Highland dances to compete this weekend; free concert follows event Saturday evening


Highland dancers to compete this weekend; free concert follows event Saturday evening

By: Crystal Snow

Morgan Pell (’17) travels 15 hours to attend Alma College. The distance between Alma and the home of Katie Ochs (’16) is over 2,300 miles.
What do these two ladies have in common? They are just two of the nine Kiltie Dancers who travel from far and wide to perform, compete, and study as a Scot.
Saturday is the next time that students, staff, and the entire community can see the popular performances that are the product of hours of time, practice, and commitment.
The annual Alma Indoor Highland Dancing Competition takes place this weekend, featuring a multi-level event, as well as a workshop for dancers on Sunday.
The competition portion of Saturday will be at the Masonic Home in Alma, while the Alma College Kiltie Dancers’ fall concert will be in the Heritage Center at 7:30 p.m.
“It would be a great opportunity to experience a part of Scottish culture and to see first-hand the amazing art that is Scottish Highland Dancing,” said Pell.
Dances that viewers can expect to see during the competition segment include the Highland Fling, the Sword, the Seann Truibhas, and various national dances, according to Ochs.
“I like the national dances because it gives me a chance to perform with more of my own personal style, since the dances are more graceful,” Ochs said. “However, I prefer the Highland dances because I like the intensity and athleticism of the four Highland dances.”
Besides the concerts they host, the Kilties can also be seen performing at events like homecoming, traditions dinner, or other events in the area.
“I love competing and performing Scottish Highland dancing,” said Pell. “Entertaining an audience is a wonderful feeling, and knowing that I am carrying on this tradition is extremely empowering.”
“Since starting school here, I’ve made it my goal to compete in at least three competitions per term, but when I’m home, I can have three in one month,” said Ochs, who has been dancing for 17 years.
Pell has been competing since the age of five and performs in competitions all over the United States and Canada. She often competes every weekend during the summer.
“Highland dance is a beautiful art form,” she added. “Each dance has its own rich history, from The Highland Fling to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. It is so empowering knowing that these dances have been done for hundreds of years and that I am still carrying on the tradition.”
“The best part about Alma Indoor is that it’s a small, laid-back competition, so it’s a great way to kick off the season,” said Ochs.
However, this weekend will not all be competitive. Saturday evening’s concert will showcase the Kiltie Dancers as they perform classics like the Highland Fling alongside less traditional pieces, such as choreographies to “Wake Me Up” by the Red Hot Chili Pipers and a Christmas medley.
The Kiltie Dancers are instructed by Kate Degood, the director of Highland Dance and co-coordinator of Highland Arts at Alma. Admission is free to staff, students, and the public.

*This has been corrected since print publication*

Images courtesy of: Katie Ochs (’16)

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Alpha Gamma Delta sponsors film that challenges media’s portrayal of women


Alpha Gamma Delta sponsors film that challenges media’s portrayal of women

By: Mechon Carew

Witness the “[uncovering of] a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see” with Alpha Gamma Delta Wednesday night by attending their screening of “Miss Representation.”

The documentary “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America,” explained Brittany Verran (’15), president of the Alma College chapter of the Alpha Gamma Delta.
“The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.”
Written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebal Newsom, this 2011 film uses interviews from teenage girls and famous female stars, politicians, journalists, and the like to take an inside look on issues such as female movie stereotypes, restriction of women in leadership roles, and the objectification of females as a whole.
Given that Alpha Gamma Delta’s vision is “Inspire women, impact the world,” it is no surprise that they would host an event that addresses how female empowerment and the world are interconnected. Verran, along with Alora Adams (‘15) first saw “Miss Representation” while representing their chapter at the women’s fraternity’s International Convention this summer.
“The documentary was shown as the keynote event, and we had small discussions at different points throughout the film,” said Adams. “It was fantastic, and I know there were some people who were crying at different parts of the film from the powerful message and the reality shown within the film.”
Verran was one of the members who spearheaded the movement to show “Miss Representation” on campus. She has been acting directly to help plan and promote the event.
“I’m very excited to bring this award-winning documentary to Alma College and educate our students,” Verran said. “I think it’s a great way to incorporate our liberal arts education by becoming aware of all kinds of different issues.”
Lisa Folkmire (’15) is enthusiastic about the event even outside of being an Alpha Gamma Delta herself.
“As somebody who’s passionate about feminist studies and who has taken a lot of courses that are focused on these studies, I’m very excited to see Greek Life taking a part in this cause,” she said. “Especially because I think that, through Hollywood, Greek Life can be seen as a negative portrayal of girls.
“In my own experience, my involvement with Alpha Gamma Delta has strengthened my self-esteem and integrity—something you can rarely find being represented on the big screen.”
Although “Miss Representation” is a documentary, members of Alpha Gamma Delta ensure that viewers will not be bored.
“[It’s] worth the hour and a half the film lasts,” Adams advocated. “The message behind it is so powerful and will change the way you see the world and see yourself. Come take a break from studying to watch it and bring your friends.”
However, just watching will not solve everything. Folkmire encourages students to take a closer look at their regular lives.
Overall, she hopes that those who come to the event will begin to realize that the media portrayal of women is ingrained in the collective mind of society, accepted without question, and most importantly, very wrong.
“It sounds cheesy and extremely obvious, but it’s important to remember that women are first and foremost, people, regardless of how they’re portrayed by media,” she said.

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Alma Model UN teaches students in India


Alma Model UN teaches students in India
By: Chelsey Cobb

The students on the Model United Nations team at Alma College departed for India on Oct. 11. While they were abroad, they ran a Model UN conference and reorganized the way the event was run.
Last year, the Model UN team was invited to go to India and help with the conference; however; the number of people who could attend was limited. This year, due to a grant, more students were able to attend.
The State Department gave the Model UN team a $75,000 grant to attend. Model UN in India is more debate oriented than the Western system, which more closely resembles the real United Nations. For this conference, the Alma Model UN team hoped to run it with a more Western style approach.
“[The Indian system] used more of a moderated caucus, when one delegate speaks their position and resolution at a time, which was more debate based,” said Roger Zahn (’17).
In Model UN, different committees are assigned to different world issues. The committees are challenged to come up with ways to solve them.
In the Western system, small groups work in a diplomatic and cooperative setting, which was slightly different than the system used in India.
This was essentially an experimental exercise to see if the different format would be successful. The Indian student delegates who were at the conference appeared to like the new format, which made this a dramatic success.
“It was amazing to see these students all work together,” said Zahn. “In the Security Council, we introduce a fictional crisis to the situation and give them an hour and a half to come up with a solution. It was great to see them work together to solve a major ‘crisis’ in a limited amount of time.”
This conference took place at Presidium, an Indian school that welcomed the Model UN group with great hospitality. It took place over a period of three days. The students from India attending the conference varied in age groups and grades.
“We had to teach these kids, from 7th to 11th grade, how to compete in American Model UN, which is so much different than Indian model UN,” said Lauren Jones (’15).
The executive board was made up of both Alma College students and students from India. The Alma Model UN students worked as chairs of different committees and the other students as co-chairs. One of the committees was the General Assembly Third Committee, for which Jones was the chair. In total, there were nine committees.
The primary goal of the conference was to demonstrate diplomatic relations, collaboration, and compromise between the different nations represented there. These were ideas that the Model UN team brought and demonstrated while running the conference. In the end, the different formatting to the conference that the Model UN group introduced was very well received by many of the people involved.
“We all were able to come together and teach these students the importance of these international issues,” said Jones.
The students were also able to see a few of the sights and enjoy themselves on this trip. They took a bike tour through Old Delhi and a bus to the Taj Mahal. Derick Hulme, the Model UN advisor, also arranged for the students to ride an elephant on their last day.
“This trip was a once in a lifetime experience of a different culture, very different than our own, and different world views,” said Joanna Delpaz (’16).


Photo Courtesy of Megan Isom (’17)

Posted in Campus News, Chelsey Cobb, October 26 2014 | Leave a comment

Students to host TEDx Event

tedtalksImage courtesy of: http://socialrhythms.files.wordpress.com

Students to host TEDx Event
By: Mechon Carew

The upcoming TEDx Alma College event will provide organizers and speakers with an opportunity to spark conversations and connections. Planned for early winter semester, Justin Closs (’15) is leading the charge to bring TEDx to campus.
“I’ve just always loved TED Talks; I’ve loved the idea of them,” he said.
TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating the spreading of ideas. It began as a flopped conference converging the topics of technology, entertainment, and design in 1984 and grew to cover nearly every topic imaginable in over 100 different languages.
The typical TED talks are usually short – under 18 minutes – and very powerful. They can be easily found through the website www.ted.com, where they even have playlists by topic.
TEDx began in 2009 to push the mission of spreading ideas even further by supporting independent organizers who want to host a TED event themselves.
“It’s a small-scale version of TED,” Caroline Croom (’17) explained.
Closs is one of those independent organizers. He went through the application process last spring to receive a license to host a TEDx event.
“When I found out that I could bring it to the campus, it was something I really want to do,” he said.
Currently he is working with a small team separated into four committees: speakers, sponsorship, production, and media.
Lisa Folkmire (’15) is on the Speakers Committee and plans to open the event with a spoken word poem about Alma.
“[I’ll be writing about] the general feel of the campus and the community as a whole, just to show what kind of people come to Alma and why we care about the school so much.”
Currently there is no overarching theme for the event. Closs and his team instead are leaning towards more varied subjects, very much like the interests of students attending a liberal arts college.
However, Closs in particular does not want it to be just another Honors Day in which students present the research they have done.
“I’m a science person, so I really enjoy the science-y talks, but I know that’s not everybody’s cup of tea.” Closs admitted. “I’d really like to bring in some performers of the surrounding community and other people who might not just do research in the academic fields but have a very interesting story to share.”
Each member of the team had to state in their application why they wanted to be a part of TEDx Alma College, to which Croom responded, “It’s good for resumes,” jokingly, but continued to explain.
“I do like volunteering, and I do want to start getting ideas out there, ideas to better the world. I thought this would be a great way to put myself out there and start inspiring ideas for people.”
Currently TEDx Alma College is only expected to be a one-time event, but the team has already discussed the possibility of writing up a Student Congress Constitution and becoming an actual club, although, as Closs said, that decision will depend on the success of this event.
However, there are only going to be 100 seats for sale for the event this year, so if you are already interested, you will want to get them quickly before they’re gone.
For those who are interested in actually helping host the event, Croom mentioned that although applications to be part of the team for hosting are closed, “We would love to have a few extra hands to help on the event day… and we would absolutely love ideas for presenters. Please contact us.”

Posted in Campus News, Mechon Carew, October 26 2014 | Leave a comment

Changes in housing create new scenery for Fall Term

The first few weeks back on campus for fall term are always packed with excitement. There are always several events that take place, with everything from concerts to hypnotist shows.

For first year students, there is an entire week of welcoming and recreational activities, as they adjust to life at Alma. Of course, once orientation weeks is over, freshmen must hunker down and brace themselves for their first ever college semester.

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Posted in Campus News, Jon Clark | Leave a comment