Though the day itself commemorates something somber—the life and legacy of a man who was killed fighting for equality—the atmosphere within the Mellon Boardroom was far from morose this Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Brunch. Beginning with tea, coffee, and a plateful of finger foods, a large group of staff, students, and guests of all backgrounds filled every seat in the basement of Mellon. The purpose of this assembly was simple: to honor a man who stood for the same thing Chatham stands for: equality and justice for all people without regard to inborn differences. In a display that can only be described as moving, the audience sat in contented silence, touched by the words of student speaker Shamin Mason who told the tale of racial inequality that still exists today. Her carry away message: no one should ever stop fighting discrimination, no matter what form it takes. Hearts and eyes were lifted during the two songs (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing—“The Black National Anthem”—and Freedom) performed by the talented Amber Phillips. Her first piece, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, was introduced with polite applause, but by the time she left the podium for the second time, the approval from the crowd carried on for several minutes, some members of the audience climbing to their feet. Finally, the keynote speaker, Pastor Frank Tillman Jr. proved once again that good things come to those who wait. His speech displayed a colorful array of both Dr. King’s history and the contemporary ramifications that still follow in the man’s footsteps even today. In a closing statement that spoke for itself, Mr. Tillman asked the audience to stand, take hands, and join with him in a song of unity. Even those whose clumsy lips did not know the words filled the room with a unique and utterly powerful beauty. With that, the brunch ended in a gesture of race-less, gender-less brotherhood—the quintessence of what Dr. King fought for—that needed no further verbal conclusion.
The scholar group covered their table in colorful neon confetti; prizes in the forms of slinkies, assortments of colorful markers, blow pops; a bucket full of water with an (empty) shot glass floating at the bottom; and a large sign announcing the scholars’ table in a friendly greeting. The Athletic and Fitness Center soon swarmed with volunteers, teachers, and pizza. 90s music reverberated across the open gym floor. We were ready for Chatham University’s first Relay for Life to begin.
The Scholars Advisory Board (SAB) recruited fellow scholars to welcome students, teachers, and guests to their table the evening of November 4, 2011, from 4pm that evening until the early hour of 4am. Ashleigh Fox, a sophomore at Chatham and a member of SAB and the Scholars Program, proposed the idea to the Board. This resulted in scholar participation at the event to raise money for cancer research and patients, and to honor those who fought and lost their lives to the disease. With little time to prepare, SAB came out with the idea of a simple coin drop—hence the bucket full of water with the shot glass at its center. The concept was simple: using nickels, dimes, or quarters, one would try to drop their coin directly into the shot glass while having to aim through a bucket full of water. The amount of money that landed in the shot glass dictated the prize one. This coin drop was harder than it sounds; I tried unsuccessfully several times, and most people often got splashed with water from the dropped coins. It was often the younger donators who managed to sink the most coins in the glass and walk away with the best prizes.
But besides getting a little wet, Relay for Life at Chatham University was a success. An amount of $12,000 was raised in twelve hours. Professor Mary Kostalos, a survivor of cancer who currently teaches at Chatham University, gave a speech on behalf of cancer research, survivors, families, and victims, and then led students, faculty, and guests for a lap around the gym their honor. Hopefully Relay for Life will continue at Chatham University and the scholar participation in fundraising can become a yearly tradition.
Thanksgiving is a time of regrets and the beginning of a monthly long commitment to the gym. It requires hours of preparation to find the appropriate family gathering outfit that still expands with the vast intake of food. Flowy-tops are the ideal outfit of choice.
This year I stuffed my face with endless amounts of sweet potatoes not only once but twice. However, this year I found myself surrounded by my second-family stuffing my face with an almond bean platter at my home-away from home. Together we passed the gravy and shared our momentary seconds of relief from the future hours of English papers due the following day. It was the stress-free moments I shared with my fellow scholars at Thanksgiving Dinner that bonded our contradicting personalities together forming the second family I never could not be more thankful for.
It’s freezing cold. It’s Light Up Night in Pittsburgh, so traffic is everywhere. Dr. MacNeil is nowhere to be found and it’s time to leave. But none of this can stop a Chatham Scholars group from making it to dinner at Aladdin’s Eatery in Squirrel Hill during mid November.
Upper class scholars with a free Friday evening, a car, and a craving for some good food volunteered to help shuttle this year’s class of first year Scholars to Aladdin’s and back. The group was joined by Dr. MacNeil (eventually) and Dr. Lenz, taking the total number of attendees up to about twenty. Tables had to be ushered together in the tiny, yet warm little restaurant to accommodate the large group. Scholars got to choose from a vast array of Middle Eastern cuisine that they were delighted to find was both tasty and healthy—except for maybe the odd, bright pink turnip as a sour surprise in a rolled pita. But they’re scholars; they managed to pick the unwelcome vegetable out and keep on eating.
The highlight of the evening, however, was surely dessert. Aladdin’s offered a vast array of cakes and cheesecakes for the group to choose from, each and every single one delicious. There were German chocolate cakes, cheesecakes in a variety of forms—traditional, baklava, strawberry, chocolate. The possibilities were endless, and it all seemed so excellent that the group had to order five separate slices of cheesecake and pass them around the table, each one taking a single bite before handing it over to the person beside them. Even then, some scholars couldn’t be satisfied and bought their own slices of cheesecake to eat.
After a delicious meal and too much dessert, all the scholars really wanted to do was return to their warm dorm rooms and maybe curl up with a book or movie, or even nod right off to sleep—but how could they when finals were just right around the corner?
Being a Chatham scholar can sound a little daunting. Extra work? More in-depth work? Responsibility? Puh-lease. It can be a little overwhelming to incoming first years, who would already be trying to settle into the new lifestyle of college and the workload.
Thankfully, the Chatham scholar’s group isn’t all about work.
Even a wet and rainy Monday evening in September couldn’t keep scholars, from freshman to seniors, from lining up in the Mellon sun porch for a bowl of ice cream. The annual Scholarhood Meet and Greet is a useful tradition for the scholar group, supplying them not only with a satisfying treat, but a way of coming together to enjoy an evening of relaxation with classmates. It also offers first years the chance to meet and greet their upperclassmen mentors.
The Scholarhood program is one that gives first years a different way into their new life at college. Their main source of information becomes the other scholar they are paired with, who is always a sophomore, junior, or senior. These mentors are valuable sources of information and advice, helping the new scholars to adjust to the life and the workload that Chatham provides. Scholar mentors are available for any of the first year scholar’s needs, sometimes even a night out to shopping at the Waterfront or a movie at Loewe’s Theater. The “Meet and Greet” plays a crucial role in the scholars coming together to form bonds between mentor and mentee that will encourage them to work together throughout the rest of the year and beyond the classroom. In return, rising sophomore scholars can then turn around and offer their new incoming first year sister scholars the same encouragement and advice the following year.
Later in September, first year scholars got an additional opportunity for an evening of fun with another of the scholar traditions: the etiquette dinner. A bit on the formal side, scholars come dressed up to a sit down dinner with their classmates and Dr. Lenz, while they are all instructed in the fine rules of dining. But which side do the forks go on? Elbows on or off the table? And what is to be done with the napkin? As scholars learn the basic rules to dining that will provide them with a measure of confidence if the need should ever arise for a formal interview or meeting, they also get another chance to come together with their peers outside of the classroom. And besides, who doesn’t enjoy a four-course meal, complete with dessert?
Although becoming a part of the scholars group means that students are in for some more work, it can also open up different point of entry when they attend college at Chatham, providing them with a new experience. Scholars get to take part in their own traditions and have an open door to meeting many different people and learning a variety of new things.
That’s right. It’s time to put on your backpacks, make sure you’ve got enough pencils, almost misplace your room key and panic, and then trudge up Chapel Hill to attend classes at Chatham University.
Returning students and newcomers alike began classes this week, settling into their new living spaces and the routine of their schedules. Things can get a little fuzzy at first, like various technology problems among first years with their new laptops or the bookstore running out of the books needed for a class before the demand is filled. Some students even have new jobs on campus and are piecing together how to juggle both work and schoolwork.
But despite these problems, new and interesting things are always occurring at Chatham. Solar panels have been added to the Woodland and Fickes dorms to provide more energy and less waste on campus. New staff members, like Dr. Karen Kingsbury in the Humanities Department, are learning their way around campus and testing out the ropes. A Residence Hall Committee is in the works to give residents more of a voice in on campus living. A group of twenty Chatham Scholars have joined the scholar family. Fickes, Laughing and Rea, Woodland, and the Chatham Apartments are already planning how to win House Olympics this year. Undergrads are pondering which song to sing for the Song Contest during Battle of the Classes. And Chatham University has declared that as part of our Global Focus program, the 2011-2012 school year will be the Year of Vietnam.
Students kicked off the school year by attending Opening Convocation, where the Year of Vietnam really began its display. Some very willing Chatham students who helped with first year orientation performed with a Vietnamese fan dance, darting about on the stage in simple black costumes with green sashes. While their moves may have been those of beginners, they performed enthusiastically and provided the perfect opening act for a traditional Vietnamese dragon dance. This group of performers swayed in a dragon costumed adorned with various colors. Students and faculty both smiled in delight at the reds and greens and yellows of the dragon costume as the dancers managed to move in harmony, bringing life to the creature. Afterward, students were treated to the Global Focus picnic, which focused on traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
There are so many things happening around Chatham this year that it doesn’t just have to be that time again. Everyone has the chance to get involved with exciting opportunities or simply learn about a different and fascinating culture. So don’t follow the same routine. Instead, let this year be something new.
A night at the theater could garner any sort of reaction from an audience. Whether a tragedy or a comedy, a good play pulls the audience in and, once the lights go up and the curtains have drawn to a close, makes them want to stay for more. Such was the case with the rousing performance of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical Camelot at the Benedum.
Throughout the evening the show had us in stitches, from King Arthur’s initial meeting with Guinevere, to the hilariously gung-ho Lancelot as he sang about the virtues of being, well, Lancelot. The cast of the show was small, and the venue that housed the production was no cathedral, but this added to the intimacy between audience and performers. Camelot seemed vast and green not because of any large scale set, but because the voices of the spellbinding cast painted a portrait of a place of mythic proportions.
Going with the Scholars to the show was fun in of itself, giving us the opportunity of seeing old friends and mentors that, thanks to much studying and conflicting class schedules, have kept us apart. Arriving at the theatre we looked like an eccentric bunch, ready to take on the old tale of King Arthur revisited.
All in all, seeing Camelot with the Scholars was terrific fun. Although Monday was on the horizon, being with the Scholars in Camelot for an evening proved to be a great getaway.
Julie Andrews as Guinevere in the original stage production of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot
Midterm time at Chatham can get a little crazy. For a first year, having already survived one semester worth of midterms and finals seems like an advantage. You know how to study, how to prepare, some things to expect. So no big deal. Having gone through it once, you should be able to do it easily this time, right? That is, of course, until you started to realize how much work you have to do again. And then the panic starts setting in.
So this is the advantage of being a Chatham Scholar. You get to have the chance to blow off all that pent up midterm steam. Take a break, relax, and act kinda dumb with some of your fellow scholars while Dr. Lenz totes you around Pittsburgh in his car. And the perfect outlet?
Camelot: it brings to mind images of round tables, fearless and just knights, Kind Arthur and his wife Guenevere, and Lancelot. Or maybe it even brings to mind Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the movie’s hilarious antics and British humor. Either way, it seems like the perfect way to get out of the dorm, take a break for the evening, and even keep your mind working some while you watch the play, aptly titled “Camelot.”
Like any good play, “Camelot” by Lerner and Loewe kept the minds of the viewer’s active throughout the scenes. Often humorous, at times sentimental or serious, viewers were continually engaged. In the theater, everything else seems to fall out of existence. Your mind is only aware of the actions of the actors, their dialogue, the storyline. When the lights in the theater come back on, you blink, look around, and applaud the bowing actors onstage. You’ve got all these thoughts kicking around in your head about what you saw, about Lancelot’s good looks and ridiculous French accent, or the amazing singing voices of the performers. And when Dr. Lenz asks you to write a summary for the scholar’s blog, you’ve got to sit down, think, and finally get all those thoughts jumping around in your head about “Camelot” to coalesce. So here’s what has been bouncing around in my head ever since I saw the play.
“Lerner and Loewe’s play “Camelot” combines traditional views of the tale of King Arthur with humor that gave viewers a new perspective on the traditional story. Lancelot’s initially ridiculous French accent provides wonderfully executed juxtaposition to the grave situation that his character faces later in the play when trying to decide whether to pursue his love for Guenevere or to stay true to his loyalty for Arthur. The character of Mordred is also developed and used in such a way, with his ridiculous boasting and the groaning of the other characters towards his person acquiring a more serious tone when he brings about the events that lead to Arthur’s discovery of Lancelot and Guenevere’s love. “Camelot” was constructed to allow viewers to become engaged in the first act with the humorous aspects of the characters and storyline so that the more serious nature of the second act takes on even more vivid hues. The play’s structure unfolds for the viewer the delightful early years of Camelot and how like a scarf it began to unravel in the wind.”
That’s a little much to swallow, isn’t it? So here’s what I actually decided:
The opportunity to go see “Camelot” with my fellow scholars not only provided some relief from midterms, it made me feel more cultured and part of a group. We all got to relax, take some needed time off from schoolwork, and venture out into the city with a group of people with whom we had a good time (and who probably needed a break as well.) We got (semi) dressed up and braved the snow. We squashed ourselves into cars and got a look at the lights of Pittsburg at night. Some of us got drenched in snow, some were a bit more lucky. We got to watch Guenevere prance around in joy at love and springtime in Camelot, Arthur get the jitters over a new wife, and see Lancelot (some of us strategically placed enough to see him come clunking along in his armor before he entered the audience) perform miracles. Overall, I’d argue that we got to have some fun.
Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot was a refreshing take on the tale of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. Aspects of the story, such as the initial comical hostility between Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot and Sir Lancelot’s exaggerated French accent, made the story amusing. In fact, these quirks showed me that the story of Camelot can be lighthearted too.
Above all, the amicability between the three protagonists of the story was this musical’s the most impressionable feature. When King Arthur sang about taking revenge as a man, I sighed internally because I thought that King Arthur, like many people, would give into that temptation. I was pleasantly surprised when King Arthur allowed his love to overpower his indignation, deciding to just trust the two people he loved.
I was also amazed when that trust was requited because Lancelot and Queen Guenevere were concerned about King Arthur’s feelings.Their unique and strong relationship was believable. Moreover, this rare amicable bond really amplified my dismay as I anticipated the inevitable tragedy. Camelot was not just another retelling of a place that was destroyed due to a war over pride and an adulterous affair.
On Thursday, February 3rd, I sat in Mellon Living room, surrounded by fellow students, many of them scholars, anxiously awaiting the arrival of His Excellency, Ambassador Namik Tan. We were granted the opportunity to meet him in an informal question and answer session before the ceremony where he was to receive his Honorary Degree from the University. After being detained by the greater Pittsburgh community who had their own questions for him, he finally entered the room. It was our turn, our privilege as Scholars, to meet him before the rest of the Chatham’s campus and ask our own questions.
Ambassador Tan began with the aspects that make Turkey unique and different from the United States and all other countries for that matter. First, as a nation, Turkey is 99% Muslim while remaining secular. It is also in the dead center of all of the Middle Eastern conflict, a “bad neighborhood” as he put it, and the only country that can speak freely and negotiate with every one of its neighboring countries. Finally despite the surrounding nations’ practices, Turkey is a democratic nation. It was this final one, the democracy, that Ambassador Tan emphasized the most. When asked about the turmoil in Egypt and whether Turkey would support the election results, he replied, “As long as the proceedings are fair, equal, and democratic, it is something we must all respect as the will of the people.”