September 30, 2006
Sadie Roosa and Heidi Vornbrock Roosa, two generations at Simon's Rock
Sadie Roosa ('06), of Columbia, Maryland, is part of a small but growing group: She is a second generation Simon's Rocker. Her mother, Heidi Vornbrock Roosa, attended in 1985.
When Heidi brought her daughter along for an alumni gathering two years ago she didn't know that it would be such an important trip.
"It happened to correspond with a prospective student day and, while Sadie was too young to attend, I thought it would make for a nice mother/daughter weekend. I was surprised at how enthusiastically Sadie took to the idea of attending."
Sadie was 14, and she too was surprised at how quickly the whole idea of coming to Simon's Rock clicked. She said that hearing the stories of alumni during that visit—including the story of one couple that met at Simon's Rock—was compelling. She also enjoyed her sample class with Hal Holladay, and interview with Ba Win.
When she arrived at Simon's Rock as a student, she had already been exposed to the unique form of orientation that she would find here: She had already attended a mini Writing and Thinking workshop with her mother. "I understood the dynamic of it."Writing and Thinking has been important for Heidi's craft as a writer, who as McLean Jacobson, writes of a "reluctant teen psychic;' and under the pseudonym Regina Harvey, she wrote Fox and Rainbow, a novel of psychological suspense. Under her own name, she writes literary fiction. (see www.HeidiVornbrockRoosa.com)
"It was in Dolliver lounge and Jim Monsonis was my teacher. As writing was, and still is, important to me, it was a wondrous change to be given opportunities to write without being graded, where the focus was on teaching skills and offering constructive critique versus "getting it right." I still use free writing and focused free writing in my daily work and offer its use as advice to many writers I know. That technique in particular is something that affected me profoundly. It also gave us time as an incoming "freshman" class to bond. I am still good friends with one of the students who was with me for that week."
Sadie's passion is languages, and here she is studying French and German, and hopes to also study Arabic. She enjoys stage management and photography, and at this point, she hopes to work as a literary translator. She muses that her career goals have always been clear and specific, but changing: a hotel owner, a photographer for National Geographic in Africa, a translator at the United Nations: each with an international tilt.
She is enjoying First Year Seminar with Bernie Rodgers, and said that it's a pleasant experience to participate in class. "I never really liked my English classes, because the teachers tell you how they want you to respond to it. I like hearing everyone's point of view."
Heidi remembers that the Seminar experience was also a pleasant surprise for her: "Seminar was interesting to me in structure, as I'd never been in a class before whose main purpose was discourse and discovery."
Sadie likes the feeling of following in her mother's footsteps, having attended all but one of the same schools, starting with elementary. "It's cool to see teachers that she has already had."—J.M.
Willful Encounters (at a bus stop)
By Caitlin McDonald ('01)
I recently took part in a community art project in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I now live. With Maria Saraceno, a local sculptor and activist artist, I received a grant from the Pinellas County Arts Council to make biweekly trips over a five-month period to a local bus stop across the street from a major hotel. There, we conducted interviews with people we met. Exchanges took place primarily with hotel workers who relied on the bus to commute. We videotaped and photographed, and we provided snacks, cold drinks and hand massages to the workers in an effort to cater to and welcome the people upon whom the tourist beach economy depends. We feel that the contributions of these people to the community of St. Pete Beach are often unrecognized and that these workers are thought of as outsiders, though without them an economy in this area would be unsustainable.
In addition to local workers, the hotel employed many international guest workers, including a significant number of Jamaicans on nine-month visas. We became quite friendly with several of the Jamaican women and have since held social gatherings together outside the bus stop. These women were able to attend the art opening for the show, titled "Willful Encounters (at a bus stop)" which took place on August 18th at The Studio @ 620, a venue for many types of community art in St. Petersburg.
In addition to photography and video, the Willful Encounters project relied on Maria's sculpting skills. We installed a three-sided screen of folded sheets, towels and pillows made to resemble the white bus shelter where the interviews took place. Projecting video of a hand massage on the back and the interviews on the front of this, they captured the difficulty we had in forging these connections with a video of the bus itself providing an ambient soundscape in the gallery. Headphones were provided for people to listen to the interviews. Photographs created a "quilt" on one wall, with crochet thread outlining the squares. Also on display were long strips of crocheted fabric. These were created at the bus stop while we waited for people to emerge from the hotel. Originally created as a symbol of the long journeys made by many workers each day, in some cases two or more hours, these also came to represent the transmission of information and cultures.
To hear more about this project including the technical challenges and how they got all those sheets, tune in to Tampa public radio WMNF's online archives at http://www.wmnf.org/programs/grid. We were invited to speak on the Friday, August 18th episode of "Art in Your Ear" hosted by DJ JoEllen Schilke, a supporter of local art in the Tampa Bay area.
Later in September, I will be leaving the Tampa area to pursue another of my interests, an MA/PhD program titled "Gender and Identity in the Middle East" at the University of Exeter, England. I plan to examine what the history of Middle Eastern dance can tell us about shifting social values over time and across cultures.