Lighting the Way

With the advent of new and better medications, the AIDS crisis in America has become a backburner issue. But while Americans have become somewhat numb to it, the disease has reached pandemic proportions in other parts of the world—particularly in developing countries.

Experts from health, government and public policy institutions worldwide are warning of dire consequences if the disease isn’t brought under control soon. Many people—including several Xavier professors, program directors and students—are in their own unique ways working to address the crisis. Whether caring for victims of the disease, researching best prevention methods or addressing the myriad ethical issues it poses, Xavier people are weighing in on the subject with care and compassion. Here are some of their stories:
The Students Katie Cole comes over a rise in the landscape with her new group of young friends, all dressed in their orange soccer uniforms. They chatter and kick the dust as they walk, heading toward home. In the distance, a sea of tin roofs—wavy, corrugated, cast-off and rusted—masks the shelters beneath. This is where they live—tiny huts with dirt for floors and open-air windows, no water, little power, narrow lanes between. But out of the rough canvas that is the Kibera slum rises a structure—a swath of blue—that is the St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School. The school is the first high school in the world exclusively for AIDS orphans, and it’s a place where Cole looks into these children’s eyes and sees happiness and hope. There are so many reasons to despair: the boy who lives with seven siblings in two rooms; the girl who lives with an aunt after losing both parents to AIDS; the boy whose father died of AIDS and whose stepmother, with nine children already, kicked him out.
But Cole, a Brueggeman Fellow who spent six weeks last summer at St. Aloysius in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a fellowship that focused on the education of AIDS orphans, learns from these students that what’s important are the relationships between people who are here today, regardless of their surroundings—or their past.
“The people here are so alive, and everything is so beautiful to them,” she says. “How can you not feel that and feed off of it?” From the night of her arrival, when she discovered the glowing crucifix on the wall of her room, to her work crafting a functioning library out of a dark, dirty school room with fellow Brueggeman intern Kristi Horstman, Cole found reason to celebrate in the midst of one of the poorest, saddest places on Earth.
Why? Because, she says, a student cared enough to invite her across a filthy creek and into his parentless home, where they crowded together on a broken-down couch with what remained of his family.
“Seven people lived in those two rooms and took turns sleeping at night because there was not enough room for all to lie down on two small beds. He was 15 and these were his brothers and sisters. There was a baby on one girl’s lap. But he didn’t seem embarrassed at all. It was just like he felt this was the right thing to do, to take a visitor to his house and have them meet the family,” she says. “I felt happy when I left that I had been invited in because I felt it was a sign of trust.” Cole learned about these students through an assignment in which she gave each student a disposable camera and asked them to take pictures of their homes and families and write short pieces about themselves. Cole graduated from Xavier last spring and is turning those stories into a book, financed by the Brueggeman center for dialogue.
The same transformation happened to Horstman. On her first day, she befriended a girl who lost both parents to AIDS and walks an hour to school from her aunt’s home. The day Horstman left, the girl handed her a letter in which she wrote how she wants to continue her education in America. “She said I was so lucky to have both parents who love you and support you and are there for you.”
Horstman was so moved by her experience that she intends to study international relations at the U.S. International University in Nairobi instead of going to law school.

The Greening of Xavier

n a quiet office in Xavier’s physical plant, Thomas Kearns and Stephen Erwin take a break from a whirlwind round of meetings. The men, principals in the Boston-based design firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, are completing a two-day visit to campus to discuss plans for Xavier’s new Williams College of Business. The afternoon light filters into the otherwise dark room, carrying with it some color from the trees outside, a fitting underscore for the topic of conversation. While they’re months away from addressing such things as color schemes, Kearns and Erwin agree: Xavier’s future is green.

 

Once disparaged by many as the province of fringe-dwelling tree-huggers, “green building,” or sustainability, has become mainstream. In these days of soaring fuel costs and an uncertain economy, green suddenly means dollars—and sense. And while a wide range of green initiatives have long existed on a number of levels across campus, for many, the new Williams College of Business building is the first concrete representation of the University’s larger commitment to environmental responsibility.

Yes, Kearns and Erwin agree, the new building may have such “green” features as energy-efficient glass and bamboo flooring. And yes, “you’re going to see energy efficiency in the space between the windows, the walls, the roof and the foundation,” Erwin says.

But, Kearns adds, sustainability transcends any one building and impacts a number of areas on a number of levels. “It’s social, economic and environmental,” he says.

All of which raises the question: What does it mean to be green?

It means saving energy and money, of course. But, Kearns and Erwin say, those savings are often the result of doing what’s practical in the first place. Sustainability is more subtle and far-reaching. It means using space wisely. It means selecting materials manufactured in the region that not only promote local markets but also reduce both shipping costs and fossil fuel. It means educating individuals in areas like saving water, electricity and fossil fuel, or on why it’s OK for them to walk or bike a few extra blocks instead of driving to class. And it means care for the community.

“It’s so connected,” says Patrick Welage, assistant director for peace and justice programs and chair of the University’s environmental subcommittee. “It doesn’t end.”

Perhaps more than anything else, then, green means recognizing the interrelatedness of things. As an example, Erwin points to one of the goals for the new Williams building as introducing as much natural light as possible, which some people would see only in terms of saving energy dollars. “It’s a healthy environment,” he says. “Studies have shown that clean air and daylight reduce the number of times people call in sick. People just feel good about the environment they’re working in.”

It’s also important to note that green, at least in buildings, is quantifiable. Over the past decade, the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council developed LEED, a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable structures. There are four progressive levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Plans call for Xavier’s new construction to meet specifications for the silver level.

Yes, sustainability requires more front-end investment, but there are larger issues to consider. The Catholic Church has long staked out a position in support of sustainability.

Pope John Paul II addressed the issue head-on in his 1990 World Day of Peace message. “Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle,” the late pontiff wrote, adding, “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty toward nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.”

More recently, Pope Benedict XVI remarked, “Encouraged by the growing recognition to preserve the environment, I invite all of you to join me in praying and working for greater respect for the wonders of God’s creation.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, given its Catholic, Jesuit mission, the University has long been quietly going about the business of being green. “We’re way ahead of most places,” says Bob Sheeran, associate vice president for physical plant. “We’ve been thinking about sustainability for many years, long before it became a buzzword.”

And here, it’s often the little things that add up to a big difference—fluorescent light bulbs rated at 15,000 hours that use 75 percent less electricity than traditional models; systems that turn off lights when no one is around; heating and cooling fans programmed to throttle back at night; efforts to encourage students to bring in only energy-efficient appliances to their dorms; purchasing only energy-efficient equipment; installing energy-efficient washers in dormitories; placing sensing valves in restroom sinks to conserve water; and buying small vehicles for University use, then combining trips to save even more fuel.

The University already cools many of its buildings with an ice-based system set up to run at night, when energy use is cheaper. “The University spends $3 million annually on utilities,” says Mark Hanlon, operations supervisor for physical plant. “And that keeps growing as the campus expands and the cost of energy continues to rise.”

“Going way back, we had the idea of large central plant equipment, with large chillers and large boilers located central to campus,” adds Dave Lococo, associate director for facility maintenance for physical plant. “It diversifies the load and gets the equipment to operate more efficiently and more effectively. And in terms of longevity, it far exceeds the life of rooftop units.”

The University also routinely improves the insulation on any roof that’s replaced. “In terms of remodeling, we replace windows with double- or triple-pane glass, depending on the use,” Lococo says. “For the future, we’re looking into window tinting or reflective screen.”

This kind of thinking extends to the grounds crew as well. Xavier is well known for its lushly landscaped campus. But what many people don’t know is some of the dead leaves and grass clippings never leave campus. Grounds foreman Walt Bonvell says the leaves are composted to fertilize the University’s 25 acres of display beds, and the cut grass is mulched back into the turf. Even tree limbs are trucked away by a local company to be turned into mulch.

About 90 percent of Xavier’s campus is under irrigation that includes rain gauges and is set to operate on remote control. And here, Xavier will also gain from the new construction. Currently, the University buys water. But plans now call for several retention ponds in the low-lying area between the Williams College of Business and Xavier Square. These will collect runoff water for use in irrigation. There are also recycling bins. Found literally all over campus, most have separate slots for cans, paper and trash. Materials from the bins are taken to large dumpsters—designated for either recycling or trash—and collected.

And recycling is about to become even more visible with the demolition of a number of buildings to make way for both the James E. Hoff, S.J., Academic Quad and Xavier Square.

“As we’re starting on Xavier Square, we are recycling 90 percent of the demolition,” says Sheeran. “That’s a big part of sustainability—recycling all the metal, steel, concrete and brick.”

Sustained awareness is a key component in going green. And green advocacy initiatives are found in many less-visible ways across the campus. Over the years, the University’s environmental subcommittee has made a number of efforts to keep the idea of sustainable buildings in front of the administration, says Kathleen Smythe, former subcommittee chair and associate professor of history. And there have been a number of educational initiatives aimed at raising student awareness of the importance of recycling.

This year, Smythe and assistant professor of theology Elizabeth Groppe took over as co-directors of Xavier’s ethics/religion and society (E/RS) program, where they intend to highlight environmental and sustainable issues through faculty development and the E/RS lecture series. “This is one of the critical issues that we, as a society, face,” Smythe says.

Indeed, all of those efforts come more clearly into focus now with the major construction projects at hand. “The campus has a great advantage right now in that you’re considering the development of more than one building at a time, and all of the open space systems and infrastructure systems that connect those buildings,” Kearns says. “Sometimes those larger infrastructure initiatives are lost on people. If you can get your infrastructure to be sustainable, you can save carbon, save energy, save huge amounts of dollars.”

Welcome to Africa

By Sarah Hohl

I love Africa.

It’s wild, undeveloped and beautiful.

It’s also violent, impoverished and dangerous.

It’s a place that has changed my life, giving me direction and meaning.

And it’s a place that almost killed me.

Not everyone understands why I chose to live and work here instead of climbing the corporate ladder back home, and I understand that. But I have always been attracted to adventure, to taking risks, to stepping far out of my comfort zone and into the exotic. I have also had a heart for those in need. And that’s why I seem to fit so well here, half a world away from the comforts and securities of the United States.

It’s a passion that I try to share with my friends and family back home through e-mails and letters, and last summer when my mom, dad and aunt told me they were going to spend their vacation with me here in Kenya, I was thrilled. It was a chance to share that passion with them in person. I wanted to show them all of these sides of the Africa I have come to know and love—the makeshift refugee camps whose destitute people pull at my heart and brought me to this country, as well as the wild side that regularly tugs at my emotions and begs me to come outside and play.

We went whitewater rafting down the Nile River and then tested our skills on quad bikes, moving through local villages, banana plantations and corn crops. Local children ran from their houses to greet us as we sped past, waving and smiling when we took the opportunity to say hello.

We braved the “Nile by Wire,” which involved sailing hundreds of meters above the rapidly moving river on a wire cable. And when traffic proved to be a challenge, we even took a motorcycle taxi back to town. Mototaxis are not something available in the United States, and they can be both harrowing and exhilarating as the wind rushes through your hair and the driver zips in and around the congestion.

It was a beautiful day when we took the mototaxis, each climbing onto our separate motorcycles. I borrowed my mother’s camera to capture the moments of her, Dad and Aunt Diane—open-mouthed, smiling, clutching the shoulders of their drivers—as the village scenes passed by.

It was the pinnacle of a great visit—until I lost sight of my parents. My time in Africa has changed my life, making me more compassionate to the plight of the poor and more reflective about our responsibilities to the world. And that became even more true despite what happened next.

My driver told me they took a different route, but we would all meet in town. I looked over his shoulder and saw Aunt Diane’s taxi cross the road and cut through a petrol station. My driver saw them, too, and moved quickly—recklessly—to follow. As he gunned the motorcycle, we nearly crashed into the back of a truck. Instead of hitting the brakes, though, he inexplicably, irrationally jerked the motorcycle to the right. Straight into oncoming traffic. Straight into a school bus.

I woke up in a minivan. I think it was a minivan. I was lying in the lap of a Ugandan man who was holding my hair out of my face. Tears and blood spotted the legs of his dark pants. A blurry vision of a white woman sitting in the passenger’s seat in front of us caught my eye.

“Hello?” I said. “Do you know my mom?”

“No,” she answered.

“Who are you people?”

“I’m an American missionary.”

“There’s been an accident,” said the man.

I don’t remember the collision. I don’t remember the bus stopping just inches from my body. Nor do I remember the mototaxi driver fleeing the scene or the people stealing my bag, my phone, my camera and even my earrings as I lay there in the middle of the road bleeding and unconscious. Even now, I can’t recall the face of the local man who swooped me in his arms, carried me to safety and begged a passerby to help him take me to the hospital. This—these inexplicable extremes—is Africa. And for better or worse, this is where I chose to live, and these are the people I’ve committed my life to help. When I started at Xavier, I was a dual marketing and accounting major with dreams of working for a large corporation. At the end of my freshman year, though, I saw a poster in Alter Hall about a service learning semester in Nicaragua. The students were presenting a slide show about their experiences. I attended. And I was horrified. Street kids sniffing glue, malnourished children playing games at a nutrition center before they would be fed their only meal in a day, 6-year-olds begging on the street for the equivalent of a few cents. It changed me.

I was accepted into the next service learning semester, and the reality was more desperate than the photos. I volunteered in a relocation camp that housed Nicaraguans displaced by Hurricane Mitch. They lived in plastic shacks, cardboard shanties, corrugated metal homes, many without running water or electricity. Prostitution was a main source of income for any woman over the age of 12. Aggression and anger resulted in repeated instances of domestic violence. Kids were sent to the streets to sell chewing gum or tortillas rather than attend school. My job at a preschool, I think, was to provide some kind of hope, some kindness and maybe a lesson or two to children and their families in the neighborhood.

I continued to study about gross human rights violations, and as I learned more about the world, I began to understand that a huge number of human rights violations occurred on a continent that receives a lot of media attention, but not as much aid or conflict management as it needs: Africa.

If I wanted to be an expert on developing world politics and rights violations, I needed to feel what it was like, to talk to the people, to live the life, to immerse myself into the culture.

So after I graduated in 2002, I joined the Peace Corps. I was assigned to a village of 425 people in Senegal named Coke Can—pronounced Choe-Kee-Chan by the locals. I lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof, a two-hour bicycle ride to the closest town with electricity, a telephone or post office. I carried water in a bucket on my head from the well each day. I learned to speak the local language of Pulaar, how to pound corn with a mortar and pestle and how to wash my T-shirts by banging them on a rock in the stream. It was exactly what I wanted.

I woke up in a hallway. There were malnourished and crying children, Ugandan mothers and people in white uniforms pacing the area around me. The same Ugandan man still cradled me in his arms. I was crying and panicked.

“I need my mom. Have you seen my mom? I just saw her. She was here. I’m sure she was here.”

“You’ve had an accident,” he said.

“Am I alive?”

Another man approached.

“Sarah, you need stitches in your face. You’ve been hit by a car.”

“No, no. I’m fine. Please, where is my mom? I had a bag. Have you seen my bag?”

Africa is unbearably hot. In the desert, the wind blows sand from every direction and each breath seems to burn holes in your nose and lungs. It is at once serene and beautiful, but also unfathomably poor and horribly violent. My work here involves interviewing refugees throughout the continent, asking them about their home countries and why they were forced to flee. From the time I leave my flat in the morning, I listen to firsthand accounts of civil war and personal attacks, accounts of gang rapes, pillage, destruction of homes, neighborhoods and even entire towns. I’ve been here five years now—first in Senegal with the Peace Corps and now in Kenya with the Joint Voluntary Agency—and each day I wonder how humans can be so incredibly horrible to each other. And how some of these refugees gain the strength to carry on. Each ethnic group, each story, each person is entirely different from the next, each equally enlightening and saddening.

Recently, the region has suffered through a drought, and it shows. Thorn bushes have lost their color. Decaying livestock lie scattered in each direction. Children clad in tattered clothing run alongside our vehicle asking not for gifts, but instead beg, “Water, water.” That’s the part that touches me most about living here—the innocence of the children and the horror they have been dealt in life.

I woke up on a hospital cot. The cracked walls were stained and yellow, but there was a window with a view of a nearly empty parking lot. A nurse was bandaging my leg. “We need to give you some shots,” the nurse said.

I felt a sense of panic. I am alone in this small, rural hospital in Africa with strange people who want to stick needles in me. Who is going to protect me? To make sure these drugs are legitimate? To make sure these needles are clean?

“I don’t do drugs,” I told her.

“What is your name?” she asked.

“Sarah Diane Hohl. Sarah Diane Hohl. Sarah Diane Hohl. Have you seen my mom? I really need my mom.”

“My name is Sarah, too. I won’t hurt you, I promise. But you’ve had an accident and you need a lot of medical attention, so you need to help us here.”

The Ugandan man who saved me returned, carrying a small notebook and a pen.

“Sarah, I need you to think carefully here and tell me about yourself. We want to help you, but you must give us some information.”

“Have you seen my bag? I think a man stole my bag.”

I spend a great deal of my time in Dadaab, Kenya, which came into existence 15 years ago to house Somalis escaping their war-torn country about 50 kilometers to the north. The town itself has a primary school, airstrip and a market with no more than 15 kiosks, which are made of wood from the freshly deforested desert that surrounds the town, with thatch or plastic roofs sheltering the merchants from the unforgiving sun. Livestock roam the town, feasting on the fresh garbage delivered to one of the many public dumps. Children spout off a mix of Somali, Swahili and English as they play. Goats and 3-foot-tall marabout storks scavenge the area, looking for trash on which to feast.

Refugee camps ring three sides of the city, with as many as 200,000 people living in the camps. There is a high incidence of warlords driving into the camps, forcing girls to marry, kidnapping and creating general insecurity.

I usually travel with a team from my office, made up of Kenyans and Americans who conduct interviews with the refugees who live in these and other camps scattered about the country.

Traveling to remote locations is extremely hard on one’s physical and mental health. I spent two months on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, and within seven weeks nearly half of my team was evacuated for medical or personal reasons.

My work centers around community health extension—teaching the basics that are taken for granted in America. It sounds relatively simple. It isn’t.

Here I am, a single woman with no children or husband, from a faraway land, offering advice on what pregnant mothers need to eat, what and when they need to feed their children, how they must diversify their diets, use mosquito nets, wash their hands with soap, filter water before drinking it, prevent illness before treating it. Sometimes they listen. Often they don’t.

I woke up when I heard American voices outside of my window. I tried to get up from the cot, but felt stuck. Nurse Sarah reprimanded me.

“What are you doing? Stay in this bed.”

“My mom. There she is. It’s my mom.”

I wailed like a 7-year-old instead of a 27-year-old.

I was devastated when the first infant in my village died from dehydration. I was angry at her mother for not heeding my advice—for taking me as a joke.

Another family had three severely malnourished daughters. As I gathered them to take them to the feeding clinic, one of the daughters, 3-year-old Kadisha, died in my arms. I was crushed.

I just held her in my arms. No child should ever die of hunger. Ever. The sad reality, though, is nearly every family in this area has a child die, usually of malnutrition. This was a turning point for me. Nutrition became my most important focus in health education. Rarely was any food available other than maize, rice, peanuts and edible leaves. Though my knowledge stemmed from reading a book, I encouraged and aided a women’s group to start a community garden in the center of the village. It took off, with 10 different kinds of vegetables. Many refused to eat the food after the first harvest, but they were nearly fighting over the food by the second year.

I woke up in another hospital room. Dad was rubbing my head, asking me questions. Rather than answer correctly, I relayed to him the sordid affair of Molly and Chuck, two of my friends. In reality, I don’t know anyone named Chuck.

When asked my phone number, I offered close to 10 different possibilities, none of which was the number of the phone that had been stolen. Most were United States lines, including my parents’ and best friends’. I had no idea what day of the week it was. I rambled sentence after sentence of nonsense, with the occasional lucid thought.

Success, however you want to define it, doesn’t come easily or often here. But occasionally it comes, and when it does the feeling lifts you up and reminds you that hard work and dedication make the journey to this faraway land and the difficulties that come with it worth it.

One of my favorite pre-adolescent girls was betrothed to marry a man 20 years her senior. I became close to her mother and eventually convinced the family to keep her in school. She is now in high school in the closest town.

I remember going to the well in the heat of the afternoon once and feeling so thirsty I had to take a drink straight from my bucket. One of the village women came to me, shocked. “That water is dirty,” she screamed. “You must filter.”

Another time, after a health presentation in a nearby village, I noticed a very pregnant woman in the crowd. I was certain she would have twins, and when I told her, she laughed and said it was impossible. I checked on her routinely for the next few months and advised her to go to the hospital as soon as she felt her first contractions. Senegalese villagers traditionally give birth in their huts, but this would have been extremely risky if she really was going to have twins. I was sure she would ignore me, but I turned out to be wrong. She went to the hospital and they told her she was going to have twins. The doctor had to perform an emergency C-section, but both babies survived, a boy and a girl. The girl’s name? Sarah.

I woke up with gauze on the left side of my face from my forehead to my mouth. My jeans had been removed and bandages covered my legs. The dirt had been largely wiped out of the road rash across my elbows, hands, wrists and shoulder. An IV was planted in my left hand. My father sent my mother to the hotel as he oversaw the medical attention that a mother should never have to witness for her child.

“Dad? Can you touch my head?”

He ran his fingers over my head in such a careful way so as not to touch the damaged parts. He didn’t leave my bedside.

“Your mother will come soon,” he said.

I recently interviewed a single mother and three of her teenage daughters. As is common in refugee camps, her husband abandoned the family several years ago. They have no idea where he is. They’ve been living alone, and single women are not safe in these camps. The youngest daughter suffers from polio and was raped last year. The amount of rape and torture—the result of continued tribalism and patriotism—is abominable. It’s disgusting and sad, but it’s better than what they left, we tell ourselves.

As I interviewed one of the daughters, Fowsiya, she broke down into tears and began begging me for help. She’s 19 years old and rail thin. Her lips were cracked with dryness and she bore dark circles under her eyes. I could see where she had been beautiful at one time.

“I’m pregnant,” she said, “and I can’t tell my mother because she will beat me. My friends will judge me. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I need your help.”

“Where was the father?” I asked. Through the tears, she told me he deserted her as soon as he found out. She thought they were going to get married. She was alone and pregnant and living in a devout Muslim community that verbally and physically attacks unwed mothers. We eventually called in her mother and told her the news.

“I know this is difficult for you, but your daughter is not the first unwed mother in the camp,” I said. “This was the will of Allah. Allah has forgiven her and now it is important that you do, too. She’s been fighting this alone for four months, and she needs your love and support more than ever.” I tried to think of anything to say that might help. Soon, everyone was in tears.

Five days later, I saw Fowsiya. The bags under her eyes had faded and shrunk. She was smiling, even laughing. She and her mother came and shook my hand.

I woke up feeling nauseated and suffocated by a mosquito net lying across my face. It was dark outside, and I felt alone.

“Hello?” I cried. “Am I alive? I’m scared.”

“I’m here, Sarah.”

“Mom?”

She held a bowl to my lips, into which I promptly vomited.

“Everything hurts, Mom. How did this happen?”

Aunt Diane, who spent 17 years as a Catholic nun and had nursing experience, cleaned up without complaint. Nor did she complain when I called her to my bed several times to say, “Aunt Diane? I’m really f—– up. Everything’s really f—– up. We’re all just f—– up.” She did comment later, however, on my colorful choice of language. The Ugandan man who saved me—who turned out to be a Pentecostal pastor named Justus—came back several times throughout the night, once to provide me with a mosquito net and again to pray with my family. In my convoluted mind, I was certain he was reading me my Last Rites.

Yesterday I had a case of a single mother with four children. One of her children, 12-year-old Fatumo, is severally mentally handicapped. She’s not violent, but she’s erratic, disruptive and loud. And extremely curious. Within two minutes of entering the interview room, she had thrown my hole punch on the floor, painted herself with my ink pad, taped three Post-it notes to her T-shirt and shaken my hand six or seven times.

Eventually we had to send her outside to sit with a distant family member while I completed the interview in relative peace. As the story evolved, her mother told me that she almost drowned in a lake on two occasions. People would find her wandering in the mountains in Turkana territory. Not knowing how to control her, her mother resorted to chaining her by her ankle to a tree in their compound. One day, her 13-year old sister discovered an adult male refugee raping her.

My supervisor sent me to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) office to help get the family personal attention and a guarded home within the camp. The next day, the family was guaranteed a spot in the protection facility, and UNHCR also promised to look into education prospects for the entire family so they can contend with Fatumo’s illness in ways other than beating her with a stick and padlocking her to a tree.

I felt like I was making a difference.

I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t remember why I was in the hospital. “I’m scared, and I want to go home,” I told Aunt Diane. “I don’t need to stay here. We are going horseback riding today.”

She just smiled. Then she and Mom held me as I tentatively walked to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror for the first time to see myself. I was a disaster.

Pastor Justus came by the day I left the hospital. We were sitting at a picnic table as my mother encouraged me to eat yogurt.

“I came to finish what I started,” he told us. “I needed to make sure she is going to be OK.”

He explained that my taxi driver probably fled the scene because he was scared. In Uganda, if you kill someone in a road accident, it is customary to leave the area as soon as possible or you may be killed yourself. Pastor Justus offered to go to the police, but we didn’t want the man to be arrested or tortured.

“We are just happy she is alive,” my parents said. “No need to follow up with the police.” Pastor Justus was convinced God has special plans for me. “Why else would she survive this?” he asked. “This Sarah is a very lucky girl.”

I am still recovering from the accident and still haunted by the death of Kadisha. But I don’t harbor any hate or disdain for the continent or its people because of these experiences, only the drive to make myself the best person I can be to initiate positive change. Even so, I have come to realize I need a change. I need a break from Africa.

So at the beginning of next year, I will study at a yoga university in India before I return to the U.S. to further my more traditional education. I thought about law school, and even toured a few East Coast colleges, but realized such a life was not what I needed after spending so much time here, in the thick of things.

After seeing all of the malnourished children, the exhaustion of my co-workers and the general tone created by difficult work, I am inspired to choose another path—one not completely unrelated to international human rights. I have applied for grad school to study public nutrition. Since coming to Kenya, I have realized how important it is to recognize the relationship between physical and mental health as well as our ability—to a huge extent—to control our own health.

For myself, though beaten and bruised, I maintained my ability to walk, to see, to read, to write, to speak without slurring. Head scans revealed reparable damage to the parts of my brain that affect memory, speech, taste and smell. But because I am young, resilient and physically fit, the doctors told me, all of these things will come back to me in full.

And though I may be a bit damaged in this moment, I love my life, my experiences and the satisfaction of being a part of a process for the greater good. That hasn’t changed. And once I earn my degree, I’ll bring my newfound knowledge and my previous experiences back here, back to Africa. I have to. I can’t stay away. It’s as though the continent needs me as much as I need it.

The Producer

Alice Rastani has a deep appreciation for Cincinnati history. As a member of the Xavier community for 33 years, the administrative assistant in the College of Social Sciences, Health and Education has watched the University grow to a nationally known institution poised for exponential growth. But it’s what the Indiana native did before coming to Xavier that truly sets her apart.

During television’s formative, innocent years—which some would argue were the medium’s most entertaining years, as well—Rastani was an important part of two of Greater Cincinnati’s longest running, most beloved shows, “The Paul Dixon Show” and “”Uncle Al.”
Rastani worked both behind the scenes and on camera on both shows. She served as assistant producer for “The Uncle Al Show” and associate director for “The Paul Dixon Show.” Those titles equated to “a little bit of everything,” from commercial aid, to audio simulation, to prop set-up. All in all, the jobs required a combination of responsibility and flexibility.
“If I did a very good job before the Dixon show started, I would have, right in my hand, what he was looking for, as far as the details of the commercials and what he needs to do next,” says Rastani. “There had to be one person, because the singers were busy with their voices, the band was busy, the prop fellows were moving the props around, the cameramen and the people up in the control room were getting ready, and I was the one person in the studio Dixon relied on for all the facts,” Rastani says.
One of Rastani’s highlights was portraying Mary Poppins on “The Uncle Al Show.” “Back when Mary Poppins had just come out, Uncle Al and Captain Windy went to see it,” she recalls. “Uncle Al came back that Monday morning, looked at me and said, ‘I watched it, and you remind me enough of Mary Poppins that I want you to play her on the show.’ It was startling that he would say that. When it was over, WCPO sent a tape to MGM and they sent a letter back to me congratulating me on the show and the presentation. That was an interesting time.”
Improvisation was a key part of both jobs: A big part of early, live television involved taking situations that went wrong and making them a part of the show. That could include anything from technical difficulties to someone forgetting their lines, to a commercial error. When the cameras started rolling each weekday at 9:00 a.m., quick thinking took over for an hour and a half.
“People wanted to come on Paul Dixon’s show because they could potentially have a starring role and dictate what happened. They would come geared for that, with special clothes on, or short skirts for the Paul Dixon show,” says Rastani. “The ladies loved Paul. He could tell the same jokes over and over again, and they would know what the joke was, and always laugh anyway, because it was Paul Baby’s jokes—Paul Baby was his nickname. It was like they were insiders.”
Ultimately, it is the human interaction and close relationships that lie at the heart of Rastani’s most cherished memories. “To be able to meet so many people and be around so many happy and uplifting moments during the show. Everybody knew the people that were on the show,” Rastani says. “Every day was the same. You made sure that certain things always happened. One of my tasks was to bring this salami out every day to Paul Baby. It was an important moment for an audience member to receive the salami from Paul Dixon. It was a unique experience to have known those celebrities so closely.”
Despite her love of live TV, Rastani chose to come to Xavier when Dixon died, rather than continue her broadcasting career. She says it was the right decision.
“Before I came to Xavier, there was another television show I was thinking about going to, and my husband said, ‘Why don’t you let that go?’ Which I did, and it was the best thing I could do. Live programming is no more, and this community at Xavier is special. The longer I’m here, the more I realize that, watching it grow, watching the changes, I did myself a favor coming here instead of pursuing programming any further.”
Still, with all the great memories and a host of wonderful stories that lead one to another, Rastani finds it hard to describe the glory days of Greater Cincinnati broadcasting. “You can’t even put it into words,” she says.

The Planner

Tom Merrill is a planner. In addition to his duties as the director for choral activities in Xavier’s department of music, he directs the choir at Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church. Every summer, he pores through stacks of sheet music at his office in the small house on Dana Avenue and sets dates for rehearsals, recitals, courses and other events. “I plan everything a year in advance,” he says. “I just have to, because once you hit the ground running, there’s no time to go, ‘Hmm, what would this be like?’”

Of course, Merrill is used to a full schedule. While working on his undergraduate degree at Rhodes College in Memphis, he took a job as a prep cook for a French restaurant where speed was de rigueur. “The very first day I was there, Martha, who was the chef, said, ‘I need these carrots peeled.’ So I’m slowly peeling the carrots, and she looks at me and says, ‘Thomas! See that 50-pound bag of carrots? Those are for dinner tonight. This is how you peel carrots,’” Merrill says, gesticulating in a rapid peeling motion. Eventually, Merrill mastered the art of the quick chop. “My wife is always amazed at how fast I do things,” he says. “I can make a lot of food in a short amount of time. A lot of it is my technique but also being able to multitask. It’s just a matter of timing.”

Merrill’s multitasking skills served him well when he came to Cincinnati in 1990 to earn a doctorate at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. While writing his dissertation, he worked as a captain waiter at the Celestial restaurant at night and the manager of the Chateau Pomije Wine Store during the day.

Today, his affection for fine food and wine translates to his personal kitchen, where he prepares a late dinner for his wife and daughter every night after a full day of rehearsals. “We never, ever go out,” Merrill says. “It’s really important for us to always eat dinner together as a family, and we do that whenever we can. I always grab something on the way home, but it’s something I’m going to cook.” Merrill admits he leans toward French cooking—inspired by his early training—followed closely by Italian cuisine because of its fresh herbs and pastas. He also enjoys inviting friends over for a multicourse meal. Printed menus often include items such as smoked salmon with capers and onions, a delicate carrot soup with dill pesto, lamb with mashed potatoes flavored with truffle oil and, of course, a salad. “We always do the salad after the dinner because it’s a French thing,” he explains. “And by then you’re almost done drinking the wine and then the vinegar in the salad doesn’t conflict with the wine.” Dessert is usually light, such as a crème brulee or some mixed berries drizzled with sabayon. One item that may soon make it to his menu is quail. Merrill manages to carve out time—usually during one of Xavier’s academic breaks—for an annual quail hunt in Washington State with his father. “I started out duck hunting when I was in seventh grade with my dad down in Houston,” he says. “Half the reason I do it is it’s a chance to be with my dad because I rarely get to see him.”

Recently, Merrill found another passion that requires a lot of scheduling: running. Inspired by a friend, he joined a running group and slowly worked his way up to the marathon circuit. “The group I run with is called Galloway, and the motto is ‘run injury-free.’ I like it because they always incorporate walking into the running.” So far, he has run two marathons: Cincinnati’s Flying Pig and the Air Force Marathon. But even Merrill couldn’t fit a third one on his calendar and took a season off. However, that hasn’t deterred him. “I plan on running another marathon in the spring,” he says. “My default is always the Pig, but I’m also looking at the Marine Corps, which is in D.C., and there’s another one where my folks live, in Carmel. You start at Sur and you run to Carmel, and it’s all along the coast highway. So I’d be very anxious in running that one. I think that would be really cool.”

Profile: Julianne Smith

JULIANNE SMITH
Bachelor of Arts in French and Communications, 1991, Director and senior fellow, Europe Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.

Small-Town Girl | Julianne Smith always figured her love of theater, public speaking and debate would lead to a career as a journalist. She never imagined she’d end up appearing instead before Congressional committees, foreign diplomats and dignitaries, and the European Union.

Parlez Vous? | Her turning point happened in Paris, where she spent a year at The Sorbonne. It was 1990-1991, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Europe was the hot place to be. The experience changed her life.

Over There | “You’d see people coming over from East Berlin, rushing into the stores and eating bananas. It was absolutely phenomenal. Then I had this wonderful epiphany that with my speaking skills, I could help people understand the U.S.”

International Affairs | She graduated in December and returned to Germany for two reasons—a boyfriend and German. A year and a half later, she no longer had the boyfriend, but she did have a degree in German from the University of Munich. And she had another epiphany—knowing German, French and communications, she would study foreign policy at American University, earning a master’s in international relations.

Think Tanks | In D.C., she was exposed to the world of think tanks, where experts in public policy offer position papers and advice to policy makers. Smith put together a string of think tank jobs—the American Academy, the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Germany, the British American Security Information Council in London and the German Marshall Fund. In 2003, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hired her.

Global Security | Last December, she was promoted to head the Europe division where her specialty is the relationship between the U.S. and the European Union, especially security. “America has provided a security umbrella to Europe for more than 60 years, and now the question is what should the nature of that relationship be with the Cold War over? Should we still be providing security to Europe or should they do it themselves? ”

Collaborator | “I’m trying to shape U.S. policy toward Europe. The truth is we’re not going to solve Afghanistan or Darfur or the Mideast crisis unless we work together. It’s not a U.S. solution but a trans-Atlantic solution, and unless we get both sides working together, we don’t have a chance.”

A Man’s World | As she travels around the globe, she often runs into attitudes reminiscent of the Cold War era. She may be the keynote speaker, but she’ll sometimes be handed a spouse’s itinerary. “I have a commitment to blaze the trail for women in the security field, so it’s changing, but we’ve got a long way to go. People still ask me for coffee or more sugar.”

The Explorer

Dana Tindall is never alone in his office. The associate director for client services shares his workspace with the Cleaver family—Ward, June, Wally and “the Beav”—and their chairs. The Cleavers don’t take up much room, but as components of Tindall’s recent interactive art piece, “Dysfunctional Conversation,” they do provoke thought.

“My art is about everyday life, external and internal, your thinking processes and what goes on inside your head. A lot of it is humorous. Some old rock star said, ‘You are what you own.’ That’s very true in America. We’re a very materialistic society. So when I make art, I don’t paint people, I paint the stuff they own,” Tindall says.

Tindall is all about exploration and communication, and his art is only a portion of his aptness to connect with others. His unique ability for being creative in using media to communicate is especially vital to Tindall’s many roles at Xavier: coordinator for Xavier’s liaison program, art instructor in the Weekend Degree Program, as Blackboard administrator, self-described “head honcho for classroom support and the A.V. guys,” and an advocate for bringing eLearning to Xavier.

Tindall received his undergraduate degree in art from Austin College and earned his master’s in art at the University of Dallas, both in Texas. He was a full-time artist, working with Cincinnati-based Maintraum and doing performance art, until a series of events landed him as an AV night tech at Xavier 13 years ago. While Tindall may not be doing performance art these days, many of his works do inspire some degree of physical interaction.

“I want my art to have a broad appeal,” he says. “I put a ‘hook’ in my art to make it intriguing. It’s something that brings out the ‘Oh wow,’ factor, something that you sit on and it talks it you, or you push a button and it does that, something that you can touch, or it seems real and it isn’t. I like to play with perspective, draw somebody in and they ask, ‘Why am I looking at this picture of a stove with an ashtray sitting on it?’”

Tindall’s development as an artist grew from his dissatisfaction with “flat” paint. To get what he was after, Tindall began to bring out aspects of his paintings into three dimensions. He evolved from the canvas to sculptures, then into big art, adding motion, electricity, interaction and narrative pieces that tell a story.

“It’s fun to make, but takes a lot of time and energy,” he explains. “I had to learn electronics, because I couldn’t just buy what I wanted to do off the shelf. Then, at one point, I got sick of having to fix everything. I’m no engineer, and most of my stuff is pretty fragile, made of wood, breaks easily and often colorful, so it attracts little kids’ hands.”

For now, he just sticks to audio as a supplementary medium of communication. But that’s not to say he won’t change his approach eventually. “I explore,” he says. “Right now I’m not as interested in exploring outside life as I am in exploring indoor life. Some of that is an age thing. I’m 53, and I’m starting to reflect on my life. After a while, I might not want to do that anymore. Every now and again you have to break loose and say, ‘I think I’ll paint a hamburger.’”

As for Ward, June, Wally and Beaver, they’re not too loud in Tindall’s office, unless their chairs are plugged in and a visitor sits on them. When sat on, suddenly, Tindall’s art interacts and the Cleavers talk, just not to each other. Their particular project began with Tindall observing and writing down snippets of his family’s conversations. He then had his family read these parts of conversations in to a tape recorder. Tindall’s voice became Ward’s, and his wife and two sons the voices of June, Wally and Beaver.

“The Cleavers are archetypical American family characters I decided to use,” Tindall explains. “‘Leave it to Beaver’ was such a wholesome, unrealistic show about American family life that they were perfect images to use as symbols of people trapped in a dysfunctional situation trying to appear normal, whatever that is.” Ward is a symbol for “every man,” June for every woman, and so on. The family tries to have a conversation, initiated by a spectator sitting on one of the character’s chairs. But Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav are trapped in their dysfunction, talking, but not communicating.

Although growth is critical for every artist, Tindall says some of his defining qualities—using humor to question normalcy and playing with both perspective and conception—are likely to remain part of his work no matter what medium he uses.

“Everything is informed by all the previous stuff I’ve done, and there’s a lot of artistic tradition behind it,” he says. “In terms of movement or idea, I don’t think you come to any resolution with your lifelong idea. You discover a lot of stuff along the way, though.”

Profile: Nancy Kinman

NANCY KINMAN
Master of Business Administration, 1990 Vice President, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati

The Business Woman | Kinman manages the product support and implementation team for commercial operations at Fifth Third. “We provide companies the tools that allow them to manage their cash, invest their cash, pay down commercial loans, monitor disbursements and enable them to provide like-cash vault services if their business requires that.”

The Volunteer | “I’m very passionate about what I do. But part of what helps me excel is my connections outside in the community. I think it’s the realization that you’ve got a purpose in life. And your purpose in life isn’t solely work or solely family or solely community. For me, it’s been in all of those areas.”

The Mentor | “I think the value of having mentors along my professional career has demonstrated to me that that’s one area where I can give back.” For example, Kinman volunteers with Xavier’s Young Aspiring Professional Women’s Group and participates in the mentor program at Fifth Third. “To be able to help employees network and meet other people in the bank is very critical because relationship development is absolutely critical for success in today’s business world. No question about it.”

The Community Leader | Kinman worked with the Leadership Northern Kentucky program that teaches aspiring leaders how to excel and lead within the community. “Not only are you exposed to a lot of community issues, but you’re given opportunities to grow your own leadership skills.” Likewise, Kinman was recently accepted into the Leadership Society in Cincinnati, a program sponsored by the Cincinnati Regional USA Chamber.

The Board Member | Kinman began working with Welcome House, a homeless shelter in Northern Kentucky, in 1999. “I got a call from the executive director of Welcome House who said, ‘Your name’s been given to me as someone who might be interested in serving on our board. I’d like to meet with you.’ ” Kinman served six years on the board and helped establish the first capital campaign that raised more than $100,000.

The Golfer | Kinman plays golf at least twice a week—more if she can—and served as the first female board member for the Fort Mitchell Country Club in 1993. She later took over as president. “We had just celebrated our 100th anniversary as a club. And to serve in the 101st year I thought was kind of a milestone.” Along with committee responsibilities, Kinman oversaw restaurant operations, tennis courts, a golf course and a swim program.

The Award Winner | This year Fifth Third nominated Kinman for Northern Kentucky’s Woman of the Year award, sponsored by The Kentucky Post, Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More College. Kinman was honored at an award luncheon in April at the Metropolitan Education and Training Center in Erlanger, Ky., where more than 400 people attended.

The Calming Influence

The fabric of Betty Porter’s life is rich with threads of theology, music and service. Her desire to share in these areas recently led Porter, a discovery services librarian at Xavier, to become a certified music practitioner, a recognition gained through the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP). In that role, she works as a volunteer, performing music as a form of palliative care for hospice patients and their families.

Some would view playing music for the dying as an incredible burden. Porter doesn’t see it that way. “It’s a privilege,” she says. “Our society is so scared to talk about death, and I developed a different attitude about it in my certification training. It’s a passage. If you can help someone have a good death, it would be like having what midwives do for birth, making the transition a good one.”

Porter, who plays the flute, the Native American flute, alto flute and tenor recorder, earned her master’s degree in theology from Xavier, and has always been spiritually conscious and intrigued by the overlap theology and service to others presents. As a member of the National Flute Association, Porter saw an ad for music practitioner certification in the association’s journal and thought it would bring together everything she’s dabbled in.

MHTP is composed of five learning modules in which students explore therapeutic music research, build their musical repertoire, and intern at a hospital or hospice facility of their choice to gain experience.

“You don’t want to do anything that interferes with medical procedures in a hospital, so I think being in hospice is much more conducive to this kind of work,” Porter says. “The program was careful of making us aware that we are not music therapists. Music therapy is a four-year degree, often with a master’s, and music therapy has its purpose to try to cure people through music and having the patients do music-related things. That’s not what a music practitioner does. We play live music to bring about healing as opposed to curing. That’s a big distinction.”

The certification program isn’t just for musicians, Porter says. “A lot of people in my class were nurses or nurse practitioners, and they were just learning to play an instrument. There are a wide variety of skills.”

While there seems to be anecdotal evidence that the work of music practitioners has a positive effect, Porter says lack of abundant scientific research has been a limiting factor. MHTP is in the works of gaining legitimacy and support by encouraging practitioners to conduct research and to keep up on current research and observations about therapeutic music.

Music practitioners are more common on the East and West coasts than in the Midwest. The only certification school in Ohio was in Cleveland, meaning that whenever a school weekend approached, Porter got up before 4:00 a.m. to drive to Cleveland and make it in time for the 8:00 a.m. Saturday class. She stayed all day Saturday and Sunday, and drove back Sunday night. In the meantime, between classes, Porter utilized her two-year journey to certification wisely by reading the assigned books and keeping in touch with her local mentor.

Overall, Porter says she gets as much out of playing as the patients do listening. All it takes is a little courage and a lot of compassion to simply walk into the room, introduce yourself, and ask if they want to hear music.

“You just have to go in and ask. It’s usually very positive. I feel good when they fall asleep. They often cry, or they’ll remember something, or they’ll ask about my instrument,” Porter says. “Playing is a huge responsibility because you’d hate to think that you’re messing up somebody’s last moments if they don’t like what you’re playing. I watch the reaction from the patient and the family, because they’re a part of it, and I switch gears fast if I see any agitation or negativity.”

Finding appropriate pieces and being sensitively attuned to listener preferences—from traditional folk music to religious hymns—is a large part of the work. And oftentimes, the talent to improvise and choose from a large repertoire of accumulated music helps Porter build connections with whom she plays for.

“I had a nice experience in hospice when a patient passed away and the whole family had gathered around. It was a big family, a lot of little kids, and they were reminiscing. I was outside the door in the hallway and all the kids came out and sat and listened to me play while the adults were in there. The kids had all these questions and they wanted to try to play. That was a nice moment, and the family appreciated having the music while they were celebrating the life.”

Profile: Vince Caponi

VINCE CAPONI
Bachelor of Arts in History, 1972 CEO, St. Vincent Health, Indianapolis

Network Builder | Caponi has served as chief executive officer of St. Vincent Health since 1998. During his tenure, St. Vincent has grown from a campus in Indianapolis into a statewide network that is the sixth-largest employer in Indiana. In August, St. Vincent’s parent organization, Ascension Health, named Caponi ministry market leader for the state. He is now responsible for 20 hospitals, more that more 15,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue.

Volunteer I | Caponi’s volunteer activities are legion. He is a former chair of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and is incoming chair for United Way of Central Indiana. He is active with the Boy Scouts of America, and has served on the executive committee of Central Indiana’s Crossroads of America Council for the past eight years.

Peer Recognition | Caponi recently received the Indiana Hospital Association’s 2007 Distinguished Service Awards. The award is given annually to a hospital chief executive in recognition of outstanding achievement and dedication to an organization, its patients, the community and the profession. “To be selected by your peers for any award always carries a special designation and meaning. It’s very humbling. Sometimes you don’t see yourself that way. I feel very honored.”

Volunteer II | Caponi is also active in the Indiana Health Exchange; is chairman of the board for Health Advantage, an HMO; serves on the board for Xavier’s health services administration program; and is a trustee for St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.

Tend the Gardens | While at Xavier, Caponi worked as a proctor in Brockman Hall and as a bartender at Dana Gardens. But it’s the Jesuits who had a lasting impact. “I think Jesuit education says to each one that ‘You are unique; nobody has the same talents.’ The Jesuits really searched for that in each of us. You went through search inside yourself, then they raised the bar.”

Healthy Outlook | Caponi worked for several companies after graduation, but his life dramatically changed direction when a family friend offered him a job in health care. Four-and-a-half years later, Caponi found himself head of a 66-bed community hospital in western Michigan. He then headed St. Joseph Hospital in August, Ga., and St. Vincent Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., before moving to Indianapolis in 1998.

One for All | Caponi cites the concept of men and women for others as key to his success. “Of course we do work for ourselves, but the responsibility to do it for others has been a real drive in my career. At the end of the day, we’re doing what we do for patients. Patients and families are at the core of all we do.”