Exchange Students Share Their Experiences at UMF

By Anna Manuel Contributing Writer


   As UMF students make decisions whether to study abroad, there are students from other countries doing their study abroad in Maine who are drawn to UMF’s small campus and the friendliness of the people here.

   Kesuma Lazier grew up in northern Tanzania where he finished middle and high school. After high school, he attended Kents Hill located in Kents, Maine for a post grad year before attending UMF. “I wanted a small college where I can make connections,” said Lazier. “Also to grow as an individual, not only around my peers but professors and other faculty.”

   Shaoning Gu is a student from China and an English major. “At UMF, the small group of discussions in class and frequent interactions with the classmates and professors are all very impressive for me,” says Gu. “People I met here are mostly friendly, kind and with smiles and greetings.”

  Clementine Leroy is from Le Mans, France and is an English major. Leroy came to UMF in August 2017 and will be here until May 2019. “I was really excited about the snow which I am not very familiar with,” said Leroy.

   Leroy says that there many differences from her university back in her hometown, Le Mans University. “In France, people are graded out of 20 points, while in the United States people are graded through letters,” said Leroy. “I have way more classes in France but less homework than in the United States.”

   “[In France], we do not choose our classes when we pick our major,” said Leroy. “We all follow the same curriculum.” There is no creative writing program in France or an education major, it is only a Master’s degree. “This comes from the fact that people need a Master’s degree in France if you want a job,” said Leroy. “You are not likely to have any opportunity otherwise.”

  Gu attended Fudan University (FDU) located in Shanghai Shi, China before attending UMF. At FDU, Gu lived with three other roommates. “It made me feel at home but sometimes it was too exciting to be quiet,” said Gu. “I enjoy a quiet room and a good book here at UMF.”

     Attending a University with English as a second language was a rocky transition for Gu. “The fast-speed oral English and hardly comprehensive texts in class were difficult,” said Gu.

   Lazier agrees that classes here can be challenging. “Depending on the level of the class, in my classes with writing, it is more challenging since English is my third language,” said Lazier.

   This semester Gu has learned poetry, how to play the piano and joined a chorus class. Some of her favorite memories here so far is,“trying to play kick ball and walking on the mountains trails,” said Gu. “They are sufficient reasons for me to be grateful and satisfied for this precious opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.”

   Leroy, like Gu and Lazier, has enjoyed her time at UMF so far. “Each teacher believes in their students success and that the whole campus revolves around the idea of being successful,” said Leroy.

Water Bear Confabulum Happening in Farmington

By Anna Manuel Contributing Writer

   The Water Bear Confabulum is an event with many attractions including an art walk in downtown Farmington, a 5k trail run and child friendly activities. With the help of students, staff and guest artists, the event has become an annual tradition since 2005.

   Sarah Maline, an art professor at UMF, is in charge of organizing the event. Maline has to get permission from town managers in order to use their alleys for artwork.

   “In 2017, we had about 60 UMF students participating as artists and performers as individuals,” said Maline. “Parents and kids went on the trick-or-treat art trail and there has been a kid’s chalk and/or wheat-paste wall project every year on the Homestead wall.”

   Guest artist Beth Wittenberg is from Washington D.C. with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. “I think of the Water Bear Confabulum as an event, a rural avant garde event,” said Wittenberg. “That attracts inquiry into one’s own memory, like a game where all the players are searching for their own meaning.”

   Last year, Wittenberg had the opportunity to spend the day before the event with the art students. They gathered in the alleyway where they would prepare the artwork. “We worked with the idea of homelessness in rural Farmington and what that might look like as interpreted by college students,” said Wittenberg. “Reimagining the space, creating the installation, was the task we set out to work with as the days’ activities ensued.”

   Another Guest artist, Maggie Libby, is from Winthrop, Maine. Libby has attended Tufts, Colby and New York studio school, in addition to making her own MFA study. Libby described the Water Bear Confabulum as “a celebration of diverse artistic voice; installations, performances and interactivity.”

   Last year, Libby contributed an erasable drawing for the event, as well as created a sculpture piece that was put on display. Libby’s piece was a white wooden chair with some chipped paint. On her sculpture was a small, red cat facing the back of the chair, with a bird and branches near the bottom.

   Along with the alleyways filled with art, there is also art created in the woods. “Bringing art to the woods creates such an exciting backdrop for some provocative art,” said Wittenberg. “I was very impressed by student work I saw. Some of the art students had very engaging pieces.”

   Libby’s favorite part of Water Bear Confabulm is, “getting to know Farmington a little better, talking to people and students, seeing other work”.

    “It was also a good antidote to the over-seriousness about art here at Colby; it gets too pretentious here when the museum only honors people from outside of Maine who are the very top of the art profession.”

   This year, the Water Bear Confablum event will be held on October 27th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.. The event takes place in Downtown Farmington and is free of charge.