The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: November 9, 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Maine ACLU asks US Dept. of Justice to investigate voter suppression effort at Bates College

Sunday morning students encountered bright orange leaflets reading “BATES ELECTION LEGAL ADVISORY.” The word ‘legal’ was underlined and had stars around it to add emphasis. Below that were two categorically false statements. First, students wanting to vote must change their driver’s licenses to a Maine license and second that vehicles must be re-registered, with a note stating that this often costs hundreds of dollars. The leaflets were immediately removed from Commons and dorm buildings, and a suspect was identified in the Lewiston Sun Journal as a tall blonde man.

Less than two weeks ago, Federal and State officials along with the ACLU of Maine published a press release on election fraud claims. U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II said in the press release, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

A Maine Assistant United States Attorney said he could not yet comment on the specifics of the case, and directed The Student to the FBI. At this time, the FBI was unavailable for comment. Legal Director at the ACLU of Maine Zachary Heiden spoke with The Student, saying, “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prevents any person from threatening or intimidating or coercing or attempting to threaten or attempting to intimidate a person to interfere with their right to vote. And it seemed to me, given the timing of the letter (just before an election), and the target audience (student voters), that the only reasonable purpose of such a letter would be to scare students into not voting.”

Heiden also noted, “Intent is not the only important question under the Voting Rights Act, so even if the people who sent these fliers or the Governor did not intend to coerce, threaten, or intimidate, if the letters had the likely effect of doing that, they would still violate the law. So another part of the investigation would be to figure out what was the effect; were people intimidated? Were people scared? Were people made to feel that they would be subject to unwelcome government attention if they decided to exercise their fundamental rights?”

Governor Paul LePage had his own take on the matter, saying in a statement on his website that Democrats “have encouraged college students from out of state to vote in Maine” and college students are allowed to vote “as long as they follow all laws that regulate voting, motor vehicles and taxes.” Of course, citizens are not required to own a vehicle to vote, nor are voters required to have a driver’s license.

Heiden said that, in addition to investigating the incident at Bates, the ACLU is “looking into comments made by the Governor today that also target student voting, and we have called on the US Department of Justice to investigate.”

According to Heiden, “the Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes this a civil offense. But the National Voter Registration Act [of 1993] makes it, intentionally, a criminal offense. There are both criminal and civil penalties associated with this.”

President Clayton Spencer spoke of the event to the Sun Journal, saying it was “clearly a deliberate attempt at voter suppression,” and released a statement on the Bates website saying: “Many Bates students are eligible to register and vote in the City of Lewiston. Any unofficial communications that suggest otherwise are contrary to the ideals of American democracy.”

This voter suppression effort has mobilized the Bates student body. On the evening of November 7, Bates students staged a student demonstration, organized by Bates Student Action and Bates Democrats, decrying Republican nominee Donald Trump and his problematic tactics throughout his campaign. Meghan Lynch ‘17, election co-lead of Bates Student Action, said before the demonstration, “We are now incorporating the voter suppression signs. We will be distributing replicates of the original signs with actual information about the voter registration process during the demonstration.”

“We planned the demonstration so as to send a sense of urgency to students about the value of our vote in this contested district,” Lynch said. “Bates students will have a huge effect on whether or not Trump gets the 2nd district’s elector, and the presidency could come down to a few electors. Bates students could ‘tip the scale’ towards Clinton, as will be demonstrated by the banner.”

With robust efforts on campus to get out the vote, canvass for ballot initiatives, early voting transport, and registering students, Bates College is gearing up for the 2016 Presidential Election. And it doesn’t appear that these orange leaflets are about to dissuade any Bobcats from exercising their Constitutional right and civic duty.

Lynch concluded, “I just think it is incredibly ironic that while these voter suppression signs were being distributed on campus, we had over 40 Bates students canvassing off campus, encouraging other Lewiston residents to vote.”

 

Who are the Language TAs?

The language classes at Bates often have a Teacher’s Assistant who tend to be upperclassmen willing to help their classmates if they have any questions or problems regarding the various topics they are learning. Additionally, TAs sometime function as teachers by supervising a lesson or preparing agenda for a class.

The language TAs are not your typical Bates students: they have already graduated from an institution of higher education, and most reside outside of the United States. The language TAs make up an interesting group of individuals: recently graduated, but beginning to ferment a career in academia graduates and on the cusp of the stereotypical monotony of adulthood.

But the past experiences of TAs on campus are often un-probed by students on campus. Who are these individuals? What were their lives like? And how did they come to Bates? What we intend to do is answer these questions, and, through each interview, we will attempt to convey who these people are. Sometimes readers will get a good sense of a TA, while other times readers will be left as they were before. While we cannot say that we will do their stories justice, we hope to share some of the rich and interesting past experiences of the TAs on campus with our readers. Through these interviews we hope to not only inform you about who they are, but also give you a better picture of the world as a whole.

The interviews will be of a different format; they will not be edited for grammar or content. Their answers and narrative will be given verbatim, with all the grammatical errors and disorganized thoughts in plain view. Through this, we hope to convey to you a better sense of who they are through their own voices.

Unfortunately, due to limiting constraints, the interviews will be shortened from their actual length.

 

Wasteland, not a waste of time

Amidst the chaos of the election, the Environmental Coalition screened a documentary, Wasteland, on Monday in Olin. The film was different from the typical documentary, in that, it was not purely factual; rather, it included people’s stories and emotions as a way to connect to the audience.

The film’s premise was that of an artist Vik Muniz who incorporates trash and garbage into his art—there is an aspect of transforming the material into art. Muniz spends two years in Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is the world’s largest landfill by the volume of trash that enters it each day.

Given that the city of Rio does not have a recycling center in the city—something the locals have been demanding—an Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho formed. The pickers are people who collect recyclables, which are later picked up by the wholesalers. In a sense, their job is to help increase the capacity of the landfill.

The Association of Pickers of Jardin Gramacho, like any other movement, has a hierarchy with a president and vice-president; however, they all work together to reach their goals. For example, some of their movements included a push for paved roads and a sewage system—all of which have been granted to them.

Muniz spends a considerable amount of time concentrating on the lives of the pickers and taking their photographs to later sell them: all profits go to the president of the Association of Pickers of Jardin Gramacho. The focus is on a few out of 2,500 pickers, where we see the abhorrent situations in which they reside; however, they aim to keep a positive perspective on their lives.

Even though the documentary portrays the lives of people living in a lower-income country compared to that of the United States, it is crucial to recognize the impact trash has on people’s lives. We are a nation that has a recycling center in the city and a country that does not have trash flooding the streets; however, we are also a country that is rather careless about their trash.

To learn more about the work the Environmental Coalition is doing and their initiatives, email Noel Potter ’17.

 

LePage Shuts Door on Refugees

This past Friday, Governor Paul LePage announced that Maine will be withdrawing from the federal government’s refugee resettlement program. While LePage can not actually prevent refugees from being resettled in this state, he can refuse to provide them with social services such as welfare and health care. He justified Maine’s withdrawal citing the burden that these refugees have on the state’s welfare system, the “lack” of vetting that they receive before arriving, and the case of one man who was radicalized after coming to Maine. To some, LePage’s withdrawal just signals his attention to the importance of ensuring Maine’s safety, security and economic stability. I would like to call out his actions for what they really are: racist and xenophobic bullshit.

LePage never cites any facts to back up his claims that refugees burden the state’s welfare system. Time and time again, welfare statistics have shown that in Lewiston, refugees are not draining the system dry (as LePage and Mayor MacDonald would like to have everyone think). In Lewiston, Somali use of welfare is proportionate to the percentage of the population that they represent and no one is drawing upon welfare benefits that they do not qualify for. The governor’s rhetoric about refugee use of welfare shows that he does not believe that “these kinds of people” should be receiving assistance from the government. But what about them disqualifies them from accessing these resources?

In addition, his assertion that refugees are not being properly screened before being sent to the United States is also racism masquerading as concern for safety. The process of refugee resettlement can take years. Within this time, there are countless interviews, security checks, and screenings before a person can be approved for resettlement in the United States. This is an extremely stringent process, which Paul LePage apparently does not think is comprehensive enough to vet African and Middle Eastern refugees. However, I doubt LePage would force a white European immigrant to undergo the same rigorous process before coming to Maine.

Finally, in discussion over closing Maine’s borders to refugees, LePage likes to cite the case of a man who lived in Maine but returned to the Middle East to fight with a terrorist organization there. Yes, there are a few cases of this happening. But, this is one man out of the hundreds of refugees who have come to Maine and become contributing members of their local communities. If one member of the refugee community commits a crime, the whole community is held in suspicion. However, a white man can commit an act of terrorism against a black church and we treat them as an outlier. This double standard is completely racist and Islamophobic. This does not even address the forces of social and cultural isolation (that we, the dominant culture cause) that could have caused this man to feel driven to join a terrorist group overseas.

LePage is perpetuating a racist rhetoric, which prevents people from seeing and accepting refugees as neighbors, friends, and contributors to the local community. LePage has no factual basis for rejecting the resettlement of refugees in this state. And maybe the governor has not noticed but, the aging population and departure of young people means that Maine is shrinking. Refusing refugees through political action and hateful rhetoric that turns many away spells out dark times for the future of the state. Beyond that, we have a duty to extend some basic human decency to the people who are trying to make a life for themselves and their families in this great state. Refugees are escaping horrors that most of us (including Paul LePage) will never have to experience. They are fleeing from famine, persecution, and war. And instead of opening our arms, and giving them the chance to live the kind of life that we are so fortunate to lead, Paul LePage is slamming the door shut.

 

Westworld: When does consciousness intersect artificial intelligence

With six of Game of Thrones’ eight seasons now behind us, the question of the influence it is had on television is becoming more and more ripe for the asking. In many ways, Westworld – the new HBO show filling GoT’s timeslot until season seven begins – is the simultaneously enthralling and frustrating answer to that question. Game of Thrones and Westworld share a lot in common, including their composer and the way they tell their stories. That is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Westworld centers around a near-future Wild West-themed amusement park populated by nearly-human robots called hosts. Think the Frontierland section of Disneyworld, except that instead of Mickey Mouse greeting you at the gates, it is an attractive young man named Teddy who will help you find nearby bandits for a good bounty hunt. Once in the park, guests can pretty much do whatever they want with only minimal consequences: guests can be hurt but not killed by hosts, freeing them up to do essentially anything they desire.

Without saying too much about the plot (this is the kind of show where you really should not do that), Westworld follows several park administrators, maintenance workers, hosts and guests as the park’s creator, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), plans an update to the narratives and host behaviors in the park. Long story short, things get strange when some hosts in the park, including a simulation of a young woman named Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), begin behaving strangely, exhibiting signs of cognition outside the parameters set by their creator. At its core, the question Westworld asks is an ontological one: what does it mean to be conscious or sentient?

Considering the age we live in, this question is crucial. We interact more and more with artificial intelligence in our daily lives, and Westworld wonders at the point of delineation at which those intelligences cease to be artificial. This thought, of humanity having created something it can no longer control, is enough to keep me interested in Westworld, just as it was for films like Ex Machina or Her. But that does not mean Westworld is without its problems.

If your main gripe with Game of Thrones is the flurry of storylines unfurling in a number of separate locations, then you should know that Westworld is little different. Between park workers, hosts and guests, there are lots of perspectives from which to tell this story. As a result, Westworld jumps around a lot, which can get a little annoying when some scenes or stories are clearly written with significantly less care than others. At times, the show’s dialogue is quite strong; any conversation between Dolores and Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard (a human in charge of overseeing host behavior) is sure to be as interesting as it is chilling. At others, the dialogue is almost unbearably cringe-worthy; I had to take a five minute break while watching last week’s episode when one character said the line “you are a butcher and that is all you’ll ever be.”

Another issue I have with Westworld is that, halfway through the show’s first season, it has asked a lot more questions than it has been willing to answer. Five episodes in, we have a sense that something is going on, but that something never seems to get much closer. For instance, viewers have known about “The Maze” from the first week, but we are still waiting for characters to find the entrance. We have the sense that Ford is up to something, but we are no closer to figuring out what that is than we were five weeks ago. Westworld is setting up all these big finishes without giving us the information we need to remain invested in how the characters get there.

And yet, these problems have not yet stopped Westworld from being a great show worthy of your time. The show has the next few weeks to sort these problems out, and I am hopeful that that will happen, if only because the notion of this show going one full season without providing any payoff from any of its “something-strange-is-afoot” narratives would constitute a true waste of my time. Besides, there is still a lot to like about this show: the soundtrack is engaging, the themes are well worth pondering, the acting is good when the script isn’t holding the actors back and Westworld is as well-shot as any television show I have seen. Whether it can overcome its inconsistent writing remains to be seen, but until then, I would say Westworld is more than worth a look.

 

Acapella gone wild: Sex week edition

Ned Thunem from the Deansmen sings “Let Me Go.” DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Ned Thunem from the Deansmen sings “Let Me Go.” DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

The ManOps display love and affection for Sex Week. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

The ManOps display love and affection for Sex Week. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Need an extra condom, anyone? After attending the Bates Sex Week a cappella concert, audience members are stocked up on both the flavored and lubricated rubbers that covered every table in the Fireplace Lounge this past Wednesday night. Sex Week organizers also provided information regarding healthy sex and STD statistics amongst college-aged students.

Once audience members had filled into the intimate atmosphere and observed the various condoms and pamphlets, the Deansmen strolled in snapping and singing “L-O-V-E” with Henry Baird ’17 as the soloist. I was surprised to see the Deansmen out of their tuxedos and in much more casual button-up shirts and pants, but their performance made up for their absent attire. After their first song, Baird introduced the group and the concert to the audience while making jokes regarding his lack of preparation and awkward wording.

The group quickly maintained their energy with a Deansmen classic: “Let Me Go.” My personal favorite, this song incorporates both wonderful vocals and entertaining armography; you cannot go wrong with that pair. Finally, they sang, “Sexual Healing.” The song begins by whispering, then grows into a confident and comfortable song about the power of sex in a relationship. Towards the end, the group gradually fades from the strong instrumentals of the chorus to the repetitive line “heal me my darling.” As the voices fade and ascend higher in pitch, the intimate nature of the song is revealed.

The Merimanders followed, performing the most technically strong set. Starting with “Feeling Good,” Emily Tan ’19 and Sarah Curtis ’18 demonstrate note-for-note perfection through their clear voices while the rest of the group exemplifies typical Merimanders skill for arranging scores.

After uproarious applause, the group shifts into their second piece: a mash-up of “Scrubs” and “No.” Aside from the originality of this combination, the bridge of the song builds in such a way as to truly render the frustrating experience of receiving attention in undesired ways. Towards the end of the number, the women share knowing glances; soon they break out into giggling choreography in time to the “Untouchable, untouchable” repetition in “Scrubs.” Throughout the song, they were in anticipation of this exciting and dramatic portion of the piece.

As the Merimanders leave the stage, they welcome the Manic Optimists (ManOps) to the front.

As the ManOps trickled in from the audience, I was unprepared for the drama their performance would bring. After giving pitches, they break out into the song “Inside of you.” A clear reference to sex, the song includes such phrases as “inside of you, please let me inside” and “so nice, so very nice.” The audience responds in laughter as soon as the innuendo is realized, and the ManOps maintain a serious façade until the last few lines of the song. Reaching a climax (pun intended) at the line, “it’s so much more than just a screw” the group starts to smile and the audience hardly manages to stifle their uproarious laughter.

Transitioning into their second song, the ManOps keep up their energy with the song Magic Mike made even more seductive than it already was, “Pony.” Replete with lines offering a “ride” you “won’t want to get off,” this song maintains the giggly and sexual atmosphere of their previous song. Some audience members cheer and screamed at lines such as, “juices flowing down your thigh,” suggesting that such lyrical content was unexpected due to its racy nature previously not performed so openly. Miming grinding, the singers enjoyed joking and playing with the sexual themes of both their songs.

As the above description highlights, the songs chosen by each a cappella group discuss sexual and romantic themes- appropriate choices for Bates Sex Week activities. I look forward to next year’s sex week and the songs chosen to represent what the week means to each group.

 

Recent violent incidents near Bates

Two recent acts of violence near the campus, on October 31st and November 4th, have been reported. Although only the Lewiston Police Department can provide specific details regarding these crimes, Thomas Carey, the Director of Bates College Security and Campus Safety, has valuable insights to share with the Student.

Although Carey emphasized that no incidents occurred on the Bates campus and that no one from Bates was involved, he nonetheless informed all Bates faculty, staff, and students about the incidents via email. In the words of Tom Carey, “awareness is an important component of safety and security.”

On the evening of October 31st, two individuals, who knew each other, were involved in a disagreement that ended in a stabbing. The incident occurred at 29 Vale Street, which was the victim’s residence. The only other fact we know is that “the victim, assailant and witnesses to this incident have refused to cooperate in the police investigation.”

On November 4th at 10 am, an incident, once again, occurred in which the victims knew each other. This time the incident ended in a shooting; however, “there was no lockdown or active shooter situation.” The police are still looking for the shooter because shortly after the incident, “the perpetrator fled the area.” In discussing with Carey, he explained that “the consistent theme is that these incidents are not random and the individuals involved know each other.”

Carey pointed out, “Lewiston is by any measure much safer than other Maine and New England cities,” (according to Uniform Crime Reports provided by the FBI). However, he recognizes that crimes can occur anywhere and that “if you are in downtown Lewiston and not going to a restaurant or bar, then you should reconsider the need to be down there.”

Carey then identified some “common sense actions we should all employ in our daily lives to keep ourselves safe. This advice includes: securing your property and person, knowing where you are going, having a plan, letting others know where you are going, locking your vehicle, parking in a lit area, not leaving items of value in plain view, and making sure you know locations of exits and entrances, no matter where you are.

Although these two incidents did not directly affect or involve anyone from Bates, and while Lewiston remains a very safe community, Carey cautions you to “follow your intuition” because “often times if something doesn’t feel right, you’ll know it.”

 

Volleyball falls to Middlebury in NESCAC tournament

The seventh seeded Volleyball team fell to the second seed Middlebury in four sets last Friday in the NESCAC conference tournament. The tournament was eventually won by the Panthers of Middlebury, who beat the regular season conference champions and tournament hosts Tufts, in five sets in the final on Sunday. For Bates, this marked the end of an exciting, up and down season.

“I am so proud of the team’s accomplishments this year. Throughout the season, there were definitely some ups and downs but I think overall the program is headed in an upward trajectory. Beating Middlebury and going .500 in conference marks a serious transformation in the program from when I started as a freshman.” said Chandler McGrath ‘17.

After a slow start to the season, Bates finished their conference schedule strong. They won four of their final six matches finishing with a 5-5 showing in the NESCAC, good enough for seventh place. After an upset victory last week over Middlebury in their final match of the regular season, the standings were complete, and a rematch was in order between Bates and Middlebury, as both teams drew each other in the first round of the postseason tournament.

The Panthers were able to bounce back from their upset loss, and handily dispatched the Bobcats, the first match in what would be a three match romp to the tournament crown over the course of the weekend. McGrath shouldered the load for the Bobcats as she has done all season, tallying 24 kills in her final collegiate match. Hannah Blackburn helped Middlebury defend well, notching 27 digs, while Becca Raffel led the offense with 22 kills.

 

From an Indians fan: Why the club should move on from

This past October, the Cleveland Indians made a surge onto the national stage with their run to the world series, and in the process brought their controversial logo into the spotlight.

In the summer of 2013, my dad and I saw the Indians play two games against the Twins in Cleveland. The team was on the cusp of their epic close to the season that would see them secure the A.L. Wild Card, before bowing out to the Rays. While we were in Cleveland (my dad and I are remote tribe fans), we were privileged enough to receive a tour from one of the club’s summer interns. It was on this tour that I first learned the origin story of Cleveland’s mascot.

Chief Wahoo. Chief Knock-a-Homa. Reference to Native Americans broadly is not uncommon in American sports. Cleveland’s ball club has been known as the Indians since 1915, and the story I heard on my tour of Progressive field is not the one you would expect. Louis Francis Sockalexis, was a native American baseball player born on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation in Maine (just a few hours north of where I am a student at Bates College in Lewiston, ME). He played for the then Cleveland Spiders from 1897 to 1899. According to Baseball Reference, Sockalexis was a career .313 hitter. After the departure of Nap Lajoie in 1914, the club was in need of a name to replace the ‘Naps’. Baseball writers in Cleveland organized a contest, and ‘Indians’ was the winning mascot, to be used as a form of tribute to Sockalexis being the first Native American to play professional baseball. So the story goes.

I am a diehard Indians fan. My Dad was raised in Akron where his fanhood was born, and raised me in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Tiger territory, as a young supporter of the Tribe. In the early 2000’s we used to come down to Cleveland and camp out for a weekend and watch a three game series at the Jake. I sent my dad pager messages during the 2007 ALDS opener against the Yankees while he was in a meeting. We met in Toronto to see the tribe clinch the pennant at the Rogers Centre. Our shared fanhood is the focal point of our father-son relationship. Being an Indians fan is fundamentally a part of who I am.

And this is especially why I am in support of the franchise at least moving on from the Chief Wahoo logo, and considering a possible new mascot. Is the Chief Wahoo logo cultural appropriation? Absolutely. It is a gross portrayal of what a particular ethnic group looks like, and it certainly isn’t what Louis Sockalexis looked like. I believe the Indians are an upstanding, well-run organization. From the Dolan family, to Chernoff and Antonetti, and of course Francona and the players, the club exhibits nothing but class and integrity. Which is why such a racist image feels incongruent with the character of the organization.

Think this is a politically correct, liberal bullcrap line of thought? Maybe. But I’m not concerned with being politically correct. I’m concerned with organizations like the Indians that have the size and scope that they do, believing that people, in this case Native Americans, should be treated with simple human decency and respect. Their paraphernalia is in an expression of disrespect and racism, even if it is not explicit. That’s not an argument for political correctness, but rather simply being winsome and altogether quite normal towards fellow human beings. If the franchise truly wants to stand by the narrative that it’s mascot is a tribute to Sockalexis and his achievements, then it follows that Chief Wahoo should be disbanded.

Does the franchise have the right to retain the logo? Certainly. American culture loves to appropriate things, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. There is very little pressure for the Indians to make any substantial changes. But from my view, it seems there is nothing but positives to be had from moving on from the Chief Wahoo logo.

Meeting Spanish TA Nicolas Correa

Nicolás Correa: the soft-spoken, but no less verbose, teaching assistant working within the Spanish department on campus. To most of the Spanish students, he is known as the teacher who is always laughing. But who is he? To answer that, he will have to tell you.

Nicolas Correa: “I’m from Colombia, born in the capital city of Bogota. I grew up with my parents until I was 6 and then my brother was born and my father passed, and so from 7 years old to when I was 21, I lived with my mother and my brother. I went to a catholic school. Wow, I can tell you a lot about my childhood. I lived with my mother and my grandmother until she passed, and we lived in an apartment right in front of the park. I did a lot of physical activity at least until I was 16; I played volleyball and basketball and soccer.

William Ebert: Why did you decide to learn languages as a careers path?

NC: I like to think that in my life, all my big important decisions have come from very traumatic moments. I have been learning English since I was a baby since my mother would speak to me and my brother in English and back then I used to read comics in English, so I was always really into English. And then when I was probably in 4th grade, one of my teachers, one of my English teachers, asked “How do you say ‘jugar’ in English?” And I raised my hand but she never called on me. So eventually I just yelled the answer: “you know, it is to play.” And she asked, “Then why didn’t you say the answer? Why would you let people guess if you knew?” So I knew the answer and she told me off, so that was very upsetting. I remember my mother wanted me to be a business administrator, work in a bank, but I didn’t want to make tons of money, I wanted to be an English teacher. But where was I? Oh yeah, I remember: it was about when I discovered that I liked listening to myself. Yeah, that is a good thing to find out when you want to be a teacher – not only listening to myself, but talking to myself to others teaches me a lot, more than I learn or have learned from studying. Speaking and listening is my learning style, but listening to myself is my super-learning style, more than I learned in college in five years. But college is still very important. Stay in college, don’t drop out!

WE: What do you think of America?

NC: It has been really impressive. I was in New York City for a day and then I was in Boston, and then I was here in Lewiston. When I got off the airplane, I went to New York. And it was really strange to see all these people all the time, it was, like, full all the time, and it gave me a headache. Yeah, but it was really interesting; it was an organized chaos. The buildings of course made me very dizzy, like ‘Whoa that is so high!’ I was also always thinking, “where are all these people going?” But America is just what I imagined, except for one thing: when you think of America, you think about the cities, but you never think about what connects those cities. The first time I came to Lewiston from Boston, it was very funny because you have a lot of trees – beautiful roads, but a lot of trees. But when you think of America you never think of the trees, you think of the cities. Everything is so flat, like my country is the middle of four mountains, and all the east of the city was a mountain, so when I left the city I was like “where is the north?” So, Maine is a little weird. Like this place is so big. But it is everything I ever thought about. Sometimes you think people don’t treat you differently because you are not local, but it never happened. I was expecting multi-faith, multi-ethnic group of people, and that is what I see.

WE: How did you become a TA at Bates?

NC: Well at the beginning of the year, well the thing is this, last year, I was at the third semester of my masters and my advisor was in Italy. So I had to talk a lot with the director of my masters, and she one day sent an email, like Bates is a college they are looking for a learning associate. And I looked at the time and I saw I needed to finish my thesis in six months, and so I talked to my girlfriend and she said, “Well, go. You need the experience.” So I prepared everything and sent my resume, and then my University selects three candidates, and then Bates selects one. And then like a few weeks later I got a letter from Bates saying that they wanted me to come to Bates. And then in August everything arrived, and in a matter of two weeks I had to get everything ready. Quitting my job, telling my boss like I’m leaving. But they were really great, they were like, “you’re living” and I was like, “Yeah I’m living. See ya!” I had to pack everything from my apartment.

WE: What are your plans for the future?

NC: Well right now, I want to have a PhD too. I know it would make my family proud. But also, the field of education is not easy. I want to get married to my girlfriend, and I don’t know about children. If I do have children, I want to be able to support them. When I was in Colombia I worked really hard so I made good money, but for the average teacher, it was 3 times the average teacher salary in Colombia. But still it isn’t even the salary. So I want to do something that gives me this income. But that is for the family. Definitely I want to do research, I like grammar period: grammar and culture, grammar, grammar, and grammar discourse, and grammar. I like teaching college students, and I would like to continue teaching college students or teaching other teachers. I like that appreciation of the academic life. I have seen it here that is very interesting. Like I work a lot, but from working 30 hours a week, plus thesis, it is great, like I can read what I want. I work and then I read. Being a college student can be a lot less enjoyable than a professor. But I have already been through that so that’s why I can laugh.

Please be sure to pick up a copy of The Student next week to read the next installment of a series that explores the backgrounds of on-campus TAs.

 

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