Majors Abroad: Emily Grant (’13) Shares Notes on Nicaragua

Whitworth English Majors

Emily Grant (’13) is 21 years old and from East Wenatchee, Washington.  She is currently studying at the Costa Rica Center, trying to learn Spanish (as an excuse to travel all over Central and South America) and graduate in a timely manner.

Emily recently wrote this creative nonfiction piece after the CRC group’s week in Nicaragua (photo below by fellow CRC student Danny Parker, ’15.)

Whitworth English Blog

Standing at the border is a man waiting to rip you off.  Don’t worry yourself too much about it. It’s going to happen whether you know the exchange rate or not.  And you expected this, so you only handed him a large chunk of your money – but not all of it.  To make matters worse, it’s hot.  It’s too hot.  You want to complain about how hot it is, about how you’ve been ripped off, about how much you hate busses, and Customs lines, and being a tourist, but it’s too hot to complain.  So you just roll up your pants a little more, tuck your meager $12 of Nicaraguan currency into your pocket, and keep going.

You won’t spend your money the first day.  Maybe not even the second or third.  Not that there’s nothing to buy, but you’re not ready to get ripped off again.  Once per vacation is enough of that.  Instead, you walk around in your sweaty clothes, looking at museums and prisons, trying not to pass out in the heat.  There are so many interesting things to see and do!  you think to yourself.  … if only I could do all these things, and not be so hot.

You will hear about the FSLN.  You will hear the name Daniel Ortega, but only about a tenth of as often as you hear about Sandino.  You will speak to a man who was in both of the wars; he will tell you the truth about it, and you may feel as if you are witnessing a profound moment, or you may not.  You will see culture, architecture, a dump.  You will play with children who live in the dump, and talk to girls who could have wound up working there.  You will buy a beer and listen to a man who might just believe Jesus lives in the dump, too.

Finally, before you go, you will spend your money.  You will not get ripped off.  In fact, most of the vendors will cut you a deal, because they feel sorry for your inability to barter.  You will pack your new trinkets with your smelly clothes and get ready to say good-bye.

And you won’t realize it until you’re home, until everyone asks you, “¿Cómo le fue?”  that all you want to do is go back.

Sarah Glady (’11) On Teaching Shakespeare in Arizona’s Prison System

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Sarah Glady (’11) is a graduate student currently working with contemporary South Asian literature and postcolonial studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She enjoys running, cooking, genealogy, and teaching Sunday school but was recently kicked out of her colloquium’s Dungeons and Dragons league for lack of commitment. She found this hurtful.

Whitworth-English

This fall marks the start of year two as a Whitworth alumnus, which is turning out to be a nifty phase of life. I’m attending graduate school at Arizona State University (where the English department is the same size as Whitworth), finishing up my M.A. in literature. Some highlights so far have been learning German, a seminar on Darwin and Victorian Literature, speaking at the Southwest/Texas Popular/American Culture Association Conference, and finalizing my committee and thesis topic. In addition to selling my soul to academia, in the past eighteen months I’ve moonlighted as a literacy clinician, hiker, wedding attendant, traveler, runner, church intern, freelance editor, ESL tutor, and voice actress. I know nonbelievers dispute this, but a degree in English will pay all of your bills and then some. Shun the nonbelievers.

Whitworth-English

Many people have written about the difficulties in transitioning out of college, (or the Whitworth womb as my parents call it), and for me that process took (and continues to take) a solid amount of time actively seeking out and establishing a new community in Arizona. Family, friends, church, and work have all been excellent building blocks for community and adult life.

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A wonderful surprise aspect of that community has been my recent involvement with prison education. Every Friday I get up at 6:30 in the morning and drive an hour and a half into the desert. After passing hundreds of cacti and several mobile home parks (my favorite has a two story flaming Kachina with a sombrero holding a sign: ADULT LIVING POOL COMMUNITY), we get to Florence, AZ, which contains seven state prisons. Mine is the North Yard, home to just over one thousand adult male inmates. Eight to fifteen students crowd into our tiny education trailer, and we read, talk about, and act out Shakespeare.

Prison is a strange place, and I’m not sure even where to start, but a few details come to mind. The first is the climate. The prison grounds look like a hokey western town; there’s a general store, a post office, dormitories where the saloon should be, and posts with water where golf carts are chained as if the vehicles shared the same needs as a horse.  The resemblance is shallow, however, because unlike some old ghost town, Florence is full of razor wire, white noise from radios, towers containing snipers and heavy artillery, and reminders of poverty and pain in every direction.

My class, unlike the prison exterior, is very similar to other Shakespeare classes but with some additional challenges. Many of my students are struggling with language barriers or literacy, and the language in Shakespeare can seem impossible.  Other students have some higher education experiences or connect immediately with the text and are quick to relate Hamlet and Twelfth Night to current events or their own experiences.

Last week after acting out Henry IV Part One, we had an intense discussion about parenting and leadership; many had watched the presidential debates and saw connections with Hotspur and Prince Hal. Others shared fears over their own relationships with their children. A lighter moment occurred another week when everyone lost sympathy for Malvolio for whining about being in a dungeon for three days. To paraphrase one of my students, Malvolio doesn’t know “much” about doing hard time. Working with inmates is similar to travelling to another culture. It is both alienating and uncomfortable, but as with any exchange, it has proven to be haunting and valuable.

Rosie McFarland (’14) On The Work Of A Church Camp Sous Chef

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Readers of the Whitworth English Blog know that we have a soft spot for tales from church camp. Rosie McFarland (’14) recently sent us this dispatch about her summer at Tall Timber Ranch. She also sent the photos (in the one above, she’s in the back row, far left.)

Rosie McFarland is an English and Theology major at Whitworth. She lived at Ghormley Meadow Christian Camp in Rimrock, WA for ten years before moving to Yakima. Her family now lives in Moses Lake. Rosie enjoys reading, writing, watching Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, and hanging out with friends.

Whitworth English

For the first ten years of my life I lived at a summer camp, so last May I thought I knew what to expect while working at Tall Timber Ranch as a sous chef. In the end though, it was so much more than I could have hoped for.

Christian camps have a unique opportunity to minister to kids who might not normally come into contact with outspoken Christians. The summer staff is obviously an essential part of that. Campers don’t often realize how much work goes into everything that happens throughout their day, and that’s a good thing. The kitchen is invisible to busy campers.

I came up with a good analogy for working in the kitchen. I once told my staff that I wanted us to fade into the background. It was not our place to complain or yell out to the campers, “Look what I made! Be thankful!” I told them that the food should appear like magic – think Hogwarts.

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Different aspects of summer camp work differently: some are front and center providing campers with much needed role models. Others work behind the scenes. As my head chef said, some people plant the seeds, and some plow the ground. This summer, the kitchen staff were plowmen. We prepared the soil for others to plant the seeds. If the campers had a good meal, they would not be distracted by it for the rest of the day.

Not every job is the most glamorous or sought after, but every job is essential to a summer camp if it is going to run smoothly. I will not remember every pan I washed, every loaf of bread I baked, or every burn I acquired. I will remember the people I met, the friends I made, and the importance of the unseen plowmen.