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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Local soldier describes humanitarian mission in Afghanistan

By Michele Bourdieu, with photos and captions by Erik Campbell

Editor's Update, Dec. 9, 2010: Keweenaw Now was asked to remove several photos from the original version of this article for security reasons.

CALUMET -- U.S. Army 1st Lt. Erik Campbell of Calumet, who recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, is a different kind of soldier.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Erik Campbell spent some vacation time in Calumet with his parents, Anita and Paul Campbell, after his recent return from a humanitarian assignment in Afghanistan. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

In 2008, shortly after graduating from Northern Michigan University with a major in International Studies (including overseas study in Morocco) and ROTC, Campbell spent a year in the Army's Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. He spent three months of that year in Army Ranger School specialized leadership training before being sent to a remote area of Afghanistan, in the Shaunkrai Valley, about 100 miles from Kabul.

Since Campbell's unit (the 10th Mountain Division) was already in Afghanistan when he returned to Ft. Drum, New York, after his training course, he flew to his Afghanistan assignment alone. On arrival at Bagram Airfield, he actually ran into his former National Guard unit from Calumet (1431st Engineering Co.), who were about to return home.

"I saw some friendly faces," he said.

The area of Campbell's assignment included a number of villages the Army wanted to influence through communication and humanitarian aid, with the help of USAID (United States Agency for International Development). The Army's hope is to establish trusting relationships with local leaders so that the villagers won't be allied with the Taliban.

"We figured they were on the fence," Campbell said. "We didn't know if the Taliban was communicating with them, because they were so close to the Pakistan border."

One idea was to build a road in the area and have the villagers work on the road. It would provide employment for people from eight villages.

Campbell noted an important part of his assignment was to develop relationships with local police departments, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan border police.

"We worked with those three bodies, and we tried to partner up with them as much as we could and to give these guys a mission," he said.

Some types of aid would be given to the people through the local police, in order to give them a better image.

It was essential to develop a relationship with the village elders, who usually trusted the Afghan military more than they did the American soldiers, Campbell noted.

"Once you got into these villages you'd try to summon the elders," he said.

This was important, he explained, because without elder support people wouldn't come out of their houses and speak to you.

Campbell's team worked closely with a group of American anthropologists working in the area.

"These guys knew all about the culture. They knew the language, and they would just help us get to know the people and what's going on in these villages."

One anthropologist working with Campbell's team was making a reference guide for the area. Like the Army team, he was working with a USAID developer.

Campbell soon realized how valuable the Ranger training was for his job of bringing humanitarian aid to Afghan villages. He first had to communicate with Afghan village leaders through an interpreter in order to find out what sort of projects were needed. These could range from books for a school to bridges, wells, roads, etc.

Campbell said he made his own reference guide of names and phone numbers of the elders. Most of the elders had cell phones or access to them.

"You have to have a tool kit," Campbell said. "You can't be one-dimensional. You can't just have the ability to pull a trigger. You must be able to communicate, inspire and provide guidance."

Campbell said his job involved leading a fire team of about five soldiers from his platoon of 35 into a village to find out what sort of aid the people needed. Each time he takes a team into a village, a 360-degree perimeter of vehicles surrounds it for protection.

"The main mission was humanitarian over there," he said. "It wasn't an active war where I was."

Nevertheless, the danger of a Taliban attack -- especially the possibility of being hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) -- was still present.

"That's the number-one killer," Campbell said.

One of these, with 75 lb. of explosives, did hit a vehicle in his convoy; but, thanks to the protective technology of the vehicle, no one was killed, although the gunner, positioned on top, had a concussion. The vehicle is called an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protector). Campbell described it as being like a Brinks armored car. These large, bullet-proof vehicles also protect against IEDs.

Here our mission was to bring a U.S. State Department representative to a meeting regarding the district government. Communication and cooperation with these local officials was just as important as getting along with the village elders. Here you see the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protector) vehicles we used for daily patrols parked as we waited for the meeting to finish.*

Campbell said the Infantry Officer Training he received was conventional, but the Ranger leadership training taught him to adapt -- to be flexible as well as decisive.

"It's not a conventional war anymore, so it takes leaders that know how to communicate," Campbell said. "You need to be able to turn off this conventional way of thinking 'He's the enemy.' It's not black and white. He might be with the Taliban, but at this time he's what we have so we have to work with him."

Campbell spent three months in Afghanistan and said he would like to return to work there again.

"That's my job," he said. "I think the Army needs good people to be in these leadership positions -- people that understand you need to communicate. It's not always going to be a fight."

Editor's Notes:

*The Afghanistan photos in this article, and captions by Erik Campbell, are printed with permission. Please note that photos by visiting photographers are copyrighted and you must seek their permission for re-use. For Keweenaw Now photos, please see our policy under Creative Commons.

President Obama visited some of the American troops and Coalition partners at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan Sunday, March 28, during an unannounced visit for a discussion with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. See the New York Times article. See also the video of President Obama's speech: "My job here today is to say 'thank you' on behalf of the entire American people," Obama said to the troops.

Keweenaw Now says "thank you" to Erik Campbell for his humanitarian work and for the interview, photos and captions.

What Health Care Reform Means for You

By Senator Carl Levin*

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- The long debate over health care reform has concluded. What we have achieved will make a real and lasting positive difference for Michigan families, those who now have insurance and those who lack it.

Despite claims that the reforms we have passed are some sort of radical, government takeover of our health care system, the legislation we have approved makes careful changes designed to make our health care system work better for all of us. Instead of scrapping the current system, in which most Americans get their insurance through their employer, we have made it more secure. Most of the 176 million Americans who get their insurance through their job will see few changes, and those they do see will mean more affordable and effective coverage.

Some changes will happen soon. Some small businesses will receive a tax cut to make it more affordable to provide insurance to their employees. Within six months, insurers will be required to allow women to see an ob-gyn without prior approval, and to let parents keep coverage for their children until age 26. Insurers will be prohibited in most cases from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions. By October, the federal government will begin helping states set up agencies to help consumers shop for the best coverage and to file complaints against unfair decisions by their current insurance company.

The new law means immediate improvements for seniors receiving Medicare. This year, we will begin closing the gap in prescription drug coverage known as the "doughnut hole" by providing a $250 credit to seniors who fall into it. Also, seniors on Medicare will be entitled to preventive care without facing co-payments or deductibles.

Because health care is so complex, other changes will take time to implement. Eventually, insurers will be barred from denying coverage to people of all ages based on pre-existing conditions, eliminating a key source of the uncertainty many Americans feel about the dependability of their insurance. Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage based on annual or lifetime limits and for charging exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. They will no longer be allowed to charge higher premiums for women based simply on gender.

We also take a host of steps to reduce another source of insecurity: the rising cost of health care, cost that threatens to put insurance out of reach for many Americans and to bankrupt our nation. Reform will bring more transparency and accountability to the insurance market, giving consumers a chance to see what they’re buying and get more bang for their buck. We will end wasteful subsidies to insurance companies that provide Medicare coverage. We will establish a panel of experts to recommend ways to provide better health care to Medicare beneficiaries at lower cost.

And we have done what Congress has all too often failed to do: pay for these changes responsibly. The wealthiest Americans -- families with more than $250,000 in annual income -- will pay slightly higher Medicare taxes. We will crack down on complex financial schemes that serve no economic purpose except to dodge taxes. And we will impose fees on the medical device makers, drug companies and insurers that will gain new customers because of our reforms. Thanks to these steps, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates health care reform will reduce the budget deficit by more than $140 billion over the first 10 years after enactment and by more than $1 trillion over the second decade.

While doing all this, we will give more than 30 million Americans who are now without insurance the ability to purchase affordable coverage that meets basic quality standards. For too long, too many of our fellow citizens have been without this basic necessity.

While the debate over reform has been heated and all too often marked by distortions and untruths, the insurance reforms I’ve described are broadly popular, from what I hear from so many Michiganians. For Michigan and for the nation, health care reform is a historic victory, one I’m proud Congress has been able to accomplish.

* Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

Editor's Note: This editorial is courtesy Sen. Carl Levin's office. It is reprinted here with permission.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Calumet Art Center to offer Twining classes Apr. 5, 12, 26

CALUMET -- On three Mondays in April, the Calumet Art Center will offer a series of three classes in Twining and Twined Rag Rugs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The classes will meet April 5, 12 and 26. Fiber artist Lynn Anderson will be the instructor.

Sample of a rug made with twining technique. (Photo courtesy Calumet Art Center)

There is a worldwide rediscovery and revival of traditional handwork of our ancestors. Twining, a traditional weaving technique of creating colorful, durable, heirloom woven rag rugs is an easily learned and relaxing skill using simple tools, equipment and scrap fabric.

Aida Ibraeva, a visitor from Kyrgystan, checks out one of the looms in the Calumet Art Center during the March 5 First Friday event. These looms are now available for classes in the Center, including the Twining class that begins Monday, April 5. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The cost is $50 plus the material fee ($45 for wool). You may bring your own wool and not pay the material fee if you prefer. The Art Center provides looms. Pre-registration and payment are a must, since student space is limited. Some space is still available for these classes. Pre-register now!

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth Street, Calumet (in the remodeled church, near the Keweenaw Heritage Center).

Check out the Calumet Art Center Web site, call 906-281-3494 or email info@calumetartcenter for more information.

Stupak: Setting the record straight on Health Care Reform

By U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee)

WASHINGTON, DC -- I am writing this op-ed to set the record straight, answer questions, and clarify the significant role I was able to play in the historic health care legislation passed by Congress.

During my 18 years as a member of Congress, I have cast some very difficult votes. These include issues such as declaring war in Iraq and Afghanistan, military action in Bosnia and Kosovo, the impeachment of President Clinton and my vote in favor of the Clinton Deficit Reduction Package in 1993. My recent vote on health care reform was the most difficult yet.

My staff and I spent many hours reading the legislation, conducting research and talking with constituents in northern Michigan and throughout the country. In the final analysis, I was proud to vote for this historic legislation that will provide 32 million more Americans with access to affordable, quality health insurance. This legislation will provide important consumer protections and will keep families who require medical care from declaring bankruptcy.

H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is good for America and it is good for northern Michigan. Under this legislation 44,000 uninsured residents in Michigan’s First Congressional District will have access to affordable health care.

Small businesses immediately receive tax credits to assist owners in providing health care coverage for employees. Consumer protections prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions, extend insurance coverage for dependent children up to age 26, prevent health plans from dropping insurance coverage when people become sick, and eliminate lifetime caps so insurance coverage doesn’t run out before treatment is complete.

For seniors, health care reform includes key improvements to Medicare. H.R. 3590 will immediately begin to close the Medicare prescription drug donut hole by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Ultimately the donut hole will be closed completely to ensure that seniors pay less out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. The bill will also eliminate Medicare co-payments for annual physical exams and preventative screenings beginning January 1, 2011.

Last November with the Stupak amendment, I was successful in making sure the health care reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives maintained current law as stated in the Hyde language of no public funding for abortions. I was disappointed the Senate could not uphold my language and only mustered 45 pro-life votes, far short of the 60 votes needed to keep the amendment intact.

Many of my Democratic pro-life colleagues and I worked tirelessly leading up to the final vote on health care to strengthen the abortion funding restrictions. We proposed numerous procedural and legislative options to strengthen the language, but ultimately all of our efforts required the 60 votes which we could not secure in the Senate.

Once it was clear that House leadership would eventually secure the necessary 216 votes to pass health care reform, I was left with a choice: vote against the legislation with inadequate protections for life or reach an agreement that prevents federal funding for abortions.

Therefore, I and other pro-life Democrats negotiated an agreement with President Obama to issue an Executive Order that would ensure that Hyde language protections of no public funding for abortions would apply to the health care reform bill. The president himself has said this Executive Order is "iron clad." Throughout history, Executive Orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy.*

To further protect against federal funding for abortion, during floor debate on the health care reform bill I engaged in a colloquy with Chairman Henry Waxman to make clear Congressional intent that the provisions in the health care reform legislation, combined with the Executive Order, will ensure no federal funding of abortions.

I have said from the start that my goal was to see health care reform for all Americans while maintaining the longstanding principle of the sanctity of life. The president’s Executive Order upholds this principle and current law that no federal funds will be used for abortion. I am pleased I was able to hold true to my principles and vote for a health care bill that is pro-life at every stage of life and provides 32 million more Americans with access to quality, affordable health care.

Editor's Notes: Keweenaw Now is publishing this op-ed piece in its entirety. Congressman Stupak's office sent it to us with a request that we share it with our readers.

* See the March 25, 2010, article, "Stupak attends Executive Order signing."

See also our Jan. 9, 2010, article, "Stupak attracts large crowd at town hall meeting in Houghton."

Calumet galleries to hold First Friday art receptions Apr. 2

CALUMET -- First Friday, April 2, in Calumet will include several exhibit openings and art activities -- free and open to the public.

Copper Country Associated Artists offer creative art session

The Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) studio gallery will host a creative First Friday session on Artist Trading Cards.

CCAA members, from left, Ginny Douglas, Dolly Luoma and Fredi Taddeucci stir the creative mind to produce mini Trading Cards at the CCAA Studio/Gallery. (Photos courtesy Miriam Pickens)

You’re not going to find Artist Trading Cards packaged with bubble gum. Each one is completely unique. They have the same size and shape as baseball cards, but they are hand created pieces of art. The back is reserved for the details: title, date, name of artist and other information so they become a memory for yourself or a piece to trade with a friend or another artist you might meet or other friends or relations.

Join CCAA members, Ginny Douglas, Dolly Luoma, Fredi Taddeucci and Edith Wiard and together create these wonderful little works of your Art presented in a very small space. They are expressions of your own personality. They’re prettier than baseball cards and are wonderful objects to bring along when you travel. You can display them on a shelf, or store them in a binder…regardless…they’re fun to create and great to collect and trade.

The Copper Country Associated Artists invite you to create these cards using materials we love to share and to show and trade ones you may already have. Come join us anytime from 6:30 p.m. until about 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 2, and express your creative self.

First Friday CCAA demonstrations are an opportunity to introduce visitors to a variety of arts and fine craft techniques by some of the area’s most talented practitioners.

The CCAA Gallery is located at 112 Fifth Street in Calumet. Winter Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. First Fridays, the Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information about the CCAA call 906-337-1252 or visit our web site at More than 50 years supporting artists and the arts.

Vertin Gallery to host reception for Paul Osmak Exhibit

An opening reception for "What You See Is What You Get," an exhibit of works by Paul Osmak, will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 2, at the Vertin Gallery, 220 6th Street, Calumet. The exhibit will continue through April 28.

"Evening Concert," by Paul Osmak. Acrylic 1990-2010. (Photo courtesy Vertin Gallery)

Paul Osmak is an acrylic artist who depicts an array of local scenes, from downtown Calumet to a winter view of the Quincy mine hoist. His unique vision is immediately recognizable by his use of light, color and content. His works have become very collectable.

Osmak says this about himself: "I’m 80 years old. I’ve been painting (off and on -- now and then) since I was 21 years old.I paint more in the winter time than during the summer. I have had many different kinds of jobs: everything from lumberjack, barber, factory worker, underground copper mine worker, dish washer, to working in the engine room of Great Lakes freighters."

The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery all-media show to open April 2

First Friday at the Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery will feature the opening of "Games from the Artists," an open, juried, all-media show on exhibit from April 2 to May 4, 2010.

The opening reception will be from 6:30 p.m.– 9 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery is at 109 Fifth Street, Calumet. For more information call 337-5970.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Joyce Koskenmaki to exhibit book illustrations, paintings at Reflection Gallery Apr. 1-25

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery will host an exhibit of book illustrations and paintings by local artist Joyce Koskenmaki April 1 to April 25, 2010.

Book illustration by artist Joyce Koskenmaki. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception and artist talk will take place from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, at the Reflection Gallery in the Jutila Center. The reception is open to the public and refreshments will be served.

In the exhibit, Koskenmaki presents a collection of illustrations she produced for the book Naked in the Stream: The Isle Royale Stories, by Vic Foerster, which will be published April 15 by Arbutus Press. In these drawings, Koskenmaki infuses the imagery often found in her paintings -- land, sea, animals and boats -- into Foerster’s storyline.

"Following her experience drawing the book illustrations, Koskenmaki created a number of paintings inspired by the drawings," says Reflection Gallery Director Amanda Moyer. "Those paintings are also part of this exhibition."

The process of creating book illustrations was new to Koskenmaki.

"This experience of four months of intense drawing has had a strong effect on my work," she explains. "The first painting I did after the drawings was ‘Boat and Stars,’ and the publisher decided to use it for the cover of Foerster’s book."

"Boat and Stars," a painting by Joyce Koskenmaki.

Concerning Naked in the Stream, Koskenmaki says, "The stories (in the book) are really about the relationship between people and the environment, so if I left out the people, there would still be sufficient imagery to express the meanings."

Koskenmaki has engaged in many artists-in-residence programs in her career, including one on Isle Royale in 1998. Since then, she has visited the island four additional times.

On her most recent visit, in preparation for creating the book illustrations, Koskenmaki observed, "The area of the island where I had spent my residencies was not the one that is covered in the book. I had to find out what the rest of the island looked and felt like."

So she took the ferry around the island, "seeing the beautiful coves on the way to Windigo, the cliffs along the north side, McCargo Cove, the smaller islands including Dead Horse Rocks, and how the terrain changed," noting that many of Foerster’s experiences take place in and around boats.

Koskenmaki earned a Master's in Fine Arts (MFA) in painting from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a BA from Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. Her artwork is exhibited and collected internationally. Koskenmaki has taught around the country, including at Finlandia University.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, 200 Michigan St., Hancock. For additional information, please contact Yueh-mei Cheng, associate professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or

Student art exhibit opening, fashion show at Finlandia Gallery Apr. 1

This weaving by Finlandia Fiber Arts major Amanda Moyer of Livonia, Mich., was exhibited in the 2009 Juried Student Exhibition by Finlandia's International School of Art and Design. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK, -- A juried exhibit of Finlandia University student artwork is featured at the Finlandia University Gallery April 1 through April 21, 2010.

A reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1, 2010, with a fashion show at 7:15 p.m. Awards for excellence will be presented at the opening. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"The annual juried exhibit showcases the growing talent of Finlandia art and design students and provides an opportunity for community members to purchase student artwork," notes Carrie Flaspohler, director of the Finlandia University Gallery.

The exhibition includes works by International School of Art and Design students studying drawing, painting, illustration, photography, ceramic and glass design, fiber and fashion design, sculpture, product and interior design, graphic design, digital media, and mixed media/installation.

Pamela Kotila, Finlandia senior art and design student, designed this dress and exhibited it at the 2009 Juried Student Exhibit.

The three-person exhibition jury includes a Finlandia faculty member, a community member and a Finlandia graduating art and design senior.

"Every year I look forward to listening to the wonderful discussions about ideas and aesthetics that take place during the jurying process," says Flaspohler. "The thought, ideals, and just plain hard work that are clearly invested in these student pieces always inspire me."

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Peace Corps lauds Michigan Tech, Portage Health for Master's International programs

By Michele Bourdieu*

HOUGHTON -- This year Michigan Technological University celebrates 15 years of commitment to the United States Peace Corps Master's International Program (PCMI), which allows Peace Corps Volunteers to combine two years of service in developing countries with graduate study leading to a master's degree. Michigan Tech has seven PCMI programs with 58 students now enrolled and 97 who have completed the program and served overseas. It's the largest PCMI Program in the nation.

Forestry Professor Blair Orr, standing at left, who started Michigan Tech's Peace Corps Master's International (PCMI) program in 1995, introduces Eric Goldman, second from right, national manager of the PCMI program, at a luncheon held March 30 in the Memorial Union Building's Alumni Lounge. Also pictured are, counter-clockwise from far right, Carrie Cruz, recruiter from the Peace Corps' Chicago Regional Office; Goldman; Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz; Jackie Huntoon, Dean of the Graduate School; Karin Van Dyke, Portage Health vice-president of Communication and Human Resources; Diane Gadomski, vice-president of Portage Medical Group, which offers medical services to PCMI students at a discount; and Max Seel, Michigan Tech provost and vice-president for Academic Affairs. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

On Tuesday, March 30, Eric Goldman, national manager of the PCMI program, recognized Michigan Tech's accomplishment -- not only for the number of volunteers these programs train, but for the quality of their work.

"We’re fortunate to have Michigan Tech people involved in Peace Corps," Goldman said. "They are premier Peace Corps volunteers, and we extend our thanks to you for what you have created. It’s astonishing."

Of the 61 universities now offering PCMI programs, none comes close to Michigan Tech in commitment and accomplishment, Goldman added.

"There are countries around the world that want Michigan Tech (Masters International) volunteers," he said.

Goldman presented an award to Blair Orr, Forestry professor, who started Michigan Tech's first PCMI program in 1995, the Loret Miller Ruppe Master’s International Program in Forestry, and who still directs this and six more programs that have been established -- in applied natural resource economics, natural hazards mitigation (geology), civil and environmental engineering, science education, rhetoric and technical communication, and mechanical engineering.

"Blair is an absolute blessing," Goldman said. "He deserves every accolade for what he's accomplished here, and he does a superb job in keeping me and keeping Peace Corps honest."

Goldman also expressed Peace Corps’ gratitude to Portage Health, which provides a discount of up to 30 percent toward the cost of Michigan Tech’s PCMI students’ medical examinations.

Eric Goldman, right, national manager of the PCMI program, presents a plaque of appreciation to Portage Health, represented by, second from right, Diane Gadomski, vice-president of Portage Medical Group, and Karin Van Dyke, Portage Health vice-president of Communication and Human Resources, a Michigan Tech Forestry alumna. Seated at left is Blair Orr, who started the PCMI program in Forestry in 1995 and who also received a plaque from Goldman.

"To be a Peace Corps volunteer requires a rigorous medical process," said Goldman. "It’s a considerable expense, and Peace Corps only provides a small amount. I don’t know of anyone besides Portage Health who has done this. It’s a fantastic example of corporate social responsibility."

Goldman also noted an eighth PCMI program is being planned for Michigan Tech's Biology Department. It will include health education, environmental education and science teaching.

"We think the students coming from the Biology Department will be equipped to serve as volunteers in these areas," Goldman said.

Ron Gratz, Michigan Tech biology professor, and Karyn Fay, professor of practice in clinical lab science, said plans for the new program could include clinical laboratory science.

"The American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is trying to get an international presence, and we thought this would be a good way to make that happen," Fay explained. "They've already got a presence in some of the same countries as the Peace Corps and we're trying to piggy-back resources together to make it more effective."

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz accepted a plaque from Goldman that expresses the Peace Corps’ appreciation to the University community. It reads, "Your extraordinary commitment to, and accomplishment in, the Master’s International program has made significant contributions to the lives of thousands of people around the world."

Mroz was involved with the program from the start and recalled the first group heading out to Camp Alberta, where they learned "guts forestry" in preparation for their Peace Corps assignment.

"From those five students, we’ve grown to the largest program in the US," he said.

The program also benefits the University by bringing a diverse mix of students to campus, where they undergo two semesters of intensive academic preparation before entering Peace Corps.

"It’s not high paying," Mroz said. "But as an experience, Peace Corps is priceless. They learn that you can make a significant impact on people’s lives for a long time to come, and I think that part -- fostering that spirit at Michigan Tech -- has been really important."

Mroz noted that spirit is present in other programs of the university, where many faculty members, like Blair Orr, are returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Max Seel, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, was Dean of Sciences and Arts in the early days of Michigan Tech's PCMI Program.

"I was involved in some of the process of getting the Masters International Program options approved," Seel noted, "and I'm always happy if we can add more options, as currently is happening in biological sciences."

Jackie Huntoon, dean of Michigan Tech's Graduate School, said she's very proud of the PCMI program.

"It's something that sets Michigan Tech apart from other universities, especially those that focus on science and engineering," Huntoon said. "A lot of our students are interested in service learning, so this gives them a clear opportunity to do that."

Matthew Kucharski of Tombstone, Ariz., is a Michigan Tech PCMI student who did his two-year service in the Philippines, working in coastal resource management.

"I loved it," Kucharski said, "I love the Philippines."

Kucharski's work in the Philippines involved conservation of coastal resources, habitats for fish.

"One of the big things they're encouraging in the Philippines is the concept of marine sanctuaries," he explained. "Overfishing is a huge problem."

Kucharski is presently studying groundwater under John Gierke, interim chair and professor in geological engineering. Although Kucharski began Peace Corps training in the environmental engineering program, his overseas experience led to a master's degree project in water resources and hydrology.

Coming from a dry area of the US, Arizona, Kucharski is well aware of the need for research and work in this area and plans to pursue a career either in the Western US or in the developing world.

Volunteer Julie Herrick recently returned from her Peace Corps assignment in Panama and is completing her master’s degree at Michigan Tech. For her, the program offered a way to conduct research and get involved in community service.

"I wanted a practical way to apply what I knew as a geologist in context. It was a commitment," she said. "But it was the right way to go about this."

Carrie Cruz, a recruiter from the Peace Corps' Chicago Regional Office, also spoke on campus in conjunction with Goldman's visit. She held an information session for students on Tuesday evening, March 30. Anyone with an interest in the Peace Corps can contact her at

Visit the Peace Corps Web site for more information:

For information on Michigan Tech's Peace Corps Master's International programs, visit their Web site, which has links to each individual program:

To read about individual students in the Forestry PCMI program, the oldest at Michigan Tech, and to access their email adventures and photos, click here.

Also, on our original Keweenaw Now Web site, you can read an article by and about Amber Kenny of Houghton, who served in Togo, West Africa, through the Michigan Tech Forestry PCMI program.

*Editor's Note: Thanks to Marcia Goodrich, senior writer for Michigan Tech, who shared with us the press release that contributed to this article.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Finlandia to hold Blood Drive March 31

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Student Nurses Association, in cooperation with the Western UP Regional Blood Center, will conduct a blood drive from noon to 3:45 p.m. this Wednesday, March 31, at Finlandia Hall, the university’s residence hall, on Summit Street, Hancock.

An appointment is not necessary. Blood donors should bring a driver’s license or other picture ID.

For additional information, please contact nursing instructor Meta Bray at 906-487-7357.