STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 06/14/2010

Student Stories: Off Campus

Since arriving at Gordon, senior Kate Kirby has taken on campus life with fervor. A Spanish major with minors in biblical and theological studies, Latin American studies and environmental studies, Kirby has also found time to serve as president of a student club, Advocates for a Sustainable Future.

For all her campus commitments, though, Kirby never expected to receive an invitation to the White House. But in early December she was one of only 100 student leaders invited to participate in a White House-Sponsored Clean Energy Economy Forum for emerging leaders.

Kirby’s involvement in Washington started when she joined Restoring Eden, a faith-based environmental group that organized college students to lobby senators from their states. When the president’s staff contacted the Energy Action Coalition about inviting college students to the forum, Restoring Eden turned to Kirby.

“I came back wanting to encourage my peers to take their stewardship role more seriously than ever,” Kirby said. “We as Christian students are an unlikely alliance on environmental issues. Many don’t expect us to advocate for sustainability, but it’s because of my faith that I was able to take advantage of this opportunity. And I hope this is only the beginning.”


Each year the Global Education Department sponsors a photo contest, “Seeing with New Eyes.” This year’s winner was Carolyn Conlon ’10, a math and secondary education major from Wakefield, Massachusetts. This photo was taken during Carolyn’s semester in the Middle East. “Standing in the Sahara is a surreal experience,” she says. “Sand stretching to the horizon, nothing but vast rolling dunes in sight, no north or south, no landmarks of any kind—just you and the dunes. Running barefoot up the dunes is a metaphor for my semester in the Middle East. In a world completely and utterly different from my own, I often felt lost, but in a wonderful, fully immersed way. Studying abroad redirected my life, opened my eyes to the world around me . . . il humdulayh. Saalam.”

Carolyn was the winner of this year’s Global Education Photo Contest.

Gordon Student Awarded Best Delegate at Harvard's Model U.N.
by Steven Fletcher '11

Close to 3,000 students attended Harvard University’s National Model United Nations at Boston’s Park Plaza hotel this past February. Seventeen Gordon students—a collection of political studies, international affairs, philosophy and music majors—attended, led by students Rachel Bell ’11 and James Cassell ’10, and by Paul Brink, associate professor of political studies. David Denison ’11, an international affairs and philosophy major, was awarded Best Delegate within his committee, the highest award a delegate can receive at the Model UN. Denison’s honor marks the first time a Gordon student has received this award, which usually goes to students from larger schools—Yale and West Point are frequent winners—or from large international schools from countries like the Netherlands or Venezuela.

The Best Delegate award is given by committee staffers and takes a wholistic view of the delegate’s performance over the weekend. They consider attendance, participation, skill and everything in between. Denison served as the Tanzanian representative to the UN Development Committee, which included nearly 40 other delegates representing countries the world over. “In a very short time, David had to master the topic, Tanzania’s perspective on it, as well as the jurisdiction and scope of the committee’s purpose,” said Brink. “Just ask him how much sleep he got.”

French Learning: Outside the Classroom
Meg Lynch '10

Attending French operas in Boston and gathering for French pastries at Café Vanille is a regular part of French students’ education at Gordon, under the encouragement of Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French, and Damon DiMauro, professor of French. 

Trips into Boston to hear influential French speakers like author Bernard-Henry Lévy, former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, former prime minister Dominique de Villepin or movie director Michel Blanc inspire students to learn more and love Francophone language and culture.

These learning opportunities don’t always take place off campus, though. “We organize a weekly lunch on campus, get to know each other and speak French together,” Vanborre adds. Other on-campus events include the French Film Festival, special French meals, and visits from noted French writers. In March, for example, Mylène Priam, a Harvard professor who specializes in Francophone studies, was invited to speak with students, followed by a French dinner.

“Learning a language is also learning a culture—we have to experience it as much as we can,” says Vanborre.

A Literary Apprenticeship at the Kilns
by Hannah Baker '10

The first time I cycled my way up Lewis Close and knocked on the door to the Kilns, I couldn’t believe I was taking an Oxford course on Dorothy L. Sayers, in the home of C. S. Lewis. I assumed a special author study on Sayers would be a chance to revel in detective stories. But my tutor, Lydia Newell, was not interested in reveling. We had four one-hour sessions together, and she expected me to learn more in those four hours than in a semester at home.

Our first meeting proved to be typical of our tutorials. I entered, Lydia offered me a mug of tea, and then questioned my assumptions on everything. I quickly realized that Sayers’ skill as a detective novelist had blinded me to the serious aspects of her books; she possessed one of the finest minds of the 20th century.

The best example of my ignorance came after I reread Gaudy Night. Under Lydia’s tutelage I finally understood that Gaudy Night was not just a mystery but the culmination of all Sayers’ theological and social writing. The story calls into question the cultural ideals of womanhood, education and human purpose. But it was only after I moved beyond my literary crush that I could appreciate this.

In the end the thrill of sitting in the Kilns living room paled beside the excitement of tutorials where two open minds freely exchanged ideas.

Hannah (pictured above on Addison’s Walk at Magdalen College, Oxford, fall 2009) is a theatre and English double major.

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