The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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“Into The Spider-verse Swings To Success”

*Massive spoilers for the Spider-Man continuity in general and specifically Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.*

If you’re anything like me, you asked yourself “Really, Spider-Ham?” when you first saw announcements for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse. We’ve had six Spider-Man centric films in the past fifteen years featuring three different Spider-Men, not to mention the Spider-Man ensemble role in other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. We know the story of friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, we know that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben’s dead, that’s sad. Gwen Stacy’s dead, that’s sadder. We don’t need another Peter Parker, or Peter Porker for that matter. So, why is Sony Animation giving us one?

Maybe you’re not that into superhero movies, or maybe you just dismissed it as a children’s movie. My point is: you should see this film. It knows you are well aware of the Spider-Man story. In fact, that’s half the fun of it!

The film never misses a chance to poke fun at the amount of Spider-Men you’ve seen, but trust me, you haven’t seen them quite like this. It features characters from multiple universes that have inherited the classic spidey powers: Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, Peter B. Parker, the other Peter Parker, Peter Porker, and Peni Parker. The Spider-verse was first introduced as a long-running comic storyline in 2015 and a lot of the characters are drawn from its run. Even characters I was convinced had never existed before (like Spider-Noir and Spider-Ham) have actually been around for a while!

In the film, Miles Morales is bit by a radioactive spider and develops insane abilities like sticking to walls (and Gwen’s hair). He goes back to the site where he was bitten and stumbles across his universe’s Peter Parker battling the Green Goblin. Peter attempts to stop Kingpin from opening a dimension portal to bring back his wife and son, who left after learning about his criminal empire and died. The portal is successfully opened and closed, and plans are made for a grand reopening. Peter promises to teach Miles the ropes and gives him a flash drive capable of destroying the portal. He sends Miles out of harm’s way before being killed by Kingpin. Miles goes to visit Peter’s grave to tell him he is taking on the mantle where he runs into Peter B. Parker, another universe’s Spider-Man. Miles and Peter B. Parker are forced to team up and stop Kingpin and get the original Peter– and everyone else– home.

To those of you who view this as a more childish/family flick, you’re not entirely wrong. It definitely earns the title of acceptable for younger audiences. Miles and Gwen are teenagers, after all. Miles is shown struggling with cliché teenager problems– new schools, fitting in, parental relationships, and identity. Because he’s the protagonist, these issues are hit hardest; however, Peter B. Parker’s more “adult” problems are addressed just as frequently. This Peter is recently divorced (and handling it great) because he wasn’t sure he wanted kids, though his ex-wife Mary Jane did. But in my view, the real heart of the film rests at the core of each spider-powered hero: no matter how hard or how often they are hit, they always get back up. The film sends a great message to younger kids, but it’s also an important message adults need to hear from time to time.

Into The Spider-Verse is also an animated film, but it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, making it a well-deserved winner of last week’s Golden Globe. The film is computer-animated, but it is meant to look like comic book art brought to life. Sony describes the animation techniques as “revolutionary,” combining computer and 2D animation with comic book drawing techniques. They strongly encourage viewers to see it in 3D in order for the experience to really feel like you’ve slipped into your favorite Marvel comic. I felt immersed in a comic after seeing it in 2D, too. Everyone has their own special animation style: Spider-Ham is traditional cartoon, Spider-Noir is completely black and white, Peni is straight out of an anime, and Gwen’s look is pulled directly from her comic line. The film shoawcases a beautiful mesh of styles and designs that work seamlessly to show the divisions between the worlds and create distinctive characters.

Long-story short, this film is worth seeing at least once for its beautiful animation, witty script, and relatable characters for those of all ages. Plus, come on, John Mulaney as a talking pig? Nicholas Cage as a black-and-white Nazi crime fighter? What more do you need?

A Thesis Critiquing… Thesis

As is a mandatory right-of-passage for all seniors, I completed my senior thesis for my Politics major last December. Since deliberating in February 2018, I had gone through several iterations of my thesis question, read at least several hundred pages of articles and books, and ended up with sixty-six pages of final draft material. Through endless hours of meticulous reading and dedicating (without exaggeration) every day and night of my Thanksgiving break to revisions, I bound my physical copy on December 6. Surrounded by my closest friends, I was trembling from breathing the deepest sigh of relief of my life; I had done it. My thesis journey was by no means exceptionally difficult, especially when compared to those students working on high honors and with original data. Nevertheless, from my first hour of initial research in Ladd to the very moment I printed the last page of my bibliography, I couldn’t help but wonder: was it all worth it? To write a thesis is, for us undergrads, a privilege in many ways. It is a perfect writing sample to send to future employers, allowing us to synthesize the courses of our majors, and forcing us to break apart what makes for a compelling argument. But as it is currently run, a thesis argument is catered to an academic audience. Thesis is by design meant to simulate an upper-level dissertation we might encounter in graduate school, be it for an MA or even a Ph.D. To be sure, academic writing is often insightful and very important to advancing our understanding on higher ideas, but it is anything but accessible. In this vein, senior thesis prioritizes neither a creative approach to writing nor one that is especially multifaceted. Our thesis question and the summary of our subsequent argument needs to be incredibly specific and constantly follow a precise academic writing style. You’re probably familiar with the common expression, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I don’t buy that. If my Politics major has taught me anything, it’s that good questions and arguments don’t have easy answers. More radically, one answer doesn’t need to be indisputable to be useful. Politics, the humanities at large, and even the hard sciences need to reconcile that the real world, the one outside of Bates, is full of the questions and puzzles that should be answered in ways that aren’t reduced to sixty pages. At the end of the day, these opinions are my experience and my experience alone. I knew long before senior year that I was not naturally adept at academic writing and was not much of a debater. I am still proud of the thesis I wrote. But as I said, I prefer my opinions to be general and constantly evolving, not fixed into a precise, packageable statement. In many ways, my critique of senior thesis is more a critique of academia itself, and the blame for that can’t possibly be put on any lone professor or university. However, I have come to the personal conclusion that thesis needs to be changed. That which would replace thesis, as it currently exists, is up for debate. The simplest solution would be to make it voluntary by removing it as a requirement for graduation. Perhaps capstone projects and interactive research within the local community or abroad could be given greater funding and institutional support. We could even remove the argumentative foundations of thesis and instead turn it into an exploratory exercise. I by no means have the answers to these questions. That’s the point. We don’t need to immediately and conclusively have an answer to solve and explore a problem. We are a tiny school and a close-knit community. We have the time, resources, and interpersonal rapport to come together and find new ways to foster intellectual rigor as we bid our seniors farewell.

Get Connected With the Harward Center


If your interests lie with assisting those with disabilities, then you may want to get involved in the Social Learning Center Friendship Program. Bates students get the chance to form a one-on-one connection with a member of the Social Learning Center. Coordinator Maddy Shmalo ’19 described the program as “A very rewarding experience.” The friendships acquired can be gratifying for all parties involved.

George Steckel ’19 has been involved with the Harward Center for all of his time here at Bates and characterizes the center as a family. Steckel is in charge of the Book Buddies program which entails reading to early-elementary aged children who might not have access to books outside of school.

To discover the wide assortment of ongoing and onetime community programs outside of this selection, you can go to the Harward Center website and visit the opportunities page. Contact the community outreach fellows for information if you would like to participate in any of these programs. Most of the locations of the programs can be reached using the Service Learning Shuttle for Community Engaged Learning (CEL) which leaves outside of Chase Hall.

Funded summer opportunities are also available through the Harward Center. The Center has generated a list of non-profit organizations in Lewiston and Auburn that Bates students can spend the summer working for. Students are also encouraged to bring their own ideas for community-engaged experiences that align with their interests. For 8 to 10 weeks or full-time work up, to $4,000 can be earned. For more information, students can visit the Harward Center and speak with Peggy Rotundo. The deadline for applications is March 18.

Students can get involved off-campus in numerous ways. To get on the Community Links email list if you are not already, send an email to Marty Deschaines. The Center encourages students to take community-engaged courses at Bates or participate in community-engaged research. Approximately 50 seniors every year complete their thesis or capstone project in relation to community-engagement.


Bates is fortunate to be situated in the diverse and vibrant Lewiston-Auburn community, and there are a multitude of ways to engage with the members and organizations of L-A. As George Steckel put it, “When you come to Bates, your home becomes Lewiston.”

Get Connected With the Harward Center

The frigid temperatures did not stop students from attending the Harward Center open house this past Friday, January 11, to learn about the Center’s many opportunities. The purpose of the event was to connect or reconnect students with the off-campus community for the upcoming semester. Information about funded summer activities was also given.

The Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships strives to promote civic awareness and action in Lewiston-Auburn and the wider world. The director of the Harward Center, Darby Ray, remarked that the goal of the Center is to “help the Bates community to connect with the outside community.” Students can access community-engaged activities through various facets of Bates, including; academic courses, research, dorm life, athletic teams, and clubs. The Harward Center will make connections between volunteer programs and students’ interests, academic or otherwise. “We are kind of like a matchmaker,” added Ray.

Casey Kelley ’21 is a community outreach fellow. She notes, “It’s really important to be involved in the community where you live.” Kelley is the coordinator for Art Programming. These programs include weekly opportunities with the ArtVan and at Hillview Family Development to work with low income youth on art projects.

If your interests lie with assisting those with disabilities, then you may want to get involved in the Social Learning Center Friendship Program. Bates students get the chance to form a one-on-one connection with a member of the Social Learning Center. Coordinator Maddy Shmalo ’19 described the program as “A very rewarding experience.” The friendships acquired can be gratifying for all parties involved.

George Steckel ’19 has been involved with the Harward Center for all of his time here at Bates and characterizes the center as a family. Steckel is in charge of the Book Buddies program which entails reading to early-elementary aged children who might not have access to books outside of school.

To discover the wide assortment of ongoing and onetime community programs outside of this selection, you can go to the Harward Center website and visit the opportunities page. Contact the community outreach fellows for information if you would like to participate in any of these programs. Most of the locations of the programs can be reached using the Service Learning Shuttle for Community Engaged Learning (CEL) which leaves outside of Chase Hall.

Funded summer opportunities are also available through the Harward Center. The Center has generated a list of non-profit organizations in Lewiston and Auburn that Bates students can spend the summer working for. Students are also encouraged to bring their own ideas for community-engaged experiences that align with their interests. For 8 to 10 weeks or full-time work up, to $4,000 can be earned. For more information, students can visit the Harward Center and speak with Peggy Rotundo. The deadline for applications is March 18.

Students can get involved off-campus in numerous ways. To get on the Community Links email list if you are not already, send an email to Marty Deschaines. The Center encourages students to take community-engaged courses at Bates or participate in community-engaged research. Approximately 50 seniors every year complete their thesis or capstone project in relation to community-engagement.

Bates is fortunate to be situated in the diverse and vibrant Lewiston-Auburn community, and there are a multitude of ways to engage with the members and organizations of L-A. As George Steckel put it, “When you come to Bates, your home becomes Lewiston.”

Chilling Adventures Mixes Horror with High School Camp

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is the newest Netflix show from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer and executive producer of Glee and Riverdale. Fans of his work will be thrilled: Chilling Adventures is arguably his best series yet. The show is centered on Sabrina Spellman, a “half human-half witch” teenager who lives in the fictional town of Greendale, which is supposedly across the river from Riverdale, with her two aunts Hilda and Zelda and her cousin Ambrose.

Led by the spellbinding Kiernan Shipka, the show is a darker retelling of the Archie comic character made famous by Melissa Joan Hart. Gone is the quirky 90s Sabrina who uses magic to change her clothes or pull pranks at school. Instead, Shipka’s Sabrina, as a half-witch, must deal with the consequences of belonging to two distinct worlds at once. While that sounds like a coming-of-age story done over and over again, Aguirre-Sacasa presents a genuinely fresh take on it.

The show opens on Sabrina’s birthday, on Halloween no less. We discover that it is tradition on a witch’s 16th birthday that they must undertake a “Dark Baptism”… meaning the witch must give over their soul to “Lord Satan.” The problem for Sabrina, though, is that she doesn’t really find that concept entirely appealing: she is afraid not only of the moral implications of losing her humanity, but also the tangible ones. By selling her soul, she would lose access to most of the mortal world, her friends, and, more importantly, her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (played by former Disney star, Ross Lynch). On the other hand, by clinging on to her humanity, Sabrina puts her friends and family in danger from the shadowy, patriarchal Church of Satan.

The character of Sabrina is fierce and rebellious, and the story wonderfully incorporates themes of female empowerment, misogyny, and sexism better that most other young adult shows I’ve seen. The ensemble cast is diverse and includes wonderful queer and POC representation and develops its social justice message without ever making it feel forced. The world of Greendale, both mythical and mortal, is captivating. The series really shines in its ability to build and entire world. This strong suit can be attributed to Aguirre-Sacasa’s background in horror and the supernatural; Chilling Adventures takes a lot of inspiration from classic satanic horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

While serious and even scary at times, the show has a dark humor and a fantastic ensemble of memorable characters that makes it incredibly fun to watch. The deeper the series begins to explore the more fantastical and dark-sided qualities of Greendale, the deeper the audience wants to go as well.

While the contrasting stories are both well executed, I found the duality of the series– it being both a teenage drama and an all-out horror romp– is also where the show is at its weakest. The horror isn’t as well done as other Netflix shows like Stranger Things and Black Mirror and the special effects used are surprisingly subpar for a high-billed show such as this. The horror scenes are fun but are often short-lived and are dispersed with high-school B stories ranging from Sabrina and her friends trying to start a club at her school or reporting a set of bullies to the principal. The show’s pacing is awkward especially in the middle of episodes; I found myself becoming increasingly bored by Sabrina’s mortal friends and their high school drama as the intrigue was escalating in the witching world. It’s hard to empathize with Sabrina’s initial disgust with the witches and the Church of Satan when the scenes involving the witching world are the high points of each episode. Luckily, this low point is partially alleviated near the end of the series when the two worlds begin to collide. Overall, I found that I still really enjoyed the series even with its minor pitfalls. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is worth a watch, or marathon, especially if you’re a fan of Aguirre-Sacasa’s other works (and even if you’re not). The story is well written and doesn’t suffer from the need for excessive drama or twists that plagued the later seasons of Glee and even Riverdale.  I recommend keeping an eye of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the quality and caliber of the show can only going to improve with coming seasons.

Sandglass’s Babylon Holds a Mirror to Refugee Crisis

On Friday and Saturday evening, Bates welcomed the Sandglass Theater Company from Putney, Vermont to campus. The theater group performed their piece Babylon, Journeys of Refugees in the Gannett Theater in Pettigrew Hall. The piece was incredibly moving: it gave the audience an intimate understanding of the actors and actresses of the company as well as what it is like to be a refugee coming to America. Among the cast was Bates alum Kela K. Ching ‘18.

The artistic rendition began with a game of trivia to introduce the audience to the cast members. Through the game, we learned intimate facts ranging from who in the cast has a masters degree to whose family had at one point been on food stamps. Opening with such a personal and intimate look at the cast allowed the audience to create a strong connection between themselves and the theater group members. From that connection, the cast transitioned into creating a relationship between themselves and the characters shown in the play.

    The performance of Babylon itself focused on the stories of four separate refugee stories: a single man, man with his young daughter, a single woman, and a young man, all of whom were attempting to leave their homeland to seek asylum in America. Through the use of puppets and the hand painted machines called crankies, we saw heartbreak as a young boy from El Salvador and the single man from Saudi Arabia with a masters degree in computer science are denied access into the United States. We also saw relief as the man and his young daughter, as well as the single woman, are accepted into the country.

    The use of multiple mediums of performance allowed the audience to form a stronger relationship with the characters in the play. Handmade puppets allowed the audience to see the journeys many of them faced and the wear and tear that their bodies, just like those of the puppets, experienced. Crankies are long, illustrated scrolls, wound onto two spools that are loaded into a box with a viewing screen. They are hand-cranked while the story is told and as a result, the audience better understands the landscape of the places many refugees are attempting to escape from and the environments in which many refugees live when attempting to seek asylum in America. Alongside the hand created mediums, the actors and actresses featured kept the audience captivated for the entirety of the play. After the show, the theater group sat down with the audience and answered questions about why they chose to create the piece and what inspirationed its inception. The group worked with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, where they were able to meet with refugees and hear their stories. One of the actresses recalled sitting in a resettled woman refugee’s home and hearing about how she escaped her country after state sponsored violence allowed for a situation in which a man came into her home and shot at her and her family. The actress expressed her surprise at how easily the woman was able to accept new people into her home, and even call the actress ‘daughter’, after experiencing such a horrific event.     Although the stories told in the play were fictional, each was created through intense research by the group in order to ensure they portrayed an experience not uncommon for most refugees. The piece was incredibly moving to watch and allowed for a greater understanding of a topic so passionately debated in our current political climate

Donald Trump’s Solo Endeavor Into Madness

Oops. He’s done it again. Donald Trump’s ever-resounding presence in front of our national televisions was at its finest last week. During his national address to the American people this past Tuesday, January 8th, President Trump tried to convince the country about the benefits of the creation of his border wall. As we all well know, Trump has been adamant about border security since the early beginning of his campaign back in 2015. Offensively describing Mexicans as “drug dealers,” “criminals,” and “rapists” has distinguished Trump as by far one of the most protectionist world leaders in recent memory. President Trump continued to live up to his less than sterling reputation by clumsily addressing to the United States about the importance of building a wall. While watching this speech, like most of Trump’s speeches, I was less than thrilled when hearing what he had to say. With all his smugness, insecurity, and aggressiveness, I find his rhetoric less than pleasing. However, it is with this speech where I discovered something rather unique: he was clear. Trump’s delivery was succinct and well-organized. It was almost as if Trump was confident in what he had to say and, for a change, believed that his policy was actually going to work. Maybe I’m wrong and I’m giving our President more credit than he deserves, but I feel as though Trump truly believes that the border wall might give him the notoriety and the respect that he has longed for. At any rate, it is interesting to see this new dynamic in Trump. It’s almost as if he knows something is going to happen and that we don’t. Or maybe, on the contrary, he is happy that he is finally creating some sort of legislation to be debated on. Now, more importantly, what Donald Trump actually wants out of this border wall is completely unreasonable. In his speech, President Trump claims that the wall is going to cost $5.7 billion to build. Trump said that building a wall would cost less than the 500 billion dollars worth of illegal drugs that he claims flow between Mexico and the U.S., and that it would protect American lives. While both of these goals are for sure admirable, I feel there are other, more plausible ways, to deal with the issue of border security. $5.7 billion can be used in many different ways rather than just a wall. Despite this, I almost forgot the most important part of Trump’s border security plan, the one in which he claims that Mexico is going to inevitably pay for the wall. As he has said this since the beginning of his campaign, Trump wants Mexico to pay for the border wall based on new trade deals and international relationships. Not only has this part of Trump’s border security plan produced major controversy, it has unsettled several members of U.S. Congress including Democratic leaders such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Senate minority leader Schumer and current Speaker of the House Pelosi, in their national address rebuttal, kept the headlines concerning the ongoing debate about border security rolling. Not only for economic reasons but for moral reasons, both Schumer and Pelosi have criticized Trump for neglecting many more important ways of dealing with border security. But like Schumer and Pelosi, we can only wait and see in the coming weeks the fate of Donald Trump’s national agenda for border security.

R Kelly and a Reckoning with Men

In the age of #MeToo, we as a society are starting to reevaluate how we view rape by holding accountable the people who have committed or who continue to commit the criminal act. One person in particular that has recently been exposed is R&b singer R-Kelly and his numerous accusations of rape and pedophilia. Although R-Kelly has contributed immensely to the R&b genre and the music industry, in general, for over twenty years (known as the unofficial “king of R&b”), he has ruined the lives of numerous under-aged girls using his star power as a scapegoat. After releasing smash hits like “Bump N Grind” and “I Believe I Can Fly”, R-Kelly was at the peak of his career, and many families saw this. Many families believed that R-Kelly could help their children reach the fame that he was able to achieve. However, they were gravely mistaken. Although R-Kelly promised that he would produce people’s daughters and make them famous, they only thing he did was rob those children of their innocence. The television network Lifetime recently delved deep into the dark, twisted story of R-Kelly’s life in a six-part documentary series. It highlighted how R-Kelly both verbally and physically abused the under-aged women by starving them, attacking them, raping them, etc. The documentary series was made to give a voice to a group of women who were promised fame and fortune, but ended up getting years worth of abuse and people telling them that they’re lying or that their story doesn’t matter. Now you would think that this documentary series would change the public opinion on rape culture. But this documentary series did the exact opposite. There are still so many people who support R-Kelly. So, I guess the question is “why?” “Why do people still stand by a man who has destroyed the lives of dozens of women, and how can people blame the victims for a situation like this?” It is because so many of us grew up in a household that preached the rhetoric “boys will be boys,” which allows boys to make mistakes and be forgiven, despite the effects it has on others. Boys are taught that in order to know right, they must experience wrong, while, in comparison, girls are taught that they must be perfect at all cost. Boys grow up believing that if they make a mistake then it will be fine because people will forgive them and accept that they will learn eventually, while girls must learn to walk on eggshells at an early age in their lives. This idea evolves when these boys become men and they are allowed to, theoretically, do whatever they want because it’s a “learning experience.” Meanwhile, women are taught that their purpose is to support the man if he’s wrong because he has a lot of pressure on him. By teaching women that they are nothing more than a support system for men and teaching men that their job is to make mistakes in order to get better, we as a society allow men to not think about how their actions affect others. This was seen through R-Kelly and how he used under-age girls for his own personal pleasure. He saw nothing wrong because he thought he deserved those girls and society made it acceptable for him to go after anything he felt he deserved. People are defending him because they were taught that men should be able to seek out anything that they want. If we want people to see the error in their ways, we as a society have to teach men that their actions have consequences. If we as a society stopped excusing men’s irrational behaviors and actions, then they would respect other people’s lives more and think twice about their actions. If people realized that a woman’s life is just as important as a man’s life then more people could see how R-Kelly dehumanized these young ladies and took away their lives.

“Babylon” Gives Voice to Refugees’ Experiences

On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12, Sandglass Theater from Putney, Vermont, came to Bates’ Gannet Theater to perform the company’s original play, “Babylon, Journeys of Refugees,” featuring recent Bates grad Keila K. Ching ’18 as an ensemble member.

The play started with a pop quiz, in which actors prompted questions and after a pause, would step forward if the answer applied to them. Some questions included: “Which of us have family in another country?” and “Which of us have been arrested?” to which one or a few actors stepped forward. For the final question “Who has been mistaken for another nationality?” all of the ensemble members stepped forward. It was later stated that this exercise was to differentiate who the actors were from the puppets they played.

From there, the stories of four refugees were told through multiple narrative forms, including song, music, sound effects, and crankies—or moving panoramas. Through the course of the play, the audience watched a mother escape from Afghanistan, a father and his daughter escape from Burundi, a boy from El Salvador escape from the gang violence around him, and a man with a master’s degree in computer science escape from Syria by boat. Present in each vignette, Gretel, the ghost from another war, slowly takes away prominent images from each story—from a sack of flour the woman from Afghanistan carried while escaping to a worn out pair of shoes the boy from El Salvador walked in on his way to the US border.

The story lines converge at the end of the play, when all the puppets are behind a chicken wire fence awaiting a decision on their appeals for refugee status in the US. While illustrating the experiences of refugees, the actors in the ensemble also asked questions about the US’s responsibility for accepting refugees, especially given the complication that the US is a major arms provider for war-torn countries like El Salvador. At the end of the play, the audience is left asking what happens to those refugees rejected from the US. Although Gretel the ghost is not given a story, we can assume she was rejected refugee status in the US after escaping Europe in World War II—signifying how history is known to repeat itself.

According the show’s playbill, Sandglass Theater decided to call the play “Babylon” after the ancient city of Babylon which is now in Iraq: “This fallen mythic civilization becomes, for us, a metaphor for the destruction and destabilization that is leading much of the world into a refugee crisis of mythic proportion.” It continues, stating that “In Babylon, the blending of actual testimony with unreal figures gives us a view into how we respond to the enormity of crisis.”

In response to a question during the Q&A session after the play about “Babylon’s” research and writing process, Shoshana Bass, one of the artistic co-directors and ensemble members of “Babylon,” shared the work that took place from the play’s conception to its final product. Through working closely with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (now called USCRI Vermont), Sandglass Theater had the chance to interview staff members of the program—all of whom are resettled refugees—as well as their clients. According to Bass, “[W]e came in there with questions and what we needed to hear was what came out—and it was never necessarily [answers to] the questions we came in with.”

“With one exception, none of these stories we tell are somebody’s full rope for rope story,” explained Bass. “They are kind of amassed from different things. Through the interviews, we then kind of pulled up images that held to us the essence of this story and this situation, for example a pair of shoes that have been walked in for so long that they’ve fallen apart.”

A sentiment that all of the ensemble members wrestled with was representing a story that does not belong to them. As Eric Bass, the co-founder and director of Sandglass Theater, put it, “The fundamental issue in creating this piece is how you give voice, a voice that needs to be heard, when you cannot embody that voice, because it’s not you. It’s not just not you [as in] a different person, it’s not you [as in] a different culture. It’s not us. And so, what the songs are intended to do is to present that voice in a way in which none of us—not the puppets or the puppeteers—pretend to be anybody else but themselves. So the puppets are sculptural representations and they remain puppets, and as such, while they embody a person on a journey, they’re also metaphors—they remain metaphors in a way that the human being can be, but not as easily, not as naturally as the puppet.”

Foreign Language TA Spotlight: Andrea Elisabeth Kreditsch

The Bates Student runs a regular column which hopes to highlight the unique gifts to the Bates community brought forth by foreign language teaching assistants. This week, I spoke to Andrea Elisabeth Kreditsch, the 2018-19 German language teaching assistant, about her native country of Austria, adjusting to American culture, and Austrian food!

Bates Student (BS): Hello, Andrea! Where are you from?
Andrea Elisabeth Kreditsch (AES): I am from Austria, from Graz. Graz is in the southeast of Austria, about a two-hour drive south of Vienna, our capital. It is also the second biggest city of the country and it’s a student city, so it has its very distinct flair.

BS: Where did you attend university and what did you study?
AES: I attended Karl Franzens University (or University of Graz) in Graz, Austria. I studied English language, literature and culture as well as history and graduated with my Mag. phil. (like a MA) earlier this year.

BS: Why did you decide to pursue teaching German as a foreign language? What led you to this field of teaching?
AES: I am a trained foreign language teacher for English, and I knew that at some point in my life, I wanted to work and teach abroad. I decided in late 2017 that I would try and apply for a Fulbright grant in German language teaching, because I thought that this would be a great opportunity to not only experience living in a different country but also to teach my language and introduce students to my culture.

BS: When and how did you learn English?
AES: I learned English first from books and other materials that a family member living in Canada sent over to Austria before I started school. In school, I had 12 years of English, but I think I also learned a lot by reading and watching movies in English outside of class. I then went on to study English in university.

BS: What do you miss the most about your home country?
AES: What I miss most about my home country is the food, probably. Food is such an essential part of every culture, and you don’t realize how used you are to your own food until it becomes unavailable. I miss “real” (meaning dark rye) bread and pumpkin seed oil, and gingerbread and cookies, and Topfenstrudel and Marillenknödel. Thankfully, we have a cultural kitchen in Roger Williams that my fellow TAs and I have been using to make some of our favorite dishes from home for and with students, and I am looking forward to doing this again this semester!
And I miss the mountains. I am not much of a hiker (more of a skier), but I miss just looking out my window and seeing mountains.

BS: What has been your favorite part of living in the States? Least favorite part?
AES: My favorite part of living in the US is probably that I get to live in such a beautiful part of the country—I love the nature here, I love the outdoors, and I love winter, so Maine is the perfect state for me! My least favorite part of living here is that you need a car to get anywhere, at least here in Maine….

BS: How has your experience at Bates been?
AES: My experience has been great so far, I really love working at the German and Russian Department; it’s so much fun! I love teaching my language to students and giving them an insight into my culture. I also really like the tight-knit community at Bates; it is like a big family, and you are never just a number like at big universities (like my university at home—we had 30,000 students and big lectures with 400 students).

BS: Do you have any recommendations for students hoping to learn German?
AES: What I would recommend to students wanting to learn German is to make use of as much authentic material as they can: German movies and TV shows (even if they don’t understand anything yet, just hearing the language helps such a lot!), German books, German news, German websites/YouTube channels/blogs etc. and, of course: try to speak German whenever they can, whether it is with German speakers or with each other! I know it can be very intimidating to speak a new language, but it will all pay off in the end! And of course, if you are not a student of German yet, come and say hi to us at the German department and check out our language courses!

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