From Bulgaria to Brunswick: MacKillop's work goes beyond the bookstore
Radka MacKillop is a Renaissance woman. A Mainer by way of Bulgaria, she is a scholar of both German and cinematic studies, a library volunteer, a former member of the television industry and a lover of the wilderness.
MacKillop was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. Before moving to Brunswick in 2011, she had a career in television broadcasting for the Bulgarian National Television Station. While there, she met her husband, who was working in the company’s Macedonia office. The couple now has two sons.
MacKillop and her family fell in love with Maine after spending several vacations in Georgetown, about 20 miles from Brunswick. After years of traveling around for her husband’s work, the family settled down in Brunswick, a coastal college town where they could take advantage of the resources the College has to offer.
Although she has embraced life in Maine, MacKillop misses her friends and the vibrancy of a big city like Sofia.
“There aren’t many opportunities here to sit in a café and talk, that’s the thing that I miss,” MacKillop said.
Before she began working at the Bowdoin Store in August of 2016, MacKillop spent two years immersing herself in Maine culture and working at L.L.Bean.
MacKillop said her favorite thing about her job at Bowdoin is the College’s community.
“My colleagues are very nice, understanding and helpful,” she said. “Communicating with young people is always fun, which is most of my work.”
She has also enjoyed observing and participating in the campus’ efforts to be environmentally friendly.
In her time here, MacKillop has noticed other commonalities among many Mainers.
“I like that there are many people that are not just trying to work 24 hours a day and make a lot of money but they are trying to balance [work] with having some time for leisure activities,” she said.
In her free time, MacKillop volunteers at the Brunswick Public Library and audits classes at the College. MacKillop has taken Cinema History I and II, as well as courses in German. She is now in her third semester with the language.
“I’ve always liked to study German but I’ve never found the time for it, so this was such a great opportunity to take a class,” she said.
She spent years trying to teach herself the language, but without the structure found in Bowdoin classes, it was difficult to stay on track.
“I learned a lot from both the cinema studies department and the German department, I don’t have enough words to say how thankful I am and how much I am enjoying the classes,” she said.
MacKillop enjoys being able to walk straight from class to work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and being part of the College’s community. Her favorite place to eat on campus is Moulton.
“I like the Hungarian mushroom soup and the kale salad,” she said.
While there are positive aspects about being in Maine, it is difficult for MacKillop to be away from the place she lived for so many years. “I miss that atmosphere of the big city, but at the same time I do enjoy the quietness. You can’t have everything.”
MacKillop is looking forward to the summer months when she can go hiking in Baxter State Park and enjoy the Maine wilderness. For now, she is content knitting at home, listening to Tchaikovsky operas and watching movies with her sons.
Live from Brunswick: Bowdoin Night Live! satirizes Gladwell, ResLife
With topics ranging from Noam Chomsky to Malcolm Gladwell, Bowdoin Sketch Comedy presented a series of sketches satirizing the Bowdoin experience this week at Bowdoin Night Live! Held in Kresge Auditorium, the club’s final show of the semester provided a unique outlet for comical social commentary on the College and its institutional policies.
Tom Capone ’17, the leader of Bowdoin Sketch Comedy, described the creative process of the show as one deeply connected to Bowdoin students’ experience on campus.
“We spend the entire semester paying attention to what is going on on campus, reading the Orient, trying to be as involved in as many different parts of the community as possible and finding things that either should be made fun of or lend themselves to comedy,” said Capone.
The group is selected through a long audition process aimed at finding a diverse group of students with both comedy writing and acting talent. Only about three or four of the 40 students who auditioned last spring and this fall made the cut. Each of the ten club members wrote two or three sketches, but only the best eight were produced and performed.
The idea of writing, acting and producing sketch comedy at Bowdoin arose from the senior thesis of Simon Brooks ’14. Since then, Bowdoin Sketch Comedy has become a chartered student organization with scheduled performances each semester.
One of the highlights of this winter’s Bowdoin Night Live! was a video satirizing Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast that criticized Bowdoin Dining Services. The sketch, called “The Return of Malcolm Gladwell,” was a play on Gladwell’s generalization of Bowdoin students representing the ‘one percent.’
“I’m kind of hoping that Malcolm Gladwell actually sees it,” he said. “If he were to get angry at it or respond to it that would be the best reception that we could get.”
Callye Bolster ’19, a member of Bowdoin Sketch Comedy, wrote a sketch based on her own frustrations with the interplay between the Office of Residential Life and College Houses regarding parties and alcohol. Bolster, a member of Reed House, said she wanted to address the stress involved in hosting campus-wide parties.
“There are just all of these mixed messages about what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said. “Having the police come to nearly all of our parties that we’re supposed to throw but then constantly getting in trouble … I thought I’d write a skit just making fun of how confusing the process is.”
Capone and the rest of the club believe that while Bowdoin’s improv groups—Office Hours and Improvabilities—provide a great source of light humor on campus, sketch comedy is riskier in its content, which can edge on making students feel uncomfortable.
“It’s more difficult to digest something that cuts close to the truth, but that’s the form that I’m the most interested in and the group has worked the most to produce,” Capone said. “[We] touch very briefly on subjects that are not explicitly stated within the skits but implied and hopefully point out the absurdities of things that happen on campus.”
BCA gathers signatures
In its first two weeks, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) has collected 237 signatures for its petition advocating for the College to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.
Earlier this week, BCA leader Julia Berkman-Hill ’17 expressed confidence that the club will collect at least the 360 signatures required to submit the petition to Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), and create a student body referendum regarding divestment.
A referendum can be passed by signatures of either two-fifths of the student body or two-thirds of the executive committee of BSG, according to Berkman-Hill.
“We decided to go with the petition because it’s really important to us that the student body is on board with this idea,” she said.
While BCA is continuing to gather signatures for the petition, which is available on Blink, the group has taken a step back from its active campaign in light of the results of the presidential election.
According to Berkman-Hill, BCA plans to regroup and decide how to move forward in addressing President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for the environment, which include withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
News in brief: Security warns about potential car vandalism
Security warned students to be on the lookout for potential catalytic converter theft following an incident Monday morning. A security officer on patrol noticed a jacked-up van in the Stowe Inn parking lot around 2:30 a.m.
“The thieves were actually in progress jacking the vehicle or underneath the vehicle when the security vehicle came patrolling through the lot,” said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols. “They saw it coming and they took off, and so by the time the officer got there they were gone.”
Security contacted the vehicle’s owner, who had it examined by a mechanic. The catalytic converter was still intact.
The incident followed a series of nine catalytic converter thefts this past weekend at the University of Maine, Orono. However, when Nichols reported the incident to Brunswick Police on Monday, there had not been any recent thefts in Brunswick.
According to Nichols, most of the vehicles targeted in Orono were Honda Accords produced between 2000 and 2002. The vehicle targeted at Bowdoin was also a Honda.
A catalytic converter is a part of a car’s exhaust system that catches pollutants. Converters also contain valuable metals, which make them a target for theft. A well-versed thief can cut a catalytic converter from a car in less than a minute using a power tool.
Nichols advised students and community members to park in well-lit, well-traveled areas and to be on alert for anything suspicious, like the sound of power tools at 2:30 in the morning.
“We ask students, faculty, and staff to just be aware of any unusual activity on campus,” he said.Security will also be watching parking lots more closely.
“I think all of us working together, we can do a lot to safeguard the campus,” said Nichols.
College Republicans to bring conservative commentator
Dinesh D’Souza will speak on November 1
The College Republicans will bring neoconservative political celebrity Dinesh D’Souza to campus to speak on November 1. Despite negative student reactions to a talk he delivered at Bowdoin in March 2007, the co-leaders of the College Republicans, Jack Lucy ’17 and Francisco Navarro ’19 believe his lecture “What’s so great about America?” will offer a conservative narrative that has been missing from campus discussion.
“We thought [D’Souza] was a great fit for what we were trying to accomplish, both as an intellectual counterpoint to bringing Noam Chomsky to campus and giving a voice to the conservative values on campus in a way that hasn’t been done recently,” Lucy said.
Navarro said that the funds used to book D’Souza came, in part, from alumni who donated explicitly to bring a conservative speaker to campus.
D’Souza grew up in Mumbai, India and first came to the U.S. as a high school student. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1983, he followed a career, “as a writer, scholar and public intellectual,” according to his website. D’Souza identifies as a neoconservative and has published several books as well as three documentaries, “Obama’s America,” “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” and “Hillary’s America.”
When D’Souza spoke at Bowdoin in 2007, his talk centered around the war in Iraq. He argued that the only way the United States could lose the war in Iraq was if the Democrats continued to challenge the Bush administration.
He characterized Democrats as willful traitors who were supporting the nation’s enemy, saying that domestic opposition operates in service of the strategic aims of America’s enemies and liberals are at best unwitting supporters in the civilizational struggle against radical Islam.
Jeffrey Selinger, associate professor of government, was present at D’Souza’s 2007 talk as well as Chomsky’s recent talk. He commented on the many purposes and processes that go into choosing guest speakers.
“Some [speakers] are academics and are accustomed to producing, even in a large auditorium, a classroom-like feel,” he said. “Sometimes we pull in celebrities of different kinds. They could fancy themselves to be public intellectuals, but sometimes they’re incredibly polemical figures or deeply partisan or not particularly conscientious about research methods.”
“Sometimes we’ve even had figures who come in who are unaware that they are willfully misinforming our students about the subject that they are addressing,” he added. “We have to be wary and mindful of the kinds of motives and purposes that lead visitors to take us up on an invitation to come speak.”
Lucy noted that D’Souza, like Chomsky, speaks to the idea of American exceptionalism.
“People on both sides of the aisle feel like they’ve been effectively left behind for generations,” he said. “Figuring out how to make this country great and work for everyone is a focus of Chomsky and D’Souza.”
Selinger, on the other hand, questioned whether D’Souza was the correct type of conservative speaker to “balance” Chomsky’s liberal discourse. Both figures are political celebrities, he said, which means that they are not speaking to college students and faculty in order to learn from them and engage in a larger intellectual conversation.
Selinger suggested that student groups invite lower profile, more academic political speakers, and consult faculty during the decision making process.
“There are so many fantastic conservative and libertarian and progressive thinkers and writers that are out there and that could be drawn upon, and that aren’t particularly expensive either,” Selinger said. “Often times, the most deliberative figures are cheaper. They’re not celebrities, they’re very happy to come visit, they don’t often get the invitation.”
Wednesday evening, Ladd House discussed whether or not it would hold an event to debrief the D’Souza lecture. Michael Walsh ’19, a Ladd resident said that while the College House system is meant to be a platform to explore different ideas, many house members still opposed the event.
“It’s tough because Bowdoin is such an inclusive community and a lot of the non-inclusive views [D’Souza] has go against everything we stand for, but also because we’re in an inclusive community, [so] we should be listening to these rather narrow-minded opinions,” Walsh said.
Take a trance: hypnotist to captivate campus
Paul Ramsay makes his living entertaining and educating audiences of young adults all around the country in the cognitive art of hypnosis. He will be performing at Pickard Theatre tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
Bowdoin is the 17th college he will visit on his annual fall “Back to School” tour. Other hypnotists have performed at Bowdoin before, but this is the first time Ramsay will perform here.
Before beginning a career in hypnotism in 2004, Ramsay was an English teacher at a public school in Maine and as a Residence Hall Director in the Office of Student Affairs at the University of New Hampshire. His passion for working with young adults led him to pioneer the first interactive presentation of hypnosis that has been wildly popular on college campuses around the nation. While Ramsay performs stage hypnotism at all types of corporate and public venues, he believes that college students make the best hypnotic subjects.
“College students are legal adults, but on the younger end of it,” Ramsay said in an interview with the Orient. “They’re more optimistic, they’re more progressive, they’re really looking to experience new things. What’s more new than getting hypnotized for the first time?”
Ryan Sanborn ’18 has been hypnotized twice in the past year, though never by Ramsay. “You just really get into this mental state that you’re aware of everything that you’re doing but it’s more like you can’t control what you’re doing,” he said. “[The hypnotist is] basically controlling your actions. It’s like you have very strong emotions towards that action.”
Ramsay explained that hypnotism allows the mind to step into a place where hypnotism can take place.
“I look at my show as a way to take ordinary, everyday people who want to be hypnotized and basically transform them into a cast of characters,” he said.
Ramsay’s show is not narrative in nature. Instead, it’s comprised of a string of small segments in which the audience chooses what they want to see on stage. He compared his style to sketch comedy and said it is a concept that he pioneered himself.
In addition to the show, Ramsay offers six free online hypnosis programs for those who join his email list on paulramsay.com. Tackling a number of issues, the programs aim to aid relaxation, induce sleep, curb bad habits and cultivate positive energy.
“Part of my mission as an entertainer is to raise a greater awareness for the benefits of hypnotism everywhere I go,” he said. “It’s just my way of trying to get people to not be so afraid of hypnosis. The way it’s portrayed in movies and TV shows has definitely made it a stark and spooky thing and it’s really not.”