Apr 24, 2014

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Stranger in a Strange Land: The Other Side to the Dowling Experience

By William Blyndenburgh
February 11, 2011

I write to you now on board United Airlines flight 28. A minute ago, peering over my fiancée’s shoulder, I gazed upon a small town in the middle of a desert. There it was—centered on a black canvas—a constellation of bright lights, each representing the lives of people who live there. This town, I thought, is the same as New Zealand. I took a few moments to expand upon this idea, flipped open my laptop, opened it again after a gentleman’s reclining seat in front of me closed it, and began dancing my fingers along the keyboard. Like this small, sleepy town, New Zealand finds itself isolated in the Southern Pacific. There isn’t much of a human population, only some 4.4 million; and as the numbers might suggest, it is a nation which constantly struggles to maintain its cultural sovereignty in spite of the powerful influence of neighboring Australia, the United States, and any other number of nations. The Kiwis achieve this, in part, by being one of the most tolerant and accepting cultures in the world. It is a small country with a big heart, a lighthouse in the middle of a dark night that shines an ethnically-blind beacon throughout the world. A very specific type of person is snagged by the allure of New Zealand. Romantics, adventurers, and dreamers: these are the ones who make the plunge across the Pacific seas in search of new experience. I consider living in New Zealand as being a member of a very special club.

My experience at Dowling opened the door, and I (at the same time nervous and excitedly) stepped through it. After my 2010 graduation, I applied to the University of Auckland and was promptly accepted. My girlfriend (and future wife), Michelle, had previously obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Stony Brook University and was similarly admitted. We were happy to have the opportunity to pursue our dreams together and set aside two years of our lives to obtain MA degrees. We were blessed to find New Zealand’s most prestigious institution welcome us with open arms. I hastily put a ring on Michelle’s finger.

It is difficult for me to compare and contrast the experience of Dowling to that of the University of Auckland, mostly since I experienced both at completely different levels (Dowling as an undergrad, UOA as a post-grad). Still, the one thing that stands out to me is that students at Dowling have the opportunity to engage with their instructors at the post-graduate level. Dowling by design and advertisement is a personal college. It is an institution that can be molded to fit students of all levels. Interacting with the faculty at Dowling at a personal level prepared me for my studies at Auckland. However, at Auckland, I am on a first-name basis with my instructors. The idea gives me nightmares to consider referring to Dr. Zappulla as “Elio.” I imagine he would smite me straight into Dante’s Inferno. There is definitely a cultural difference between stances on formality. Perhaps New Zealanders are just more relaxed with these sorts of societal codes; living in paradise on the far end of the world may have that effect on you.

In the same vein of thought, there is actually a bar on campus, and the drinking age is 18. Smoking, however, is completely banned on campus. They take the ban seriously, too. The Library is patrolled on the norm, looking for people drinking anything but water; I’ve been warned about 3 times. At Dowling, I preferred their library for a place to relax and ingest my food. You are allowed to eat in the grad labs, though: places set aside (swipe cards and all) for the post-graduate students to utilize.

While I made good use of such facilities on campus, Michelle, being the Science major, was able to embark on a series of field trips. These included visits to the Waitakere Mountain Range and the Great Barrier Island. The latter was for a full week, recording data concerning the vegetation of the island. She brought back a lot of pictures and stories detailing what a wonderful experience this was. The University of Auckland is an ideal place for Science majors looking for field experience, especially those interested in conservation.

Similarly, I would recommend this school for people interested in Anthropology. The indigenous people, known as Maori, are a prime example of cultural fortitude. Even though New Zealand is the most recent land to be settled by Europeans, Maori have endured over 160 years of imperialism. Under constant pressure to conform, assimilate, and amalgamate, the Maori people have clung steadfastly to their languages and traditions. This is not to say they haven’t modernized, but rather that they have maintained their identity perhaps more strongly than any other people colonized by European nations. In fact, their culture has, in turn, impacted the Pakeha (settlers of Caucasian descent) to a great degree. From bird names to the names of parks, towns, and rivers, Maori language is prevalent in New Zealand. The two cultures have intermingled to make something distinctively unique: the Kiwi. Mix in large populations of Polynesian, Asian, and Indian descent, and the city of Auckland makes for the social scientist’s dream location.

As intriguing a place as New Zealand can be for scientists and anthropologists, alike––or even simply the casual traveler––there are always profound ramifications of such a significant trip that must be assessed. One can’t pack one’s bags and set off to the other side of the world without considering risk. As Dr. Greer once told me, a move to Auckland is accompanied by a consistent sense of disconnect. Even strolling through the heart of the city, I remain aware of the much smaller scale of New Zealand compared to New York. For the most part, the diverse blend of culture throws a veil over such feelings. The risk, however, is that disconnect can easily turn into helplessness.

This reality struck me as I finished my first semester. The classes were demanding, yet constructive; the lecturers informal, and yet authoritative; the research both rigorous, and yet gratifying. I had wrestled my work to a decent grade. My fiancée and I celebrated our success and were looking forward to a summer of adventuring and immersing ourselves in Kiwi culture. It was then that I realized what I had risked all along; I found out that my mother was diagnosed with cancer of a rare, incurable nature. In an instant, the thousand miles of reality in between our families and us became apparent. I had a lot of business to wrap up before I could head home, and it would be weeks before I was on a plane and beginning to write this article. Now, about a month after that trip, I am two days short of being married. Within only a few days of being home, my fiancée and I decided to tie the knot while we were here. By the time you are reading this now, we have already done so and are in all likelihood back in New Zealand getting ready for our next semester. It is tough leaving behind a family that needs you to remain, so the decision to travel overseas for an extended period of time needs not to be taken lightly. Still, even with the recent developments of my life, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

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Between the Solstices: Roy Nicholson’s 52 Weeks

By Sandra Bonczyk
February 11, 2011

All things in life are comprised of many small components. A classroom is comprised of its students, an automobile is comprised of its parts, and a block of wood is comprised of its elements. Roy Nicholson has composed a living entity in his work, 52 Weeks. Not only are Roy’s paintings made up of a variety of materials and mediums; but each of his 52 pieces work together to form one large being.

Roy Nicholson began his life as an artist in England when he was only 6 years old. He was given an assignment in elementary school to draw a mountainside. He knew all of the children in his class would paint the landscape as it was, but Roy looked closer and meticulously painted a pair of climbers who were ascending the mountain. It was at this moment that Roy knew he would paint for the rest of his life.

Inspired by Monet’s use of time, perspective, and––most importantly––series, 52 Weeks is composed of Roy Nicholson’s year spent painting once a week, beginning one summer solstice and ending the next. The 24-inch by 24-inch square paintings are comprised of acrylics, oils, collage materials, and linen. They represent different plants within his garden in Sag Harbor as they developed over the course of the year.

In Roy Nicholson’s most recent installation at the Anthony Gordano Gallery at Dowling College, Roy’s paintings have been presented in a different manner than perhaps they were presented previously. In each location that Roy presents 52 Weeks, he has the ability to present the work in a different way. Most often, Roy sets up the paintings in a grid-like manner, starting from week 1, at the first summer solstice, and ending at week 52, the following summer solstice. At the Anthony Gordano Gallery, the paintings run along the length of the east wall, continue onto the south wall, and swoop back around to form two rows. He cites boustrophedon, a Greek word which represents ancient plowing patterns, as well as bi-directional writing and reading patterns for being an inspiration in his installations. Each painting has the ability to stand alone, and you will often find yourself thinking this one could go here, that one would look great there as you look at each painting individually. When you step back and view the painting as one unified work of art, you get the sense of serendipity.

Serendipity is just what Roy Nicholson had in mind as he completed 52 Weeks. It is defined as a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated. Not all of Roy’s paintings were created simply from looking outside his window. Though Roy thinks of himself as a traditionalist painter, he uses the computer to aide him in his paintings; stretching, contorting, reducing, or enlarging, Roy has the modern ability to reach his desired imagery.

Roy Nicholson has worked on two major public works: Evening Transit, Hempstead Plain, a glass mosaic inside the Hicksville train station on Long Island; and Solar Shift, a glass mosaic inside Union Station in Los Angeles. Like 52 Weeks, tiny beautiful pieces in these works combine to make one dynamic piece of artwork. In his public works and 52 Weeks, the artist uses the notion of the passage of time, motion and series to develop works that lead the eye from one point to another. Viewers experience transition and transportation across time as they view Roy’s works. They bring about inspiration and enhance your physical environment, even if it’s just as you walk through a train station.

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The International Student in Us All

By Peter Rice
February 11, 2011

A tree’s roots run deep into its native country, while its leaves explore the world around it. As walls are built and societies thrive under different cultures, the beauty of the tree is sometimes lost. Yet the winds that blow through its leaves connect us all.

The globalization of the world is increasing along with our advances in technology. But how far does our cultural awareness really spread? Are we prepared to meet the world? Look around Dowling’s campus long enough, and you will be bound to see an international student. Coming from all corners of the world, these students are a long way from home and offer a wonderful opportunity to witness different customs and ways of thinking. They are here with great expectations. Together, we can create an image of the future.

The life of an international student, however, has its ups and downs. Being oriented by Dowling’s International Student and Scholar Services about the local communities, laws, and cultural expectations, international students still face a slew of challenges. Unable to attain a social security card––which bars them from opening a bank account, buying a car, finding employment, or engaging in other common activities of life where a social security number is required––international students must work alongside Dowling College, who has secured local agencies willing to make exceptions. When in need of extra cash, these students’ only hope for employment rests solely on campus jobs. Interacting with locals can be intimidating when common phrases, body language, or customs are lost in translation. Feelings of isolation, fear, and confusion are understandable. Yet through it all, international students are here to succeed. Having the courage to leave one’s home to tread across a foreign land comes only from a special person. The fruits of their journey are the prizes that make it all worthwhile.

When the international students have finished their studies, they may work for a year in their field of interest. At the completion of that year, they may apply for a work visa or return to their native country. Despite the decision made, these students will forever keep their newly-earned worldly perspectives.

You, too, can be an international student. Have you ever dreamed of visiting and studying in a particular country for a semester? If you have, then you are in luck! With over 150 connections around the world, the International Student and Scholar Services can take you there. It all begins with a trip to the house across from the Curtain Center and nestled between the entrance of the student parking lot and tennis courts. Once inside, ask for Dr. Ward Deutschman; and soon you will be on your way to seeing the possibilities that lie before you. Of course, you can always begin your search for answers by visiting http://www.dowling.edu/studyabroad or, at the end of February, by stopping at the Study Abroad Fair at the Racanelli Center to learn more about study abroad programs. Either way, the International Student and Scholar Services always has its doors open for any of your questions or concerns.

Becoming a global citizen is not free, but there are ways to help you break borders. Financial aid and loans are available to qualifying students that have the desire to study abroad while earning credits to satisfy their degree. It is true that not all costs will be covered; how much you will spend mainly depends on where and when you are going. But if you are curious, making a visit to the International Student and Scholar Services is a harmless way to reveal the options available to you.

Having a home to bury our roots is a wonderful thing, but growing into the world around us is the true adventure of life. When you look into the eyes of an international student, you are really seeing the possibilities within yourself. Together we stand in the light progression, while making life-changing memories. You only need to be willing to grow beneath the sun.

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Dowling Professor Honored by Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation

By Kelly Kazemier
February 11, 2011

The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) honored Locust Valley resident Dr. Susanne Bleiberg Seperson, Director of the Center for Intergenerational Policy and Practice at Dowling College. Dr. Bleiberg Seperson was honored for her outstanding work for the Center at the LIAF 23rd Annual Remembrance Ball at the Garden City Hotel. The Remembrance Ball featured a special performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ben E. King of the Drifters. The Ball was attended by 250 plus individuals representing Long Island’s leading corporate, financial, healthcare, education, government, philanthropic and legal organizations.

Dowling’s Center and LIAF share the belief that relationships among generations are more critical today than ever before. The Center for Intergenerational Policy and Practice’s mission to raise public awareness of the inter-relatedness of the needs of all generational groups through education, advocacy, and practice is consistent with and supportive of LIAF’s mission and outreach goals. LIAF’s services are provided not only to individuals with dementia but equally for their care-giving families.

For more than two decades, the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation, located in Port Washington, has provided supportive community-based services to Alzheimer’s families in Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens Counties. LIAF is one of Long Island’s longest running organizations dedicated solely to the care and support of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD)––and related forms of dementia––and of their family care-givers. Last year, LIAF provided support to AD patients and family care-givers for more than two decades, serving some 500 Alzheimer’s families monthly. Dr. Bleiberg-Seperson was also selected as an “ourtowns” winner in Newsday.

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