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Beyond the 40 Days

Posted by: on March 27, 2016   |Comments (0)|Prayer

By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17 

I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way to work on temperance and my relationship with God, but it is also difficult because nobody really enjoys giving things up for Lent. You at least have to enjoy whatever it is that you are giving up, hence the difficulty of giving up something for Lent. I once had to explain this to one of my first grade CCD students in a conversation that went like this:

Me: “So, have any of you decided what you are giving up for Lent?”

Boy [raises hand]: “Yes! I am giving up chocolate cake!”

Me: “Ok great! Do you really like chocolate cake?”

Boy: “Oh no! I hate chocolate cake! I only eat vanilla!”

Me: “Oh that’s not quite how Lent is supposed to work.”

I then went on to explain how you are supposed to give up something that you actually like and enjoy, which is far from what my student had been planning on doing.

We all associate Lent with something that we have to give up, and then the joy of getting to go back to eating that chocolate or scrolling on Facebook once Easter comes. This year, I am challenging myself to grow in other ways during Lent. I know that just giving up a food will mean that I start eating it again after Lent. While that forces discipline, I know that it won’t have long lasting effects for me. Instead, I am working on eating healthy to work on overall health. Additionally, as a way to bridge health and the discipline of sacrificing, I am giving up the thing that we all know to well – scrolling through all of our social media accounts to see what we have missed in the past hour. My Lenten goal to work on this is that I am not allowed to go on social media when I am laying in bed because by giving this up, I am cutting back on my screen time as well as giving myself those few extra minutes for an earlier bedtime as well as nightly prayer. This leads me to the last part of what I am working on for Lent – my prayer life. This cannot be boiled down to one specific thing because I am working on this in a few different areas including Mass, Adoration, and reflection. These are all things that happen in my life already, but this Lent, I am working on increasing the frequency in a hope to deepen my prayer life and relationship with God.

This year, I am really working on having my Lenten goals be things that can continue after Easter and not just end after the 40 days. When giving things up for Lent as a kid, my dad used to always tell me, “You can do anything for 40 days.” This is very true because even difficult sacrifices can be made for 40 days. My goal this year though is to challenge myself to make my goals ones that last much longer than the 40 days. I think that this is something that we can all work on because Lent should be a time to reflect on ourselves and our own lives and make the changes that are necessary to prepare ourselves for Christ’s death as well as the redemption that comes with His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, but the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. Can we challenge ourselves to make our Lent something that affects us for not just 40 days but for 40 years?

By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17  I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way... MORE

Career Education

Volunteering – Making a Difference

Posted by: on April 22, 2016   |Comments (0)|Career Development

0240fb0[2]GUEST BLOGGER: Joe McCarthy, Career Coach, Center for Career Education & Professional Development at Providence College. Joe received a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the Jesuit University of Scranton and an M.A. in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University. He spent many years as a Human Resources professional in the insurance, banking, chemical and textile industries. He has been married for 49 years to his wife, Marlene, and they have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.


During my eight years working in PC’s Center for Career Education and Professional Development I have reviewed hundreds of remarkable resumes. I have always been impressed by the great variety and impact of the volunteer experiences of our PC students. Habitat for Humanity, Best Buddies, Relay for Life, tutoring students in after school programs, engaging with nursing home residents, helping HIV/AIDs affected children in South Africa, helping at Youth Pride — these are just a few examples.  The list of volunteering activities is amazing and just goes on and on. The mission of Providence College is definitely being lived out in the lives of PC students.

Sometimes the question is asked, “What are the benefits of volunteering”? My most typical answer is to suggest that the questioner should simply ask a volunteer. There are as many diverse answers as there are volunteers. Each person’s experience is unique.

I think of one of my own early volunteering experiences – spending a few hours on Saturday afternoons visiting with prisoners at the Berks County Jail in Pennsylvania. I can recollect being very anxious during my first visit. Just going through the prison’s security area into the locked enclosure was stressful for me. But I quickly deserted my dark mood once I began to chat with the inmates.  Listening to their stories and understanding their hopes and dreams of being reunited with their families made me aware of how many things we had in common.  I found myself coming out of my shell, talking about my limited life experiences and listening to advice shared from very different perspectives. There is no doubt in my mind that I gained more than I gave during those Saturday visits. We topped off our relationships by setting up two basketball games with my ragtag team and a very good prison team (they whipped us both times!).

Yes, volunteering helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves and others.  It is a chance to give and receive. As a student, the intent is definitely to give of yourself to others (the true self-giving love of Agape). One key result is the relationship that develops.

And there are broader –perhaps more pragmatic – impacts. When a recruiter reviews your resume or chats in an interview about your volunteer experience, you are providing clear insights into your character and your values. These are very important in hiring decisions.

So, I encourage you to continue your volunteering and perhaps expand your horizons. If you are a Senior who is beginning a new job this summer, see if the organization has some special volunteering opportunities and sign on. And Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors, consider trying a new volunteer experience during the summer. Think out of the box and explore a volunteer experience that will enable you to do something that, perhaps, has never been on your radar screen. Make this a summer to remember!

GUEST BLOGGER: Joe McCarthy, Career Coach, Center for Career Education & Professional Development at Providence College. Joe received a B.A. in... MORE

Digital Publishing

“Hamilton” and Digital Humanities

Posted by: on June 24, 2016   |Comments (0)|Digital Humanities

The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle for educating children and teens about the early history of the United States. Public interest in the Founding Fathers’ lives and views is high — at the moment, Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton is at the top of the NYT’s paperback nonfiction bestseller list, where it has resided for 35 weeks, and also appears on the e-book nonfiction bestseller list, while Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book on George Washington has a place on the hardcover list. Some die-hard musical fans have moved beyond the Chernow biography into primary sources like Aaron Burr’s journals and John Laurens’s letters.

It’s not only the musical’s content that’s gained a spot in the public eye, though — its critical acclaim and widespread popularity have meant that DH-esque projects relating to its lyrics have attracted mainstream attention of a kind that similar projects on other subjects rarely get. Raplyzer, Eric Malmi’s 2015 program analyzing assonance and other rhymes in rap lyrics, was covered in a handful of sources as a light “computers, whatever will they do next” story — the non-specialist sources largely focused on the aspect of the project where the computer generated raps of its own, rather than on its analysis. (It goes without saying that rhyme analysis tools developed by literature scholars for poetry, like this one by Elise Thorsen and David J. Birnbaum, don’t even get that media attention.) Meanwhile, in 2016, Hamilton’s reputation led the Wall Street Journal itself to develop an algorithm similar to Malmi’s to use on the show’s lyrics; due to the show’s broad appeal, this was widely shared online.

Although the website Genius, a database of rap lyrics and other content with crowdsourced annotations, had been widely covered before its association with Hamilton, observers took particular note of the speed and thoroughness with which the site’s users marked up the show’s libretto. Genius’s strength, as it related to Hamilton specifically, lay in the breadth of knowledge of its crowdsourcing crowd: hip-hop aficionados picked up the references to Grandmaster Flash, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, fans coming from a musical theatre background noticed the shout-outs to South Pacific and The Last Five Years, and history buffs provided more context for details that are elided or come up only in passing, like the Battle of Fort Necessity, the Whiskey Rebellion, Hercules Mulligan’s slave Cato, or New York’s prominence in the 1770s. These annotations help a reader understand the musical both as a 21st-century document and as a narrative of the 18th-19th century.

Crowdsourced digital humanities projects frequently deal with much larger corpora than this, which need to be put into indexable form before they can be used by researchers. Such projects are therefore less subjective and less demanding of subject area knowledge. A selection of crowdsourced DH projects:

Hamilton fans who would like to read the title character’s writings can find them at Founders Online. A few that may be of interest:

  • “The Farmer Refuted”, actually far more eloquently insulting than its paraphrase in the musical
  • First preserved letter from Hamilton to Eliza Schuyler, his future wife, apologizing for having offered to drive her and a friend to a party before remembering that he was not a good enough driver to do so
  • Draft of an Opinion on the Constitutionality of an Act to Establish a Bank, one of Hamilton’s most noted political successes. This draft, with cross-outs and additions, is an interesting look at Hamilton’s thought process!
  • Letters between Hamilton and Aaron Burr (1, 2, 3, 4) leading up to their duel, signed — indeed — “I have the honor to be your obedient servant, A. Hamilton/A. Burr”
  • And many more!

The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle... MORE

Elementary Special Education Abroad

Claire King’s Last Two Weeks: Final Experiences

Posted by: on December 3, 2015   |Comments (0)|Travel

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Hi everyone back in Providence! It is such an awesome opportunity to be able to write a little blog entry that may help some of you fellow EDU students make the decision to come explore Florence. It is a crazy feeling that two weeks from today, I will be on a plane traveling back to my real home. Just like it was hard saying goodbye to my home back in the United States, I feel like it is going to be just as hard to leave Florence. It’s the time that I have to start saying goodbye to a place that will always have a special part of my heart. Florence has become my home. When traveling home from weekends away in other countries or just walking home from classes throughout the week, I notice myself calling my apartment home. I have become so comfortable here in the past three months that it has similar feelings as when I am at my real home. Yes, you will miss your families, but I mean there’s nothing a good FaceTiming session with your loved ones can’t fix. Last week on Thanksgiving, I FaceTimed my whole family (all 47 of them) for about an hour, being passed down the line to talk to each of them. And when you do feel like you’re really missing your family, you will find that the women/men from the PC Elementary and Special Education Program become your family here.

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Florence symbol at Piazza Michelangelo.

With the thought of these next two weeks being my last in my Study Abroad experience, I am going to focus on not thinking about the future, but to live in the moment for these next two weeks. Friends and I have already started planning days around our class schedules for our last specific experiences in Florence. Planning our last Gusta Pizza, our last walk to Piazza Michelangelo, last De Neri Gelato, and even our last practicum experiences here in Florence. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I know I will always find my way back to this beautiful city. See you in two weeks America!

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Hi everyone back in Providence! It is such an awesome opportunity to be able to write a little blog entry that... MORE

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