May 18, 2009

Marymount Lecture Looks at Life Outside Auschwitz

Shayna Sorrentino, president of Marymount College’s Jewish Student Union, is a young woman with a purpose. She wants to explore what connects us - and separates us - in our faiths. More importantly, she wants to share the Jewish heritage of faith and perseverance with both the Marymount and South Bay Community. To that end, Shayna invited Palos Verdes resident Robert Geminder to the campus to speak about his experiences as a child in Poland during World War II – not inside a camp, but outside as he tried to escape the Nazi tyranny.

“So many of us have heard of the horrors in the concentration camps but Mr. Geminder lived through a much different horror. As a child he witnessed atrocities; he knew what would happen if he and his family were ever caught. I can’t imagine where that fortitude comes from – nor can I imagine how he went on to become such a productive citizen after that. I think we will all learn a lot from his experiences.”

Indeed, Mr. Geminder has a lot to say about staying alive, the dedication of family and the importance of faith. Because of a resourceful mother, he escaped the Jewish ghetto before it was razed, scrambled through a hole in the top of a train car as it sat idle 100 yards from Auschwitz and masqueraded as a Christian only to have to escape again when the Nazis decided to kill Jew and Christian alike.

This is a story of amazing courage and resilience. Shayna Sorrentino and Marymount are excited to welcome Mr. Geminder to our campus on April 29. Admission is free. The event will be held in the Marymount Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.

Artfully Crafted: Students Bring It Home

Under a hot sun on a beautiful Palos Verdes Saturday, over 50 Marymount College students joined staff and faculty to build a house right in the College’s parking lot.

This wasn’t just any house and these weren’t just any students: the loft house is destined for a needy family in Mexico and the majority of students were freshman participating in orientation week.

With the help of Hands of Mercy, the 12 foot square pre-fabricated loft home was constructed in panels. Slowly the peak of the roof, the staircase to the loft, and the walls of the home came into focus until everyone wielding a hammer or using a saw had to pause and smile at the fruits of their labor. But that Saturday they wouldn’t see the final product. When all was said and done, each piece of the house was loaded on a trailer to be trucked to Mexico. The students and their advisors will follow to the small town outside of Ensenada where they will finish their mission. The house will be put together, painted and presented to the family who will live in it.

Victoria Boyd, a freshman from Rancho Palos Verdes, and Anthony “Chip” Angeles of Manhattan Beach, both hope to be one of the 25 students chosen to accompany the house to Mexico.

“I wanted to get involved from day one,” Victoria said. “I got a chance to meet people. After today, I hope I get a chance to follow this project through to the end.”

That sentiment was echoed by Chip Angeles who made the day of service a family affair. His mother – dressed in a ‘Marymount Mom’ T-shirt – pitched in alongside her son. Chip pointed out that he has “always liked helping and giving back.”

The family in Mexico is lucky indeed; Marymount is luckier still to have Victoria, Chip and so many other wonderful young people in our student body.

Marymount College Café Takes a Bite Out of Climate Change

Did you know that the lunch at Bon Appetit, Marymount College’s Café, has the power to raise or lower the temperature of the planet?

Take a common lunch favorite, the burger.  Beef is a carbon-intensive food, as is cheese. Even lettuce and tomato have a real impact if purchased out-of-season.

So what lunch can you munch with a clear conscience? At Marymount College, according to Donna Novotney, General Manager of the Bon Appétit Company on campus, it’s easy to enjoy a planet-friendly lunch.

Starting on Low Carbon Diet Day, menu options at the Marymount Cafe will be designed so that no one has to give up on favorites. The event will demonstrate how to make that beloved, high-carbon beef burger more eco-friendly.

Take that burger, for instance. Skip the cheese and the bacon, and swap out-of-season lettuce and tomato for a tasty lower-carbon alternative like grilled onions. Opt for a Chicken Cesear salad or better yet, a vegetarian dish instead of the high-carbon beef burger. Tips to save the planet are even as simple as eating everything you put on your plate, or taking home the leftovers so that spoiling food doesn’t release gasses into the atmosphere.

The Café has educational materials and information about what students and the community can do to lower the carbon footprint of their food while at school, shopping, at home and when eating out. Also available is an online personal calculator to tally your meal’s carbon score:

“As food manager, I’m constantly looking for ways to enhance the quality of our meals. Taking steps to do that while helping the environment is the icing on the cake – so to speak,” Donna says with a smile.

Nationally, the goal of Bon Appetit Management Company’s Low Carbon Diet is to reduce by 25% emissions from the foods that have the highest impact on climate change. To reach that goal, Bon Appetit is purchasing all meats and vegetables from North America, reducing the amount of beef and cheese served, eliminating air-freighted seafood, and decreasing purchases of tropical fruits. Reducing packaging, limiting use of disposable containers and minimizing food waste are also part of the Low Carbon Diet. And local, seasonal foods remain the focus of the menu.

Marymount Professor turns Film Director

Marymount Professor Bruce Schwartz debuts "Dark Canvas"