You know, on most days I am content to be here on th’Hill, sitting on a gneiss stone wall under a spreading maple tree aflame with carotenoids and anthocyanins and listening to the crickets stridulate. On most days I would be happy to press apple cider and bob for apples and play baseball with apples and shoot apples with a bow and arrow and grotesquely eat an apple pie as fast as I can with no hands (that’s right, it was Apple Days). But yesterday it was just harder to enjoy being here, despite it’s many mind-bending intellectual challenges and Walden-esque pleasures, because of an awesome slideshow by three community members about their travels around the world.
First of all there was art history professor Felicity Ratté, who talked about her amazing travels last spring through Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Bulgaria. She claimed she was studying historic Islamic art and architecture and comparing the “built environment” to Medieval Europe and all, but I suspect she might actually have had something to do with the rash of revolutions that swept through the Arab world at precisely the same time. After all, what did she show us pictures of? Cats—I’m not kidding—very suspicious, right? There was hardly a mosque or minaret or a calligraphy-painted tile in her whole bunch of beautiful cat pictures, leading me to wonder if Felicity’s cats were somehow the underground instigators of the “Arab Spring.”
Then came senior Zack Chilcote, who spent last year in Beijing teaching English, researching the social impacts of the “one child” law, trying to start a “broken-English speed dating service” and learning to ride a motorcycle. Zack became intrigued with the government efforts to “civilize” the population, which struck me as ironic in a country whose civilization stretches back to the Bronze Age. Finally, senior Drew Tanabe talked about his spring semester in Japan, where he worked at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and volunteered in the clean-up efforts after the earthquake and tsnunami there last March.
Both Zack and Drew are in the World Studies Program, and Felicity is on the world studies committee, so their presentation together was an inspiration for any student who has an inkling to leave this Hill o’Potash and see the rest of the world. It also introduced students to Susie Belleci, the marvelous new associate director of world studies who is helping make global perspectives and international travel the bread and butter of studies at Marlboro. And last but not least, it made yours truly pine for a little global adventure of his own, preferably someplace more exotic than the Price Chopper’s international cuisine isle or the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop with its 100-mile view.