students in ghanaUAlbany Students Expand Their Horizons in Ghana
By Lisa James Goldsberry
It has been said that there is always something new out of Africa. The 11 University at Albany students who accompanied Africana Studies professors Joseph Sarfoh and Marcia Sutherland to Ghana this past summer would surely agree. “When learning about Africa in class, you form a mental picture of what it’s like. Going there both added to and strengthened my ideology,” said Serie McDougal III, a second-year graduate student working on his master’s in Africana Studies and one of the students who studied for a month in Ghana as part of the study abroad program. He has already made plans to return next summer to finish his project, “The Effect of the IMF and the World Bank on Ghanaian National Security.” This was the second year for the summer program.

The students found the trip to be a life-changing experience. Many learned to speak Twi, a widely spoken language. “This trip affected me culturally and religiously,” said Tisha Y. Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate in reading. “I came back with a different outlook on who I am because the people there were very humble and generous and I am now striving to be more like them.” While there, she taught reading and phonics.

While in Ghana, the students were given lectures on a variety of subjects and exposed to many aspects of the country. The lectures covered everything from African indigenous psychology to the rise of nationalism. The three daily lectures were given by scholars from one of the three university centers: the University of Ghana at Legon, which is the primary university; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; and the University of Cape Coast.

Tisha Y. LewisOne of the most powerful aspects of the trip occurs when the students visit the Elmina Castle Dungeons and the Cape Coast Castle Dungeons, which are the former dungeons where the slaves were kept before being shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean islands. “Seeing the cells is always very emotional for African Americans and it is a highlight of the trip,” Sarfoh said. McDougal added that learning their history has caused him to think differently about America, especially now during this time of war and what he describes as “blind patriotism,” and it has renewed his belief that African Americans should also remember the suffering they have experienced.

In addition to the academic component of the trip, the students also got a taste of the culture of the country. Each spent a week living with a host family and everyone had a different experience. The family Lewis stayed with owned a hotel and had servants but all were treated like family. “On the first day they told us to call them Mom and Pop,” she said. McDougal also enjoyed his host family. “The television was usually on and acted as a catalyst for our conversations. We talked about everything possible until we fell asleep,” he said. The Department of Africana Studies has also adopted a village in Ghana. “We have helped them with educational resources, and we are helping them with a water project as well,” Sutherland said. Those who wish to make a contribution or find out additional information can visit http://www.albany.edu/africana/SAFA.html.

Ghana was seen as a good place to have a program because of the many things it has to offer and see, such as the place where W.E.B. DuBois lived. “Fertilizing ideas between the two countries is very important. The students and faculty come back and share what they have experienced so everyone learns, everyone benefits from a program like this,” Sutherland said. Although they have received support both within and outside the University, the participants strongly stress that more is needed, especially from the administration, to keep the program operating.

The program got off the ground thanks to a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 1997, which allowed for exploration of programs with universities in South Africa. It has expanded to include West Africa, Ghana in particular. UAlbany now co-sponsors, with SUNY Brockport, the study abroad program at Legon. “The whole essence is to fulfill one of the missions of the department, which is education and community outreach,” said Sarfoh. “We felt that by trying to apply what we learn here with going to Africa then we begin to demonstrate the linkages between the types of experiences of the African American population here and the people of Africa.” Plans are now underway for Summer 2003.

Shirley JonesTwo New Funds Honor Shirley Jones
By Kathy Turek
A gala celebration was held at the President’s residence this summer to celebrate Shirley J. Jones, distinguished professor in the School of Social Welfare, and the endowed funds being established in her honor. More than 100 friends and colleagues of Jones assembled to pay tribute to her many accomplishments.

One endowment is for the Shirley J. Jones Endowed Fund for International Community Building, which will be administered by the School of Social Welfare and used to further the educational and career goals of African American graduate students in social welfare. The other endowment is the Shirley J. Jones Opportunity Fund, to be administered by UAlbany’s Initiatives For Women and used to advance the academic and career goals of African American women enrolled in any doctoral program at the University.

Jones was named a distinguished service professor, the highest rank of professor in the State University of New York system, in 1993. She has served on both the University Senate and The University at Albany Foundation’s Community Council, and received the highest designation for service and commitment to the University when she was named a Collins Fellow in 1999. The University at Albany Foundation bestowed the title of academic citizen laureate on her in 2000. This year, she was selected as the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Class of 1977 honoree for her “Extraordinary Leadership in Social Policy, Planning and Education.”

Jones has been at the forefront in organizing international study tours to African nations to promote African and American collaboration and partnership for planned change and development. She has taught courses spanning the study of social welfare policy, macro practice, rural social work, and community practice.

She earned a doctor of social welfare degree from Columbia University, and master of social welfare, master of education and bachelor of education degrees from New York University. She joined the UAlbany faculty in 1988, after serving as dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Mississippi and as a faculty member at the State University at Stony Brook.

Contributions to these funds are welcome. Please make payments to The University at Albany Foundation, designating one or both of the funds: Shirley J. Jones Endowed Fund for International Community Building and/or Shirley J. Jones Opportunity Fund. Contact Stephanie Wacholder, School of Social Welfare, at 442-5324 or swachold@nycap.rr.com or Kathy Turek, IFW Chair, at 437-3916 or turek@albany.edu, with questions about the funds or additional details on making contributions.

Martina TaylorTaylor Named Third Hearst Scholar
Martina Taylor has been chosen as the third recipient of the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellowship in the School of Public Health. With the support of a $10,000 stipend provided by the endowment funds, Taylor has begun her graduate education in the master’s degree program in public health. Taylor graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1998, and received a bachelor of science degree in human biology from Stanford University in June. Taylor built a strong academic record at Stanford, with a GPA of 3.2 and strong GRE scores.

Through summer internships, she has shown a dedication to women’s health issues. At the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, she examined different criteria for classifying cervical cancers. During a second internship at the Native American Women’s Health Resource Center in Lake Andes, S.D., Taylor assisted in developing literature on date violence and rape.

In the master’s program in public health at UAlbany, her concentration is in behavioral sciences and community health. This semester, she is taking Biological Basis of Public Health, Principles and Methods of Epidemiology, Principles of Public Health, and Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health. Her long-term career plans are to combine her training in public health with medical school in order to achieve her goal of, in her words, “merging the preventative and curative aspects of healthcare.”

Taylor was chosen by the school’s Diversity and Recruitment Committee.

An additional $150,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation to the School of Public Health was announced in August. This grant will benefit minority students seeking public health careers, and ultimately enhance health services to minority communities.

The most recent award, which has been added to UAlbany’s Hearst/School of Public Health Minority Fellowship Fund, enables the school to offer a $10,000 Hearst fellowship to a qualifying minority graduate student each year, instead of every other year, as was done in the past. The school is seeking to advance public health as a career choice for minority men and women who are motivated both politically and socially. By stepping up efforts to recruit and retain students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the School of Public Health will increase the number of health practitioners conversant with the needs of minority communities, thereby promoting more effective outreach.

The fund was established in 1996 and 1997 with two Hearst Foundation grants totaling $100,000. To date, income from the fund has made it possible for the school to support two students every other year.

Founded in 1985, the School of Public Health represents an innovative partnership among the University at Albany, the New York State Department of Health, and Albany Medical College. Accredited in 1993 by the Council on Education in Public Health, the school enrolls approximately 80 students each year in six master’s and five doctoral degree programs.

The Hearst Foundation, Inc., was founded in 1945 by William Randolph Hearst, the noted publisher and philanthropist. Three years later, Hearst established the California Charities Foundation, which was renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation shortly after his death in 1951. The charitable goals of the foundations reflect the philanthropic interests - education, health, social service and culture - of their founder. The Hearst Foundations are headquartered in New York City.

walkUAlbany Marked September 11 with Walk of Remembrance and Candlelight Vigil
candlelight vigilCandlelight vigil held at UAlbany one year after the 9/11 attacks.

UAlbany staff members who served at Ground Zero, far right.

The University also held a tree-planting ceremony in memory of UAlbany alumni, friends, and family who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

 

Galembo’s Photography Brings Halloween Costumes to Life
By Greta Petry

Halloween book coverUAlbany Professor of Art Phyllis Galembo “approaches her subjects with the delight and wonder of one who has discovered an entire cast of characters backstage in an abandoned theater. Through her lens, the costumes rise from the dead to once again dance, play, and amuse. Ranging from handmade to store-bought, satin to polyester, the masks, wigs, and costumes, whether recognizable figures or obscure, pique our childhood memories,” notes Galembo’s new book Dressed for Thrills: 100 Years of Halloween Costumes & Masquerade (Abrams, $24.95). Galembo began focusing on the photography for this book in 1998-1999 during a sabbatical from her position as photography professor.

Mark Durant wrote the history of Hallo-ween that accompanies the photos.

“What most of us don’t realize is that the cluster of activities that characterizes our notions of Halloween is a hybrid of ancient practices woven into contemporary trends in commercial culture. When we celebrate Halloween, we participate in that strange narrative we call history. On a long and circuitous path that begins in pre-Christian Europe, we find ourselves standing on strangers’ doorsteps, shouting for candy from behind plastic masks,” Durant writes.

Galembo’s photographs are striking and carefully lit: They evoke emotions one might feel upon opening an old trunk in the attic. The images are of masks alone, masks and costumes, or of somber-faced children all dressed up for Halloween.

pumpkin costumesGalembo mixes colors, light, and fabric in a collage that in-trigues. Among the most interesting costumes are the handmade ones: a Liberty-Uncle Sam costume from 1860; a Liberty Girl costume from 1890-1910; a tiny child covered head to toe in a homemade bluebird costume.

Galembo writes of her own Halloween experience: “As a child, Halloween for me was an important time and not a scary one in the least. In our home it was second only to Purim, the Jewish holiday during which children and adults dress as Queen Esther or Mordecai, important figures from Bible stories. To this day I remember the bric-a-brac on the dress that my mother made for my character of Queen Esther. I imagine this is where my lifelong obsession with costumes began and why Halloween to me has been more magical than trickster,” she writes.

bear costumeGalembo started photographing people in festival costumes in the 1970s. Her interest in ceremonial garb continued after a 1985 trip to Nigeria, where she photographed traditional priests and priestesses. From there, Galembo went to Brazil, taking photos of the traditional priests and priestesses of Candomblé, an ancient African religion. “Candomblé was brought to the New World during the Atlantic slave trade of the 16th century, and this specific religion with its riot of color and ceremony has always interested me. Through these experiences I began to understand the spiritual nature of clothing and its impact on both wearer and viewer,” Galembo writes. Later, in Haiti, she continued working with the “spiritual and transforming power of clothing,”and from there, she focused her interest, and her camera lens, on holiday clothing, and then Halloween costumes, in the U.S.

“Halloween allows us to experience and explore the shared ethnic, cultural, and folk celebrations that have engaged diverse peoples throughout history. It is these common threads that inspire me to celebrate and document the use of costume and masquerade,” Galembo writes.