Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why is the soup in my wine glass? (And other questions of etiquette.)

The waiter brought the soup, a beautiful tomato gazpacho. Yet something was wrong. As each person was served, the well dressed guests at the table became more nervous. The soup was in a champagne glass, and for good measure, a grilled goat cheese sandwich served as a make-shift lid. What in the heck are you supposed to do with that?

Those are the types of questions Ferrum’s graduating seniors faced during the eighth annual Professional Protocol Dinner last night in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room.

Career Services Director Rol Walters figured out a long time ago that knowing which fork is for salad could be the final hurdle for graduating seniors entering the workplace. “These people have spent four years preparing for the job market, and we don’t want them to lose an opportunity if they can’t handle a business lunch or dinner,” said Walters.

So Walters teams up with Jack Sharlowe FMP, an expert on protocol, and Ferrum College Chef Bo Bernard. Chef Bo comes up with gourmet dishes that challenge even veteran business diners, while the Tuxedo clad Sharlowe guides students, staff and local business people through the minefield of potential mistakes.

“No more than two sugars for your coffee or tea, more than that is excessive,” he cautioned. “Don’t salt your food before you taste it. That’s pre-judging.”

Sharlowe also guided the group through the standard rules of how to carry on polite conversation without dominating the table. He gave basic advice on how to place the napkin in your lap, (diagonally and partially folded) and how to place your fork and knife on your plate to indicate to the wait staff that you are resting, but not yet finished with your meal.

Bite by bite, we finished our peanut butter and jelly (sliced grapes on cranberry walnut bread crouton with powdered peanut butter) our cucumber wrapped spring salad, and roasted Chicken Oscar – on the bone – with rosemary risotto. (I NEVER order chicken on the bone in polite company.) For dessert we enjoyed Baked Tart Tatin – a spiral sliced granny smith apple stuffed with caramel cream cheese served on puffed pastry. Beautiful and delicious, but hard to eat without using your fingers.

Oh – and the soup in the champagne glass with the grilled goat cheese? You set the sandwich on your bread plate. Since the soup is in a glass you may drink it or spoon it – making sure to dip the spoon away from your body.

Bon app├ętit.

To view more photos from the evening, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dessert Discussion: Christianity vs. Atheism

Public Relations Intern Meagan Hodges has been attending the College's Dessert Discussions. Here are her thoughts on the most recent discussion.

Dessert Discussion: Christianity vs. Atheism

Dessert discussions have been happening approximately every two weeks on campus in the Confetti’s Lounge located in the basement of Bassett Hall. This is a great opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and Residence Hall Educators to take part in meaningful conversations on key issues, such as “civility” and “racism in the media” in a relaxed setting. Desserts and drinks are served to get participants’ minds flowing, and this week’s discussion consisted of Christianity, Atheism, and chocolate tart pie. Residence Hall Educators Joseph Fridley, Demond Hairston, Toni Davis, and Professor of Mathematics Jobriath Kauffman facilitated the discussion and were joined by several other Ferrum students and other participants on Monday, April 4th, 2011.

Among the topics discussed were faith and religion, life after death, the existence of God, Heaven and Hell, and free will. Professor Kauffman opened with comments on “The Last Supper” and Jesus’ Resurrection from the Bible. On Christianity, Professor Kauffman’s view was that “You are a Christian if you believe that Christ is who he said he was.” Faith was defined in the discussion as “What you do not know and choose to believe.”

Opposing views were given to support both Christianity and Atheism, and some students proclaimed agnosticism, meaning that they believe God’s existence can be neither proven nor disproven. An issue these students had with Christianity was the problem of reconciling humanistic free will with God’s “ultimate plan.” Hypocrisy in Christians and churches was another reason given by students for not accepting Christianity. Also, some presented the view that the fear of death is the only real reason that people turn to religion.

Religion was also discussed in terms of cultural relevance. It was mentioned that “both Atheists and Jesus hated “religion” because of the wedge it drives between humans. Cultural references, such as the movie Dogma, were brought up, as well as the impacts that these influences have on religion today. Toni Davis, Residence Hall Educator, said that college is a time that many students are faced with evidence or other cultural influences that cause them to question the religion they were raised in. One student affirmed this statement by saying that she was “still searching” for religion or spirituality.

The session came to a close with Professor Kauffman telling his story of how he kept his faith through his college years. He left his family in Pennsylvania to go to college in Tennessee. Upon arriving, he met a fellow student from China who he instantly bonded with. This friend invited Kauffman to the local Chinese Ministry, and even though he could not understand the message, this was what got him back into the rhythm of worshiping and attending Sunday school.

Brad Barbour, a local man from Henry County, had been an active participant in the conversation all along. He worked on campus previously, found out about the discussion via email, and thought the topic was of such interest that he decided to come out. He said that “Real love is not a feeling, it’s a choice,” regarding the choice to accept Christianity, and he thoughtfully closed the discussion by stating that “Either side will never get anywhere by arguing.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

House Party is No Fun.

“Being pregnant isn’t as cute as I thought it would be,” said Ferrum College student Katie Duff.” With groan she added, “It’s also heavier.”

Katie is one of about 200 students who are learning first hand the consequences of their actions. She's wearing an outfit that makes her look and feel pregnant.

Other students were suspended from school, sexually assaulted at a party and learned they had contracted various sexually transmitted diseases. Oh yeah – some went to jail and others died.

It’s part of an exercise called, House Party put on by the College Department of Student Affairs.

“It shows students how close they are to life changing decisions, when they don’t even realize it,” explained Student Health Programs Coordinator Jill Adams, who heads the program.

Students begin the exercise by attending what looks like a keg party in the Panther’s Den. There is loud music, a pair of kegs in the middle of the room, and sorority sisters dancing and drinking from red plastic cups. It looks for all the world like an actual college party.

As the students mingle, volunteers pass out slips of paper that indicate what the student “did” after drinking too much and making bad decisions. “You have alcohol poisoning, go to the hospital,” said one slip. “You were charged with assault for fighting,” said another.

The first student went to a station manned by Ferrum Biology Professor Katie Goff, playing the role of doctor who informed the young lady that she had required CPR and nearly died after having her stomach pumped. She was dispatched to another station, where she would need to explain herself to volunteers posing as her parents.

Student Marcavious Rose, meanwhile learned that his assault charge, though dropped would still be cause to dismiss him from school. “We can’t take a chance on a student who has shown he is willing to do bodily harm to another student,” explained Vice President of Student Affairs Andrea Zuschin.

Down the hall there were even worse stories. Brittany Jones learned she had been sexually assaulted at a party after passing out. Claude Johnson walked by with a sign around his neck. It announced he’d contracted gonorrhea.

When asked about the exercise, every student said it made them realize how close they could be to making a life changing mistake. Volunteers, like Amy Pendleton of the Perinatal Education Center in Rocky Mount, who handed lifelike crying babies, to students who learned they’d become pregnant, said they would rather spend the time now, than helping kids learn, “once it’s too late.”

Pendleton drove the point home by setting the baby’s adjustable temperament to ‘irritable.” Said one student tasked with carrying, feeding and changing the crying baby’s diapers, “This is way harder than I thought.”