March 22 '08
Volume 616

Bowdoin Bunch Collegiate Challenge Group

For those on a budget, Bowdoin College of Brunswick, Maine is no bargain. With tuition at $36, 370/yr., and room and board another $9,890/yr., a mom and dad might easily spend $200,000 for a son or daughter’s education. Still, it should be noted that Bowdoin is routinely rated among the top ten Liberal Arts colleges in the United States, which should offer some reassurance to parents that theirs is money well spent.

According to Wikipedia, an editable online encyclopedia, Bowdoin College can lay claim to several noteworthy graduates that include U.S. President Franklin Pierce, two laudable literary authors, Hawthorne and Longfellow, and Supreme Court Chief Justice, Thomas Brackett Reed. Though less famous, Hodding Carter II, founder of the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, Mississippi, is also a graduate.

For three consecutive years, a dozen students per year from Bowdoin College have participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, answering the call to serve their fellowman by volunteering to help build housing for Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity. While none of these students have achieved national fame or recognition, I can envision it happening. Though their respective volunteer efforts may not be regarded as noteworthy on the national scale, surely their achievements are remembered here in Pontotoc, and it’s reasonable to assume the seeds of service sown here will one day bear fruit.

Group photographs of the Bowdoin volunteers adorn the walls of the local affiliate for Habitat for Humanity, International. Additionally, digital images of these volunteers working at various jobsites and of their enjoyment of evening meals provided by civic groups, churches, and individuals during their stay in Pontotoc roll across the monitor of the affiliate’s computer when in screen-saver mode. Selected photographs of each Bowdoin group can be viewed on the website of Ridge Rider News. Habitat homeowners, grateful for the work on their homes, have visual images of the volunteers that will be remembered long after the student volunteers have returned to campus.

My role with Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity is a small one. I’m "Mr. Barbara Carter," husband of the Executive Director as well as the unofficial photographer at the functions I am privileged to attend. So, in a sense, I, too, am a volunteer.

Among the functions to which I’m invited to accompany my wife are the nightly feedings of the volunteer groups that travel to Pontotoc to assist in new housing construction. This spring, three college groups are lined up to help the local affiliate. The Bowdoin group was here the week of March 9. A group from Georgia Southern University arrived March 16, and a third group will be here to work the week of March 24th.

Of the dozen students from Bowdoin College, four were male and eight were female. Normally, it takes me several nights to learn the names of each volunteer, but on Sunday night, the night Barbara and I fed them, I managed to remember all the names but one. Some of them were amazed Monday night when I spoke their name as I greeted them.

I tried to have at least one conversation with each of them during the four nights I ate with the group, and I tried to remember at least one fact about each of them. Luke, who lives in New York, had accompanied the group last year. This year he and Sean were co-leaders and were the ones responsible for approving the others via a pre-application process at Bowdoin. Sean is from Massachusetts, as is Patrick. The fourth male, Jonathan, is a Mathematics/ Economics major.

Alex, a female, hails from Massachusetts. Cassie (Cassandra) is from New York. She’s majoring in Visual Arts and Neuroscience. Cassie brought along a sketchbook and made pencil drawings of fellow volunteers, as time permitted. Elizabeth, "Liz," is of Asian descent and makes her home in southern California. Emily is a senior at Bowdoin and is also from New York.

Jamilah shared that her father picked her name which means "pretty" in his homeland, India. Jamilah lives in Concord, New Hampshire. Liza, another "Elizabeth," is from Connecticut. Her major is Biology and Urban Studies. Lottie, the most petite of the group, is a 22 year-old senior at Bowdoin who could pass for sixteen. Last but not least is Wendy, a Biology major who lives in Savannah, Georgia.

On Tuesday evening, the group was fed at East Baptist Church and had the opportunity to fellowship with members of a Black church. Following the meal, the group was invited to attend a revival service in the sanctuary. It was a unique experience for all of us, but especially so for Liza, who later confided that it was the only church service she’d ever attended.

We were asked to stand during the receipt of the revival offering, at which time Sean, who was on the row behind me, tapped my shoulder and remarked, "I hope you know what’s going on!"

I nodded affirmatively. Starting from the rear of the church, congregants filed from each row in an orderly fashion to the outside aisles and walked to the front to deposit an offering in one of the plates held by youthful ushers and then returned to his or her seat. It was different from what I was used to, but it served the same purpose.

Wednesday was a day-off for the Bowdoin bunch, one in which they chose to spend sightseeing in Memphis. They had hoped to visit Mud Island but it was closed. They drove by Graceland and took in the sights and sounds of Beale Street, and visited the Civil Rights Museum before ending the day with dinner at Rendezvous, a restaurant renowned for its barbeque.

On Thursday evening the bunch was fed by Ecru Baptist Church. It was a treat, as most had never eaten Tennessee River catfish and many were unfamiliar with hushpuppies. The cooks shared with Liza and Luke (photo) how they had hand-grappled a forty-pound catfish, some of which was being served that evening.

Friday night is normally, ‘Closing Ceremony Night,’ a night to reflect on the events and experiences of the week as well as a time to consider what might have been done to make a group’s stay more pleasant or their work experience better. However, chaotic might be a more apt description of the group’s last night in Pontotoc.

Dinner was to have been prepared at By Faith Baptist Church, where the bunch had stayed throughout the week, but when the volunteer arrived to begin preparing the meal, church members had the kitchen tied up for a church function, so the volunteer contacted St. Christopher Catholic Church and received permission to prepare dinner at their facility, with the understanding a service was planned there for seven o’clock.

Barbara decided it best to have the closing ceremony in the Board Room of the office of Habitat for Humanity in downtown Pontotoc. About twenty minutes into the meeting, Sean announced some of the group needed to leave early in order to transport Wendy to Tupelo to meet her dad and drive to Savannah to spend week two of her spring break. Barbara quickly shortened her agenda to accommodate the request, displaying far more professionalism than perhaps those of us who like to adhere to a fixed schedule might have exhibited. Hugs and thanks by all brought the meeting to a close.

I continue to be impressed with the groups of students participating in the Collegiate Challenge program. They are bright, well mannered, and respectful. Their enthusiasm is contagious and their willingness to sacrifice personal time and expense to render service to others is exemplary. In time, I’ll forget their names and the states they call home. But, I won’t forget their contribution to Habitat or their efforts to finish a simple, affordable house for another Pontotoc family.

Luke stated he hopes a Pontotoc Trip becomes routine for Collegiate Challenge groups from Bowdoin College. I hope so, too.

Note: A video clip of the WTVA News interview of some of the students on the worksite can be found at…

Bodock Beau New Words

The Washington Post Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are some winners:  

  1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
  2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  3. Bozone: (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  4. Cashtration: (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
  5. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very, high.
  6. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
  7. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  8. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
  9. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is, like, sending off all these really bad vibes, right? and then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a totally serious bummer.
  10. Decaflon: (n.) The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
  11. Glibido: All talk and no action.
  12. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
  13. Arachnoleptic fit: (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
  14. Beelzebug: (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at 3 in the morning and cannot be cast out.
  15. Caterpallor: (n.) The colour you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.  

Shared by Ed Dandridge

Jay Leno: Why does everybody dye food green [on St. Patrick’s Day]? Green doughnuts, green cookies, green bagels... We won’t eat any real food that’s green—spinach, broccoli, lettuce—but dye a Cinnabon green…

With all the bad news about the economy, John McCain started distancing himself from President Bush. In fact, McCain was running so fast from President Bush, he ran into Barack Obama, who was running from his minister, and Hillary, who was running from Geraldine Ferraro. And, they all just collided.

As you may know, Geraldine Ferraro quit the Clinton campaign after all the controversy over her remark suggesting that Barack Obama wouldn’t be where he is today if he weren’t black. Now, here’s the question—do you think people are more popular because they’re black? Think about this. I mean, look at Michael Jackson. Remember how popular he was when he was black? He was the biggest star in the world. The day he turned white, nothing!

The governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was caught on a federal wiretap making arrangements to meet with this prostitute [and resigned]. On CNN, they brought out the publisher of Hustler magazine, Larry Flynt, to talk about Eliot Spitzer’s future. Let me tell you something. If they bring Larry Flynt to talk about your future, you have no future!


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