L’Anse aux Meadows (a Viking settlement in Newfoundland). She also has several in-progress research projects that she intends to complete in the next couple of years, and will spend more time with her children and take some time to relax.
Whitten also says that she’ll continue to study physics. “Even after 50 years as a physicist, there is so much I don’t know and would like to: Astrophysics, cosmology, and general relativity are at the top of my list.” While Whitten moves on from teaching at CC, her impact on the CC community will remain.
By Montana Bass ’18
Students go to their friends when they’re dealing with a problem, and knowing how to best support a friend in need is the premise behind START, the Student Title IX Assistance and Resource Team. This program provides a new resource for students seeking Title IX-related support, including sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, or any form of gender-based discrimination. It was founded by McKenna Becker ‘17, Jamie Baum ’18, and Leah Ciffilillo ’18, with support from Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Maria Mendez.
It’s a program started by students, for students, and it depends on students offering to participate on the START team. The application period is open now through April 26. Once selected, the START team will complete 40 hours of training with TESSA, an organization that works to support victims and end sexual and family violence.
The team will learn about sexual assault and domestic violence confidential victim advocacy as well as participate in multiple sessions with Mendez and CC’s Title IX office. The result will be a group of student-experts on both sexual assault response and Title IX proceedings, equipped with all the resources necessary to be effective first responders to students who experience sexual assault and explain the options they have for further resources.
The cofounders are launching the program in an effort to make resources and support more accessible to students. “This started from going to parties or talking to friends and seeing how often, students would like help and support, but they don’t take advantage or are not comfortable accessing them,” says Becker.
“Hopefully this will provide a lower risk entry point for students,” says Mendez. “We know the majority of the time students feel most comfortable reaching out to a peer or friend and so we want to make sure we have a trained group of their peers who can help them access the resources available to them. Often, students see coming to my office as a really big step, and so having a resource comprised of peers may lower any barriers that might prevent students from getting the information they need.”
“Our team will meet students where they want, when they want to meet, and they’ll be able to both sign up for these meetings and ask questions to our team anonymously,” explains Becker.
A main goal of the cofounders is to develop the START team so that it is representative of all students on campus. “It’s really important that the students using this resource identify with it, so they don’t hesitate to use it,” says Baum. Adds Becker, “We really want to make sure that our members understand how sexual assault and intimate partner violence affect different communities differently.”
Based on the acknowledgment that students will talk to friends about their sexual experiences, the START team will attempt to bring preparedness to the role of confidante. “There have been many studies that have shown that the first response is the most impactful on the way that the survivor views their experience and moves forward with recovery and healing,” says Baum. For this reason, well-meaning, uninformed friends can actually do more harm than good. “We find that even the acknowledgement of needing a resource is huge. Even if somebody doesn’t want to go through the process, that’s fine; at least they’re aware of what’s available” she says.
In the eyes of START founders, an arena for open dialogue and support between students will not only fill a need, it will counter the normalization of rape culture and destigmatize talking about the issue. “We aren’t considered advocates,” Becker clarifies. “We aren’t counselors. We aren’t there to give advice or tell people what to do. We are providing options so they can make the most informed decision and regain agency that can feel lost when you’re going through something like this.”
Mendez notes that Title IX related services are available through several offices including, but are not limited to, confidential consultation with access to information about what the Title IX complaint process looks like, who to reach out to should they want to pursue a formal complaint, access to accommodations in class, housing, or referrals to counseling. The Chaplain’s Office and Tre Wentling, gender and identity development specialist in the Butler Center, also offer these confidential resources.
Interested in becoming a member of the START team? Email START@coloradocollege.edu today and submit your application by Wednesday, April 26.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
New this academic year, the Community Engaged Scholars Program offers students a comprehensive, structured plan for sustained, informed, and deliberate community engagement. Beyond just requiring a certain number of hours of community engagement, the program helps students find personal meaning and interconnectedness in their activities. Community engagement includes any pursuit that works with a community or campus partner to address a social or environmental need, or indirectly contributes to the mission of those partners through raising awareness around social or environmental issues.
“I am thrilled at the number of students — more than 120 — who joined the Community Engaged Scholars Program in its inaugural year,” says Jordan Travis Radke, director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement. “To me, it demonstrates the passion and drive our students have for living lives dedicated to positive social change. I am excited to see what the future holds, given that this program seems to deeply resonate with our students.”
The program’s goal is to encourage students to consider and articulate how what they’re doing constitutes engaged citizenship and addresses social and environmental needs, rather than just setting generic bounds to what community engagement means. To do this, the program requires on average 10 hours of community engagement each block, as well as participation in skills trainings, and co-curricular learning events, such as lectures on related topics. The program culminates in a senior reflection retreat and the creation of an engagement portfolio that serves as a record of their work, and as a reflective articulation of their progress.
“I have enjoyed community service work since I was in high school,” says Emma Kepes, ’17, a community engaged scholar, “so being a part of clubs to continue that work in college was the natural choice. Through these clubs, I have also found that I enjoy working with kids the most, so I have stuck with AMA and Cool Science since freshman year for that reason.” AMA, Aprender Mediante Amistad, which is Spanish for “learning through friends,” provides mentorship and tutoring for local students between the ages of 5 and 18 whose first language is Spanish, and Cool Science brings local kids to campus for fun and easy science experiments. Kepes is the co-leader of AMA. “I hope to do more important work like this after I graduate,” Kepes adds.
CCE also offers a Community Engaged Leadership Certificate, whose mission is to “develop civic leaders by cultivating students’ ability to integrate and apply learning toward solving complex social challenges.” The resulting structure, initially implemented in 2010, is a three-phase program starting a student’s sophomore year with exploring unmet community-driven needs and committing time to address those needs; then focusing skills and commitment towards one social issue during junior year; and implementing what they’ve learned through a capstone project of the student’s own design senior year.
“The main [difference] is that the leadership program has a capstone project,” shares Montana Bass ’18. “The project involves a partnership with a local community and can be related to your thesis, so it’s an awesome way to tie your studies into community work that might not be there otherwise.” The CEL program is also a smaller, more selective cohort than CES. While both programs require 75 hours of service per year, the CEL program asks for those hours to be at a higher responsibility during the student’s junior year, such as taking the lead on a project, group, or organization, and then devoting hours in the student’s senior year to an integrative capstone project.
“My favorite part so far has been getting to know the other people in the leadership certificate program. It’s a really small group so conversations are really intimate and everyone can get involved,” Bass adds, referring to the cohort model of the program.
These programs both work to strengthen CC’s commitment to community engagement and engaged learning. Read more and apply for the CES program, and learn more about the requirements and timeline for the Community Engaged Leadership Certificate.
The alliance between Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is striking a musical chord.
Colorado College Assistant Professor of Music Ryan Bañagale has composed the original score for “Enchanted April,” a production opening Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Fine Arts Center. The romantic comedy, based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, is coming to the FAC for the first time, following 500 critically-acclaimed productions worldwide.
“I think this foreshadows the exciting ways that we can think about collaboration and innovation in the arts as we move forward with the CC and FAC alliance,” Bañagale says.
The music has been scored for a Colorado College student string quartet comprised of Anna Lynn-Palevsky ’18 and Naomi Sherman ’17, violin; Emily Fitzgerald ’20, viola; and Cirl Lee ’17, cello. In addition to the musicians, Max Sarkowsky ’20 and Caleb Cofsky ’17 have been assisting with the recording set-up and process, providing them with exposure to professional-level production techniques and procedures. The students have been recording in Packard Hall with the assistance of the FAC’s sound designer, Ben Heston.
Bañagale notes that there are more than a dozen individual cues, ranging from 10 seconds to several minutes in duration. Says Bañagale of the score, “The interesting challenge has been how to sonically set the dreary mood of post-World War I London that dominates the first act with the lighter, brighter location of Act Two — a villa on the Italian coast.
An added benefit of the collaboration was the addition of the language skills of Amy Brooks, Tutt Library’s special collections coordinator and regional performing artist. Brooks, who often works as a dialect coach, met with the cast individually and in groups, helping them hone their upper-class British accents. She also coached three non-Italian-speaking actors for a show in which their characters speak fluent Italian. Says Brooks, “I see this alliance as presenting wonderful possibilities for cross-pollination.”
“Working collaboratively with the students, the FAC production team, Amy Brooks, and director Joye Levy has been a truly wonderful experience,” adds Bañagale.
An additional perk of the alliance is that Colorado College students can show up an hour prior to any performance and receive a free ticket (as available) by showing their CC ID.
“Enchanted April” runs Feb. 9-27, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
If education is all about breaking boundaries and surpassing limits, studying abroad may be one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to learn, at least according to Davide Bolognesi, former visiting professor of Italian.
“I was particularly impressed by the students,” he says of his time teaching at CC during the Spring 2014 semester. “They all were eager, talented, and curious about Italian culture. We conducted excellent projects together.” Though he’d taught in the U.S. previously, this was his first experience on the Block Plan. Bolognesi says the format lends itself specifically to foreign languages by providing students with an immersive experience, citing the “transformational power of travel.”
Incorporating a variety of projects related to Italy and Italian culture in his Ph.D. work, from educational movie production to travel, led Bolognesi to his current role. He is applying his extensive knowledge of Italian culture to a new venture, working with Roma Experience, an organization that promotes knowledge of Italy, and of Rome in particular, through experiential itineraries designed to provide a cultural context, in-depth information about the history of the visited sites, and powerful storytelling presented by talented guides.
“Roma Experience takes the interaction with Italian culture and its great beauty one step further by offering authentic experiences to curious and eager non-Italians. It feels like a continuation of my teaching because I am providing an introduction to Italy and Italian culture through my work,” he says. From private Vatican tours, to intimate group tours through Rome, to Italian cuisine tours and shore excursions to Rome and Florence for cruise passengers, Bologesi says Roma Experience customizes itineraries to meet the desires of visitors.
Heather Powell Browne, assistant director of off-campus study, had the opportunity to experience Rome firsthand while in Italy visiting CC’s partner study abroad programs. She was able to take additional time to visit some of the lesser-known sites and “hidden gems” of the city by connecting with Bolognesi and Roma Experience.
“It was very cool to have the ‘academic experience’ of learning in-depth cultural and historical information when I was there. I really enjoyed connecting with our former visiting professor Davide, and seeing how he is still sharing his knowledge and passion for Italian history and culture. This art history undergrad learned things I’d never heard on my own study abroad program!”
As he guides visitors – Bolognesi notes that his work with Roma Experience caters to travelers more than tourists – moments of silence can be just as important as the dialogue about various locales. “In a guided tour, people need time to admire and feel in awe, and to stand before incredible art masterpieces that represent some of the greatest achievements of history’s greatest men and women. The experience is something they would never forget. Something that changed them.”
Guiding tours to the less-frequented, though still extraordinary, cultural sites, reminds Bolognesi of his time guiding students through their educational experiences. “When I witness somebody with their eyes wet with tears and mouth opened in awe, it reminds me of my time teaching at CC where I got to see students light up about Dante, Caravaggio, and Italian culture and literature. It is a pleasure to watch them grow excited about all the things we Italians grew up with which have been so important in our lives. These moments reinforce the feeling that I am doing the right thing, and making my time and energy worthwhile.”
Bolognesi is a sincere advocate for inter-cultural and experiential learning – a value from his time at CC that extends to his work with Roma Experience. “There cannot be personal, cultural, or intellectual growth without experience and there is no experience unless we leave our comfort zones,” he says. “We must travel abroad and immerse ourselves in new cultures to evolve. Perhaps this does not come without risk, but I believe it is a greater risk not to try — especially in a globalized world like the one in which we now live.”
Bolognesi welcomes collaboration with members of the CC community traveling or studying abroad.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
A shift in perspective can go a long way. That’s the thinking behind the Gratitude Project coordinated by the CC Wellness Resource Center. The project involves programming aimed at helping individuals and the campus community connect with feelings of gratitude for positive aspects of their lives.
To wrap up Block 4, the Gratitude Project invited students, faculty, and staff to fold origami paper cranes that will be made into an art installation. They were also able to find out what makes members of the campus community feel grateful. During Block 3, there was a display of sticky notes on a window of the Worner Campus Center and members of the CC community were encouraged to write what they were grateful for and put their own sticky note on the window. The origami paper for the cranes is printed with the many things people wrote on their sticky notes.
In the second week of Block 5, the instillation of cranes will go on display in Worner Campus Center and while the exact design of the exhibit is yet to be determined, Heather Horton, director of the Wellness Resource Center, says the art will embody the idea of “gratitude flying around campus.”
According to Horton, there were many reasons to initiate this project. The overarching goal is to, “help individuals and the community as a whole connect on a more regular basis with a sense of gratitude for the people, places, and practices that make our lives better,” she says. Inspiration came from national dialogue and research on gratitude from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Greater Good Gratitude Research. Horton says that “it’s easy to focus on what we feel is lacking in our lives or what isn’t going well, but when we are able to shift our attention to what we have, we are likely to feel better.” This idea ties in with Horton and the Wellness Resource Center’s desire to “create a different kind of culture on our campus, where we can be honest and talk and understand across differences, but also appreciate the people around us even when (perhaps even especially when) they have different beliefs and ideas than we do.” Horton says engaging gratitude can help with that.
Other aspects of the Gratitude Project include the journaling series put on by the Wellness Resource Center the second Tuesday of every block at 3:30 p.m. in Worner Room 226, and Qigong every Tuesday, 5:30-7 p.m. in Shove Memorial Chapel’s side chapel, as well as gratitude yoga; check with the Office of the Chaplain for dates and times.