Within Reach: Opportunities for UMF Students To Study Abroad

Within Reach: Opportunities for UMF Students To Study Abroad

Shapiro taught elementary school students English as past of her education internship (Photo courtesy of Elina Shapiro)

Nathan MckIvor Contributing Writer

    “We want our students to have become global citizens when they graduate from here, and what better way to do that than to study abroad!” said Lynne Eustis, UMF’s Assistant Director of Global Education.

   While Eustis travels internationally to establish relations between UMF and campuses all over the globe, she does most of her work from her office in the Fusion Center. Eustis is responsible for the mountain of paperwork that comes with international travel. When a student wants to study abroad at another university, they speak to her.

   Where is the most popular location to study abroad? “There is none,” said Eustice. “Our students are all over the map.” Students can opt to spend a semester or a full academic year studying at an international university, though they make sure their preferred program complements their major during some of their many conferences with Eustis.

   UMF’s direct relationships with international universities includes institutions in China, England, France, Hong Kong, and South Korea. If a student wants to study at an institution in a different nation, UMF partners with third-party providers to guarantee a wide range of opportunities for students. Either way, Eustice coordinates the student’s experience from her office.

   “I loved my experience,” said senior Elina Shapiro, who spent a semester in Florence, Italy last year.  Studying at the Italian branch campus of Richmond University, she immersed herself in Italian language courses, which were useful for communicating with her host family.

   Shapiro’s third-party provider also offered an education internship in the region.  Shapiro taught English, science, and social studies at a local middle school while “teaching students struggling with English” in an elementary school.

   A memorable moment of her trip? “I got to meet relatives in Rome who I had never met before,” said Shapiro, who is Italian on her mother’s side. Shapiro advises those who want to go abroad to ”start thinking early” and to research “what each provider has to offer,” which is how she discovered her program.  Also, Shapiro suggests “practicing the language if the country does not have English as a native language.”

   “Oftentimes students don’t look into [studying abroad] because they think they can’t afford it.  But there is an affordable program for everyone,” said Eustis. Students can apply their university grants and merit scholarships towards the cost of a study abroad program. Eustis spends time with individual students researching programs of interest them, and often, if one is too expensive, a more feasible program is almost always within reach at a different school.

   Roughly 15-20 students study abroad on semester programs each year. Right now, there are two UMF students are abroad: one studying in China; the other spending their semester in France. Checking a spreadsheet, Eustis chirped that 13 more plan to go across the pond in the Spring 2019 semester.

  Aside from the traditional study abroad experience, the Office of Global studies also offers a Student Teaching Abroad program for Education majors concentrating in Elementary or Secondary education. As the final component of their majors, they can teach abroad South Korea, Hong Kong, Dublin, and other regions in Ireland.

   The department also offers domestic opportunities through the National Student Exchange program for students looking to study at a different university in the U.S.

   Wherever a student chooses to study, they are changed by the experience:  “Italy will always have a place in my heart,” said Shapiro.

Arts and Crafts Night in Purington Brings The Residential Community Together

By Nathan McIvor  Contributing Writer

   Purington residents had the option of delicately painting their flower pots or squirting globs of glitter on them at an evening event hosted by CAs in the Purington Hall lounge. Starting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29th, the hands on arts and crafts project was set up by CA Mia Emory, who supervised the event. Students decorated the miniature pots about an inch tall to use as dorm decorations.

   Though diminutive, their small size ensures that the pots are easy to store in a dorm, making them a colorful object to place on a window sill or a shelf.  Trouble arose during painting; the pots came with labels pasted onto their surface, requiring long fingernails to scrape off.

   Those with long fingernails  had an advantage with the task. However, a fellow painter said to “just get the label wet first with your brush,” which caused it to melt off like butter.

   Residents clustered around two long tables, one for painting, the other for glitter glue, to work on their pot. The two tables were not necessarily exclusive: “Glitter really makes the colors pop,” said one painter, who switched from paint to glitter, hoping the latter would add more flair.  

   After drying their pot on a paper plate, the would-be artists brought their plants to another table to stuff them with dirt and plant a seed of their choosing.  

   Some overheard chatter from the seeding table:

   “Green beans aren’t flowers, but they’re still cute!”

   “Ohh… marigolds.”

   “I really don’t care, but growing beans seems to be more practical.  I guess I’ve made up my mind then!”

   Attendees had their names put in a raffle for prize that while unknown “is very cool” according to the CAs, who spoke in tones suggesting the matter should not be pressed.  

   Emory was glad the event had a large turnout, as that bodes well for future programs. Though she has not yet decided what those will be, Emory seemed assured due to the success of her first program.  The thirty-odd attendees seemed very pleased.

Meet Hannah Binder: Published Author and UMF Freshman

By Nathan McIvor Contributing Writer

   Novelist Hannah Binder is a freshman in the Creative Writing program who has published her first novel, “Why We Don’t Wave” under the name Hannah Paige. The novel is an ode to sisterhood and family.  

   Binder describing the novel in an email interview, said that the plot concerns four sisters who “grow up scattered across the U.S. unaware of each other’s existence .. [and] the trials that come about when four lives try to converge.

   Binder wrote the novel in “the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life so far,” crediting her older sister with spurring her improvement. “When I started writing, I wanted to dedicate this book to her. [The novel] was really a project to try and depict the importance of having a sister and it was an ode to her for all that she has done for me.  The four sisters in the novel all depict pieces of who my sister is,” Binder said.

   Binder began writing at six years old and finished “Why We Don’t Wave” at sixteen. Binder said that she enjoys “creating characters and establishing a story that I hope many people will be able to connect to” through her work.

   When asked about the publishing process, Binder replied, “My age was most likely the biggest hurdle to surmount. I was sixteen and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was not about to let my age keep me out of the publishing world, so I held myself to the same standard that writers twice my age do. I edited my manuscript as best I could and started submitting.”

   Despite rejections, the UK-based Austin Macauley accepted her manuscript. Much to her surprise, Binder had to ask for a modified contract, ”I needed a place for my mom to sign as well, they had no idea how old I was.”

   As a freshman, Binder appreciates “close-knit” campus. A native Californian, Binder had “a bit of a culture shock … but the Creative Writing program and the professors … are exactly what I’d hoped they would be.”

   She continues her craft and has already written another novel. Austin Macauley recently accepted “30 Feet Strong.” Binder hopes to have the book released this year. “Writing is a huge part of my life and who I am as a person.  That process of finding the perfect word, of composing a page of text that evokes so much emotion or just paints an especially effective image is exhilarating. It’s everything to me.”  


Assistant Professor William Mesce Discusses Pedagogy and Screenwriting

Assistant Professor William Mesce Discusses Pedagogy and Screenwriting

By Nathan McIvor Contributing Writer

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing William Mesce is the author of two dozen screenplays and a former corporate writer at HBO. His industry experienc

Mesce wrote the screenplay for Road Ends, a 1997 crime film starring Denis Hopper. (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

e serves him well in teaching a craft that, for better or worse, exists as an industrial product in mainstream Hollywood.

   In conveying the difficulties of the profession to students, Mesce describes the screenplay as “a tool for somebody else, not an end … it’s a document to be used by one-hundred fifty other people.”

   Tinseltown can be a tough on aspiring screenwriters, something Mesce learned as young man when he submitted a screenplay to a contest held by Brian De Palma, director of Scarface and The Untouchables. The rules promised that the winner’s work would be used for De Palma’s next feature film. Mesce received a meager check for winning and no further response.

   When De Palma’s next film Blow Out was released years later, Mesce noticed two lines of dialogue he had written in the film. Mesce had been duped into doing uncredited work on a film “Written and Directed by Brian De Palma.”

   Despite this rude awakening to the screenwriter’s trade, Mesce dedicated himself to the craft.  Mesce likes to impart resilience to his students because they deserve to know the reality of the trade before moving to Los Angeles. The 1997 film Road Ends, a crime thriller starring Dennis Hopper and Mariel Hemingway, remains Mesce’s best known work.

   After leaving HBO in 2009, Mesce found his love for teaching when a friend from graduate school asked him to teach a class at a local New Jersey college. Mesce says there is “no greater buzz than being in a classroom when it’s clicking.”

   A metropolitan man, teaching at a campus like UMF was uncharted territory for him when he joined UMF in Sept. 2017. “This one is the smallest schools I have taught at,” Mesce said. “It gives you the opportunity to have the same student several times.  A professor can watch them grow over the years and develop a bond. That could never happen in any of the other places I’ve taught at. I had the same number of students in my high school class as the entire student body here!”

   Mesce also noted the easy going demeanor typical of a small Maine town, saying “people are nicer and I find that the students have a different frame of reference from what I am used to. So far, I’ve never had a writing student who couldn’t write.”  

   Mesce found his love for movies growing up in Newark, New Jersey, where he spent his summer afternoons at the local movie theaters. Mesce credits Chinatown as his generation’s genre film, and prefers films that have “a sense of place” and lists Sam Peckinpah and Sidney Lumet as his favorite directors.

   Mesce most recent book, The Rules of Screenwriting and Why You Should Break Them was published by McFarland in 2017.

Frank Underkuffler Delivers Public Classroom Lecture

Frank Underkuffler Delivers Public Classroom Lecture

By Nathan McIvor Contributing Writer

Professor Frank Underkuffler (Photo Courtesy of Frank UnderKuffler)

Faculty member Frank Underkuffler’s Public Classroom lecture, “Social Change and The Crisis of American Law,” opened to a full house at UMF’s Emery Community Arts Center on January 30th. A livestream of the event aired in Ricker Addition to accommodate the overflow of guests.

   President Kate Foster introduced Underkuffler, a practicing lawyer by trade, to the assembled audience. Underkuffler discussed the United States’ current stark political division in historical and legal contexts, citing English common law, which was adopted by U.S. colonies, as the source of strife in the U.S. legal system.

   Recorded by influential English judge William Blackstone in 1765, common law arises from culture, rather than official legislation, and reflects the how actions between people actually occur. English common law grants men who own property the full rights of citizenship; meanwhile, married women and “idiots” received special protections such as being unable to be held accountable to contracts. Married women and slaves were classified as “property.”

   As a cultural creation, Underkuffler explained how the common law is incompatible with social change, as common law “exists for stability;” the social categories it established were not meant to be transgressed. Those seeking change, then, will always be held in suspicion.

   Underkuffler cites the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, with Justice C.J. Roberts criticizing the court’s decision to rule in favor of the issue as “disinheriting” and as against “constitutional law,” as an example of how the status quo would react to shifts in social norms.

   Underkuffler noted that “we inherited this system; we didn’t ask for it… you didn’t make it, I didn’t make it.” The divide between the status quo and those seeking to change it are vestiges of expired cultural standards. The divide between liberals and conservatives today derives from these embedded cultural traits; nothing in how U.S. society views changes to law and culture is conducive to an easy relationship between the two groups. He then advised the two groups respect and listen to each other regardless of preconceptions.

   After taking questions from the audience, Underkuffler walked to the Ricker Audition to take questions from the audience watching via livestream. Underkuffler’s talk was a part of UMF’s Public Classroom, a series of lectures aimed at engaging the broader community with the university’s intellectual resources and provides faculty members an opportunity to share their work.