New George Washington club teaches students about America’s History

September 19, 2008

Although a fair number of us Brandeisian(s) do hail from the Massachusetts area, there are plenty of us from other states, not to mention from other countries.

Believe it or not, there are people for whom the acronym MFA is a Master of Fine Arts, and not one of the most comprehensive art collections in the United States.

For those uninitiated into the artistic and historical past of the Boston area comes a new Brandeis club to suit their needs. The George Washington Club was chartered to allow students to explore the American Heritage that is right in their own backyard.

“The purpose of the George Washington club is so that anyone who’s ever interested in going to do anything pertaining to American history, American artwork, just see culture… they can come to the George Washington club. We’ll bring speakers to campus, give presentations, ” President Allen Gold ’11 said.

Intending on utilizing resources on campus, the George Washington Club, plans to bring a professor to a meeting or an event to give a short presentation. This dialogue can be effective for participants of the club to hear about new research and ideas in the fields of art, history and culture.

Although professors will make appearances, students will be the educators as well, as Gold explained.

“We’ll also have literary presentations in club meetings, if people find a poem that’s interesting or any type of prose,” Gold said.

Open mic nights, featuring New England based poets as well as the original poetry of members, are a high priority for the club. These forums will take place in either the Stein or Chums, and will be an integral way to incorporate diverse points of view into the club’s roster.

One potential speaker is an African poet who shares his immigrant experience of coming to America, indicating that the club’s scope is not merely regional. Nor is it limited to strictly historical content.

“There’s a poet who spent five years of his life homeless,” said newly elected Treasurer Jason Simon-Barenboim ’11.

“This is a very interesting, often overlooked part of America’s culture through our time, just because there’s very few people to write their story or pay attention to them.”

Showing the modern history of the world through poetry is a particular interest to Simon-Bierenbaum. An English major and a writing double major, the sophomore’s approach is more literary than artistic.

“I like to see myself as a poet. It doesn’t look like I’m taking many history classes, so to have a literary club that looks at history as well as other aspects of American literary and leadership traditions interested me,” Simon-Bierenbaum said.

Simon-Bierenbaum, who was also involved in the chartering of the club, thinks highly of the affinity between the literary and the historic.

“Poetry and history have [been] related just as long as there has been writing. Just take a look at Homer,” said Simon-Bierenbaum, in praise of the ancient Greek poet.

Potential trips include the aforementioned MFA, the JFK Museum, and the Charles River Museum of Industry, right here in Waltham. In fact, thinking locally is what inspired Gold in the first place, when he took his first art class last year as a first-year.

“We [My art class] went to the Rose Art Museum on campus. It was the first time I went. I was actually pretty disappointed because not a lot of people take advantage of the art museum, and they put a lot of money into it and they have interesting things,” Gold said.

For those desiring to learn more about the club, the George Washington Club will next meet on Monady, Sept. 29 at 8:30 pm. If things go as planned, Gold hopes more people will be inspired to visit the Rose Art Museum and venture to sites of interest off campus.

So far, 97 people are on the list serve, which bodes well for the newly-chartered club. With such high interest, Gold insists on retaining a free club with no strict guidelines.

“Pretty much anything goes. If people want to scramble things up a little bit we can talk about it, and they’re totally entitled to voice their own opinions. We’ll hopefully have a good time doing it,” he said.

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