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Keuka College Student Club Donation Aids Honor Flight

Thanks to the efforts of the student members of the Keuka College Veterans Club, a local veteran will be able to participate in an Honor Flight from Rochester to Washington, D.C. in the spring.

Left to right, Bob Johnston, former Marine and director of AVI Food Systems on campus, Denise Duby, mother of a Marine and member of the KC advancement staff, Andy Swarthout, Siobhan Costain '17, Laurie Adams '83, club advisor and assistant director of alumni and family relations, Rich Martin '05, club advisor, a U.S. Army veteran, and program director of the (ASAP) criminal justice program.

Honor Flight Rochester is one of 130 hubs in a national network which enables members of the military who served during WWII, the Korean, Vietnam or Cold Wars, to travel free of charge to Washington, D.C. to visit the monuments and memorials honoring their service. The non-profit program, coordinated by volunteers, funds trips entirely through the generosity of donors and sponsors. Veterans fly to D.C. accompanied by a “guardian” who assists them in navigating travel to and from the various sites.

The Keuka College Veterans Club conducted two fundraisers in the spring to raise $300 to donate toward the Honor Flight Program; a veteran’s trip is valued at $500. At this year’s Veterans’ Day ceremony in Norton Chapel, Siobhan Costain ‘17, president of the club, participated in a symbolic gesture of giving to a local veteran; a formal check presentation was made Dec. 17 on campus.

Siobhan Costain '17 hugs a local veteran during the Honor Flight recognition portion of the Nov. 11 veterans day ceremony at Norton Chapel.

“A lot of times veterans are forgotten more than they should be,” said Costain, whose father and grandfather served in the military. “We are awed by the fact that these men and women have done so much for the country, and this is what we could do for them.”

P. Earle Gleason, former director of the Yates County Veterans Service Agency and an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, helps coordinate Honor Flight travel for Yates County veterans along with locals Norm Koek and Andy Swarthout. According to Gleason, some 23 veterans from throughout the county have taken Honor Flights to D.C. so far and another six to eight have applications in process for the coming year.

The Penn Yan volunteers help coordinate local contingents of Yates County veterans to travel together within one of the three honor flights offered from Rochester each fall or spring. Honor flights are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority given to veterans of the oldest eras first, then to those in more recent service eras suffering terminal illness.

Veterans enjoy a complimentary dinner following the Nov. 11 ceremony

Unlike other Honor Flights around the country, veterans who travel from Rochester enjoy a 36-hour trip, including an overnight stay at the Hilton Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International airport after a full Saturday of travel to D.C. memorials. A special banquet is hosted for the veterans that evening and according to Rich Stewart, president of Honor Flight Rochester, the time after the keynote speaker concludes can be “quite moving” as veterans begin to share their memories.

“A lot of them will open up and tell stories never told before, even with their families,” explained Stewart, who has made the trip a half dozen times as a guardian or bus leader. “People who’ve never publicly spoken in their lives will say ‘I need the microphone’ and it takes your breath away sometimes.”

Thanks to Honor Flight Rochester, 2,121 veterans have visited the military memorials since Rochester trips began in 2008, Stewart said, adding the vets are often greeted in D.C. by military and government officials. When veterans return to Rochester Sunday morning, they may find as many as 500 to 700 people to greet them, he said. In addition to friends and family, the airport welcome includes patriot guard riders bearing flags, a variety of community bands playing patriotic songs, and even members of the Knights of Columbus who create an archway of swords for veterans to pass under, Stewart described.

Local veterans stand at attention Nov. 11 during the playing of "Taps."

“It’s really a hero’s march, if ever there was one. It never gets old,” Stewart said. “Please thank the young folks down there for all they’re doing!”

Local veterans from WWII, the Korean War or ill veterans from the Vietnam or Cold War eras interested in applying for the next Yates County tour-within-a-tour are encouraged to contact Norm Koek at St. Mark’s Terrace or the Yates County Veterans Service Agency for an application to Honor Flight Rochester, Gleason advised. While applications can also be made directly online at www.honorflightrochester.com, online applicants may not be grouped with others from Yates County. The Yates County coordinators also work to defray travel costs for guardians.

College Honors Veterans, Those Serving Now

Keuka College honored current military servicemen and women and those who served in past wars and foreign conflicts Friday in a ceremony marking Veterans Day.

Members of the Yates County VFW perform a Presentation of Arms during the Veteran's Day service Nov. 11.

“Today, we pay tribute to the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, including those nurses who were trained at Keuka College. The College’s nursing program was created in response to the need for nurses in World War II,” said President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera in a welcome at Norton Chapel.

First known as Armistice Day, the nation marked the laying down of arms that took place on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, following the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. President Woodrow Wilson, feeling the weight of his decision to send American “doughboys” into battle in Europe, asked citizens a year later to honor the sacrifice of their fellow countrymen with solemn pride, said Chris Leahy, associate professor of history.

“Wilson envisioned that every Nov. 11 from that point forward would see parades throughout the small towns and big cities of the United States, and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m.,” Leahy said.

In 1938, it became a federal holiday, but not until 1953 was a name change proposed, Leahy said. After Kansas shoe store owner Al King began a campaign to recognize all veterans, not just those from World War I, a Kansas Congressman introduced a federal bill, which was signed into law in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower. Thus, it officially became known as Veterans Day.

Professor of History Sander Diamond described the stately precision with which the 22 domestic and 24 overseas cemetery battlefields or memorials are kept in tribute of those who gave their lives. In 1921, one more tradition, that of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was begun when Sgt. Edward Younger first placed a spray of white roses on the third of four caskets of unidentified American soldiers placed in a row at a city hall not far from the Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France. The casket Younger chose was taken by ship for burial at Washington’s Arlington National Cemetery, where other unknown soldiers have been buried alongside it, he said.

Diamond noted that the last two World War I veterans, American Frank Buckles and England’s Harry Patch, both died at age 110 this year. Since America’s first war, the War for Independence, some 2,489,335 men and women have given their lives for their country, including 3,542 in Iraq and 1,425 in Afghanistan, where military conflicts are not yet resolved. And many who serve come back home with horrific wounds, both physical and psychological, from disfigurement to mental problems once called “shell-shock” but known today as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), he added.

“It is now up to us and our government to see to it that our most recent veterans have their needs met, no matter what the cost, even in this era of cost-cutting,” Diamond said, drawing parallels between the Keuka mission, which stresses “service above self,” and the mindset of many veterans and family members who wait for their return home.

“We are mindful that American service men and women are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan.  This gives Veterans Day more immediacy, more poignancy,” said Leahy, adding that it was important to honor and remember the brave women, as well as men, who have served.

The event closed with a prayer of remembrance, led by College Chaplain Rev. Eric Detar and a Presentation of Arms by an honor guard from the Yates County VFW, Post 745, at Keuka’s World War II monument, which stands near Lightner Library.

“We cannot fully repay those who gave up two lives, the life they were living and the life they would have lived,” said Detar.

Check out more photos from the service.

I (Heart) Me Club Debuts at Keuka

You don’t have to be a beauty queen to believe in yourself and your dreams.

Nguyen models a dress for Keuka's spring fashion show, sponsored by BAKU (Bearers of Ancient Kultures United)

That’s what Ngoc “Ruby” Nguyen, 21, of Hanoi, Vietnam believes. In her home country, Nguyen has modeled fashions for online magazines. She was also a student at Keuka’s partner school, the International School – Vietnam National University, Hanoi, choosing to study in Keuka Park about a year ago. Her modeling skills served her well last spring as coordinator of Keuka’s annual multicultural fashion show, sponsored by BAKU (Bearers of Ancient Kultures United). Yet while she certainly loves beautiful clothes, shoes and accessories, Nguyen says she is about much more than shiny hair, perfect skin or a fan club following.

That’s why she helped form the “I (Heart)* Me” Club at Keuka early this year. So far, some 34 people, including one man, have attended meetings where Nguyen and other members work together to build self-confidence, self-esteem and a positive mental image. Indeed, “Embrace Self-Esteem” is the motto for the club.

“So many girls don’t think they are beautiful. They have problems with image: not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good skin, not good hair,” she explains. “I think the media says, ‘You’re not good enough. You have to use this product or something to be beautiful.’ Why put yourself under such pressure?”

Nguyen says each meeting has a dual focus: tips on outer beauty are a part, yes, but a connection is always made to inner beauty, self-confidence and strength of character. (more…)

Printmaker Hosts Workshop, Exhibit at Keuka

Printmaker Barbara McPhail in her studio

She calls it “the printed collage.”

Artist Barbara McPhail of Canandaigua likes to use household items – wallpaper, fabric, string, tag board, almost anything with a texture – in her specialty prints, often works that focus on nature and the beauty she finds in it.

In her current exhibit, “Shadows  in the  Water, “ on display at the Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library, Keuka College, through Oct. 6, the elements of water, shadow and light take center stage. Prior to a gallery reception running 4:15 – 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, McPhail will demonstrate her printmaking technique in a two-hour presentation for students that starts at 1:30 p.m.

After planning out a design in a sketchbook, she’ll pick up those textured scraps, and over weeks, or perhaps months, begin crafting them into the shapes she wants, perhaps modifying her design if she feels it necessary. When she’s finally ready to print, McPhail will set aside an entire day to focus on one image. (more…)

ESL “Summer Institute” Provides Chinese Students a Head Start

Hoping to keep as cool as possible amid near 100-degree temps, the class of 16 Chinese graduate students watches as video clips projected from weather.com play onscreen.

The image of triple-digit numbers scattered across the map of the U.S.A. lingers for a moment, before instructor Patricia Speers speaks.

“How hot will it be in Washington, D.C. today? What did the experts say you have to do when it gets hot?” asks the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL)/academic skills counselor for Keuka College’s Center for Global Education. “What’s the ‘a/c’?”

“Air conditioning,” many reply in unison.

The morning class is part of two offered daily for six weeks this summer that are designed to acclimate incoming international students to the differences of classroom listening and speaking, and academic reading and writing in their second language – English. The program has been dubbed the ESL Summer Institute, and the Chinese graduate students and another seven undergraduates, including one Vietnamese student, who will enroll in Keuka business and management programs this fall, started classes July 11.

According to Vernon Larson, associate vice president, Center for Global Education, he and Dr. Gary Smith, vice president of the Center for Professional Studies, realized last year that the bright students coming from partner universities in China and Vietnam began fall classes without a transition, not just to immersion in the English language, but the unique culture of the American college classroom.

“Here, there is a lot of discussion, and in China, the teacher just tells us,” says Yao “Sophie” Sun, who will start a one-year program this fall to earn a Master of Science in management with a concentration in international business. Sun already earned a bachelor’s degree at Jimei University in Xiamen, one of the four partner schools offering Keuka degrees in China.

(more…)