November 19th, 2010
My family and I recently spent the evening viewing African animals, glaciers, icebergs, and choreography by Professor of Dance Maida Withers. In the Washington, D.C. premiere of Farewell, the End of the World as We Know It OR Dancing Your Way to Paradise, Withers dramatically performed a multi-media piece that reflected her ongoing interests in ecology and the environment.
Conceived, choreographed, and performed by Withers, the piece was illustrated by visually delightful images from across the globe that flashed behind her as she danced. I was intrigued by the international influences and fascinated by the resulting composition. With other members of the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, Withers has performed sections of this project in New York and Salt Lake City as well as abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, and Rio de Janerio.
If you’re on campus this weekend, be sure to catch Fall Danceworks, which will feature choreography by faculty, including Withers, and students. Performances will continue November 19, and 20 at the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.
November 17th, 2010
A poster from “Designing Tomorrow,” curated by Laura Shiavo.
Last week, Museum Studies Professor Laura Shiavo treated me and a group of Museum Studies alumni to a guided tour through the National Building Museum’s new exhibit Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s.
Schiavo, the curator of the exhibit, provided us a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit’s creation. She and her colleagues did archival research on the fairs’ host cities—Chicago, IL (1933–34); San Diego, CA (1935-36); Dallas, TX (1936); Cleveland, OH (1936-37); San Francisco, CA (1939-40); and New York, NY (1939-40)—and even searched on eBay to find some of the original programs and brochures from the world’s fairs.
Dean Barrat and Museum studies alumni mingle at the exhibit reception.
The result is a stunning display full of photos and artifacts depicting how the World’s Fairs popularized modern design and promoted science and consumerism in America as a relief from the Great Depression. It features seven thematic galleries: Welcome to the Fairs, A Fair-going Nation, Building a Better Tomorrow, Better Ways to Move, Better Ways to Live, Better Times, and Legacies.
If you’re in the D.C. area, I encourage you to take in this captivating exhibit, which will be on display through July 2011.
November 10th, 2010
Philosophy Professor Paul Churchill, Dean Barratt, Makwei Mabioor Deng, and Evan Faber.
I recently met an incredible young man named Makwei Mabioor Deng, GW’s first Banaa Scholar. Originally from a village in the southern Sudan, Deng and his family fled to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where they lived for 16 years. Deng came to GW via the Banaa scholarship program in 2008 and is now majoring in philosophy with aspirations of law school.
On top of his full load with GW, Deng recently completed a book in Dinka, the language spoken by the more than three million Jieng people in the Sudan and across the globe. His efforts will help transition Dinka from an oral language to a standardized written language, and his book has the potential to introduce written language the Jieng people.
Banaa was created by recent alumni Evan Faber, BA ’09, Justin Zorn, BA ’08, and a few of their fellow students activists during their time at GW. Arabic for “build” or “create,” Banna provides a free education to Sudanese students in the United States on the condition that they will return home to improve their country. Its mission is to improve the conflicts in Dafur and Sudan by empowering peacemakers both within and without of the countries.
GW is currently accepting applications for an additional Banaa student to begin in Fall 2011. I encourage you to learn more about Banaa.org and their efforts and view the video about Deng’s experience thus far.
November 3rd, 2010
Did you know the GW Documentary Center has been making films for more than 20 years? Named one of the top ten programs in the nation for documentary filmmaking, the Documentary Center is one of only a few to focus exclusively on non-fiction film.
At its anniversary celebration last week, I rubbed elbows with filmmakers, Emmy award-winners, and former students. Many of the more than 350 graduates who trained with the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking turned out for the event. The Institute has drawn students from Bangladesh, Somalia, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Uganda, and other countries across the globe. Center Director Nina Gilden Seavey also screened her new feature 4th and Goal, a compelling story that charted the six-year journeys of four young men in their quest to make it to the NFL. Maybe Nina, an Emmy award-winning documentarian and Columbian College alumnus (MA ’91), will garner another award for this wonderful piece of work.
Happy anniversary to all those who made this program such a success. Here’s to another 20 years of exceptional non-fiction storytelling!