Marlboro College

NewsPress Release: 9/5/02

MARLBORO, VT – From gypsy dancing in Spain to roaming Holocaust museums around the globe to delivering babies in Uganda and working in an upscale talent support agency, 15 Marlboro College students came back from their summer vacations this year with much more than the standard five paragraph essay answering, "What I did this summer."

This year, Marlboro College students traveled throughout the world thanks to grant money that came in for summer research trips from The Atlantic Philanthropies of New York. Through the grant, Marlboro College juniors and seniors could apply for summer internship stipends of up to $2,000 to support research, and up to $1,000 to support costs in connection with research. Also under this grant, faculty were able to apply for up to $2500 to support their own research or to travel with a student to do joint related field research work.

Student grant monies were distributed to students working on their Plan of Concentration. The Plan of Concentration is the cornerstone of Marlboro's academic program. It is an in- depth, self-designed exploration of a field or fields of each student's choosing. The Plan culminates in a major independent project involving research, one-to-one study with faculty in tutorials and a three-hour oral examination with Marlboro faculty and an outside examiner who is an expert in the student's field.

The following is a closer look at a few of the student experiences:

Mona Ibrahim

"The pursuit of my internship began with a very specific goal in mind. I wanted to gain an experiential understanding of the music industry: its functionality, values, and the individuals who kept the gears moving behind the scenes."

Mona spent her summer working at The Firm, an independent record label responsible for controlling the careers of musicians in Beverly Hills and the surrounding area. The Firm employs trendy young professionals who work together to set images and drive up and coming band careers.

After spending the summer in a Los Angeles high rise at The Firm, Mona said the experience has reaffirmed her belief that musicians often get a bad rap in society. "Rock musicians and controversial artists are generally viewed as irresponsible and bad influences. Those who achieve a high standard of success are at an ever greater risk of being accused of immaturity. Whatever image is presented and judged by the general public is not an accurate perception of that musician as a whole. The years of work, struggle and effort anyone must exert to pursue this business is tremendous, and I have yet to meet an artist during my internship that is not fully aware of his efforts and the efforts of those around him. Successful musicians are secretly very good businessmen."

Lara Knudsen

"I gained a better sense of the frustration of working in an ill-equipped facility, the very real fear of contracting HIV when you have to deliver a baby and there are no gloves. It is a very different lesson to experience these things first hand, compared to merely visiting a facility and interviewing workers about their problems."

Lara spent the 2001-02 academic year in Uganda studying the nation's health care system and health services delivery. Over the course of eight months, Lara worked in four different internships: as a medical aide at Kiboga Hospital, as a research assistant for a World Health Organization study in the Masaka and Rakai Districts, performing data entry in Kampala, and as a research assistant in Kampala for study on family planning and population policy.

Knudsen said she believes the internship experiences have better prepared her for work on her Plan of Concentration, as a portion of her Plan will include a detailed analysis of Uganda's health care system with a slant toward women's reproductive health services. "From these four internships, I was able to approach the subjects of health and family planning from very different perspectives and gain a wider understanding of Uganda's health care system," she said.

Lee Collyer

"Overall, I feel that I have had a very productive summer. The grant was a life saver for this project, I could never have paid for tape, travel and lodging without it."

Lee Collyer spent the summer behind the camera filming a portion of a political documentary he will use in his Plan. He began his documentary project in May and plans to continue filming through the November election period. He spent the better part of his time covering weekly county Progressive Party meetings in Windham, Bennington and Chittenden counties. He also filmed the meetings of other left wing groups such as M.A.S.S. (Movers and Shakers Society), Rural Vermont, and the Windham County Genetic Engineering Action Group, and Bernie Sanders campaign events. "Attending these events was very important to my work. They enabled me to show the progressive party in action. I was able see how they related to the public and how their public persona differed from other parties," he said.

In addition to filming, Lee conducted interviews with Vermont voters of all ages. He conducted the interviews to determine how people choose candidates. These interviews were also in attempt to discover why people vote at all.

Finally, Lee spent time digging through back issues of the local newspapers to determine a history of the Progressive Party in the state of Vermont.

Allison Gammons

"No longer am I writing about some distant thing that I've read about in books, I'm writing about something real, places that I have seen, and people that I have met."

Allison spent her summer digging through history at the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center and talking to a Jewish woman who narrowly escaped the Natzi's, first in Germany, then in France. The woman's story, Allison reported, is like many others that has been unheard simply because she did not spend any time in camps. Allison said she is going to take the material from her interviews with this woman and work it into her Plan by discussing the experiences of those who escaped "before the really terrible things started happening to their families." "These are people who were aware of what was going on and had the luck, and circumstances, to escape it all," she said.

Allison's journeys also took her to Finland, where she was able to explore museums specializing in the history of World War II and the impact it has had on that country. "Interacting with Finns in these museums also taught me a lot. I've learned that the Finns still are bitter, still resent Russia for taking Karelia. It is still considered to be their land -- even people of my
generation, and younger, see Karelia as land that belongs to Finland," she said, adding that she also plans to work this research into her Plan.

Rose Anna Harrison

"The understanding of Spanish culture that I have gained is incredibly valuable to me, and I could not have gained it in any way other than by visiting Spain. I have still not had all the time it will take to articulate all that I have learned from this rich experience."

Journal writing while in Spain marked a majority of Rose Anna's time abroad as she worked to examine a statement by a friend which linked the poetry of a Spanish poet directly to a form of gypsy dance.

While in Spain, Rose Anna studied Federico Garcia Lorca poetry as well as Flamenco dance and music. "Within two weeks of my arrival in Granada a musician friend told me that the work of Lorca and Flamenco are exactly the same thing. 'They are one,' he told me." Flamenco, according to Rose Anna, is a gypsy style of dance which allows great room for self expression of emotions such as anger. Likewise, Lorca strived to write about deep feelings and was a great fan of Flamenco. However, Rose Anna concluded, after her time in Spain she now believes that while the two have similarities, they are definitely not one and the same. Rose Anna now plans to put her journal observations on the two art forms into use for the completion of her Plan.

Founded in 1946, Marlboro College offers undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, graduate study focused on Internet technologies. Its 300 undergraduate students enjoy a 7:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community, and individualized courses of study on a 350-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont.

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