Summer with (a) View

Performing arts in the Adirondacks. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? I, along with two other SUNY Oswego students and 3 students from other schools, got to work at View Arts Center in a variety of functions such as graphic design, events, and performances. My specialty was performances, but arts organizations are often small which means that there was a good deal of crossover.

Hanging with my buddy, Url.

A little background on View: it began in the yard of a woman named Mirnie Kashiwa. Dedicated to her community and its enrichment, she began to display art on chicken wire in her yard and then raised money to eventually buy a building and expand the art gallery. To do this she created the Arts Guild of Old Forge. She established the Kinderwood Preschool program for young children and the organization really expanded throughout the community and area. Eventually, the guild was able to expand even more and buy land and create a LEED certified gallery with workshops and performance space.

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason

As the performances intern, I got to write press releases promoting the shows, work with performers, and handle a good deal of logistics that go along with putting on a show. We would put on concerts and theatre performances that cover genres from opera to folk to broadway. Some of my favorites acts included Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, folk performers who frequently collaborate with Ken Burns (they have Grammy nominations for their work on the Civil War documentary) and the Dan Brubeck Quartet, a jazz act from Vancouver who had their music featured in Baby Driver. I found that performers were kind and generous and very easy to talk to, which made the job more rewarding.

A photo I took to promote our ice cream social

Aside from coordinating volunteers and assuring the venue was prepared for a performance, I also participated in the other events we would host. For the annual gala View hosted, the interns along with the COO and secretaries were responsible for running the fundraising efforts during the gala such as the silent auctions and taking bids for the main auction. We also were man power for the craft show, antique show, and other events.  

Francesca Antonello (@chessmanceramics) aka my lovely roomie and throwing teacher

This internship was more than just working though. I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing people, particularly my housemate Francesca Antonello. She was the workshop intern and a very talented ceramicist. I was also able to learn new skills like glass fusing, pottery making (thanks Francesca!), and yoga classes. During the summer I was able to expand and learn more about myself, both in a personal and professional context. Plus, it helped to do it in such a pretty place.

Vulnerability and strength come together for ‘Not Someone Like Me’

Shana clicks off her phone and greets me as I pull up a chair. We’ve intended to have a lunch date, but as fate would have it we aren’t huge fans of the menu that day. Shana Weiss is a sophomore education student here at Oswego, and we’ve met today to discuss her upcoming role in a staged reading of “Not Someone Like Me” directed by Mya Brown, a professor at the college.

The show is structured as a series of monologues about survivors of trauma and assault within a group therapy session. The play, written by Susan Rice, features survivors of varying ages and backgrounds. Weiss plays Pam, a woman from a lower-middle class background whose mother’s dream for her is to pursue her education, but this dream gets harder after she is assaulted. Shana is no stranger to staged readings; she participated in one for a senior’s capstone last year called the Laramie Project, a show about the bullying and subsequent murder of a young gay man. “It’s different because I’ve never had this intimate of a look into someone else’s life. Laramie was intense, but this takes it to another level.”

The cast of five went through auditions in mid-March, got casted, and went straight to work. Weiss notes that this is a quick turnaround even in theatre, but also mentions that the cast got to spend two hours of alone time with the director, Brown, to develop their characters. “It’s been a very insightful experience. I’ve worked with a lot of different directors and directing styles, and it’s very important to her that you have a very good background on the character. It’s very important that you have a feeling with the character. She very much knows what she wants out of you and has this way of drawing it out of you without feeling like she’s controlling what you do as an actor. It’s very nice.”

In the wake of #MeToo, a national online movement where people who have experienced being sexually assaulted and harassed have shared their stories, this show that was originally selected in the spring of 2017 seems more timely than ever, and that isn’t something that has escaped Shana’s mind. “I feel like it lines up very well with the timing of the #MeToo movement. I feel that it’s very important that we’re having this show, especially around a time where when there’s all these allegations coming out, where there are all these issues… It was talked about before, but now its started to really pick up.”

Event co-sponsors include Artswego and It’s On Oz, an organization dedicated to the education and prevention of sexual and interpersonal violence. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. These statistics are alarming and bring up the issue that inspired an Academy Award nominated film The Hunting Ground. However, this show encompasses an array of experiences, and the production provides resources within their programs for anyone who may need to seek help. It is noted that the “detailed, vivid imagery” within the script that helped prepare Weiss for her portrayal may affect audience members sensitive to this type of content.

The event will take place in the Sheldon Ballroom on April 30th at 7:00 P.M. When prodded as to why people should come, Shana answers earnestly. “It is so important as to what is going on even though some of these stories have taken place 50-60 years ago. The fact that it’s still relevant and it’s still happening is why you should come see this show.”

Presenting at #OzQuest

This past Wednesday was Quest, which is a day SUNY Oswego commits to celebrating the academic endeavors of their students. Because it is a presentation of research, people may think it is only for the sciences, but many disciplines are involved. As a communications student, I have previously attended many Quest presentations, most of them focusing on the work of fellow communication students. This year I was asked to present my analysis and critique of a popular media text.In 15 minutes with added time for questions, I presented on the race and gender dynamics within Pitch Perfect 2 and how the content could be problematic when representing women and minorities. My presentation was based off of a paper I did for my children, women, and minorities in media class, which I took as part of my broadcasting curriculum. This paper included literature review of different studies and examination of media which I then applied in my own analysis of the movie. For the presentation, I selected the major points of my work and elaborated on them, supplemented by video clips and movie stills.

My thesis slide

As with anything of this nature, critique is subjective. However, I really liked engaging with the audience, and I was even able to elaborate on my thesis and arguments with interested peers afterward. It lead to really thoughtful conversations and evaluation of different work, which I think is one of the main purposes of Quest.

We had a full room with people standing and sitting on the floor when the chairs ran out. This was very fulfilling for me, and felt like a reward for my hard work. People asked excellent questions, and it let me know that they were engaged with my presentation. I would like to thank Dr. Fogel, the professor who asked me to present. Quest was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity to show the work that I do here.

Adjusting Back

I’m not afraid to say it; I miss being across the pond. By placing yourself in a foreign country, trying to build up contacts and a support network while cooking and doing other things for yourself, you change. It’s inevitable when you go off to see the beauty and the people that the world has to offer. You get pretty comfortable with introspection–and Citymapper for that matter. How can you not? You are undergoing so much personal growth and learning.

 

What’s the point I’m trying to get at? It’s easy to forget that being back is an adjustment. Yet another lifestyle change, and yes, you can get culture shock being back home. My first day back someone asked me what kind of tea I wanted. I said Earl Grey and she said “No, I meant hot or cold.” After being picked on by my fellow diners, I realized fairly quickly that I wouldn’t slip back into things as easily as I thought.

The college lifestyle is different back here, too. Classes are different and how students interact with each other is different. I think the key word in these phrases is different. Not better or worse, just different. That’s a really big takeaway from being exposed to new cultures that people don’t necessarily take the time to think about. It’s a concept that was mentioned in a communication class I had previously taken, and I always thought I had grasped it, but I truly understood it after my experience.

One thing to be really grateful for is my friends and family. I don’t think I’ve ever had better hugs in my life than those I received when I saw people for the first time in months. They are also what I missed the most, even more than Kraft mac and cheese or American peanut butter. They are what make the adjustment back so worth it.

An Intern Abroad

Imagine a 5’2 American girl lugging 15 lbs worth of equipment on and off the Tube, through places like Trafalgar Square and world famous museums like the Victoria & Albert. That’s my reality every time I go to work.

I’m one of the 3% of American students who intern abroad. I work for a news and entertainment channel called London Live. I get sent all over the city to cover all different kinds of events. My repertoire now includes filming a theatre show designed around accessibility for both deaf and hearing audiences, to covering one of the most famous portraits in the world at the National Gallery.

The Arnolfini portrait is one of the art world’s greatest mysteries. This is a screenshot from one of my pieces I filmed for my job.

Work has also enabled me to attend an exclusive opening at the world famous Saatchi Gallery. After spending a day filming different exhibitions within the gallery, the curator handed me an invitation to attend the members-only opening that night. It was definitely one of the more surreal moments of my life.

A piece by the delightful and talented Daniel Crews Chubb, who I had helped interview earlier that day.

However, that isn’t the only type of things I have covered. My first real day in the office was the bombing at Parsons Green. My train had been cancelled before work so I had to walk/jog to make it. Nobody understood the magnitude of the situation. Even as we covered the scene live, details would trickle out slowly as we learned exactly what happened. I even managed to track down an interview with someone who was on the train. Sure enough, as what happens in big news situations, even reporters from the BBC and other international news companies started trying to record the interview I was getting with the London Live journalist I was sent out with. Talk about an intense and exciting first day!

One of the images I captured at the scene of Parsons Green.

 

Media frenzy at Parsons Green.

My work experience in London has been challenging and immensely rewarding. Finding your footing abroad is no easy feat. I’ve had to adjust to different styles of storytelling, different spellings, navigating a foreign workplace (not to mention an entire city!). However, I truly enjoy all of the change that’s happening in my life. I’ve grown so much in many different ways, both personally and professionally. The tests and challenges keep on coming, but the best way to grow is to keep moving forward and to keep learning.

This is an overlook of–in a broad sense–my office.

Rokerthon Caps Off Tour at Oswego

Did you happen to catch the familiar green and gold while sipping on your morning coffee? No, your 8 a.m. eyes didn’t deceive you, SUNY Oswego was on the Today Show. In fact, we were pretty busy breaking a world record. Rome may not have been built in a day, but we broke a world record in 5 minutes. Okay, that’s only technically true, but it isn’t the whole story…

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We managed to get 593 skaters to show up at the Marano Campus Center Arena at 4:45 a.m. in preparation for the national broadcast. Who knew you could get 593 to conga across ice to Gloria Estefan so early in the morning? The celebration was splendid, but more than what meets the eye went into putting on an event that sometimes felt like the circus- “The Greatest Show on Earth!”

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Aside from mandatory rehearsals for skaters, it was all hands on deck from virtually all departments on campus. If if wasn’t ice skating recruitment calls which took place in the dining and residence halls, it was working on the broadcast itself. The theatre department set up the lights and came up with the idea of snow machines for Al Roker’s zamboni entrance!

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(He rode in on a bigger zamboni. Team Mini still looked great!)

It would be misleading to say the event was easy. The amount of coordination and organization was Hurculean. It was exhausting, but man, if it wasn’t pretty darn cool. Some were there for Al, some were there for the fun of it, some (like me) got to geek out over the process of national TV (live-to-broadcast drones anyone?!?!). Our student media organizations were able to get interviews with Mr. Roker and develop great material. Del Sarte, the student dance club, brought signs that were cleverly themed to incorporate their recital and NBC. Everyone got to have a unique stamp on the day. Al even visited all of his old haunts around Oswego and campus on Friday!

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(If you go back and watch the recording, you can catch me darting through crowds to run the social media beat!)

The effort on behalf of the student body, administration, and community was incredible. Oswego absolutely has its moments and is a unique place. Why would we get selected out of so many large universities across the nation and Al Roker come back if it wasn’t?

Food, Yoga, and Trying New Things

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At the beginning of this semester, I promised myself one thing I would do before I graduate in May: Try as many new things as possible. It’s March 1st and I’ve accomplished a lot already.

One thing I really wanted to try was ACTUALLY cooking some meals instead of just putting frozen food in an oven or microwave or ordering from Dominos. During winter break, I found as many recipes online as I could based on my capability and my budget. On one of my first nights back in my Village house, I made lo mein and teriyaki chicken, as seen in the photo above. I gotta admit, I was extremely proud of myself for being able to make it. Since then, I’ve promised I would cook something at least once a week. I’ve been able to make garlic and parmesan zucchini fries, banana pancakes, crescent pizza rolls, and even edible cookie dough.

While all that food tasted delicious, I needed to be able to work it off somehow. I absolutely love going to the gym, but sometimes going on the treadmill and machines at 7 o’clock in the morning just wasn’t enough for me. I was looking around the list of group exercise classes available at Cooper and Glimmerglass gyms and found one that caught my eye: Strengthening Yoga.

I never took a yoga class in my life. I was a little nervous about it. However, when I did take it, I felt completely relaxed and at peace with myself. Yes some of the positions were a little tricky and I fell onto my mat a couple times. When I did fall, I was laughing it off and trying to keep up with the rest of the class.

Going on with the theme of working out, I took another group exercise class one night where my instructor had us hold a plank for one minute. I typically held mine for about 30 to 40 seconds, but I was extremely proud of myself when I was able to hold mine for a minute. Now I make sure to always include it in my workout routine.

College is about trying new things, whether you’re a first semester freshman or a second semester senior. I encourage those who read this post to try something new, whether it’s cooking a delicious meal or trying to do a crazy yoga pose.

 

#OzGoldRush and why it’s a big deal

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Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t. Some call it White Out Part 2, some wanted it to be Black Out, its proper name is Gold Rush. This Saturday, Marano Campus Center Arena will be bombarded with fans from all over, whether that is alumni, students, community members, etc. to catch a glimpse of what could possibly be history.

“That feeling in your gut when red shows up on the ice in more ways than one.” An apt line from the Laker Men’s hype video to describe the scene that will take place on Saturday. Archrivals Oswego and Plattsburgh will show down as they try to set the record straight on who the true king of the SUNYAC is.

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Fact: This group of seniors have not beaten Plattsburgh at Marano during their tenure. Looking to cement their legacy, they will be hungry during this Saturday’s championship game.

Fact: This Saturday will mark the 6th consecutive year that Oswego and Plattsburgh have met in the SUNYAC playoffs. If you don’t call that rivalry, then I don’t know what you would.

So why the name Gold Rush? The team is hunting for SUNYAC gold this Saturday. They are also looking to wear their gold alternate jerseys. These jerseys are special because they have the names of alumni as well as the active roster etched onto a bright Oswego gold.

There is only standing room left now for student section tickets. The line is expected to reach White Out proportions. What do the fans need to bring? Simple, unmatched energy and gold. What do the players need to bring? Their best play of the season.

*Wordpress distorts the quality of the photos.

Adventure is Out There

The best time to be in Oswego has finally arrived. It truly is the only place where you can experience 4 seasons in one week. Not sure what I mean by that? Just take a look at this week’s weather forecast. You’ll see within just one week we go from 62 to 33, from sunny to windy, rainy and yes even to snow.

So, while the nice weather is here, go out and explore! There are so many amazing things to see and do in Oswego! Here’s a list of my top 8 favorite places to explore in Oswego (not in any particular order).

  1. Lake Ontario – There’s so much to do in our own back yard! In case you haven’t realized we live on a lake, and we are both incredibly lucky and a little bit unfortunate (I’m talking about you lake effect snow). The sunsets are an experience like no other. You can’t really capture them in a picture and you definitely cannot describe them, so get out and go watch at least one! From May-September, the flat rocks which are located just next to the campus, are the best spot to go swimming or even just hang out in the sun with friends!
  2. Fort Ontario – This historic site was built in 1755, during the French and Indian war and has also been used during the American Revolutionary war, War of 1812, American Civil War, and most notably during WWII to house Jewish Refugees. It has been destroyed and rebuilt 3 times during its history. It is now open as a state park. I personally enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Ontario and the grounds make for a nice spot to explore or take a walk. (P.S. there’s always dogs, and dogs are the best).
  3. Ontario Orchards – The orchard makes for a nice activity in the fall for apple and pumpkin picking amongst other activities. I enjoy taking the short 5-minute drive to the orchard because the area around the orchard is scenic. They also have some of the best baked goods, fruits, vegetables and cheeses in Oswego.
  4. Breitbeck Park – There is so much to do here! It is a beautiful park located right on the lake. There is a playground if you feel like being a kid and hopping on the swings or going down the slide. It is a great place to go for a nice walk or run, play basketball on the courts, or utilize the fields for softball or kickball. You’ll definitely see a few dogs here too. It’s a nice spot to de-stress with your friends and during the nicer months of the semester, it makes a great picnic spot.
  5. Fair Haven beach – While this one is a little farther away, it is absolutely worth the drive! It’s roughly 20 minutes from campus. The park offers a sandy beach with swimming spots, fishing, diving boards, playgrounds, campsites, grills to cook on, nature trails, more dogs, biking trails, kayak and canoe rentals, and playing fields. During the winter months, you can enjoy ice fishing, sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and x-country skiing. Some of my favorite memories of the warmer months here are getting out of class on a Friday and hopping in the car with my friends to spend time at the beach.
  6. Sterling Nature Center – On your drive to Fair Haven, you will pass the Sterling Nature Center. It is a well-maintained center known for its preserved and beautiful grounds, nature trails, and sites of various birds and other animals. The “bluffs” are also located off of the beach path at the Sterling Nature Center. The bluffs are high naturally formed cliffs that offer some of the best views of the sunsets over Lake Ontario.
  7. Riverwalk – On the east side of Bridge St. located behind the hotels on the river and behind Old City Hall is a nicely paved walkway that runs alongside the river up towards I-481. It makes for a nice place to take a stroll along the river and during the warmer months, local bands can be heard playing on the river.
  8. Lighthouse – The Oswego lighthouse can be seen as you enter into the city of Oswego from I-481 and down near the lake. It was used to guide boats into the harbor originally and is currently being renovated to restore it to its original condition. It is not advised to take the walk out to the lighthouse because it can be dangerous, especially on a windy day. However, the lighthouse will have boat tours that will allow you to tour the inside post-renovations.

 

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“Life was made for good friends and great adventures” – anonymous

Do as the Ozians Do!

This is part two of a two-part blog. The first entry is “When in Oz…”

Here’s a helpful image I made to show what my life was like in September and October.

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This seems like a lot, and I wouldn’t be honest if I said it wasn’t. However, I came to college to challenge myself and see what I could do. The payoff of all this hard work was truly incredible. I was able to work with alumnus and professional dancer/choreographer Dexter Jones whose talent and personality can’t be put into this blog post. The energy of the shows was awesome. The reception of the crowds and their comments really show that this effort is not for nothing. One of the most awesome comments I got were that professionals thought I had prior dance training before this show. I was fortunate enough that I was in the show-stopping dance number, the Winkie Celebration dance. The crowd interaction in that number is why performing is such a rush and privilege.

Right before the Celebration. I'm the General (in black)!

Right before the Celebration. I’m the General (in black)!

You would not believe the amount of adrenaline pumping through my veins during and after that scene.

The dance crew became a very tight group, and I was able to meet so many wonderful people that were a part of the cast and crew in general. We got to make a lot of memories together, not just rehearsing with each other, but getting pizza or late night together (We love food!). I still get breakfast with them and hang out with them.

The moral of the story is that college is a fantastic time to explore. I made it a personal goal to leave my comfort zone and try something that I haven’t done here. Just look how much magic happened! We were able to open up Waterman Theatre with a bang, learn so many new things, and create awesome relationships. The arts community here is unique and leads to unrepeatable experiences. If someone is even thinking about trying something in the arts or just something new, here’s my advice: go for it!

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