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ISLE Newsletter October 2009

Story posted October 13, 2010

The ISLE Alumni Newsletter Fall 2009

Issue 10: October 2009 * Visit ISLE on the Web    ISLE Banner


Welcome to the Fall 2009 issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter.  This is a follow up to our Spring 2009 Issue. This newsletter flourishes mostly on your responses and input.  The more we hear from you, the more news your fellow alumni will also share.  You can write about yourself or the organization you are working for or any other news that would be relevant or interesting to your fellow alumni- reminiscing is encouraged!

Oppadupa: ISLE Activities and News

With the defeat of the LTTE military forces in May in the protracted struggle of 26 years, we hope to witness a new era of peace and renewed prosperity in Sri Lanka.  Although there is no way to anticipate the residual violence or the effects of current refugee problems and other humanitarian concerns, it appears that the security situation in Sri Lanka is better than it has been in years. Our fall 2009 program is once again a small but a very good group of students who are enjoying the fruits of the peace in small but crucial ways by taking occasional train rides to the south and taking excursions to Colombo, as much as the US state department travel restrictions allow them.  If you are interested in knowing the news about the ongoing program, check the Fall 2009 program pages.
We are happy to announce that one of our ISLE alumnae, Ruth Manski of Fall 2007, is returning to Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship this year.  We welcome her and other alumni who are returning on research or just for a nostalgic visit to Sri Lanka with much enthusiasm.
I am sure many of you are in touch with the political news of Sri Lanka. For those who are looking for a good source to get their news, we recommend the following web sites:




We are happy to announce that Professor Ranjith Amarasinghe came to offer a short term course at Grinnell College. Now he is on a grand tour visiting all the ISLE member colleges giving lectures and participating in ISLE information sessions.

Call for Applications

We will be accepting applications beginning in late March 2010 for the Program Assistant position for the Fall Semester 2010 program. If you are interested in applying for the fall 2010 Program Assistant position, please be in touch with the ISLE office: isle@bowdoin.edu.

More ISLE Alumni News

Sigrid Carle (ISLE '82, Hobart and William Smith) is a Professor of Biology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Risa Kane (now Risa Gold, ISLE '82, Hobart and William Smith) writes, "Wow, I guess I was privileged to be in the first ISLE group, class of 1982! Unfortunately, I've lost touch with everyone except Lowell Bloss, HWS professor who led our troop. The most memorable part of our trip was visiting Jaffna very close in time to the beginning of the war. The Tamils were very vocal about their discontent and it was difficult to embrace their hostility after spending the greater part of our time studying Buddhism and living with the Sinhalese. I loved my family in Kandy so much, I often look at my photos and I wonder how my little "brothers", who are now grown men, are doing. I really hope to visit Sri Lanka again in my life time! I'm now married for almost 20 years with two boys, ages 16 and 12. I'm a court attorney in an appellate court in Manhattan. I would very much like to hear from Lyle and Charlotte!"

Patrick Flaherty (ISLE '89, Bowdoin) writes, "Hi, We had a mini-ISLE reunion of sorts in July 2009 with Patrick Flaherty (89), Cricket Keating (87? and program assistant 89) -- shown with her partner Larin McLaughlin and children, and Tom Beer ('86 and program assistant 89). Cricket and her family met up with us in New York, where Tom has lived since the early 1990s and where I moved with my partner to begin a Master of Public Administration program at Columbia University in January 2009. We enjoyed beautiful weather and a great Sri Lankan meal."

impromptu ISLE reunion on Staten Island

Impromptu ISLE reunion in New York: Patrick Flaherty, Cricket Keating and family, and Tom Beer at a Sri Lankan restaurant, Staten Island, NY

Michael Bernstein (ISLE '94, Swarthmore) writes: "I've been living in New York for the past 11 years and work in the investment management business.  My wife and I have two kids, Theo (5 months) and Alexandra (3 years), and I've been thinking about planning a family trip to Sri Lanka as soon as the kids are a bit older and able to appreciate it."

John Chapman (ISLE '94, Macalester) is currently living in Columbus, Ohio and working at OCLC.

Denon Alderson (ISLE '95, Carleton) writes, "Google led me back to you.  My gratitude for the ISLE experience is still strong.  Thank you for continuing the journey, and let me know if I can offer anything to future generations of travelers."

Ted Frisbee (ISLE '95, Carleton) writes, "Got a short Letter to the Editor published in The Atlantic this month (exciting!) in response to Robert Kaplan's very mediocre article on Sri Lanka....Unlike the other authors, Kaplan does not reply to mine.  Here's the link: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/letters. Mine's at the very bottom. Amnesty International is continuing to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government as the monsoon season approaches and there are still many thousands of refugees living in squalor in camps.  These people ended up there, of course, as a result of the incredible final push the Sri Lankan government made to finally "defeat" the LTTE. They have both petitions and accept donations at amnesty.org...."

Elizabeth (Meyers) Christoforetti  (ISLE '98-99, Bowdoin) received her Master in Architecture from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in June 2009.  She is currently teaching architecture at Northeastern University and pursuing her own design practice while awaiting the birth of a baby boy in February of 2010.

Sarah Calhoun (ISLE '99, Carleton) writes, "This fall, I started working on my Masters of Library Science (still here in Madison), and my sixth language, Hindi.  I'm also currently working with our South Asian Bibliographer in Madison on a few digitizing and indexing projects. For sanity, I teach ballroom dance classes, and (when the budget allows for it) compete with my professional partner. Not exactly sure where this will all take me, but eventually I would like to find a lucrative day job that uses my two Masters (Languages and Cultures of Asia, and Library Science), so that I can continue to dance at night! "

Jill Jarvis (ISLE '99, Whitman) just started a PhD program in comparative literature at Princeton University, focusing on postcolonial literature and translation. She says, "South Asian literature will, I expect, become a part of my work here; I also hope to do work in North African and Middle Eastern literatures, and am studying Arabic to make that possible."

Richard Fox (ISLE '01, Bowdoin) works with Faraway Safaris, which offers tours to Sri Lanka, as well as India, Kenya and Tanzania. He writes, "For me the semester in Sri Lanka was a life changing experience. There has never been a period in my life when I have been challenged so much, learned so much, and matured so much. The country is as enchanting and wonderful as the program and that has motivated me to start marketing tours in Sri Lanka. My trips have an emphasis on cultural, environmental, and historical exploration. Much like the field trips that I took during my ISLE semester. Earlier this year I went on a scouting trip to plan an itinerary for clients and had a wonderful time. While in Kandy I visited my ISLE host family which was fantastic. They were such wonderful people and it was great to catch up with them a bit and see how they were doing."

Sarah Tufano (ISLE '01, Swarthmore) recently moved back to the East Coast after living in Northern California for 4 years.  She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owns her own business in downtown Boston called Massage Therapy of Boston (www.massagetherapyofboston.com). She is engaged and will be getting married in the summer of 2010. She writes, "The memories of ISLE are still so fresh in my mind and I really miss being there!"

Cynthia Davies (ISLE '02, Colby) writes, "Most recently, I'm in Portland, enrolled in UNE's physician assistant program.  I graduate in 2011 and will go from there . . . "

Jeremy Gantz (ISLE '02, Carleton '04) writes, "I've neglected to offer the ISLE program any news during the last three or four years — since returning from my Fulbright fellowship in Sri Lanka in 2005 — but better late than never. Since returning from the island in 2005, I've been working in journalism, as a reporter and editor, in eastern Massachusetts, Cambodia and Chicago. I received my master's degree in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School early last year (2008), and now work as an editor at In These Times, a monthly national political magazine published in Chicago. Earlier this year, we launched Working In These Times, our blog dedicated to covering workers' right and labor issues. I'm its editor, so I am forever attached to the Internet."

Lisa Moore (ISLE '02, Whitman '04, ISLE Program Assistant'04) is currently living in New York City and working at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as a humanitarian policy officer. Her work there includes looking at issues in Sri Lanka, among other places, as one of the field country offices and practicing her Sinhala with a Sri Lankan colleague.

Sarah Burks (ISLE '03, Carleton '05, ISLE Program Assistant '05) writes, "I've just received ministerial fellowship from the Unitarian Universalist Association and plan on graduating from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago in May 2010.  I'm especially interested in pursuing chaplaincy and interfaith work, and my time in Sri Lanka has played a great role in informing my perspective on religion and ritual."

Sarah Cornwell (ISLE '03, Grinnell) is in her last year of graduate school at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is still setting stories and screenplays in Sri Lanka."

Rebecca Hoffman (ISLE '03, Holy Cross) writes, "I think about Sri Lanka all the time and I can't wait to go back." She recently earned a master's degree in urban planning from SUNY Buffalo and looks forward to receiving her JD next May. She is living in Buffalo with her husband, who is working on a PhD in history.

Leanne Sterio Walt (ISLE '03, Bowdoin) received her Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in May 2009 and is on track to be ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2010. She is currently working at Wollaston Congregational Church in Quincy, MA as their pastoral resident. Leanne was married to Bill Walt on September 5, 2009.

Maggie Meyers (ISLE '04, Bowdoin '05) recently left New York City where she worked in publishing and for Manhattan Youth, a non-profit organization.  Currently, she is substitute teaching in northern Michigan while she prepares to  begin her Master of Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle in Fall 2010.

Matthew Martin (ISLE '05, Bowdoin '07) writes, "I recently moved to DC and am working in Democratic politics. Look me up if any of you are ever in DC--I'd love to cook appa and practice some broken Sinhala!"

Ruth Manski (ISLE '07, Grinnell '09) is returning to Sri Lanka this October to complete a Fulbright. Her research centers on female identity as it relates to cooking practices and kitchen culture. She is thrilled to return to Sri Lanka, especially to reunite with her host family and ISLE friends.

Will Olson (ISLE '07, Grinnell '09) writes, "I'm currently living in Washington, DC and working as a Postbaccelaureate Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD doing stem cell research."

Fiona Taggart (ISLE '07, Whitman '09) writes, " I am currently volunteering with the Americorps in Walla Walla Washignton. I'm serving in the resource room of Edison Elementary and doing a lot of work with the bilingual language program."

Chris Johnston (ISLE Spring '08, Carleton '09) writes, "I am participating in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Nashville Tennesse now. I am living with 7 people I never met before in a house and we all do different service work throughout Nashville. I am working with ex felons as they are released from incarceration and help them find jobs, housing, clothing, food and other services. Next year I will be attending law school but have no idea where."

Sam Modest (ISLE Spring '08, Bowdoin '09) is currently teaching English, art, and digital photography at the Rainbow Academy in Gorubathan, West Bengal, India.

Get in Touch

We love to hear from our alumni. It is truly amazing what some of you are doing, and reading about how ISLE helped direct or shape our students' lives is downright inspiring. We are interested in the quickest of hellos, with short notes telling us what you are now doing, as well as longer pieces. Please contact us with your ideas!

You may send any comments, writings, contact information, well-founded rumors, etc. to us at:


The next issue of the ISLE Alumni Newsletter will come out in Fall, 2009.

ISLE Web Site

Be sure to bookmark the ISLE web site for information on current news, and more.

Thanks to all who send us news and updates about yourselves, and who send us leads on people we are trying to find. We welcome your e-mail, whether you're just saying hello or sending news or updates on your whereabouts. Send to us here: isle@bowdoin.edu. Also, if you see anyone you know on our "missing" list, please let us know!

That’s all for this edition of the ISLE Program Newsletter. Please let us know your thoughts on it, and if you send in comments or writings of any kind, please be clear about whether they are intended for use in the newsletter. Also, please be sure to let us know if your email address should change!


Editor in Chief: Sree Padma Holt

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