I hope that you are all doing well. You may have noticed that I am a new editor for this issue of the University Times school newspaper. I will be one of three new editors as the semester continues its journey until May.
As the nineth week of the semester approaches us, students may be having more challenges. As a first-time editor, I have felt a little out of my element. The motivation that pushes us past these challenges, however, is not slowing down. Instead, our motivation is becoming more concentrated from all we have learned. And if that is not actually the case, we still have spring break to count on.
Stay strong, folks, and remember to make your own fun along the way!
The University of Maine at Presque Isle was honored on Thursday, Feb. 2, to have guest speaker and novelist Cathie Pelletier join us in the multipurpose room to read from her latest book “Northeaster: A Story of Courage and Survival in the Blizzard of 1952.” Cathie’s book is more than just a story about a storm. Cathie’s story captures the lives of several different people. Her work is creative nonfiction inspired by Maine people –who had experienced this nor’easter all those years ago—and the lives they lived. “The story is not just about them, or the storm or Maine. It’s about who they were as people,” she said.
There are many special traditions that bring people together during the holiday season. The significance of it has followed our families and communities for centuries. With so many amazing ways to celebrate the season, it is up to us all to share our traditions that have been passed down to us with our kin.
In the form of a children’s book, Patricia Polacco reminds many people about Christmas in the U.S. during the Great Depression. During this time, people struggled. But they still found ways to celebrate. This started the tradition of the Christmas orange. “The oranges are the highlight of Christmas for the children,” Patricia wrote.
Patricia’s book, “An Orange for Frankie,” is based on a real family. The main character –Frankie – is the youngest of nine children. “Frankie was the heart of the household – especially at Christmas. That was when the whole family came together to celebrate and gather boughs of greens to put on the mantel. Then they placed apples, dried flowers, cookies, and nuts in the green, and finally, as the crowning touch, the oranges. Nine of them! One for each of the children born to the Stowell clan,” Patricia wrote.
Frankie is Patricia’s great uncle, and the Christmas orange is her family tradition. “Every time I peel an orange and inhale the scent of it and feel the mist that sprays from its skin, I think of a very special Christmas and a flaxen-haired boy who lived many years before I was ever born. That boy was Frankie, my grandmother’s youngest brother,” she wrote.
In the story, Frankie accidentally loses his orange. He is devastated and reminded of the lengths his father went to in order to get the fruit for them. “Pa has driven a several day trip with the horse and buggy to get supplies and the prized Christmas oranges for the mantelpiece,” Patricia wrote.
Despite Frankie’s despair, his holiday is not ruined. The orange is symbolic because it represents our ability to share what we have. During Frankie’s Christmas, he gets surprised with eight loose segments of orange tied together to form a whole fruit. All of his siblings took a segment from their own oranges to surprise their brother.
For homecoming, the University of Maine at Presque Isle held activities for students and community members to come together to celebrate our love for the county. One special three-part event on Wednesday, Sept. 21, captured the heart of Aroostook through the written words of active community supporters who were guest speakers for the evening. All guest speakers spoke of their admiration for the county and the work of guest speaker Ray Gauvin.
Ray is a Vietnam War veteran and author of a new memoir. “As did many of my fellow Vietnam veterans, I fought more than one war. My assignment in Saigon. The aftermath of Agent Orange. And finally, there was ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,’” Ray said. Ray was diagnosed with severe and chronic PTSD. Only PTSD was not the first recognized title. “It wasn’t until Vietnam and its aftermath that the term and its understanding turned into what we know today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” he said. In the Civil War, it was called a Soldier’s Heart. In World War I it changed to the name Shell Shock. And then to Combat Detained in World War II. “Out of all those terms, only Soldier’s Heart would remind us of the human beings who fought for their country. That is where I got the name of the memoir, ‘A Soldier’s Heart: The 3 Wars of Vietnam,’” Ray said.
Kathryn Olmstead, the first speaker of the event, is a former journalist and editor for the Aroostook Republican and for “Echoes Magazine.” Although she had grown up elsewhere, Kathryn’s career at the Aroostook Republican and her curiosity as to why many people choose to return to the county led her to Presque Isle to write the recurring column “They Came Back.”
“Each story was different. But several common themes emerged in the interviews. People came back to Aroostook County for the pace of life, the beauty, the nature and most of all the people,” Kathryn said.
“The workforce is shrinking and the future of this place is at risk. It must be nurtured and that is why we are here today. Ray’s fantastic idea for keeping the best of Aroostook young people right here was the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative program, which prepares them for a future and gives them reasons and opportunities to stay here in a place they call home,” Kathryn said.
For those who attended University Day, you may have had the enrichening experience of learning about another culture. Gideon Osei Bonsu presented How Ghana Became a Country to a room full of people. He taught his audience about Ghana traditions, history and value. He started with the Ghana flag and the meaning of the colors and symbols “Red is for the blood of the Ghanian people that fought for their country’s independence. Yellow shows the gold that Ghana has a lot of. Until 1957, Ghana was called the Gold Coast. Green shows the forest reserves of Ghana. The black star shows the hope of African emancipation. It serves as a hope for the other African countries’ gaining independence,” Gideon said.
The history of Ghana reflects the strength of the Ghanaian people during a time of slave trade and inhumane treatment from travelers foreign to Ghana. “The Ashanti/Asante people revolted against the British and defeated them in 1824,” Gideon said, “Asa means war. Asante means for the sake of war.” Ghanaians fought to expanded their empire in the 1820s. Since then, Ghana territory has had a long history of war against the British. Those who lived in and fought for Ghana did so with pride.
“Ghana is the second largest gold producer in the world,” Gideon said, “Whoever had access to trade with the local people gained more of a profit.” The Ashanti’s most prized possession was the Golden Stool. “The colonial governor, Frederick Hodgson, demanded the Golden Stool. The Golden Stool held meaning of the very existence of the people of Ashanti. The general wanted to give it to the British queen,” Gideon said. The disrespect of requesting the Golden Stool caused a resistance against the British. The Ashanti people hid the Golden Stool where it would be safe from the British. It was not again discovered until the 1920s by African railroad builders who stripped it of its gold and, in turn, became exiled by the ruling of the Ashanti people.
During University Day, UMPI student Shafil Turzo presented Bangladesh War of Independence. Those who attended learned about the culture and traditions of Bangladesh, located in south Asia.
Bangladesh values many things, one of which being the importance of family. “In rural areas, extended family are living together. Family is the basic structure of tradition in Bangladesh.”
Shafil’s own grandfather was a freedom fighter. The people of Bangladesh fought for independence from the British until it was received in 1947. “We had to live under Great Britain for almost 190 years as a colonial state,” Shafil said. Even after gaining freedom apart from being a colonial state, Bangladesh experienced discrimination from Pakistan for almost 25 years. “At last, the Pakistan army surrendered in 1971,” Shafil said. Independence was then declared in Bangladesh.
“The new nation of Bangladesh was born 50 years ago,” Shafil said. It is a tradition to celebrate a holiday called Pahela Baishakh. This holiday is similar to the New Year holiday in the United States. “Every year on April 14th is Pahela Baishakh /New Year. The people of Bangladesh celebrate with great joy,” Shafil said. Holidays are not taken lightly. Thousands of people gather in the streets to celebrate the land they love and its independence.
The flag of Bangladesh represents the land and the history. “The green in the flag represents the forest in our country. The red represents the blood shed in the fight for independence,” Shafil said. The circle in the middle represents the rising of Bangladesh, a shape similar to the sun, which also rises.
There are many other beautiful cultures, meanings and tradition in Bangladesh. Those who are lucky enough to experience the beauty of Bangladesh should enrich themselves in this culture and history in the same way as Shafil enriched those who came to his presentation.
If you were at University Day, you may have seen the presentation To Renew or Not Renew. Those who missed it missed learning about the stance on modern education. Belen Dougherty, Kacie Chapman, Jacob Swain and Eleanor Goheen taught us to ask important questions such as, “What are institutions bringing to the communities?” and “Skills that are valued are changing. How can higher education change with it?” These questions are designed to reflect on the state of higher education. To renew education can mean a couple of different things “I was researching to renew education in America. I was asked if I was thinking renewal to be going back to its roots or renewing as making anew.”
Throughout history, the education system has proven to be important and highly valued. “Not only for economic gain but also for the social and the constructive democracy in this country.” This value in education does not hold the same weight that it did in history to the present day. “I had a lot of people telling me, ‘You don’t need to go to college to get the job. You can just get the job. You don’t need to gain access to the skills because we already have the opportunity to make money without that,’” Belen said, “Why are we choosing higher education? Is it for the good life to live because you’re gaining knowledge and gaining social capital? Or is it for that piece of paper and to get a job?”
As a group, the presenters were unanimous in the belief that education is more than just a degree. “We are not here for the degree. We are here for what we get out of it for the rest of our lives…. To think, question and challenge,” Jacob said.
The presentation concluded with the idea that value needs to be brought back to education. Because of this, the ideal overall answer would be to renew education to reflect learning more so than the future jobs that we are led to.
Justin Waceken has followed in the footsteps of his grandfathers by working in a mill setting, as they had once done. “Two of my grandfathers had made paper in the mill using machines. And my great grandfather worked in the woodyard, so he used to take the wood to the mill that they used to make the paper and produce steam,” Justin said.
Justin’s work involves his making steam. “I work on the Cogen boiler at our mill. The mill makes paper and cardboard and to do that they need steam. So at my job we make steam. And we make steam from boilers by burning things,” he said. “We burn woodchips and we put water in this boiler. It’s just like boiling water on the stove. The steam produces power for the mill so it can run. And the steam is also used in the process to make cardboard and paper.” He started working in the mill on June 1, 2020. By that time, it was a different world from the mill setting his grandfathers had been a part of.
Hazen Naas started working in a paper mill in 1965. “I was the youngest paper guy when I came into the mill, and I was the oldest guy when I left. It was a different world in the beginning than it was toward the end,” Hazen said. Hazen stayed despite the dangerous work conditions because he was good at what he did and had something to prove. “I wanted to get into the paper room cause that’s where all the money was. They didn’t like the idea that I was so young. But I moved up because I wouldn’t turn a job down,” Hazen said, “My first day, my superior said to me, ‘You’re not going to last. It will be over 100 degrees in here today.’ Well, that’s just how it was. I worked through it. But the heat got to him that day.”
It was up to these workers to take their safety into their own hands. Often protocol was determined by those on the job. “Some things we were just unaware of. We didn’t know about heatstroke. When someone got heatstroke, we just took them outside and laid them on the ground,” Hazen said. Measures to keep the workers safe were very gradual. “I saw a lot of change while I was there, but it was slow. A lot of the older guys didn’t like change at all because we were changing the way we do things. It was important that it did change. I was for it,” Hazen said, “We’ve had accidents there I still think about from time to time. Some friends of mine that lost their lives there.”
Many decades later, Hazen’s grandson, Justin, strives for a safe work environment. “There is a lot of equipment and machinery we work with. You can never get too comfortable, because machines can become dangerous at any time,” Justin said, “If equipment is down, then it’s my job to lock it out safely. I am like a babysitter because I’m always babysitting equipment. Things are always broken, but we make sure it gets the care it needs.”
Since Hazen’s last days at the mill, there have been many more safety protocols instated. But the work is still dangerous. “The industry is dangerous. You’ve got to be careful and safe and always wear your PPE, which is personal protective equipment. We’ve always got to watch out for what we are doing and listen for any off sounds,” Justin said. In the future, he hopes to continue to see these changes being made that will help them to be safer and more efficient on the job. Until then, Justin’s best advice is to be careful and take your time. “Take your time and make sure it’s safe. Because if somebody gets hurt, it’s your name on it, which means it’s on you.”
Ever dream of becoming a farmer, but don’t want to drop out of college to do so? If so, this is the opportunity for you. During the following school year, there will be a noticeable change for those attending classes at the University of Maine in Presque Isle. UMPI will be offering a new course adapted to instruct students on the alternative lifestyle of farming. “Some of our students may have been raised on or near farms. But some students have come from big cities and have never been anywhere near a farm,” President Ray Rice said. “Even though you don’t need to go to college for this type of job or lifestyle, we still hope students will take advantage of our ability to offer this class.” The course will involve actual hands-on learning outside of the classroom and on what will become UMPI’s new farm.
UMPI’s farm will have free-range farm animals such as cows, pigs, goats and chickens. “We have lots of space at this school with many open fields nearby. We are certain we can make the adjustments to have this course open for the Fall of 2023,” President Rice said.
Students who choose to participate in this course will learn how to collect eggs and milk. They will also have the responsibility of feeding and engaging with the farm animals. They will face problems that any other farm would have to face, such as live births and caring for the sick or the injured animals.
“I’m excited about the program. I have never worked on a farm before, so it would be a big learning experience. It is unique and other colleges don’t offer things like this” Kate Anne, who is currently attending UMPI, said. “They have offered agriculture programs before in the past and farming is related to agriculture. So, I am hopeful it will work out,” Kate said.
Some concerns about the possible damage occurring from this new course have been addressed. “We are not worried about any damages these animals may cause. If that was the case, we’d be more worried about potential damages from students,” President Rice said. The animals will do more to benefit the school. The animals will work daily at eating the grass, so it does not overgrow out on the fields. The farm animals will also provide much-needed mulch for the gardening club. “There are too many benefits that this course would offer to our students and campus,” President Rice said.
At this point in time, it is still unclear who will be teaching this course. “There are many qualified professors. It is just a matter of fitting it into the schedule,” President Rice said. Professors who are interested in teaching the course will receive an incentive for signing up. For students who are interested in taking this course, be sure to look for it in the course catalog while signing up for classes for the fall of 2023.
In the beginning they were co-workers and high school sweethearts. Six years later, Justin Waceken and Caryn Boutaugh get to plan their big day together. “I proposed in November of 2020. The experience was more exciting than scary for me. I was excited to see Caryn’s reaction and for all that the future would hold after I proposed,” Justin said.
Justin and Caryn originally met in school. “We met in 2015 in high school. We were in jazz band together and we work for the same place, too. As we were working and going to school, we started talking more,” Caryn said. “I worked center store at Hannaford stocking shelves. Caryn worked at the front-end registers. We worked a lot of evening and closing shifts. A lot of times in the evening, it was slow so I would go to the front end and talk to Caryn,” Justin said.
In the time spent getting to know each other, they discovered a spark that formed a bond between them. “As we started hanging out more, we started discovering more interests together. Me and Caryn both like the outdoors. We also enjoy always being busy, whether it be hanging out with friends, exploring or playing games together,” Justin said. “We started dating almost seven years ago and it was a couple of months in when we exchanged ‘I love yous.’ I think I said it first.”