Getting in the Spirit at Oglethorpe

Craig Bourne '15 shows off his smile after discussing OU spirit.

Craig Borne ’15

Craig Borne ’15 has a not-so-secret mission: to help students feel more spirited on campus.

Borne’s identity is not a government super agent but rather a super student at Oglethorpe. (Sorry, had to do it!) He’s a biopsychology major with a double minor in sociology and chemistry. To top this off, he’s a member of the tennis team, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and Phi Delta Epsilon, and is trying to help start a new fraternity on campus, Delta Sigma Phi.

Borne also is in the midst of writing a charter for the Spirit Squad, and hopes to get the new student club approved soon. Through the club, he wants to help keep the school mascot active through try-outs for the most spirited Petey the Petrel and hopes to increase attendance at athletic events by building school pride. Our university has much to be proud of—not only athletic championships (let’s hear for men’s soccer and golf!) but all of the efforts and accomplishments by every team, athlete and student. Borne says he wants all students to feel connected to our collective accomplishments and to be proud and to show it.

Petey’s got spirit, how about you?

Borne encourages Oglethorpe students to get involved on campus and says there’s a club for everyone. Black & Gold Club in the Admission Office is just one example of a way students can get involved on campus and interact with prospective freshmen and their families. There is also a variety of Greek Life on campus between honor societies and traditional sororities and fraternities. And the best part is, if you don’t think there’s a club for you: start one! Gather a group of friends and create the club for you.

Borne is even thinking about the future of the club after he graduates. He wants to put a five-year plan into effect that will help to care for the mascot uniform and create pep rallies to get students excited for upcoming events on campus.

Why is school spirit so important to have? “It’s really tough to make something better without support,” says Borne. “And if we want to make the school better, we need to be better at having spirit for our school.”

 

The Singing Life at Oglethorpe ♪♫

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The 2013-2014 University Singers pictured in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center.

The first time I visited Oglethorpe I was nervous beyond belief. I was auditioning for a choral scholarship and I had no clue what Oglethorpe would be like. I had taken the tour online and thought it was gorgeous. But, I was just not sure about what the campus atmosphere would be.

Dr. Irwin Ray

Dr. Irwin Ray

I auditioned with Dr. W. Irwin Ray, earning myself a $500 conditional scholarship and I joined the University Singers as an alto. I have come a long way from that nervous high school senior. I have sung in the alto section for three years now and I am in my fourth and final year in the University Singers.

I have many wonderful memories of the singers but my favorite part is our concerts. We work hard to bring songs together and present them to the public. We have sung some hilarious pieces such as the folk song “I Bought Me a Cat” and pieces that are more recognizable like the “Les Miserables” medley we sang in the spring. Every year, the Boar’s Head Concert is a fun way to combine celebrating the winter season and our student organizations on campus. This concert is, in many ways, one of the more interesting events on campus throughout the school year and my favorite concert of the year. (After singing a variety of seasonal pieces, a feast is held in honor of our friend, the boar, who choked down more than he could chew when a student saved himself with his Aristotle book…or so the legend goes.)

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

The Singers is filled with hard-working, multifaceted students. I’ve watched Kyle Brumley ’12 go from being an actor in Oglethorpe theater productions to becoming a leading man in Atlanta theater. I’ve heard beautiful music composed and produced by John Burke ’11 on Pandora Internet radio. And I’ve watched Samantha Flynn ’14 revive the student newspaper. All of these students also served as section leaders.

Dr. Ray helps students who work hard to learn and improve. As I mentioned, I started out with a conditional scholarship at $500. I have currently doubled my scholarship and taken away the conditional status of it as well. Hard work pays off in the University Singers and it helps students experience a different side of the Oglethorpe University education.

So, I hope you will come see (and hear) us in action. Join us for the Singers’ Fall concert, this Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe. The concert is free and open to all.  You can also follow us on Twitter!: @oglesingers or on Facebook: Oglethorpe University Singers.

Watch the Oglethorpe University Singers perform the national anthem at the Feb. 2013 homecoming basketball game:

 

OU Professors Talk Aliens with History Channel

It was an unusual assignment.

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The 1954 sci-fi movie “Target Earth” featured an alien invasion by giant robots.

Oglethorpe’s Dr. John Orme, professor of politics and division chair, and Dr. John Cramer, professor of physics, recently appeared in the H2 channel’s series Target Earth. The show explores topics such as infrastructure, natural resources, and engineering, but with a sci-fi twist: how would aliens view our planet if they were targeting Earth for a takeover?

This 173rd episode in the series, likely named for the 1954 science fiction movie, Target Earth, hypothesizes about what would happen during an alien invasion.

Although the documentary itself seems a bit far-fetched and funny at times, the issues addressed are serious: What would the consequences of an (alien) invasion or biological weapon? What would we do in the event of a world wide black out? What if water sources were attacked? How does nature affect our lives? Ultimately, Dr. Cramer and Dr. Orme offered answers that reflect possible outcomes in the event of any disaster—not simply an alien invasion.

So, why are our professors considered to be experts on alien invasions?

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Dr. Cramer, pictured at the annual Space on the Green, Oglethorpe’s celebration of science.

Dr. Cramer is the author of How Alien Would Aliens Be?, which takes a scientific approach to the potential existence and appearance of extra-terrestrials. His book surmises that since both humans and aliens would be subject to similar physical constraints (vision, hearing, environment), it’s likely that aliens would not be so physically different from us —if they exist. Similarly, Dr. Orme was tapped for his expertise based on his book The Paradox of Peace, which “examines the foundations of peace by using diverse case studies to look at the calculations of political leaders and their reliance on optimism.”

Dr. Orme teaching a politics class in his fabled favorite classroom, simply for the  chalk board.

Dr. John Orme in the classroom.

In the event of an alien invasion, both cite water resources as pivotal. Dr. Cramer believes that water resources would be targeted during an invasion. Dr. Orme suggests that humans’ experience and reaction in natural disasters would likely be repeated in the event of an invasion. For instance, an attack on freshwater sources would elicit similar chaotic responses; water would become worth stealing  and protecting. Patience would wear thin and violence would erupt.

So, while the show itself seemed a bit campy at times, our professors’ professional opinions were credible and based in reality. Plus, it’s pretty cool that our professors were interviewed about aliens.

To watch the documentary, search your TV listings, or purchase the episode and watch it on demand.

OU Museum of Art: “An Academic Treasure Trove”

I have always loved Japanese art. So, when I learned that my Asian Politics class was attending the OU Museum of Art’s Japanese art exhibition as part of learning about Japanese history and culture—I freaked. Two things I love had come together: learning and art.

Yoshida's woodcut "Sending Boats" series especially stood out to Jacob Tadych '14 in Dr. Steen's Japanese Literature class. WHY?

Yoshida’s woodcut “Sending Boats” series especially stood out to me. The series of images depicts the life of traditional Japanese fishermen from the same perspective during different times of day.

Both my class, taught by Dr. Stephen Herschler, and Dr. Robert Steen’s Japanese  Literature class took full advantage of having the exhibition right here on our campus at the beginning of this semester. Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints helped our classes see art as a reflection of a culture and current events, and to explore how art is a means through which cultures can exchange ideas with one another.

“Learning is more effective when it is attached to the real world and becomes not just theoretical but experiential as well,” said Dr. Herschler. “It was an incredible opportunity…(and) a truly fabulous way for the Asian Politics class to start the semester, using art to learn about not just different cultures but also philosophy, international commerce, and politics as reflected in the techniques, materials, and aesthetics of specific artistic works.”

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Some of the porcelain pieces on view, for example, showed how Western culture influenced Eastern culture. Traditional Japanese art forms are stoic and minimalistic, but that contrasted with the vibrant pieces created by the Japanese for Westerners to display in their Victorian era households.

The displayed works by master printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida gave students a snapshot of Japanese culture in transition from a feudalistic society to the current industrial power. His use of traditional Japanese woodcuts and the European oil and watercolor painting techniques shows the balancing act that resulted from the mash of cultural ideals following WWII. Yoshida’s works are traditional in their minimalism, but also very impactful in that the cultural transition is gently introduced to the viewer. Most prints in the exhibit showed very traditional scenes, like Mount Fuji and shrines or fishermen on sailboats throughout the day, while others showed the shops at night seeming to suggest the beginning of using electric lights by the intensity of the shadows and the use of Western techniques.

Dr. Steen’s class was studying post WWII Japanese literature, coinciding with the time period of the Yoshida prints. His class used the exhibit as context for discussing the cultural transitions in Japan at that time and the effects on the country’s literature. “Art tells stories and I have my students write about those stories,” said Dr. Steen, who uses the themes of memory, cultural identity and travel to relate the texts back to differences in perspective. “There are many ways to make connections to the ideas that we talk about in class, even if they aren’t directly related.”

Elizabeth Peterson, the director of the OU Museum of Art, is thrilled that the classes were able to use the exhibit to compliment their classroom curriculum. “This is precisely why universities have museums—as more than a lovely place to visit—it’s an academic treasure trove for students.”

Dr. Herschler's Asian Politics Class with Dr. Terry Taylor.

Dr. Herschler’s Asian Politics class pictured with Dr. Terry Taylor, who loaned the Yoshida woodcuts to OUMA for the exhibition. Dr. Taylor gave a lecture to the class about the dedication required by Yoshida to create the woodcuts—all of which came from a selected single piece of wood.

Gates Millennium Scholar Selects Oglethorpe

009Oglethorpe freshman Lila Siwakoti ’17 says that he’s thankful for many things. He should also be very proud of his accomplishments.

Lila was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and immigrated to the U.S. in 2009, thanks to a sponsorship from the International Rescue Committee. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the nonprofit responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

“Refugee life is not like a regular life,” says Lila. “You live at home in fear. You have food and medical shortages.” Adapting to a foreign culture and language was rough for him, he says. But over time, Lila and his family settled in to life in the U.S. and he says he is thankful to live here. Lila eventually became fluent enough in English to take AP and Honors classes and credits his religion, Hinduism, with helping him do well in school.

Gates-Millennium-Scholars-logoSo well, in fact, that Lila was awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students with significant financial need. This year’s applicant pool for the scholarship was record-breaking, according to Lila. More than 54,000 students applied but only 1,000 are selected each year. To put this into perspective, less than 2% of applicants were accepted this year.

To qualify, students must demonstrate leadership abilities and academic distinction. They must also have two nominations for the scholarship—one for academics and one recommending the student for their leadership qualities. Lila graduated with a 3.9 GPA from Clarkston High School and actively participated in his community through volunteer work.

Lila chose to attend Oglethorpe because of Oglethorpe’s small class sizes. He likes the fact that you are able to visit professors during office hours and they know who you are rather than be a nameless member of the class. Plus, his family is important to him and the campus’s proximity allows him to remain close to them. He considers the scholarship a “blessing” and is currently deliberating on majoring in computer science and minoring in economics.

As part of the scholarship requirements, Lila participates as an ambassador for the Gates Millenium Scholarship program and is currently helping students from his alma mater with the application process. Ultimately, Lila wants to go back to Nepal or Africa and volunteer: “My long term goal is to help people.”