Category Archives: Community Events

Honors Event Inspires Guest Speaker to Further Inquiry

Last February, the Honors Program invited scholar, Sharon Schuman, to campus to discuss her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

As I described in a post after the event, Schuman extends Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is dialogic. The more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

This event was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and members of the Eugene community. During the Q&A session, a student who was not in the Honors Program commented that Schuman seemed to think that polarization was a bad thing. She asked a thought-provoking question: “What’s wrong with polarization?”

Schuman was so intrigued by the student’s question that she continued thinking about it and whether there were positive aspects to polarization. Several months later, she wrote an essay in response. It was published in today’s Register-Guard newspaper as a Guest Viewpoint: “Polarization is Easy; Seeing the Other Side is Hard.” She will also post it on her website, Dialogic Freedom, and I’ll link to that post, as well, once it is up.

The Schuman event and follow-up essay exemplify so much of what is valuable about honors education at community colleges and specifically at Lane Community College:

  • encouraging student engagement in intellectual and creative activities with prominent scholars;
  • creating spaces for learning outside the classroom;
  • bringing together members of the Lane and Eugene communities to consider contemporary scholarship that is highly-relevant to today’s world;
  • engaging diverse perspectives; and
  • leading to increased critical thinking and broadening the discussion to a significantly wider audience.

In short, the event supported the college’s Core Learning Outcomes and its Core Themes. It is one of many examples of how honors contributes to mission fulfillment and of the valuable service that Lane Community College provides to our community. 

Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World

Yesterday, the Honors Program played host to a special event: Sharon Schuman speaking about her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

Schuman’s work is interdisciplinary and drew support from across the campus. The event was co-sponsored by the Library; the departments of Communication, English, and Philosophy; and Student Life and Leadership Development.

Schuman uses Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language and extends it to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is also dialogic and that the more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

Mikhail Bakhtin

During the talk, Schuman used excerpts from great works of literature to illustrate her points, suggesting both that polarization is not new and that solutions are possible. Among the works she referenced was Homer’s Ancient Greek epic, Iliad.

Image from Home’s Iliad

The event was well-attended with approximately sixty people in the audience, including students, faculty, and staff as well as members of the community.

At the end of the event, we raffled off eight free copies of the book. One copy was for non-students and the remaining seven copies were for students. Everyone who received a copy stayed to have it signed and to talk with Schuman.

Sharon Schuman is updating her blog to add a post about this event. I’ll link to it once she has it up. More information about Schuman and her book can be found on her website, Dialogic Freedom.

Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin Poetry Event

On Tuesday, April 19 the Honors Program and the Cultural Competency Professional Development Committee co-sponsored an amazing poetry event. Internationally-renowned Brazilian poet, Salgado Maranão, and Alexis Levitin, the translator of two of Salgado’s books into English, spent the afternoon and evening on Lane’s campus. Honors faculty member, Sarah Lushia, knew Alexis. She initiated the event and coordinated Alexis’s and Salgado’s visit to our campus.

Prior to the event, we gave copies of their collections, Blood of the Sun and Tiger Fur, to the honors students. Salgado and Alexis spent an hour in the afternoon reading and sharing stories with the students.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Salgado read “Mater,” a poem he wrote for his mother. He, with Alexis translating, explained how strong and determined his mother was in the face of great difficulties. He described her love of language and poetry, attending mass in Latin the one time a year a priest came to their area even though she did not understand Latin. He noted that if she had been in the upper class, a plaza or boulevard would have been named for her.

Honors Dean, Susan Carkin, noted the shared elements between his poem and “The Arrival of My Mother New Mexico Territory, 1906,” a poem by Keith Wilson. She sent me the link and also mentioned this poem to Alexis and Salgado. I hadn’t known of Wilson’s poem, and learning of it was one of many memorable poetry moments I experienced that day.

Salgado is also a lyricist and has worked with some of Brazil’s jazz and pop artists. Poet Frank Rossini (and also husband of the event organizer, Lynn Nakamura) suggested that Salgado and Alexis speak with music students. After the session with the honors students, they spent part of the afternoon with several music majors.

Salgado, Alexis, several honors students, a few faculty members, and the honors dean had dinner together in the Renaissance Room on Lane’s campus. Great food . . . great conversations up and down the table . . . and book signings . . . a perfect transition from the afternoon gatherings to the evening event open to the public.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane's Renaissance Room.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane’s Renaissance Room.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

On our walk over to the Center for Meeting and Learning, Alexis and I discussed Cid Corman and his connection to Japanese poetry.

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Alexis mentioned that Salgado had written a poem about a snake whose movements were so smooth and so reassuring that it lured a frog into its embrace. Salgado has an interest in Japanese poetry and performs the poem with Tai Chi movements.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem later that evening.

We also found we had a shared acquaintance in Dennis Maloney, publisher of White Pine Press. Dennis and I have both published Cid’s poetry and Dennis published the bilingual edition of Tiger Fur.

The evening event was spectacular! Lynn Nakamura organized everything beautifully. Brazilian music, including one of Salgado’s songs that he sang along to, played as people arrived. Linda Reling had a book table set up at the back of the room where I caught President Mary Spilde buying copies of the books.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Anyone who has ever heard Mary give a talk knows there will be poetry interspersed among her comments!

Chief Diversity Officer Greg Evans gave a wonderful introduction to begin the evening.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

For two hours, Alexis and Salgado read, commented, shared more stories, and answered questions.

Creating opportunities like this for the students and the community is something Lane Community College does well. It is also a perfect way for the Honors Program to do something that is central to honors education: provide exceptional educational opportunities to the honors students and contribute to the larger campus community. We have many more events planned for next year!

Tricia Rose on Educational Equality in an Unequal World

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear a presentation by Tricia Rose. Professor of Africana Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University, Rose gave an exceptional talk entitled “Educational Equality in an Unequal World: Creative Strategies for Making All Students Successful.”

tricia-rose

Rose spoke at the Lane Longhouse. Her subject matter resonated for me in many ways, and I continue to think about her statement that the goals of education are to create “fully developed human beings and healing.” This statement articulates the essential work that honors programs do at two-year colleges. As I watch more students move through our program, I see the choices students make because of their honors experience. They challenge themselves in their classes and they ask more of their instructors. They engage in co-curricular activities. They apply for and receive scholarships. They transfer to, and graduate from, four-year institutions.

The above accomplishments are impressive, especially as students have commented in person, in their ePortfolios, and in other reflective writing about the challenges of attending college many years after high school; returning to college after unsuccessful first attempts; attending college while raising children sometimes with a partner and sometimes on their own; and trying to balance multiple jobs while succeeding in their coursework.

They have acknowledged the ways in which they were discouraged by high school teachers to even consider college, the comments by otherwise supportive instructors that misread language barriers as intellectual deficiencies, and the sometimes resentful and disparaging attitudes of family members and friends when they chose to go to school.

I repeatedly see the value of a cohort of peers who can relate to these many obstacles, peers who support each other in facing them, and who recognize to the sense of achievement in overcoming them. I see the value in having a faculty willing to design classes that provide even more challenging and creative opportunities for this cohort. I see the value in having an instructor tell a student to disregard the ways that they have been underestimated in the past or in having one student tell another that they, too, should consider the Honors Program. I see the value in extending what our college does every day – showing students that they matter and that their success matters – to make sure that there are opportunities here for every student.

“…fully developed human beings and healing.” Those of us involved with the Lane Honors Program agree and we’re working on it. Every student. Every day.

See Rose’s TED Talk at Brown University: “Creating Conversations on Justice.”

A2-B-C Film Screening

Last night, the Honors Program sponsored a screening of the new, award-winning documentary, A2-B-C  (huge thanks to Dean Middleton for handling the technological side of this event). The film focuses on the growing numbers of thyroid tumors appearing in children exposed to radiation after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. The event drew members from the campus and Eugene communities.

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Honors student, Lonnie Clark (right), talks with honors instructor, Eileen Thompson (left), before the screening. Lonnie has already been very involved with raising awareness about the situation in Fukushima.

After the screening, event organizer and honors instructor Sarah Lushia, and art faculty Satoko Motouji, set up a Skype question/answer session with the film’s director, Ian Thomas Ash. For half an hour students and community members asked Ash about the current situation in Fukushima and his experience making the documentary.

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Satoko (left) and Sarah (right) during the Skype session.

For more information about this film and Ash’s work, see Sarah’s interview with Ash on the Honors Program website as well as Ash’s blog, his website, and his YouTube channel.

After the Skype session, attendees also had a chance to film messages of support to the families in the film. Ash is collecting these messages from screenings of the film all over the world. He will edit them and give them to the families he follows in the documentary. We were also able to write notes to Ash on index cards that Sarah will send to him.

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Sarah talking with Sandy Brown Jensen before Sandy filmed our messages to the families.

The evening’s event reinforced for me that an honors program has a responsibility not only to provide educational opportunities outside of the classroom, but to make these opportunities available to the larger campus and city communities. These events become loci for engaged discourse among students, faculty, staff, and community members, and they are one of many ways that honors programs give back to their communities.

Community Events

Our program regularly invites the honors students to attend campus and community events, and we ask students to try to attend at least one per term. We recognize how much learning takes place outside of the classroom, and we also want to enrich our students’ college experience as much as possible. Events range from lectures to the upcoming screening of the award-winning documentary, A2-B-C, about the Fukushima nuclear disaster (more on that in a later post) to art talks and art exhibits. For instance, last year we attended art talks by J.S. Bird and Julie Green. We recently heard Lane art faculty members, Kathleen Caprario and Gabriella Soraci, discuss their current exhibit, Constructed Dreams, at the LCC Art Gallery. Kathleen also teaches our honors Basic Design class.

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Kathleen Caprario (left) and Gabriella Soraci (right)

These kinds of activities are, as Theresa A. James suggests, “an important means of creating close ties among the participants of the honors program and between the honors program and the community” (A Handbook for Honors Programs at Two-Year Colleges, 62). They also expand students’ awareness of the many opportunities available to them and encourage students to seek out these experiences on their own or with their peers. Realizing that these events are vital aspects of the college experience not only impacts students’ time at a community college. It increases their chances of seeking out these kinds of opportunities on university campuses when they transfer.

There are challenges, of course, to getting students to attend the events, especially at a two-year college commuter campus. Students don’t live on or near campus, and many of them commute by bus. They are also balancing jobs, families, and other commitments, which makes attending events more difficult. Turnout at off-campus venues has been low so far. On-campus events have been more successful because they are held at different times, allowing students to select the events that fit their schedules. In the upcoming year, we’ll work toward increasing the number of these opportunities so that students will find it easier to participate in at least one per term.