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‘I Want to Work For David Letterman’

Richard Paige — For Ryan Smith ’03, it was just a thought one day on the way to class.

“I want to work for David Letterman.”

Smith, an Emmy Award-winning field producer for CBS News, has done that and more. Not only did he serve as a page for a year with the “Late Show with David Letterman” after receiving his master’s degree at Columbia University, but he was also part of a large team that prepped last night’s 90-minute special, “David Letterman: A Life on Television,” which aired on CBS.

The journey into television has been an amazing experience for Smith.

“When I was at Wabash, I had no bigger hero than Letterman,” he said. “He was the reason I went into television. I applied and was lucky enough to become a page for the Late Show. I’m very, very fortunate because at Wabash and at CBS, I’ve been able to stand on the shoulders of giants and live out those dreams.”

Ryan Smith '03 is one of the lucky few to sit at David Letterman's legendary desk at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Ryan Smith ’03 is one of the lucky few to sit at David Letterman’s desk at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Working on the “Late Show” helped Smith learn how a television show is produced, connect daily with audience members, and get a sense of what needed to be accomplished. Those skills translated well when working with the senior staff at CBS News in getting a show to air.

“It was fascinating to watch others do their jobs,” said Smith, who majored in political science with a Classics minor. “When I moved over to CBS news, I still had that sense of what needed to be done.”

Smith credits the expectations that his Wabash professors had for him as one of the reasons he’s felt comfortable in television news. The mindset of accepting new challenges; that no day or story is quite the same.

“I was so lucky to have professors that challenged me,” said Smith. “I was always driven to deliver for them. I owe so much to the team at Wabash who always expected the most out of me, therefore, I began to expect the most out of myself. I’m able to meet changing demands head on because of those expectations.”

As Letterman’s late night career comes to a close after more than three decades, Smith is proud that his television experiences – both with the legendary host and CBS News – have come full circle on the Letterman retrospective.

“Having been at CBS News for almost a decade and to circle back to where it started for me, I almost couldn’t believe it,” he concluded. “I had the opportunity to be a part of a great team and pay respect to a living legend. I am very fortunate to have learned from the best and to work with the best.”

Bravely Dreamed and Steadily Accomplished

A fantastic result in a debut performance

The Anh Pham, a Wabash College freshman from Hanoi, Vietnam, won the gold medal at the U.S. Midwest “Chinese Bridge” Speech Contest, April 18, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

The Anh Pham '18

The Anh Pham ’18

Pham’s winning speech, titled, “How to be a Real Man,” discussed three main points: being respectful, being responsible, and never shying away from love. In the talent portion of the program, he wished all prosperity and peace to all by drawing a Rock’s Peony with traditional Chinese painting techniques – a simple brush dipped in ink – in only three minutes.

“Participating in the Midwest ‘Chinese Bridge’ Speech Contest was a greatly rewarding experience for me,” said Pham. “Thanks to this participation, my Chinese speaking skills have significantly improved. I was a bit overwhelmed when I was awarded the gold medal.”

It marked the first time a Wabash student had participated in the competition.

Now in its 14th year, the U.S. Midwest “Chinese Bridge” Speech Contest promotes Chinese language and culture education in the Midwest and strengthens exchanges between college-level Chinese programs in the region. All non-native undergraduate and graduate students of Chinese language in the Midwest and Great Lakes areas are eligible to participate.

The winning effort was a culmination of work by Pham and I-Ting Chiu, Visiting Instructor of Chinese. After spending time researching topics and integrating ideas, Pham and Chiu settled down to a rough draft in early April, using the last two weeks to rehearse and sharpen Pham’s delivery skills.

“We taped his performance and pointed out his weaknesses,” explained Chiu. “His pronunciation and stage manner were significantly improved through those practices within this short time. It’s accumulation. There is no shortcut in language learning, only practice makes perfect.”

Pham’s victory was especially rewarding for Chiu as well.

“I’m proud that we had dreamed bravely and accomplished steadily,” said Chiu. “As his instructor, it was a great pleasure to help him to win. That enthusiasm in learning and the great improvements he displayed are the best encouragements to teaching.”

Pham drew this during the talent portion of the contest.

Pham drew this during the talent portion of the contest.

The competition was a learning experience in itself for Pham, opening new perspectives on language acquisition.

“It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how other students are learning Chinese, and how our pathways to learning Chinese differ,” Pham said. “I feel truly thankful for the tremendous support from Professor Chiu, who helped me polish my speech and greatly improve my pronunciations.”

The Statehouse Door Opens

Richard Paige — In an effort to get an up-close look at politics at the state level, 32 Wabash students spent Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse interacting with legislators and lobbyists as part of Independent Colleges of Indiana’s “Lobby Day.”

Interested students, all from Indiana private colleges and universities, are invited to attend one of three such sessions during the year. Joining the Wabash crew were representatives from six other institutions.

Many of the Wallies in attendance were from Professor Shamira Gelbman’s PSC111 class “Introduction to American Politics,” and this was their first exposure to state government.

“It humanizes the process and gives it some impact,” said Anthony Repay ’17. “It’s good for a senator or representative to put a face on something as broad as funding for education and nice for us to see the people behind those decisions.”

An introductory meeting at the Indiana Historical Society set the tone for the day. There, ICI staff members explained the two-fold purpose of Lobby Day. First, it’s a chance for students to introduce and interact with state senators and representatives. Secondly, through such contacts and hand-written notes, it lets the students actively lobby those legislators on the topic of educational funding.

Michael Lumpkin '18 listens to lobbyist Kip Tew at the Indiana Statehouse.

Michael Lumpkin ’18 listens to lobbyist Kip Tew at the Indiana Statehouse.

Founded in 1948, the ICI purpose is to advance the interest of students both at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and in Washington, D.C. The organization represents more than 100,000 students on 31 campuses throughout the state with a goal of creating citizens that contribute to society.

“To see the building and see the work that goes on in the statehouse has great value,” said associate professor of rhetoric Todd McDorman. “To think about the way in which education is funded, and how so many of the students at Wabash attend, at least in part, based upon state aid, grants, and scholarships, has great value as well.”

While at the Statehouse, the students were able to tour building, including both the senate and house chambers and committee rooms, and talk with legislators and lobbyists. In fact, the group was able to speak directly with lobbyists Kip Tew and Michael Biberstine ’00, as well as state senator Randy Head (R-18) ’91.

The day concluded a meeting with Kelly Mitchell, Indiana State Treasurer. Mitchell, who was elected to the office in November, talked about her job responsibilities, Indiana’s conventioning process, and the rigors of running for political office.

The impacts of the day weren’t lost on Brian Hayhurst ’16. “It’s something that you don’t get in the classroom, a real eye-opening experience. I’m a math major, but I do really enjoy learning how the system works. That’s not just something for a political science major, everyone gets to experience that in their lives.”

“Hey, Wabash!”

Richard Paige – We talk often of connections at Wabash, and I’m still caught off guard at times at how the shared experience of being a Wabash man makes for seemingly instant friendships.

I had lunch with Larry Haugh ’66 and Jeff Callane ‘94 while spending New Year’s in Burlington, Vt., and enjoyed an easygoing conversation that lasted more than 90 minutes over pizza not too far from the shores of Lake Champlain.

Math majors each and Indiana natives, Haugh and Callane took slightly different routes to Burlington.

Haugh, a Kappa Sig, is professor emeritus of statistics at the University of Vermont, having retired as department head in 2006. As he said, “I loved every part of my job, but it had too many parts between the teaching, administration, and research. There were times when I needed more sleep.”

Larry Haugh (left) and Jeff Callane on St. Paul Street in Burlington, VT.

Larry Haugh (left) and Jeff Callane on St. Paul Street in Burlington, VT.

Callane, a Sigma Chi, followed his other brother, James ’92, to Crawfordsville to play tennis for George Davis (“Holy cow, there is a Callane who can volley,” is what Davis is reported to have said upon seeing the younger Callane play for the first time). He’s now an account executive for Aon, the global insurance and risk management provider.

Separated by 28 years at Wabash, these two had never met, but you wouldn’t know it by the warmth of the conversation. They talked over the top of each other, finished thoughts, cajoled, and laughed…all the things that friends do when talking.

Having two guys at the table gave me the opportunity to present the Wabash Q&A to multiple people for the first time. Their conversation is below. I hope their conversation reads as engagingly as it came off in real time.

 

Me: What’s your favorite Wabash tradition?

JC: Oh man, I’d have to say…

LH: Definitely not the singing.

JC: You mean Chapel Sing? It is the most ingrained.

LH: That’s emphasized at Big Bash. Do you ever go back? They recreate the Chapel Sing, so that’s funny. Did they have the greased pole climb when you where there? Some of the traditions die out. Pan-Hel was a big tradition and party, so I assume that’s still going strong. Fraternities and living units used to put a lot of work into that with decorations and inviting your dates to campus. It was a big weekend. Otherwise, it’s just going back to the fraternity where I lived and seeing how that’s changed.

JC: Homecoming was always interesting, too.

 

Me: Life is full of successes and failures. To this point, what is your favorite mistake?

LH: I hate these kinds of questions. I’m a math major.

JC: (laughs) Maybe I should have gone to class a bit more often.

 

 Me: If you could cook one meal, what would it be?

LH: Any breakfast for me.

JC: Hands down, it has to be Elsie Burgers. Elsie was our cook at the Sig house. Oh, the Elsie Burgers.

 

Me: If you could give your 10-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

LH: I do have an almost 10-year-old grandson and I would tell him to try a lot of different things and enjoy the trying of them. He’s doing that pretty well now.

JC: I would have to say, in the entire life sense, to be polite. Say “please and thank you”. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. Do your best.

LH: That’s something we’ve worked on quite a bit with our grandson.

 

Me: Do either of you have a personal credo, and if so, what is it?

LH: Closest to that would be a saying that’s been passed down in my family, “Be yourself.” It was on a big log that used to hang in my grandfather’s cabin.

JC: I remember one thing – this isn’t mine – my first boss always said, “Hurry up and get it done, but take your time and do it right.” The M.O. that I’ve tried to live by my entire life works out like this: If you come in early, you’re going to stay late. If you come in late, you are going to leave early.

 

Me: If in your dreams you could have created one great piece of art, what would it be?

LH: I can only say what I like because I’m not an artist. I’ve always liked metal sculptures…

JC: Having the opportunity to study in Salzburg my junior year and getting a chance to go through museums in Germany, Paris, and Amsterdam, I can’t say there is any one that stuck with me. You know, Bob Ross, the old landscape painter – a little tree likes to live here – I’ve kind of tried a little oil on canvas. I’m not very good. It would be a personal landscape.

 

Me: If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you doing in that picture?

JC: Oh man, I’ve got a huge grin, standing at the top of one of these mountains getting ready to ski down with my kids.

LH: That’s appropriate for me, too. I just love doing things with the family. Anything with the family is enjoyable.

JC: A big smile. When you see a smile like that, it’s infectious.

 

Me: If you could wish for one thing in your future, what would it be?

LH: I’ve been lucky to be healthy for this long, so I’d like to see that continue…to be able to actively travel.

JC: With an almost 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, I really just want to see them happy and successful with whatever they choose to do. Maybe there is a Wabash future for my son, Jack.

Speaking of connections, here is one more.

Callane and his family first moved to Burlington about three years ago. He was wearing a Wabash sweatshirt to one of his son’s tee-ball games when the coach approached him and asked about the sweatshirt. Callane wondered how the coach knew of Wabash. “I work with a Wabash grad,” was the reply.

Sometime later, Callane was with his daughter, Neeve, at her sixth-grade open house at Colchester Middle School when someone shouted, “Hey, Wabash,” as he passed by.

That’s when he met John Upchurch ’97, a teacher at the school.

“I stopped cold in my tracks,” Callane explained. “I meet John and realize that we were on campus the same time, and got to talking about the Phi Delts and the Sigs. It really took us back to campus. I got chills just talking about it.”

Callane and Upchurch since have gotten together frequently for Monon Bell viewings and such.

“Had I not been wearing that sweatshirt, it might have taken a lot longer to make the connection,” said Callane.

To bring this connection full circle, Neeve is now a student in Upchurch’s class.

That Rings A Bell

That’s not tinnitus sweeping across campus, it’s only the sound of the Monon Bell tolling from the Chapel steps ringing in your ears. Below are the responses of Wabash men — both current students and alumni — when asked what was their favorite Wabash tradition.

Hezekiah Eibert ‘15
“I love Wabash and I love our traditions.  That is one of my favorite parts of this place.  If you were forcing me to choose, I’d say the guarding and the ringing of the Bell the week prior and the week after.  Homecoming is the pride of your house. Monon Bell is the entire campus – everybody alike – unified in keeping that Bell safe and making sure the whole town can hear it ring.”

Steve Ganson ‘73
“The Monon Bell because it was so much fun. My senior year was the year that a few of my former roommates actually stole the Bell from ourselves, from Wabash, and we blamed DePauw. They had it in their apartment and the uproar was unbelievable. They went into the gym and took the Bell right off the balcony there and took it to their room. That had to be the Fall of ’72. Sports Illustrated did a story on the game the following year and mentioned the incident.”

Bell

To the victor…

Wes Hauser ‘15
“Bell Week. The atmosphere on campus is a lot of fun – even the professors get into the spirit by making jokes during class time. Everyone is so chipper. It adds some spice to the semester.”

Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16
“The Monon Bell. That one is usually a hard one for students because while you are studying anywhere on campus, you can hear that thing ringing non-stop.”

 Jared Lange ‘08
“Protecting the Bell and the interactions with alumni in that week.”

Jason Siegel ‘08
“My favorite week every year is Monon Bell week.  The campus just has a different energy.  The freshmen staying up ringing the Bell, guarding the Bell.  That’s my favorite tradition, the Monon Bell festivities.”

Brent Bollick ‘91
“Monon Bell.  We were 0-4 when I was there, so I kept going back until we won one, which we finally did.  That’s where I’m able to connect with other alums.  The tough part of living down here (in Jacksonville, Fla.) is just how easy it was to stay connected by going to that one game.”

Spencer Burk ‘14
“It has to be the Bell. It has to do with everything on campus. It’s bigger than a game.”

 

A Critical Eye on the Founding Fathers

I sat in on Scott Himsel’s Founding Brothers and Revolutionary Characters freshman tutorial recently, and plopped down in the middle of a lively debate. To observe was almost enjoyable as taking part.

I’m a sucker for the Founding Fathers and became intrigued with this class over the summer when Cameron McDougal ’12 said it was the most influential class he took at Wabash. After a few run-ins with Himsel and discussions about the class, he invited me to attend.

In this class, students are asked to discuss and debate a multitude of topics, first through the words of the Founding Fathers, and then by connecting those words to current events. To paraphrase Himsel, “the historical point and the modern parallel.”

Grant Wolf '18

Grant Wolf ’18

Himsel often asks students to argue in favor of perspectives they disagree with. It teaches them, Himsel says, “to walk around the entirety of the problem” McDougal took the class thinking he could rely on the words of Thomas Jefferson. More often than not, Himsel had him arguing from the position of Alexander Hamilton.

I enjoyed watching these guys think, reason, and react. At times they’d jot down notes or point a finger—that telltale response that informs the world, “I have a thought worth sharing.”

You could tell these guys were enjoying the process, at least as much as the thumb-worn, dog-eared, underlined and highlighted copies of “Something That Will Surprise the World” could attest.

Himsel poked and prodded his students through the discussion with his own questions: “Are you sure?” “Could you take that a step further?” He went so far as to pull out a dollar bill to make a point. He wasn’t stifling or correcting, but giving these gentlemen the freedom to walk around this problem.

Watching people think; to see the wheels turning – to see them reach for a book, thumb through a section, and look for just the right passage in response – is fun. Himsel brings the class to conclusion by relating the day’s questions to current court cases. Words from another century easily can be lost in translation, but these words still carry weight, even when borrowed by sitting Supreme Court justices.

After class, several students came forward and asked nuanced questions—they were not only engaged, but were developing a critical eye.

As this mid-term election season comes to a conclusion tomorrow, we’ve seen plenty of politicians cloak themselves in the language of the Founding Fathers. It’s reassuring to see this group of students grasping the importance of perspective in the ability to discern persuasion from political speak.

On To Year Two

Yesterday was my one-year anniversary on the Wabash campus, and such a milestone served as a good time to hit the brakes and reflect on the knowledge gained in the last 365 days I’ve managed to put in the rear-view mirror.

I’ve asked a series of questions in every Wabash interview I’ve done in that time. A stream-of-consciousness thing, quick thoughts to see how people think. On this occasion, I felt like looking at the wisdom of the answers to one question in particular:

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

The answers loosely fell into three categories: don’t take life to seriously, try new things, and work hard.

That’s simple, right? Not exactly.

Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16.

Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16.

With a year to reflect and a little institutional knowledge now working to my advantage, each answer now carries a little more weight.

The guys who fell into the “don’t take life too seriously category” are some of the most focused and driven people around, like Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16, Scott Purucker ‘16, Derrick Li ‘14, Jared Lang ‘08, and Brent Bolick ‘91.

Koutsopatriy simply stated, “Do you,” when I asked him that question. Sage advice from a guy who was described as having “a core of energy that is just bottomless,” according to chemistry professor Lon Porter.

Those who championed new experiences relied on the benefits of lessons learned.

Brian Kopp ‘98, a senior vice president for sports solutions at STATS, Inc., said, “Don’t be afraid to try new things and to make mistakes because sometimes that’s when you learn the most.”

He’s a guy who is using captured data to change the way NBA head coaches, some of the most regimented people you’ll ever meet, think and analyze the game.

“Take advantage of a lot of different opportunities,” said Steve Ganson ‘73, who has officiated high school basketball for 37 years. “Don’t let something strange scare you away,”

Those are words of wisdom from a Wally who caught the officiating bug during his Wabash days as a manager when the basketball coach suggested he referee the team scrimmages even though he had zero experience and admits now that he didn’t know much about the game back then.

Acclaimed artist and art advocate Matthew Deleget ‘94 took a more practical role in advice distribution, stating, “There is virtue in working hard and people who work hard have greater insights into things.”

“Study as a hard as possible,” was the response from biology and German double major Jingwei Song ‘15.

While insights gained from studying more and working hard are undoubtedly beneficial, I’ll end with the thoughts of Emmanuel Aouad ‘10, who said, “Do everything exactly the same and you’re going to be all right.”

I’m still not certain whether Emmanuel intended to deliver such a thought in the hopeful regard that we all eventually find our passion, or that he was experienced enough to be patting himself on the back. In true Wabash fashion, he delivered it with a smile and all the confidence to say there wasn’t a wrong interpretation.

That reminds me of something a professor announced to the class on my first day of graduate school. “There are no wrong answers here,” he said. “You will only be judged by how intelligently you defend your positions.”

My education continues. On to year two.

Passion Flows at Ides of August

It would be easy to say that our Ides of August works simply as a venue for sharing scholarly research. Besides, that would be boring.

I say it’s about passion. While the research is intriguing, it’s the underlying passion during these presentations that leaves a lasting impression.

To hear professors Adriel Trott or Laura Wysocki talk of the joys of ancient Greek philosophy or chemistry is to share their passion for the subjects, whether you know anything about Philopappou Hill or the angle of a hexagon bond.

Trott_Wysocki

Adriel Trott (left) and Laura Wysocki

For 30 minutes apiece Friday, Trott and Wysocki were among 17 Wabash faculty members who delivered updates on creative work and research efforts to colleagues. And in their time in the spotlight, those two led a charge that was engaged, energetic, and informative.

All that with Tasmanian Devil-levels of energy. OK, maybe it wasn’t that much energy, but it was more than enough to make you to sit up and take notice. Passion is contagious.

There were smiles, laughter, and changes in volume you just don’t get from most scholarly conferences.

Trott worked on Capitol Hill before heading to graduate school and a switch of career paths, saying, “I thought that I could do more somewhere where I was thinking and encouraging others to think. That’s what led me down this road.”

Wysocki caught the teaching bug in high school, when a biology teacher noticed that she had a sense for when information gets across to someone, and let her teach a class. From there, the passion took root and has blossomed in Hays Hall.

“I’m kind of a science nerd and this is a job where I get to be excited, unabashedly, unapologetically, excited about what I talk about,” Wysocki said. “I let that loose when I talk about my work.”

She certainly did.

That energy is essential to the faculty here. According to Lon Porter, chemistry professor and chair of the Ides of August committee, it’s a core belief that has earned its day of celebration.

“It’s central to faculty as individuals and to why and how we do what we do,” he said. “We get passionate about content, about process, about instrumentation, about analysis, about argument, about debate, and I think that really comes out. The energy that comes from this is really a fun thing.”

One faculty member summed it up best by saying of Trott’s presentation, “You had me wanting to go to Greece.”

Two Different Experiences; Countless Lessons Learned

Samuel Vaught ´16 — Greetings from Ecuador!

For eleven Glee Club members, we have now been away from the United States for a month. Our first two weeks were spent studying Spanish and traditional Ecuadorian music at la Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, known to locals simply as La Católica. We lived with host families, ate home-cooked meals, and attended class every day. Dr. Rogers of the Spanish department and Dr. Bowen were our only ties
to home as we were completely immersed in a new language, new culture, and new way of life. Living with my host family was one of the greatest learning experiences of the first half of the trip.

Going into the stay, I was most concerned about the language – being able to communicate well. I was nervous that my previous experience with the Spanish language would not be sufficient, as I wanted to be gracious and make a good impression with my family. What I found, however, was that communication was not the most difficult part of the home stay. In fact, I improved quickly and my Spanish skills have never been better. What I found most difficult was the genuine cross-cultural exchange that took place during the two weeks. Whether it was new perspectives on global politics, or the new city, or the simple things that come with daily life in a new environment, I was constantly challenged to get out of my comfort zone. I had to learn what it means to be the outsider, the alien. I was no longer in comfortable Crawfordsville, Indiana, my home for twenty years. I was in Quito, Ecuador, with Ximena Romo and Gustavo Moscoso. I think that this experience has been an invaluable lesson in the age of global migration. When you know what it feels like to be the outsider, you start thinking about the outsiders in your own home differently.

Sam Vaught '16 (center) is one of 11 Glee Club members who has been in Ecuador for the last month.

Samuel Vaught ’16 (center) is one of 11 Glee Club members who have been in Ecuador for the last month.

If we were aliens for the first two weeks, we have played the tourist for the last two. We were joined on the last day of May by sixteen additional Glee Club members as we transitioned into the second half of the trip: a two-week concert tour of the country. Led by Dr. and Mrs. Bowen, our accompanist Cheryl Everett, and Dr. Hardy and her ever-knowledgeable son Ben (I never want to go to another airport without him), we have had an exciting two weeks of discovery and cultural exchange. Traveling to the north and the south, seeing different parts of the country, and interacting with the diversity of people in La Sierra (one of Ecuador’s four geographic regions), I have had an entirely different experience. This has been a new trip: one of school concerts, cathedral concerts, and small-town concerts. One of exploring outdoor markets and buying artisanal goods. One of spending a night in the indigenous village of San Clemente and learning their way of life. Surrounded by more estadounidenses, my Spanish has certainly  atrophied. But this trip hasn’t been a let-down after the first two weeks. It has simply been different.

Tomorrow, I will board a plane to come home again to Indiana, grateful for not one immersion trip, but two. Two different experiences, and countless lessons within each one.

Adios, mi lindo Ecuador. No te olvidaré.

13 junio 2014
Quito, Ecuador

Me llamo Benjamin

Benjamin Washer ‘17 — To be able to write about one thing that happened on our trip to Ecuador is close to impossible.  There are so many things that have stood out to me on this trip.  I’m sure many other people in this situation would write about the delicious and exotic food, or the fantastic views that were presented before their eyes, or the incredible fiesta thrown by the denizens of San Clemente and the generosity and friendliness exhibited by their host families.

It is true that these experiences were all wonderful and worthy of writing about, but I wish to tell a different story.  During our stay in San Clemente I found that my host family consisted of Señora Rosita, her husband, their fifteen-year-old son and their nine-year-old daughter Kalina (which I did not know at the time).

Benjamin Washer '17

Benjamin Washer ’17

My host family was very generous and friendly and treated us as their own.  That is, everyone except Kalina.  She almost never smiled and almost never spoke (but when she did it was in the tiniest voice ever; if you didn’t strain your ear you would’ve have missed what she said).  Based on the pictures that hung about the house, I could tell she was not the smiling type.

Despite my best efforts at child friendly goofiness, I could not get her to smile (and barely even to speak).  Most of the evening remained this way.  After dinner she quietly led us to the village center hall for our evening fiesta and even politely gestured for me to dance though she maintained her introverted nature.

After the fiesta, our group headed back to the house.  On the way back, I noticed that little Kalina had fallen back a short ways as the others moved ahead, so I stayed back with her.  In the quietness of the evening. I asked her in my limited Spanish:
“Como estas? ”
She replied in a very small voice:
“Bien.”
I then introduced myself:
“Me llamo Benjamin.”
“Kalina.”

We continued walking.  I noticed that for the past few minutes little Kalina had her arms folded close to her body and so I asked her:
“Tu frio?”
“Si.”

At that moment I took my sweatshirt (which I was not using because my host family gave me a very warm poncho to wear) and placed it around her shoulders.  At first she gave no response, but I made a gesture indicating that she put her arms through the sleeves.  It was then that she covered herself with my sweatshirt and cracked the first smile I had ever seen from her.  We then walked the rest of the way back to the house in silence.

When we got back she handed me my sweatshirt, thanked me and then went to bed.  The next morning she said goodbye to me as she went off to school and that was the last I ever saw of her.
It’s funny how we get attached to certain people.  We were told that we were adopted by our host families, but I adopted Kalina as my new little sister.  To be able to keep her warm as the family did me and to be able to make her smile gave me great joy.  Even though I will probably never see her again just having had the chance to meet her was more than enough for me and gave me something worth writing about.