abroad is usually about getting a taste for other countries and cultures,
not influencing them. Not so with two stories of recent travels by UVM
students, who in places as different as a sun-baked Dominican Republic
soccer field and a shady Azerbaijani polling station, have made a difference
for positive social change.
Futbol and Freedom
The Batey Libertad settlement, outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican
Republic, is home to about 1,000 Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans who
are discriminated against within the country and suffer from extreme
poverty. The town has a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection and a life expectancy
of just less than 50 years.
During a semester abroad, Jeff DeCelles, an Environmental Studies Program
major, found his way to and connected with this community through a
mutual love of soccer. DeCelles quickly grew from fellow player to coach
to soccer general manager for the people in Batey Libertad. Seeing a
desperate need for equipment, he worked with Olympia Sports retail stores
who responded with donations of socks, shin pads, and cleats.
Beyond the joy of new gear, the equipment opened up new opportunities.
The Dominican teams wouldnt play against Haitians because
they didnt have shirts or cleats, DeCelles says. It
was an economic barrier for them until we got the equipment.
DeCelles returned the following year with fellow UVM student Oriana
Campanelli. Not only was the mens team thriving, but a womens
team had sprung up as well. Soon Campanelli was helping the women with
equipment, and other students including varsity soccer players Sara
Jablonski, John Antonucci Jr., and Eric Brown also made trips to Batey
Libertad to help with the cause.
The ongoing need for equipment prompted the students to create the Batey
Libertad Coalition, a non-profit alliance between Haitian, Dominican,
and American businesses with a common goal of creating positive social
change through soccer.
According to the students, the resources have helped transform the way
the community operates and feels about itself. Many of the players
are the leaders of their community, Brown says. Through
the creation of soccer teams they learn to organize and form committees.
It spills over into all areas of society. We just gave them the equipment.
Its amazing what theyve done.
four students say they hope to keep working on the Batey Libertad project
well after graduation. Its a lifelong commitment for me,
says Campanelli, who was recently told that one of the local soccer
players had named his child after her. Everything I do in school
I can relate to the team and our experiences over there.
Standing up to the Boss
When Angela Sherwood 04 spins the first-person story of a lone
21-year-old international election monitor in a former Soviet Republic
coping with ruling party bosses, intimidating policemen, and
an addled voter declaring himself to be Joseph Stalin and shouting his
intention to vote for himself it seems worth shopping the concept
to a few movie studios. At the very least, Sherwoods honors thesis,
an examination of Azerbaijans transition to democracy, will make
for a well-informed read, rich in detail and personal perspective.
Through a summer 2003 internship at the United States embassy in Baku
and a return trip to serve as an international monitor for the presidential
election last October, Sherwood has been both close observer and active
participant in the former Soviet Republics governmental change.
The UVM seniors powers of observation and a considerable measure
of courage were on the line when, together with an interpreter, she
was the only Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe official
assigned to polling station #2 in Masalli, a small city near Azerbaijans
border with Iran. The Precinct Election Commission members, the majority
of whom were from the ruling YAP party, were determined to test the
young womans power, including suggesting that they could just
take the ballots to a back room to count. She neednt come along,
Fed up with the tricks and games of the commission, Sherwood
announced that if the voting procedure manual wasnt followed,
she would declare the precincts votes invalid in her report to
the OSCE. Amazingly enough, this captured the attention of the
commission, and they immediately started feigning innocence at their
past actions, and quickly took out the manual and started following
each step in exact detail, Sherwood says.
When the precinct vote count showed the opposition party candidate,
Isa Gambar, prevailing over the ruling party candidate, it was more
than a little uncomfortable. Previously the celebrity of the precinct,
I suddenly began to receive looks of hatred as the young American girl
who would be responsible for them losing their jobs, Sherwood
recalls. But once all the votes were counted nationwide, the ruling
party candidate, Ilham Aliyev, prevailed.
Theres no better way than foreign travel to find out who
you are, what kind of society you live in, and what kind of world you
live in beyond that, Sherwood, a political science major, says.
Placed in a different society where there are some things you
love and some things you cant stand, everything is uncertain.
You transcend the idea of nationality and realize youre part of
something greater, and you learn that through friendships and experiences.
Bob Taylor, longtime UVM professor of political science, is the dean
of the new University-wide Honors College, which will welcome its first
class of approximately 100 students next fall. A past recipient of UVMs
Kroepsch-Maurice Teaching Award, Taylor will continue teaching a course
each semester in addition to his new administrative role. It would
be so easy to give that up and it would be so wrong to give that up,
Taylor says. You dont want a dean of the Honors College
who is not in the classroom.
Q. This is a big job youve taken
on did anything make you hesitate about this step?
A. With seven undergraduate schools and
colleges, it is difficult to imagine a program that can serve and meet
the needs of all. Thats a challenge, and its a difficult
challenge. The good news is that it is a wonderful thing if you can
do it, and I think were going to make a strong start toward that.
me about the first-year honors seminar planned for next year.
A. Don Loeb from philosophy and Alan Wertheimer
from political science put together a course on ethics that really stands
out for having both broad appeal and intellectual integrity. The course
will bring together faculty members from a whole range of areas
military studies, nursing, genetics, natural resources
It really opens opportunities for a broad conversation across the University
among students and faculty, as well. As an added bonus, we have a course
in ethical theory and applied ethics with a world class scholar right
here in Alan Wertheimer willing to put it together. Were using
one of our truly outstanding resources.
the seminar, what sorts of other events will the Honors College be sponsoring
A. Rather than lectures, which everyone
assumes well do, Id like to bring in people for special
colloquia where students and faculty really get a chance to interact.
Id like to attract some people like the novelist Russell Banks
or the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who told the Holocaust story in cartoons
in his book Maus. Harvard and Yale have their traditions of Deans
Teas, where they may bring in someone like the Dalai Lama. Well,
we might not be able to land the Dalai Lama, but there are many wonderful,
fascinating people we could bring in for an afternoon.
Im even more interested in introducing our students to our faculty
in ways that they dont get introduced currently in our classrooms.
Every department has people that our students would be amazed to learn
about their research and scholarship. In fact, I think the worlds of
faculty and students have been artificially separated in the last generation
to a degree that is not healthy. If the Honors College can strengthen
those connections, I think it would be enriching for the whole University
Most of the time, UVM junior Daniel Akol Aguek is soft-spoken. But as
he leans forward to make an important point, hes given to a sudden
shift in tone, his words come lower, louder, faster when he tells you,
I never miss a class! Never miss a class! The delivery
is the same on less mundane matters, such as when he is unfolding his
personal history as one of Sudans Lost Boys, a generation
separated from family and homeland by years of war. Describing the experience
of being one of thousands fleeing across hundreds of miles of desert,
Aguek makes the circumstances plain: You are running for your
Agueks remarkable journey has brought him to the University of
Vermont, where he is at home in the Living/Learning residence hall,
sharing a room with fellow Sudanese Abraham Awolich in the Human Rights
and Global Perspectives suite.
Aguek isnt certain of his date of birth, but figures he was about
nine years old in 1987 when civil war in Sudan forced him to flee on
foot to refugee camps in Ethiopia. When the government of Ethiopia was
overthrown in 1991, Aguek was again among the tens of thousands on the
run for their lives. Many died crossing the Gilo River; Aguek, who developed
his swimming skills crossing the Nile with his fathers cows in
Sudan, was among the survivors. He would eventually find his way to
another refugee camp in Kenya, where he continued the education begun
in Ethiopia and completed high school.
In the summer of 2001, Aguek was among a group of Sudanese refugees
who resettled in Vermont. Backed by a strong array of scholarship support,
he is an economics and political science double major (who never misses
a class) and has his eye on an MBA or law school. Considering his choice
of study, Aguek says. Im not saying Im going to be
a politician, but I really want to know about politics. It is because
of politics that I left my country, lived in refugee camps, and came
to the United States.
Aguek hasnt seen his parents in 17 years, but they rest assured
that their son is safe and well, knowledge that was hard to come by
in the lost years. They know I am doing good work, he says.
They are very proud of my achievements.
by Sabin Gratz
Personal politics ends after New Hampshire. After this it becomes a
media show. The name of the course is View from the Grassroots.
Thats why were here.
Jon Margolis, who led 15 UVM students through a five-day political
science field class held on-site in New Hampshire prior to the primary.
Margolis is former chief national political correspondent with the Chicago
After a week of classes on campus, UVM students have tended to head
elsewhere, downtown or to the mountains, with their leisure time. Not
the case this year, as many are choosing to stay closer to home thanks
to a dramatic increase in on-campus activities.
wanted to provide more for the students. Burlington is a great town
and we wanted to make UVM an even better place for students to live,
says Pat Brown, director of student life, and a 21-year veteran on the
UVM staff. Seniors approach me and ask, How come I missed
all this? This stuff is great. Where were the concerts, the free movies,
the games when I was a freshman?
The enhancement of UVM student life began to take shape during the 2002-2003
school year, when then-junior and SGA vice-president Shawna Wells met
with Brown to discuss students feeling that on-campus activities
were thin. Student leaders also took their concerns to the Board of
Trustees, making their case for a boost in funding that has brought
concerts, dances, free movies, and events such as the Think Tank
movie series, which follows up thought-provoking films with a discussion
Funding also supported the means to get the word out, so no one would
have to ponder the potential question If an open mic happens in
Billings and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?
Patrick Raymond, a recent UVM graduate who combines communications savvy
with a finger on the pulse of student interests, heads this effort.
The punchy bored website (www.uvm. edu/bored) is an impressive
gadget in Raymonds toolbox. At bored, any student
tempted to let forth with one of those theres nothing to
do sighs can find plenty of counter arguments varsity games,
campus coffeehouses, Royall Tyler performances, Outing Club treks, and
a round-up of the best stuff going on beyond campus.
Melisa Dybbro, coordinator of the Campus Activities Team (CATS), is
among those giving Raymond plenty to advertise. She says, Students
cannot say they are bored when there are things happening virtually
every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Having fun improves
life in general, whether youre in college or not.
from Mosul: Remember Us
Editors note: Via e-mail, Cpt. Lydia Battey recently sent
us one soldiers view of life at the front in Iraq.
Fresh snow lays scattered over the partially frozen ground, the mud
underneath is thick in places. The February night is crisp, the stars
are clear. It feels like a Vermont spring. The boom of mortar fire breaks
the stillness. Bunkers! Bunkers! Bunkers! squawks a voice
on the loudspeaker. Doors open, tent flaps raise, sleepy bodies hurry
toward the concrete safety. Flak vests with pajama bottoms no longer
look odd here.
Welcome to my world. I never would have dreamed in 1999 when I graduated
from UVM that Id be deployed to northern Iraq for a year with
an Army Combat Support Hospital (CSH). As a registered nurse, I am assigned
to work in the emergency section of our field hospital. We work out
of tents, using generators, oxygen tanks, and basic field medical equipment.
Anything too high-tech has long since been defeated by the intense summer
heat, sand, and fine dust.
Our home is an old Iraqi Airforce base in the city of Mosul. The airstrip
is invaluable for receiving supplies and air-evacuating our patients
back to Europe. The city of Mosul surrounding us however, is a huge
liability. Mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks occur daily here.
The Stryker Unit we support suffers frequent ambushes and IEDs (improvised
explosive devices), as they attempt to patrol the city and encourage
Such unrest provides plenty of work for my unit, the only field hospital
north of Baghdad/Tikrit. Not only do we treat every soldier injured,
but we also treat Iraqi civilians injured in crossfire, and captured
enemy prisoners of war. Treating trauma is emotionally easy in the moment.
You dont think about the individuals nationality or the
events that brought him/her to you. After the adrenaline is gone and
the soldier on the ventilator is lying across from the injured Iraqi
who shot him in the chest
its then that the caring becomes
more of a challenge.
Bush might have declared the end of major combat operations May 1, 2003,
but here we are February 2004 with daily mortar attacks, and soldiers
and Iraqis being critically wounded and dying. With every soldier injured
the tally in the media becomes more of a number and less of an individual.
Here at the front, however, every casualty is an individual I think
about and remember.
face grimacing in pain has a name. The laughter belongs to a soldier
playing cards with my medics as he heals. The southern drawl thanks
me for that extra blanket as he tells me about his Texas home. A proud
wounded father shows me pictures of the new baby hes never met.
The hug and thanks are from a soldier being loaded on the airplane headed
to Germany. You are a good girl, like my daughter, said
the Iraqi P.O.W. whose leg wound I sutured. The pregnant Iraqi woman,
whom we treated for a gunshot wound, brings her baby back to show us.
The tears belong to the soldier I hug whose buddy arrived to us too
late to save. Then there is the Iraqi hand I held when all the surgery
and blood transfusions were done and there was nothing we could do but
watch him die.
As you watch your news at night, forget the politics and think about
the individuals. Think about their challenges and pain. Think about
their hopes and fears. Remember their families grieving, celebrating,
waiting. Thank them all and wish for peace and safe return.
CPT Lydia Battey
67th Combat Support Hospital
air-port (âr pôrt) n 1. UVM Cycling Club slang for
the campus fitness center in reference to the buildings form,
kind of terminal-like, and one of its functions, a place for riders
to gather before taking flight out Spear Street.
Number of Catamount all-time leading scorers enrolled in UVMs
College of Medicine, where Karalyn Church 00 has traded in her
green-and-gold basketball uniform for a simple white coat.
An extraordinary array of Asian art has settled into the Fleming Museums
East Gallery for the next several months. All of the pieces on display
are recent acquisitions and promised gifts of South Asian, Southeast
Asian, Chinese, and Japanese sculpture, textiles, and decorative arts.
Arts of Asia is on exhibit through June 27. Parinirvana
buddha, Burma, Mandalay period, wood, lacquer, gilt, glass.
Gift of the Doris Duke Southeast Asian Art Collection.
Live from the Green
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, a celebration of University
of Vermont history, and, of course, a momentous morning for the Class
of 2004 guests of honor are on the bill for Sunday, May 23. The 200th
commencement in University history will return to the historic Green
for the first time in decades and big plans are underway in Burlington.
Few universities are able to commemorate a 200th graduation,
said President Daniel Mark Fogel. This occasion warrants a true
celebration of UVM's long and distinguished history. Commencement also
gives us an opportunity to reflect with pride on the great public university
we are now, and to look forward with anticipation to the future we have
Fogel will share the podium with Mamet, a part-time Vermont resident
and graduate of Goddard College, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his
play Glengarry Glen Ross, and has earned acclaim for numerous
other plays and screenplays.
For a full schedule of Commencement activities, go to www.uvm.edu/ commencement
or call (802) 656-2005.
As the millennium anxiously waned in New York City and the baby inside
her belly grew, Tina Escaja wrote consistently, and as her personal
feelings and outside observations blurred, the intimate became epic
and a volume of poetry began to emerge.
After finishing her sabbatical year and returning to Vermont, the associate
professor of romance languages continued work on Caida Libre
(a Spanish phrase that roughly translates to free-falling).
The collection of about 60 poems, which was published this winter, recently
won the Dulce María Loynaz Poetry Prize, which is given by the
Spanish Canary Islands Government. The award, one of the largest for
poetry in the Spanish world, has a cash component of about $12,000.
The prize is named for the legendary Cuban-Canarian poet, who died in
1997 at the age of 94. The judging panel described Escajas book
as using language full of authenticity and force. It also
lauded her for describing pregnancy with language that is steely
but not cutting. The judges also called her work very beautiful
The book has to do with the strange process of pregnancy and delivery,
and describes it in terms of Manhattan at the end of the millennium,
Escaja says. I wanted to trace those anxieties both in terms of
myself and the city.
back in Vermont, Escaja delivered her second child a month before Sept.
11. The roiling emotions of the moment, her personal joy for her baby
and deep sorrow for those lost to violence in a city where she had once
lived, compelled her to revise the manuscript, adding reflections on
events after 2000.
Escaja is a scholar of literature and has published several books of
criticism, but Caida Libre is her first full paper volume of
poetry in print. She has written widely under the pseudonym Alma
Perez, both in print and on the Internet. Her award-winning poetry
collection was originally intended to be part of the Alma Perez
oeuvre, but a clerical mistake led to the manuscript being publicly
attributed to Escaja. She decided not to correct the mistake, she says,
and ended up being myself.
Basta Tu Chupete
Poem by Tina Escaja
Para dejarte a solas con los astros, para quedarte a solas y no llorar
las melodías de otros, los cánticos de las sirenas, habaneras
de un bien perdido.
ejercitarte libre y tú,
alcanzar las olas que no alcanzas.
Esa extraña soledad del ser
que te nombra y me acaba.
Y sigues implorando el imposible afán,
la vuelta del olvido en esta cadena inconsecuente y dura como el vivir,
Pacifier is Not Enough
Translation by Helen Wagg
To leave you alone with the stars, for you to be alone and not cry
are the melodies of others, the sirens songs, habaneras of a good
You want to tear yourself away,
to practice being you, and free
to catch the waves you cannot reach.
That strange aloneness of the being
who gives you life and takes mine away.
You beg and beg for the impossible desire,
the return from oblivion in this unimportant and harsh chain that is
to break it.