Warren St. John’s MD Tour Kickoff at the Baltimore Book Festival
Warren St. John, author of the 2010 One Maryland One Book selection Outcasts United, spoke to an interested, if slightly damp, audience at the Baltimore Book Festival Sunday, Sept 26. Despite the cooler temperatures and rain, many people came to hear the New York Times journalist talk about how and why he wrote Outcasts United.
St. John spoke about Coach Luma, the Fugees soccer team, Clarkston, Georgia (where the book takes place) and about the difficulties refugees have when they resettle in the US. He made no apologies for what he sees as ambiguities in his book. “The ambiguities are really what I find most interesting about the story,” he said.
St. John made a point not to draw conclusions about people’s feelings and kept his own opinions out of the story. When one audience member pointed out a passage involving an older resident of Clarkston and how his actions could either be interpreted as sadness over the loss of a bygone era or as frustration at seeing the demographics of his hometown change so fast, St. John told the audience that he purposely left some things up to the reader to decide.
Many audience members were fascinated by Coach Luma, asking about her tough coaching style and her relationship with her mother. St. John discussed Luma’s complex relationships to others in the book and what lessons she taught the Fugees. “I think what’s so fascinating about Luma is that she never gave up. If she failed one day, she’d be back the next day to try again. If Luma said that she’d be at the soccer bus at 7:30, then she would be there at 7:25 every day, without fail. I think the Fugees saw that she did what she said she was going to do, and that was probably the most important lesson she taught them—personal responsibility.”
While on tour, St. John visited high schools, colleges, universities and prisions to reach out to readers, young and old, across Maryland.
Although the author tour is over, there are more than 100 One Maryland One Book discussion programs happening in every corner of the state. Visit www.mdhc.org/news-and-resources/events-calendar/2010-10-1/ for more details.
History Day 2011 is Underway
All across Maryland, students and teachers are gearing up for History Day 2011. To help our dedicated teachers and students across the state, we have made changes to our MHC History Day Web site.
We reorganized the site to make it easier for to navigate. We will continue to add and update information through the fall. There are now seperate homepages for teachers, students, parents and judges as well as a new page dedicated to contest information and YouTube media clips and archives of past year’s contests. We are particularly looking forward to showcasing student work on the (still under construction) Sample Projects page, located in the Students section of the site—look for that in a few weeks. Click www.mdhc.org/programs/maryland-history-day/ to see the new site!
Teachers and district coordinators are encouraged to contact MHC Outreach Coordinator John Willard to arrange History Day workshops. John travels throughout the state introducing Maryland History Day at teacher workshops—ideal for professional development sessions and conferences—as well as in classroom sessions. He is also on hand to provide critique sessions for students preparing for the highest rounds of competition. For more information, email John at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spooky Campfire Folklore at the Strand Theater
Free Fall Baltimore 2010
The Maryland Humanities Council in conjunction with the Strand Theater Company proudly presents a night filled with spooky campfire folklore Thursday, October 28 at 6:45 p.m. at the Strand Theater in Baltimore.
Want to know ‘smore?
The night begins with a marshmallow reception at 6:45 p.m. and is followed by master storyteller, actor and scholar Bill Grimmette, who will talk about the tradition of story telling. Listen closely as Bill summons the spirits from folklorists, story tellers and urban legends of yore to give the audience a history lesson that they won’t soon forget.
After receiving the most exciting history lesson one could hope for, the audience will then be invited to gather around a non-functional and highly imagined fire pit. Audience members will join their group around the glow of a cinderless fire to begin creating folklore of their own. Group members take turns adding bits and pieces to the story. And after 30 minutes of bone-chilling gore and gloom, groups will be present their stories to fellow folklorists.
And as a blazing finale, Kate Guntermann will delight and terrify with her fire artistry. Gaze and admire as Madam Guntermann imbibes a fiery elixir and performs her death-defying feats.
We are very happy to welcome Grants and Community Outreach Program Assistant Takia Ross to the MHC team. She is assisting Lydia Woods with grants administration and community outreach. She brings a wealth of administrative experience and a love for the humanities…especially history!
Q: As grants and outreach assistant, what do feel will be your biggest challenge/reward in your position?
A: I am rewarded and renewed each day that I enter the MHC building and realize that I am a part of such a wonderful organization. These rewards become more evident as I am able to participate in many of the events that MHC is involved in and am able to witness eye opening exhibits, thought-provoking dialogues, and so much more!
Q: What in your background do you feel prepares you for these challenges?
A: My professional career has afforded me the opportunity to work in the workforce development field in a variety of capacities. I have been fortunate enough to work with individuals with developmental disabilities, adults seeking a career change, and students in Baltimore City Public Schools. However, it was my passion for history and my desire to educate that compelled me to change careers and work to obtain my degree in history.
As a history major at the University of Baltimore, my love for the humanities and education is ever-present and in the forefront of my life. I was fortunate enough to have been involved with MHC in the past as a student working with the Baltimore ’68 project and many of my professors work with MHC to create humanities programs in Baltimore City.
In addition to working with MHC, I also work with students in Baltimore County Public Schools where I assist them in obtaining the necessary credits to graduate, with my concentration area being social studies. I bring to MHC my years of experience providing administrative support and program oversight; but most importantly, I bring to MHC my love of history!
Q: What are you most excited about when it comes to working at MHC?
A: I am excited most about working with the fabulous staff at MHC and becoming a part of the historical and cultural fabric of Maryland. As the Grants and Community Outreach Program Assistant I will be afforded the opportunity to work with the many wonderful organizations that believe in the importance of the humanities and who work daily to bring the humanities to the citizens of Maryland.
Mathew McCabe, professor at Washington College, also serves as a facilitator in the Maryland Humanities Council's Literature & Medicine program at the Baltimore Veteran's Administration Hospital.
"The Literature and Medicine program at the Perry Point Veterans Administration Medical Center got off to a great start with a lively discussion of three works including Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. This compelling work of fiction delves into the personal experiences of a number of American soldiers operating in the Vietnam Conflict.
"In the first chapter, O’Brien describes a wide range of items, physical and psychological, that each soldier carried with them during their tour, ranging from weapons to personal memories of their lives back in the States. Our group was particularly interested in the psychological things that were carried. Examples included experiences of the death of a fellow soldier and of a Vietcong child soldier, the fear of appearing like a coward, and, in the case of the platoon leader, the responsibility for the welfare of the soldiers under his command. Members of our group noted that it is things such as these that are carried by the vets under their care at Perry Point and that come to the surface decades after the conflict.
"The group also discussed what sorts of things our new vets from Iraq and Afghanistan will carry back with them when they seek VA medical care. Will it be similar to what O’Brien associated with Vietnam vets, or will it differ in significant ways due to the different contexts of their war experiences? One line from O’Brien’s work that resonated with me was the observation that “. . ., there was at least the single binding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry.”(p.16). It is certainly true of our Vietnam vets and equally true, tragically, of our Iraq and Afghan vets."
Author Tim O'Brien will be speaking at Aftershock: Humanities Perspectives on Trauma conference in Washington, DC, Nov 12 and 13. Click here to find out more
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