Mind the Gap Sullivan ’16 takes gap year to travel America
Behind the Name tag Security’s Allen Daniels relishes time at Bowdoin
Behind the Name tag Bringing ideas to reality in Searles
Behind the Name tag Museum’s curator finds allure in the Arctic
Behind the Name tag Museum curator continues his lifelong passion for art at Bowdoin
Behind the Name tag: Security’s Allen Daniels relishes time at Bowdoin
Working as a security officer on a college campus isn’t for everyone, but Security Officer Allen Daniels says working at Bowdoin makes his job easy.
“It’s the students. I wouldn’t do this job for any other college—I can’t imagine it,” said Daniels. “I genuinely appreciate the students here. I love my conversations with them. They make my job very, very easy.”
Born and raised in southern New Hampshire, Daniels graduated high school and enlisted in the Army. For four years, he was a part of the third U.S. Infantry Regiment, a unit commonly known as the Old Guard.
“In the Old Guard, we do all the ceremonies and funerals in Arlington National Cemetery…we do all the simple and full honor funerals,” said Daniels. “We’re also the official escort to the president. We are kind of a ceremonial post—we do have training, but we don’t have a wartime mission, only to honor the fallen.”
After his time in the army, Daniels lived in Washington D.C. to gain his “city experience” and then went on to graduate from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Eventually, he settled in Maine with his girlfriend (now wife), applied for a job at Bowdoin, and was given the position six months later.
“I come to work pretty happy every day, and leave happy every day. The hardest part of my job is seeing people make poor decisions, and I do see people at their worst—I don’t often get to see them at their best, just because I’m usually here during the night time,” said Daniels.
Last weekend, Daniels and the rest of the security staff prepared for Ivies. Security was given post assignments a week ahead of time. Security was out in full force, stationing as many officers as possible at each event.
“We [aim to] guide things, rather than manipulate what’s happening. It goes back to what I said previously, I wouldn’t want to do this at another school,” said Daniels. “So even this big weekend, our stress level does go up, but mostly because of long hours. The stuff we deal with—especially this Ivies—is really not that much. We had two transports [one alcohol related and one injury related], and other than that it was well-controlled chaos. It’s just planning.”
In his opinion, the weekend went smoothly, and contrary to popular belief, the real trouble did not stem from Bowdoin students. Rather, visitors of students and town residents caused the brunt of the problems during the weekend.
“The drinking gets a lot of publicity, but comparatively speaking, it’s really well-contained,” said Daniels. “I think the policies here, the ResLife office, and the Deans’ office do a good job. It helps to make sure that everyone has a really good time and is safe doing so.”
Outside of Bowdoin, Daniels runs and plays disc golf, but the majority of his time is spent skiing and taking care of his newborn daughter.
“Her name is Evelyn Winter. Evelyn is my wife’s grandmother’s name. Winter is because I love winter—the deeper the snow the better... I live to ski and for sliding on snow. My first job was at a ski shop, waxing skis, and I’ve done just about every job on the mountain, and I have loved all of them.”
Daniels lives in Phippsburg, close to Brunswick, but will always call southern New Hampshire home. Although he misses his mountains and their peaks, he always looks on the brighter side.“I joke with my wife that if I can’t live in the mountains, the beach isn’t a bad place to be.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this article did not clarify that of the two transports during Ivies weekend that Daniels mentions in a quotation, one was in relation to alcohol and the other was in response to a student sustaining a serious injury. Officially, there was only one alcohol-related "transport" during the weekend.
Mind the Gap: Sullivan ’16 takes gap year to travel America
What do road trips, Frontier and the Appalachian Trial have in common? Answer: junior Paul Sullivan’s gap year.
“I decided I wanted to take a gap year to hike the Appalachian Trial my freshman year of high school, initially because one of my sister’s friends was doing it, and he had a blast, so it seemed like a lot of fun,” said Sullivan, a Brunswick native. “As I progressed through high school, I was working hard, and I just wanted an experience that was different than schoolwork and academics.”
Sullivan would not reach the Appalachian Trial until the very end of his gap year. Instead, after his high school graduation, he began the first leg of his adventure with a two-month road trip with a friend.
“We did a huge loop—going out West we stayed North, so we went to Chicago and the Midwest, and we went through Yellowstone and Grand Teton, to Seattle, to Olympic National Park and then went down the California coast—Redwood, Yemini, San Francisco, L.A.—and then went diagonally back to Maine, covering the Southwest,” said Sullivan.
After his trip, Sullivan started working at Frontier.
“Working was probably the toughest part because almost all of my friends had gone away to college and town was empty,” said Sullivan. “It was a lot of hanging out with my parents and repeating the same thing day in and day out.”
When March rolled around he was ready to begin the last leg: hiking the Appalachian Trail. He started the trip in Georgia and ended in his own backyard in Maine, a week before his pre-orientation trip.
“It was weird—on the one hand it felt great because I just completed the trail, but part of me wanted to keep going,” Sullivan said. “I was sad that all the people I had met along the way were all dispersing.”
Finishing his gap year experience, he immediately went on his on his pre-orientation trip—biking to Popham Beach. Back on campus, he faced some difficulty transitioning to college life.
“As I look back on it, it was a very weird experience, but I think everyone is going through a weird experience [during] freshman fall—trying to get used to this new place, new home and new group of friends. I think I was pretty unhappy sitting inside, in a classroom because I had gotten used to being outside for most of the day,” said Sullivan. “I wasn’t super psyched with the structure of school and I also didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study—so I enjoyed my classes but I wasn’t passionate about anything in particular.”
That didn’t stop him from engaging in the Bowdoin community. That fall, Sullivan became involved with the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) and went through leadership training. He is still an active member of the BOC. In the winter, he takes advantage of the snow, trying to make it up to Sugarloaf once a week to ski.
“Getting outside is a big part of my life and a big part of how I stay balanced and calm in the whirlwind Bowdoin can be,” said Sullivan.Sullivan would recommend the gap year experience to anyone interested.
“I think, overall, one of the most fun parts of the gap year was having the opportunity to pursue my interests and just relax and take a deep breath because that doesn’t happen in school,” said Sullivan. “Coming back to Bowdoin, things weren’t overwhelming to me because I had done something outside of school. It lends a nice perspective.
Editor's note: The headline originally stated the Sullivan is a member of the class of 2017. He is a member of the class of 2016.
Mind the Gap: Around the world and back again: Heath ’18 takes global gap year
After high school, Christian Heath ’18 wanted to explore his newfound freedom—the freedom of living, the freedom to do what he wanted when he wanted, and most importantly, the freedom to travel the world.
“It was more after senior year, I had graduated and it was summer—I was just enjoying the freedom of having school done and just didn’t really want to go to school yet. So I drew up a plan—and I was like ‘Can this work?’” said Heath.
It did. Heath went to Central America for three and a half months, worked the winter season to make money, and then headed to Europe for three and half months. His first stop was Costa Rica, where he intended to WWOOF. WWOOF—which stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms—is an organization where farm labor is exchanged for food and a place to live.
“I was going to do that in Central America, but the first farmer I went to—it was an awful experience. She wasn’t feeding us enough food so we were really hungry all the time. After three weeks, I was done,” said Heath.
Fortunately, Heath did not leave empty handed from the farm. He made a German friend, who went on to become his Central American travel partner. After leaving the farm, they moved to Jaco, Costa Rica to work in a hotel.
“They let us stay in a room for free. They had all these doors that they needed sanded, so for like four weeks we just sanded doors, which was really easy work. It was like a twenty-hour work week, so we got to hang out for the rest of the time, it was awesome,” said Heath.
After about a month at the hotel, Heath travelled around Panama for a couple of weeks, before finally finishing his Central America trip with a month in Nicaragua.
Heath then worked for two months back home in the United States before starting his tour around Europe.
“In Europe, I had a Eurail Pass—you pay money up front for a rail pass and it works for all of Europe. It was a ticket to go free to anywhere I wanted, and just being able to do that was sick,” said Heath.
After his journey around the world was completed, Heath finally found himself at Bowdoin’s campus. All in all he had visited sixteen countries: Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Spain, Morocco, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
“At first it was kind of tough—in Europe I was all alone for the majority of it—which was cool, but you get lonely. So getting back was a bit tough, going from being alone to being with a roommate and getting more social again, but on the whole it wasn’t too bad,” said Heath.
Heath’s experience was one he could learn from, grow from, and one he will always remember.“When you have a memory that’s shared, I feel like it has a longer life than when it’s just you. You never really have anyone to talk with about it,” said Heath. “[Memories] probably have a bit more value when they’re shared, so if I were to do something like this again, I’d totally want to start it with someone or know I was going to meet up with someone to travel with.”
When asked if he would recommend a gap year to those who were considering the idea, he replied: “There were some negatives—I was lonely at times—but as a whole experience I would one hundred percent recommend it.
Bun Bun's Bakeshop comes out of a lifelong dream
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Bun Bun’s Bakeshop is opening in Brunswick at 30 Bath Road on February 2.
Owner Laurie Smart-Pottle said she is enthusiastic for the grand opening of the bakery, which boastsfree WiFi, comfy booths, and of course, baked goods.
“It’s so exciting sometimes I just feel like I am going to burst and other times I think, wait a minute, am I dreaming?” said Smart-Pottle.
Owning a bakeshop has been a dream of Smart-Pottle’s for her entire life. She said she initially started decorating cakes so she could stay home with her children and stepchildren, who are now adults.
As a self-proclaimed military brat, she traveled while young, and briefly worked with water waste in the military before marrying a career soldier. No matter where she was living, Smart-Pottle found herself happiest in the kitchen.
“Family and friends are everything to me—I’m just a real down-to-earth person who loves to be around people and make them happy with really good food,” she said.
The decision to make a leap from her normal life and open up her own bakeshop started with her husband.
“My husband and I just got to thinking, because he’d been thinking of retiring—he’s been in the Guard for 28 years—we were thinking, ‘what can we do to get our retirement years going?’” she said. “So we started thinking of opening a restaurant, a little buffet kind of idea.”
The idea seemed far-fetched and expensive to them at the time, but they eventually decided that their dream might actually be a possibility.
“One night [my husband] looked at me and was like, ‘Why don’t you open up your bakery?’ and I was like ‘Really?’ and so that’s what we did,” said Smart-Pottle. “We just found a location, got the town involved to get the required codes, started hiring the right crew—plumbers, electricians, that kind of crew—and it kind of snowballed.”
Small-Pottle is cultivating a warm and inviting feel for the bakery.
“[It’s] super friendly, almost like a going-home-to-mom’s kind of place, because everything you’re going to eat is going to be homemade, not pretentious—something that you’d probably get at your mom’s dinner table—hopefully,” said Small-Pottle.
Due to staff restrictions, the bakery will not deliver to Brunswick, but it will make an exception for Bowdoin. Smart-Pottle said she envisions parents sending eight-inch cakes to students on their birthdays.
“We would deliver it with a card and balloons to the location—that way you have a little piece of home on the occasion,” she said.
Smart-Pottle has a number of ideas for the future of her business. She already sees the need for more space and has thought about opeing a food truck that would sell coffee and muffins. She also hopes to put tents and picnic tables in the parking lot so she and her husband can hold lobster bakes and pig roasts.
“I’m just really excited to open the doors, because so many people have stopped by and are really excited about a bakery coming,” she said. “They have all been so supportive and so friendly, I think I’m just ready to open the doors and be a real legitimate business.”
Behind the Name tag: Books a constant companion for Tucker
Although Course Materials and General Book Manager Michael Tucker is a lifelong bibliophile, it took him a while to find his calling.
“I originally thought that I was going to be a physical therapist, so I started my college career at [Ithaca College],” said Tucker. “I remember sitting in chemistry class and my professor was passing back the exams. She said, ‘the grades ranged from a 44 to a 99 percent,’ and I looked at mine and it was a forty-seven. I just realized that I kind of picked the wrong field.”
Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Ithaca College was only the start of Tucker’s college career. After his change of heart, he transferred to Syracuse University—which was too big for his liking—and eventually found his place at Le Moyne College. “I had a great professors there—Dr. Clarkson—she used to smoke a cigar and we’d go into her office and she’d have a little teacup,” said Tucker. “She was just a character, but she was a great teacher.”
The small, Jesuit, liberal arts school gave him the one-on-one relationship he wanted with his professors, and helped rediscover his true passion: English.
“In high school I wrote for my school newspaper, and when I got to college I began writing for my college newspaper,” said Tucker. “Books have always been there, writing has always been there, and I have done other things with my life, but I have always fallen back into being around books.”
About 15 years ago, Tucker and his wife moved to Maine. Prior to their move, they had both worked at the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble. Whenever a new store would open they would be relocated, moving from Syracuse to Rochester to Buffalo.
“We just got tired of moving and we decided that we were just going to pick a place to settle down. We just decided on Maine,” Tucker said. “When we first got here, neither of us had jobs, which was kind of scary...Then I saw an ad in the paper advertising for this job. I loved books and had the background in it and applied.”
This December is his 10-year anniversary working at the College.
Some of his responsibilities include ordering the textbooks—searching for used books and putting in orders for new books—and coordinating with the Events Office when there are events on campus that involve book signings. Tucker said the people are by far his favorite part of working at Bowdoin.
“There are so many creative and interesting people. We just have a great community,” he said.
Tucker finds many ways to diversify his hobbies. From surfing lessons to cricket, from printmaking to learning to play the electric guitar, he pursues various passions. It all comes back to books, however.
“I do write a lot for myself, creatively,” he said. “I travel to Woodstock, New York. Every year there’s a festival down there, and I meet a lot of creative people there...I promised my mom that I would get published in her lifetime.”
Behind the Name tag: Museum curator continues his lifelong passion for art at Bowdoin
Whether he is playing the piano for his kids, visiting museums across the globe or creating an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Joachim Homann finds joy in artistic expression.
As curator of the museum, he organizes exhibitions from start to finish. His “inevitable love of the material” brought him to Bowdoin.
“I always liked drawing, and when I was twelve I really started to enjoy it. I just get a lot of pleasure out of looking at things, and even more pleasure out of discussing or conversing with people about the things I see. I could spend hours and hours by just talking to friends about it,” said Homann. “I really enjoyed going to museums—they are safe places, inspiring, and fun. I always liked to travel—so to see the world en route to a museum was always my way of discovering things.”
Homann was born in Celle, Germany and obtained all of his historical training in Germany. He finished his Ph. D. at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. He had access to world-renowned artists, who helped him discover his biggest dreams.
“At least three of the professors I was working most closely with had fellowships at the Harvard Art Museums, and they always came back raving about their experience,” said Homann.
“When I then learned that there was a two-year fellowship available at the Harvard Art Museum to learn how academic art museums functioned, I thought, ‘This is my opportunity.’”During those years, he fostered a love for academic art museums. Leaving three siblings and his parents behind in Germany, he briefly taught at various institutions in the Boston area and in El Paso, Texas. He realized, however, that working with original artwork was what he liked best. Therefore, when the opportunity at Bowdoin presented itself, he took it.
“I love to work at Bowdoin and be steeped in more than two hundred years of democratic history,” said Homann. “People have been curious and cosmopolitan in Brunswick for a very long time.”
“Art is always irritating you; it is always driving you out of your comfort zone and it’s challenging your ability to learn. I think that’s such a fantastic thing to do on a college campus,” said Homann.
Outside of Bowdoin, Homann enjoys swimming at Simpson’s Point and cooking for friends—especially potato salad—and going for bike rides. His most recent endeavor was returning to one of his earlier hobbies—playing piano.
“I started earlier this year after a hiatus of 25 years, and the first thing I played was the Lego movie theme song for my kids on Facebook—they were traveling when I got the piano delivered. So many friends have liked the video that I am now working on a sequel.”
Along with his two sons, who are nine and four, he is learning about Judaism at Hebrew school—encouraged by his wife, Natasha Goldman, teaching associate in art history.
“There might be something special for a German to have an American Jewish wife. We are raising our children Jewish and to me it’s a fantastic experience,” said Homann. “It’s great to learn about and get to know the Jewish and interfaith community at Bowdoin. I always see that as a special privilege about being in the United States.”
Currently, Homann is helping to develop an upcoming exhibition, “Night Vision: Nocturnes in the American Art.”
“Many of these pieces are contemplative; they are very personal, and it seems that night paintings resonate in a very different way compared to other works of art,” said Homann. “You immediately relate them to your own experience of the night, you connect them to the world that you see at night. It gets you emotionally involved right away.”
Security donates unclaimed bikes to charity
Security no longer has to spin its wheels about what to do with unclaimed bikes. Bikes are the most commonly stolen items on campus, and Security recovers dozens of them each semester. Security has implemented effective procedures to help owners retrieve their bikes.
“Everything from emails, phone calls, Digest postings, that sort of thing—we do everything we possibly can to match the owner up with the bike,” said Director of Safety and Security Randall Nichols. “We check our databases, we check our stolen bike reports, we check our lost property reports. Many of the bikes we are able to get back to the owners.”
Registering bikes on Security’s website makes the process of linking owners to their bikes significantly easier. Registration is free of charge and students are given a blue decal and a unique number that identifies their bike.
The bike is then entered into Security’s database, so that both Bowdoin and off-campus agencies—like the Brunswick Police Department—can identify its owner if it is recovered. Without registration, the process of matching bikes to owners is far more complicated.“When the bike is not registered, it becomes very difficult because [when] we take it in we have no way of identifying who it belongs to, and the person who owns the bike often has a difficult time,” said Nichols. “It may not be easy for them to prove that they own the bike.”
To reduce bike theft on campus, Security collects and stores bikes left out during academic breaks.
“If it’s registered, then we will let the owner know we have it and they can pick it up when they get back,” said Nichols. “If it’s not registered then we hope the owner will contact us. Often, we take students to our bike storage room and have them go through the bikes and see if they can find theirs.”
Nichols said that the Bowdoin community is vigilant about bike theft. There have been several occasions when people have been caught in the act of stealing a bike.
“We had one of our officers interrupt a bike theft in progress and actually run down the person on the bike. He was able to prevent the bike from leaving campus and the person was charged with theft,” said Nichols.
There are currently around 60 bikes in the bike warehouse, 40 of which are being donated to Northeast Goodwill Industries—the central warehouse that distributes the bikes to various Goodwill stores in the region.
“We used to deal with several organizations, [but] as we distributed the bikes, that became a little bit cumbersome,” said Nichols. “It became a lot of work to do that much handling of the bikes, as well as a lot of administrative time.”
Behind the Name tag: Museum’s curator finds allure in the Arctic
Not everybody gets to pursue the career he or she dreamed of as a teenager, but Genevieve Lemoine, curator and registrar at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, has followed her dream to the ends of the earth.
Lemoine said she has known that she wanted to be an archaeologist from the age of 17.
“I was very lucky that the Ontario government had a program for hiring high school and university students to do all kinds of different things, and one of them was archaeology,” she said.“So, I got a job doing archaeology in Ontario as a high school student for the summer. That confirmed that yes, that is what I wanted to do.”
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Lemoine attended University of Toronto, Scarborough College for her undergraduate degrees and received her Ph.D at the University of Calgary. It was not until she entered graduate school that she realized that she wanted to specialize in Arctic archaeology.
In 1986, Lemoine took her first trip to the Arctic.
“We had all the key experiences—we saw a polar bear at a safe distance, we had snow storms, we had our tents blown down,” she said. “It’s the kind of place that—when you go there—it’s hard to leave.”
Since then, Lemoine has been to the Arctic several times, doing field work for approximately 10 years. Afterward, Lemoine saw the job at Bowdoin as a perfect fit.
As curator and registrar of the Arctic Museum, Lemoine’s responsibilities include managing and overseeing the care of the collections and developing exhibits. Her diverse roles give her the ability to switch from typing up information to performing hands-on tasks with the collections, which keep her days exciting. She said she is especially enthusiastic about the museum’s continued growth.
“Because we are an actively collecting museum there’s always new things coming in; you never know when somebody’s going to call you up and say, ‘Would you like…’ or ‘My family has...’” said Lemoine.
The museum has received a large amount of art produced by the Inuit people, trace their origins back to the Arctic. Most recently, the museum received a call from a Freeport woman whose great-aunt was sent two postcards from Ross Marvin, the only member of Peary’s 1908 expedition to die during the long journey to the Arctic.
The most memorable call occurred in 2010, when the grandson of a man on MacMillan’s expedition wanted to donate various historical artifacts, pieces of equipment, scientific specimens, journals and photographs.
“He said, ‘Would you be interested in having some things that he had left over?’ He started just listing all of these things and I filled up two pages,” said Lemoine, who quickly accepted the donation.
Outside of her work at the museum, Lemoine enjoys rowing. She started a couple of years ago and is now hooked on the beautiful sites she sees and the animals she observes while on the water.
Lemoine said she has enjoyed all the places she has called home. When asked whether she liked living in Canada or Maine better, she joked, “Well, what I tell my friends is that Maine is almost like Canada.”
Behind the Name tag: Bringing ideas to reality in Searles
From Learning Glass—a high tech demonstration tool used for online videos—for the economics department, to a revolving chair for the art department, days in Searles room 20 are anything but ordinary with mechanics Robert Stevens and Benjamin King. When members of the Bowdoin community go to them with their blueprints, Kind and Stevens build them into reality—and then some.
“[We] always try to find something that will do a little bit better than [what] they ask for,” said Stevens.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in Woolwich, Maine, King grew up loving mechanics. “I've always had kind of an interest in this sort of thing,” said King, “My father was a physicist, and was a very hands-on kind of guy. He was at MIT, and I used to go hang out at his lab and that’s where I started making stuff. I enjoyed the work.”
He has been working at Bowdoin for five years and currently resides in Bath. Stevens held a number of different jobs before coming to Bowdoin.
After graduating from Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute into 1972, he was drafted into the Navy. After his tour of duty, he worked at Bath Iron Works for six months before being laid off, and from there he went to the Pejepscot Paper Mill as a mechanic. When he heard about an opportunity at Bowdoin he applied and got the job.
“It was the right place for me because I like the idea of being able to develop designs of my own making, and this place allows me to do that.” said Stevens.
Stevens has been working at Bowdoin since 1978 and currently lives in Harpswell, Maine. Stevens and King take their jobs very seriously. Every project must be thought out precisely so that Bowdoin is not held liable.
“If somebody comes in here I have to be careful,” said Stevens, “With the revolving chair, I saw liabilities mixed in. There are some things you may say, ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing [this].’”
King and Stevens have many other interests beyond the campus as well. Stevens enjoys going on five-mile walks to get rid of stress and is currently building a house. One of his favorite things to do is to spend time with his grandchildren and find innovative, if not old-school, ways to bond with them.
“They can at least hammer nails and do something that isn’t working with digital stuff.”King loves to engage in outdoor activities like paddling and hiking, and has a great love for motorcycles. He credits his dad for this passion and collects antique motorcycles. In his free time he loves to read short fiction stories, and his newest adventure is mountain biking.
“I just recently got back into [mountain biking] to find that it’s totally changed. The bikes are now ludicrously expensive and have all sorts of fantastic features.”
Throughout their years of working on campus, Stevens and King have greatly appreciated their work, the people they have met, and the atmosphere of the College itself.“I don’t know quite how I lucked into arriving here,” said King.
Behind the Name tag: Art buff: Manager of Museum Security Hanson is also a globetrotter
Manager of Museum Security Operations Timothy Hanson is a true Mainer. Growing up in Rumford, Hanson led a normal life with loving parents and traditional schooling. In his junior year of high school, his horizons expanded past Maine, when he learned that his passion lay in a six-lettered word—travel.
“When I was in high school, I started taking a Spanish class and convinced my teacher to bring us to Mexico...It was pretty wild,” he said. “She was a fantastic teacher and I was amazed that she was convinced because it was a bunch of 16, 17 year olds that she was going to bring to Mexico. And then I got the bug for languages and travel at that point.”
In his final year of high school Hanson went to Mexico City to explore. He rented a hotel for 30 days, immersing himself in the culture. On his trip he got his passport stolen and admits to making some poor choices.
“I figured, I survived. ...The experience of being so far from home, in a different culture, feeling how other people feel and perceive the United States...is really, really an amazing experience.”
After graduating high school, Hanson attended University of Maine in Orono. There he studied French, Spanish and Russian, earning a degree in Modern Languages. In college, Hanson studied in southern Spain for a year and visited Morocco and France. After graduation, however, Hanson struggled to find a job in his field.
“I wasn’t too excited about the employment prospects, so I decided that I would get certified as an ESL teacher,” he said. “I did that and then I went to Spain with the intent of teaching English as a foreign language. It didn’t work out because in 2008 the economy there was really hitting the pits. I stayed there for about eight months and then I came back and I needed a job, so I found a job in security, just as a security officer in a corporate account. I did that for a few years and then I came here.”
Hanson now lives in Brunswick with his wife, who also loves to travel. They save money for traveling and enjoy back-trail hiking. This fall they are going to Barcelona and Paris.
At Bowdoin, Hanson is responsible for management of all security at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, working with the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the campus. At the art museum, he generally runs into three different groups of visitors: visiting students, members of the Brunswick community and Bowdoin students. Hanson particularly enjoys when Bowdoin students visit because of their familiarity with the security and staff members. He recalled a humerous incident when a visitor did not fall into any of these categories.
“Working at the museum, often times you get unique personalities,” he said. “There was one gentleman who just had a very strange way with acting. He would make all sorts of gestures at the artwork while he was looking at it. He would shoot his arms out at the artwork and do little dances in front of it. The gentleman would come into the museum, change his clothing—put on different shoes and socks—the whole nine yards—go in, look at the art, come back out, change, again, to go home.”
Host Family Program connects students to Brunswick residents
With sprawling picnics around the downtown Brunswick gazebo and potluck dinners catering to cultures near and far, the Bowdoin Host Family Program helps students feel at home, even when they are not.
Any student—whether from Moscow, Russia or Maine—may sign up for the program and be paired with a family from a neighboring community. The host families, which include single individuals and couples, range greatly in age. Some have had children grow up and leave home, while others have never had children at all.
The program is run by Administrative Assistant Kathleen King, who presides over the board of the Host Family Steering Committee. Michael Wood ’06, associate director of first-year programs, is also on the steering committee.
“It’s open and that appeals to people,” Wood said. “The qualification is being a student at Bowdoin.”
With enrollment reaching 249 students this year, the program is at an all-time high. The application asks basic questions to gauge the interests of students and to understand their motivations for having a host family. After applications are submitted, Brunswick host parents David and Margo Knight, who help run the program, connect families and students whom they think will form a compatible bond.
“[The Knights] connect with the families, and they make them want to be a part of this, and they make them understand how special it is to be a part of this community bond between students and community members,” said Wood.
“It’s interesting how we just kind of coexist with all these people in the Brunswick community, but yet we never necessarily get a chance to reach out to them or know them,” said Luke Trinka ’16, a Chicago-born student in his second year of the program.
Members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends—the organization from which the Host Family Program developed—pay a small amount of money to receive discounted tickets and access to programs on the Bowdoin campus.
“So, 25 years ago when Bowdoin started reaching out and attracting international students to apply and to come, a few of the people who were members of Bowdoin Friends decided that they could actually offer a student a home base because they were going to be very very far from home,” said Margo Knight.
Typically each host family is paired with one student, but some families decide to take on more than one student. Students often stay with the same family year to year.
“I live in Southern California and I’m really far from home and I just wanted to have sort of a support system,” Jiaqi Duan ’17 said.
Trinka said that he values the chance to connect with the greater Maine community.“Here, much of it is just go, go, go. One thing to the next: next class, next reading, next assignment-type thing. But stepping outside of campus, going to my host family’s house—it’s just very refreshing because I often feel like I can actually experience time,” Trinka said.
Current host parent of three and past host parent of many, Surrey Hardcastle said she feels nothing but gratitude for the program. Coming from a Bowdoin family and married to a Bowdoin graduate, Hugh Hardcastle ’65, she said she always found herself drawn to the Bowdoin community. As is often the case, Hardcastle’s relationships with the students she meets goes beyond their time at Bowdoin.
“Sometimes I look at it and say, ‘What do these kids want to do with us?’ We’re like their grandparents age. You know, we’re the old fogeys. But you know what, I think sometimes it’s sorta nice to have a grandma or grandpa around,” Hardcastle said.