Parents and Families

Video: Tracing Thoreau’s 300-Mile Journey Through The Maine Woods (CBS Sunday Morning)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:30

In 1864, at the height of the American Civil War, Henry David Thoreau published “The Maine Woods,” a volume describing his travels to the backwoods of Maine in 1846, 1853, and 1857. One hundred and fifty years later, a group of adventurers retracing Thoreau’s steps finds a landscape that is largely the same and equally magnificent.

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So Smooth: Seven Steps to Mastering the Art of Conversation (Time)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:29

Speech bubbles256


Some people just have it — the gift of gab. And not just small talk; they really just seem to innately know how to be engaging. If you’re not the sparkling conversationalist you would like to be, check out these seven tips to being smooth, culled by Time magazine from Catherine Blyth’s The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure.

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A Bowdoin Summer

Bowdoin Academic Spotlight - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 15:43
Each summer, students on campus take a break from their busy schedules of work, studies, and recreation to gather at a cookout hosted by President Mills.
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A Bowdoin Summer

Bowdoin Campus News - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 15:43
Each summer, students on campus take a break from their busy schedules of work, studies, and recreation to gather at a cookout hosted by President Mills.
Categories: Bowdoin

Whispering Pines: Discovering a Prodigal Son

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:25


Once again, what appeared to be straightforward connection between an object and a Bowdoin alumnus has led me on an endlessly fascinating journey through history. It started with an eBay listing for a somewhat blurry, sepia-toned stereopticon card showing a young man in a chair in what looks like a dormitory room. On the back of the card, written in pencil, is “Photo by S. A. Gűrdjian. Bowd Coll. ’77.” The gauntlet had been thrown down.

A quick check of the General Catalogue of Bowdoin College, 1794-1950 revealed that Seropé Armenag Gűrdjian was born in Talas, Cæsarea, Asia Minor, (central Turkey) on December 12, 1847. He was the first student to attend Bowdoin who had been born in Turkey. How and why he ended up in New Hampton, New Hampshire, in the mid-1860s is a mystery, but he had established himself as a photographer there and was a student at the New Hampton Literary and Theological Institution.

At nearly twenty-six years of age, Gűrdjian entered Bowdoin as the oldest member of his class in 1873. He followed the scientific course of study that had been instituted during Joshua Chamberlain’s presidency and was a member of the Bowdoin Scientific Society and a photographer for the Class of 1877’s Bugle. He also was an operator in the Bowdoin Telegraph Association (his “handle” was dash-dot-dash – the letter “K”), formed by a group of students who strung telegraph wires between the dorms and relayed messages to each other. Like many students in the 19th century, Gűrdjian set up a small business in his dorm room. His printed cards advertised imported carpets, Turkish embroidery, Ottar of Rose (perfume), and photographs of the interior of the Chapel for sale in 17 Appleton Hall.

As newspapers began to report on “the Eastern question” – the persecution of Armenians and others by the Ottoman Empire – Gűrdjian, an Armenian, began to offer public lectures on the subject, and was invited to speak to the Maine Legislature in February of 1878. Gűrdjian’s ambition was to raise funds to found a school of engineering, mining, and industrial technology in Turkey so that Armenian Turks might develop greater economic independence. He had assured donors that the school would not be in direct competition with the well-known Robert College in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which had been founded by Cyrus Hamlin of the Class of 1834.

Gűrdjian had been naturalized as an American citizen in March of 1874 and obtained an American passport in November of 1878, before sailing for Constantinople at the end of the year. That was his last contact with the College until 1900, when Boston bookseller Dana Estes H’98 reported to College Librarian George Little ’77 that he had seen Gűrdjian in Athens, Greece.


Stereoscopic card of picture taken by S. A. Gűrdjian ’77. Advertisement in “Bowdoin Songs” book. Portrait of the photographer as a young man.  Sachtleben Collection, Charles E. Young Research Library Dept. of Spec. Coll., UCLA.
Apparently the plans to establish a new college had fallen through. Details are very sketchy, but Gűrdjian may have been engaged in photography, selling photographic equipment, or some other mercantile pursuit in Constantinople. An Internet search showed that while he may have been incommunicado from the College’s perspective, he certainly had not faded into obscurity. American newspapers in October of 1890 were filled with stories about two Americans of Armenian ancestry who had been arrested by Turkish authorities, in violation of an 1830 Treaty between the U.S. and Turkey that clearly stated that U.S. had jurisdiction in handling alleged criminal conduct by American citizens. Gűrdjian had been arrested at night in his home, not allowed to dress, imprisoned, beaten, and denied access to U.S. officials for more than 24 hours. It became part of a major diplomatic incident that reverberated back and forth for a decade about the rights of naturalized U.S. citizens and the Ottoman Empire’s insistence that the Sultan must approve any Turkish national’s application for naturalization to another country. The name Seropé Gűrdjian became a familiar one in international case law.

As to the specifics of the case, Gűrdjian was accused of engraving a symbol for a secret society of radical Armenians who plotted revolution against the empire. Outraged American officials demanded an apology, and eventually received one. However, Turkey insisted on the right to deport any Turkish-born naturalized Americans, and while Gűrdjian’s long prison sentence was overturned, he was forced to leave the country and take up residence in Athens, Greece, and return to a career as a photographer.

In the winter of 1890-91 Gűrdjian met Thomas Allen and William Sachtleben, two recent graduates of Washington University of St. Louis who were preparing for a 7,000-mile bicycle ride across Asia. The three met regularly for coffee and eventually all shared an apartment in Athens, where they would engage in philosophical discussions and political debates. Allen and Sachtleben described their newfound friend as “cerebral and charismatic,” and they admired his fluency in English, Turkish, and Persian. Gűrdjian would go into a rage whenever he talked about Sultan Abdul Hamid II, reportedly telling the cyclists that “I wish that his damned carcass would rot in a place worse than hell.” If Seropé Gűrdjian had not been a revolutionary before his arrest (and torture, according to what he told the cyclists), he certainly counted expatriate Armenian radicals and anarchists among his close friends in Athens.

What have the fates against me…That I may be an eye-witness to the sufferings of my native countrymen, the Armenians!

The next bit of news about Gűrdjian came in an 1896 letter to Bowdoin President William DeWitt Hyde from a New York Tribune reporter in Athens: “An Armenian photographer, calling himself an American and a product of Bowdoin College, is fraudulently selling pictures from plates belonging to me, as special correspondent of the New York Tribune, at the International Olympian Games, just closed…The Armenian calls himself ‘S. A. Gűrdjian,’ last address rue Hermes in Athens. He may, however, have slunk away into some other corner ’ere this, after the manner of his kind.”  There is no record of Hyde’s reply to this invective, nor is there an easy way to verify or refute the charge.

The College (through Librarian George Little) kept sending letters addressed to Gűrdjian at No. 24 Hermes St. in Athens. One letter finally got through, addressed only to “S. A. Gűrdjian, c/o U. S. Legation, Athens.” Gűrdjian responded on November 15, 1901, saying that he had been sick in bed after returning from a mining expedition in the interior of Greece.  “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the trouble you took in finding me out, your prodigal brother…I have never given up my adopted country, its institutions, associations, my alma mater, the thought of which all have been my consolation through all my wanderings in the East.”

The tone shifts dramatically: “What have the fates against me…That I may be an eye-witness to the sufferings of my native countrymen, the Armenians!…That I may gaze on the rivers of blood running throughout the whole [of] Armenia by the fiendish orders of the Great Assassin, encouraged by the Christian monarchs of Europe! That I may come in actual contact with the greatest house of prostitution in the world, called, in refined language, European Diplomacy, know its bloody machinations, brutal selfishness and criminal indifference towards a poor, neglected, and bleeding people!”

Then another abrupt shift: “Enough. I am not able to write more. I beg you to write me soon, I will write you again. Please give my best respects to Mr. Estes, and other inquiring friends. Again thanking you for your kind letters, I remain, very faithfully, Your friend and classmate, Seropé A. Gűrdjian.” The sending of this letter a month before his 54th birthday is the last event that I have been able to document in the life of Seropé Armenag Gűrdjian of the Class of 1877. I could find no information on the time, place, and circumstances of his death, and nothing about family or business ventures. He slipped into my awareness through a penciled notation on a faded photo, but after glimpsing the incomplete record of his life, I know that he’ll be turning up in my thoughts for years to come.


With best wishes,

John R. Cross ’76
Secretary of Development and College Relations

Categories: Bowdoin

Where Do People Really Live in the USA? (Business Insider)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:23

Pushpins in map

Half of the U.S. population lives in just 146 of the country’s 3,000 counties. Some  — such as Los Angeles County and New York County — come as no surprise, but  take a look at a map compiled by Business Insider to see the nation’s other hotspots.


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What You Get When You Teach An Old Dog A New Language (New York Times)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:22

words-256“I used to joke that I spoke French like a three-year-old,” New York Times contributor William Alexander jokes, “until I met a French three-year-old and couldn’t hold up my end of the conversation.” Alexander picked up a language in his late 50s to assuage his fears about deteriorating mental capacity — but blundering through new sounds, words and phrases he could never seem to master did not ease his worries. Nonetheless, his efforts themselves yielded astounding benefits, notably huge increases in verbal and visual memory. Read more to find out why learning a language in adulthood is like “drinking from a mental fountain of youth.”

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Infographic: Biggest Workplace Time Wasters (

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:18

OK, folks — it’s week-two of our productivity-themed infographic series, taking a look at issue such as finding focus and inspiration. This week kicks off with a look at the time wasters that distract us.

Click image to view full-size

Click image to view full-size

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Dr. Birgit Pols to Lead Bowdoin’s Health Services

Bowdoin Campus News - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:46
Dr. Birgit Pols is joining the Bowdoin community as Director of Health Services, beginning in August 2014.
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Townies: Students Work for Brunswick, Topsham

Bowdoin Campus News - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:44
Libby Szuflita ’15 and Violet Ranson ’16 are mapping parts of Topsham and Brunswick this summer to help local administrators make land-use decisions that improve town life and reconcile the sometimes conflicting needs of residents, businesses and wildlife.
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John Fish ’82 on Dyslexia and His Boston Construction Empire (Boston Globe)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:30
John Fish '82

John Fish ’82

For the first part of his life, John Fish ’82 was “the little boy who couldn’t,” held back by others’ (and increasingly, his own) misinterpretation of his dyslexia as a lack of intelligence. When he was diagnosed, it set him free — throughout the rest of his educational journey, he was diligent and determined to succeed, even though he knew it would take more time and hard work for him than for everyone else. Since then, he has been at the forefront of Suffolk Construction Company, serving as chief executive — the fourth generation in his family to work in the construction industry.

Suffolk is Boston’s biggest construction firm, bringing in more than $2 billion in revenue annually. Since the company began, Fish’s business style has changed from the fight and fire that got him through school (and caused heated disputes in the construction world) to one based on lasting partnerships that have taken him through many projects — and on to a bid for Boston as the host of the 2024 Olympics. Read more from The Boston Globe.

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An Interactive Model of Historical Supreme Court Decisions (Mashable)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:29

United States Supreme Court buildingYou are probably familiar with some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings over the past few years — upholding the Affordable Care Act and striking down the Defense Of Marriage Act, for example. Many of the most controversial Supreme Court cases are addressed during the last two weeks of June, which represent the end of the session. With this interactive model from Mashable, you can see what the court has decided on a variety of historical hot-button issues over the past 68 years.

Here’s how to explore the model: Cases are organized in layers, each representing a different type of issue, from criminal procedure to federal taxation. Mouse over a layer to see (in the upper right-hand corner) the number of the case and the total number of cases. Scrolling from left to right allows you to advance towards more recent cases (the year is displayed in the upper left-hand corner). Click once to see the name and overview of a case — scroll to the top left of the blurb to exit out and return to the graph.

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With Summer Grant, John Branch ’16 Helps Find Poverty Solutions

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:27

johnbranch-256x340In his second summer interning with Innovations for Poverty Action, John Branch ’16 is researching many unique ways in which impoverished people are improving their lives and their communities.

Innovations for Poverty Action, founded in 2002 by a Yale economist in New Haven, Conn., has an international network of more than 200 experts (primarily academics) and 500 staff who are researching solutions to reduce global poverty. The organization uses its findings to advocate for policies that have been proven effective. Read the full story.

Categories: Bowdoin

Infographic: How to Make Rest Work — For Work (

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 13:27
Click image to view full-size

Click image to view full-size

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Bowdoin Team Heads to Brazil for Robot Soccer World Cup

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:24

Soccerball with flags in net

Now that the FIFA World Cup contenders have finished battling it out, another international soccer competition is just getting started in Brazil — only this time, the players aren’t human.

Five Bowdoin students are on their way to Logan Airport this morning for a flight to João Pessoa, Brazil, for RoboCup 2014 — an annual competition between teams of autonomous, knee-high robots whose soccer-playing prowess reflects the skill and hard work of their programmers.

“Everything the robots do on the field is the result of a program written by students,” said Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown, coach and faculty advisor to the team, noting that the technology has made remarkable advances in the past decade. “We make progress every year, and over the years that’s a lot of progress.”

Read more about the exploits of Bowdoin’s robotic soccer team.

Bowdoin NewsRead more Bowdoin News »

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Druckenmiller ’75 on Investors Who Still Have ‘Guts’ (CNBC)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:22

Investor Stanley Druckenmiller ’75 talks about two of the investors he says still have the “guts” to make the big market calls in this clip from CNBC.

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Read Like Bill Gates (Farnham Street)

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:21

booksIn addition to his numerous other contributions, Bill Gates offers an annual summer reading list to the world. This year’s six picks are all books that Gates read earlier this year. The topics include business, science, history — and even a novel. John Brooks’ Business Adventures also comes recommended by Warren Buffett (who recommended it to Gates himself).

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Infographic: How Long to Nap (

Bowdoin Daily Sun - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:20
Click image to view full-size

Click image to view full-size

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Bowdoin Team Heads to Brazil for Robot Soccer World Cup

Bowdoin Academic Spotlight - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:05
Now that the FIFA World Cup contenders have finished battling it out, another international soccer competition is just getting started in Brazil - only this time, the players aren't human.
Categories: Bowdoin
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