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Seeing Italy Through New Eyes

Venice at sunset (photo by Melissa Newcomb)

In the digital age we live in, the Sistine Chapel isn’t farther than a quick Google search away. Photographs of the ceiling there have richer detail than ever before, information about Michelangelo is available at one’s fingertips on a multitude of websites and inside a plethora of books. But is seeing it on a screen or on a page really the same?

Not if you ask Ann Tuttle, professor of management and one of three faculty members who supervised a group Field Period™ to Florence, Venice and Rome the week after Commencement for 16 Keuka College students.


“It’s not the same to read about it as to experience it,” Tuttle said, contrasting the biweekly meetings members of the group held over months of preparation, to learn history, art, culture, and language with the 10 days the group spent in Italy itself.

“Seeing the things we’d learned about for ourselves was so much better and more meaningful than I could have imagined. Immersion in a culture is fulfilling and moving, it helps you to understand there is more out there than what we know,” Tuttle said.

Shawnee Brown tries her hand at making pasta.

Students and faculty who experienced the wonders of Italy together will share their experiences Monday, Sept. 29 from 5-9 p.m. at the North Education Conference Center, and will also serve refreshments. All members of the college community are invited to come and see the culmination of the trip, much of which was coordinated through Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Denise Love. Last year, Love coordinated a group Field Period™ to Vienna, Prague and the Slovakian cities of Nitra and Bratislava along with Dr. Klaudia Lorinczova, assistant professor of education, and Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art. Newcomb returned for this year’s trip, and the group also welcomed Dr. Jean Wannall, professor of occupational therapy, and her husband, Nathan Wannall, who helped serve as group Field Period™ leaders too.

Following the pattern set last year, students again kept online journals and blogs detailing their personal reflections in words and photographs.

The beauty of Capri

“I imagined Michelangelo spending all of his time in there, working on the perfect detail,” wrote Kelsey Harmer ‘15, after visiting the Sistine Chapel. “At first I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t take pictures, but it made me appreciate the artwork so much more.”

For her part, Newcomb said she was “overtaken with emotion looking at a masterpiece I had only seen in a photograph or video. I could have stayed there all day.”

The trip was educational for her too, even as a professor, she said, especially since she has always dreamed about seeing Rome after studying so much art history.

“I can now say I have seen real masterpieces. I can share the experience and passion with my students. I can reach out to students in a different way now that I have walked through Italy.  Passion will definitely be present in the classroom,” she explained.

Ann & Haley Tuttle ride an Italian gondola.

The group was able to experience making real Italian pasta, riding on gondolas in Venice, visiting Pompeii, and enjoying the beautiful waters surrounding Capri. Of course, some experiences don’t always go according to plan. For example, authentic Italian cuisine is entirely different from the Italian-American food most of the students were expecting, as Brittany Gleason ’15 discovered at an Italian restaurant where, under pressure, she ordered pizza with sausage on it.

“A few minutes later they brought out a large pizza with sliced hot dogs on it. So, today I also learned that ‘sausage’ here means our hot dogs,” Gleason wrote.

Guided daily by an Italian native named Mario, both students and chaperones wrote about their newfound love for gelato, Italy’s slightly more intense version of ice cream. While in the city of San Gimignano, the group was able to get gelato at the famous Gelateria di Piazza, which many consider the best in the world.

According to Kayla Hall ’15, they weren’t kidding.

Kayla Hall '15 gives her gelato a "quality control" test.

“I thought the other places were good,” Hall wrote. “Did you know that the best way to tell if a gelato is of good quality is to hang it upside down? If it falls off you have a lame gelato, but if it stays on, it is one of the good ones. This one stayed on!”

In addition to its rich history of food and art, Italy is also known for its considerable architectural achievements, dating back to the ruins of ancient Rome. Perhaps best-known is the four-level Coliseum, or Flavian Theater. Built of concrete and stone, the stadium was used for animal fights, staged sea battles, and the famous gladiator matches.

“When you look at the Coliseum today the floor is removed, so you are able to see where the slaves were kept before they came up for battle,” wrote Jenna Bird ’15. “This was pretty surreal to experience because we were able to see exactly where slaves were kept essentially before they were sent to their deaths.”

Excavation now reveals formerly hidden layers of the Coliseum (photo by Alyssa Ange)

“Pictures don’t do any place justice, especially when it comes to the scale of architecture,” described Newcomb. “It’s overwhelming but wonderful at the same time.  It makes you really appreciate the experience of how something so massive and beautiful was created, how all the tiny details were created by hand. Each part tells a story, and you could study it for days.”

“Even though we saw so much and maximized our time, there could never be enough time,” Tuttle said, “It made me want to go back, to see more someday.”

The Pantheon in Rome, with its citation honoring Marcus Agrippa, original founder.

“I want to say thank you to Keuka College and all of those that have supported group Field Period™, because it is a life-changing and life- enhancing experience,” Tuttle said. 

Additional students who participated in the group Field Period™ included Alyssa Ange, Shawnee Brown, Amber Callahan, Marina Kilpatrick, Brittany Kuhn, Brianna Longwell, Brooke Reynolds, Anna Tomasso, Haley Tuttle, Justin Merrill, Lakwan Alleyne-Hall and Ian Wentzel.

New Look for Phillips Lounge

Barbara Schaefer Allardice '61 and Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera get ready to cut the ribbon

Keuka College’s Phillips Lounge (in Dahlstrom Student Center) received a much-needed face-lift over the summer. A grand opening ceremony was held Monday, Sept. 22.

Thanks to the leadership of two College Board of Trustees members, Don Wertman and his wife, Chris, and Dr. Barbara Schaefer Allardice ’61 and her husband David, the lounge’s old fireplaces were removed and now features stunning floor-to-ceiling views of Keuka Lake.

A before-and-after look at the Phillips Lounge

The fireplaces were removed in order to maximize space, and the new lounge offers collaborative workspaces, state-of-the-art TVs, a writeable surface wall, and new furniture with built-in charging capabilities.

For more photos of the new lounge click here.

Dr. Wendy Gaylord Charter Member of National Language Service Corps

According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 300 languages other than English are spoken in the U.S. Nearly 7,000 living languages are documented worldwide.

Such diversity of language illustrates the need for dedicated language resources in local communities, and the U.S. at large. But where can these resources be found?

Enter the National Language Service Corps (NLSC) and its members, including Dr. Wendy Gaylord, dean of China programs. Gaylord became a charter member of the NLSC in 2009 when it was a pilot project. In 2013, it became a permanent part of the Department of Defense, providing services to all branches of the government.

“I was interested in participating as a charter member because I want to use my language skills to promote understanding,” said Gaylord, who speaks fluent Indonesian. “The NLSC is an organization of volunteers fluent in foreign languages who are willing to provide language services to the U.S. government when required. I am always interested in ways to use my Indonesian language skills, so this was a good fit.”

A first-of-its-kind government organization, the NLSC offers multilingual speakers the opportunity to volunteer their language skills and be a bridge to their language communities. These individuals speak, listen, read, understand English and another language, and make themselves available to help others when a U.S. government requirement arises.

“I heard about the NLSC program during the pilot phase because I had received a Boren Award to support my use of Indonesian language during my doctoral dissertation research in Indonesia. I was accepted, in part, because I have been a State Department interpreter for the Office of Language Services, so my name was already on a list somewhere in the government,” said Gaylord. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to add an important international and language component to their educations.

According to Gaylord, the NLSC  is needed because while the U.S. has many people with foreign language skills, the government had no way to find such people when needed.

“The NLSC is a group of people who think that their skills can be used for good if they can help bridge cultures divided by language,” said Gaylord. “I have worked overseas and have seen the problems that can arise when people are unable to communicate effectively due to the lack of a common language. I have always thought that it is critical for people to really learn other languages and cultures in order to know their own.”

In order to be a member of the NLSC, Gaylord took language tests—in English and in Indonesian—to document that she is fluent. Members can be called upon in times of need to use their interpreting, translating, teaching, and/or subject matter expertise skills to assist others in the United States and around the world during short-term assignments.

“I receive messages whenever there is a need for an Indonesian speaker to carry out an assignment,” said Gaylord. “These vary in scope and in length of time. Because I work full-time at Keuka College I have not been able to respond to some of these, but recently, I did participate in a four-day assignment in Washington, D.C. It was very gratifying to think that the work I do benefits other people.”

While Gaylord speaks Indonesian and English fluently, she has studied Chinese and can communicate, but is not fluent. She also relies on her high school French and Latin, which she admits, “are only useful in crossword puzzles.”

Added Gaylord: “I imagine that Indonesian does not have many assignments compared to languages needed in some of the world’s ‘hot spots’ such as Afghanistan or areas of the Middle East. I have not been able to take an assignment that is out of the country. I have only been to Washington D.C., but I would enjoy doing more.”

Penn Yan Native Tony Collins to Speak at Keuka College Sept. 23

Penn Yan native Tony Collins, motivational speaker and retired NFL player, will speak at Keuka College Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Free and open to the public, Collins will discuss “Choices and Opportunities: Become What You Believe. The Power of Positive Thinking,” at 7 p.m. in Hegeman Hall 109. Collins, a motivational speaker, will share his story of addiction and the choices he needed to make to get him where he is today.

Selected in the second round of the NFL Draft in 1981, Collins spent eight seasons with the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. His successful football career was highlighted by a Pro Bowl selection in 1983, and a single-game rushing record of 212 yards for the Patriots. This led him to the biggest stage imaginable for a football player—playing in the Super Bowl.

Before playing on football’s biggest stage, Collins first garnered notoriety in high school as a starter on the 1976 New York State Class B Champion Penn Yan Academy Mustangs. After high school, Collins attended East Carolina University (ECU) where he continued to break records and was inducted into ECU’s Hall of Fame.

Although he did not complete his undergraduate degree during his initial time at ECU, realizing the value of an education, he returned back to school and received his bachelor’s degree in communications in May 2011.

While Collins’ successes on the field were many, the destructive choices he made off the field resulted in a downward spiral. Collins shares his story in his recently published biography, BROKEN ROAD, Turning My Mess into a Message. His story is a reminder that positive thinking has the power to save a life.

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Seton Hall University Arson Survivors will Speak at Keuka College Sept. 5

Two of the survivors of the Seton Hall University arson of Jan. 19, 2000, Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, will share their experiences at Keuka College Friday, Sept. 5.

Free and open to the public, the program begins at 7 p.m. in Norton Chapel. Simons and Llanos, who were freshman roommates, were severely burned during the fire. They will speak as part of the Office of Campus Safety’s fire safety training for the fall semester.

What started as a prank in the early morning hours in Seton Hall University’s freshman residence hall, Boland Hall, ended with three freshmen losing their lives and nearly 60 injured. Of the 58 student injuries, five were critical, including Simons and Llanos, and required extensive hospitalization.

“Shawn and Alvaro suffered extensive, disfiguring burns, and I am certain that seeing and listening to them will be an experience those in attendance will not soon forget,” said Pat Kasnick, director of campus safety.

At approximately 4:30 a.m. that morning, a fire alarm was received for the six-story Boland Hall in the security office at Seton Hall. The fire on the third floor quickly involved the furniture in the elevator lobby and adjoining area.

Students would later recount that false fire alarms were almost considered a way of life on the college campus, with the result that they tended to be largely ignored. Within minutes, however, students—including Simons and Llanos—became aware that there indeed was a fire. This time, it wasn’t a false alarm.

Scared, the roommates crawled in the direction that they were accustomed to going, not knowing that they were crawling right into the fire. If they had headed to the nearest exit, a stairwell they rarely used, there was the possibility they could have escaped the building without injury.

Losing each other in the blackened hallway, Simons crawled right through and past the fire, but not without his hands taking on third degree burns as his palms stuck to the sweltering floor tiles as he pushed for safety. He also suffered first and second degree burns to his head and face, bringing his percentage of body burned to 16 percent and an insurmountable amount of smoke inhalation. His face was so badly burned that doctors predicted he would be frighteningly disfigured. They feared his fingers, seared almost to the bone, would have to be amputated.

Llanos was hurt even more gravely. As he approached the burning lounge, Llanos saw a glimmer of light from the stairwell adjacent to the lounge. As he stood up to push the door open, a fireball erupted from the burning ceiling tiles, igniting his coat and causing third degree burns from his head to his torso. As he tumbled out into the hallway still ablaze, two resident assistants were able to put the fire out on Llanos, but not before he experienced burns on 56 percent of his body. Chunks of his once athletic frame were gone. From his waist up, nothing was spared

Simons endured months of physical and occupational therapy, while Llanos’ recovery process took years. Not only was it a physical toll on Llanos and Simons, but it was a mental and emotional roller coaster as well. Learning to deal with being comfortable in their new “burned” skin was a mission all in itself.

Two students who started the fire as a prank were indicted in mid-2003, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in late 2006, and were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in early 2007.

A film documenting the tragedy, After the Fire, was made in 2012. To view the trailer of the movie click here.