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Moments from Bates today

Life Lessons
I was on the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin program in Quito, Ecuador. We had classes, but amazing learning happened outside of the classroom. Making dinner with my host mother proved to be the best language class I could take. We traveled to the jungle, rode on top of a boxcar through the Ecuadorian countryside, danced the salsa, and went to soccer games. Twelve close friends cruised to the Galapagos Islands. At night, we danced on the pool deck under the stars, told stories, and played cards. During the day we went snorkeling, hiking, bird watching, and swam with sea lions. Sea turtles, penguins, and iguanas weren’t afraid of us and came up to examine us as we examined them.
Darcy York ’05 of Bailey Island, Maine, history major

Express and To-Go
The best job I had was working in the Den. It was the first job that taught me about the value of time. My colleague for the 9 p.m. to 1.a.m shift was Mike. Mike made the most beautiful turkey clubs. They never fell apart. Mike did not like it when people ordered to-go. “Why does everything have to be express or to-go? This is so beautiful, sit down and enjoy it!” I promised myself that when I grew up and went to work, I wouldn’t take it to-go. Now I join the American workforce, having lunch with a yellow notepad or in front of a computer. I always think of Mike and his beautiful sandwiches. Why does everything have to be express and to-go?
Ngan Dinh ’02, economics student, University of Chicago

Bucking the Trend
Bates is known for its small class sizes, but Steve Hochstadt’s Holocaust course certainly swells the numbers. The largest class at Bates (it’s limited to 150), yet many more students arrive on the first day hoping to get in. One day, after we had read her book Seed of Sarah, author Judith Isaacson ’65 came to discuss her memoir of surviving the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Hessisch Lichtenau. We had, I think, expected to leave that discussion disheartened and miserable on a cold March afternoon, but Isaacson’s smile and sincerity filled the room. She urged us to continue to learn and teach the Holocaust, so that its memory will not die with her generation. The overwhelming response to Hochstadt’s class is a testament to this idea. Isaacson has been a member of our community for years — she is often spotted at dance performances and other campus events — and she and Steve are examples of how the Bates community continues to tell its stories and learn from its past like any family would. Bates is a place where ideas are made, challenged, and taught to others, which makes it a very special place indeed. — Darcy York ’05, history major, creator of the A Visual History of Bates College multimedia project, and Admission Fellow

Friendly Folk
It was always a special moment to walk across campus or into Chase and be warmly greeted by those who mow Bates’ lawns, prepare meals, or repair and clean old and new buildings. — Donald W. Harward, L.H.D. ’03, President Emeritus

 Endless Delights
There are so many others — Mistislav Rostrapovich performing Bach as his thank you to the College; students at graduation expressing gratitude for the commitment, wisdom, and guidance from the faculty members who made such a difference to them; packed Chapel events of protest, of celebration, and of consolation; students’ joy in competing and performing; the Trustees endowing the Center for Community and College Partnerships; the receipt of an honorary degree and the supportive response from the faculty and the Class of ’03; the self-confidence exhibited by the first-year student who led a campus “speak-out”; invitations for late-night sledding down Mount David with Cheney House residents. — Donald W. Harward, L.H.D. ’03, President Emeritus 

Wanless Loss-less
When Liz Wanless ’04 won her first NCAA championship in the shot put, she broke the meet record my nearly 3 feet and qualified for the Olympic trials. Needing a metric measurement of 16.20 meters she threw 16.22. The stoic, composed competitor broke down in tears of joy for the first time of her career. — Carolyn Court, head coach of cross country and track and field

Here and Now
I recall learning that President Reynolds, too, was a graduate of Deerfield Academy and that he, too, was a historian. Perhaps because I didn’t yet feel secure in the latter role, I tried once too often to make conversation with the president by referring back to Deerfield. Somewhat impatiently, he said that part of his life wasn’t what was now most important: Let’s stop talking about it. I was secretly delighted. I had come to Bates from self-consciously prestigious institutions, the first, Deerfield, with its arch motto, “Be Worthy of Your Heritage,” and the last, Harvard, which The Boston Globe sometimes refers to as “The World’s Greatest University.” I was sick of institutional pretensions and pretentious institutions, and one of the things I’ve loved about Bates is its academic quality and its relative unpretentiousness. I had come to the right place.
John R. Cole, Thomas Hedley Reynolds Professor of History

Out of the Cave
Last fall, Professor Bill Corlett’s course on Western political theory met on the first floor of Pettengill. His students read and wrote about Plato, John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx, and other theorists. In class they wrestled with urgent and enduring questions about justice, law, and human rights. In late fall, Professor Corlett requested permission to hold the final meeting of the class in one of the few Bates spaces reserved for special occasions — the Moody Room, on the fourth floor of Pettengill. In a re-enactment of Plato’s cave allegory, the move to the Moody Room thus symbolized the students’ ascension from the shadowy images to the brilliant light of understanding. In response to my interest in this pedagogical strategy, Professor Corlett invited me to attend the final class as a surprise guest — a modest approximation of the philosopher king. The professor and several students wore sunglasses until their eyes adjusted to the brilliance, and a few volunteered to present their final papers orally. They talked about the paradox of difference and asked whether pluralism threatened solidarity. They compared various theoretical concepts of equality, property, and competition. Professor Corlett urged the listeners to question the presenters, reminding them that to engage critically with another person’s ideas is perhaps the ultimate sign of respect.
Elaine Tuttle Hansen, president of Bates College

Bearing Fruit
My mom says, “If somebody gives you an apple, you have to give him back a bigger one.” When we went on a Short Term to China, my professor, Jim Hughes, offered to help with a plane ticket so I could fly home to Vietnam. I could not take it. With all that he taught me, I could never pay back. Jim said, “One day you’ll be a teacher at a place like Bates. You’ll meet a student like you. You help her. That’s how you pay me back.” I smiled in tears. I told my mom a Bates version of her saying: “If somebody gives you an apple, instead of giving him back another apple, go and plant an apple tree.”
Ngan Dinh ’02, economics graduate student, University of Chicago

 


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