Majors Abroad: Sarah Jaymes Kenney (’14) Shares the Green of Nicaragua

Whitworth-English

Sarah Kenney (’14) is a junior at Whitworth from Spokane Valley. After solemnly vowing to avoid Spanish for the rest of her life, she applied and was accepted to the semester long program at the Costa Rica Center. She’s studying History and English (Lit) and having the time of her life here in Costa Rica!

The photo of Sarah, above, is courtesy of Danny Parker (’15); the photo below, of a drawing from a prison that was used during the Nicaraguan Revolution, was taken by Katie Bergmann (’15).

Nicaragua-Revolution

I was jolted awake as the bus trollopped over a pothole in the road, but it was one of those awakenings where my mind was alert before the rest of my body. Just five more minutes, I thought. But slowly, slowly I remembered that this was the only time I would be on a bus to Nicaragua. So I slowly, slowly opened my eyes.

I wished I had opened them earlier.

Green, green, green all around me. We’d been in a rain forest in Costa Rica, but that one was bulldozed and tailored for the comfort of the people. This was different. The trees hung low against the horizon, colored emerald and evergreen. On the rare occasion when I could glimpse past them I saw that they stretched beyond the distant hills, as if Rapunzel had spread her hair over Europe to Central America and in a rebellious act of her youth decided to dye it green.

This green reminded me of home. I grew up with the forest as my backyard; I went hiking in among the trees and peered past their branches at the sky as a child. To me the green was sacred. Lovely. Peaceful.

Yet as we entered the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, I noticed that the green could conceal as well as protect. Between the lush trees lurked an uneven patch of darkness Rapunzel had missed when she dyed her hair: squatter homes. About five of them  clustered on the slope of a grey-colored river, among jungle plants that grew thick and tall and choked any dreams the residents might have had about providing a backyard for their children.  Smoke rose out of makeshift chimneys that in turn rose out of makeshift tin roofs. But what got me was their size. They were tiny…smaller than the laundry room back at the CRC. A quarter of a tennis court. About the size of a parking space.  And that was somebody’s home—

Before I could fully comprehend the reality of these squatter homes they were swallowed up by the trees, hastily brushed back into the never-ending green mane.

“It’s not easy being green,” a wise frog once said. And now, after seeing the various sides of green in Nicaragua, I’d have to agree with him.

Majors Abroad: Lindsay Pund (’13) Finds Inspiration In Mejia Godoy’s Nicaraguan Folk Music

Lindsay-Pund

Lindsay Pund (second row, third from left) is from San Jose, CA but a Northwesterner at heart. She is currently studying at the Costa Rica Center and developing a dangerous affinity for empanadas and plantains. If you’d like to hear more about her and her compañeros’ adventures in Costa Rica, check out her blog.

Whitworth-English
A few weeks ago, those of us at Whitworth’s Costa Rica Center took a short break from organized classes and headed north to Nicaragua. It was nine days full of bus rides, continual complain-worthy heat and humidity, large bugs, and rice and beans for every meal. It was also nine days full of bus ride music videos, mud facemasks, thought-provoking conversations, and nightly Love Does story time.
We had the opportunity to visit many sites over the course of the nine days, and enough was experienced in our short voyage to Nicaragua to last for a long time. One of the most significant parts of the experience for me personally was our time with Carlos Mejia Godoy (second row, third from right, in the top photo.) Our group had the opportunity to chat with him before his show.
Mejia Godoy is a Nicaraguan musician who became associated with the Sandinista movement fromm writing songs about the workers and revolutionaries. He is also is known for composing a Mass for the working class, the Misa Campesina Nicaragüense.
There were a few aspects of our talk with him that stood out to me. Being rather new to the Spanish language, I struggled throughout the week to understand the Nicaraguan accent. However, as we sat and listened to Mejia Godoy, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy he was to understand because of the way he enunciated everything he said.
Another moment that caught my attention was when the Nicaraguans in our group asked questions of Mejia Godoy. One guy was so delighted and excited to be speaking to Mejia Godoy that it looked like he was going to jump right up and hug him before finishing the question. In hindsight, I think the most impactful part of being with this artist was witnessing his passion for his country and for music. After we finished talking with Mejia Godoy, we took a picture, said our thank-yous, and headed out to the concert. As he performed, his passion for his country and his music filled the room, and by the end of the two hours I was a complete convert to his music.
            As a directionless senior, I found the trip to Nicaragua, and specifically the Mejia Godoy concert, inspiring. It was a needed reminder of the importance of having a passion in life. I believe part of the reason Mejia Godoy and his music are staples to Nicaraguan culture is because he has passion for what he does and he infuses that passion into others when his music is played. If you ask me, I’d say that is a pretty cool legacy

Pax Gutierrez-Neal (’11) On The “Fun Bits That Punch Through The Lovely Chaos of Academia”

Whitworth English

Pax Gutierrez-Neal (’11) poses with Zee Captain, a character from the web-comic Romantically Apocalyptic. Pax recently sent us this post about life in graduate school (and the photos, including ones below of her and her colleague’s tiny study Cube of Doom and the “literature-loving robot ninja” who guards said Cube.)

Here’s Pax on Pax:

I’m a medievalist, almost halfway through my second year of graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m looking forward to an Old English course in the spring, will be presenting a paper at the 2013 MLA in January, and will hopefully have my Master’s by next fall.

 I spend my free time (my what now?) enjoying fairy tales and folklore, reading beach trash, and watching walkthroughs of horror video games on YouTube (in the dark, with headphones). I play WoW, but had to let my subscription expire when the academic term started back up; I eagerly await December, when I can in good conscience renew it again.

Robot Ninja

Here’s Pax on her grad school experience:

So it turns out time flies when you’re going delightfully insane. I say “delightfully” because I’ve always been rather fond of my insanity, and its recurrences are like family visits—you look forward to it, revel in the first few days, then realize why you moved out and slowly start going cross-eyed and twitchy before the expected final day, in which you are honestly both sad and relieved to see the visit at an end.

That is what grad school is like for me. The middle slump is the truest part of the insanity—the few “So, this is what going insane feels like” weeks in the middle that culminate in the “Oh my God, I must be a masochist” handful of days, only to give way to that relieved, accomplished high once finals have passed. I’m in that middle dip right now, which means I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my tiny Cube of Doom; luckily, though, I live in one awesome city.

Pax Gutierrez-Neal

 You see, there are fun bits that punch through the lovely chaos of academia—and which are not themselves academic in nature, and the insanity-fun-times hit during some great events. The Celtic Festival is a good example—with its caber-toss competitions (which they put right next to the sheep-herding demonstrations, despite stray logs flying into the pasture), viking invasions (only mostly staged), and faux-but-very-convincing-haggis (which is also deep-fried, because America), there’s fun for every kilt-wearing, kilt-admiring, and kilt-unsure-of-where-I-stand-(or-how-I-sit-in-these) festival goer. That’s next weekend, and I’m shifting my nerd-gears in preparation because I just finished a different excursion in the geeks’ Mecca: Comic-Con.

It comes to Austin every fall, and I’m pretty sure I’ve ‘squee’d every time. This year’s con was even bigger than the last, and I spent a solid six hours or so wandering around wide-eyed and playing guess-the-cosplay and planning on maybe-possibly-would’t-it-be-great-to-try a cosplay of my own for next time. You can always tell what’s happening in the (geek) cultural climate by the cosplays; for example, there were tons of Batmans, amazing Spidermen and various Avengers running around (all summer blockbusters), quite a few Eleventh Doctors (the new season just hit its mid-run break a few weeks ago), and so many Star Trek uniforms we could have formed a fleet right there (Sir Patrick Stewart and crew were guests at the Con). There were also quite a few Ghost Busters, and the DeLorean was on display, as well as the usual cadre of Naruto characters (I’m still working on an explanation for those).

And that’s how I survive grad school: insanity, chaos, and so much geekiness I’ll probably take an arrow to the knee while explaining to a zombie that it can’t eat my brains because The Harley Lyrics have already exploded them.

2013 Student Chapbook Contest Announced! Entries Due Feb. 15

Tod Marshall

The Whitworth English Department’s 2013 Chapbook Contest is under way.

The contest is open to all Whitworth students. Multiple entries are permitted, and there’s no entry fee.

Entries need not be in book format (our team of creative minions will take care of that for the winner).

A hundred bucks, a small print run of your book, a slot as Featured Reader at the Script reading, and fame/glory await our winner! Deadline is February 15.

Big thanks to Script editor Diana Cater (’13) for designing the poster above.