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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.”

Enriching the Lives of Zoo Animals

It was straight out of Wild Kingdom.

Misha, an Amur tiger at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, approached the horned zebra, batted it with her front paws, then knocked down the prey, which clattered onto a pile of rocks. Resuming her attack, Misha tore off pieces with her powerful teeth, before slashing off the gold unicorn horn and then the entire head.

students constructing zebra-unicorn for tigerBut no live animals were harmed in the making of this production. The zebra, which indeed sported a gold unicorn horn, was constructed by Grinnell College students from animal-safe papier-mâché, paint, and cardboard.

The activity stemmed from Grinnell's Community Service Work-Study program and the Grinnell Science Project, a pre-orientation program for first-year students designed to increase representation from groups underrepresented in the sciences.

Group carries the painted zebra through the zoo“Creation and destruction — together that's our purpose with this project,” says Sunny Zhao ’18, a biology major from Naperville, Ill. “It would have been sad if the tiger hadn’t played with the zebra and destroyed it.”

“It was really satisfying to see the tiger tear the zebra apart,” adds Mackenzie “Max” Semba ’19, an undeclared major from Portland, Maine.

It helped that the zebra’s hollow stomach received a helping of meat before a zookeeper placed it inside the tiger exhibit.

Grinnell students have collaborated with the zoo for four years to make new and exciting enrichment items: giant bowling pins for rhinos and puzzles made from twine, milk cartons, raw pasta noodles, and origami cardboard for monkeys and birds.

Spectators watch though a window as Misha, the tiger, demolishes the zebra-unicornThose items help keep zoo animals active, says Megan Wright Walker, area supervisor for animal health at the zoo. “Here in the zoo we provide food for the animals,” she says. “They don’t have to hunt for a mate. They don’t have to hunt for somewhere to sleep. Enrichment items help to mentally stimulate the animals by giving them a challenge.” 

Sunny Zhao ’18 is a biology major from Naperville, Ill. Mackenzie “Max” Semba ’19 is an undeclared major from Portland, Maine.

7 Great Reasons to Study Off Campus

Given that over 60 percent of Grinnell’s students participate in study-abroad programs, it’s no wonder Grinnell has a reputation for being globally focused. Not only is off-campus study an awesome opportunity to expand your international education, it’s also an unforgettable life experience. Third-year Grinnellians share their favorite parts of the study-abroad experience:

  1. Your perspective will broaden like you wouldn’t believe.

Joseph Galaske ’17 says his home-stay in rural South Africa has changed his outlook: “It was one of the most incredibly enlightening experiences of my life. There were definitely experiences that pushed my boundaries, like the living conditions.” Experiencing daily life in such a vastly different culture opened Galaske’s mind to a whole new way of living.

  1. You’ll finally lose that feeling of panic when speaking another language.

For Jinna Kim ’17, a sociology and Spanish major, studying abroad in Argentina has been an awesome way to improve her skills in Spanish. “I never felt entirely comfortable speaking Spanish, despite having taken many classes, and always broke out in a cold sweat when I had to speak it,” says Kim. “I can already feel myself becoming more confident, and I’m more eager to jump into conversations!”

  1. You can travel with your program for a one-of-a-kind research experience.

Emily Adam ’17 enrolled in a public health course while studying in Denmark and got to visit public health organizations and clinics in Denmark, Estonia, and Finland as part of her class. “Getting an inside look at how public health policies work in other countries has been really valuable,” Adam says. “There are differences in culture that I wouldn’t have expected, and it’s been interesting to learn about the challenges of their systems.”

  1. International foods will become your bread and butter.

“Sometimes my friends and I just walk around and find random restaurants,” says Trang Nguyen ’17, an international student from Vietnam who is currently studying in South Korea. “What’s special about my daily experience in Korea is eating ramen at the convenience store, ordering street food while listening to the live music that’s everywhere … We haven’t had a bad experience yet!”

  1. Your confidence will soar.

“Adaptability, confidence, intuition…I feel as if living abroad is like a workout for your intangible traits,” says Jonathan Sundby ’17, who is studying in India this spring.

  1. You can experiment with new habits.

“A new experience gives you a chance to try some different lifestyles,” says Nguyen, who was always very organized and plan-oriented in the United States. “Planning like I used to doesn’t really work in Korea, so I had to change the way I operate. I feel more relaxed and outgoing here. I really enjoy the change!”

  1. You’ll do things you never imagined (or maybe things you always dreamed of).

“I recently visited Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” says Kim. “The amount of water and the size of the waterfalls are indescribable. My friends and I even hiked a mini-trail to a smaller waterfall, where we jumped in and swam just like the people in GoPro videos!”

Joseph Galaske ’17 is a biology major from Moberly, Mo.

Jinna Kim ’17 is a sociology and Spanish double major from Bellevue, Wash.

Emily Adam ’17 is a biology major from Harper, Iowa.

Trang Nguyen ’17 is a mathematics major from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Jonathan Sundby ’17 is a political science major from Stillwater, Minn.

Bookstores to be Closed June 18 – July 4 While Moving

The Grinnell College Bookstore, on campus, and the Pioneer Bookshop, at 823 4th Ave., will be closed for moving starting on June 18, 2016.

The two stores will be combined at the new location at 933 Main Street, Grinnell. The new store will open on July 5 as the Pioneer Bookshop. The online bookstore is also closed during the move.

The new Pioneer Bookshop will still offer the same wide selection of children’s books and toys, fiction, and non-fiction. It will also have the same special order service and gift wrapping.

In addition, the store will feature Grinnell College clothing, school and office supplies, art supplies, consumer electronics, greeting cards, and gifts.

Goldstein Earns Academic All-America Honors

Grinnell College’s Daniel Goldstein ’16 joined elite company Tuesday when he became the 24th Pioneer in history to earn Academic All-America recognition.

Goldstein made the At-Large Team after enjoying a stellar diving and scholastic career at Grinnell.

The team is chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), The At-Large category covers 16 sports, including Grinnell’s offerings of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, golf, and tennis.

Goldstein, a computer science/mathematics major from Ann Arbor, Mich., qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships for the third year in a row this season. He earned honorable mention All-America honors twice.

A three-time Midwest Conference Diver of the Year, he won five league titles in his career and owns school and MWC records in 1-meter diving for 11 dives (score of 529.45), 1-meter diving for six dives (333.55) and 3-meter diving for six dives (335.90).

Goldstein three times earned Academic All-District recognition and in 2016 collected Grinnell’s Morgan Taylor ’26 Award for outstanding senior athlete.

Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa

Two students joke around while serving the long line of patrons at the Slavic coffee houseA longstanding tradition in the Russian department, our annual Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa this year was a tremendous success, thanks to the leadership of Russian House and our Russian majors, as well as all of our Slavic and Russian-speaking international students.

A huge crowd of students, faculty, staff, and community members enjoyed Russian favorites like bliny, borscht, and pirozhki, as well as Czech, Polish, Serb, and Uzbek dishes, all prepared by students.

Maslenitsa, a traditional Orthodox holiday, is Russia’s version of Mardi Gras, during which we customarily burn a chuchelo (scarecrow) of winter. This year’s fire was spectacular, with flames leaping high against a dark blue sky. Charlie Eddy ’16 treated us to a rendition of Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky’s “Он не вернулся из боя” [“He didn't return from battle”].

Woman licks finger while holding plateful of foodThe Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa were held in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts this year, where guests enjoyed the wonderful exhibit in Falconer Gallery, “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers.”

This event was part of our exciting extracurricular programming in the department, which also included a visit by Eric Greene ‘85, director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and former Russian ambassador John Byerle, as well as a book talk by Anya Von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, a Memoir of Food and Longing

All photos courtesy of Michaela (Misha) Gelnarova ’18.

Webster Earns Goldwater Honorable Mention

Lillian Webster ’17Lillian Webster ’17 has received an honorable mention from the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Majoring in mathematics and statistics, Webster is one of 256 honorable mentions, chosen from 1,150 applicants nationwide.

For her application, Webster, a resident of University City, Missouri, submitted a paper titled "Subword Complexes in Coexeter Groups." Last summer, she completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates focusing on algebraic combinatorics at the University of Minnesota, and her research resulted in a talk at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics in January 2016.

"Lillian has amazing creative insight, and is equally adept at working with both abstract concepts and detailed technical arguments," said Joseph Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell. "She also communicates her ideas with a clarity and elegance rivaling most graduate students."

An active member of the Grinnell community, Webster is also a student in the Grinnell Careers in Education Professions Program. She has stage managed several productions for Dance Ensemble/ACTivate, including "Snow White Retracted" and "Once Upon a Time Splintered." In addition, she is a mentor for advanced mathematics courses. Webster spent the fall 2015 semester in Hungary as a participant in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program.

After graduating from Grinnell in May 2017, Webster plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics, focusing on either algebra or combinatorics, and go on to teach at a college or university.

Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program to encourage excellence in science and mathematics for American undergraduate students with excellent academic records and outstanding potential. Winners receive up to $7,500 toward tuition and other expenses for the academic year. Grinnell College students are frequent recipients of Goldwater honors, with six students being named Goldwater Scholars and six students receiving honorable mentions since 2010.

Last Make/Shift Exhibition for Spring 2016

Grinnell College studio art students will present their art and give short artist talks at free, public events throughout May in the Make/Shift Space at 928 Main St., Grinnell.

The exhibition "Formulations," which includes new artwork from Grinnell College studio art classes, will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, in the Make/Shift Space. It will feature works in various mediums, including collages, 3D printing objects, drawings, sculptures, and more:

  • Color Construction by Introduction to the Studio students and new work by Print Media students, taught by Matthew Kluber, associate professor of art
  • Collages from Mixing Forms, taught by Andrew Kaufman, associate professor of art
  • 3D Printing Objects from Introduction to Sculpture, taught by Jeremy Chen, assistant professor of art
  • Drawings from Introduction to Drawing, taught by Chen

Also on May 11 — the opening day of "Formulations " — the Make/Shift Space will host "140 Seconds," featuring 13 fast-paced artist talks, starting at 7 p.m. Grinnell College students enrolled in a site-specific studio art seminar taught by Associate Professor of Art Lee Emma Running will each give a 140-second artist talk accompanied by six images of their choice.

The last Make/Shift Space exhibition of the semester, "Beautiful Sunset," will open from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. The exhibition will feature artwork by graduating seniors. The range of work includes painting, drawing, print media, sculpture, installation, video, and performance. Most of these works will be on display through Tuesday, May 24.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Bucksbaum Endows Growth for ‘Global Grinnell’

Carolyn ‘Kay’ Swartz Bucksbaum ’51Carolyn “Kay” Bucksbaum ’51, former chair and now life trustee of Grinnell College, has committed $5 million to support the expansion of the Global Grinnell Program at the College.

“I believe in the leaders of the College and their vision for the future,” Bucksbaum said. “I want to see Grinnell College increasingly recognized, and measured accordingly, for its leadership among similar colleges in my lifetime.

“The Global Grinnell Program is close to my heart because of my own global views and experiences,” she added. “It is my desire to have others join me in this opportunity to expand the impact of a significant factor that makes Grinnell stand above other colleges.”

“Kay Bucksbaum’s generous gift combines her dedication to Grinnell College with the vision and foresight to advance our mission in strategic fashion,” said Grinnell President Raynard S. Kington. “The programmatic support this gift will provide brings an increase in opportunities for students to gain global competence and leadership at a level that will distinguish Grinnell from our peers. We share Kay’s vision to engage other donors in the Global Grinnell Program.”

Bucksbaum said her desire to make this leadership-level commitment was influenced by various aspects of her own life, including having foreign visitors living in her family home, her mother’s world travels and Bucksbaum’s own daughter’s involvement in the international arena.

"Kay Bucksbaum’s generous gift combines her dedication to Grinnell College with the vision and foresight to advance our mission in strategic fashion," said Grinnell President Raynard S. Kington. "The programmatic support this gift will provide brings an increase in opportunities for students to gain global competence and leadership at a level that will distinguish Grinnell from our peers.  We share Kay’s vision to engage other donors in the Global Grinnell Program.”

Accompanying Bucksbaum’s gift is her agreement to serve as honorary chair as the College prepares for a comprehensive fundraising campaign. 

“We are currently organizing the College fundraising priorities in advance of the launch of a campaign, and Kay’s leadership arrives at a pivotal point in the life of this endeavor,” said Shane Jacobson, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.

 “Kay’s generosity links the legacy of our previous campaign with our renewed effort to invest in students, faculty, staff, programs, and facilities,” he added.

The gift will create two endowments. The first funds the creation of a Chief Global Officer position to promote and ensure an integrated and innovative approach to international education across the divisions of the College. 

The second fund will create a Global Distinctiveness Fund that will enhance programs and student opportunities that continue to bring to life the Global Grinnell Program for each student. The Fund will make possible internships abroad, scholarships for global course work and language studies, and faculty and student research focused on collaborative, international projects exploring global problems and challenges. These additional resources will allow faculty and staff to benefit from opportunities to develop their own contributions to global engagement in their work with students.

“This commitment gives us the chance to pursue an integrated and sustainable global strategy,” said Michael Latham, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. “Our large and diverse international student population, excellent off-campus study opportunities, inquiry-led curriculum, internship programs, alumni network, and external partnerships around the world have made Grinnell a profoundly international institution.”

“Kay’s partnership allows us to name the Chief Global Officer as soon as possible. This position will oversee the strategic utilization of Kay’s philanthropy, and bring to life the vision to expand Global Grinnell to faculty, staff, and students alike,” Latham added.