Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ferrum Outdoors: Caving

Aaron Conover
Adventure Programmer
Ferrum Outdoors

Students donned helmets and headlamps this past Sunday (January 23, 2011) in preparation for Ferrum Outdoors’ next adventure. A brisk wind blew a few snowflakes around as they made their way up the trail to the Cave entrance. Once there, everyone felt the warm air that was flowing from the small opening and looked forward to getting out of the cold. So, they grabbed their packs, turned on their lights and crawled in.

Caves generally maintain a fairly constant temperature year round. This is based on an annual average for the area where the cave is located -- which means that for this region of Virginia it is approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes an inviting environment for a winter activity and also bat hibernation. Many caves are closed this time of year because of this. The cave we visited has a section that is ideal for exploration and does not disturb the area where the bats have settled in for their long winter nap.

This is a wild cave so there are no walking paths, tour guides (except for the trip leaders) or electric lights on the walls. The first room that the cavers entered provided an array of stalagmites, stalactites, columns and other formations. It was also the place where they sat down and turned off their headlamps to let their eyes adjust to complete darkness. But, in order to see more they had to turn the lamps back on, crawl through openings, help each other climb down and out of passages plus get a little bit muddy. The participants had fun working as team, learning proper caving techniques and experiencing a unique underground environment on this trip.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What It Means eans to be a Ferrum Student-Athlete

Ferrum College football player TJ Grzesikowski has had a full life over the past four years. In addition to being an outstanding punter, he has been involved in the floowing campus activities:
History and Social Studies Major
Secondary Education Minor
Phi Alpha Theta- Member
Kappa Delta Pi-Member
PAL Tutor
Undergraduate Assistant

Yet, clearly it is the Ferrum Athletics traditions of excellence that stands out in his academic career. Below he shares some thoughts on what it's like to be a Panther -- or as he puts it, to "wear the black hat."

One of the most startling trends of the 21st century student-athlete is the type of pressure being placed on us to not only perform on the field, but to also perform in the classroom. I remember my Seminole High School principal used to tell us “no matter how good you can swing a baseball bat, it’s the wood bat with a #2 on it that you carry in the classroom that’s most important and will get you any where in life.” This same message follows me to Ferrum College and has been echoed over the years.

My 4 years at Ferrum College have been filled with many a memory and filled with quite a few influential characters. One of the best that I have ever talked to would be Mr. Hank Norton. I am by no means a good ol’ Southern Virginia boy, but after listening to some of Coach Norton’s stories of kickers that have come and gone, its makes you feel like you’re just one of the good ol’ boys from another team passed. It’s people like Mr. Norton that make Ferrum College what it is today.

Coach Dave Harper is not only a mentor and a coach to me, but Coach Harper is a product of how Ferrum Football and Ferrum Athletics have transformed boys into men with moral character. I have been blessed and honored to wear the Black Hat and represent Ferrum College Athletics and no doubt have become a product of the Ferrum Football program.

What the new Hank Norton Center will bring to Ferrum College is a brilliant capstone to an institution that has embraced not only the 21st century but kept true with the traditions and history that brought Ferrum College to where it is today. What makes Ferrum Athletics unique are the close-knit friendships and time shared between us student-athletes not only in our own sports -- but across all sports. While at most colleges football keeps to itself and soccer and baseball to themselves, here at Ferrum we all share classes, dorms, and now we can even share state-of-the art athletic, classroom, and locker room space in the same building.

I hope the new facilities will bring more of the great Ferrum College student-athletes like those I have played with and those who have come here in years past. The future looks bright around campus with new dormitories, renovated classroom space, and upgraded facilities everywhere you turn. I am very excited to see Ferrum Athletics following in the same direction. I hope that I can return to Ferrum College and see more positive growth that will benefit everyone in the Ferrum Family. Go Panthers!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Alone With My Thoughts

Ferrum College Student Meagan Hodges wrote down her thoughts as she joined two other Ferrum students at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria in early January 2011. Meagan and the other students were there to participate in lectures, field trips and conversations with students from around the world, with the larger goal of creating "Global Citizens." Her thoughts below from midway through the conference.

I am now lying in bed with only my thoughts and emotions to keep me company. I have cried more this week than I have the entire last semester. Being able to talk about so many pressing issues on personal and global levels is not something I am used to. I feel that I can just be myself amongst these other eager students without having to worry about being judged. We have all felt so guilty because on occasions, each one of us has judged someone here without being conscious of it. Instead of avoiding the problem we thought we had with that person, we approached them in order to not only give a proper apology, but to gain from that person what we initially thought was a flaw.

Learning about myself and my goals has given me a new perspective on my life and my purpose, and now I know that it is okay to be unsure where that path may lead me. Surprising myself with what I can accomplish will be the greatest success of all. Dr. Fluker’s wife, Sharon, was such an encouragement after I had a rough time over dinner trying to discern where I stand and what role I play in our universal community. She said that there needs to be more genuinely involved women in higher education, with which I agree, but she spoke it in such a way that was relative to me because she said that she has been where I am. She too has had to make choices that seem so difficult to get her where she is today.

Along with me, she hated high school, but loved to learn. She was genuinely interested in my family and my studies and just let me speak a little bit about my story and what makes me my own person. Just as Walter said, it is the remembering and re-telling of our own stories that help us to connect with ourselves and others that are not all that different from us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Sights and Sounds of Music in Austria

Imagine this if you can: Our Seminar group stayed in a renovated horse stable from which we had an impeccable view of the Swiss Alps, dined in the marble hallway of the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace for every meal, and we were able to see and visit the fortress of the castle located at the top of the old town of Salzburg. The weather was cold, but there was no harsh wind as there is in Ferrum. A light dusting of snow covered the ground, which was just enough for an aesthetic perk without turning the trip in to a mess. The lake in front of the palace was almost entirely frozen over, so a few daring individuals decided to take a stroll (or a skate) on the ice.

The old town was about a fifteen minute walk from our residence for the week. This was convenient, although we opted to take a cab if we were in a hurry. The walkways were cobblestone and there were horse and buggies roaming the streets. Outside of the monolithic cathedral was a hotspot for unknown musicians to plug and play their instruments. While we were there, we witnessed an electrical and an acoustic guitarist, followed by a violinist, all of whom demonstrated their love of classical music.

The shopping and dining in the small town of Salzburg ranged from the low key to the most exquisite. Needless to say, our group opted for the modest options. It was so interesting to explore the specialty shops and the souvenir kiosks. I couldn’t look in any direction without seeing Mozart, his chocolates, or giant pretzel vendors. After our shopping expedition, Cody, Jessi, and I stopped for dinner to enjoy some authentic European foods and beverages.

Waking up every morning to walk to the palace for breakfast was a treat, not only because of the food, but because of the breathtaking mountains. Every day the snow covered Alps appeared differently in every light, from the bleak, cloudy mornings, to the rosy red sunrises. Many from the seminar noticed that the shape of the mountains was not that of those in Appalachia. The Alps were jagged and steep instead of rounded and less inclined than they are here.

Just taking it all in was harder than one might think. I was on sensory overload, and I am beginning to feel that way right now even as I recall my experience. I am still not adjusted to the time zone and am having a difficult time coping with being immediately immersed in the demanding world of academia; however, in the spirit of the Salzburg Seminar faculty, I must “Stay awake” to my surroundings, and remember my task of becoming a global citizen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ferrum Students in Salzburg: Dachau Visit and More

Where do you think? Where do you remove yourself to slow down and remember? I am writing this from the WC (yes the water closest) the other fellows and myself were just dismissed from the Dachau debrief. We traveled today to the Dachau memorial site in Germany. The experience was as you might assume personal, somber and thought provoking.
During the debrief my colleagues were so captivating with enthusiasm and words of passionate meaning it warmed my heart. Individuals spoke about change, the power of leaders, words that change people, the importance of revisiting memories, the journey of knowledge and knowing what to do with that knowledge.
An important point was made that I hope those who read this will help hold me accountable for; “always leave room for others to have a voice.” Think about that. Take this to your bathroom. Read it and remember it. Always leave room for others to talk. This is a challenge I feel we all struggle with in our daily lives whether in the work place, marriages, friendships, discussions, personal battles or confrontations with people we love. You never know why a person says or does what they do but you hear what they say, that is your perception.
Reinhold said, “Tolerance is still better than no tolerance at all.” But can we do more? Is there more to this act of tolerance? Should we “do” more?
Walter made the statement, “not just for the other but with the other.” Powerful huh! Seeing the sufferings of people, humans no different than you or me that is mind boggling. But what is more boggling or troubling is knowing that we need change and we need as humans to be for the other and that certain people oppose this. I leave you with this last question What IS love… an experience?


(To find the meaning of Ashe Google “Ashe African”)

Okay. Now I finally have time to type and the internet isn’t working in our rooms, so once again this blog will be read long after the events have taken place. I finally had the chance to get some much needed rest last night as well.

Walter Fluker is the man. I was a part of the lecture of a lifetime yesterday. We were singing, moving, holding hands, crying, and laughing. I feel that I made so many connections with so many different folks. We learned a song and got to hold a “talking stick” with which we all spoke the words “From the center of all things I call myself …” and inserted a name or group of people that we would wish to speak for that do not have a voice. We all said something profound (or profoundly funny to lighten the mood).

Today was the visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp. We were all given audio tour guides and got to walk around the camp, learn, mourn, and reflect on our own experiences at our own pace. As a first time visitor to such an atrocious place of cruelty and extinction, I was taken out of my comfort zone and challenged to sort my own feelings. It was a mixture of melancholy, somberness, personal revelations, and joy to be able to experience and learn from a site of history. Tonight is a debrief so that we may ask questions and share our own thoughts about the day.

I plan to type and write a ton on the plane ride home, so I hope that is okay. Honestly, our schedule has been so jammed and I have just wanted to experience this beautiful place and absorb the sites and the information. I will be in touch!


Meagan Hodges

Thursday, January 6, 2011

35 Years of Jack Tales

In December, the Ferrum Theater troupe known as the Jack Tale Players celebrated 35 years of productions. We'll have more about that in a future blog. In the meantime, the Ferrum College faculty recognized Professor Rex Stephenson with a proclamation which reads as follows:

14 December 2010


the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of The Jack Tale Players

WHEREAS, for thirty-five years, The Jack Tale Players have played a significant role in perpetuating the traditional music and stories of the Blue Ridge Mountains; and

WHEREAS, for thirty-five years, The Jack Tale Players have brought the joy of live theatrical performance to children in regional schools and to national and international audiences; and

WHEREAS, for thirty-five years, The Jack Tale Players have served as a training ground for acting students in storytelling, improvisation, and children’s theatre; and

WHEREAS, for thirty-five years, The Jack Tale Players have served as ambassadors of culture and good will to the larger community;


The Ferrum College faculty congratulates The Jack Tale Players and Dr. R. Rex Stephenson on the occasion of the group’s thirty-fifth anniversary, expresses its appreciation for representing Ferrum College with distinction, and extends its best wishes for many more successful years of celebrating our native cultural traditions.

Lana A. Whited, Chair
Ferrum College Faculty Council

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ferrum Students at Salzburg -- Arrival

Four students from Ferrum College, Caitlin Fournier, Meagan Hodges, Jessi Naff and Cody Wright are in Salzburg, Austria from January 3-10, where they are participating in the Salzburg Global Seminar on Global Citizenship. Their trip was paid for by a grant from the Melon Foundation. For more background on the trip click here. The students have agreed to share their thoughts and revelations with occasional blogs and photos from the seminar.

Jessi Naff sent the following on January 3, 2011.

Are you awake? This was the question and the purpose of the first day here in Salzburg. When first hearing this I assumed David Goldman and Jochen Fried were talking about the jet lag from the 8-hour flight to Munich and then the 2-hour ride to Salzburg. They were, but what I realized after the talk they gave was that keeping us awake has a twofold meaning. Being awake both physically and mentally is what the goal of the day was!

I write this with a gigantic smile on my face, in the words of Travis Campbell who is a resource specialist at the seminar “this is only the first night!” I was the last fellow to leave the reception after an in depth conversation with another seminar fellow. Travis joined our conversation about experiential learning towards the end of the reception. I think I could have sat for hours (if I was not so jet lagged) and talked about the experiential term I took at Ferrum last May. The other seminar fellow I was talking to goes to Brevard College. He is a wilderness leadership and experiential education major. He found my trip amazing! I also mentioned the internships I have had while in the education program. It really surprised me that he found our programs at Ferrum so interesting. I assumed all colleges had experiential opportunities for their students.

Wow, I cannot wait to share more with you all! The opening lecture really was amazing. “Mapping Ethnocentrism” it really goes to show travel is the best educator. Stepping back and evaluating where you came from can really lead to new beliefs, attitudes and values if you have an open heart and open mind. David left us with an excerpt from this poem and I will leave you with it as well.

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They