Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Know Your Madonna Community

After the elementary school students sang to us, our students
performed "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for them. Study Abroad trip to Peru.
Photo by Neal Haldane.
Madonna may not be an enormous campus but, collectively, we offer a great wealth of intellect, creativity, and insight. Out of the 80 entries in this issue of MU Voices, you’ll read about the daring (reckless!) train-hopping of 13-year-olds, an analysis of two Emily Dickinson poems, an ode to a pizza delivery man, and the Devils in Baggy Pants, a response to the Forbidden Art Exhibit. You’ll also see vibrant photography from Peru, area parks wrapped in winter, and the Rebuild March and Rally in Flint.

This issue is organized as follows:

1. General submissions
2. Text and photos of the above-mentioned rally in Flint ("Marching with Flint")
3. Submissions generated by the Paper Hearts Workshop ("The Ever-evolving Paper Hearts Workshop")
4. Contributions inspired by the Forbidden Art Exhibit ("Forbidden Art: The Un-extinguishable Spark")
5. Writings about MLK Week ("Fruits of the MLK Diversity Poetry Event")

By no means does MU Voices represent the scope and depth of our gifted Madonna University students, staff, faculty, and alumni. We would love to hear from more of you, so send your poetry, prose, class essays, photography, scanned art, and/or video links to writingcenter@madonna.edu. We’ll most likely include your work in the fall 2016 issue. Share yourself with the rest of us.

Also, when you see something in this issue that you like, please add an encouraging message. Our contributors need to know someone is paying attention.

Frances FitzGerald, editor

What Bugs Me Most, by John Miller

What bugs me most can encompass everything. However, I think we will stick to the top pet peeve. The basic rudeness of people to one another on a daily basis makes me wonder: Are people so into themselves, or is there something else going on? Proper manners start at home, from the parents to their children. I have found that just making eye contact when I say good morning to other people will bring on a genuine smile. Having someone hold open a door for me is a pleasant surprise. This makes me wonder why some of the basic courtesies seem the hardest, like holding open a door or saying good morning to each other.                     

Proper manners are learned when we are very young. The toddler in day care has to be told to share the toys and that the toys are for everyone. As children become older, it is important to continue teaching basic manners and politeness. Respect for each other must be on the forefront of the teaching process. Learning to lose gracefully and win gracefully will help children to respect the feelings of others. When manners are not learned at home, the rest of society will suffer.

The biggest example of bad manners is the driving habits we see on the road. We are cutting other drivers off, not turning on turn signals, and tailgating, to name a few. When people are in their cars, there is the impression of anonymity. This is not to say that I am always innocent of bad manners, especially while I drive.

Imagine, if you will, a society where personal satisfaction came last. Instead, we would constantly put basic manners first in all of our lives. I know this Pollyanna approach to life will not happen, but just think of the possibilities.

When I meet a young man or woman who exceed my expectations of proper manners, I let them know that their parents have done a fine job. Having the proper manners in life will go a long way in making a better world.

Peru Study Abroad Trip: An Eye-opener, by Jacob Schmidt and Kevin Finch

Excerpted from Madonna Herald article:

Madonna University student traveled to Peru on a Study Abroad trip in early March. These students stayed in Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu over the eight days. While on the trip, they visited Inca ruins, Spanish churches, various museums, the Sacred Valley, Picol Grade School, and many other beautiful places. 

To quote Lawrence Durell, "Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection." However, there is a huge difference between traveling to serve and traveling to learn. Service takes time, and its success is measured by the outcomes that benefit the people being served. The students who traveled for this Study Abroad trip learned a great deal about Peru’s culture. 

Students travel to developing countries all over the world, with service as the objective, all the time. Traveling is not the problem, and service is not the problem, but the skewed lines between service and vacation are major problems. Students, no matter how great their intention, can do more harm than good.

During many study abroad trips and mission trips, the idea of service is perceived as a strict adherence to "helping out the little guy, because he is so unfortunate." This is a demoralizing and damaging view of the world and the people in it. Although serving in other countries is a great idea and should be pursued, it should not be the objective of a week-long trip to a foreign land. So the question remains, what makes traveling so encouraging? The answer is simply to learn.

Study abroad trips give students the opportunity to learn from other people. Learning the history, economy, and way of life in other countries enhance Madonna students’ abilities to help at home in their own community.

Photos from Peru Study Abroad Trip, mostly by Neal Haldane

Our students and faculty pose for our guide (only photo not by Neal Haldane)
The clouds envelop Machu Picchu

The Temple of the Sun in the foreground

Llamas and other animals roam throughout Machu Picchu

Beautiful weather greeted us on our second visit to Machu Picchu

Hummingbird in Cusco

Market in Cusco where locals buy fruits, vegetables, pigs, and everything else

Madonna students play with school children in Piccol Village

Madonna students sanded and painted doors at the school
as part of the service-learning aspect of the trip

Students learn about weaving at the Center for
Textiles in Chinchero Town. The Center tries to preserve
ancient weaving and textile techniques.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Kevin el poeta!! by Kevin Finch

Writing Center tutor, communications major, and poet Kevin Finch took his second Study Abroad trip over spring break. Although he claims to know only about five words in Spanish, he clearly knew how to connect with the locals in Cusco, Peru. His audience may not have understood the language, but they likely sensed the music and message within his words.

See his YouTube video through the url below. You'll appreciate the kind of impact and good will Madonna students--like Kevin--spread throughout the globe.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Railroad Raiders and Train Hoppers, by John Miller

During the late ‘70s, I was 13 years old and had a passion for the railroad yards. My friends and I spent all our free time at the tracks. That’s what we called them back then. “Let’s go to the tracks,” was uttered when we were bored or had free time. Wintertime, we would head to the railroad yard and wait for a slow train to ride to the pines. The pines were five miles west of Plymouth, behind the old Detroit House of Corrections.

Jumping a moving train took skills and guts and a lot of 13-year-old stupidity. We would look for trains carrying automobiles because we could climb inside and listen to the radio. Once we arrived at our destination, we would jump off the train or, if it was slow enough, just run next to it while hanging on and letting go. Hopefully, we were not rewarded with a face full of snow.

We would collect ourselves and head into the pines, which consisted of about 100 acres of pine trees. The lower branches of the pine trees were dead, so collecting wood and starting fire was easy. Then we would tell stories about ourselves and our family lives. They went from fun to depressing as hell.

Young boys excel at poking fun at each other. I made the mistake of telling my buddy Greg I was afraid of bears and sharks, which I felt were reasonable fears. My friends would point out there were no bears in Plymouth Township and very few sharks.

Along the railroad tracks, there were many large woods and fields where we built our forts. As any young boy will tell you, his fort is his castle. We did not just build any lean-to fort with boards leaning on each other—we built castles. One such underground castle had electric lights and switches. The biggest castle was actually a log cabin made from 72 trees. The cabin was 30’ by 20’ and had a bunk bed and fireplace and locking front door.

The trip home from train-catching was cold and wet, and catching a train was not always in the cards. No train meant walking the five miles home after a long day of cold-to-freezing temperatures. Arriving home by 5 p.m. was essential so I wouldn’t get into trouble with my parents. Arriving home was the end of the trail, and then we looked forward to the next train adventure.

My friends and I have grown up and moved on with families, house payments and the first of us to die way too young, Larry Pappler. He passed away days after I wrote this story at age 50. I have made new friends and buddies since those childhood adventures, but none that have helped me become the man I am today like those railroad raiders and train hoppers.