Monday, November 14, 2011

Preventing Childhood Obesity

Jenna Boundy, PT '12

I had the wonderful opportunity to complete a clinical internship at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The facility provided a healthy lifestyles clinic where a physical therapist, physician, psychologist and dietician collaborate to provide care for children who are overweight and/or obese. Two of our patients were 10 and 11 year-old sisters. Each weighed around 170 pounds and showed early signs of Type II diabetes.

After my visit with these young girls, I wondered about the future health struggles they will endure over their lifetimes if they do not make changes early. Not yet teenagers, they may have to worry about multiple daily insulin shots. By age 40, they may face peripheral neuropathy, blindness or amputation.

I give a lot of credit to the healthy lifestyles clinic to help overweight/obese children and their families adopt  healthy behaviors. Unfortunately, we are not promoting prevention of childhood obesity at early ages. Obesity at any age can cause cardiovascular disease, many forms of cancer, Type II diabetes and hypertension, all of which will greatly increase medical costs. Being an advocate and a positive role model for your own children and the children in our community is essential. It is the only way we will create change and reduce the obesity epidemic.

Since, 1980 childhood obesity rates have tripled. Currently, 17 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese nationwide ( Many overweight children often are not given the opportunity to develop a lifestyle of balanced, healthy meals and physical activity that they enjoy. There are many reasons and barriers why obesity levels have risen over the past 30 years. We can blame it on an abundance of processed foods, a decrease in the physical activity provided in our schools, the increase in screen time and prevalence of sedentary jobs, increase in the cost of food, the decreased time we have to be active and cook healthy meals. The list goes on. The great thing is we have control to solve some of the issues which have led to the high obesity rates, while others provide opportunity for adaption.

Here are some tips to help build a well-rounded healthy lifestyle for you and your family.

Instead of watching TV every night, go for a family walk. You can always record or watch your show online later. If you live in a neighborhood that is not conducive for family walks, ride your bikes or drive to a school track for some quality exercise time.

Take the time to cook a nutritious meal. Many websites offer healthy, low-cost recipes that are easy to fix. If you don’t have access to a computer, use the local public library’s computers or check out a cookbook.

Sit down as a family for dinner time. Multiple studies have shown that eating together as a family not only decreases obesity rates, but can also build a positive support system.

Limit screen time (TV and computers) to less than 1 hour per day. Evidence shows that increased screen time increases the risk of obesity.

Decrease the amount of time you sit at work. Stand up to do some of your work and walk during your breaks and lunch.

Make a contract. Contracts make us accountable for our actions. As a family, sign contracts stating all the realistic changes you want to make in your life.

Create a reward system. A great family motivator may be a visit to a water park, a family hike or a day trip at the beach. All of these activities are fun and promote a continuation of physical activity.

With the new school year starting, I challenge you to make healthy changes in your life. Not only will you be happier with yourself, you’ll be a great role model for your family and our community. Become a catalyst that will empower others to make changes and decrease the risk of obesity. Just remember to make little changes every day, create realistic goals and be accountable for your actions. Be the change!

Boundy, PT '12 graduated with a doctorate in the physical therapy. After graduation, she plans to work in the realm of orthopaedics and hopes one day to provide low-cost preventive services that will reduce the risk of childhood and adult obesity.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pharmacy Graduate Uses His Skills to Give Back

Payam Ghorbani, Pharm.D. '11
                                                       The mission of the Tati Tati Foundation is to provide food, educational material, and support to those in need of these services, as well as information regarding graduate programs, career choices, and many other educational disciplines.

Tati Tati fosters learning and academic excellence by working with a variety of individuals. Each of these individuals come from a different cultural and career background, which makes our members so valuable. Our sole purpose is to create a safe, fulfilling, and academically enriching environment for students.

Similar to many others in my profession, I have always wanted to do what I could to help people. I considered every career choice possible that I felt would be rewarding to me, but due to an unfortunate illness that occurred in my family, I was drawn towards the healthcare profession.  Suddenly, my goals were clear to me, and I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish.

Not long ago, a great opportunity was presented to me. My elder sister, who was at the time completing her rotations in Domincan Republic suggested a community service project for us to participate in. The project involved providing patient assistance and helping out in her hospital in Dominican Republic. Due to the poverty level in the city she was in, an extra set of hands within the hospital could be quite helpful. The experience was rich and rewarding, and only motivated me even more.

In 2009, my siblings and I, along with our dedicated friends founded Tati Tati Foundation meaning step by step. We had a vision of what we wanted this organization to represent. It was to provide healthcare and educational assistance to patients and also continue to educate the next generation of healthcare providers as they are our future. Every step we take makes a difference, even if it’s just one. Step by step, and hand in hand, we have continued with this journey and I am honored to have worked with such great individuals.

I’d like to take the rest of this blog post, to thank the people that made this dream come true--Aram Ghorbani, Pharm.D. Candidate; Elham Ghorbani, M.D.; Raman Dadayan, Pharm.D.; Pejman Mesdaghi, Pharm.D.; Tu Nguyen, Pharm.D.; Raphael Resto Vazquez, M.D.; Samuel martinez Jimenez, M.D.; Ebuwa Joy Obaski, M.D. Candidate.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

University Fundraiser Encourages Pacific Students Involvement

Denise Banh

If you had asked me when I first started college what I wanted to do with my life, I had two answers: a CEO for a high powered company or a housewife. Yes, yes, I know those things are not even remotely related, but I guess when you first start out you really have no idea what you actually want to do. Now, it’s more than four years later and I find myself as the Annual Giving & Alumni Relations Coordinator at this fine institution. Am I disappointed I’m not headed in the direction of either of my original choices? Not even a little bit.

In my freshman year of college I applied to work at the Phonathon at my now alma mater. Sexy headsets, tons of snacks, and the highest paying job on campus? I was down. But, sometime in the following four years, something happened. Working for the Phonathon wasn’t about my hourly wage and on-job perks anymore. I was doing something greater than myself. I was making a difference. Now, I know that sounds exceptionally cheesy but it’s true. I fell in love with philanthropy.

What is philanthropy? Ask me that four years ago and I could have presented you some vague definition probably not worthy of print. That’s something I’ve slowly learned through the years. Philanthropy comes in many forms and manifests differently for each person. Etymologically it means the love of humanity. But, let me tell you what it means to me. Philanthropy is the desire to better mankind, to better the life of at least one person. And I’m not talking about world changing, barrier crushing, world peace kind of betterment but the philanthropy that reaches people on an everyday level. Although, if you could find a way to bring world peace to fruition, that would be great too. It can be a monetary contribution to a cause you believe in, time spent supporting the causes close to your heart, donations of supplies and equipment for those who are without. The possibilities are endless. You just have to find the right fit.

Now, I’m not saying that being a CEO or a housewife would not allow me to lead a philanthropic life, but I realized that my passions are now elsewhere. At Pacific, 93 percent of students receive financial aid. A part of those funds come from generous gifts from alumni, parents and friends of this University. I love that I can say that my job (along with my amazing team) is to work every day to make that happen. Education is the cause closest to my heart and that is where I found my fit.

An element of philanthropy I would like to highlight is the importance of being involved. My family is Chinese but both my parents were born in Vietnam. During the war, they left Vietnam and became citizens of the United States. More than 20 years later, my dad recently decided to move back to Vietnam and I couldn’t really understand why. He said, “It’s lonely in the US. People drive in their own cars, to their own offices, and return to their own homes. It’s lonely.” A couple years ago I had the amazing opportunity to study for a semester in Vietnam and I understood what he meant. Apart from the fact that the density of people in Vietnam far outnumbers that of Portland, there was a greater sense of involvement among the people. You knew everything about your neighbors, you leant a hand when they were in need, you almost did not have the choice to be lonely. There was a greater sense of community among the people and I found that to be an amazing thing.

What I love about Pacific is that there is already a great sense of community among the students, faculty, staff, and other community members. But, we can always be more involved. Looking back, I definitely wish I was more involved at my college. Talking with other students in my graduating class, I realized I missed out on so many opportunities to not only make a difference at the school though governance but I also missed the opportunity to get to know the other people in the community. 

The world is filled with almost 7 billion people. It would be impossible to know everyone, but there’s absolutely no harm in trying. I am a fairly well traveled individual and the number of amazing people I’ve met around the world surprises me every time I think about it. The number of breathtaking experiences those people have brought me means the world to me. Sometimes I forget that there are just as many amazing people in my immediate community and those people also have amazing experiences to offer.

So, take it from me. Be more involved on campus, join a club, meet new people, gain new experiences, take everything this world has to offer but never forget to give back.

Banh is the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Coordinator at Pacific University. She oversees the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow student group and Phonathon. She can be contacted at or 503-352-2969.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alumnus Gives Back as Student Psychologist

Jeff Guardalabene, MS '99, Psy.D. '01

These days, I spend my time as a staff psychologist in Pacific's Student Counseling Center. I love my job. I love working with students, love my co-workers, love being on campus. I graduated with my doctorate in clinical psychology in 2001, and I've considered myself part of the Pacific family ever since I enrolled in 1996. My time here, however, no matter how cherished it has been, has really been the result of random chance and the most careless career planning in the history of employment. When I sit down with a student who is agonizing over a class-scheduling choice, or wondering whether to switch majors, I can't help but think back to how I got here. I think about The Phone Call That Changed Everything.

In 1986 the Mets were being amazin' again, the Reagan Era was sputtering to a finish, and I was working in a small public TV station in Medford and wondering what the heck I was going to do with my life. I'd tried college on and off for the last decade. I'd held jobs of all kinds, from managing a fast-food place to working in a lumber mill and everything in between. And I mean everything. At one point I made my daily bread by keeping an eye on (read: sleeping in my car) a stack of wooden pallets during a summer arson spree. I worked at a car wash. I hit the "pause" button on a rich guy's VCR during the Winter Olympics one year. Everything.

One day at work, the phone rang just as I was getting off shift at the TV station. I hesitated to answer it, not being the hardest-working guy in show business at that time. But, on a whim, I picked it up. It was a guy looking for someone "who knew how to use a camera," as he was shooting a low-budget movie. I volunteered. We made the movie. That summer, I went to LA to get paid for making the movie, unleashing the chain of events that led me where I am today, typing up this post.

In rapid (and not-so-rapid) succession, the following things resulted from that phone call. I met up with a friend in LA. After one particularly long evening of celebrating our aimlessness we agreed to sell everything we owned and move to Portland, where my sister lived and ostensibly waited for us to come mooch off of her. I had forgotten all about our plans by the next morning. He hadn't. I got a call from him a week later, letting me know that he had sold everything he owned and was on his way up I-5. I responded to my panic by selling everything I owned and quitting my job. We moved to Portland, slept on a few couches, got a place, found jobs. I worked in TV for the next decade, growing tired of it, and decided to finish my bachelor's degree. That wasn't enough. I applied to grad school. If I'd have known how remote my chances were, I'd have never applied. But I was blissfully ignorant, and was accepted to Pacific's School of Professional Psychology.

Five years later, I graduated. Seven years after that, I heard of an opening in the Counseling Center by complete chance. There were just a few days left in the job posting. I applied. Had I known how many applicants there were for the job, I may have never even tried. I got the job.

Some days, when I'm sitting with a student and they're writhing with stress, trying to figure out a big decision, I tell them that sometimes the biggest decisions are the ones we never give much thought. You know, like whether or not to pick up the phone.

Guardalabene is a staff psychologist in the Pacific Counseling Center. He is also a regular blogger. Check out his blog at

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Old Stories, New Dreams

Tonya Macalino '96
As a novelist, I’ve always believed that integrating the folk stories of the past into our future-facing lives makes them richer, more meaningful—a glass of nuanced wine as opposed to a bottle of syrupy grape juice. As such, I am forever looking for patterns in the stories people tell me, looking for ways to intertwine them and create something new.

In the course of developing my writing career, I ran into a pattern in my own story.

The rejections grew kinder, the critiques less bloody every year. But on the submissions front, the speculative fiction agents and publishing houses grew fewer; the major bookstores teetered more violently with the passing of those same years. And the ereaders started showing up in the hands of Trimet commuters.

I saw the pattern, but what did it mean for my writing career?

So like any good researcher these days, I got on the Internet. More patterns: Amazon buys Createspace, the print-on-demand house; develops its own Kindle’s direct publishing platform. Barnes & Noble follows suit with its Nook direct publishing platform. But that was self-publishing! That was vanity press for suckers and the self-delusional! No, my life-long goal was the lofty validation of the industry powerhouses.

And then I saw the first established author jump ship, abandoning their publisher to go it alone. Others followed. Another pattern. Ebook sales had begun to overtake print. These authors asked questions that had already been whispering in my ear: Why earn twenty-five cents a book when you could be earning two dollars (or more)? Why relinquish creative control to a publisher? Why resign yourself to disappointing cover art? Between ebooks and print-on-demand, those questions grew in power.

But wait! I demanded. You people already have the audiences your publishers built for you. You’re cheating!

More pattern: Most first time authors handle all their own marketing. And many of these authors never make it past the first book, because of an outdated print-run model favored by the publishing industry. They never have the chance to develop the audience they may very well deserve.

It took time, but eventually I conceded that future technology had layered over the landscape on which I’d built my dreams. It had placed a new setting on an old story. It would call on me to bring to bear my old mythology of communications and events manager, project coordinator, and entrepreneur on a story that I had once thought would simply unfold before me, guided by hands greater than my own.

I guess I should have known better.

And I think I like it better this way.

Macalino '96 studied creative writing and philosophy at Pacific University. For all her upcoming readings and books you can reach her at and at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pacific Graduate Helps the Developmentally Disabled

Sasha (Storm) Vidales '03

With a BA in Psychology, an almost-completed MBA under my belt, and a lay-off ahead of me, I knew it was time for a career change. Anticipating my lay off, I had started looking for work, but was frustrated by the lack of interesting and challenging jobs. I decided to start my own company.

Having worked in social services for over a decade, I envisioned an organization which did things differently: working with clients’ intrinsic motivation, integrating technology and multi-media learning, and providing services in natural community-based settings. These ideas came together as I opened Creative Goal Solutions, an organization providing motivation, education and training to adults with developmental disabilities. While many services focus on the use of behaviorism, I have decided to focus more heavily on motivational strategies and multi-sensory learning to achieve results. In a short time, I have noticed very encouraging results from this approach.

The process of starting my own company has been an exciting way to combine my education in Psychology and my recent MBA with my diverse experience. In developing programming and curriculum, I am able to “test” the psychological and business theory I learned through both educational programs.
Currently, I offer four programs to clients. The Community Involvement Program engages clients in their communities through volunteerism, physical activity, and neighborhood exploration. Education focuses on social skills, community navigation, and strengthening community ties. I offer an RSVP program which allows clients to engage in evening and weekend community activities which fit their schedule. The Self-Employment in the Creative Arts program (SECA) provides visual artists, musicians and writers, and crafts the training, networking and technical assistance they need to be self-employed artists. Finally, Independent Living classes educate clients on all the topics they need to live successfully on their own. From Small Appliance Cooking and Basic Home Repair to Conversation Skills and Sexual Health and relationship topics, we arm clients with the information, confidence, and motivation to achieve independence.
Three weeks after opening my doors, I employed two Skills Trainers and am at full client capacity,  and am looking to expand soon. In a job market with sometimes limited opportunities, it has been highly rewarding to venture out on my own. I look forward to the challenge and possibilities of this new adventure.
Vidales '03 studied psychology at Pacific University and earned and MBA from Marylhurst in 2011. For more information, visit

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Pacific's Class Trip to Vancouver BC: Year 21

Stephanie Haugen '12

A couple weeks ago, I returned from Vancouver BC with a new excitement for continuing my education and the possibilities for my chosen career path.

I participated in Pacific’s photography field class in its 21st year. The intense week-long workshop was more valuable that I could have ever anticipated. I learned so much in that one week—as much as I could’ve learned in an entire semester.

While in Vancouver, we got to experience A LOT. These experiences were both fun and eye-opening. The week we spent in Vancouver BC was intense. We started early and ended late. We shot all day, and uploaded and edited our photos when we returned to our rooms at night. Upon our arrival, most of us were shocked by the size and atmosphere of the University of British Columbia, where we were going to be staying. In stark contrast to Pacific, UBC is big and bustling, looks like a city, and is located right on the coast. It was educational to be able to experience college life in such a startlingly different way. In that week, we all got a taste for what it would be like to attend a university that is opposite to Pacific in many ways.

The next day was a full day. We visited the Buddhist temple and the Japanese gardens. Both were beautiful and educational in their own ways. Both offered a look into another culture while providing the opportunity to take great photographs.

Throughout our trip, we visited more tourist destinations including the Bloedel Floral Conservatory where we photographed exotic birds and flowers, and the Museum of Anthropology where we got to see and take pictures of ancient artwork.

We also visited Stanley Park, where we waited until it got dark, looked across the water and photographed the Vancouver skyline. While we perfected our nighttime photography skills, we also bonded with each other and viewed the breathtaking city from another angle.

My favorite parts of the trip were the spur-of-the-moment ones. We went to Granville Island where the indoor market, resembling Seattle’s Pike Place, bustles with people and the flavor of different foods, products and cultures. The market opens up onto the docks where seagulls fly and beg for scraps of food, families eat their market meals, street musicians sing (in French when we happened to be there), and brightly colored water taxis take customers from dock to dock. The joy of the market shows on everybody’s face, making them prime photographic subjects.

Each individual had their own favorite stops, but I think all of us left with new photography skills and an appreciation for each others’ talents.My trip to Vancouver BC will always stand out as one of my favorite and most influential memories from my time at Pacific University.

Haugen '12 has worked in the Office of Alumni Relations as the Communications Assistant and is an editor for the student newspaper, The Pacific Index. She studied journalism at Pacific. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MFA Life

Maisha Johnson, MFA '14

I'm here in the adorable town of Forest Grove, Oregon for my MFA residency at Pacific University. It's my first residency, my first visit to Oregon. Actually, it's a lot of firsts for me, and it's every bit as exciting as I anticipated.

A few highlights of my reflections after the first few days:
The campus is lovely.

I just got back from a really great reading by Ann Hood, Dorianne Laux and Craig Lesley. I spent the first half listening with tears in my eyes, the second half laughing the tears away, and the walk back to my room thinking about how lucky I am to be studying with these insanely talented people.

Our spirit animal. The fierce Boxer.
Today I survived my first poetry workshop, and without any tears! Workshops continue over the next few days, though, so we'll see if that "no tears" thing holds. Just kidding - it's going to be fine, my workshop members and leaders are fabulous and we're all supporting each other through it.

I'm learning a lot from this guy.

I definitely feel like I made the right choice in the Poetry program. With faculty like Kwame Dawes, Dorianne Laux and Marvin Bell, how can I go wrong? My workshop leaders are Kwame and Ellen Bass, and I'm eagerly awaiting word about who my advisor will be for the semester. I'm also glad to be able to sit in on enlightening craft talks with the fiction and nonfiction faculty.

Everyone, including faculty, staff and returning students, has been wonderful about welcoming me and the other first semester students. Today I listened to two graduating students present their theses and describe their journey through the program, from the moment I'm experiencing now to this summer's final residency. It was all incredibly inspiring, and I have a whole lot to look forward to.

I'll have more soon, including reflections on what I'm learning and more photos of the beautiful campus. For now, I'm heading to bed early to rest up for another long day tomorrow. Whew!

Visit Johnson's blog at and look for future posts about her experiences as a Pacific MFA student.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

OT Alumnae Travel to China

Ashley Culver '09, OT '11

Ashley Culver '09 (left) and Mandy Littlewood '07 (right)
       Mandy Littlewood ’07 and I are graduating in May with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Pacific’s School of Occupational Therapy.
       As part of our degree requirement to complete an “innovative practice project,” we have teamed up to develop a sustainable therapy program at an orphanage (the Social Welfare Institute) in Fuling, China. We are traveling to China this July with an interprofessional team from Pacific to provide therapy to children with special needs living at the orphanage, and to train the orphanage’s caregivers.
       The Social Welfare Institute (SWI) is located in China’s countryside and is home to a growing number of children, particularly children with disabilities. Cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, and various other mental disabilities not well diagnosed are common conditions seen at the orphanage today. Many caregivers within the orphanage have limited knowledge and experience working with developmental disabilities and do not have the training to take care of them. 

       The therapy team is creating a therapeutic program for SWI to help the children progress as much as possible toward educational and academic, physical, social, and cognitive independence.Collaboration between Pacific University and the orphanage began in 2009, when the therapy team began partnering with Fuling Kids International (FKI), a 501(c) 3 U.S registered not-for-profit organization who partners with the orphanage to provide education and support. 
       Kathlene Postma, an English professor at Pacific’s College of Arts & Sciences, is the co-founder and board chair for FKI.  She contacted Mandy with concerns of the increasing number of children with disabilities living at the orphanage. From here, Mandy introduced Kathlene to the OT professors, and the collaboration began to grow. Over the past two years, occupational therapy professors Sandra Rogers and Sandra Pelham-Foster, and physical therapy professor Nancy Cicirello have visited the orphanage and a nearby hospital to provide initial therapy services to the children. 
       This year, the team has grown and will now include Pacific’s director and professor of special education, Chris Macfarlane. Mandy and I will be the first students to join this team of professionals. Mandy and Ashley have been preparing for their trip to China by learning about the Chinese culture and common Chinese views about disabilities. Our goal is to create and implement a culturally sensitive therapy program that meets the needs of the children and the caregivers. We are currently raising funds to supplement travel costs and welcome any donations.
       To learn more about their project and to make a donation, please visit the website at: 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Challenging Her Comfort Zone

Leilani H. Powers ‘13

I come from Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.  I have a native Japanese mother and an American father (from California).

As I grew up, I was fortunate to have parents who found it essential to be able to communicate with my Japanese family.  They chose to raise me learning both English and Japanese since birth.  I have been lucky to be able to visit my Japanese family steadily throughout my life and to be immersed in the language and culture of both Japan and Hawai’i. 

However, as I grew up, I never had much of a chance to visit my father’s side of the family on the mainland very often.  So when I first came to Pacific University I had the natural shock, which many Hawaiians do, of the cultural differences between Hawai’i and mainland United States. 

Although Hawai’i is part of the United States, I was able to see a very big difference in the lifestyles of those who live here and those back home.  This may be true for everybody when they go off to college, but because of the remnants of the native Hawaiian culture, Hawai’i has a culture of its own.  Although it’s not the strongest example, Pacific’s lu’au does give some idea of certain cultural aspects of what I am used to at home.

However, I can’t say I was completely shocked by the difference in lifestyles.  My father’s parents, who are originally from New York, lived down the road from me and would occasionally watch my siblings and me while my parents were at work.  They always stressed the importance of education and the power of knowledge. They walked the walk just was well as they talked the talk.

They would tell us stories of the places they had been and the people they had met, and they emphasized the importance of leaving home to truly understand and learn more about the world we live in, stories that made me want to go explore, learn, and experience for myself. 

So here I am, thousands of miles from home, a Hawaiian, Japanese, and an American who is learning about the world through exploration, education, and experience.  I am an International Business and Japanese double major and since being here I have taken advantage of being in the mainland and traveling in and around Oregon.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?

Powers ‘13 holds an internship as marketing assistant in the Office of Alumni Relations. She chronicles her adventures on her personal website.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Sydney's Night Colors

Reese Moriyama '10

When I was a junior at Pacific, I decided to do a travel abroad semester in Australia. Why Australia? Well, first of all, I was very curious about the Australian culture and landscape, given its significant isolation throughout history. Secondly, Australians spoke English, which I needed since I wasn’t a language minor or major. Lastly, and most importantly of all, I wanted to meet Bianca and Bernard from Disney’s Rescuers Down Under (just kidding!).
All that aside, I must say that my experience in Australia completed my college experience. It broadened my vision of what was beyond my own country, and presented me with new friendships and experiences. I studied at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, and met a wide range of international students, while getting the chance to take some very specialized history courses in genocide and Australian history.
Before I flew back to Hawaii, I stopped over in Sydney for four nights. I felt like my Australian experience wouldn’t be complete without Sydney, and was determined to explore the city to the fullest of my ability during the four days. With camera and map I hand, I embarked on an adventure each morning, leaving at 8 a.m. and returning around 9 p.m. I went inside the Sydney Opera House, which apparently two-thirds of the world’s population can identify. I took rides on the famous Sydney Harbor ferries, exploring several beaches that give Hawaii a run for its money. I walked through downtown Sydney, watching street performers playing didgeridoos and selling CDs. But the experience that stood out the most to me was my night exploration of the city.
On Friday night, I decided to shoot long exposures of the Sydney Skyline from a remote viewpoint in the Botanical Gardens. I huffed it over to the location with my tripod and camera, just in time to get the turquoise dusk light. I took some 30 second exposures, but had to time them because boats would pass through the frame and ruin the shot. After I got the shots I wanted, I prepared to leave, but realized there was a tiny, little problem.
Security had closed down the park! I frantically tried to find a way out, but all the main gates were closed. Being locked in a park at night is one thing, but being locked in a park at night, in a foreign country is quite another. I was weighing my options when I saw a jogger going by. She must know the way out! I thought, and tried to see where she was going. Sure enough, a few minutes later, she went out a small, side entrance that only the locals would know about. I was overjoyed, and followed the path to freedom. As soon as I stepped out, I realized I was in a district of Sydney I had never seen, and spent the next hour and half, wandering past Friday night parties, trying to find my way back to the hotel. Got back around 11 p.m., totally exhausted, but totally stoked about the skyline images.

The next night went a lot better, and I was very fortunate to watch a fireworks show over the Opera House! I also got to see the colorful night lights of the Circular Quay, the central hub of night life in Sydney Harbor. My camera was snapping like crazy, but I also made sure to spend some time taking in the sights myself. Sometimes, you get so caught up in trying to photograph all the cool sights around you that you forget to savor the moment, the fleeting slice of time, in which you are surrounded by beauty. But I savored that moment. And looking back, I’m glad I did. 

Reese Moriyama '10 holds a degree in history and uses photography to become more observant and appreciative of the world. When he is not photographing weddings or simply daily life in Honolulu Reese is pursuing a graduate degree. More of Reese's work can be viewed on his blog Observe. Compose. Capture.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Alumna Teaches in South Korea

Heather E. Douglas, MAT '08

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." – Martin Luther King Jr.

Suffering fresh jetlag, I was jolted awake by the cruel sound of my alarm clock. It was my first day teaching at a private school in South Korea and I wanted to make a good impression.  The dress I put on came straight from the suitcase I had packed in Oregon three days earlier.  For breakfast, I ate cold tofu because it was the only familiar food I recognized.

With butterflies in my stomach, I said silently to myself “be brave” as my shaky hand locked my apartment door.  On the outside, I was elated to have a real teaching job, but inside I was terrified.  My ability to communicate with my students and can I survive living in a foreign culture were only some of many questions racing through my mind that morning.

Like a school of fish flooding onto the immense sea of sidewalks, I joined hundreds of blue and white uniformed Korean children walking to school.  I felt curious stares as I adjusted my messenger bag. Classical music was piping through loudspeakers over the sidewalks, which were lined with trees full of pink cherry blossoms, and for a moment I forgot my angst and simply enjoyed.

Six months ago, I was a different person.  As I look back, I want to tell my old self “just enjoy the ride.”  At the beginning, I had no way of knowing the amazing adventures that awaited me. Simply visiting a foreign land only offers a taste, whereas immersion in a culture is life changing.  And (let’s face it) while the prospect of getting a teaching job in this economy can be quite daunting, international teaching opportunities abound in many fantastic countries around the world.

In 2007, when I began the MAT program at Pacific, Dean Ankeny professed to our fresh cohort seated in the room that first day:  teaching will take you on many adventures.  

It turns out he was right.  Sometimes I shake my head laughing at the randomness of life as I find myself gazing at a Buddhist temple or hear my students giggle and yell “teacher, teacher, anneyonghaseyo,” or as I ride my bike through the neon lit streets of South Korea inhaling the smells of exotic street food.

Although Douglas, MAT '08 originally graduated as a Language Arts teacher in the MAT program, through this international experience she has discovered her passion in working with ELL students.  She is currently working on an ELL endorsement, and hopes to continue to work with students from other cultures.  In her free time, Douglas enjoys photography and nature.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tutorial on How to Make Lotion

 Miranda Mueller '04

Although I do sell my soaps and luscious lotions at market (and online!), I thought it would be nice to share a tutorial with my readers and other folks looking to live more sustainably and frugally.

Making lotion isn't difficult, it IS messy. You can use 'emulsifying wax' but it is NOT all natural.

My mission to fill our kitchen and bathroom cupboards with all homemade products is not just for frugality or self sustainability, but also to transition to as many all natural products as possible to further enhance our health and hygiene as well as the health of the environment.

Less packaging purchased is less waste in the landfill, fewer chemicals used on our bodies leads to increased health and less toxic runoff into the environment, and the fewer things I have to buy at the store helps my bank account stay more robust.

On top of all of that - knowing how to make your own lotion, soap, tooth powder, jam, bread, etc leads to a more satisfied living experience: I'm no longer limited to what scents or flavors are available in the store because I can create recipes suited to my palette and need.

Slathering my hands with homemade lemongrass lotion isn't just delightful smelling, but fills me with pride. Keep Reading at An Austin Homestead.

Mueller '04 maintains a blog dedicated to promoting frugal and sustainable living and her many other passions.  By trade and passion, Miranda is a children's book illustrator and artist. She lives in Austin, Texas where she has vegetable and herb gardens in her front yard, a gourd arbor, compost heap, chickens and a dog. She utilizes as many homegrown ingredients as she can in her cooking and craftsmanship, and loves teaching people how to live frugally and in sync with the planet and seasons. She also sells her handcrafted soaps and other body products at local farmers markets and online.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Learning As I Go

 Stephanie Haugen '12

        With only three semesters at Pacific remaining, I am forced to look ahead to life after school. This is the first time in my life when I don’t have the next step all planned out. Like many college students, even after declaring a major I still don’t know what career path I want to embark on.  
Fall Club and Organization Fair
Boxer Bash
        When my friends and I get together we don’t talk about the “F-word”—“Future.” The future, looming over me like a cloud of uncertainty, motivates me to peruse the internet for career options, companies that are currently hiring, schools with graduate programs and, when I’m feeling especially discouraged, means that would allow me to sell postcards out of a shack on the coast.
       Although the future continues to scare me every time I let thoughts of it infiltrate my mind, I feel as if my preparation for the “real world” becoming increasingly concrete. In the last couple years, I have been forced outside of my comfort zone. My reporting classes asked me to talk to many people, try things I am not familiar with and familiarize myself with others’ ways of living.  

Once shy and unskilled at conversing with new people, I now find that, against all the advice I received as a child, I actually enjoy talking to strangers. I like hearing their stories, where they’re at in life and how they got to this point. They often inadvertently share life lessons with me they have discovered through their experiences. I am lucky because most of the time I am talking to someone because they are passionate about something.
       Whether it is their research, their work, the cause they are dedicated to, another person they are dedicated to, or the message they want to share with others, the people I have the pleasure of meeting are almost always passionate and knowledgeable about what life has thrown their way.     

Noise Parade
       I have always been the type of student who insisted that learning through books and lectures and in the classroom was perfectly adequate. I have changed my outlook on this matter. It is the times I have been pushed to find learning techniques for myself that I have learned the truly valuable lessons I was never expecting. I am not sure if I want to go to graduate school right away after my undergraduate studies are completed in the spring of 2012, but I know I want to continue my education. I know I want to continue meeting new people and venturing to new and unfamiliar places.
       So far, college has drawn things out of me I didn’t know were there and I am grateful for this. When I look back on the interviews I have conducted in the last two years I look back with gratitude that every person I met added to my education and my understanding of the world. I hope in the years to come I can look back at my last three semesters at Pacific and the beginning years of my career and feel the same way.
Haugen '12 is majoring in journalism and worked as a Communications Assistant for the Office of Alumni Relations during her time at Pacific.