A Word From Annie Stillar: Program Assistants Just Want to Have (Summer) Fun

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Not to get hyperbolic here, but the English Department might having trouble finding its way out of a padded, self-adhesive envelope if it weren’t for the administrative and collegial talents of Annie Stillar (pictured above, with Sergei the skydiving instructor).
Annie has been at Whitworth for three years. She describes herself thusly: “The self-proclaimed runt/mascot of eight a$$-kicking, sports-dominating children. she likes happy hour, hates karaoke, and could tap dance you under the table. 26 going on 27, waiting for fellows to fall in line and offer her fruit and wine.”
If you haven’t checked out Annie’s blog, you’ll want to after you read her most recent post for Whitworth English Blog (she also submitted the photos):
I know what you’re thinking. Months off must be a total blast! Au contraire. Read on for a taste of my miserable summer.
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1) The Dirty Dash. A 4.5 mile mud run that includes chucking oneself over walls. I never liked sports OR being outside; for me to willfully jump into a mud pit was both liberating and newsworthy. Next year: I’m going, you’re going, we’re all going.
2) Musical Theatre camp. I spent weeks telling dozens of children to shut up and sit on their pockets (and teens to just plain shut up). We covered Disney, Sondheim, Gershwin, Wicked, the Roaring 20’s and my favorite, the Legends of Pop. Including but not limited to MJ, Elton John and Pat “Love is a Freaking Battlefield” Benatar. Need I say more?
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3) Skydiving, a.k.a My Hot August Weekend. I had all sorts of questions as we ascended to 13K feet: has anyone ever puked in mid-air? Passed out? Really? Like, lights out? Dang. It’s time to go? Let’s burn this mother down. As it turns out, careening towards earth at 125 MPH is totally awesome. My instructor is my new BFF after that long mid-air embrace. I asked how many times he’d jumped and he said this makes an even five. If he gets to ten they give him a free one! (Shut. Up. NOT HELPING, SERGEI.) However, after throwing ourselves out of the plane I was grateful we’d left no room for Jesus.

In short: skydiving is bomb. Tom Petty, eat your heart out.

4) Other, less noteworthy activities: the Avett Brothers, the Shins, meeting my new niece, adventures in community theatre, and the Stillar Family Annual 100% Natural Good-Time Lake Vacation Solution.
Good news: I survived. So did my family.

Welcome to Fall, everyone.

A (Post)Conflict Post from Northern Ireland

Supported by a generous Lilly grant, Professor Casey Andrews joined fourteen scholars from Lilly Network universities in the United States on a summer seminar for three weeks in Northern Ireland.

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The group was based at the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle—so far north that on clear days (there were two of them) you could see Scotland.

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This idyllic location has been a resource for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland since the 1960s. Their mission is to bring together people affected by the Troubles—the 30 years of bloodshed (roughly 1968 to 1998) among Catholic Nationalist Republicans and Protestant Unionist Loyalists.

The first week of the trip was sublime, featuring a poetry reading by one of the greatest living poets, Michael Longley.

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For his beautiful, bitter, engaging take on life as a Protestant in Ireland’s conflict zone, check out his poems “Wounds” and “Ceasefire.”

This week also included witnessing the Orange Order celebrations on July 12 when Protestants display their cultural pride (read: anti-Catholicism). In Belfast at midnight, bonfires fill the city as Protestants sing paramilitary songs and torch tri-color flags of the Irish Republic:

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And one ignited:

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Following these somewhat frightening displays of celebration plus aggression, the seminar met with peace activists, lecturers, and “direct actors” (i.e., members of paramilitary groups like the IRA and the Ulster Defense Association). Below, a Protestant paramilitary mural in the Lower Shankill area of Belfast:

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For a few more literary connections, Professor Andrews recommends the following books and films:

Troubles by J. G. Farrell, winner of the “Lost” Man Booker Prize for 1970, is a blackly humorous look at the origin of the Conflict beginning in 1919.

The Truth Commissioner by David Park is a lyrical, suspenseful 2008 novel that imagines a Northern Irish Truth Commission as in South Africa—with complex and disastrous results.

The difficult but deeply rewarding 2006 Ken Loach Film The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a great starting point for learning about the Conflict.

Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday (2002) offers a look at the harsh British response to the Catholic civil rights movement in Derry City, 1972.

Casey is working on an article about Steve McQueen’s 2008 film Hunger depicting the self-starvation in 1981 of IRA prisoner Bobby Sands played by a striking Michael Fassbender.

Below, the Bobby Sands mural in a Republican area of Belfast:

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And finally, Pete Travis’ shocking film Omagh (2004) about the horrific 1998 bombing of a small town by members of the Real IRA.

Amidst the intense learning experiences, there were occasional times of relaxation, as well.


Dr. Laura Bloxham’s Mid-Summer Reading: From the Sublime to Beach Trash

Earlier this summer, Dr. Laura Bloxham checked in with Whitworth English Blog about what she’d read so far this summer. That post, as well as her entire reading list, is here. Just a few days ago, Laura sent in this dispatch:

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The middle month of my summer shows contrasts in my reading.  R.A. Dickey’s Wherever I Wind Up has been the read of the summer, to be sure.  And it is not just because I love baseball.  The wildly successful knuckleballer this season has made the Mets a contender and has put Dickey’s name on prime time sports shows.  The book has all kinds of stories from Dickey’s baseball career, mostly long years in the minor leagues.  But the childhood full of anguish and suffering, the faith journey that has saved Dickey, literally, are the most compelling parts.  Here’s a man of integrity and faith.

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Jo Nesbǿ’s The Redbreast is a dark Norwegian mystery. The Redbreast  is superbly written and in sharp contrast with my beach trash reads: Father Brad Reynolds’ A Ritual Death, set at La Conner’s Tulip Festival and featuring Native American/Caucasian fishing rights and land conflicts.  Too many stereotypes.  J.A. Jance’s latest Joanna Brady, Arizona sheriff mystery, Judgment Call, is typical of beach trash—good story, quick pace, and no intellectual skill required of the reader.  My current piece of such trash is James Patterson’s and Mark Reynolds’ Private Games, a mystery set at the London 2012 Olympics, which I am reading during the commercials of the Olympics themselves and sometimes during the more arcane events.

I am in the midst of two more sublime books, Cheryl Strayed’s Tine Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a collection of online advice columns so compassionate, so moving that I am savoring them a few pages at a time.  The Kick Ass Women Faculty are meeting this week to talk about Becky Sharp in the first third of Vanity Fair.  We’re going to a restaurant with TVs, in order to watch kick ass US women soccer players in the Olympics, while we talk about the novel.

Internship Spotlight: Diana Cater (’13) Blinds Us With Science (Oregon Health & Science University, That Is)

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Diana Cater (’13) is an EL and Biology double major at Whitworth. She’s also a Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholar and the editor of Script, Whitworth’s student literary journal, for the 2012-13 year. Plus, Diana bakes. Really really well.

She recently sent this dispatch about her summer internship (and all of the photos, including the self-portrait, above, which she explains is “For science! Outside CROET headquarters. Damn it, I punned. Have to own it now.”)

I have been in love with science ever since I could hold a National Geographic magazine up by myself, which is why I am thrilled to be working at Oregon Health and Science University this summer. My internship is through the Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology (CROET), with a program called Let’s Get Healthy!: an interactive health fair that visits schools and community centers around the country. Considering that the Let’s Get Healthy! team spends a lot of time educating middle school students, they wondered if students’ attitudes toward science and research improved after visiting the fair. So LGH sent a survey to students before they attended the health fair, asking them to evaluate their opinions and attitudes toward science and research, and then another survey after they visited LGH. My job is to look at the differences between those pre and post surveys.

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Photo above: The main hospital and OHSU tram.

I spend a lot of time reading scientific literature, formatting data in statistical programs, qualitative coding (which is almost entirely linguistic—high five, EL majors), and analyzing Likert scale scores.

I learned CROET provided summer internships by perusing the OHSU website, and then looked into researchers I thought I would be excited to work with. I really believe that enthusiasm is the key to finding a job you enjoy. When I look for internships every summer, I make a long list of people I would love to work for, and keep knocking on doors until one of them opens. I have never been disappointed this way.

More photos from Diana:

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My morning commute starts at 6 am when I catch the WES train to Portland, and ends at 6 pm when the train comes back. Reading time and cloud watching.

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If you have the view, invest in floor-to-ceiling windows. Everywhere.

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It’s enough to make me feel a little small.

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Don’t drive. Take the tram down the hill and enjoy the horrifying drop.

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I still get lost.

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Slate Oregon sky.

Are you a Whitworth EL major or alum? Do you have news or thoughts to share? Contact Nicole at nsheets@whitworth.edu