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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sleepless in Atlanta

It has only been a couple of days since I returned from Seattle, and for some reason, I find myself restless at night. At first, I thought it might be due to the change in time zones. However, I adapted to that within a day of rest.

Maybe I am still too wound up from last Sunday’s Faculty Within Your Reach event at the Seattle Art Museum? After all, there were more than 70 people in attendance and as always, Patrick Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, gave an energizing and witty lecture on Picasso in Paris before touring the exhibit with our alumni group.
See the photos here.

Perhaps I’m still running on adrenaline from being at the top of the world-famous Seattle Space Needle. At 607 feet, the views of Seattle were absolutely breathtaking!

No, I didn’t receive an unsettling TSA pat down; although, my carry-on bag was taken to a different area for further inspection. I guess the three packages of smoked salmon that I bought at Totem Smokehouse and the souvenir Space Needle Lego set looked a little suspicious on the x-ray monitor.

I’ll tell you why I’ve been sleepless. Love has been keeping me up at night. It turns out that I found my one true love in Seattle last weekend. No, it’s not like an early 90’s romantic comedy, because this pain is real.

I fell in love with Beecher’s “World's Best Mac & Cheese,” and it was love at first bite. I grew up eating the familiar baked macaroni and cheese made with elbow pasta and creamy cheddar cheese, and I thought that my mom made the best in the world. However, mom’s baked macaroni and cheese does not compare to Beecher’s, which is served hot and bubbly in a small paper bowl.

I’m not sure if it’s the penne pasta combined with their award-winning Flagship cheese or the surprising flavors from the spices that make their recipe so memorable. Whatever their secret, I experienced a few moments of personal bliss while sitting on a metal milk-jug stool at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese at Pike Place Market. Although brief, my cheesy love affair with the “World's Best Mac & Cheese” will definitely be an affair to remember.

-- Michael Parker, coordinator, alumni programs, EAA

Friday, December 10, 2010

Forget the blue, it's all about the GOLD

On Saturday night, December 4, the Graduates Of the Last Decade (GOLD – haha, get it?) a.k.a. the Atlanta Young Alumni beat the winter blues by heading to Aurum in Midtown Atlanta for the 196.97th annual Holiday Party.

Aurum--whose doors are not coincidentally adorned with the elemental symbol “Au” (Gold, anyone? I hear Emory’s still accepting applications)--hosted this year’s group of 216 as we lounged beneath golden glitter ceilings, amongst golden chaises and against golden lame stippled walls (Yes, I thought I somehow stumbled on set of a Lady Gaga video for about five minutes, too. Overexcitement fail.)

With marketing that played off the catchy DirecTV-spurred tagline of “Opulence....I has it” (on a side note, can someone tell me where to pick up the mini-giraffe? Great stocking stuffer), the night kicked off with a vast crowd that ranged from the recently anointed-as-of-six-months-ago-alumni to those alumni whom we like to call "seasoned."

While the place was packed tighter than the Griswold house in Christmas Vacation, the best part of the night was coming across the faces I hadn’t seen for ages--it’s like the holiday party is the one magical night of the year when all the people I knew over the course of my college career come together to visit and reminisce (Hallmark, are you listening?).

All in all, the people, food & drink made the night an opulent success ... I’m just hoping I don’t get a bad voicemail from Santa in the near future.

-- Cassandra Young 07C, coordinator, alumni programs

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photo of the Day: Quilt in the DUC

Tuesday's rain didn't stop the Quilt on the Quad committee from hosting the largest display of The AIDS Memorial Quilt in the world on a college campus Wednesday, December 1--World AIDS Day. They moved from a still soggy McDonough Field to the Coke Commons in the Dobbs University Center where quilts were hung. Alumni guest speakers, including Haley Rosengarten 07C above, gave their testimonies about their personal connections to AIDS.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Washington, DC chapter earns service award

Coming off the heels of Thanksgiving, there's been plenty of thanks to go around, especially for the Washington, DC Chapter of Emory Alumni.

Since 2002, the chapter has helped the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) in suburban Virginia with its annual Scouting for Food Drive as part of Emory Cares International Service Day. And this year, AFAC cared back more than ever, presenting the chapter with its annual Community Partner award for its outstanding contributions to its cause.

On Emory Cares Day, Saturday, November 14, project coordinator Michael Wu 88C led about 70 Emory volunteers at AFAC, where they sorted 54,000 lbs. of food collected by the Boy Scouts in Arlington County. Each year, the scouts collect food donations from the front porches and doorsteps of local residents and bring them to a church near AFAC. There, Emory alumni and their families help organize thousands of cans of food.

Wu said participation has grown since Emory Cares Day began. Years ago, at an annual DC chapter volunteer meeting, he suggested to Dusty Porter 85C, the alumnus who started the DC alumni chapter (and eventually served as president of the Emory Alumni Board (EAB), that young alumni should also do community service. Porter brought up the idea to the EAB, and so grew Emory Cares Day in Washington. Because of this, Wu said he humbly likes to think he's partly responsible for the creation of the service day and its growth.

"I always bring out my family and kids," Wu said in a phone interview. "This past year, I brought out my parents. Many of my friends come out too who are not Emory alumni."

A project coordinator since 2002, Wu said the DC chapter will continue to participate in AFAC's annual food drive. He also is hoping to organize volunteer events for other food bank events during the year.

"It's very rewarding for the Emory Alumni Association to contribute back to the community," Wu said. "And I think its a very worthwhile and worthy cause to help out food banks, especially in our area of Virginia."

-- Lindsey Bomnin 12C, EAA communications assistant

Monday, November 22, 2010

Q&A with Penn President Amy Gutmann

Last Wednesday's presidential conversation on bioethics with Emory's Jim Wagner and the University of Pennsylvania's Amy Gutmann was such a success, we just didn't want it to end.

We've been to Philadelphia and even visited Penn's campus and we liked both a lot, but we really didn't know that much about the university's community. We also were intrigued about Gutmann's work on the bioethics commission, which met for two days last week at the CDC in Atlanta.

Before Gutmann left to return home, we asked if we could email her some questions to learn a bit more about the commission and her community.

She pleasantly obliged us, and here's what we talked about.

EAA: Tell us about your Atlanta experience. What was it like? Both with the commission meeting and our Wednesday evening conversation.

AG: The
President’s Commission held meetings in Atlanta at the invitation of Jim Wagner. These meetings were also part of an effort to make sure that we hear from voices all over the country. Atlanta was an important stop for us because of the presence of Emory, the Centers for Disease Control, and other groups integrally involved in biotech, medical, and public health issues.

One of the personal highlights for me was our
alumni event at the CDC. Seeing so many engaged alumni from Penn and Emory who wanted to learn more about bioethics was particularly heartening. Part of what makes Penn special is its unique mission of putting knowledge into practice to benefit the world, and this event was a perfect example — fielding questions from alumni on an important societal issue, sharing the stage with President Wagner to talk about our work on the President’s Commission, and benefiting from our eminent faculty, who facilitated an engaging and edifying conversation.

EAA: Why is advancing dialogue on bioethics important?

AG: Bioethical dilemmas by definition have no obvious answer, at least at the outset. Through respectful debate about opposing views and active participation by all citizens, we often can find common ground and, where we cannot do so, we work to cultivate mutual respect where irreconcilable differences remain.

Particularly in a society like ours, where we rely on informed consent and surrogate decision-making, it is critical that all citizens are empowered to make knowledgeable decisions in the best interest of themselves, their family, and their community. Ongoing dialogue is critical for individual education and collective policy development. It is broad public interest in such profound matters that makes advancing the dialogue surrounding bioethics critical.

EAA: How has it been working with
President Wagner? Did you know a lot about Emory or our community when this partnership began?

AG: It's been a great pleasure working with Jim! I think we have very complementary strengths — his background in engineering brings a wonderful perspective to my work on ethics and public policy. Before my work on this commission, I was very aware—and appreciative—of Emory’s role as a leading research university with strong and distinguished programs in the arts, sciences, and professions. I also admired Jim’s particular focus on furthering the university’s interdisciplinary commitment to ethics, which made me confident that he was a very wise choice to serve as vice chair of the commission.

Jim and I both recognize the responsibility of universities to further deliberation about complex issues among people who disagree. It’s wonderful that President Obama did, too.

EAA: What's
Penn's alumni community like? Not just here in Atlanta, but around the world?

AG: Without exception, whether I’m traveling to Atlanta or elsewhere in the United States, internationally, or if I am at home in Philadelphia, the Penn alumni I meet are passionately engaged, amazingly energetic, and proud of their Penn connection. Our global alumni number nearly 300,000, and we have 122 alumni clubs: 68 domestic clubs in the United States, plus clubs in 49 foreign countries.

These active members of the community serve as leaders in business, government, medicine, science, the arts, and the media. They also participate as trustees, as overseers of Penn schools and centers, and as leaders of class- and school-based initiatives.

EAA: Any ideas about future joint Penn/Emory events in Philadelphia?

AG: I would be delighted to host a similar event in Philadelphia for our joint alumni communities. I hope we have the opportunity! In the meantime, I extend a warmest welcome to Emory alumni to visit our campus.

-- Eric Rangus, director, communications, EAA

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Penn met Emory

See the photos...

What did Penn say about the evening?

Universities on the Leading Edge: Advancing Dialogue in Bioethics

The title of Wednesday night's co-sponsored presidential conversation may have sounded intimidating--particularly for those who are not bioethically inclined. But the attitude of the hundreds of Emory and University of Pennsylvania alumni, faculty, staff, and students who attended was so open and welcoming, any content-related anxieties disappeared faster than the hors d'oeuvres.

The event, which was the EAA's first in tandem with Penn, followed a two-day meeting at the CDC of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Penn President Amy Gutmann is the commission chair, and Emory President Jim Wagner is vice chair. The evening also marked the first EAA event at the CDC, and if its success is any indication, it won't be the last.

From the beginning, Gutmann and Wagner had an easy chemistry. It helped make what in lesser hands would have been an impenetrable scientific wonkfest into an engaging, accessible, and enlightening conversation.

Moderators Kathy Kinlaw 79C 85T, associate director of the Center for Ethics at Emory, and Jonathan Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor and Professor of Medical Ethics and of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, helped in that regard as well, keeping the conversation moving at a brisk, but not unrelenting, pace.

Following introductions, Wagner and Gutmann delivered opening statements, then traded answers on questions provided by the both the moderators and the audience. The pair played off each other well. Subjects included the definition of bioethics, an exploration of universities' roles in bioethical discussions, and much more.

The evening had many memorable highlights (No Strings Attached's pitch-perfect renditions of the University of Pennsylvania Anthem and the Emory Alma Mater was one) and lots of memorable quotes .... some of them are below, with moderator questions included where applicable.

Opening statements ...

Wagner: We need people who feel confident in our abilities to exercise judgment based on ethics and our ability to make decisions based on moral principle. And I suggest to you--in fact, I insist--that our colleges and universities may be almost exclusively the intellectual breeding ground to produce people and ideas to meet these vital and timeless needs of society.

Gutmann: It is really important to bring the theoretical together with the practical, both inside and outside our universities. It is wonderful to see how this is happening on the president's commission. Everyone here recognizes the importance of universities to furthering the disposition and the ability to deliberate among people who disagree. That's something that brings Jim and myself together--engineer and political philosopher, differences aside.

Bioethics ... what does it mean?

Gutmann: The expansion of science, technology, and medicine has called into question how doctors should treat their patients, what kind of hospital practices there should be, and what are the benefits and the risks of emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology, neuroscience, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering. Bioethics spans a whole range of questions about distribution of resources, the treatment of individual, vulnerable people, and also the best use of new, emerging technologies.

Wagner: In the early days, bioethics was almost entirely concerned with medical issues. But much of what we are talking about now in bioethics has to do with things we call 'organisms' that not too many decades ago we weren't even sure were life.

What does the future hold?

Wagner: It might not be far from the truth to imagine the last century as a century focused on technologies of transportation, communications, computing, and synthetic materials. We may now be in a century that one day will be called the bio-century.

How can universities foster ethical behavior?

Wagner: Many universities as part of their undergraduate curriculum have writing-intensive courses. You need so many "Ws" on a transcript. What would it mean if there were "E" courses? When a biology professor is talking about genetics, he or she would have the opportunity to introduce ethical considerations into the classes and the examinations.

Gutmann: When H1N1 broke out, there were big questions about the production of the vaccine and its distribution. Who gets it first? At how much cost? What are the best incentives for experimentation? For instance, if you experiment on human subjects, what do you owe them? All of these questions ... if universities don't ask them and try to come up with really good answers--even if they are not universally accepted answers, but at least well-reasoned answers, nobody else is going to do it.

What are the values and skills that university presidents bring to the commission?

Gutmann: One of the takeaways from this evening for all of us, I think, certainly from Jim and my own experience on the commission, is how far universities have come in demonstrating the importance of the integration of knowledge and how important it is to be committed to showing what knowledge can do for society.

Jim and I really believe that we are stronger as individuals and our institutions are stronger to the extent that we can attract an incredible diversity of really smart people and encourage them to want to work together to produce something--whatever it is--that is bigger and better than anything they can do by themselves.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Emory Cares ... everywhere

When I accepted the position of coordinator of regional volunteer programs at the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) in August, I was told that managing Emory Cares International Service Day fell under my job description. “Sounds good,” I said. “I went to Emory for college, so I know all about Emory Cares.”

I had no idea.

I knew Emory Cares Day was worldwide and open to all members of the Emory community. I assumed the EAA and Volunteer Emory (VE) staffs worked pretty hard organizing it. But until I started communicating with project coordinators and volunteers across the nation and around the world, I didn’t quite understand the scope of Emory Cares Day.

Yes, the EAA and VE staffs work tirelessly, and we’re happy to do it. What really impressed me was the dedication of the alumni, student, staff, and faculty project coordinators. Some of the project coordinators have led the same project for years. Others are people who found a great organization or wanted to be part a part of connecting the Emory community to the larger community. They helped organize projects, spread the word, and made sure the volunteers had a fun and rewarding experience.

All of this hard work resulted in another record-breaking year for Emory Cares: 76 projects in 27 cities in four countries on four continents with approximately 1,500 volunteers worldwide, including roughly 1,100 in Atlanta alone. You can see some of our photos on the EAA's photo page. We'll be adding cities as they come in.

Emory Cares has gained recognition outside of the university community. The Arlington Food Assistance Center (A.F.A.C) has named the Washtington, DC Chapter of Emory Alumni its “Volunteer Group of the Year 2010.” The DC chapter has volunteered with A.F.A.C. every year since Emory Cares Day was founded in 2003.

Oxford College’s project making gift boxes for children in foster care was featured in the Covington News, the local newspaper of Covington, GA. And on campus, we made it into The Emory Wheel.

Emory Cares Day also succeeded in reaching new regions and countries. The EAA introduced a new program this year, Emory Cares Everywhere. It allowed alumni outside of Atlanta to plan their own volunteer project and join in the spirit of community, no matter where they lived. This program attracted alumni in areas as small as Sherman, CT (population 3,827) and as far-flung as Amsterdam.

We sent them Emory Cares t-shirts to wear while volunteering, and they sent back photos and notes saying how meaningful it was to know that they were connected to the Emory community even when far away.

The success of Emory Cares International Service Day 2010 shows that Emory does care - about the global community, and about one another.

-- Kate Gregory 09C, coordinator, volunteer programs, WAA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Networking in DC

Back in time ...

On October 27, with the midterm elections right around the corner, DC alumni penciled in a swift night of networking.

I spoke with Julie Clements 02C, director of legislative affairs for the American Mental Health Counselors Association, who organized Emory's DC Networking Night, to get a sense of the feeling on the Hill.

Emory graduates from all kinds of career backgrounds came together to share the tips of their trades with other alumni. Thanks to the event's gracious host, George W. "Sandy" Mayo, Jr. 67C, alumni set up camp on the 13th floor of the influential DC law firm, Hogan Lovells US.

Alumni with careers in law, business, government affairs, health care, and the nonprofit sector hosted their informational tables.

Creating a festive atmosphere, people milled about, chatted and asked questions well before the event started--and continued after it ended.

Many post-millennium and earlier alumni attended and staffed the tables. But most of the alumni who came to the event were either still in graduate school or DC-based alumni looking to change their work environments.

"There was a lot of talk about Congress changing hands and what that would mean," Clements said. "Many of the alumni in attendance have political jobs. Those on the Hill are in pretty safe seats, so there was not concern about the member losing his seat."

Clements also met a reporter from NBC Nightly News who came out to the event and spoke about her reporting related to the election.

Throughout the night, alumni followed the proper "DC networking etiquette." Now for those of us who only know the fork-and-knife kind of etiquette, this kind means alumni showed up with business cards in hand ready to talk about their careers and ask questions.

About 100 Emory alumni turned out for the event, and with elections right around the corner, alumni working on the Hill were the last to leave.

--Lindsey Bomnin 12C, EAA communications assistant

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Life and wine

Monday night, November 8, with the help of Mark Wallis from Atlanta Wholesale Wine , many members of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences' senior class had the opportunity to learn about wine tasting in the first Life 101 event of the year.

Each year, the Student Alumni Association (SAA), an interest group of the Emory Alumni Association (EAA), hosts Life 101, a series of events and seminars that is designed to teach students important life skills they may not necessarily learn during their normal college experience, such as etiquette at a business dinner, how to change a car tire, or what a credit score means.

For this kickoff Life 101, the Class of 2011 sampled eight different wines. Although some of the attendees had already had some exposure to wine tasting, this was a great event for seniors to not only continue to learn about wine, but also to spend time having fun together.

It was a great night and everyone had a wonderful time and learned some valuable information about wine and wine tasting!

Photos from the event can be found on the Senior Experience Facebook Group.

The SAA also co-sponsors the 100 Senior Honorary Award, for which nominations are now being accepted online. For more information on the SAA or the Life 101 Series and other events offered for students by the EAA, visit www.alumni.emory.edu/students.

-- Stephanie Cohan 11C, vice president, senior experience, SAA

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photo of the day: Chicago cares

Chicago Emory alumni didn't have to travel far experience life on a farm. They gathered at City Farm, an urban farm among the skyscrapers, for Chicago Emory Cares Day, Saturday, October 30.

Reaping the fruits of their long day of labor, Emory volunteers, led by Lindsey Whitlock 08B, tasted organic cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine after weeding and tilling the soil. They said those tomatoes packed a lot more flavor than the store-bought ones.

See more great photos here!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo of the Day: Welcome to Dallas! Can you play quarterback?

The Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of Emory Alumni hosted a "Welcome to Dallas" party at Villa-O in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood of Dallas on October 28. It was a great mix of new Metroplex residents (the welcomees) and long (and short)-time Dallas-Fort Worth hometowners (the welcomers).

No word on whether scouts for the Cowboys were on hand looking for talent, but you never know.

See more photos here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alumni, get enticed with spice

Today was a bad day to skip breakfast. That's because I'm reviewing a cookbook.

Not just any cookbook. It's Shubhra Ramineni's new Indian cookbook, Entice with Spice. And I was definitely enticed.

She's the wife of Emory alumnus
Naveen Ramineni 93C. Laura Riddle 79C and Mary Williams 82C hosted an alumni book launch party in Riddle's Houston, TX home on October 28. The event included an Indian cooking demonstration and a dinner party.

You can see pictures from the event here.

The banana in my stomach jumped around as I looked through each mouthwatering recipe in her book. Divided up into all the classic categories of Indian dishes, like breads and rice, lentils and soups, chicken, lamb, seafood and of course dessert, this book isn't missing a thing. She even included a vegetarian section that carnivores alike can enjoy.

And the best thing about it, Ramineni's recipes are made for fast-paced people, so you don't have to slave away all day for an authentic, homemade Indian meal.

Here are a few highlights...

1. The ever-popular chicken tikka masala: one of Ramineni's favorite dishes made with heavy cream and best served with breads or rice.

2. Here's an Indian dish you don't see every day: a healthy fresh lentil sprout salad made with sprouting lentils, tomatoes, onions, red peppers, cucumbers and cilantro.

3. Classic Indian bread: Ramineni's naan is made with yogurt and she offers kneading tips for the dough.

4. Another classic: samosas stuffed with potatoes and peas that can be made with Mexican white flour tortillas (she includes the from-scratch recipe for you adventurous chefs out there).

5. Lamb kebabs: good for cooking on the grill and served on a bed of rice with cumin and peas or with bread.

6. Roasted eggplant: under the vegetarian section cooked with onions and tomatoes and served with--you guess it--bread

7. And for desert, classic Indian ice cream called kulfi: made with whole green cardamom pods; it's not churned during the freezing process, so it turns out solid and dense, instead of soft and creamy like typical ice cream.

Now these are just a few teasers. For complete recipes, pick up her book at your local bookstore. I hope the EAA won't mind me borrowing this edition for a few days.

--Lindsey Bomnin 12C, communications assistant, EAA

Monday, November 1, 2010

President Wagner said what?

The title of President Jim Wagner's October 28 address in Atlanta was Why We Need Universities More than Ever: A Forum for Difficult Dialogues. Actually, the event, which featured a dialogue between Wagner and Ron Sauder, vice president for communications and marketing (above, right), couldn't have been more civil.

Sauder deftly set Wagner up to discuss a variety of subjects, including the responsibility of a university, why Emory is aggressively acquiring the papers of well-known authors and, as the title said, why Emory should be a forum for difficult dialogues.

Keep reading for highlights from the conversation, like what Wagner said ...

About whether Emory will add an engineering school. Wagner, an engineer by training, prefaced his answer by nothing that Emory’s ninth president, Isaac Hopkins 1859C 1883H was the first president of Georgia Tech: “We started one engineering school and we’re very proud of it. We don’t have any intentions of starting another one.”

About the responsibilities of a university: “The opportunity to bring people together and challenge them as a community is something that will always be the responsibility of a university.”

About difficult dialogues, part 1: “Free speech is insufficient for communication. Free speech is that guarantee that I can say whatever I want to say, so long as it doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way. But the communications we’re talking about is less about a guarantee that I can say what I want to say and more about a guarantee that what I say will be heard. And my obligation to say it in a way that it will be heard, which means that I have to leave out obscenities. It requires the listener to be part of the contract as well, and to imagine that listening is more than waiting for their turn to talk and to entertain the possibility that what the speaker is saying could be meaningful."

About difficult dialogues, part 2: "If we can model difficult dialogues, civil discourse, to our students, our hope is that is part of the Emory Bubble they take with them when they land."

About difficult dialogues, part 3: "Whatever those things are that you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company … Emory has to provide the polite company with which to talk about those things."

About diversity of thought in research: “It is not possible to claim with integrity that you have studied any issue thoroughly unless you have explored it from as many perspectives as possible.”

About the Emory's recent acquisitions of literary collections such as Salman Rushdie and Alice Walker: “We need to be capturing the intellectual assets of some of the great thinkers of our time in places where people can debate what they mean, and it will be in those places where we can have those difficult dialogues.”

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Allie is in Singapore ... then heading home (fifth ... and final ... in a series)

Read part 4 ...

Read part 3 ...

Read part 2 ...

Read part 1 ...

After a visit that was definitely too short in Hong Kong, I once again found myself back at the airport and on my way to Singapore, the last stop of my two-week trip around Asia. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Singapore, all that I really knew was that I wouldn’t be chewing any gum on this particular visit.

Singapore definitely surprised me with how incredibly cosmopolitan and Western it is. Having been a former British colony, English is one of Singapore's four officially recognized languages, which made getting around and conversing a breeze.

The biggest shocker to me was the weather. Little did I realize that it is always summer time in Singapore--hot, hot, hot, and incredibly humid. Being only 85 miles north of the equator, you can imagine the climate Think Atlanta in late July or early August--and all I packed were fall sweaters! Thank goodness for ice cream bread sandwiches to help beat the heat.

With more than 42% of the population in Singapore being made up of foreigners, the diverse mix of cultures provides for a wide variety of culinary options at meal time. One of my most favorite experiences on the trip was sampling food at a local market one evening.

My culinary tour guide was the parent of a current Emory student and he wanted me to experience the real Singapore. Andrew Zimmern I am not, but tasting the local cuisine is one of my most favorite parts of traveling, so I was up for the challenge.

My dinner that night paid homage to three of the largest populations in Singapore--Chinese noodle soup, Indian naan bread with a spicy dipping sauce, Arabic soup made with goat tongue and a local Singapore dessert of gelatinous cubes made from seaweed and sweetened with yams and coconut milk. All that was missing was the Durian fruit, for which I am thankful!

While in Singapore, I also got the chance to meet up with Emory alumna Jamie Koh 07B, the winner of Singapore’s recent “The Ultimate Start-Up Space” challenge. Jamie and her business partner are co-owners of The Chupitso bar and dreamed up the winning idea for the challenge while on a backpacking adventure together.

Their entry beat out 200 others to win six months free rent in the trendy area of Clarke Quay and a nest egg to start their business. The Chupitso Bar recently made its debut and seems to be s a hit with locals and tourists visiting in Singapore. Congrats, Jamie!

After an exciting two-week journey filled with new friends in Asia, great food and many memories, my final destination is Atlanta. It has been a great trip and I hope that you’ve enjoyed following along! Where will my travels take me next? Be sure to check back here on EAAvesdropping for the latest scoop.

-- Allie Hill, director, international alumni relations, EAA

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sneak peek ... Destinations: Atlanta

One of the perks about working at the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) is the opportunity to attend a variety of Emory events--from casual, fun happy hours to more serious, business/professional attire type events.

While working as an EAA's communications coordinator, I have become an expert on all upcoming Emory events--even ones in far away places like Seattle and Los Angeles. I have created and sent out many e-mails and updates, and it is great to see how involved alumni are because of the EAA.

Closer to home, the more I learned about it, Thursday's Destinations: Atlanta event sounded more and more interesting as I created, edited, and proofed our content.

(If you'd like to register for the event, click here. Space is still available.)

I was happy when I was asked to staff this event! In July, I staffed the Jewelry and Jazz event at the Carlos Museum and enjoyed it- I not only worked, but I met new people, partook in great conversation, networked, and enjoyed delicious food!

Another plus about this event is that my mother is coming with me! She is an Oxford alumna, who is still involved with Emory, but not as much as she should be. Presidential Destinations: Atlanta will hopefully allow her to become even more involved with her alma mater! It will be worth it!

Can't wait to network and listen to President Jim Wagner and Emory's VP of Communications, Ron Sauder!

--Farah Shackelford, communications coordinator, EAA

Monday, October 25, 2010

Photo of the Day: Staying classy in San Diego

Even across the country from campus, the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) still brings alumni together.

On October 6, the San Diego chapter hosted Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm. He spoke about his work with wireless technology and how he became one of the most reputable names in the industry.

Yes, we are always up for hosting an event to help our alumni become as smart, savvy, and successful as this guy. I mean, he spoke in a room that is named after him. Maybe the alums who attended this event will have rooms named after them, too!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dalai Lama's Visit 2010: Compassion meditation

Monday, day 2, was the longest and the best day of the Dalai Lama's visit, because of the people I met and the information I learned will provide questions and answers for years to come.

The program included the Conference on Compassion Meditation. That title would indicate we would be taught what compassion meditation is and how to do it. But the key is in the second part of the title: "Mapping Current Research and Charting Future Directions." The program was split into two sessions: 9:30–11:30 a.m. and 1:30–3:30 p.m.

In the morning, we were introduced to some serious science, which included maps of the brain showing the effect of compassion meditation on the amygdala. I learned from another speaker about the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the heart.

The scientists updated the Dalai Lama on the progress of their studies and research, and then he would provide comments or ask questions. One of the Dalai Lama's many great comments that I wrote down in my new blue book is: “Compassion brings inner strength and that loving-kindness connects us to wisdom.”

Next was lunch at Cox Hall. The Dalai Lama ate elsewhere and then joined us for dessert. The security was intense. There was a long table at the front of the room where a panel sat with His Holiness in the middle. After the introductions, he pointed to the empty chair on his right, laughed, made eye contact with President Jim Wagner and said “your chair is empty.” President Wagner promptly moved from his table to the empty chair.

We saw examples on some of the work being done by the Emory-Tibet partnership as there were samples at each table. We saw a textbook with English on the left and Tibetan on the right.

One of the discussions was about how hard it is to translate Tibetan into English. The primers and texts have really helped the monasteries and future generations. His Holiness believes that the fruits of these collaborations will provide benefits for years to come. He also said that both sides of the partnership should learn both languages ... perhaps Western languages are best for science but Sanskrit is better for the mind.

The afternoon brought more information about future research projects. Everything was fantastic. All of the work being done is important; one project that stuck in my mind was a study of the children in London who were evacuated to the English countryside to escape the London Blitz during the Second World War. The study showed that the children were better off with their mothers.

There was also a pilot program for foster children ages 13-16 using the compassion meditation that has shown so much promise that it has been extended. The speaker gave a specific example of a girl who testified to the judge (related to her foster situation), saying that she practiced one hour every day and learned that she did not need to clamp down her emotions. The judge was so impressed by the girls that he helped to expand the program. All it took was one pebble in a pond to make a difference.

After learning about the various studies using compassion meditation (or something similar) it had made me want to learn more about it and how to do it myself. Study myself, do compassion meditation for six weeks and journal the before and after, could be interesting. At the end we were told to work on having more ethics based on secularism and to work hard to eliminate bias.

--Kathleen E. Hedrick 89B, past-president, Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of Emory Alumni

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Dalai Lama's Visit 2010: Happiness is ...

Sunday is a beautiful day on campus. As I walk to the gym I see police, men in fatigues, and many people already lining up around the outside of the Woodruff PE Center track. I approach the nearest volunteer to find out where I need to enter. Turns out it was back at the entrance near Dobbs Hall (my freshman dorm).

I am early, as recommended, so there is not much of a line. Being a sponsor has some perks and this is one of them. After I pass through security, I realize the main doors are blacked out and I do not know where to go. I follow a yellow power cord. I follow it down a back hallway, alone. I open the door, and the hallway is transformed. Turns out I missed a lunch, so I get some water and sit down for a second to collect myself.

OK, time to find my seats. Once I leave this area it is full of people and there is a long line--for the women’s bathroom. There is no line for the souvenir booths, so I shop a little bit. I venture into the gym to find my seat. The gym has been completely transformed. You would not know if was the same place except for some permanent banners near the ceiling. The room is fairly dark. There are rows of white folding chairs with little stick-on lights on the legs of the chairs on the isles. Helpful volunteers lead me and everyone else to our correct seats. I am in section 2; row L, which is pretty nice.

The stage background is set up to mimic Emory's front gate. It is breathtaking.

This session is called “Interfaith Summit on Happiness”. It includes representatives from the Christian faith, Katharine Jefferts Schori (Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church); Jewish faith, Lord Jonathan Sacks (Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth); Muslim faith, Seyyed Hossein Nasr (University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University), and His Holiness to represent Buddhism. Krista Tippett
moderates the talk.

A cool thing is that stage right is someone signing for the hearing impaired. I wish I knew sign language. To the left in the audience area is a raised platform where mostly monks and a few others sit on meditation cushions instead of chairs.

I could write volumes about the session, but I know there are probably podcasts of the whole thing. If so, it would be worth listening to.

The Dalai Lama begins the program and says that happiness is deep satisfaction. You have to listen closely because his English is sometimes hard to understand. I love when he laughs. He has the best laugh and it makes me feel good just hearing it. Another thing I like is that he says the religion is not for misery but to give us hope.

After he speaks, the others talk about happiness in their faith. Then, the moderator poses some questions. The best part is toward the end when they discuss sensitive issues of hate and how many people hate Muslims in America post-9/11. Much hate for the actions of a few. The Dalai Lama asks the definition of Jihad.

The response is to combat negative forces within you. So His Holiness laughs and says then Buddhism is Jihad. The moderator asks His Holiness how he always seems to radiate happiness even though he and his people have suffered.

He responds via the translator: the first when I see some problem or tragedy I try to see the positive thing from that event. It is sad that they have lost their country but living in his host country has brought new opportunities. He does get sad sometimes and has anger due to irritations. But later he comments that the purpose of life is happiness, the purpose of existence is happiness and the hope of something better despite today’s differences.

“ Hope for better, hope for happiness. Happiness not come from the sky but to be created within ourselves.”

--Kathleen E. Hedrick 89B, past-president, Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of Emory Alumni

Monday, October 18, 2010

Allie is in China ... Shanghai to Hong Kong (fourth in a series)

Read part 5 ...

Read part 3 ...

Read part 2 ...

Read part 1 ...

The flight from Seoul, South Korea to Shanghai, China was a little less than two hours long. This trip to Shanghai would be the first time that I had visited China and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, especially since it was the only country on my Asia trip that required a visa.

I quickly cleared customs and border control with no issues at all and easily made my way to the metro stop for the airport. Signs for the Shanghai Expo reminded locals to smile at the foreigners and there were posters plastered all over the subway with the phrase “better city, better life.”

After one metro line change and 18 stops later, I was deposited at People’s Square in Shanghai, a large park in the center of the city that was a racetrack until 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was instituted and gambling and horse racing were banned. Across from my hotel was Nanjing Road, one of the most well-known shopping streets in Shanghai, selling everything from Chinese herbs and pearls to westernized malls with stores like Gucci and Prada. Just about everything you could ever want to buy could be found on Nanjing Road.

Located at the end of Nanjing Road is The Bund, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. The Bund sits on the banks of the Huangpu River, the major water supply and thoroughfare for ships entering and leaving the port in Shanghai. This area is an interesting juxtaposition of old and new on opposite sides of the river. On one side is the Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and the futuristic Pearl Tower. On the other side are historic buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century, designed by European architects with buildings that remind me of Paris or London.

Our Emory reception in Shanghai was held in the Sky Bar at the Radisson Hotel, with amazing views of the twinkling city skyline. Several parents of current Emory students attended along with a mix of alumni expats and Shanghai natives. All were eager to meet again soon and were interested to find out how they could get more students from Shanghai to come to Emory.

(See my Shanghai photos on the Emory Travel Program Facebook page!)

After eating my fill of Chinese dumplings for breakfast, lunch and dinner (by choice), I was back again at the airport for another quick flight, this time to visit our most active Asian chapter in Hong Kong. Somewhere between the mainland of China and the island of Hong Kong, the temperature went from comfortable but warm in Shanghai to steamy and humid in Hong Kong. It reminded me of a typical July day in Atlanta.

As a former colony of the British Empire, the English influence is still heavily present in Hong Kong. Cars drive on the opposite side of the road, and you must be careful when crossing the road to look right, left, right instead of the reverse in order to keep from getting run over in this densely populated and incredibly vertical city.

The Emory alumni in Hong Kong gather regularly for happy hours and networking, host Lets’ Go Emory parties in the late summer to send off incoming students and participate in April yield callings through the admissions office to answer question for parents or students in Hong Kong who have applied to Emory.

This fall, the chapter will also be participating in Emory Cares, our international day of Service in November. After a brief 24 hour visit to Hong Kong, I was off again. This time, headed for the last country on my trip, Singapore.

-- Allie Hill, director, international alumni relations, EAA

The Dalai Lama's Visit 2010, Day 1

I have finally arrived -- I waited for His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama's 98H visit all year. I planned my life around it in many ways. I was lucky to have known some people on Emory alumnae boards who gave me advance notice last fall, but the actual dates were not announced until much later.

The tickets finally went on sale Easter weekend 2010 and I was out of town. When I returned, I faxed in my forms and was in! Then the wait began. I bought several books written by the Dalai Lama in preparation, but struggled through some and ended up not getting through all of them.

The thing about being middle-aged is that you can look forward to things and look back on the past. One regret I have had for several years was that I missed the Dalai Lama's first visit. That was not going to happen this time--so here I am.

As I read the advanced instructions, I felt sorry for His Holiness in some ways because of his extremely secure life. We were told to have phones and keys out and purses can be no larger than 8 x 11. As this was so important to me, I dug deep to be a sponsor. I am grateful as the lines are much shorter and I have an opportunity for a lunch on Monday, October 18.

Soon it will be my turn to be in the presence (with several hundred others) of this great man who is the earthly manifestation of the god of compassion. The precious protector! The holder of the White Lotus!

On the plane from Dallas-Fort Worth, I started one of the books I bought called The Secret Lives of the Dalai Lama by Alexander Norman. Here is a quote from the book that I would like to share.

"Technically, he has the status of an ordinary monk in a monastery of which he is not even an abbot. So far as doctrine is concerned, his opinion many be sought, it many be influential, but it is neither final not binding" (p. 10)

So in some ways he is an ordinary man, but we cannot deny that he is also an extraordinary man. I am also an ordinary person, but given the opportunity to attend an extraordinary event.

See the photos on the EAA's Facebook fan page.

--Kathleen E. Hedrick 89B, past-president, Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of Emory Alumni

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The EAB and me

More often than not, I’m your friendly blogger recapping the latest young alumni happy hour that I’ve been to, but I figured it was time to share what I actually do here at the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) Although, I think my dream job would be just going to happy hours.

I have the privilege of working with the Emory Alumni Board (EAB), a group of 44 alumni representing the schools and units of the University. They have proven their dedication to Emory by being involved leaders in their schools, local chapters or through other Emory programs, and come to work with us at the EAA to serve as an advisory Board to our staff and to the university as a whole. Basically, we’re kind of a big deal. Yes, I did include myself in that by association. Deal with it. (Really I’m the one behind the scenes who plans the meeting and keeps things running smoothly).

We have three full day meetings a year and one meeting of just the committees, but the fall meeting is my favorite by far. It’s when I finally get to meet our new members in person and put my stalker-esque knowledge about them to work. I have a good memory and can recite out most of their class years, addresses, work places, etc. Really more than anyone should ever know, so I pretend it makes me better at my job and not creepy at all.

This past Friday, October 8, was our first meeting of the year and it was a great two days, if I do say so myself. We have six new members this year and we hosted them here at the Miller-Ward Alumni House (MWAH) for orientation on Thursday the 7th before heading over to the Emory Medal.

On Friday we kicked off the meeting with Breakfast with the Administrators, where all of the EAB met with their Dean or alumni relations staff from their school or unit. I sat with the Goizueta Business School for breakfast (I am an alum after all) with Dean Kazanjian. He told us about many current issues there and even though I work on campus and feel pretty knowledgeable about what’s happening, it was great to talk with him.

The rest of the day flew by. We had lunch with President Wagner, heard from Gary Hauk about his new book, Where Courageous Inquiry Leads, which was the Board gift for this year, and heard from EAA staff about our new strategic plan.

The day ended with a wine and cheese reception and I finally had some time to chat with EAB members, since the longest conversation I had with anyone all day was “We’re starting again. Can you please head back to your seat?”

I was exhausted afterwards, but pleased that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I didn’t make it to Bacchanal as I was supposed to, but sometimes a girl just needs to sleep.
I look forward to seeing everyone again for our meeting in December. Until then, check out a few pictures from the day.

--Kelley Quinn 08B, coordinator, Emory Alumni Board

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Allie is in South Korea ... heart and Seoul (third in a series)

Read part 5 ...

Read part 4 ...

Read part 2 ...

Read part 1 ...

Emory's largest percentage of international alumni live in Korea, thanks in part to Emory President Emeritus James Laney 94H, also a former ambassador to South Korea.

At my latest stop on multicity Asia trip, I was fortunate enough to meet more that 100 alumni in Seoul on Saturday evening, October 9, as we celebrated the naming of the James T. Laney Graduate School at Emory.

Seoul was a short flight from Tokyo at just under two hours. The first thing that I noticed upon landing at the airport was the thick, soupy smog that penetrated the air, almost like a dense cloud covering that lasted throughout the day. The city of Seoul was bustling with activity and preparation for the G20 Summit in November. I witnessed the planning first hand on Friday morning at my hotel, the first Western-style hotel built in Seoul and the host to many visiting dignitaries and foreign officials during the upcoming meeting of the nations. Check out my YouTube video about this.

While in the lobby on Friday morning, I noticed a lot of activity by officials with clipboards. A short time later, the lobby filled with smoke and the fire alarms sounded. The hotel was evacuated.

When I exited the hotel, it was surrounded by four fire trucks, multiple ambulances, and several military emergency response vehicles with weapons poised. I established a vantage spot across the street to watch the activities unfold--luckily it was just a drill. Sirens blared, pretend victims were rescued from the roof of the hotel while fake explosives were detonated, and smoke continued to fill the air. Seoul definitely takes the upcoming summit seriously and is prepared!

I met several of our local Seoul alumni chapter leaders for a traditional Korean dinner that evening. The meal was 10 courses long with my favorite dish being the jellyfish salad.

I am sure that you are wondering how jellyfish tastes. Honestly, it doesn't taste like much, is hard to eat with chopsticks and could easily be mistaken for pasta--except it is clear! Other courses included kimchi, tempura style shrimp, and a delicious fruit-punch-type drink for dessert.

My visit to South Korea may have been short, but was definitely eventful and I leave with the knowledge that our alumni in South Korea are full of pride and dedication to their alma mater, even halfway around the world!

-- Allie Hill, director, international alumni relations, EAA

Friday, October 8, 2010

And the curtain comes down (fourth ... and final ... in a series)

So I was going to write this post-show-wrap-everything-up blog entry days ago when the show actually ended … but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. To write this last post would be my way of admitting that it’s actually over. I thought that if I could delay it long enough I could extend the sense of joy, confidence, triumph, and love that I felt every night (or afternoon) the cast rocked out on stage.

First off thank you so much to everyone who came to see the show. Before each show in the dressing room I would make a point to ask the ladies if they had anyone special coming to see that performance. I saw it as a way for us to focus on giving it everything we’ve got because someone we love would be watching.

For those of you who were not familiar with the show I know that the plot was hard to follow. I didn’t even fully understand the show because I grew up listening to the soundtrack so it wasn’t until I saw it staged that everything fell into place. What I hope you did get out of it was an amazing musical experience full of heartfelt emotion. I know we as a cast were able to get across the major themes of fear, loss, support, growth and most importantly love.

By the time the show opened our musical director Bryan Mercer told us that he really felt that we believed in what we were singing. I think that had a lot to do with how well we all knew the music before we even started rehearsals, and then how close we became as a cast. It’s true for anyone who has ever been in a group like that, music ensemble, sports team, sorority or fraternity, school club. If you’re lucky those people become a big part of your life. I know that I appreciate having a few more familiar faces on campus.

So with that I guess I’m ready to sign off as the events coordinator in blogger's clothing. Thanks for reading!

-- Becky Herring 08C, events coordinator, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And the home of the BRAVES

As the biggest Braves fan on the EAA staff, I get the honor of sending the Atlanta Braves into their first playoff game against the San Francisco Giants. You'll see from above that I'm a long-time fan. In fact, if anyone was wondering, the picture on the left was taken in 1995. Yes, that 1995 -- the 1995 when the Braves won the World Series.

I vividly remember sitting in front of the TV at my parents' house during the 1995 playoffs. I had already developed some superstitious tendencies. For example, I sat there with my styrofoam tomahawk and chopped my little heart out every time I heard the tune. Then, as I went to sleep, I hugged the tomahawk like most children would hug a teddy bear. When the Braves were declared World Series champions, I got a screenprinted black hoodie from a stand on the side of the road and wore it to school almost daily.

So, here's the thing about the Braves this season: they've let it come down to the wire in the majority of their games. That's why, when the disastrous events of September began, I wasn't all that concerned. The Braves have overcome more adversity than any other team this season, and I'm confident that they'll keep it up. It's kind of like when I played soccer as a child ... We managed to play better when we were down one player than when we had five on the bench.

In May, Forbes ranked Atlanta second on its list of "America's Most Miserable Sports Cities." However, a few short weeks later, the Braves began a 3+ month stint leading the NL East. Yeah, we made it interesting at the end, but that's the kind of team we are. I hope (from the bottom of my heart) that the Braves take the first step in making Mr. Forbes reconsider.

Let's celebrate Atlanta tonight. Go Braves!

-Drew Dotson, coordinator, communications, EAA

Allie is in Tokyo ... planes, trains, and automobiles (second in a series)

Read part 5 ...

Read part 4 ...

Read part 3 ...

Read part 1 ...

After a 14-hour plane ride from Atlanta, a train ride from Narita International Airport into the city and a 13-hour time difference, I’ve finally arrived in Tokyo!

I thought I would share some of my early impressions of visiting Japan. First of all, the people are incredibly friendly. Yes, there is definitely a language barrier, but a smile and a short bow of the head goes a long way!

So far, there hasn’t been anything that I haven’t been able to communicate, even through I don't know a single word of Japanese. I’ve been able to easily order in restaurants (by pointing), navigate the city, and even track down wrapping paper and tape for some gifts.

To me, Tokyo is its most beautiful at night, when the city is lit up with thousands of signs, flashing lights, and illuminated office buildings, with employees hard are work often to the late evening. I am staying in Shibuya, the Tokyo Times Square area, which is centrally located so there are plenty of lights and signs all around.

Navigating my way from the airport to my hotel and around the city has been pretty easy – most signs that a tourist would need to read are written in both Japanese and English. There are comforts of home right outside of my hotel – a Krispy Kreme and a Starbucks! Both are extremely popular and crowded at all hours of the day and evening.

The Krispy Kreme is even two stories tall with booths and tables for enjoying the sugary goodness. I peaked in the window to see if I could notice any differences from our Krispy Kremes at home and couldn’t spot anything majorly different. If the bags and bags of donuts that I saw heading out the door are any indication, they must taste the same as they do at home.

One obvious difference that I have noticed is the smaller size and portions of food then we are used to at home. This was especially apparent at the Starbucks, where the average-size drink is equivalent to a kid's-meal-sized drink back in the US.

One of my other favorite things to do in a new city is to visit a grocery store. You can learn a lot about a location by just visiting something as simple as where they do their shopping. The most striking difference happened to be the price of fruits and vegetables. Bananas were sold individually and were the equivalent of $2 each. Grapes were selling for $15 a bunch and cantaloupes were more than $20 each.

Yesterday evening, I hosted the first of our Asia receptions. We had a great turnout of 15 alumni, parents, and spouses. The group was very gracious and appreciated the opportunity to get to know other Emory alumni in Tokyo and to hear about what was happening back on campus.

All agreed that they wanted to continue to meet on a more regular occasion. After only two days in Japan, I am about to board a plane for South Korea to prepare for our large alumni event on October 9. Thank you Japan and the Emory alumni in Tokyo for a short but sweet visit!

-- Allie Hill, director, international alumni relations, EAA

Friday, October 1, 2010

Opening night (third in a series)

Read part 2...

Ok, so opening night literally ended 30 minutes ago, and after saying “hello” and “thank you” to my wonderful friends who came out, I rushed over to El Azteca on Ponce so I could scarf down a number six combo and write this blog.

Let me ‘splain.

So ever since I started performing I have this thing where I get so nauseated before a performance I can’t eat (sorry, I know that's a bit too much information)…so needless to say I’m STARVING!

Ok, ok, enough of that…how was the show you ask?

It was incredible!

Everything clicked once we put it all on the line for a sold-out crowd. There are definitely some long-standing pitfalls of the opening night performance. The adrenaline causes tempo to push, diction to falter, and the worst, voices to blow out. Don’t get me wrong. It’s all done with good intentions for a rockin’ show, but I’m happy to report that none of that happened tonight. Thanks to our extensive preparation, we were actually able to ride our residual confidence all the way to the last bow.

And what a great crowd! They laughed when it was appropriate, clapped when it was appropriate (or even better didn’t clap when it wasn’t, many a heartfelt moment has been ruined by the overzealous clappers out there). There was such a mutual communication of joy and love, we sent it to them, and they gave it right back to us.

And speaking of the musical theater “splash zone” that I wrote about in my last blog, who did my eyes go directly to in the second row as I danced out on stage? Former Emory College dean and well-known arts supporter Bobby Paul! The overwhelming support of the Emory community is just one of the elements that makes the whole experience so worthwhile.

Am I sad that opening night went by so quickly? Absolutely.

Am I psyched that there are three shows left, two of which I know are sold-out (tickets for Sunday’s 2 p.m. show are still available)?


-- Becky Herring 08C, events coordinator, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts

The town

More than 2,000 Emory alumni live in New England, the majority of those in or near Boston. So, it made good sense for the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) to kick off its Destinations speaker series in the capital of Massachusetts, Thursday, September 30.

Paired with it was an orientation session for Emory's Alumni Interviewing Program, which expands to Boston (and Tampa Bay) this academic year.

About two dozen alumni sat in on the session to learn about their role in helping chose the next generation of Emory alumni, and more than half of them stuck around for Destinations: Boston, featuring President Jim Wagner. In all, more than 70 attended the event, one of the city's largest Emory gatherings ever.
The core of Wagner's presentation was to answer the question, "Why We Need Universities More than Ever." The short answer, which he laid out early in the 25-minute talk, is that universities prepare people for citizenship. He expanded on that thought in his conclusion, weaving in the importance of values.

"We need health professionals who are focused not just on curing disease, but curing people who have disease," Wagner said. "We need lawyers, who--beyond having a facility for the finer points of law--have a commitment to preserve the thin veneer of civilization. We need captains of business, who--in creating wealth--do so as much for the benefit of society as for personal gain."

"We need politicians with the moral courage and the wisdom to do for us what we need rather than simply pander to us and tell us what we think we want to they can continue to be re-elected," he continued. "We need genius of artists to tell us how to communicate in ways beyond words. We need the insights of scholars, we need people with imagination to give birth to new ideas.

This is the high calling of universities. This is what I think Emory is striving to achieve."

It was a spectacular way to end the evening. And also to begin the series.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The last leg home (sixth ... and final ... in a series)

As I sit down to write this final installment about Pacific Partnership 2010, our steam plant is warming up and we will be departing Pearl Harbor within the hour. The Arizona Memorial rests only a few hundred yards across the channel, and the clear blue waters of the eastern Pacific are now all that stands between me and being home (a journey that will be about a week and three time zones).

Our final mission stop in Timor-Leste was again resoundingly successful, and the country has made remarkable strides forward since I last visited in 2008. There is a large UN presence there, and I was very happy to see the tremendous progress in infrastructure that had occurred in just two years. The streets were safe, the people were taking pride in their communities, and small businesses were thriving. It was a great pleasure to provide medical, dental, and surgical care to the people of Timor-Leste.

As they continue to progress, it is a testament to the success of these humanitarian assistance missions that they still throng to see us, but they require fewer and fewer of us. In addition to our land-based and shipboard work, we spent a great deal of time working with their national hospital system to review budgets, identify critical needs for the future, and map out a regional referral system with the assistance of our Australian colleagues.

Although the country has come a long way, there were still long lines to see the American and Australian doctors and we actually saw more patients this trip than in 2008. It was also nice to go ashore and not have to be escorted around by New Zealanders with large guns as we did in 2008.

We were actually allowed off the ship for some free time this year. There are some great spots for snorkeling and diving on unspoiled reefs. The sea life was abundant and the water was warm and clear.

There were a number of up-and-coming restaurants serving a variety of cuisine. I had the opportunity to attend the Operation Smile end-of-mission dinner with a buffet prepared by an Australian expatriate. It was the most unique buffet line that I have ever been through – everything in the line was meat. There were no side dishes and no vegetables, just sterno-heated foil trays full of meat. It was all delicious and the fare included chicken, lamb, beef, and the owner’s personal recipe for sausage (not really sure I want to know more, but it was good).

Our time in Timor-Leste passed quickly and before we knew it, we were heading for home. We stopped for four days in Guam to let 400 people get off the ship and return to their families and regular jobs. The remainder of us continued to ride Mercy eastward.

The trip from Guam to Hawaii seemed to take an eternity. After 10 days of transit, we saw land again, and made our way to the pier in Pearl Harbor. We finally set foot on U.S. soil after nearly five months, and it was good to be back.

It was a gentle transition back to America, because everywhere I looked, there seemed to be Japanese tourists running around. Our 36 hours in Hawaii were just enough time to get off the ship and enjoy a couple of nice dinners before starting the final leg of the journey home.

As I conclude my journals for this adventure, I wanted to share a few numbers with everyone:

101,662 – number of patients seen during Pacific Partnership 2010
16,000 – approximate number of nautical miles traveled since May 1
14,387 – number of glasses given out to patients
9,254 – number of emails received since May 1
4,723 – number of emails deleted without reading
3,456 – number of emails sent
2,602 – number of animals treated by the vets
817 – number of surgeries performed on Mercy this mission
144 – number of days deployed
60 – number of community service events in host nations
18 – number of major engineering projects completed by Seabees
6 – number of articles of clothing ruined in the ship’s laundry
4 – number of helicopter rides to mission sites
1 – number of boats built and raced in the Darwin Beercan Regatta

**Number of Diet Cokes consumed – too numerous to count

Life experiences, meeting new people, and sharing the ups-and-downs of deployment with good friends – priceless

After nearly 13 months of planning and participating in PP10, this mission is just about over and I’ll go back to my regular job at Naval Medical Center San Diego at then end of September. Thanks to everyone who wrote this summer. I truly appreciated hearing from each and every one of you.

These missions bring together many people from many different backgrounds. I have made many new friends and created lifelong bonds among those who participated in PP10. As the director for surgical services, I learned a lot about leadership, about managing 300 people, and about myself. I’m very proud of the effort that my team put forth, and as we start the last leg home, I’m glad to have left the world a little bit better off than when we started in May.

-- CDR Trent Douglas 95M, director, surgical services, USNS Mercy