25, 2002, Special Edition
Term's Captivating Calendar of Events
by Vincenza Russu
taking Architecture Workshop with architect Gretchen Schneider
create different kinds of spaces using large-scale cardboard
"columns." The hands-on workshop was one of two
architecture courses offered by the Weissman Center for
Since its inception
in 1972, J-Term has offered a special opportunity for faculty
and students at Mount Holyoke to try courses and activities that
don't fit into the fall or spring semesters. This year, students
took classes for credit in areas ranging from architecture and
anthropology to modern dance and theatrical production. Future
teachers completed fieldwork requirements by observing and assisting
in early childhood, elementary, middle, and secondary school classrooms.
Others enjoyed a wide array of noncredit classes, including Knitting
for Beginners, Batik, Sushi in the Afternoon, Introduction to
Programming JAVA, and Kitchen Table Bookbinding.
With its alluring
textbook Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! Lies, Damn Lies and the
Public Relations Industry, Public Relations 101 attracted seventy
students to become the most popular course of J-Term this year.
Instructor Kevin McCaffrey, associate director of communications,
taught the writing-intensive course as an introduction to public
relations and media relations by covering press releases, opinion
pieces, speeches, media campaigns, and public relations plans.
"The best part of the class was role-playing in all aspects
of PR," said Andrea LeClair '02. "In one class, we were
spokeswomen for PETA and the NRA, communications staff for Mount
Holyoke, journalists, and op-ed columnists. The class got me interested
in working in the the PR field, especially in communications."
J-Term intern Hayley Beers '05 works on a mailing for the
executive director search committee of the Philadelphia
Ronald McDonald House.
Courses related to
international culture and global issues were also popular this
year. Those included World Energy Resources, Introduction to Korean
Language and Culture, and Global Leadership Forum. The forum,
which was sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership, attracted
so many students that it had to be split into two sections. Leading
both sections was Pat Sewell, an expert in multilateral leadership
who has taught at Yale University, Princeton University, and Columbia
University and in a number of Canadian universities. Sewell's
books include Multilateralism in Multinational Perspective: Viewpoints
from Different Languages and Literatures, 2000. "The world
is a bust, but we'll have fun with it," said Sewell as the
term began, meaning that the forum would take a creative approach
to fostering awareness of the world's difficult issues and its
need for leadership. He noted that Mount Holyoke graduates include
Frances Perkins '02, the first woman secretary of labor, and Elaine
L. Chao '75, labor secretary under President George W. Bush. Sewell
hopes that forum participants will some day take similar leadership
roles, especially director general of the International Labor
Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World
Barry Werth taught the J-Term class Covering the Campus,
which examined the world and culture of the academy through
the prism of the news media.
had diverse interests, from human rights to biosphere degradation,
but all found plenty of opportunities to make their voices heard
as they acted as leaders of states and presented their nations'
positions on transnational issues. Participant Xindi Zhao '05
from Beijing, China, focused on human rights. She said, "We
love peace, we want peace, and we need peace because we have suffered
so much during the past 100 years. We were conquered by other
countries seven times during the First and Second World Wars;
we experienced three civil wars and ten years of cultural revolution
chaos. More than sixty million Chinese have died. Today as Chinese
we wish the world to see us, to understand us, to stop labeling
us, to work with us, to help us, and to respect us."
The mysterious and
mythical was another common thread, appearing in classes such
as Introduction to the Tarot; Amazons, Bonobos, and Women at the
Center: Anthropological Perspectives on Matriarchy; and The Psychology
of Subjective Experience. The inspiration for the course in subjective
experience, said instructor Susan Burggraf, visiting assistant
professor of psychology and education, was the intersection between
her work in psychology and her interest in Buddhist meditation.
"Meditation is looking into one's own experience as it unfolds
moment by moment," she said. "This introspection can
yield interesting and useful insights, but is almost taboo in
psychology, in which we study other people, what they say and
do. In psychology we rarely study experience itself, because the
only experience that can be known directly is one's own."
Yvonne Skillings '02, Frances Perkins scholar and participant
in Burggraf's class, said, "For me, meditation is a way of
centering myself in order to see clearly.' Sitting quietly
for a few minutes daily in meditation practice provides the energy
that, in my case, counteracts everyday stresses." Participant
Theresa Bardy '05 enjoyed "getting a chance to broaden my
perspective about myself as a person."
Wainaina '04 (right) tutors Nimo Hussein in her Holyoke
home. The seventeen- member Hussein family from Somalia
was living in a refugee camp before coming to the U.S. Mount
Holyoke students tutor both parents and children several
times each week.
At least seventy-five
students sought learning outside the classroom by pursuing internships
at sites from South Hadley to San Francisco. J-Term interns gained
work experience in interests ranging from journalism to Jewish
heritage. (Look for their stories in a February CSJ.) Other students
made shorter forays from campus by joining shopping and ski trips
sponsored by the Office of Student Programs. Still others made
time for service to their community by participating in programs
arranged by the Community Service Board out of Eliot House. They
helped with homework and activities at Holyoke's Girls, Inc.;
sorted and boxed food for soup kitchens and child care agencies
at Food Bank in Hatfield; assisted disabled adults at South Hadley's
Sunshine Village; created fun activities for veterans at Holyoke's
Soldiers' Home; set up noontime meals for Kate's Kitchen soup
kitchen in Holyoke; and tutored members of a Somali refugee family
Sewell greets his Global Leadership Forum students at a
reception at the Weissman Center. The Center's Speaking,
Arguing, and Writing (SAW) Program supported Sewell's class
by assigning SAW mentors to assist his students with written
and oral work.
As it has for thirty
years, J-Term provided a variety of fun and serious learning opportunities
both on and off campus. Those who missed these opportunities have
a whole year ahead to plan for what could become a crucial month
in their academic experience.