Live Blogging SBA Day One

March 3, 2008

The following events summarize the first day of Spring Break Alternative 2008.

12:30 p.m. E.S.T. - The “SoDak” SBA group met at the Romero Center in Lower Cushing Center for a last minute overview of what to expect in the day ahead. As other groups departed, some delayed by weather, busy SoDak’ers took time to send each group off into the snow.

2:30 p.m. E.S.T. - On Interstate 93 en-route to Boston Logan Airport - After filling a hallway with luggage, SBA South Dakota loaded into two white passenger vans for the drive to Boston, chauffeured by Campus Ministry Director, Sue Gabert, and two SBA-Maine participants.

3:50 p.m. E.S.T. - Boston Logan Airport - During check-in at the Northwest Airlines ticket counter, SoDak encountered a contingent of - who would have guessed - Saint Anselm College faculty on their way to Rome. After causing minor chaos to the ticket counter staff with our large group, we were off to the security checkpoint, where we said good bye to Sue.

4:40 p.m. E.S.T. - Boston Logan Airport - The group is now awaiting the boarding call for our flight to Minneapolis. Sitting in the concourse, we just watched two fellow Saint Anselm College students walk by on their way to their spring break destination: the Caribbean.

6:01 p.m. E.S.T. - In the skies over Boston, Mass. - As the sun sets over the city of Boston, our flight is off the ground and bound for Minneapolis, Minn. The group is spread throughout the plane, but from my seat I can see several participants reading, listening to music and napping. Group leaders, Kristen and Sarah, report they have been awake nearly 48 hours at this point, with only short naps to keep them going.

8:06 p.m. C.S.T. - In the skies over Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. - As we prepared for landing, our flight crossed over the Mississippi River and expansive suburbs of the Twin Cities on our final approach to the airport. A row behind me, English Professor Denise Askin, who is accompanying this trip as a participant, was paging through a copy of Black Elk Speaks, an account described as “a book of visions of an American Indian Black Elk” as told by author John Neihardt. At Saint Anselm, Askin offers a freshman course in English called “Native American voices” and was invited to join with the group for the trip.

8:45 p.m. C.S.T. - From Terminal F of MSP - Students have made a beeline for a quick bite to eat during our layover in Minneapolis. Showing their culture, a majority of the students returned with sushi, salads, and sandwiches rather than something fried. Boarding has just been announced for the final leg of our flight to Rapid City, South Dakota.

9:25 p.m. C.S.T. - In the skies over Minneapolis - We are “wheels up” from Minneapolis, en-route to Rapid City. As the plane banks away from Minneapolis, the partially filled cabin is full of chatter from Saint Anselm students conversing amongst themselves, and making friends with other passengers. During the longer flight from Boston to Minneapolis, a number of the flying public clearly became quite familiar with this trip, as more than once students were wished good luck and encouraged to make the most of their experience upon deplaning.

9:38 p.m. C.S.T. - In the skies over southwestern Minnesota - The flight deck just informed the passengers of Northwest Flight 1203 that the current temperature in Rapid City is 64 degrees at 8:39 p.m. local time. For a group that had its trip departure delayed by a snowstorm earlier in the day, this is nothing short of amazing!

10:20 p.m. M.S.T. - In the parking lot of the Rapid City, South Dakota Airport - After a turbulent arrival, we picked up our luggage (it all made it!) and the group made final arrangements for the pending two-plus hour drive to Pine Ridge.

As we stepped outside to pack our four minivans parked curbside, we were greeted with tumbleweed blowing across the walkway. Clearing the side of the building, SBA SoDak received its welcome: the winds of the plains. Strong enough to not only whip everyone about, the gusts actually took several people off their feet, sending them tumbling into the nearby grass.

10:42 p.m. M.S.T. - On the road in Farmingdale, S.D. - After a long day of travel, unpredictable and out-of-control weather, and excitement, four vans are rolling south out of Rapid City en-route to Pine Ridge.

1:31 a.m. M.S.T. - Following a drive that took the group through the badlands - twice - the minivan convoy arrived at Pine Ridge. The highly regarded “Tom,” the Executive Director here at Re-Member, was at the front door to greet the leery-eyed travelers as they arrived. Following brief opening remarks, and a quick orientation of what to expect tomorrow (today now…) participants were sent on their way to unpack, settle into bunks and get a few hours of rest.

2:05 a.m. M.S.T. - Lights out - for a few hours. To the Saint Anselm Students, with the time change, it feels like shortly after 4 a.m.

Follow Spring Break Alternative from South Dakota

March 3, 2008

Welcome to the Spring Break Alternative (SBA) “SoDak” Blog. In the coming week, I will travel with, and report on a group of Saint Anselm College students who are volunteering with “Re-Member,” a group based in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Each year, Saint Anselm College, through the office of Campus Ministry, has been sending students to sites across the United States, and abroad to spend their spring break in an alternative fashion from the traditional warm and sunny beaches.

Students work with host organizations at each site, doing everything from building bunk beds to serving in soup kitchens. This year, groups are traveling to locations ranging from Costa Rica, to Maine, Louisiana and South Dakota. In full, some 200 Saint Anselm students will be participating in the program this year.

So sit back, and enjoy the experience of being an extended part of SBA: SoDak!

*****

An introduction to your reporter: A member of the Class of 2009 and a Politics major from Augusta, Maine, Cory True is a new media reporter for the Saint Anselm College Office of College Communications and Marketing.

In a first for Saint Anselm College, Cory will report on this SBA trip as an “embedded reporter.” Loaded down with eight bags of equipment, Cory will feature the day-to-day work of the group while capturing the broader experience via audio, video, photography and extensive blogging.

Back To Reality

January 23, 2008

It’s a little surreal that the Primary is over. In the first week of January, I was weaving in and out of satellite trucks parked on the Quad and avoiding walking through a live shot in Cushing Student Center. No longer are credentials required to pass through police to gain access to campus. The protesters and supporters are gone, the hundreds of international journalists have dispersed and the candidates have all moved on. It’s almost too quiet right now, even with 2,000 students going about their day heading to and from classes.

Earlier this week I thought back on some of the events that I’ve found myself in over the past two and a half years: I’ve worked for CNN, ABC and CBS. I’ve met - at least twice - and in most instances several times - all of the candidates, one of whom will become the next President of the United States. I’ve been inside lectures, speeches and at rallies that most American’s see on their televisions, or read about in their newspapers. And I’ve gained an understanding of, and appreciation for a unique New Hampshire event, it’s Primary.

Four years ago, during the 2004 New Hampshire Primary, as I contemplated my big decision: where to attend college? I remember seeing Fox News broadcasting live from a quaint snowy campus on the outskirts of Manchester. Every once in a while, the camera would pan across some ivy covered brick, with the television personality noting they were “broadcasting live from Saint Anselm College.” Little did I know at the time in 2004, but four years later, I’d find myself in countless situations where Charles Gibson, Shepherd Smith, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Bob Schieffer and dozens of others would say that - as I stood within earshot.

I’ve watched my campus morph for five nationally televised debates. I’ve had front row seats for policy addresses, and I’ve been in the background of so many live shots that my parents don’t even bother calling anymore to alert me that they just saw me on the Nightly News or Larry King Live. In the past two years, it has become such commonplace to bump into a candidate or media personality that I’ve almost started to take it all for granted.

And so it ends, for now. Time to get reacquainted with our quiet campus, to develop the dozens of photographs, and to recount the stories with friends about the crazy things we saw and did as part of the unique tradition that is the New Hampshire Primary.

The Day After

January 6, 2008

The Candidates GreetThe media, the security, the candidates, their supporters. Now, the (temporary) quiet. Saint Anselm College made history on Saturday, as Charles Gibson concluded the Republican debate and welcomed the Democratic candidates to the stage. For a few moments, all of the leading candidates shared the stage, exchanging handshakes and conversation. Read more

An “All-Access-Pass” to the Debates and the College

January 5, 2008

Student Stand In RehearsalThe day before the debates — best described as controlled chaos unfolded on the campus of Saint Anselm College today. I began my day at about 6 o’clock Friday morning on the corner of the Quad, awaiting for an unknown “Fox and Friends” program guest to arrive (who turned out to be Gov. Richardson). I split the rest of my morning between our workspace in the lower level of the Cushing Student Center, the debate hall, and the Fox newsroom.

Throughout the day, I utilized my “all-access-passes” to gain admittance to a number of events. One of my first stops was the Dana Center, which today played host to a group of students who are serving as stand-ins for the candidates who will appear on stage Saturday evening. Students were advised to spend the past few weeks reviewing previous debate transcripts and video, essentially learning and duplicating their candidate’s debate style. From our perch in the audience, we were able to capture the students in action as the ABC staff rehearsed their camera angles and other debate-night logistics.

Student Interview with College PresidentMy next stop was the first floor of Alumni Hall, with Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., president of the college. I sat down in his office, overlooking the commotion on the quad for an interview on Saint Anselm’s participation in hosting such high-profile events. Father Jonathan offered a candid, and intriguing bit of insight on how and why Saint Anselm College has become a must-stop on the New Hampshire Primary trail.

As the day turned to evening, I returned to the Dana Center, meeting up with the executive vice president of the college, Marie George. Together, we made our way inside the closed set to watch Charles Gibson deliver World News Tonight live on ABC. With less than ten minutes to go, Gibson took to the stage. Two minutes before air, the producers announced that everyone in the audience would be seen in several shots that would be seen on the broadcast. Thirty seconds before air, silence fell over the room, monitors throughout the hall came up with the live feed, and World News Tonight went live. A few minutes into the broadcast, George Stephanopoulos joined Mr. Gibson on stage (one that he will utilize Sunday morning for his own program) to provide commentary and analysis on Iowa results, and New Hampshire predictions. I have to say, having the headlines of the day delivered in person is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

ABC Anchor at Dana CenterBack in the workspace now, We’re monitoring Fox News programming originating from above our heads on the second floor. In about an hour, I’ll be heading outside to cover ABC’s Nightline on the quad, before calling it a night — for about five hours — and starting again before dawn on debate day.

Primary Preparations: Cold Temps Result in Flurry of Action

January 3, 2008

Inside the Fox Box (Facing Goulet Science)A bone chilling wind is cutting through the single-digit temps on the campus of Saint Anselm College today, all while work continues at a heightened pace to prepare for the pending live broadcasts of Fox News Channel and ABC News.

On the Quad, Fox News employees and Saint Anselm College students are working in unison to finalize the Fox Box, the mobile studio that will be utilized in coming days for live programming. Inside the Cushing Student Center, students and production staff have transformed the normally quaint upper level of the student building into a working newsroom that will shortly be staffed 24 hours a day with correspondents from Fox partners around the world.

IMG_0262.JPGAt the Dana Center, ABC is putting the finishing touches on the debate set. On Thursday evening, students were acting as candidate stand-ins, helping the ABC News staff rehearse the pending back-to-back live debates on Saturday night. Next door at Davison Hall (the college dining facility) ABC staff are utilizing every corner of the building as their debate headquarters.

There is literally no corner of campus that remains untouched by the debate preprations. At the main entrance to the college a grassy area has been plowed to allow for campaign supporters to gather on debate day. The quad is collecting satellite trucks and live shot locations by the hour as additional crews arrive. In the following hours, the Carr Center will be transformed into the media file center (which will soon be home to several hundred journalists from around the world).

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