Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dan!

Today is Dan Colton's birthday, so we celebrated by singing "Happy Birthday" to him at least three times . . . at morning seminar, during lunch in Oxford, and atop the London Eye this evening.  I say "at least," because I understand the students went a few more rounds at dinner and après-dîner!

Changing of the Guard

Since we have yet to witness a changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, Dennis Rinaldi tried to explain how it was done by staging a re-enactment using Golden Bear and a couple of Beefeater Bears!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Good-Looking Bloke

Let me explain something about how we roll at this Seminar Abroad program.  Wherever we go at these Olympics, three things that have always been with us are (1) the WNE flag or CISB banner, (2) Golden Bear, and (3) our fearless leader, Dr. Anthony Caprio.  Thanks to Nick Varney, Maria Francese, and Dennis Rinaldi, the symbols of Western New England University have been present throughout London.  In Dr. Caprio's case, he has been to every Olympic event right alongside the students, and has even been on TV during the USA-Korea women's volleyball match!  His most impressive feat, however, was on Sunday night after the UK-UAE football match at Wembley Stadium when he safely led us through a scrum of 100,000 people packed like sardines across the plaza to the train station!  There was quite the buzz with everyone wondering -- and a few people asking -- "Who is that chap?"  We heard people saying things like "He looks so familiar" and "Isn't that the Prime Minister."  When Dr. Walker explained to a man next to her that we were students and faculty from a university in the States, and that he was our President, the man responded, "Well, he's a good-looking bloke." 

Wicked Awesome!

Since arriving in London, Lydia Lefevre has been dying to get a photo with the Queen's Royal Guard and so she was sorely disappointed when the public was not permitted any closer than the perimeter gate at Buckingham Palace during our visit on Friday.  At Windsor Palace, however, there was no such gate, and she and Ryan Coseo were able to get up close and personal with the palace guard.

By the way, how do these guys see from under their hats?

Life is Grand!

Due to Sunday's inclement weather at Wimbledon, most of the group headed out after the second (or was it the third?) rain delay for the badminton competition at Wembley Arena.  Jason Titelbaum, Anthony Camardi, and Teddi-Jann Covell, however, decided to stick it out in hopes of seeing the resumption of play at the Djokovic-Fognini match, which was supposed to have been followed by Venus Williams' match against the Italian Sara Errani.

After Djokovic defeated Fognini, however, the women's singles competition was postponed to Monday due to darkness (since there are no lights on Court 1).

Instead of folding up their tent and skulking home, our intrepid trio schlepped over to Center Court to see if they could watch the action there under the roof. After inquiring at the Ticket Services Desk, our heroes emerged with tix to seats . . . at Center Court!

Talk about living a dream!  This photo of Jason was taken by the pairings board in front of Center Court before the first rain delay . . . but it must have been prophetic given the turn of events!   

Hey . . . did he just growl at me?

The historical, architectural, and cultural aspects of Windsor Castle were all fascinating, but the students' singular highlight was getting the classic picture taken with one of the Queen's Royal Guards.  Her Majesty the Queen, by the way, was in residence at the time of our visit, but inexplicably, we were not invited to the private quarters for tea.  Go figure.

After this group shot was taken, several students tried to provoke a reaction by making funny faces and gestures., but the stone-faced, eyes-straight-ahead, and still-as-a-pole guard did not budge.  Or did he?

Deanery at Windsor Castle

At Windsor Castle, there is a church called St. George's Chapel, which has attached to it the ecclesiastical office known as the deanery.  Dr. Walker is shown pointing to the sign that reads:  "The Deanery --  No Unauthorized Parking", which goes to show that for the dean of St. George's, parking, too, is a cherished perk!

GB Out of Hibernation

Although Golden Bear had not been seen for a few days (apparently, he needed a bear nap after the trip across the pond), he is out and about once again . . . taking in the sights at Windsor Castle!

More Photos from USA-Korea Women's Volleyball

A couple more photos from the USA vs. Korea women's volleyball match.

Photo-Ops Galore!

Several students get ready to position themselves for a photo-op at Wimbledon's Court 1.  This trip has provided a smorgasbord of backdrops to prove, à la Kilroy, that we were there!

Morning Seminar

Most mornings, we have seminar at 7 or 8 a.m., depending on our schedule, with students in groups of three presenting on the assigned topic that they researched and wrote a paper on before arriving in London.  The room is quite cozy, but we are happy to have this make-shift classroom for our daily presentations and debrief.  By Seminar Abroad tradition, we close each seminar with an exercise called "Around the Rings" by quickly going around the room and having each person share some comment, reaction, insight, observation, story, anecdote, or tip, which routine has proven to be popular and enlightening.

Sweet Life

RJ Suhre looks quite content with the view from his seat in Court 1 at Wimbledon.  Note RJ's all-white garb (jacket excepted), in deference to the All-England Lawn Tennis Club's policy.

Tennis, Anyone?

As you can imagine, it was a treat to see Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, err . . . the Olympics.  And speaking of treats, several of us sampled the strawberries and cream, which is de rigueur at Wimbledon.  I had the pleasure of being treated by Dr. Walker to my first sample of this classic dessert at Wimbledon.


Since arriving in London, we've only experienced a light rain during our city tour on Friday.  Sunday, however, was different, with intermittent torrential downpours that required umbrellas and rain coats (and rain boots, which none of us had).  Although you cannot tell from the photo, here's a shot of Laura Madaio trying to escape from her poncho before it suffocates her!

Faces in the Crowd

For the most part, we've been lucky that our seats to events have been clustered not to far from one another.  At Wimbledon's Court 1, Lauren Silvis, Marisa Harris, and Maria Francese practice the Queen's Wave. 

Day for the Racquets

Sunday was a dream-come-true for several students and faculty, with visits to iconic London venues Wimbledon in the morning and Wembley in the evening.  (Full disclosure:  we did not actually get inside Wembley Stadium; instead, we went to watch badminton at the adjacent Wembley Arena.)  Between rain delays at Wimbledon, we had seats in Court 1 to watch the No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic struggle to defeat a scrappy Italian, Fabio Fognini, 6-7 (9-7), 6-2-, 6-2.  Unfortunately, the rain delays forced a postponement of the ladies' matches on Court 1, including the much-anticipated match up between No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Venus Williams. 

Sunday Morning Jog

With other members of the delegation taking a bye on either Friday or Saturday morning, Heather Mears owns the distinction of being the only one to have made every early morning jog -- three so far -- beginning at 5 or 6 a.m.!  Given the punishing schedule that we keep, it is no small feat to pry herself out of bed with only a few hours' sleep!  You go, girl!

Here, Heatheris joined by Dr. Covell, Ryan Coseo, Emily Savino, Laura Madaio, and Jenn Mears.

Hey . . . wanna trade?

The students have been active in their pin trading . . . on the subway, at the venues, and on the streets of London!  It is an easy way to interact with others and strike up a conversation with people from all over the world, as well as to extend a little goodwill from Western New England University and the United States of America!

Top photo, L-R:  Anthony Camardi, Nick Varney, and RJ Suhre convince a London bobby to give up his police pin for one of ours!

Middle photo:  Marisa Harris tells this LOCOG volunteer, "This WNE pin is valuable, so don't trade it away!"
Besides pin trading, this group of students reminisced with the Russian team officials about the "good ol' days."
In bottom photo, Micaela Hamakawa pins her Prince Charming!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Red, White, and Blue!

As further evidence that Western New England University made its presence known at Earls Court last night, these two photos were taken from the NBC Sports Olympic website!  At top, Dennis Rinaldi leads his fellow revelers in cheers, while Micaela Hamakawa does her part in bottom photo. Note that Kate Walker, wearing red in top photo but not visible at bottom, is flashing the "Hook 'em Horns" sign . . . a shout out to the University of Texas!

A Taste of Celebrity

It's amazing what a little makeup and costume accessories will do!  That, and the students' own initiative and ingenuity are creating a buzz everywhere they go!  Here's just a sampling of photos from which you can get a pretty good idea why they have been on news and sports programs from Shanghai to New York, and to London and back.

QUESTION:  Who is that mystery person behind the mask?

Picture and Poster Worth a Million Words

A shout out to the parents, without whom this great adventure would not be possible! 

Excuse me sir, but is that a donkey in your pocket?

It is quite amazing how festive and friendly the atmosphere is everywhere we go.  Here, at the Equestrian venue in Greenwich Park, Emily Savino, Lydia Lefevre, and Heather Mears meet a couple of English chaps . . . with donkeys in their pockets!


To give you an idea of the patriotic fervor at the USA-Korea women's volleyball match, our students were the focal point of media attention both in and outside the Earls Court Arena.  So many people -- kids and adults alike -- asked to either photograph or be photographed with our charismatic crew!  Team USA might not have prevailed without Team Golden Bear in a supporting -- but significant -- role!

Wait! We're on TV!

According to several students' parents Stateside (through the wonders of social media), our crew was shown several times on the NBC telecast of the USA-Korea women's volleyball match.  WNE students were joined by a couple of Californians to create the most raucous cheering section for Team USA . . . a regular regiment of Uncle Sam's Army.  Seated in the front rows at courtside, the boisterous and exuberant group of students probably broke the arena record for appearances on the Jumbotron!

Just Did It!

The USA-Korea women's volleyball match was a phenomenal experience for the entire delegation, but it was especially sweet for Jenn and Heather Mears, the two WNE volleyball players in the group, who live in Amherst, MA, just a stone's throw from where this game was invented by William Morgan in 1894.

USA Women's Volleyball

As mentioned previously, the atmosphere at Earls Court for the women's volleyball action between the USA and South Korea was electric, with chants of "U-S-A" -- led by a decked-out Golden Bear crew -- helping Team USA to victory!

Crack Team

For the record, let me say that Seminar Abroad 2012:  London Olympics would not be anywhere near the exquisite experience that it has been for the students without Drs. Sharianne Walker and Dan Covell.  Flat out, things would not be going as swimmingly (as they say in these parts) and I'm just glad to be part of this faculty dream team!

These Hands are Deadly Weapons

Here, Anthony Camardi does his best imitation of Ralph Macchio from the "Karate Kid."

Geisha Girls

At Japan House, Lydia Lefevre and Emily Savino decided to "Go Native," and got dolled up in the traditional kimono garb.  The fashionable-but-uncomfortable-shoes (nothing new here for the ladies) are called "geta."  

GQ on Parade

Proving that the guys can clean it up as well as the ladies, here's the best of our glamour shot at Metrogate House.

Ladies' Night Out?

Well, not exactly.  The ladies are getting ready to head over to the Japanese Olympic Committee's hospitality center known as Japan House, between Hyde Park and Green Park.

WNE Protection Detail

Not sure if you knew, but the WNE delegation is protected by its own version of Her Majesty's Secret Service, from left:  Nick Varney, RJ Suhre, Ryan Coseo, Dennis Rinaldi, and Dan Colton.

Diplomatic Audience

At Japan House, the students were greeted by His Excellency, the former Japanese Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Yoshiji Nogami, who is also an Executive Board Member of the Japanese Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Candidate Bid Committee.

Saturday Afternoon

At the invitation of the Japanese Olympic Committee President, Tsunekazu Takeda, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at how National Olympic Committees establish a presence in the city hosting an Olympic Games.  Here, our group was given a briefing of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, which vote by the IOC will take place in 2013.  Mr. Takeda, who unfortunately was not at Japan House at the time of our visit, is also President of the Tokyo 2020 Candidate City Bid Committee and an IOC member.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Free Pizza!

During a break in the action at the Equestrian Stadium in Greenwich Park, a few students were standing at the right place at the right time near the pizza concession when the vendor yelled out, "Who wants free pizza?"  Quick on the draw, Dennis Rinaldi shouted his answer and voila . . . five pizza pies, free for the taking!  Apparently, someone placed the order and then walked away, leaving the poor pies to be eaten by Dennis and friends.  Lydia Lefevre, Heather Mears, and Emily Savino were only too happy to oblige!  Who ever said that there's no such thing as a free lunch?!

A Day Like No Other

It would be inadequate to describe today's experiences as extraordinary because it was even more than that!  What started with our usual morning run finished with us witnessing the U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team defeat of Korea, 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21,in an insanely crazy and electric atmosphere at Earls Court. Talk about an exciting match, with a result no doubt achieved with the help of the patriotic zeal of the Western New England crew (more on this later)! 
After a brisk run around Hyde Park with so-far regulars Nick Varney and Heather Mears -- joined today by newbies Ryan Coseo and Anthony Camardi -- we held morning seminar led by Marisa Harris, Lydia Lefevre, and Maria Francese on the topic of Olympic sponsorship marketing.  In photo, you can see Golden Bear in rapt attention to the students' presentation.

My First Olympics!

Today, Saturday, was the first full day of Olympic competition, and we headed out to Greenwich Park for the Equestrian Eventing preliminaries.  This was the students' first experience attending an Olympic event in person, and even though most were not farmiliar with it, they seemed to appreciate some of the nuances of judging as scores were posted on the stadium screen in real time.  Here, Anthony Camardi, Nick Varney, Marisa Harris, and Ryan Coseo mug for the camera. 

Kicking Back

Being first up to bat in presenting their research topic at morning seminar has its benefits, as Anthony Camardi, Dan Colton, and Ryan Coseo can attest.  The trio gave an executive report on their research paper on Friday on the International Olympic Committee.