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  • Voices of Trinity: Junior Airen Washington in Israel

    July 20, 2014

    airen 5(Airen Washington in Jerusalem)

    Trinity Women are always right in the middle of the action!  This summer, with so much tragic news coming out of Israel and the Gaza Strip, I was proud to learn that a Trinity student was on the scene in Israel learning more about the conflict and peacebuilding efforts in Israel.  Trinity Junior Airen Washington, a remarkable student leader, spent part of this summer in Israel on a trip organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee through the Milstein Foundation Campus Allies Mission to Israel.  Airen is Vice President of the College Democrats at Trinity, as well as serving as President of the Red Class for two years, President of the Communication Club, and a trip leader for the Community Service Board of Campus Ministry.  What an accomplished Trinity Woman!

    Airen was one of just 40 college students selected for this trip, which included students from Princeton and Harvard.  Here are some reflections on her trip to Israel:

    “My involvement with the College Democrats of America and College Democrats at Trinity Washington University has allowed me to greatly expand my nationwide network, and even brought me to Israel. In the summer of 2013, Natasha McKenzie, the former President of Trinity’s College Democrats Chapter, the current Vice President of College Democrats of America, and my mentor, participated in the Milstein Foundation Campus Allies Mission to Israel, which was organized and hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is America’s pro-Israel lobby whose mission is to protect and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. This past May, I was one of forty selected students who traveled to Israel on the 2014 AIPAC Milstein Foundation Campus Allies Mission. In Israel, I proudly represented Trinity, my hometown of Washington DC, and my community.

    The Milstein Foundation Campus Allies Mission is a ten day trip all across Israel. While there, our group traveled all around the country. We saw Jerusalem, Ma’agan, the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, Masada and Tel Aviv. We had very little time for rest! Each day we were presented with a series of speakers that ranged from journa, Knesset (Israeli parliament) members, and former IDF generals. During my journey, I learned so much about the Israeli government, religious influence and Jewish culture which I am so thankful for. I experienced life changing moments like praying at the Western Wall, testing myself physically by swimming and hiking, attending a traditional Shabbat dinner, floating in the Dead Sea, and visiting the World Holocaust Museum. Part of what makes a successful person is being well rounded and having the ability to empathize with people who have a dissimilar lifestyle to their own.

    “If I continue to travel and meet with people who are different than me, I will become an extraordinary leader who doesn’t make decisions that only incorporate my own values and ethics, because I will have gained deeper understanding of how my decisions affect society at a local, national and global level. In the future, I plan to support initiatives and policies that protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship because I have seen and experienced how important this relationship is for both nations.”

    More photos from Airen’s time in Israel:

    With a friend at the Golan Heights:

    airen 1At the River Jordan:

    airen 2At The Garden Tomb:

    airen 3With friends outside the Knessett:

    airen 4Congratulations to Airen for participating in this great learning experience!  And thanks to another great Trinity Woman, Natasha McKenzie, whose leadership with the College Democrats paved the way for Airen!

    How did you spend your summer vacation?  Send me a few paragraphs about your summer learning experiences along with photos to president@trinitydc.edu and I will publish your comments and images on this blog.

    Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2014.7: Back to Reality

    July 18, 2014

    “Comin’ down the mountain” after a few weeks in the back woods — no television, very limited radio and internet — is an interesting immersion experience.   As I drove down I-81 from New York yesterday, the horrific news of the shooting down of the Malaysian Air flight was a constant “breaking news” message on my car radio, paired with the ongoing battles in Israel and the Gaza Strip.  While the natural world can be harsh and unforgiving on its own terms, the savagery that humans inflict on each other is unparalleled in nature.  Our hearts must go out to all the suffering victims and families while we search for answers to the ongoing violence…

    While my time in the Adirondacks is always a pleasant period of rest and de-stressing, I am eager to get back to Trinity because we have such an important agenda to pursue —- yes, our big construction project and hundreds of new students to welcome in just a few weeks, but more importantly, pursuing our mission that calls every Trinity student, faculty and staff member to be a force for good, for peace and justice in a world that knows too little of those virtues and too much violence, war and hostility.

    Below, a few final snapshots of the lovely wild things to make us smile and remember good times in the busy days to come:

    This chipmunk was busy reaching for some leaves and berries:

    CHIPPIE 2 (Large)But then decided to strike a pose:

    CHIPPIE (Large)These ducklings were wondering whether to jump into the roiling waves along the shores of Tupper Lake:

    ducklings 2 (Large)Aw, heck, just do it!

    ducklings (Large)This little guy preferred the reeds:

    duckling 3 (Large)Great blue herons just keep on snackin’:

    SNACK (Large)And the bees are very busy pollinating and making honey…

    BEE (Large)From the highway that goes almost to the top of Whiteface Mountain, a great view of Lake Placid and the High Peaks:

    lake placid (Large)Til next year….

    VIEW FROM WHITEFACE (Large)

     

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2014.6: Summer Reading List Edition

    July 16, 2014

    storm 2A spate of stormy mountain days made sure I could tackle my summer reading list in my cozy cabin here in the north woods.  I confess to having three or four books always going at the same time — several Kindles in the car, at home, on my phone, along with Audible books for driving, I’m never far from turning the page (or at least swiping the screen!).  I’ve just finished these books and highly recommend them:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

    Thanks to Luce Professor Dr. Patrice Moss and the science faculty, the story of Henrietta Lacks became well known at Trinity last spring when a special event focused on this remarkable story.  Henrietta Lacks should be enshrined in every hall of fame, known to people globally, revered as the source of remarkable medical advances during the last half century.  Instead, she remains relatively obscure in the popular imagination, a figure known perhaps to scientists, many of whom are more likely to know her by the name of her “immortal” cells, HeLa cells.

    Thanks to Skloot’s incisive, compassionate reporting, the world now knows much more about Henrietta Lacks and her family, and the scientific, ethical and moral issues swirling around cell research.  Lacks was a mother of five children, a poor tobacco farmer in southern Virginia, a black woman living in rural America in the pre-civil-rights era.  She developed cervical cancer and died in 1951.  Before she died, her surgeon removed a sample of tissue from her diseased cervix, and the scientist Dr. George Gey soon discovered that unlike any previous efforts to cultivate cells in test tubes for research, Henrietta Lacks’s cells did not die, and instead, multiplied rapidly.  Soon, the HeLa cells were shipped to laboratories all over the world, becoming the most frequently used line of cells for all kinds of medical and scientific research.  Tragically, however, Henrietta never knew that the cells were taken from her body, and her family only found out about the cells more than 20 years after Henrietta’s death.

    Skloot’s story relies heavily on interviews and family memories to give life and personality to the woman most scientists only know through their microscopes as HeLa.  For decades, her name was repressed and identity ignored.  Her children and family received no compensation for the worldwide use of her cells in research and development of treatments for many diseases.  As late as 2013, the genomic sequence of the HeLa cells were mapped and publicized without permission of the family.

    This book is enlightening and infuriating, revealing the gross injustices of a medical and scientific research system that to this day remains profoundly insensitive to the human beings whose body parts, cells, organs, fluids and synapses are the stuff of research, discovery, innovation and breakthroughs in treatment methods.  While issues of race and social class clearly influence the story of Henrietta Lacks, patients of all backgrounds remain vulnerable to the exploitation of their tissue samples and cells in scientific research.  The scientific community objects vigorously to the notion that patients should have an absolute right to control the use of their cells (taken, for example, in bloodwork for routine procedures or just about any kinds of hospital procedures that require blood or removal of tissue).  Equally serious is the lack of compensation for people whose tissue samples wind up leading to medical discoveries and innovations that make scientific and medical entrepreneurs quite wealthy.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks should be required reading for all students of science, public policy, ethics, civil rights history and social justice concern — just about everybody!  I look forward to more discussions of this remarkable woman and her story in the months to come.

    Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

    When I first started reading Margaret Atwood’s dystopian tale Oryx and Crake it had not occurred to me that it was a fitting parallel to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — but in a strange way, Atwood’s vision of a world contaminated by the lethal results of corrupt scientific manipulation of cells, leading to the creation of new and dangerous life forms and biological agents, is a clear segue from the reality of cell research to the potential for worldwide catastrophe if society fails to impose clearer and more compelling ethical standards on research.  Oryx and Crake introduces the aftermath of a world exposed to a manufactured viral pathogen that goes out of control.  The title characters are strange lovers, their story told by Snowman, a man who thinks he is the only remaining human on the planet.  The story is full of genetically spliced animals (pigoons, wolvogs, rakunks) and the desperate search for some kind of safety and security in a world gone mad.

    The Year of the Flood is Atwood’s second novel in the trilogy that tells the tale of other characters surviving the biological catastrophe first revealed in Oryx and Crake.  In this novel, as the first, Atwood’s vision for a world ruined by runaway science controlled by corrupt corporations is, at once, fascinating and terrifying.   The final novel in the series MaddAddam is on my Kindle waiting to start!

    What It Takes: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer

    From science and dystopia to real dysfunctions, thrills and chills on the campaign trail.  Students of politics, government and human behavior should love this book.  The late Richard Ben Cramer’s insightful, in places, pungent analysis of the lives and motivations of the men who ran for the U.S. presidency in 1988 is widely hailed as one of the best campaign narratives of its kind.  Why 1988?  That was the end of the Reagan Era, a turning point for American politics and American life.  The candidates were all compelling characters:  George H.W. Bush, the eventual victor despite his profound elitism and remoteness from real life; Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee whose brilliance succumbed to his mind-numbingly bureaucratic ways; Gary Hart, one of the great “what if” candidates of the last half century, falling to rumors of scandal in the era before Bill Clinton made dalliances seem almost a routine part of the candidate’s repertoire; Dick Gephardt, working so hard and yet having so little to show for all that hard work; Bob Dole, war hero, salt-of-the-earth Kansan who could not shake his nasty image; and Joe Biden, who still desperately craves the top office, caught up in the ideological clashes of Supreme Court nominations as he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with rumors about truthfulness, and then a shocking moment of real life when a stroke took him out of contention.

    Beyond the immediate story of the campaign, told in edge-of-the-seat snippets, Cramer tells the backstories of the lives of these men — how Dole made the long recovery from his war injuries, how Bush made his way in the Texas oil business, how Biden survived the death of his first wife and children, how Dukakis carried the hopes and dreams of his Greek immigrant family.

    While the campaign was more than 25 years ago, the ripple effect continues to this day.  If Biden mounts a serious campaign for the presidency in 2016, this book will surely resurface as an important source for What Makes Joe Run.

    More to come!

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2014.5

    July 13, 2014

    LOON PREEN (Large)Cold, wet and windy — Adirondack weather in the summer can go from hot and humid to November-like in a heartbeat.  Many of the wild things seem to be staying deep in their lairs this summer as the low temperatures and rainy days make staying in bed so attractive…!  But the loons are irrepressible!  They are out on the lakes preening and doing the usual loon things…

    LOON 2 (Large)I have not seen any loon chicks… perhaps I arrived too late in the season this year.  But the mergansers and other ducks are keeping their little gaggles in order quite nicely…

    MERGANSERS (Large)All along the lakesides, the chatter of belted kingfishers is loud, but these little birds are very hard to capture in a photo since they dart from limb to water and back again very swiftly.  I got just one frame of this one high up in a pine tree:

    KINGFISHER (Medium)On another dead tree trunk, a norther flicker alighted for just long enough to show off its yellow tail feathers and beautiful red crown:

    Northern Flicker (Medium)On a rare sunny afternoon, padding along the meandering pathways of the Raquette River, I spied this turtle sunbathing:

    TURTLE 2 (Medium)Turtles don’t like closeups, though, so as I moved in a little bit and snapped this view it slithered off the log and splashed into the water…

    TURTLE 4 (Large)Nearby, this female mallard was enjoying a drink on a slow afternoon:

    RAQUETTE DUCK (Large)

    This great blue heron was lurking in the tall grass along the river:

    GBH RAQUETTE FLOW (Large)….and this one along the upper Hudson River did not hang around for a posed photo:

    TAHAWUS GBH 1 (Large)A beautiful spot on the Raquette River at the outlet from Tupper Lake:

    TUPPER ROCKS (Large)And, at day’s end, a serene scene at dusk on the edge of Blue Mountain Lake:

    DUSK BML 2 (Large)And moonset over Shaw Pond on my way back to the cabin…

    MOONRISE OVER MUD POND (Large)

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    Welcome, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur!

    July 11, 2014

    logo

    Interrupting my Adirondack Chronicles to give a hearty Trinity WELCOME to the Sisters of Notre Dame who are gathering on campus this weekend for their General Chapter.  More than 100 SNDs from all over the world will gather at Trinity for the next three weeks to pray, plan and elect new leadership for the future.  Welcome, Sisters!

    Trinity is so proud of our 117 year-old partnership with the Sisters of Notre Dame.  We tell the story of our founding often, because in that story we find so much of the inspiration that keeps Trinity’s mission vital today.  In 1897, Sister Julia McGroarty, Sister Mary Euphrasia Taylor, and a small group of other SNDs envisioned a college for women equal to the men’s colleges of that day.  They founded Trinity amid protests over the whole idea of the education of women (“heresy” in the minds of some conservative clerics) and with the constant concern about resources that continues even today.    But they did not let opposition or poverty stop them, and we take the example of their courage and fortitude today to persist in the idea that a great higher education is essential for women, children and families to flourish.

    Faculty, staff and students of Trinity join me in extending our welcome, our thanks and praise to the Sisters of Notre Dame!

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    Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
    Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: president@trinitydc.edu

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