Vocomotion 2016: NY Hopes


Hi guys!

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Vocomotion 2016: NY Hopes, which was an amazing collaboration between the Siena College Choirs and NY State History students.  When I arrived to the Foy Lobby about ten minutes before the show began, I was so excited to see that there was a complete full house! Students, faculty members, and families filled the chairs around the set of risers that lined the back wall of the room and the beautiful baby grand piano was perfectly placed in the center of the room.

The pieces that was selected for the performance was thoroughly (and I mean THOROUGHLY) researched by NY State history students and each one of them had a connection to the state of New York. Before each song was performed by the Siena College Choirs, an NY history student read aloud to the audience the history of the song, and the composer/writer who created it.  I was both surprised and impressed at the intricate collaboration between the two groups, despite the huge difference in subject fields!

The talent that I had the opportunity to see during this performance was impeccable, from all who had a part.  The vocal talents of the Siena College Choirs still never cease to amaze me and Dr. Tim Reno, who was in charge of the entire event, prepared the students very well! By far, my favorite piece during the event was “Home,” performed by the Siena College A Capella club.  This is one of my absolute favorite songs to listen to and the voices of the club members truly did the original peace justice.  Their voices were incredibly powerful and they truly were singing their hearts out, something that is unfortunately not so common in some musical groups.

Did you attend Vocomotion 2016? What did you think of the performances? Let me know in the comments!


Student Intern

Greyfriar Living Literature Series Fall 2016 Guest- Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer

Schlaifer poster

Hello Siena Saints!

I hope you all had a great long weekend, I know I did! As we move further into the month of October, the Siena College Liberal Arts Department is excited to be announcing several upcoming events that will be available to students, one of which I was able to attend tonight.  The Greyfriar Living Literature Series is hosted by the English Department each year and has been honored with the visits of several wonderfully talented authors, including poet Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer.  Stephanie read several of her published poems to a group of students and faculty tonight in the Maloney Great Room and greeted her audience with the utmost kindness and gratitude.

Stephanie grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and holds a BA and BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  Her work has been featured in various scholarly journals, including the Chicago Review, Colorado Review, and Best New Poets 2015 and her first full length book poems, Cleavemark was just recently published this year.  Cleavemark essentially is a lament to Ellis Schlaifer’s grandmother, who was struck and killed by a drunk semi truck driver when Ellis Schlaifer was only eleven years old.  Her poems depict various details of her grandparents’ house and how the family tries to put the pieces of the house back together again.

Ellis Schlaifer read several poems to the audience, but one of the major aspects of her work that I noticed were the descriptions of the random household objects that she remembers from her grandparents’ house as a child, such as dishes, doors, the attic, and the roof.  These objects may seem quite ordinary and mostly insignificant to the average person, but Ellis Schlaifer describes them in a way that’s very raw and emotional.  Each image is reflected back to her grandmother and her grandmother’s death, giving the reader/listener a sense that the tragedy still remains with Ellis Schlaifer to this day.

To learn more about Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer, check out her blog at https://criticalbonnet.com.

Did you go to the reading? Let me know in the comments!



Student Intern

“SOLD”- A Film To Change the Future



I just came back from a special screening of the film “SOLD” and it truly was the most amazing and heart wrenching movie I have ever seen.  The film is based off of Patricia McCormick’s acclaimed novel and tells the story of twelve year old Lakshmi, a Nepali girl who is sold into the human/child trafficking industry and has to fight against the odds of horrific physical and verbal abuse, rape, and the loss of her own innocence in order to survive.  Although Lakshmi is a fictional character, her stories aren’t.  While researching the human/child trafficking industry, McCormick travelled to India and Nepal, speaking with many girls who were victims of this industry, girls who had had to go through unimaginable experiences in order to escape.  The portrayal of all the characters in the film by the actors was nothing short of incredible, particularly by Niyar Saikia, who played Lakshmi.  Niyar’s performance truly is something I have never seen before, as the raw emotions she puts into the character is not often seen through the work of such a young actor.

After the film, I had the honor of being able to hear the film’s producer, Jane Charles, speak about her advocacy for ending human/child trafficking across the world. Like Patricia McCormick, Jane Charles spent two and a half years in India and Nepal and met many survivors of this industry, which has unfortunately become a $150 billion industry.  She has worked closely with many charities both nationally and internationally to help these victims and truly shocked me by saying that sex trafficking has even reared its ugly head here in the Albany area.

One of the major points Charles made that stuck with me was her passion for educating young people about the issue.  She said, “The key to solving this problem is education, especially at a younger age.  We need to educate the next generation that it is simply not okay to objectify women.” She also went on to explain that education is even more important in Nepal and India, as the chance of girls being trafficked goes down by a substantial amount if they are in school at least to the age of sixteen.  Charles is working very closely with many international charities to rebuild schools in these countries and to bring this film to its students in order to educate them about the serious issue of sex trafficking.

“SOLD” will be released on iTunes and Netflix in January/February, so if you have the chance to see it, please do! Lakshmi’s story will truly resonate with you, as it has done with me.

Have you read the book/ seen the movie? Let me know in the comments!

Julia Lowney- Student Intern

Civil War Expert Visits Siena College


Hi everyone!

Tonight, I had the amazing privilege of listening to Dr. Daniel W. Crofts, Civil War expert and Professor Emeritus of History at the College of New Jersey deliver his speech, “The Paradoxical Emancipator: Abraham Lincoln and the Other Thirteenth Amendment.”  His work primarily focuses on the North-South sectional crisis that eventually led to the Civil War and his literary work truly captures the essence of the troubles that plagued the United States during the 1860’s.

The aspect of Dr. Croft’s speech that I found to be the most fascinating was his evaluation of President Abraham Lincoln.  President Lincoln is naturally an iconic figure as a result of our basic knowledge of history, but Dr. Croft delved a little bit deeper during his lecture.  He heavily focused on how Lincoln had always heartily opposed the concept of slavery in the United States, even before he became involved in politics.  He examined Lincoln’s relationship with the early Republican party, saying that members of this government party such as Congressmen Joshua R. Giddings actually opposed slavery as well and that the South was highly offended by this opinion.  Dr. Croft demonstrated that aside from the basic facts we already knew, Abraham Lincoln was truly passionate about ending slavery and promoting social justice around the United States, something that we students here at Siena College value very highly.

Were you able to come to Dr. Croft’s presentation? If you did, let me know in the comments what you think! I’ve also listed Dr. Croft’s books and articles below, so go check them out!

Julia Lowney, Student Intern

Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (1989)

Old Southampton: Politics and Society in a Virginia County (1992)

A Secession Crisis Enigma: William Henry Hurlbert and the Diary of a Public Man (2010)

Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union (recent)

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/author/daniel-w-crofts/?_r=0    Dr. Croft’s articles for the New York Times “Disunion” blog