Award-Winning Screenwriter Visits Scriptwriting Class

by: Sophia Pizzo

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(Donata Carelli, center, with Professor Louisa Burns-Bisogno, center right, and Burns-Bisogno’s screenwriting class)

On October 4th, the students of Professor Louisa Burns-Bisogno’s COM242 course, “Script Writing,” welcomed a very special guest. Italian writer Donata Carelli presented her film, 2 Euros an Hour, which won the Bronze Zenith award at the 2016 Montreal film festival. After the COM242 screening, students were able to ask Carelli about the screenwriting process and her inspirations for the film.

Set in the small town of Montemerano in Southern Italy, 2 Euros an Hour (known as Due euro l’ora in Italian) tells the story of Rosa, a seventeen-year-old girl who is eager to get away. Behind her father’s back, Rosa begins working at an illegal sweatshop under the rule of a cruel and abusive boss.There, she meets Gladys, a dressmaker starting her life over in Italy. Together, the two women form a close bond as they endure the trials of life and love.

2 Euros an Hour was inspired by the true news story of two women who died in a factory fire in Italy in 2006, working for just two euros an hour. The women were found in an embrace, which inspired Carelli to begin writing her film that same year. Ten years later, 2 Euros an Hour was finally released.

 

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Carelli said that she discovered her love for screenwriting by accident when her father signed her up for a screenwriting class. “Opportunities are always hidden behind something not so interesting,” said Carelli, who had been an aspiring journalist at the time. Her screenwriting teacher, and later mentor, was Ugo Pirro, writer of the 1970 award-winning Italian film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.

Though 2 Euros an Hour was based on a specific event, Carelli said that she can find inspiration from anywhere and anything. “If you give me a window, I can pull up a chair and dream,” said Carelli.

Above all, Carelli encouraged Professor Burns-Bisogno’s students to always keep an open mind towards new opportunities and inspirations. “The world is full of stories,” Carelli said.

Leaves Are Falling, I-84 is Crawling

by: Leslie Pizzagalli

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Being a commuter and a first-time transfer student is no simple task, and those of us who take four wheels to Western in the morning (or afternoon… or night…) can agree that I-84 is no joyride.

Nevertheless, the vibrant walkway of leaves during the first few months of the fall semester make the stop-and-start travel a little more bearable. Sometimes, those extra added minutes taking the backroads to avoid the highway make it all worth it. A peaceful early or midday afternoon cruise to campus can add a surge of color to a tedious trip. Being a student who commutes from a town over twenty minutes away, the tiny road trip to class is not the only thing that takes some getting used to. However, time management is an important factor to take into account when dashing from driver’s seat to desk.

Only a month or so in and it is likely that a WCSU commuter student begins to learn that a precious morning coffee run may just turn that stroll to class into a sprint. Every minute counts when it comes to making it on time to class, and factoring in the unpredictability of the freeway throws a wrench into the (home)works.

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Despite the usual stress of the rush, there is nothing quite like seeing a plethora of fall foliage on a crisp, colorful morning. When I am not hustling my way to class in the morning, I like to sit outside the student center under one of the numerous umbrella-shaded tables. The secluded setting is perfect for catching up on schoolwork and sightseeing the campus’ greenery.

The plummeting temperatures are approaching, but with this hot and cold yo-yoing weather, it is uncertain when I will have to pack up my backpack and head inside to locate a new homework hideaway. Until that unfortunate, chilly time comes, I will be outside basking in the changing of seasons.

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Western Writing Students Share Internship Experiences and Advice

by Sophie Pizzo

terriblepictureofpanelwow.JPGProfessor Roche, left, with speakers Markus Elken, Michael Medeiros, and Victoria Arbour

When it comes to internships, students often have a lot of questions. Internships can seem like mythical creatures, ever-elusive in today’s increasingly competitive job market. How do you find the internship that’s right for you? How do you even get started? The “Internships in Writing” panel aimed to answer those questions for writing students.

The event started off with a presentation from Dr. Anthony Ciarleglio, director of the Cooperative Education Internship Program at Western’s Career Success Center, which is now located on the Westside Campus. Dr. Ciarleglio explained that internships a great risk-free way for students to gain experience in their field, while also earning academic credit and building their resumés. Dr. Ciarleglio also emphasized how writing students can get ahead: “I don’t know of any position that doesn’t require strong writing skills,” he said.

After Dr. Ciarleglio’s presentation, Professor John Roche (who says he is a “cheerleader for internships”) gave his own advice and moderated a panel featuring three Western writing students.

Victoria Arbour, a student in Western’s MFA program, shared her experience interning as a social media coordinator for FirstLight Homecare. Arbour found her internship through a family friend on Facebook. “This opportunity can come from anywhere…so keep your eyes peeled for these kinds of opportunities. You never know where it might lead to,” said Arbour. She found that her writing skills helped in producing content for social media. “You can do a lot as a writer,” Arbour said. “Be willing to expand.”

Michael Medeiros, a journalism major, currently interns with CBS News in New York City as part of their News Path division. Medeiros has been involved in writing on campus, and encouraged other students to take advantage of the opportunities that Western offers, such as writing for The Echo or reaching out when opportunities arise. “If you see an opportunity where you think, ‘I can put it on my resume,’ you should do it. You have to do it!” said Medeiros.

Markus Elken, a major in business and technical writing, initially applied to 45 internships without getting one. Then, after visiting Western’s annual Career Fair with copies of his resume, Elken landed a marketing internship with Odyssey Logistics that later turned into a part-time job. He learned that “having solid, marketable writing skills is really important, regardless of what field you’re going into.”

With advice from Dr. Ciarleglio, Prof. Roche, and fellow writing majors, students left the event with the newfound knowledge to seek out an internship with confidence.

Connecticut Illustrators Featured at VPAC Art Gallery

By Emily Chauvin

People still walk in and say “Wow! I didn’t even know this was here!” The VPAC Art Gallery is one of the most valuable resources we have here at WCSU. Ideally, every student at Western should take a moment each semester to pop in and see the new exhibit.

The current exhibit is ‘Thinking Visually: The Art of Connecticut Illustrators.’ The mission of the gallery is to inspire and teach students with contemporary artists. Local artists have been brought together to show their work close to home, as Connecticut is to most Western students. The accomplishments of each artist is evident in the work they chose to show; James Grashow includes album covers he did for Jethro Tull and The Yard Birds; Bruce Degan brought exemplary work as the illustrator of The Magic School Bus; Christine Kornacki, Bill Thomson, Randall Enos, Robert Giusti, and Wendell Minor have all illustrated children’s books (some on display alongside their work); David Wenzel and Jon Sideriadis are renowned in the fantasy genre; Roger Hyussen has created poster art for Clint Eastwood movies, and Ross Macdonald creates ‘graphic props’ for movies and shows such as Boardwalk Empire; Guy Billout has published for over four decades in The New Yorker and other major publications, and Leslie Cober-Gentry’s lovely illustrations have made it onto high-end retail products. These artists have taken their talent on incredibly diverse pathways. An indispensable lesson for every student of art is the options that are available to make their way in the world, and that takes meeting your contemporaries and asking question.

An Artist Panel, moderated by Jack Tom, Associate Professor of Illustration, will take place Wednesday, November 15, at 6:30pm. Participating Artists include Bruce Degan, Randall Enos, James Grashow, Gerard Huerta, Christine Kornacki, Ross MacDonald, and David Wenzel. The panel is a great opportunity to hear the choices they have made in their careers, tricks of the trade, technical skills, artist secrets. Who knows what you’ll learn?

I never knew that tens of thousands of ‘graphic props’ such as letters, books, files, maps, and personal notebooks of vital characters all need to be created for movies and shows. How does he handle all that work? Ask Ross Macdonald. Additionally, the visual mastery of Christine Kornacki almost begs an explanation; how in the heck did she paint hair so realistically? Or the fog subtly billowing from a child’s mouth? And Bruce Degan, well, you can just shake his hand and get a little star-struck at the creator of your favorite cartoon. You can be there to meet these accomplished artists, and ask these vital questions.

Sitting the Bench

by Charles Feltch

While covering the Homecoming game for WCSU Football, a friend of mine in the stands who’s also a writing major asked me why there are so many players on the sidelines. I said there are more players and positions in football than most sports, and by extension there are more players who have to sit on the bench. My friend asked me why so many guys would put in all that time and work into practice if they’re just going to sit on the bench. I told her to write something about it, and she agreed. But she backed out, so I am taking the task up while she, figuratively, is going to sit on the bench.

The second string players; the backups; the replacements; the benchwarmers. Even if you don’t know sports, there’s a stigma attached to these types of players. What most people don’t know, even most who do know sports, is that these players are just as important as the starters. On any team, the small, weak second stringer who’s giving it their all in practice could be a wake-up call to the starter who’s taking it too easy. The practice team who manages to overcome the starters in practice will help them better prepare for the real thing.

For the ones who are lucky and determined, a benchwarmer can one day be a starter. I don’t even necessarily mean in the sports itself, but in the fields of life beyond a 300 yard piece of turf. Over time, the uniforms, the trophies, and sadly even the memories of sports will fade, while the discipline, the bonds and the spirit of winning will carry on in those who did things right. So while a starter in their prime may run away with the night of the big game, with the crowd chanting their name, a benchwarmer can see that, learn from it, and years later run away with life.

ISEP (International Student Exchange Program) Advice #1

by: Catherine McConkey

 

One of the most exciting things about being in college is having the opportunity and freedom to do something different. My name is Catherine, and I am an international exchange student from Ulster University, Northern Ireland. Through this student-run advice column, I want to help anyone who is considering studying abroad in the future by sharing my experiences over the next few months.

I have the privilege of studying at Western Connecticut State University this year through the ISEP program (International Student Exchange Program). If someone had asked me this time last year if I would be studying in America, I would have probably laughed in their face. The thought of graduating at the age of twenty-one and then venturing out into the big, bad world was too much to bear, so I began to look into alternative ways to extend my time being a student. Studying abroad quickly became an option once I began speaking with students who had taken the same path.

 

Tip I: Location is key when considering studying abroad.

From what I understand, many international students spend their time traveling around their chosen exchange country of study. Since arriving nearly two months ago, one of the most frequent questions I have been asked is, “Why did you come to WCSU?” The answer? Western is a fantastic university with a large selection of media courses for my major. However, it does help that Connecticut state has been a good location for traveling.

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(Danbury, Connecticut)

 After being lucky enough to travel to the United States on two past occasions, I knew I wanted to explore more of the East Coast. When thinking about your international location, take into consideration the country’s climate, language barriers, and travel expenses. When traveling to Connecticut, I was able to get a direct flight from Dublin to Hartford, saving me a lot of stress and money. It may not be possible to get to your chosen location in one flight, so if that is the case for you, I suggest leaving enough time for connecting flights, figure out train/bus links ahead of time, and do not be afraid to ask people for help!

My first two months as an ISEP student at WCSU have been two of the best months of my life.  Along with other international students at the university, I have had the chance to experience American society in some of the greatest ways possible. Though to be honest, during the beginning of my international exchange, I did experience a massive culture shock. From food portions, driving on the other side of the road and adjusting to people constantly saying, “Bless you!” every time I sneezed.

Sometimes, it all feels like it really is like a movie!

 

Tip II: But seriously, culture shock is a “thing.”

To help adjust to your new home, make sure you research your designated country/state and reach out to people before you arrive. I made it my mission to contact as many people from Western as I could, including other international students, my housemates and The Echo, WCSU’s student-run online newspaper. I instantly felt more comfortable and confident about arriving and the fear of not knowing what was on the other side of that plane journey slowly began to fade. Picture1.png

(Western Connecticut State University Homecoming Game 2017)

Make sure you get involved to help understand the culture, it’s a great opportunity to experience new things, make friends and it is also really fun. Studying abroad is a chance to do things and go places you would never be able to, were you to stay in your home country. One of my most significant involvements in American culture so far was attending the university’s Homecoming football game. Homecoming was a great chance to feel like a ‘proper American,’ though I feel that none of the international students exactly understood the rules of the game, why it was so long, or why there were so many people on the field.

While I have learned so much about the American culture already, I have also had the chance to make connections with and teach other students about my roots and where I come from.

 

Tip III: Plan your trips in advance.

One of the greatest advantages to studying abroad is the places you will go. I have had the opportunity to visit New York on more than one occasion, Newport Rhode Island with the PAC (Program Activities Council) community, Washington, DC, and I am currently planning to travel to Boston and Canada. What I have learned from these experiences is that the key to a good trip is planning.

One night, my fellow international students spent and I spent a few hours planning trips for us to take this semester. By simply using Google Maps, we were able to identify what close by cites and attractions interested us, as well as how long it would take for us to travel there. We even looked into websites that help with travel issues, such as comparing the prices of hotels and their cancellation policies. Many of the hotels we took into consideration offer free cancellation on room reservations, which is great when your plans are likely to change.

Remember, you are a student, so it is important to manage your money, especially when on a trip. In cities like New York, it is very easy to spend a lot of money – trust me, I have been there! There are many ways to save money, including looking for cheaper food alternatives such as eating at, or ordering from diners and fast food outlets. You can also save by familiarizing yourself with public transport, rather than paying a taxi service. In big cities, it is also great to walk from location to location to better take in the environment and enjoy every second of it!

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(New York City)

Tip IV: You can study abroad, too.

If the thought of studying abroad interests you, now is the time to look into it. The ISEP services have recently opened their applications and posted information about the program on their section of Western’s university website. Donna Warner, the International Services Co-ordinator for Western Connecticut State University, can help with any questions and inquiries about the programs offered. I am also here to answer any questions you may have, whether you are a student from WCSU looking to study outside of the United States, or an international student who is about to, or is considering studying abroad. My advice articles for The Echo’s advice column will be filled with the best advice I can give about making the best of your study abroad experience, check in with me in a few weeks for some tips on packing, choosing your courses, and how my adventure progresses!

 

For More ISEP Information:

Donna Warner, International Services Coordinator:
warnerd@wcsu.edu
203-837-3270
University Hall, Room 303
181 White Street Danbury, CT 06810

WCSU’S International Student Exchange Program Website:

http://www.wcsu.edu/international/

Or, feel free to leave comments, questions, etc. below and I will do my best to get back to you!

Nostalgic Homage to Homecoming Week

by: Leslie Pizzagalli

Western Connecticut State University’s Homecoming Week Street Fair held on October 7th at the Westside Campus had passersby hopping — or should we say hooping, skipping, and jumping down to The Echo’s table for a good time.

Not only was there an abundance of food trucks, booths filled with activities, and bouncy castles, but thanks to The Echo, hula hooping contests were in full swing. As far as the victors, there were some seriously nostalgic goodies to be won. Slinkies, mini paddleball, bubble wands, and Play-Doh were only a few of the addicting childhood-reminiscent handheld gadgets given out during the Street Fair event. Students, staff, friends, and family members of all ages alike were eager and excited to participate in hula hoop contests to win these 90’s inspired throwback trinkets. In addition to the youthful, colorful toys, other trinkets such as fidget spinners, gel pens, and tiny hats were also offered as grandiose rewards to be won.

Even WCSU’s mascot, Colonial Chuck, joined in on the festivities; regardless of being unable to fit into any of the three hula hoops The Echo supplied!

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With the new university semester in full swing, students are busier than ever between class time and the workload. Any and all leisure time is cherished with such packed schedules, and a break like Homecoming Week is always an enjoyable opportunity to get college goers outside and exploring what Western has to offer.

By attending the street fair, The Echo crew’s hoped that with the help of their vibrant, neon colored knickknacks and flashy prizes to bring a splash of fun color and bittersweet nostalgia to the WCSU community. Furthermore, they also intended to bring awareness to the fact that the student-run newspaper is regularly searching for writers and contributors to The Echo, as well as introducing its lively club members to their intended and potential audiences. Each person who passed by the club’s table was informed  The Echo being a student-run newspaper offered exclusively online, and that anyone would be welcome to be a part of the sixty-two years (and counting) of publications at Western Connecticut State University.

 

More Photos and Videos from The Echo’s Street Fair Table:

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The In-Cider Scoop: Apple Cider-making at Western

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By Lauren Tango

It’s that time of the year: pumpkin patches, hay rides, brisk air, and of course…apple cider! There is certainly something about this time of the year that brings communities together by enjoying traditional outdoor activities such as these. On Tuesday, October 17th, Dr. Thomas Philbrick and his Evolution & Natural History of Land Plants students hosted an event on campus demonstrating the production of apple cider.

The process is quite simple: first, the whole apples are dumped into an apple mill to be ground and collected into a cloth bag. The milled apples then head into the apple press and the cider is collected into a bucket. The apples that are used for cider are typically “rejected” apples, meaning that they were too small or misshapen to be sold in stores. At this event, there were about 600 lbs of apples used, and every member of the biology class was hands-on in the process. There was one cider press that was creating basic raw apple cider, and another press that would be heated with added spices to give the cider an extra kick. 

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Dr. Philbrick also brought a touch of history to this event by using original cider pressers from the 1800s that he had rebuilt over time. Over the last 10 years that he has been making cider, Dr. Philbrick and his wife have also hosted cider festivals at their home where the entire neighborhood is invited to come witness the process of cider-making and enjoy the finished product at the same time.

As students rushed to their classes, they could not help but stop to take a second look at what was going on due to the enticing aroma of the freshly milled apples. This was an open event for the public and students at the university, and it was definitely a hit. It was a crisp, sunny and beautiful fall day during this event: the perfect equation to enjoy a nice fresh cup of cider!

Concert Review: Western Jazz Combos Breathe New Life into Classics, Debut Original Compositions

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by Joseph Oliveri

WESTERN- With three different ensembles performing, The Veronica Hagman Concert Hall on Western’s Westside Campus could have been no better venue for Western’s inaugural Jazz Combo performance of the year on Friday, October 13th. Warmly lit, spacious, yet intimate, the simple stage setting and comforting aura was the perfect compliment to the explosive performance that showcased the immensity of the participating students’ tastes and improvisational proficiency.

The first ensemble, coached by jazz instructor Peter Tomlison, boasted the scatting abilities of vocalist Sarah Sacala’s bouncy scatting on bandmate Bentley Lewis’s (guitar) original composition “Limonata,” a tune with an arpeggiated motif that I still can’t seem to get out of my head. Following was a sultry cover of the standard “Darn that Dream.” With horns and rhythm section layered seamlessly, I was sure I could have heard Sacala’s smile in the lyrics had I closed my eyes, answered by baritone sax, tenor sax, and trumpet solos by Matt Schmidt, Nick Kallajian, and Austin Schmidt, respectively, with particular credit to Austin Schmidt’s whirling diminished lines. The Tomlison set closed with bassist member Niles’s Spaulding’s composition, with the tongue-in-cheek title,“Combros,” a lumbering bossa-nova that shifted to a bluesy, one-chord vamp that all soloists, particularly guitarists Bentley Lewis and Brian Suto, lavished over.

Following was instructor Jeff Siegel’s combo. While vocals were absent from this set, the intensity of the solos made up for it: the double guitar partnership rivaled the Tomilson group’s, breaking in with a crisp version of the jazz composer Johnny Mercer’s “Tangerine.” Second was another Mercer composition, “Emily,” preluded by a duo chordal interplay between guitarists Gianni Gardner and Tom Polizzi who seemed to practically converse with each other through the voices of their axes. Last was “Nimmo,” a ferocious instrumental that drove the guitarists, as well as Austin Iesu on trumpet and Malin Carta on alto sax, into fierce solos that married blues subtleties with avant-garde chaos. For this set, though, the title of show-stealer undoubtedly went to drummer Niles Spaulding, whose long solo on “Nimmo,” drew a few audience members to their feet at the applause.

Lastly, instructor Lee Metcalf’s combo greeted us with a scat version Nat King Cole’s “That’s What,” courtesy of perfectly-synchronized harmonizing between vocalist Samantha Feliciano and guitarist Chris Cochrane. A refreshing new addition of piano, courtesy of Joe Conticello, was introduced to us, and despite having a richer rhythm section, the Metcalf combo carried Feliciano’s voice perfectly, especially on the following number, “Isn’t it a Pity We’ve Never Met Before.” The hugely energetic Miles Livolsi stood out on bass, drawing more than a few smiles from the audience with his lines on the closer “Punjab,” which was marked by the show’s dramatic zenith; a strong-timbre solo from tenor saxophonist Nathan Edwards.

The three ensembles came and left the stage all too quickly; I doubt I was alone in wondering how how nine songs had just devoured the past two hours. If anything, I can only hope the WCSU jazz students’ professional-grade affinity for hot licks and sweet tones are no longer a secret.

Westconn Dominates & Stirs School Spirit at Homecoming Game

By Lawrence Perry

The WCSU Homecoming game was surprisingly packed. The stadium was filled with supporters yelling like madmen and women. Maybe this is why our home team played so well. Playing against Worcester State, Westconn put up a very good performance.

The first thing of note was a tackle by Mike Quinn. It was still early; the teams were still feeling each other out. After a few minutes of gridlock, Westconn kicked the ball, and Chris Shizaar caught it. Worchester tried to come back, but couldn’t make any traction.

The game started at 6pm. 39 minutes later, Worchester had only scored 3 points. Westconn, meanwhile, already had 14 points. This set the tone for the rest of the night. After a few more plays that went nowhere, including an impressive tackle, the first period ended.

By period two, the crowd was getting into the game. They chanted “Defense!” and “WCSU!” At one point, the score went up to Westconn 35, Worchester 10. A supporter chanted: “Let’s go baby! I see you!”

The rest of the game was a blowout. Though Worchester made some good plays, which earned them 23 points, Westconn won with 49 points.

It was a fun game that even a non-football fan could enjoy. If the goal was to fill students with school spirit, the game succeeded.