30 April, 2012

Putting Our Photo Archives to Good Use

Inspiration comes from many places.  For this idea I have taken from the ICLC's recent 40th Anniversary Reception, Ithaca College's Photo A Day competition (have a look! ) and a recent request to see some classic group photos on the official Ithaca College London Center Facebook page.

Over the summer we'll be posting a mixed bag of old and new photos.  This way people can see the images that they remember and contrast them with the things that are currently happening around town. Follow us on Twitter (@ISeeElsie) or Like our Facebook page.

Here's a few to get the ball rolling:
Coffee Talk from 2006, plus some competition winners claiming their prize!
Anish Kapoor's observation tower in front of the Olympic stadium.  In some beautiful London weather.
Bill Sheasgreen and Fred Camden at the 40th Anniversary Reception.

27 April, 2012

Bill's Top 10 Memories of Spring '12

In reverse order, here are Bill's top 10 memories of spring '12, with added commentary by Sarah and Claire (these really are Bill’s top 10, just like those were really his texts)

Devon looking up Putney on her first day in London
10.  Arrival day, January 10th, 2012, we meet you: hectic for everyone, but sure gets the adrenalin running. It’s our ‘putting faces to names’ day…and the first day we heard that cheery laugh. Claire and Sarah mostly remember how open some of our students were about taking strangers into their hotel room on the first night.  That was a very kind thing to do. (Just to clarify, the strangers were both our students, one of whom hadn’t been allocated a hotel room)

9. Welcoming our Provost, Dr Kelly, and VP Carl Sgrecci, and hosting the 40th anniversary reception.  40 not out!

8. Rounders’ day in Hyde Park, our first time playing the game which eventually turned into baseball; Sarah’s team sneaked a narrow victory over ‘southpaw’ Claire’s, partly through a rather liberal and some would say, dubious [or Welsh], interpretation of the rules.  Sarah’s number 1 highlight of the year: beating Bill to the post and getting him out!  The Welsh don’t just sing.

7. Discussing with my solicitors the 6 figure damages I might eventually receive from this blog post for interviewing me in absentia and putting words into my Listerine clean mouth that ‘might’ be there or might not.  OK, OK, they probably are there somewhere, but don’t tell the ‘blog-meister’.  Not as much as the damages Paul McCartney is seeking from Bill for libel.

The prize for making it to the top of the Tor?  Getting to be in this photo!
6. Our first trip - the devil’s chair, the pilgrimage up the Tor, the medieval clock, scissors arch and ‘memento mori’ in Wells cathedral, overnighting in Bath, checking for curfew violators, having a staff meeting at 2am… For the record, no that wasn’t Sarah trying Bill’s door at 2am.

5.Our three ‘shows’ – voice concert, acting scenes and fights – give me back my crisps! Tons of talent.  Claire’s happy that her ceiling hasn’t collapsed from stage combat yet.

4. Being lured away all too often from the grindstone by Professors Hrkach and Swafford in their bold attempt to find the hostelry that serves the ‘perfect pint’.  Where were Sarah and Claire?

3. The ‘gap year’ ceilidh in the Leith church hall during the Edinburgh trip. I like raffles. Bill won 5 times in a row.  This prompted Alex Holt to email Claire to ask if it was worth turning in the program evaluation as Bill seems to rig raffles.

2. Devon’s bagpipe ‘happy birthday’, preceded by the two candle bearing ‘altar girls’ [however charming, I regret to inform them that it’s probably too late to pursue a vocation in the church!]  We disagree.  We’re still planning on starting up our own order of nuns.  It’s our third backup life-plan.

The wind came first, then the hail.
1. Teaching [oops..scratch that… that’s from another list]; numero uno has to be the hail storm & hurricane descending from  Arthur’s seat; we almost needed to be helicoptered off! Don’t tell the home campus!  Sarah will never forget the moment she turned around to see 4 students hugging the ground for dear life.  She then turned to Bill and asked, “Seriously, what do we do if we lose students to the storm?”  He didn’t answer.

Next, Bill’s top 10 spring ‘12 regrets…

The Spring 2012 Travel Writing Competition

Studying abroad is largely done for the opportunity of experience.  With experience is the sense of encounter, which every semester we challenge our students to put into words.  Our congratulations for the spring 2012 semester go to Richard Lindenfelzer for his winning entry into the Travel Writing competition!  With strong entries from Lindsay Harrop and Joe DePietro, as well as Richard, the competition was so close that the ICLC staff had to defer to an outside judge to settle the stalemate. The following is Richard's winning submission.

It’s far too easy to forget where you are when you have no concept of home. If you squint you can make out some stony gorges in the distance, a pair of granite towers, a school on a hill—and even further out still, an ocean, perhaps, a mother and a father, smiling warmly, awaiting their son’s return, a small gray cat, a pale, two-story house, a forest where a childhood was spent—all this swirls around and floats into the night sky, a foggy mist, making this world and that world wrap around and turn into itself until what you’re left with is an indistinguishable mud of experience.

At least that’s what it is in the moment. Sitting across from me is a redhead I like to have with me at all times, probably for security. It’s really dingy here but that’s fine. A man is asking us what we’d like to drink, and I’m wondering whether to even bother trying my French—this man is about as français as my small gray cat is. I sigh: even the hookah industry is a globalized affair. But that doesn’t matter; what’s important is I’m nowhere I expected to be, everything that is happening to me is brand spanking new, and I wouldn’t trade the group I’m with for the world, no matter how impromptu we may be.

I first took French in seventh grade, which is relatively late. I’ve been scared of heights my whole life, but I remember with the most vivid detail my teacher opening our textbook for the first time, pointing out le Tour d’Eiffel and saying you could climb it. I knew right then and there I would, and I did—almost a decade later. That was earlier today. Now, between puffs of blueberry, listening to our blonde friend recount scandalous tales of her Parisian tête-à-têtes, I turn to my left. Through the hazy dimness I see a group of three off in an enclave. What the hell, I’m out for the night—I go make three new friends.

I go and meet the Canadians.

I might as well say right now that the Canadians were the ones who got away; I never did see them again, though it wasn’t for lack of (desperate Facebook-fueled) trying. It was love at first sight. He and his sister were with their friend, visiting Paris for the weekend as a good ‘ole apologizing lumberjack-y ménage à trois. I could never pinpoint what it was that grabbed ahold of my heart so. Perhaps it was a pair of effortlessly blue eyes, a stupidly innocent smile…or something equally romantic, like alcohol…

We spent the rest of the night together, hopping from one bar to the next. It wasn’t until I made the dire mistake of going to the restroom that I lost the Canadians; I returned and they were gone, off into the abyss of baguettes and wine, now just another blur in the swirl of memories that is the weekend. I’m a little depressed, but when we get back to the hostel I’m reminded that my redheaded friend and I are living with even more Canadians, as well as an Argentinian, some New Yorkers, and a couple Dutch, amongst others. All these people coming from all over, all students, all meeting by chance in this apartment that has an incredible view of the sparkling Eiffel Tower…

Paris is so gay.

It’s a privilege, for sure. It’s something my small gray cat will never see. And in the rational bits of my brain I understand this, even though I know it takes time to digest this stuff, possibly even years before I can truly look back with actual clarity and old-timey wisdom and say “I learned so freaking much it’s insane.” I can wait for that, though. I don’t want that kind of clarity just yet.

On the plane back from Paris I’m trying to sort through the romantic haze that was the weekend, and I find it’s almost impossible to get the experience just right in words. I still try, though—it’s definitely a multi-step process, where some things hit you over the head immediately and some things will come with time. I’ve been a lot of places this semester, so: the immediate things? For one, I’ll forever have a spot in my heart for the Canadians. Secondly, there are some seriously old things in this world, and some seriously important things have happened millenniums before I even existed. And if that’s not humbling, I don’t know what is. Thirdly, Pret’s falafel and haloumi wrap is the Chuck Norris of sandwiches. Or maybe the Peter Parker of sandwiches, it’s more unassuming.

The things that are still in the development stage, the second tier of reawakenings and realizations, are more academic in their scope. This world is a changing one, and it is already a different beast than it was, say, fifty years ago. Then, if an American student had shown up in Berlin for purely academic or recreational reasons, he would be lauded because that would be a damned impressive feat, and he would be immediately immersed in a much more distinctive and homogenous culture. Now it’s commonplace—easier, sure—just different. My experience was that “culture shocks” must have become a thing of the past, because the cities are all in some race to an invisible end, and a transnational economy has asserted that it will not tolerate the ones who fall behind.

In other words, competition means a whole lotta Starbucks.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just how it is. I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world. I really feel like my traveling appetite has been whetted, but that’s not to say there isn’t more of the world I want to see. From the breathtaking slopes of the Swiss Alps to the earthy taverns of Dublin, we’ve given Europe the double—, triple—, sextuple-take it deserves. Especially for the Canadians.

Soon, though, it’s back to the land of hot dogs and apple pie, sprawling skyscrapers and grassy plains, and dollar bills and Hollywood movies, which is cool—I hear it’s a place people would really love to visit someday.

11 April, 2012

Texts from Bill (not Clinton)

I recently discovered the blog Texts from Hillary, and I think I love it.  So it's logical that it got me thinking about our own Bill.  Of course Bill texts, too.  Here's a sample of some of the most impressive texts Sarah and I have received from Bill.  These are all quoted directly off our phones.

CMM: Running late.  Stupid District line
BS: Why not run the rest of the way?  Don't be a lazy sod
CMM: Arriving into Tower Hill.  Shouldn't be very late.
BS: Keep your head on.  Don't do an Anne or Kate!
CMM: I got balloons!
BS: I would not touch that line with a punt pole
CMM: Sorry I missed your call!
BS: 5 laps
CMM: Trying a new bus route, but traffic is rough.  Running a few minutes late
BS: Running?
CMM: On my way in.  Just leaving the German embassy.
BS: Did they ask the Beckenbauer question?
SD: Booked flight for ICNY.  Depart 15th, return flight 25th of March
BS: You disturbed the rugby.
(At the YMCA on the Bath trip) BS: Did you try my door?  Someone did.
SD: No it wasn't me.
BS: Had to do macho role and kill Mr. Turkey so will be late and miss bin men if they ring.
SD: [no response]
(On the Stratford trip) CMM: How long at the services?
BS: Long enuff!
SD: Can you let Linda know that I have no idea if or when I'm coming to Wimbledon as I'm waiting to hear from someone.
BS: (on one of his walks) You interrupted my discourse on the castration of William Wallace.
SD: I clearly planned it.  It was one of the students who gave me the tip off.
BS: Everyone understood the significance of your cut into my talk.
SD: I'll update everyone on Twitter in case some students weren't there.
BS: Only 3 students on the walk.
BS: Delayed by turkey shoot...ROVER
CMM: Is that slang?
BS: Queen's English, Shakespeare even, Chaucerian, maybe even the Venerable Bede.
CMM: Drive by shootings of turkeys in the bus lane by Range Rovers?
BS: Supermarkets have demasculated the modern male by depriving us of kill.  S Freud
SD: Prob get to Dorking shopping street at 12:15ish.  Will call you when I'm here or if there are any probs
BS: Gotcha.  On 11:01.  ETA 11:50.  How will we recognize each other?  Wearing blue QPR hat, John Lewis bag, following numero uno into shops, 3 paces behind.
BS: Hopping down high street.
CMM: On the bus to Elephant and Castle, then the tube.  Wish me luck
BS: Hope you win the lottery

Normally I do these interviews of Bill, and it's not much of a secret that he has nothing to do with them and they are completely out of my imagination.  But this has been an actual insight into what it is to work with Bill Sheasgreen.


04 April, 2012


Not many know it as the sport of kings, but Rounders may be just that.  For most it's that lazy game they play at picnics.  And we're using it as a way to raise money!

Without calling it the black sheep cousin of baseball, rounders has 5 posts (not bases) and you can run to them, even if you don't hit the ball (sometimes, but I'm not sure yet what those circumstances are).  It has a short bat, meant to be held with one hand (although Bill has a special dispensation to use 2 hands) and the ball is small as well.  You run around the field and try to score rounders or stop the other team from scoring rounders.

This year we are raising money through rounders in aid of the Youth Sport Trust.  And you can pledge in so many ways!
  • You can donate £1 as a player, spectator or general well wisher who will sadly be away for the weekend in Spain
  • You can pledge 50p for each rounder scored
  • You can donate 50p every time you accidentally make a baseball reference
  • Anyone who accidentally steps in horse manure in the park can donate £1
  • You can pledge £5 if a bird lands on Bill
  • You can pledge £10 if a bird poos on Bill (if that happens, there's at least £50 coming in!)
  • Bill's donating £5 for the most authentic Rounders costume and another £5 for the best fancy dress costume
  • Other pledging ideas?  All are welcome!
We're also selling these lovely badges supporting our Rounders game for 20p each!
Please support generously!