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STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 08/19/2008

In Focus: Students

Empowering Somali Bantu Women
Jennifer Rosenbaum '08

The most rewarding lessons learned are those outside my comfort zones. Working as an intern for Gordon in Lynn--specifically International Rescue Committee (IRC)--has been the greatest educational outlet of my Gordon experience. As a Gordon in Lynn intern I serve as an advocate and coordinator of an IRC women's literacy class for the Somali Bantu refugees, organizing Gordon students to go to Lynn each week as childcare helpers and English tutors. Not only does the program offer English literacy classes to refugee women three days a week, but it also provides a safe, educational childcare program for their young children.

When I interviewed for the intern position, I struggled with feeling inadequate: "How could I, a young, middle-class, white person relate to refugee mothers who have spent their whole lives fighting for survival?" The Bantu are an ethnic minority group of Somalia who were brought in as slaves from Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique in the 19th century. When war and famine ravaged Somalia in the 1990s, the Bantu were forced to flee to Kenyan refugee camps, where they were treated harshly because of their low socioeconomic status. Only recently have they been granted refuge in the United States.

However, in working with these women I discovered that God created us to relate to one another, to live life alongside each other regardless of our differences. We all share the need to belong and to maintain dignity. My greatest goal is to empower the Somali Bantu women so they in turn can empower their children to educate themselves and seek an end to the injustice in Somalia.

As a premed biology major I am also passionate about medicine. This year I have been blessed with a fellowship with Gordon in Lynn, researching the reproductive health of resettled refugee women and the influence of Western medicine on their childbirth practices.

After graduation Jennifer (pictured at left) hopes to pursue a medical career in women's health, and practice in underserved cities. Photo courtesty of IRC Boston.  International Rescue Committee (IRC) Boston:

Kimberly Kurczy '08

At home in Connecticut I was "Kimi." My peers in Africa called me "Kimberly." My Ugandan homestay family called me "Nissali" after the Chima clan's cleverest woman. My homestay Mom--wanting to reflect strength and love--asked to be called by her first name, Deborah, the name of the Hebrew prophet and judge.

Somewhere in translation the children on Kampala Road lost "hi" but caught "bye," so they waved hello while saying goodbye. The more impish of them yelled out "mzungu!" ("white person!"). What were they attempting to call out of me? Was it my meager attempt at Luganda: "Oli otya nnyabo?" ("Hello, how are you?")? Walking home on that road one day I fell on the red dirt. Would clever Nassali misstep in such a way? Would Kimi from Connecticut even be walking along Kampala Road in Mukono, Uganda?

The Genesis account tells of God calling out His creation--in breathing life and calling forth purpose. I contemplate the self that is daily called into being. How will the selves and callings within me merge into a unity? Who will be called forth?

Kimberly spent a semester at Uganda Christian University. View more of her photos...

Conductor in Training

"Orchestral conducting is what really makes me light up and feel like I am in my own skin."
­-Michael Ingram '08

Last fall senior Michael Ingram simultaneously conducted the Gordon Symphony Orchestra while playing the piano-something that had never been done by a Gordon student.

"I am a very involved conductor," said Michael, "and I typically memorize my scores so I can maintain eye contact with the musicians and give plenty of cues throughout the piece. This characteristic made it quite challenging for me to 'ignore' the orchestra for long stretches during the concerto while I was churning out all of those sparkly scales and arpeggios--what we call 'passagework.'" During rehearsals Michael had to keep himself from micromanaging the musicians because he found his piano playing was best when he simply let the orchestra play.

The best part for Michael was the music itself--Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453. After spending hours a day with the same piece of music for six months, a musician either loves what he's playing or hates it. Michael loved Mozart's piece and is now at work on another concerto. "Mozart said his music should 'flow like oil,' and that makes even the most technically challenging movements so rewarding to practice. Mozart is astonishingly difficult to play well, to make sensible musical statements out of his tiny phrases and thin textures, but in time the notes do seem to fit perfectly under the hand and simply 'flow like oil' when you play them," Michael says.

Even though it's a competitive field, he has his sights set on conducting professionally after graduate school and teaching music at the college level. He is currently studying music performance with a dual emphasis in piano and conducting after completing a German minor last year.

Senior Theses: A Selection
To qualify for departmental honors, seniors must fulfill a thesis project in an area of interest within their major. 2007-08 projects included:

  • John Hoag, sociology: "Perspectives on Peabody Square: Community Views on Urban Change and Development"
  • Talia Kazan, German: "Cultural Manifestations of the Intensifying Turkish-German Conflict in Today's Germany"
  • Leah Kuehne, art: "Between Earth and Sky"
  • Sarah Lupton, art: "For Such as These"
  • Hannah Miller, economics and international affairs: "Water Use in Northern China-Policies and Prospects of Sustainability"
  • Ty Nagamatsu, political studies: "Impact of Arguments about Climate Change and Related Legislation on Presidential Campaign Discourse"
  • Jonathan Pinckney, international affairs: "Influence of Christian Zionism on American Politics and Foreign Policy"

Sarah Viekman, art: "Illumined--A Meditation on Eastern Orthodox Christianity"

Documenting History
Ryan Harrington '08

The General Patton Homestead is full of interesting photos, documents and other objects of great historical importance. A dozen file cabinets contain historical correspondence, photocopies and newspaper clippings--all in need of proper organization, cataloging and preservation. My job, as an archival intern, is to identify each item and its significance, record the information in a Word file and catalog these documents to build an archival database for scholars to use. It is fascinating to try to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated documents--like trying to solve a mystery.

Ryan is a history major.


Kim Kurczy
Michael Ingram
Somali Bantu