The McDermott Alumni are pleased to announce details of the first project funded by the Worsfold McDermott Alumni Fund. The fund supported the graduating senior class of McDermott Scholars in their project with the Audubon Society of Dallas. Read more details below and check out the great photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94692629@N07/.
Our 2009 senior class gift started with one excited, blonde, treehugger, who brainstormed an idea to connect the McDermott seniors to give back to the city of Dallas and its students. Our class gift turned into an environmental education project, where we connected Dallas area students to nature through photography. The concept is based on the popular Parks in Focus curriculum taught in national parks across the US. This fun concept took us to the Trinity River Audubon Center, where we worked with education director Zeshan Segal to lead short hikes and teach nature photography to a group of 30 Dallas students. We recruited the many talents of our class to help. Our cameraman and PR girl drafted a funding proposal, our teacher-in-training wrote a lesson plan all the way from Turkey, eight trailblazing seniors spent their Thursday afternoons in April teaching at the Audubon, four out-of-town seniors sorted through hundreds of photos online to select the very best, and our class wordsmith, artist, and researchers produced our gallery display. In addition, every single senior made a $50 dollar donation, matching our support from the McDermott Alumni Fund, to purchase a set of 15 digital cameras to donate to the Audubon Center to continue this program in the future. Our goal was to design a volunteer project that was fun, educational, gave thanks to the Audubon Center and Dallas students whom we’ve worked with over the past four years, and provided a tangible gift to present to the McDermott Scholars Program and the city of Dallas for future enjoyment. With the support of all our friends and partners, we think we’ve succeeded.
You can read about the issue and watch the interview here:
Below is an opinion by Maija Wallace, ’09 McDermott Alumna. Maija is currently living in Istanbul, Turkey, and recently received a Fulbright teaching grant to study in Spain. Maija’s views are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the McDermott Alumni program or the University of Texas at Dallas.
Turkey is going through a revolution. As I am writing this, everyone in my apartment – and every other nearby apartment and house – is clanging pots together outside of the windows and turning their lights on and off repeatedly in unison. Cars are honking their horns and people are parading up and down the streets.
It’s 9:10pm on a Sunday, I’m an hour outside of the city center, and the protests have been going on since Friday morning.
After graduating from UT Dallas one semester early, I came to Istanbul, Turkey, in December to teach English in a private school.
On Friday, as I was on my way home from school, my school bus dropped me off near Taksim square, the main downtown center where most of the protests have been happening. At the time I did not know about the protests and had to cross the square to get to my friend’s house. On the way, I was caught between burning and exploding trashcans and a raid of police who rushed towards me as an explosion went off next to me. In attempt to escape, I ducked down a small alley only to be met with another group of police officers rushing towards me and throwing tear gas bombs. Luckily there was a small coffee shop next to me and ducked inside right as the police rushed past, terrified but safe.
I stayed at my friend’s house that night as I was unable to use public transportation to get home. The metro was tear gassed and the doors were shut on the people inside so they could not escape. Bombs were dropped into boats on the Bosphorus and a couple of people were killed because of deadly gases and close-range pressure sprayers used by the police.
The next day things seemed calmer. I went out with my friend to get a coffee at the Starbucks in Taxim square. There were still protestors but it seemed peaceful enough. Starbucks gave us our coffees for free – apparently they had been giving out free coffee to everyone since the start of the protests. As I was adding cinnamon to my chai tea latte, the police began throwing tear gas bombs outside. Hoards of protestors rushed into Starbucks to escape the gas, and the next thing we knew, orange gas was being sprayed directly into the store.
It was impossible to breathe. My entire face burned and my eyes streamed with tears. I found myself spitting and drooling. Coffee flung everywhere as the crowd struggled to move, but more gas kept pouring in the building. My friend handed me some paper napkins to hold over my nose and mouth and I tried to focus on keeping my eyes shut, but nothing seemed to help. My friend fell onto the ground coughing and I grabbed his shirt to pull him back up. Together we pushed our way out of the store and towards a side street. Several protestors met us, giving us a mixture of milk and water to put on our faces as well as lemons to squeeze lemon juice on our faces and into our eyes.
That night I helped host many protestors as they came in and out of the fray. Tonight I managed to get home in the early afternoon before the next wave of protests broke out.
The destruction so far is impressive: cars and buses have been turned over and barricades have been build in the middle of streets from hundreds of bricks that have been pulled up from the sidewalks. The police is using excessive violence and shooting tear gas bombs directly at people – one girl I met was hit in the ankle. They are also using gases that cause hyperventilation and can be deadly to asthmatics.
This fight began when a few people held a sit-in in Gezi Park, Taxim, to prevent the park’s destruction and replacement with a shopping mall. When the protestors were tear-gassed to make them leave the premises and their tents for the sit-in were then burned by police, the city – and country – finally decided to stand up for itself against a corrupt government that has long been growing in power and corruption. Recently, many laws have been passed to slowly turn the country into a more and more Islamic-governed nation, like Iran. Alcohol sales, for example, were limited less than 2 weeks ago. For more information on the root causes of the fight, check out this link.
This fight needs more international attention. Please spread the word about what is going on. Turkish television stations are not reporting on the situation with one exception and the government is denying the size and scale of these protests.
The memorial service for Dr. Victor Worsold will be held at 2 pm tomorrow May 14 Jonsson Perf. Hall, JO2.604. The event will also be available via live stream here.