SIFE Team Takes New England by Storm

Saint Anselm SIFE Chapter with awardGathered inside a newly furnished conference room in Joseph Hall, the SIFE team looks more like seasoned business professionals than college students. The team's enthusiasm is infectious as they chatter about winning their third consecutive New England SIFE Championship on March 31, 2009. Watch out Philadelphia, Saint Anselm is ready to rock their competition at the SIFE National Exposition on May 10-12. [Read more…]

The Great Depression and Today’s Financial Crisis

Great Depression Bread and Milk LineOn March 11, a panel consisting of professors Andrew Moore (history), James Mahoney (philosophy), Jonathan Acuff (politics), and John Romps (economics and business) discussed the Great Depression relative to our country’s current economic crisis.

Professor Romps, the event’s organizer, dispelled common misconceptions about the Great Depression, explaining that it was actually a downturn beginning in early 1929, not just a reaction to the stock market crash. He discussed the belief that everyone in America was destitute; in actuality, while many suffered (27%-30% unemployment), about 70% of Americans still had jobs. About 60% of Americans never lost their jobs for the whole span of the 1930s. He described the common debate of the 1930s–recovery vs. reform–a debate that resurfaced throughout the event.

Professor Moore focused on the New Deal and the Roosevelt Administration. The New Deal, he argued, did not end the Depression, and its primary importance was to change the relationship between government and the people. FDR thought government should help individuals by promoting economic stability and security, and believed the best way to resolve the crisis was to provide a sort of safety net. Another focus of the New Deal was to help businesses by eliminating competition and encouraging cooperation with legislation like the National Industry Recovery Act. FDR wanted people to look to the government for help instead of charities or churches, especially because those resources were depleted by the time he took office.

Professor Acuff discussed international politics, stating that the first global economic decline since 1945 was in fact 2009. Many of the causes were similar, such as enormous overheating of the economy because of problems with housing and Wall Street. A few more similarities he discussed were both events saw major pressures on the capitalist structure, Europe waited for the United States to act, and there were worldwide feelings of political instability. Acuff noted differences as well; the level of global trade is much higher now than in the 1930s, and this interdependence is brought on by many more international organizations than politicians could have imagined. The tools are better now, Acuff stated, and we now know more about the problems at hand.

Professor Mahoney discussed the relevance of philosophy in the Great Depression, reflecting specifically on what is happening in philosophy as a theoretical discipline. The sense of fear that emerged during the 1930s produced a distrust of reason. He said this idea of “giving up on reason” forced humans to seek stability and security. Mahoney cited novels, movies, and documentaries from the period that really explain the incredible fear people had during The Great Depression. He closed by describing 1930s philosopher John Dewey, who gave hope to people who worried about the collapsing economy; Dewey believed if one used scientific reasoning and applied the ideas in a systematic way, there was a chance one could have new visions of what constitutes reason.

In the questions that followed, the themes of government intervention and the global economy continued to resurface. Professor Romps believes the current situation is beyond the point where America can’t expect the government not to step in. “It is so dangerous that to expect the government not to intervene is preposterous. They have to.” Professor Acuff said that the United States’ recovery impacts global recovery. He stressed that although there were some positive results of a bad global economy (better relations with foreign nations, more interdependence), today’s problems in the United States create an accidental ripple effect. Acuff and Romps agreed that if the United States doesn’t recover, the world doesn’t recover.

Photo credit: Depression era bread and milk line

Reflecting on the Spring Break Alternative Experience

I may be thousands of miles from Honduras, yet a part of me is still there. I'll always remember my first visit to this country and forge ahead with a new found appreciation for how lucky I am.

Being back on campus is an adjustment, dealing with the day-to-day nuances of life at college: the work, meetings, and fast pace of life. Yet, I now understand the futility of these worries, for there are larger concerns, bigger challenges, and better rewards.

My Spring Break Alternative (SBA) trip left campus Friday morning, February 27 at 3:30 a.m. with 14 participants bound for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (N.P.H.), a ranch for orphaned children in the hills outside the capital city, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Descending out of the clouds, I had my first view of the Honduran countryside, rugged mountain terrain reached skyward, sometimes reaching exceedingly close to the plane as we spiraled down to land in Tegucigalpa, described as one of the "ten most dangerous runways in the world." As we bounced onto the runway and decelerated, I became slightly overwhelmed that Honduras would be my home away from home for the next week.

Entering a New World

Our trip through the city was my first of many eye-opening experiences. Weaving in and out of the clogged, smoggy and at times, seemingly impassible roads, I received my first tour of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Men stood outside local business, armed with shotguns dissuading potential crime, while feet away, children played soccer in the street.

The juxtaposition of promise and poverty and the contrast between danger and innocence, clashed before my eyes; an impression that only grew for me as we reached our host-site, Rancho Santa Fe.

Passing through the gate took us into a different world, a seemingly self-sustaining world of sorts. Lush gardens blossomed, a working farm provided thousands of eggs daily to feed the community. A small, squat building near the center of the ranch was the production hub where some 2,000 tortillas were produced. Here the physical poverty seen during our drive to N.P.H. seemed so far away.

And Then There Were the Children

And then there were the children: 500 children, who are without parents, victims of abuse, rape, poverty, and unimaginable despair; children of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Children who come from all backgrounds, but share a common trait: they are parentless, and are dependent on N.P.H. was through these children, who spoke a different language than I, but through whom I felt a connection, that I learned of a new experience: emotional poverty.

I saw it in their faces. Even if you couldn't understand what they were saying, you knew that each of these children had been through gross injustices.

You knew, you could feel, you could sense, the emotion; and you could truly feel the love and excitement they had for the personal attention we gave each of them.

Whether holding a hand, hoisting a child onto our shoulders, running around playing soccer or sharing a meal together, the compassion myself and my fellow participants were able to show, and the one-on-one attention we provided truly made a difference. Each afternoon, and again in the evening we spent time with the kids, enriching their day through any means possible.

Even more overwhelming was the time we spent visiting Casa Angeles, a home managed by N.P.H. for severely disabled children. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, the intense experience at Casa Angeles reaffirmed for me the compassion and sympathy of each of my fellow participants.

Life Lessons

I learned a lot about myself on this trip.

I learned how simple life really can be: I can get by with one plate, one bowl and one spoon; I don’t need an iPod, or a cell phone for entertainment.

I realized how lucky I am to have the means to eat a healthy, nourishing meal, three times a day.

I learned the importance of family. I realized how dependent I am on other people, with whom I share emotions, laughter, sadness, and joy.

As our plane banked left over the city during our departure, and I looked out over the sprawling mass of humanity below me, I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be on this trip, with my group of fellow participants. I realized I had been part of a lesson that I’ll always carry with me: the true meaning of love.

See additional photos from SBA Honduras on our Flickr page.

By: Cory True
SBA Honduras

Chauffeurs, Actors, and Window Cleaners

Students have had the opportunity to experience first-hand, every detail that goes into putting together a production like the ABC/Facebook debates. The students have done everything, from chauffeuring news talent and candidates around the local communities, to acting as stand-ins for the debate rehearsals, to cleaning the Fox Box window so that it is pristine. This podcast follows Michael Perkins '10, Kate Giaquinto '10, and Jerry Cournoyer '09 as they experience what it is like to make this fascinating event come together.

And the World Keeps on Spinning

Img1566.jpgI stood enveloped by the aroma of seventy-five different after-shaves worn by men whose weapon of choice was a very large video camera or a twelve foot long pole and microphone. Bright lights surrounded the hundreds of people anxiously awaiting the very exciting arrivals. These people promised absolutely no mercy when it came to getting their “perfect shot.”

This was the atmosphere that so profoundly filled the Spin Room, located in Saint Anselm College’s Stoutenburgh Gym. I stood in the very heart of the hundreds of media representatives, watching through camera lenses and physically pushing my way through to the front of the mass trying to get my own picture, my own story. It was probably one of the most exciting moments of my life so far.

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I have always watched these herds of people moving about on television, but never dreamed I would be pushing just as hard back at them. Yet when you finally get in the mass that always reminds me of the stampede from The Lion King, you simply can’t help it.

Tonight’s experience in the Spin Room showed me the competitive world of the media and gave me a first hand experience at what it is to be a news reporter. It is a cutthroat business that forces you to put yourself out there. At the same time, though, you have a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from people who have made a name for themselves, such as David Westin, Kate Snow, James Pindell, and Elizabeth Edwards. It was a refreshing experience that I won’t soon forget.