WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

"It all went just too fast." This is something I have heard over and over again these last couple of weeks.  As I told the freshmen in my classes in August: don't blink, because before you know it the fall semester will be gone. 

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

A couple of weeks ago, Gloria Delany-Barmann and I returned from a short trip to Puerto Rico.  We went to check up on our colleagues we've been working with the last couple of years and to take a few supplies and funds so generously donated by members of our community to those in need.  And yes, just in case you were wondering, it is possible to take a chainsaw as part of your checked baggage. 

ISER Caribe

I believe that optimism is a moral choice.  Lately the news has been overwhelmingly grim – hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and senseless gun violence.  It is a reminder to us all that we are living in an increasingly volatile world. And while it is easy to be discouraged, in the midst of every tragedy and disaster there are, what Mr. Rogers called, "helpers."  People who don't wait on others to take charge, they simply do it themselves.  Take the recent disaster in Puerto Rico as an example. 

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

The last several weeks have been full of weather – wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho; drought in North Dakota; flooding in Texas; and most recently Hurricane Irma in Florida.  Weather related events like these happen all the time, but they only become disasters when they cross paths with humans. 

This semester I've been one step ahead of my students while teaching a course that is new to me called Religion, Magic, & Shamanism. Using an excellent textbook and a couple of really good ethnographies, the students and I have explored how religions around the world provide people with various cosmologies or frameworks for how to live a good life. 

Ann Comerford

As the spring semester sprints to an end, I find myself preparing to travel again.  First, back to Germany with students to spend two weeks immersed in an ever-changing culture.  The second group of students will be traveling to rural Puerto Rico to do a month long internship with WIU alumni as part of a Department of Education grant titled "Communities as Agents of Change". 

WIU Athletics

For the last six or seven years, most of my weekends have been spent at some sporting event or another.  The early years included weekends at Harper College for Shotokan Karate tournaments.   These days I travel to exotic places like Bloomington for three day swim meets. 

courtesy Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

One of the things I love about my job is the daily opportunity to interact with students.  In sitting and listening to them I am constantly amazed about how they make sense of their world.  Anthropologists call this method ethnography.  And while it is somewhat out of vogue and deemed by many to be something that anyone can do, there is much to be learned from the art of really listening and observing. 

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

2016 was a hard year.  And while I am generally an optimistic person, I am not convinced that 2017 will be much better.  In fact, I am pretty sure it won't be.  Take a look at my desk and you can begin to understand why I am concerned and often feel overwhelmed. 

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

3 years, 8 months, 1 week and 6 days.  Between April 6, 1992 and December 14, 1995 the most brutal conflict in Europe since WWII took place in Bosnia Herzegovina.   

Rich Egger

To paraphrase children's author Judith Viorst; It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.  

Knox College

I hate yard signs.  I dislike them almost as much as I loathe those inflatable, blowie-uppy-thingys that people put in their yards for Halloween and Christmas. 

Shane Balkowitsch/Wikimedia Commons

A little over 850 miles west of Macomb a war is being waged over something that is necessary to all life on earth.  Water. 

Rich Egger

I've been thinking a lot about choices lately.  My autonomic nervous system makes decisions each and every minute to keep me alive that I am only remotely aware of. 

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

Grief is a curious sensation.  To me it feels like a combination of hollowness and heaviness seeping into the cells of each and every muscle.   It sits across the tops of my shoulders and bleeds into the space behind my heart. 

Benjamin J. DeLong/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Somehow I thought that as I entered my 49th trip around the sun, my life would be a little less stressful.  Ha! 

Rich Egger

I never wanted to be a disaster researcher.  In fact, I tried my hardest to avoid it.  The first site for my dissertation research was supposed to be near the town of Campeche in the Yucatan Peninsula.  In October of 1995, while preparing to go to the field, not one but two hurricanes made landfall within a week of each other.  I decided to move my research to Ecuador. 

"David Bowie - Heroes" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

David Bowie died this past Sunday.  Like many, I was shocked and saddened to hear of his death.  His music has been an influential part of my life, although not always in the forefront. 

Rich Egger

Stop it.  Just stop it.  Stop pretending to care about those harmed by gun violence when you fail to address the root of the problem.

Rich Egger

Mornings are not easy in my house.  Amidst the chaos of fighting for the bathroom, misplaced shoes and socks, and readying ourselves for the day ahead there is one that thing that brings everyone to a dead stop and allows us to pause and savor the moment. 

Rich Egger

Standing on the edge of a hay field on a cool September morning I fell in love again.  It wasn't a hard, fast, impassioned fall like those felt by first time lovers, but rather a slow fall -- deep with appreciation and wonder of seeing the familiar in a new light. 

Rich Egger

The photo got me.  Red shirt, blue shorts, and little shoes.  It's been a long time since I have helped my children put their shoes on, but in an instant I was sitting on the floor lacing up Willow and Maren's tiny floral trainers before taking them to pre-school.   Three year old Aylan Kurdi's parents had lovingly dressed him for a very difficult journey that morning.  Hoping for a better life, his parents placed their faith and their family in a rubber dingy, trusting that the journey would end in a better life. 

I am an educator and a parent with daughters in the 7th and 8th grades in the Macomb Public Schools.  Like many others schools - although not all - throughout the nation, Macomb schools will be administering the PARRC exam this month to its students.

Rich Egger

My family and I have spent the past couple of weeks visiting our doctors. All four of us have had our annual physicals, eye and dental exams. Each time I enter a doctor’s office I am grateful that we have access to affordable health insurance. There was a time not long ago, when I was a graduate student and my husband was working full time, that we were uninsured. Like many people in this country, our monthly income barely covered the rent and groceries, let alone “luxuries” like health insurance.