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Games Help New Students Connect

apjacob18 avatar screen showing 21635 XP at Level 7 with Team MysitcFirst-year student Ayyad Jacob ’20 found a pretty cool ally to help him navigate Grinnell College — Pokémon Go.

“It’s cool to see a lot of the residence halls and buildings as PokéStops. It helps me visualize campus much more,” Jacob says. “I hope it does the same for downtown Grinnell.”

The insanely popular location-based augmented reality game by Niantic, downloaded by millions of smartphone users, urges players to explore the outdoors and capture virtual creatures called Pokémon. It’s also helping college students at Grinnell and elsewhere connect.

“The Lure Module feature can help you find other players on campus. The more people you know the better,” Jacob says. “It can help you identify important landmarks around campus and downtown. It’s a great way to come across new places.”

Jacob is certain to meet fellow Pokémon Go players in Grinnell’s class of 2020, which consists of about 419 students. 

Growlithe in front of Noyce Science Center, Grinnell CollegeHere are some preliminary statistics about the new first-year class:

  • 24% are U.S. domestic students of color.
  • 15% are first-generation college students.
  • 60% graduated from public high school.
  • 80% participated in community service.
  • 30% participated in student government.
  • 23% were members of literary organizations/wrote for high school publications.
  • 68% participated in fine arts (music, theatre, dance, visual art).
  • 30% were active in debate, speech, or forensics.
  • 40% were varsity athletes.
  • Incoming first-year students represent 35 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Included in the class are 99 international students (24 percent of the entering class), representing 25 countries.

The College’s social media sites highlight PokéStops on campus and remind students to use caution when playing the game — especially around campus construction projects.

Prerana Adhikjari ’20 wanted to play Pokémon Go this summer, but the app was unavailable at her home in Kathmandu, Nepal, so there was no Pikachu-catching for her and no Poké Ball-throwing. Now that she’s on campus and poised to begin the academic year, she is eager to make new friends, meet professors, and play the game with other Grinnellians.

Screen from pokemon go showing avatar on map, with gym in background“Pokemon Go is one of the many things that gets me excited about college,” says Adhikjari.

The game isn’t just for students. Jacob is certain some of his professors are playing, too.

“The game is a phenomenon that is touching all generations. Even my dad plays Pokémon Go,” he says.

Jacob spent the summer working as an intern at a social service center in his hometown of Chicago. He also biked around the Chicago Lakefront Trail. He said an old high school teacher gave him a valuable piece of advice about preparing for college. 

“Never be afraid to sit with someone in the dining hall or talk to the guy in the dorm next to you. Everyone feels awkward at first,” Jacob says. “Be the one to break the silence. You never know when you might need one of them to have your back.” 

Or band together and coordinate an attack on the gym at Clark.

Ayyad Jacob ’20 is from Chicago.

Prerana Adhikari ’20 is from Kathmandu, Nepal.

Writers@Grinnell: Hai-Dang Phan '03 & Rick Barot

Award-winning poet, translator, and scholar, Hai-Dang Phan ’03, along with award-winning poet Rick Barot, will read from their work and discuss writing on Thursday, Sept. 1 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, they will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Sept. 1 in Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Hai-Dang Phan photoHai-Dang Phan, born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin, is a poet, translator, and scholar who teaches courses in Ethnic American Literature and Creative Writing at Grinnell. His research interests include modern and contemporary American literature, race in American literature, war literature, reconciliation, modern and contemporary poetry in English, and translation studies. A former Thomas J. Watson Fellow, he received his bachelor’s in English from Grinnell College and his doctorate in literary studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is completing his master of fine arts in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Florida.

His poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in literary journals such as AnomalousAsymptoteBarrow StreetThe Brooklyn RailCerise PressDrunken BoatKartika ReviewLana TurnerNOÖ Journal, and RHINO. He has interned at Harper’s Magazine, and for five years co-curated FELIX, a quarterly series of new writing based in Madison. He is currently working on a number of critical and creative projects: a book manuscript entitled A Rumor of Redress: Literature, the Vietnam War, and the Politics of Reconciliation, a book-length translation of new and selected poems by the contemporary Vietnamese poet Phan Nhien Hao, and a collection of poetry tentatively entitled Small Wars.

Rick Barot photoRick Barot has published three books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize, and Chord (2015).  Chord received the UNT Rilke Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award.  It was also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency master of fine arts program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University.  He is also the poetry editor for New England Review.  In 2016 he received a poetry fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.

Writers@Grinnell: Chris Martin

Chris Martin imageAward-winning poet, Chris Martin, will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 15 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, Martin will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. September 15 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 209.

Chris Martin is the author of three collections of poetry, The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House Press, 2015), Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press, 2011), and American Music (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award. He is also the author of several chapbooks, including HISTORY (Coffee House, 2014), enough (Ugly Duckling, 2012), and How to Write a Mistake-ist Poem (Brave Men, 2011). Recent work can be found now or soon in The Cultural Society, Fence, Paperbag, SPOKE TOO SOON, and The Brooklyn Rail. He is an editor at Futurepoem books and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, the poet Mary Austin Speaker, and their son Atticus. He teaches at The Loft and is a visiting assistant professor at Carleton College. He is also a co-founder and teaching-writer at Unrestricted Interest.

Nature Photographer Ken Saunders II Exhibit Opens in Burling Gallery

Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 8:00am to Saturday, October 15, 2016 - 10:00pm
Burling Library

 

Exhibition: August 25 - October 15
Opening Reception: Friday, September 2, 4:00 p.m., Burling Gallery

“Nature photography is my passion,” says Ken Saunders II, who retired from a long career with the College’s Facilities Management in 2015.   Looking at his photographs, one is compelled to add that nature photography is also his forte.  Ken’s striking photographs show us nature at its most beautiful.  His favorite subjects are individual animals and plants, captured in their natural habitat at rest or in motion, with close-up or telephoto lens. 

All of the photographs in this exhibit, titled “Portraits of Nature in Iowa,” were taken within 40 miles of Grinnell.  It may surprise some viewers that this diversity of wildlife can be found so close to our community.   Ken could perhaps agree with Henry David Thoreau’s statement -- “What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty?” -- though in fact he also photographs in other parts of the country, especially in the mountain west.

Ken recalls getting his first camera – a Kodak 104 Instamatic, which retailed for $15.95 – when he was about seven years old.  Many years later he advanced to a 35mm film single-lens reflex camera, a Pentax, and then in 2003 began experimenting with digital photography.  He got his first digital single-lens reflex camera in 2006, a Nikon D200, and has been working in this vein ever since.

The Center for Prairie Studies is pleased to co-sponsor this exhibit of Ken’s photography with Faulconer Gallery.  The exhibit is displayed in Burling Gallery and will run from August 25 to October 15.  An opening reception will take place at Burling Library Gallery (lower level) on Friday, September 2, at 4:00. 

Building Local Food Systems: Two Case Studies, California and Iowa

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

 

How do you create a local food system?  On August 31, in JRC 101, at 4:00 and 7:30 p.m., two speakers will share their experiences creating local food systems in two very different locations: the Bay Area of San Francisco and the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County, Iowa. 

More and more people are interested in eating food raised near where they live.  It is fresher, tastes better, and is often more nutritious.  Because it is produced on a smaller scale, it is more likely to be raised using organic methods, which make it healthier.  Purchasing food grown near where you live also contributes more to the local economy than buying the same food from big retail grocers. 

But “buying local” can face challenges.  Is supply adequate to meet the demand?  How do consumers connect with farmers? Are the types of food being raised locally also the types that consumers want?  Is local food out of the price range of many consumers?  If locally raised food is normally available for only part of the year, can anything be done to lengthen the growing season or make the food available year-round?

Answers to many of these questions can be found through the creation of local food systems. Going beyond ad hoc relationships and even such worthy organizations as farmers markets, a local food system is a coordinated, self-consciously planned set of institutionalized relationships among farmers, consumers, businesses, and communities, structured in a way that maximizes the availability of affordable local food to members of a community. 

Jennifer Vazquez-Koster has been working on local food initiatives in Iowa for 10 years.  She is currently manager of the two-year old Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative, an umbrella that encompasses three garden-farm operations at the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County: a senior garden affiliated with the senior living center at the Settlement, a school garden, and Red Earth Gardens, a large-scale commercial organic operation that sells produce through a Tribally Supported Agriculture (TSA) program, a farm stand, and area grocery stores. The concept behind “food sovereignty” is for the Meskwaki to reclaim their food system from the national industrial food and agriculture system. 

Thomas Nelson ‘91 has been instrumental in advancing the local food system in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He launched a community-based social enterprise, Capay Valley Farm Shop, which connects 54 farms and ranches in the Capay Valley to Bay Area families and businesses, in the latter category focusing on tech companies, online grocery, and neighborhood businesses.  He is also a business advisor at Kitchen Table Advisors, a non-profit that works with beginning farmers to help them market their products.  He also serves on the board of California FarmLink, established in 1999, which has created a statewide program of economic development support for beginning, limited-resource, immigrant and other underserved farmers across the state.

Jennifer Vazquez-Koster will speak on “Beginning a Local Food System at the Meskwaki Settlement” at 4:00 p.m. and Thomas Nelson will speak on "Community-based Strategies to Scale Up Sustainable Food Systems" at 7:30 p.m.  Both presentations are in Joe Rosenfield Center ’25 101.  Refreshments will be served.  Sponsored by the Grinnell College Center for Prairie Studies.

Commencement 2016

It’s been a beautiful day for the 170th Commencement of Grinnell College, celebrating the class of 2016.

Commencement exercises began at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater on Central Campus, and are now complete.

The ceremony featured an address by internationally renowned novelist Zadie Smith and the awarding of honorary degrees.

Join us as we celebrate our newest graduates. You can:

  • See a copy of the live stream on YouTube. (Higher quality video will be available later.)
  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: @GrinnellCollege #Grinnell2016
  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege or #Grinnell2016
  • Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for highlights from the day.
  • Check out the story on Snapchat: username grinnellcollege

About Zadie Smith

Zadie SmithNovelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth, is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London. The book won many honors, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). Smith’s The Autograph Man, a story of loss, obsession, and the nature of celebrity, received the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction.

In 2003 and 2013 Smith was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 “Best of Young British Novelists.” Smith’s On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent novel, NW, was named as one of the “10 Best Books of 2012” by The New York Times. A tenured professor of creative writing at New York University, Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. She published one collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, and is working on a book of essays titled Feel Free.

About Honorary Degree Recipients

Zadie Smith will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Grinnell’s Commencement exercises.

Grinnell also will confer honorary degrees upon two alumni and a renowned educator.

Thomas Cole ’71 will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. He is U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District, serving since 2002. Cole, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House. He is currently one of only two Native American serving in Congress and was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Fred Hersch ’77 will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A pianist, composer, and one of the world’s foremost jazz artists, Hersch was described as “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation” by Downbeat magazine. His accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition and numerous Grammy nominations. He is a member of the Jazz Studies faculty at the New England Conservatory.

Claudia Swisher will receive an honorary Doctor of Social Studies. She was an English teacher for several decades at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., where she was admired for going above and beyond in her efforts to connect with students. She saw education as something that should be formed around the children, and not that the children and their interests should be manipulated to conform to education.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Information on commencement ceremonies is available at Grinnell’s Commencement Web page. For any further information on commencement, please call 641-269-3178.

Photo of Zadie Smith by Dominique Nabokov

Grinnellian Trains for the Olympics

Joshua Tibatemwa in Grinnell Honor G swimcapGrinnell College swimmer Joshua Tibatemwa ’19 will be making a splash on the international scene in August.

Tibatemwa, 19, will be representing his native Uganda in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the first Pioneer in the modern era to earn a spot in the Olympics while still a student at Grinnell.

As Uganda’s overall fastest male swimmer, Tibatemwa was named to that country’s Olympic swim team by the Ugandan Swimming Federation.

Last August, at the International Swimming Federation World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Tibatemwa set two national records for Uganda and achieved his personal best in the 50 freestyle (25.54 seconds) and 50 breaststroke (33.00 seconds). When he swims in the Olympics, he’ll compete only in the 50 free.

Swimming is a relatively new sport in Uganda, and the level of competition pales to the international champion threshold — the overall men’s world record in the 50 free is 20.26; 25.25 in the 50 breaststroke. Tibatemwa is aware of the gulf.

“I am part of the second generation of competitive swimmers in Uganda,” he says. “In 10 to 20 years, I hope we will see Uganda swimming on a par with USA swimming.”

He strives to close the gap with hard work. Under the guidance of Grinnell swim coaches Tim Hammond and Erin Hurley, Tibatemwa, who swims on Grinnell’s varsity, practices in the water one to two hours per day, Monday through Saturday. He also does up to an hour of daily strength training.

“It’s the best training I have ever gotten,” Tibatemwa says. “It is very structured and will help me if I get to the Olympics.

Several seniors on the swim team often practice with Tibatemwa, so he can gauge his speed against other swimmers. “I find it easier to train while competing against them rather than competing just with the time on the clock,” he says.

Tibatemwa has thoroughly impressed his coaches with his drive.

“It seems just his nature to want to be better,” Hammond says. ”He is eager to understand technique and accept critique day after day.”

Hammond notes that Tibatemwa has good technique to excel on the world stage, with great reach in the front end of his stroke and a good hold on the water. ”Once he has that hold, he can apply the incredible strength he has to it, and this produces an incredible distance per stroke,” says the coach, who is focusing on increasing Tibatemwa’s stroke rate.

Because Tibatemwa was training outside the regular college swim season, which ended in March, Hammond and Hurley couldn’t coach Tibatemwa until they received a waiver from the NCAA. Until then they could only supply him with written workouts. 

“It took us a few weeks to get the appropriate information from the NCAA and Uganda to put it all together,” recalls Hammond, who provides the Ugandan federation with weekly updates. The federation also named Hammond and Hurley Ugandan National Swimming Coaches.  

When they were able to work with Tibatemwa, they were more than pleased.

“Joshua is an absolute joy to coach,” Hammond says. ”He is perpetually positive and does his best to accomplish each task at hand. Most everyone sees Joshua as a shy, kind person. And he is, but when you spend enough time with Joshua in a competitive endeavor, you can start to peak at the competitive monster inside of him that one would never see without knowing him well enough.” 

Tibatemwa began swimming at age 6 in his hometown, Kampala, the Ugandan capital. “At first I didn’t want to compete,” he says. But by the time he was 13, he started to enjoy the sport. “With swimming,” he says, “you have time to yourself as compared to other sports. You don’t have to shout to pass the ball. You can be alone in your head.”

On the advice of two of his mentors in school and in the Dolphins Swim Club Kampala — brothers Tefiro ’15 and Ham ’16 Serunjogi — Tibatemwa came to Grinnell last fall. He was looking for a school that had both good academics and swimming training. “Tefiro and Ham recommended Grinnell,” he says of the duo, who each swam on the men’s varsity while earning their degrees. “So I trusted them and followed them here.”

Though he calls the cold winter of east-central Iowa the biggest adjustment he’s had to make, “The college is great, and I like being in a comfortable small town,” he says. Referring to his hometown, with a population of 1.3 million, he adds, “It’s nice to have a break from the big city.”

When the spring semester ended on May 20, Tibatemwa, who plans to major in computer science, returned to Kampala to continue his training and start an internship with Kiira Motors, the first manufacturer of solar-powered vehicles in East Africa. 

“I will train in the mornings and evenings, and do my work as an intern during the middle of the day,” he says. “I’m hoping to develop software and gain experience in tackling real-world problems.”

“It has been a silent goal of mine to get to the Olympics,” Tibatemwa says. “Every swimmer harbors it. I would love to have the opportunity to be among the world’s best athletes, doing what they’ve been training to do for many years.”

Grinnell to Participate in Iowa Private College Week

 Grinnell College, one of the 25 members of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU), is proud to participate in the 2016 Iowa Private College Week (IPCW). Each year, IPCW hosts approximately 5,000 Iowa students and families, many of whom will visit the Grinnell College campus as part of their IPCW experience.

Tim Butterfield, assistant director of admission and coordinator of Iowa Private College Week for Grinnell College, says the weeklong program “offers students and families an informative snapshot of the Grinnellian experience. Iowa Private College Week is a great way for prospective students to experience Grinnell College and to discover what a liberal arts education offers, as well as to determine which of the participating institutions could be a good fit for their futures.”

During Iowa Private College Week, information sessions will be held daily on the Grinnell College campus at 9 a.m. Prospective students will then hear from faculty, staff, and current students before touring campus. Students may register for a Grinnell College or Iowa Private College Week campus visit. During the week, Casey’s General Stores provides 5-cents per gallon fuel discount coupons on campus to help defray travel costs. Additionally, students who visit at least three campuses and mail in an entry form are eligible to win a $500 bookstore voucher.

George Washington Cook Correspondence

In the fall of 2015, Special Collections and Archives was thrilled to receive a new acquisition, the George Washington Cook Correspondence. These letters were written between 1857 and 1860 by George W. Cook and his first wife, Electa, from Grinnell to their family in Meriden, Connecticut. The letters are addressed to George’s siblings, Sarah, Collins, and Henry.

A large part of what makes the Cook correspondence of particular interest is that they were written in the early years of the town of Grinnell’s existence. The town was founded in 1854, so the Cook letters provide a great deal of insight into land sales and everyday life. Also of great significance to the Grinnell community is the fact that George Cook briefly writes about the decision of Iowa College to move from Davenport to Grinnell. This can be found in the April 28, 1857, letter.

The first letter in the collection, dated April 27, 1857, suggests that George and Electa likely traveled west from Connecticut to Iowa in the early spring of 1857. They took the train at least as far as Chicago, and most likely traveled by train to Iowa as well. The letter does specify that they traveled from Iowa City to Grinnell by hiring a team of horses, which cost them $72.80. One particularly interesting aspect of the first letter is George’s description of a railway accident that happened to a train on its way to Chicago that was traveling ahead of the train the Cooks were on.  

Although she doesn’t express unhappiness, Electa writes mostly about how she misses everyone back East and reminisces on times spent with family. She also asks for dress patterns. Frequent topics in George’s letters include land sales, how land is used, crop prices, and the building of the railway across Iowa. Unfortunately, none of the letters written from the Connecticut family members to George and Electa have survived.

Digitized scans of the Cook Correspondence, as well as transcriptions of each letter, has recently been added to Digital Grinnell.

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and look at these fascinating letters in person.  Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30–5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.