Category Archives: Women

Jamie Hunter: Escuela Adelante – Nicaragua

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Text by Jamie Hunter, Copyright 2019

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ESCUELA ADELANTE

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Who are we?

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Escuela Adelante provides high quality, alternative education in Spanish and English to meet the diverse needs of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. We offer bilingual preschool, several levels of STEM-based ESL and bilingual coursework for elementary-aged students, and adult ESL classes. All of our programming is founded in our core concepts of Accessibility, Diversity, and Academic Excellence. We have been serving the community since 2014 and plan to expand to full-time bilingual primary and secondary school, including technical training, college preparation, and extracurricular academic courses. Escuela Adelante is a non-profit organization, registered as a 501c(3) in the United States.

Our Mission:

Our mission is to inspire learning and bring communities together by providing outstanding bilingual education that embraces and depends on socioeconomic, linguistic and cultural diversity. 

Our Vision:

We strive to cultivate generations of bilingual critical thinkers who are highly knowledgeable, technologically adept, individually inspired, kind and respectful towards others and towards the physical environment. We envision a thriving, dynamic campus where students can grow and explore. We embrace diversity, self-empowerment and cultural exchange as a means of maximizing education and nurturing healthy relationships between all people of San Juan del Sur and beyond.

Our Promise:

We promise a safe environment where each child can gain the skills for his or her unique path, whether that path leads to university, entrepreneurship, or other success. All students are treated with equal respect and love, regardless of race, gender, religion, socio-economic status, or other individual differences. We respect and embrace everyone’s native language and culture.

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Jamie Hunter teacher educator escuela adelante

Jamie Hunter

About The Instructor

Jaime Hunter, Co-Founder & Director of Operations 

Jaime is a language instructor with 13 years of teaching experience, ranging from Montessori preschool to the university level. She received her Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, and holds Bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from Temple University. Jaime previously served as the Director of Operations at the Barrio Planta Project in San Juan del Sur, and instructed at the Polytechnic University in Rivas, Nicaragua, as well as with the Biblioteca Movil and the Casa de la Mujer in San Juan del Sur. 

 

Also posted in Announcements, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, News, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, Travel

Mikala Mikrut: Sense of Place

 

Poetry by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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Sense of Place

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Las Vegas is my home,

I feel it when I roam.

It must be the drama in the air,

I swear it follows me everywhere.

Seeing that billboard of a provocative lady,

Every day since I was a baby.

Every birthday mom made me ice skate,

An activity of which I still very much hate.

Mom drank fruit water every day,

But complained of the seeds in her way.

For her birthday, I found the solution,

A bottle of glass to also reduce pollution.

She looked at me with disgust, husband laughing,

And said, “no. this can’t be happening.”

“I know you didn’t just get me a fucking bottle,”

Eleven year old me broke down, lost grip of the throttle.

Met the man I thought I’d marry,

Now I’m pretty sure he’s gay, actually very.

My second boyfriend lasted 5 days,

I didn’t like waking from his bed in a haze.

Watching that man get hit by a car,

His body flew so far.

Being forced out of my mother’s twice,

Yeah, that didn’t feel very nice.

My dad dealt weed,

And now the same men in prison are waiting to be freed.

When I visited home from college and thought I had a place to stay,

I discovered my room had been given away.

To a child, not of love, not of blood,

But a mere “friend” from a different neighborhood.

I lost my friend Ben, put a gun to his head,

Oh the things I would have told him had I known he’d be dead.

Then there was the time I got drunk with uncle Doug,

He tripped as he walked over the rug.

To get to me where I was laying,

I could see in his eyes,

He wasn’t playing.

Lucky me, I got away,

Little did I know, my sister in the next room had to pray.

That’s not the worst of it, though,

I swear my life is a dramatic Tv show.

Step sister, Ava, removed from my life,

So much uncertainty, how couldn’t it cause strife?

But, oh, my poor sweet mom,

Who had a perfect life until my bomb.

Her angel of a husband “seduced” by 12 year old me,

She hinted to kill myself so she could be free.

“I want to go home” she would say with a tear,

“Death is no longer something I fear.”

She claimed the best excuse would be if I was gone,

Making herself sound like some twisted her heroine.

All of these things happened in one town,

And yet I can’t think of a single reason to frown.

Why be sad about any of these things?

When I can be excited for what the future brings. 

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Editor’s Note: Photographs Courtesy Mikrut family archives.  Copyright 2019

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About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a sophomore enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-the-best-way-to-speak-to-a-monster-is-from-a-distance/

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, Health Care, Models, Popular Culture, Student Life

Rongrong Liu: Light

 

Video and Text by Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2019

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LIGHT

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This video art project is all about light. I started thinking of using light as my main subject when I saw the disco ball installation recently at the Institute of Contemporary Art. What’s most interesting about it is that what I am able to see with my eyes is different from what the camera lens can see, which is iridescent.

There isn’t a strict plan for this piece. Starting from the first clip, each clip is what I associated in my mind with the previous one. The blurry night traffic scene ⇒ the micro bokeh light ⇒ disco ball ⇒ glass light ⇒ underwater light ⇒ projector light ⇒ smoke. After this clip are my interactions with the light, playing with the shadow and the time lapse of traffic. Light is everywhere, and it is different depending on the way we look at it (from a macroscopic or a microscopic view), how close we are, how focused we are, etc..

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Portrait of Rongrong Liu by Alexis Masino. Copyright 2019

Portrait of Rongrong Liu by Alexis Masino. Copyright 2019

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About The Author: Rongrong Liu is a Senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Rongrong Liu, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/rongrong-liu-me/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Light Table, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn

Bob Shell: Fighting Monsters

Artwork by Christopher Suciu. Copyright 2019

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #33

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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FIGHTING MONSTERS

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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”.

I’ve been fighting a monster known as The Commonwealth of Virginia since my life was disrupted in 2003 by false criminal charges after the death of my girlfriend Marion Franklin. Have I succeeded in not becoming a monster myself? I hope so.

When you’re charged with a crime by a state, that state devotes all of its vast resources to insuring that you are convicted. Unless you are wealthy, it’s a very uneven match, and you must be prepared to lose everything, even if you win the case. Lawyers, court reporters, expert witnesses, bail bondsmen, etc., don’t work for free. Everywhere you turn, someone is standing there with their hand extended for money. I’ve never been wealthy, just comfortable, and the whole legal process bankrupted me.

Last night I had a dream. I was sitting in an auditorium somewhere with friends. We were on the front row. The Commonwealth’s Attorney (CA) came down the aisle, turned to me and asked, “Mr. Shell, did you wear sunglasses on your drive over here today?”. I said that I had. “You see,” he barked, “he admits to an illegal activity.”. I must have looked totally confused because he said, “Don’t you know that it’s illegal to wear sunglasses after you’re accused of a crime? ”

Just a dream, right? But not so far from reality. After my arrest I spent thirty days in jail before my lawyer could bail me out. When you’re out on bail it’s just like probation; you have to report to the Probation and Parole office regularly, and any infraction, no matter how minor, can get your release cancelled and you thrown back in jail. One day I was going somewhere in town, don’t recall where, when a town cop pulled me over and wrote me a ticket for having a burned out brake light. I had no idea the light wasn’t working. For a while it looked like the CA was going to try to revoke my bail over this! I had the light fixed immediately and carried the receipt to traffic court. Luckily, the judge dismissed the charge. But by driving with a burned out brake light, I was technically committing an illegal act while out on bail! And if they want to, they can revoke your bail over almost anything, even a parking ticket!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-prostitution/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture

Mikala Mikrut: The Best Way to Speak to a Monster is From a Distance


Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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Artwork by Christopher Suciu, Copyright 2019

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The Best Way to Speak to a Monster is From a Distance

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Humans have always feared the unknown. More often than not, it meant death. Throughout time, the term “monster” has been used to explain the inexplicable whether it was a strange shape or sound coming from an unexplored part of the woods or the man who will abandon all sense of morals to get to where he wants to be. Monster is such a broad term that Webster’s Dictionary defines it both as “an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure” and “one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character,” which makes sense given that both of these examples are out of the norm. Monsters matter because they are a category in which society sorts the misfits, the unexamined, and the suspicious; there are exceptions to every rule and monsters are the outliers from whatever is perceived as “right.”

There is a certain fascination that comes with witnessing something out of the ordinary. While women in the 1400s would hide their children behind their skirt to shield them from beholding a deformed man on the street, they would have no problem with paying money to observe him behind bars or glass. Putting a barrier or separation between normal people and mysterious forces makes them appear less realistic and thus safer. It is with this feeling of safety that people will engage in activities such as walking through haunted houses or watching horror movies. If they know they won’t get hurt, then the fear is an exciting rush rather than a question of survival. Stephen King, American horror author, argues that “we’re all mentally ill,” (King, 16) and that perhaps the fear factor is braved to prove that it can be done. But more likely, it is “to re-establish our feelings of essential normality,” (King, 16) because the people in the theater screaming at a screen to run away are far more sane than an actress knowingly advancing towards a monster. It is the monster that is used as a platform to define normality and make the average Joe feel like at least they’re doing something right; so long as they’re not dripping with green goo or hiding in a teenage girl’s closet with a knife, they’re succeeding at life.

This has been the mindset for centuries. Daniel Cohen, French economist and professor, brings to light how the Aztecs and the Incas were terrified at the sight of men on horses (Cohen). Having never fathomed the relationship, they assumed the two bodies were one, yet again using that term, monster, to define something unknown. But even way back then, the people were fascinated by monsters when it meant they wouldn’t have to be faced. Cohen talks about how “griffin’s claws or the roc’s eggs were brought back” (Cohen, 139) from travels, making people believe that these creatures were real. They would buy these things valuing them as exotic and maybe even magical without even questioning why they resembled why perhaps their “feathers” looked like palm leaves or why their “griffin’s claws” resembled animal tusks or horns. People just couldn’t resist believing that there were rare creatures out in the parts of the world they wouldn’t dare to venture; the idea of the unknown is scary and exciting, but the actual notion of leaving home could mean danger or even death. So why risk it? Venturing the unknown is hardly celebrated.

That’s why most people’s interaction with something they’ve never seen before or those woods that just don’t feel right to be around are from the comforts of their own home or theaters. Horror movies satisfy the curiosity of what lies beyond Nancy’s humdrum nine to five office job. Given that the horror genre observes the weird and creepy, it makes sense that the people who work on them aren’t considered on the same spectrum when it comes to artistry. Michael Varrati, American screenwriter, columnist and actor, has written an article that examines just that. He believes it’s absolutely absurd that people who make monsters possible in cinema and literature are “routinely looked down upon by the ‘real’ artists,” (Varrati, 1) how could a comedy be viewed as any more or less artistic than horror? Well, because comedy involves believable characters in normal or at least semi-realistic situations. Horror is laughable simply because creatures are strange, they’re intriguing but not worth more than an prolonged glance of judgement. Again, the point of people still giving monsters their attention in this modern world is to remind themselves how normal and socially accepted they are.

A more concise example would be Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This creature is certainly hideous, even learning language and emotion doesn’t stop people from fearing his grotesque presence. Zoe Beenstock wrote an article in which she addresses “whether individualism can produce sociability,” (Beenstock, 1). She doesn’t shy away from revealing the natural contradiction of human tolerance. It is often assumed that accepting others and celebrating individuality and differences is taught from childhood; and yet there are still hate crimes and separation. What people view as monstrous is that which is unfamiliar to them.

So perhaps humanity has not made so much progress in understanding others and the world after all. But that is okay, because the world is so vast that what really matters is that humanity consistently puts its efforts towards understanding and improving. In conclusion, monsters matter because they are a reflection of what is not yet understood and are the basis on which people judge normality. Without monsters, people would be left to judge themselves and their personal flaws and immoral behaviors. Monsters are a scape goat, something to point a finger at and say, “Well, at least I’m not THAT thing.”

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Works Cited

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Beenstock, Zoe. “Lyrical Sociability: The Social Contract and Mary Shelley’s

Frankenstein.” Philosophy & Literature, vol. 39, no. 2, Oct. 2015, pp. 406-421.

EBSCOhost,proxy.li.suu.edu:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=115185220&site=ehost-live.

Cohen, Daniel. “The Birth of Monsters.” Monsters, edited by Andrew J. Hoffman, Bedford/St.

Martins, 2016, 134-139.

King, Stephen. “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” Monsters, edited by Andrew J. Hoffman,

Bedford/St. Martins, 2016, 16-18.

“Monster.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/monster.

Varrati, Michael. “Unfairly Maligned Monsters: Why Horror Matters.” The Huffington Post,

TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Apr. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-varrati/horror

movies-books_b_1441467.html.

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Mikala: Photographed by Tony Ward. Copyright 2019

Mikala: Photographed by Tony Ward. Copyright 2019

About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a sophomore enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-change/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, Music, Popular Culture, Student Life