Monday, April 25, 2016

BU Student Presents at CERIS Undergraduate Research Symposium

My name is Elizabeth Miller. I transferred to Bloomsburg from St. John’s University in Queens in the spring of 2014. I am from a small town called Port Jervis, NY. I am currently a Junior and a dual major in Arabic and History with a minor in Middle East Studies.  I am apart of the work-study program and I work at the History Department in Old Science Hall. I am also the secretary of History Club and I am involved in Model Arab League; I am also helping to start a functioning Arabic Club. After finishing my undergraduate studies I intend to further my education at graduate school to pursue an intensive Middle East Studies and Arabic program.

The weekend of April 9th 2016 I went to Duquesne University to present my research on Osama bin Laden’s radicalization based on the U.S. policies, involving Saudi Arabia up to September 11th 2001. I wrote this paper for a Research and Writing Skills course here at Bloomsburg University under Dr. Karsner in the department of History. The presentation allowed me to show other students and faculty the work I put into this topic, which has affected society's perception of the Middle East today. Additionally, the symposium gave me the opportunity to practice my public speaking skills, and for me this is unnerving. Although that is the case, it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and show others the hard work one puts into research. 

Elizabeth Miller with Dr. Safa Saraçoğlu
I also had the honor to meet others who share similar interests regarding Islamic and Middle East studies. One of the fellow students in my presentation room was from Kenya and was there during the 1998 Africa Embassy bombings. Additionally one of the professors who was not able to see my presentation specifically asked me to send him a copy of my paper because he was interested in my research. This symposium presented me the opportunity to make connections outside of Bloomsburg University, which may help in my future career.

This summer I will be furthering my research on this subject with Dr. Saraçoğlu. He gave the keynote address at the conference on the Syrian Refugee crisis and is a professor here at Bloomsburg University. I received feedback and suggestions from other professors at the conference that will help me in my research. I am a dual major in Arabic and History and have a minor in Middle East Studies. This summer, thanks to the encouragement of Dr. Laayouni, the Arabic professor, I will be studying Arabic in Morocco for four weeks and when I come back I will further my research here at Bloomsburg University with the support of an URSCA grant.

The professors at Bloomsburg University have encouraged me to present my research and further my studies in this field. I am grateful for the experiences and support I have here, especially in the History and Languages and Cultures departments. I would encourage other students to make faculty connections and participate in conferences and presentations. It is important to be proud of your work and make the best of your undergraduate years in order to better yourself as a student to have a successful future.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

First annual Careers in Aging Week Engages Students and Community

Bloomsburg University's first annual Careers in Aging Week (CIAW) was held the week of April 4th. The week’s events included a university-wide student essay contest to increase the awareness of the value and needs of older adults, an aging career expo showcasing various organizations that provide services to older adults in the local and regional community and a documentary film and panel discussion entitled “When Did I Get Old?” Over 80 students from social sciences and health sciences, as well as representatives from a dozen community organizations, attended the events. 

The events were sponsored in part by a grant from the Gerontological Society of America, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, the College of Liberal Arts, the Psychology Department, the Social Work Program and the BU Center for Healthy Aging.  Events were organized by Dr. Mary Jo Larcom, Dr. Shiloh D. Erdley-Kass, Dr. Marion Mason and students in psychology, speech pathology and social work.  Additionally, many community businesses (Papa John’s, West End Ale Haus, Dunkin’ Donuts, Bloomin’ Bagels, Unida Pizza) donated prizes for the student contest and refreshments for the documentary and panel discussion.

The programs were aimed at connecting students from all majors who are interested in careers working with older adults to professionals who are currently in fields focused on meeting the needs of older individuals.  All events provided opportunities for students, faculty, community businesses and older adults to address the growing needs of the region’s older residents and to develop strategic plans for ensuring that the community continues to collaborate on projects that promote healthy aging.

The documentary, When Did I Get Old? was screened on April 8th from 5:00 to 7:30 at the Greenly Center and was followed by a panel discussion with local experts, a Social Work faculty member and a psychology student.  Panel members included

Steven Englehardt, former pastor/campus minister/hospital chaplain.
Adrienne Mael, President/CEO of the United Way of Columbia County
Sandy Latour, retired Bloomsburg resident, business owner and home owner
Rebeccah Glovas, Bloomsburg University Psychology Major and member of the CIAW Student Planning Committee
Shawn Clavelle, certified holistic health coach and certified yoga instructor at the Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling Center in Bloomsburg
Shiloh Erdley-Kass, licensed social worker, Assistant Professor in Social Work and certified hospice and palliative medicine social worker

The following students were presented with awards for their outstanding essay submissions at the ACE (Advocacy, Connections and Empowerment) Career/Community Expo held on Thursday, April 7th, from 2:00 to 5:00pm:

First Place: “A Tribute to Andy Keller” by Mikayla Freed (Psychology)
Second Place:  “Eleanor” by Lindsay Gehman (Medical Imaging)
Third Place:  “James Potter” by Emily Potter (Criminal Justice)
Honorable Mention: “Fight Till The End” by Jacob Kunkel (Psychology)

The essays were read and rated by the students of the CIAW Planning Committee.

CIAW Student Planning Committee

Dr. Erdley-Kass and Dr. Larcom in the WHLM studio

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Day at the Cloisters

by Dominic Ferraro

Informative, fun, and interesting are the first three words that come to my mind when I think about my experience at the Cloisters Museum in New York City. For those of you who may not be familiar with the Cloisters Museum, it’s okay. I was wasn’t either until a day before this trip. The Cloisters Museum is a part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art with exhibits that include art and artifacts from twelfth to the fifteenth century of medieval Europe. There are even salvaged architectural elements built into the museum, which makes the experience truly original. There are not many places where one can see medieval European art and artifacts inside a medieval European influenced building, at least not in the United States. 

When Dr. Christina Francis, my Medieval Literature professor here at Bloomsburg University, explained to my class that this trip would be a part of a class lesson, I was not too sure about the trip. Driving to a museum that is dedicated to a topic, the medieval world, that I was not familiar with, with a group of people I don’t really know, did not sound like my ideal Sunday. Regardless, I had to go. It was a part of class, and the medieval class itself was geared towards the analysis of the literary works of medieval Europe. I knew that this trip would give me a better understanding of the work and I was right! All I can say is I am extremely happy I walked away with the experience I did.

 For starters, as I explained, the Cloisters itself is a building that contains parts of monasteries from medieval Europe. I was able to get a first-hand experience of architecture that was common during the time period we were studying. Inside, I was surrounded by art and artifacts from the medieval world. There was even a garden that was home to vegetation and plants that lived and were used, studied, or written about in this time period. As a class, we talked about different displays the museum had to offer, like the tapestry and its significance to the time period, stories, history, and art. We also spent a lot of time looking at the religious pieces because religion had a huge influence on the medieval world. I learned a lot about relics and the expensive garnishing of the Catholic Church. 

Personally, two of my favorite pieces were the stained glass windows and the rosary with the skull. Both of these pieces are elegant yet hint at death or punishment, which from what I took away from my experience at the museum was a big theme of the medieval world. Everything from the sculptures to paintings, as you can see in the window and rosary, is extremely well crafted and detailed. They are garnished and well put together, yet there is always a hint of death or punishment, something ugly amongst beauty, like sin, always prominent in life. This reflects the influence the Catholic Church had on every part of medieval life. People of that time were obsessed with the idea of body and soul. They wanted a lavish life on Earth, but they were constantly reminded about their soul and where it could end up, if they did not live a righteous life. That is one of the biggest things I have taken away from this trip and my medieval class. The idea of the Catholic Church having a strong presence and influence over people and their actions. The thought of death and what happens to one’s soul after it, alone has influenced a good portion of the writings, art, and actions of this time period and I believe it is reflected well in the two pieces I chose as my favorites.

 One of the best experiences had to come from not only seeing medieval life, but being able to experience it first-hand. Outside, on the grounds of the museum, there was a medieval fair. There was food, costumes, and venders that all looked like they came straight from art that was inside the walls of the museum. I was even able to hear live readings of books we were reading in class. I was experiencing what I was studying and that made learning and retaining information easier.
 One of the most memorable parts of the fair had to be when I was able to see a live jousting match. It had to be one of the coolest experiences I’ve had on a school trip and honestly, it did not even feel like a school trip. It felt like an outing with friends, an outing full of educational experiences; but like I said, it was a fun time. Hopefully other classes get to experience this. I can’t think of a better way to bring a class together and get lessons through to students than by putting them in an environment full of what they are learning and letting them see and experience it first hand with one another.   

In my opinion, this trip shaped the structure for the rest of the class this semester. After the trip, I felt like every aspect of class became more interesting. I noticed a difference in the first class following the trip. Since we had all spent the day in New York together, we were able to get to know one another and that added to the discussions and input from the class, in my opinion. Everyone seemed to open up more during discussions. Maybe it was because we all were more comfortable talking about class topics. People were more willing to share thoughts and ideas to friends compared to strangers who one thinks could judge them. The trip also gave me a face for the name kind of deal. Everything we saw at the Cloisters was either talked about or was going to be talked about in class. The visuals really helped me understand the concepts of the class, which again was geared towards the analysis of this time period. The collection of art and artifacts at the museum alone gave us a lot of things to connect back to our readings which helped us make clearer and more precise connections to the thoughts that influenced the writings of the medieval period.