This summer, McGill Lawrence Internship Award recipient Francisca Garfia, '17, Anthropology, worked with the portland-based immigrant rights organization CAUSA. Read ahead for her impressions:
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, the struggle for legalization in the immigrant community has been central to my upbringing; I knew entire families who feared the separation of deportation, I had friends who were unable to attend college due to their legal status. This familiarity with the human side of illegal immigration led me to Causa, Oregon’s leading immigrant rights advocacy group. Causa services the Pacific Northwest immigrant community by educating them on their rights and opportunities for legalization. One way they do this is through community workshops; Causa provides access to legal forms and low cost attorneys since the legalization process is complicated and costly. The majority of my summer internship centered on a workshop, which not only served as a way to support the local immigrant community, but also pledged our solidarity to immigrant communities nationwide.
When I began planning this internship, President Obama had recently announced the expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Immigrants across the nation were abuzz with the news; if enacted, millions of undocumented immigrants would be legalized! However, the celebration was short lived as Texas and other states filed a lawsuit that prevented the implementation of the programs. As a result, immigrant advocacy groups that had hoped to help people become “DACAmented,” now had to focus their efforts on convincing the fifth circuit court that DACA was vital to these communities, and that these individuals were Americans despite their lack of documentation.
The beautiful Cooperativa Barberi.
President's Summer Fellow Margaret MacLean '16, studio art major, is leading art classes for youth with intellectual and developmental challenges at the Cooperativa Barberi in Florence, Italy. Read on for her adventures:
The hardest part of my PSF experience so far has been wrestling with my expectations. The dreaming and planning I did to prepare for Italy was incredibly important but also left me with some lofty ideas about what my summer would look like. My views on all of the things I came here for have shifted. My project has taken a slightly new shape and is far less sparkly and neat than it was in my imagination. I suppose this is to be expected!
First of all, my relationship towards my photography has changed. Usually I feel like my camera gives me the power to enter into spaces and situations that I couldn’t ordinarily. As photographer Diane Arbus said, “the camera is a kind of a license” that allows you to ask more questions and look more carefully than is usually socially acceptable. But in Florence during peak tourist season, with a camera in hand I feel like a tourist, not an artist. When I click the shutter button I feel like I am a part of a tourist culture that takes-takes-takes and gives nothing back. Italy’s biggest industry is tourism and in Florence so many things are constructed purely for tourists to experience and photograph. I don’t know if what I am feeling is genuinely a dislike for this exploitative aspect of photography or simply a form of artistic self-consciousness. Probably a bit of both.
Nicole Thompson ’16, political science-ICPS major, received the McGill Lawrence Summer Internship Award to work in Geneva as a member of the Frankfurt consulate's Public Affairs team.
It is comically difficult to summarize the events of this summer into a short and legible blog post. Perhaps that is the best way to summarize this adventure.
When I accepted the McGill-Lawrence award, my plan was to work for the US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. Two weeks before my departure I was notified that issues with my security clearance meant this was a no-go. Three days later, thanks to the grace of some higher power and the inhuman prowess of our own Brooke Hunter, I had secured a position in Geneva with the WHO. The next morning I received an email congratulating me on my approved security clearance and welcoming me to the Frankfurt consulate's Public Affairs team.
For his President's Summer Fellowship, Abrar Abidi ’16, physics major is working in a lab at McGill University in Canada, helping to develop new nanofluid technology to improve DNA mapping methods. Read on for his second blog installment:
On so many warm summer evenings here, red and white flares shoot up on the horizon, hissing as they go, before exploding with a deafening pop, forming a lavish spectacle in the Montreal sky. Often as I sit in my little Victorian-era apartment, sudden bangs and crackles send me rushing out to the roof of my building, so I can look toward the harbor, where on an otherwise forlorn stretch of land, six thousand rockets now fire heavenward in a single night. Yearly, the largest firework festival in the world—a kind of pyrotechnic Olympics—takes place in Montreal throughout the month of July. Groups from countries across the world, with their eyes set on prestigious awards, collect in this city to show off their talents in front of three million people. This year, England won the gold medal, while France took home silver and China, bronze. All this amid a procession of other festivities celebrating jazz and African cultures and circus arts and film and comedy. On the few nights not occupied by these events (and we’re still talking only of July), there are huge live music shows, free to the public, many taking place a two-minute walk from my front door.
The lab is a far quieter and colder place. With vents constantly blowing dry, chilly air on every floor of the building, I’ve taken to swaddling myself in at least three layers. Fortunately, the work I do expunges all my guilt for staying indoors. The opportunity to participate in this lab’s experimental efforts is what lured me to McGill in the first place, and in the previous month, my project has taken on a more experimental flavor. Sara, a good friend and researcher with whom I’ve been working closely since June, gave me the task of analyzing thousands of fluorescence microscopy images, zoomed in so close that a fraction of the width of a single human hair could easily eclipse the viewfinder. Fluorescence microscopy is a remarkable technique, where special dyes are used to stain the object of interest, causing it, when illuminated by a powerful lamp, to cast a vivid, luminous glow, no less dazzling to the eyes than the firework displays I can sometimes see from the lab window. Our microscopes are trained on minuscule nano-devices that Sara very cleverly designed and fabricated. Below the glass cover slip, and within these tiny devices, anywhere from a few dozen to several hundred strands of DNA can be seen drifting here and there, tossed about by Brownian motion, flashing like fireflies in the night. Then, with the flip of a switch, the strands rush toward the centers of a series of equidistant spaces, where they accumulate and extend, resembling a phalanx poised for battle. A dial that controls the frequency of a current sent through the device can manipulate their movement, alternately dispersing and concentrating the DNA. The potential applications for this invention are dizzyingly exciting: nothing less than the technology future generations might use to map entire genomes, at speeds and with accuracies far beyond anything currently possible.
Garret Linck is working on habitat conservation and restoration in the California wilderness as the Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration intern.
It’s hard to believe that I only have two and a half weeks left working for the Mendocino Land Trust. I’m nearly finished with one of the largest projects I’ve been working on this summer: a management plan for the Noyo River Redwoods Property. In my last post I mentioned the salmonid habitat surveys I was conducting in the Noyo River with Doug. This property lies along that same river, but further inland in eastern Mendocino county—near the city of Willits. The 426-acre property was purchased for $7.5 million in 2011 by Save the Redwoods League (a non-profit organization that protects and restores coastal Redwood forests), before being sold to the Mendocino Land Trust in 2012.
Working on the ground in Armenia, President’s Summer Fellow Knar Hovakimyan ’16, linguistics major, seeks to introduce Armenian literature to English-speaking communities through poetry translation.
I just finished unpacking back home in LA. When I opened my suitcase, I was greeted by the faint smell of khorovats (Armenian barbecue) in my clothes: the pants that I wore to harvest apricots at my uncle's, the sweater I wore to Lake Sevan on a stormy day. I removed the large number of books I had managed to fit in my suitcase: I remembered discussions with poets at different cafes, afternoons I spent scouring through several volumes to pick which poems I wanted to translate, the look of the books scattered across our apartment all month. My sunscreen spilled all over everything; I had completely neglected to use it on our sightseeing side-trip to Khor Virap, Noravank, Tatev and Karahunj. My purse was crushed way at the bottom of the suitcase, water-stained from the day strangers poured three buckets of water on my head in celebration of Vardavar.
Kelli Collins '15, McGill Lawrence Internship Award recipient, is teaching summer school to econmically disadvantaged youth through the Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Outreach.
Teaching at McCoy Academy has been fun, challenging, rewarding, and eye opening. I went into this experience hoping to learn how to effectively educate youth who come from difficult, often at-risk backgrounds. I've realized that many of the teachers who devote themselves to this demographic spend decades asking themselves these same questions and learning more every day about the teaching methods that are most and least effective.
President's Summer Fellow Margaret MacLean, '16, studio art major, is leading art classes for youth with intellectual and developmental challenges at the Cooperativa Barberi in Florence, Italy. Read on for her adventures:
Today I ran down an “up” escalator with my stomach full of mozzarella and espresso. Honestly, this is a pretty good metaphor for how the last month and a half has been for me in Italy: exhilarating, frustrating, accompanied by plenty of moving backwards, and success only after a big leap of faith. And always after eating a little more than I thought I could!
The weather in Florence is almost unbearably hot and humid but I am getting used to it. I spend my mornings in Italian class and my afternoons volunteering in art therapy or exploring the city. I drink at least two espresso a day, speak only Italian at home, and I am slowly cooking my way through a Tuscan cookbook. I work in the garden with my host nonna (grandmother). I practice my landscape sketching on the banks of the Arno and in various piazze (plazas) around the city. When I get homesick and/or overheated I watch American movies dubbed in Italian at the foreign movie theatre. I am loving my volunteer work, my students, and the new friends I have made here.
Recipient of the McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Joshua Tsang '18, is combating water pollution through water quality monitering of rivers around Portland with the nonprofit organization We Love Clean Rivers.
Hands-on and Hands-off River Scrubbing:
A Stitch in Time
This summer I am at home in Chivhu, Zimbabwe, implementing a sewing project, which we named A step toward hope— Education and self reliance. With the help of a local teacher, my family, and various community members, we are teaching 16 primary-age children how to sew. In addition to that we are also teaching them business skills as well as fostering a good environment for friendship making. Poverty is a major threat to peace in my village, and the main aim of this project is to alleviate the effects of poverty and to make sure the children stay in school. We hope that at the end of the day, the children can competently take care of themselves as well as help others in need.
Prior to the start of the project in mid-June, there was great interest in taking part in the project. To my chagrin, the headmistress of Chivhu Primary had already identified and recommended more than 70 students who could benefit from it. These children come from low-income families and more than half of them were orphaned. This situation was really hard since at most we could only accommodate 15 children. We eventually decided to choose the children based on academic skill, and also weighing who had the most probability of dropping out of school. We ended up with 16 of the least academically gifted children in the reasoning that they will be able to sustain themselves in the event that they fail in school. Four of these were currently not in school at all.
Recipient of the McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Olivia Kilgore '16, is teaching cultural connections and slam poetry to classes to Middle School Youth in Evanston, Illinois.
Youth Organizations Umbrella is a youth development non-profit organization that serves youth in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago. This summer, I have the privilege of facilitating classes for an eight-week summer program to middle school students in Evanston. As a staff member of Y.O.U., I promote positive youth development. The strategy encompasses the idea that empowering youth through supporting their voices and ideas enables them to resist negative factors and be successful in all areas of their lives.
The summer program incorporates seven main elements: life skills (civic leadership & cultural connections, health & nutrition, healthy relationships & sexual health), electives (arts/drama/lit, sports & fitness, STEM), structured play & team building activities, field trips, supportive adult relationships, family engagement and mental health counseling/crisis intervention.
For his President's Summer Fellowship, Abrar Abidi ’16, physics major is working in a lab at McGill University in Canada, helping to develop new nanofluid technology to improve DNA mapping methods.
A chemist who had close friendships with both Albert Einstein and Ernest Rutherford was once asked to share his recollections of the two men. In response, he explained:
“[Einstein] always spoke to me of Rutherford in the highest terms, calling him a second Newton. As scientists the two men were contrasting types—Einstein all calculation, Rutherford all experiment… There was no doubt that as an experimenter Rutherford was a genius, one of the greatest. He worked by intuition and everything he touched turned to gold. He had a sixth sense.”
President’s Summer Fellow Qiaoyu Yang ’16, mathematics major, is testing a probabilistic particle model for studying fluid dynamics with Prof. Aleksandar Donev at the Courant Institute in New York City.
After finishing my study abroad program in Moscow, I flew to NYC on May 23rd. The weather is terribly hot here. It took me two days to settle down and then I went to meet my supervisor, Prof. Aleksandar Donev, in the Courant Institute.
Courant is really amazing. It’s a leading center for research and education in applied mathematical science, as well as in computational and some fields of pure math. There are researchers working on different areas of mathematical science, such as computational biology, fluid dynamics, mathematical finance, and so on. Prof. Donev is working on computational physics and chemistry, so my project is also closely related to these two subjects.
Working on the ground in Armenia, President’s Summer Fellow Knar Hovakimyan ’16, linguistics major, seeks to introduce Armenian literature to English-speaking communities through poetry translation
I spent a month at home panicking over how I would get in touch with poets, adjust to their schedules, and meet them each a couple times in Armenia. When I got to Armenia, I quickly realized that I was going about things the American way – here, it is not necessary to make plans weeks in advance, confirm, reschedule... You can just show up at someone's house and they'll have a table set in five minutes. My first day here I made a phone call to a poet, Tigran Paskevichyan; after introductions we arranged to meet later that same day at Artbridge, a cafe he frequents. The entire encounter felt like a scene from a movie. The waiter brought out the poet's usual Armenian coffee, which Paskevichyan enjoyed with a cigarette as we talked about my project; we discussed his influences ranging from Daniil Kharms to Saul Leiter and his intentions behind specific poems – before I left home, I was worried about how far my Armenian language skills would take me, but luckily, I managed to keep up the conversation. With a signed copy of his book in hand and some new poems to work on, I embarked on the hectic week ahead of me.
President’s Summer Fellow Elizabeth Groombridge, ’16 psychology/theater major, is writing and creating a queer, supernatural webseries, “The Green’s Apartment”, based on Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It.
Garret Linck is working on habitat conservation and restoration in the California wilderness as the Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration intern. Read on for his first impressions and experiences.
Situated between Redwood groves and the Pacific Ocean, I have spent my first two weeks as the Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration Intern at the Mendocino Land Trust (MLT) traipsing through the rivers and forests of the North Coast. After a warm welcome from the crew at the MLT office in Fort Bragg, I drove over to Russian Gulch State Park and hauled my guitars, a few crates of vinyl, and my bicycle into the cabin where I will be living until August. From my doorstep, it is a brisk ten-minute walk to the Russian Gulch Headlands and Sinkhole—a mesmerizing locale where I’m frequently impressed by the force of the tide coming in and the abundance of wildlife. Nestled among the craters that perforate the cliff walls, Black Oyster Catchers cling to the walls as the strong wind ruffles their feathers.
On my second day, I jumped into Doug Kern’s (Big River Program Manager) green pickup with Nicolet (Trails & Stewardship Coordinator), and we meandered through the potholed roads of Jackson Demonstration Forest until we reach the nonsensically-named North Fork South Fork of the Noyo River. Doug and Nicolet each donned a pair of waders, which seemed to vie for the title of ‘most-waterlogged’. Doug’s quickly earned the title as evidenced by the continual fountain of water from his boots as he emerged from the river. I penciled in measurements of various habitat types as we traveled upstream, differentiating between Riffles, Scour Pools, and Non-Turbs (three different habitat classification units, denoting the depth, width, and velocity of the water). The terminology takes a bit of time to pick up on, but by the end of the day I was gaining confidence in both my understanding of the survey and my ability to scramble through thorns and underbrush. Three new pairs of waders should be arriving soon, and we will renew our efforts surveying the two-mile segment.
Orla O'Sullivan, '16 Russian major, is diving deep into the extensive collections at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, conducting research on visual culture and responses to controversial exhbitions for her President's Summer Fellowship.
I was shocked to learn recently that pieces frequently go missing at the Hermitage Museum, which probably surprises no Russian person, but it did surprise me. No one is, as far as I can tell, fired (either the theft is hard to trace, or not much effort to trace it is exerted). There is media buzz for a few weeks and then that’s the end of it. I am as equally mesmerized by the Winter Palaces’ halls and the General Staff Building’s sheer scale, as I am amazed that this institution functions as well as it does. The archeological department on the fourth floor, for instance, is filled – and this is no hyperbolical statement – with at least thirty years of books. At least. There are books and quills and pens and more books and articles and stray papers and presentations and various Russian shtukis (“thingies”) all piled on the tables and floors – just everywhere. So it shouldn’t be any wonder that items go missing, although, the museum boasts both antiquated and cutting-edge conservation facilities.
On my first day interning, I spent 2 hours (literally) trying to find the door, and then, once I found it, was asked, would I please assist a three-day conference on virtual archeology, where I met some fascinating people, including an archeaometrist (someone who applies physics to archeology), an architect specializing in computer program semantics, and the archeology department director (who happens to be the cousin of the museum director). Since then, it has been a whirlwind: Attending an international congress on Peter the Great; planning a museum celebration of the European Union; labeling Old Russian rock fragments with quills and ink; translating documents from Russian into English; and, most recently, working on a presentation for an exhibition closing ceremony on Monday. There is no written or printed schedule – everything just seems to happen on a whim – and practically each day brings a new, completely unforeseen, project.
Part One: Water of Unknown Depth
Nate Martin '16 is a President's Summer Fellow on a trip through the American Southwest with the goal of rewriting his connection to poetry by visiting areas where he first established that connection.
I'm out here now in Green River, Utah on I-70 in the eastern side of the state. I've taken a day off from hiking and driving around and talking to people to sit down and figure out where I am.
Right now I’m sitting at the kitchen table in a warm and eclectic apartment in Rome. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, stilted but enthusiastic conversations, and incredible museums. Most of all, my two weeks in Rome have seen me dogging the footsteps of one of the most influential and prolific historians of the ancient world. My project is founded on the idea that Livy is doing something special with space in his histories, setting stories in places that are highly specific and would have been familiar to his contemporaries. Like the ancient rhetorical technique of the memory palace, Livy capitalizes on the visual memory of his readers. Also like the memory palace, Livy’s stories imprint themselves on the spaces they occupy. After reading a particularly grisly passage, in which Tullia drives her chariot over her father’s corpse, the location of which, Livy informs us, is “as far as the top of the Cyprius Vicus, where the temple of Diana lately stood… to the right on the Urbius Clivus, to get to the Esquiline,” a reader will thereafter recall that spot as the scene at which his anecdote took place. My goal has been to hunt these places down, to photograph them, and to plot them on a digital, interactive map, so that modern readers might better understand this aspect of Livy’s text.
What I’ve found is a city that has been profoundly altered. Of course I knew that this would be the case; many of the monuments Livy discusses are now fragmentary and some are gone entirely. Many once-open spaces are now densely packed with buildings.
I knew that this would be the case, and I even welcomed the opportunity to engage with the modern city the same way Livy did--by countering absence with remembrance. In the example above, Livy recalls that the temple of Diana “lately” was standing. Present in his readers’ memories, but absent from their physical world, the temple (and so many other spaces altered by the Augustan building program), have become another level of Rome’s historical and topographical memory.
Meredith Mathis partcipated in a Reed Winter Externship, contributing to community services and support at St. Paul's and the Church of the Parables with Ben McKelahan.
The activities I did varied a good deal from day to day. One day I went to a clergy bible study and got a tour of a Senior Center at the St. James Matthew Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and went to a Mission Developer’s lunch (where pastors talked about their experiences and difficulties and offered each other support). Another day I met with a pastor and talked about the process of establishing a homeless respite bed program run by the Lutheran Church of the Messiah, met with the non-profit El Puente, and went to a church council meeting. I also got to sit in on meetings about planning future camp activities, walk around the neighborhood St. Paul’s is located in and check in with community members, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a number of pastors and seminary students, work on an art project for an upcoming three kings celebration/community event, and attend Sunday service, a Three Kings party and parables.
One of the most engaging parts of this experience was discussing the respite bed program being developed (mentioned above). This respite bed program was intended to house homeless community members overnight in the church, but certain community members were against the program, and the church building had to be renovated before the city would let it run. A lot of what I got out of that experience is that bureaucracy and community disagreement will come up regardless of how good or necessary a program is. But for one, it’s good to realize that if I’m going to do community work of any kind, the city will always have jurisdiction over the physical spaces I’m trying to cultivate into community spaces or convert in times of crisis (this bed program was a response to crises of homeless individuals’ lives being put in danger because of the cold in New York), and there is no forcing a sense of urgency in other people even if their position on an issue is inflicting direct harm onto others. However, the conflicts that were being dealt with didn’t stop efforts to organize and make changes needed to get the program running eventually.