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This post was written by a WeTown author prior to September, 2014, when the site was redesigned, requiring all prior posts to be archived.

Professor Profile: Dr. Hans-Erik Wennberg

Name: Dr. Hans-Erik Wennberg

Position Before Retirement: Associate Professor of Elizabethtown College

Specialty: Media

Central Location: Elizabethtown, PA

Personal Life: Wife of 37 years and two children

Passion: Photography

Hobbies: Boating, traveling, and watching baseball

Heritage: Norwegian

Quoted: “I like making pictures. I don’t have interest in writing any sort of significant paper [during retirement]. My vent is creativity.”

Wennberg Retires after 30 Years at Elizabethtown College

“This is a blue shirt.” The words were printed boldly on the gray—yes, gray—shirt that approached the table. Worn proudly by Dr. Hans-Erik Wennberg, recent retiree of Elizabethtown College, I reminded myself to ask him later on what those words meant.

                “A feature story about me,” he chuckled while stroking his chin. “Being retired, I find myself more busy now than I ever was.”  It’s true—Wennberg is expressing his new found freedom in active and healthy ways. He explained that during the previous tax season, he worked 3 days a week in Hershey doing taxes for senior citizens, and plans to continue doing so for the next several years. He is also the clubhouse manager of the Susquehanna Yacht Club, the advisor of the TV facilities at Masonic Village, and an active member in both the Communications Business Group and the Association of Education and Communication Technology, or AECT. “I wasn’t going to just sit back and do nothing,” he said with a light expression.

Professional Work

                In December of 2013, Wennberg retired after 30 dedicated years as an associate professor of communications at Elizabethtown College. He had previously taught at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was an instructor for 11 years. He obtained his Master’s degree in Educational Media at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, followed by his doctorate at the University of Connecticut, where he specialized in Higher End Administration with a concentration in Media.

Things have drastically changed at Elizabethtown since Wennberg began in 1984. “There are a lot more buildings,” he recollected. “The High Library didn’t exist.” Wennberg also noted that the quality of students has improved over time. In fact, the students themselves are one of the primary reasons he enjoyed teaching at Elizabethtown. He explained that in other areas where he worked, education wasn’t a priority for the students. Here at Elizabethtown, the students put much more emphasis on it. “I know some students who literally worked 24 hours a day,” Wennberg said with admiration.

Future Plans

When asked about his future plans in academia, he was quick on the draw. “My vent is creativity. I found out I liked it more than writing research papers.” Wennberg taught several photography courses, and it is one of his earnest passions. “I’ve had five photo shows since I’ve been here—gallery shows of various kinds. I’d like to continue that.” As the conversations about photography deepened, his demeanor completely changed. It was obvious that Wennberg was truly in his element. “My favorite subjects to photograph are sea coast water fronts. Especially in Maine.” He continued on to explain that one of his family members lived in Maine, and was able to show him places that even tourists don’t know about.

When asked about where he would like to retire to, he shrugged. “I’d like to have a place by the water, but we’ll see. We are still central here.” This summer, Wennberg plans to travel to Jacksonville to attend some AECT meetings. “I definitely do not want to retire there,” he added, “I am not a Florida person.”

Hobbies

Besides photography, Wennberg enjoys boating. He travels to the Finger Lakes every summer, more specifically, Keuka Lake, to spend time on the water. “I just bought a second boat,” he said with a smile. He now owns a sailboat and a motor boat. He has also been to 40 of the 50 states. “My parents are native Norwegians, that’s where the Hans-Erik comes from.” He explained. “I’ve been to Europe, Egypt, Norway several times, and Haiti.” At that moment, Wennberg paused. “That’s where I met my wife 37 years ago.”

He explained with joy that she was employed on a gallery committee in Haiti, and he was there for a photo show. “She qualified for sainthood a long time ago,” he mused. Together, they have two children, a boy and a girl. “They’re actually adopted,” he added, “natural siblings and we adopted them when they were seven and eight.”

Wennberg gulped down the last of his cold Coca-Cola, the perfect way to begin the discussion of baseball, one of his favorite past times. “I’m a Red Sox fan and proud of it!” he announced. He launched into a humorous story of skipping a conference in Chicago to go to a game at Wrigley Field. His advice: “You shouldn’t drink beer in the sunshine.”

Between boating, photography, traveling and professional associations, Wennberg has kept busy and happy as a recently retired professor. As the interview neared its close, I had to question the shirt he was wearing. He simply pointed to the URL below the statement, dscc.org, and revealed that the shirt gets a fair share of comments. I smiled at the elusive answer.

“The Monuments Men” is an achievement for art history

While some consider “The Monuments Men” somewhat slow to tell the story, the film as a whole really makes the audience consider this forgotten part of World War II. The film tells the story of the men who fought to retrieve as much of the stolen art back from the Nazi’s as possible.

Though I heard from others the story was slow, I chose to watch the film recently released to Redbox as my Elizabethtown College fine arts professor, Dr. Ricci, strongly encouraged the movie which takes place between March 1943 and April 1945.

The plot is displayed shortly through the film as George Clooney’s character is giving a presentation about his concerns for the artwork from all over Europe that Hitler stole as Nazi Occupation increased as well as his worry for monuments and buildings which were under the threat of bombing. Clooney and Matt Damon, both art professionals, quickly recruit other respected individuals in the field to identify and protect the art.

Upon arrival to the war, the seven men received tension from the soldiers who felt their purpose of protecting the art would prevent men from keeping their lives. They received their assignments throughout Europe. Clooney explains to them that no piece of art is worth their life. Throughout the film, Clooney narrates the progression of their efforts. After each of them experience a great deal of heartache and difficulty in procuring the art, the artists begin to find success with a great deal of help from Cate Blanchett’s character who has a book detailing the stolen pieces.

“The Monuments Men” successfully developed characters and a plot which makes the audience continue to hope the art can be recovered as well as root for each of the soldiers and feel for them in their times of strife. A little less than halfway through the movie, it is Christmas of 1944 and the men receive gifts from home. The scene begins with “You Always Hurt the One You Love” by The Mills Brothers and switches over to a rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” playing over the loudspeaker to the entire camp. The record was a gift to Bill Murray’s character, however, he was too sad to open it. Bob Balaban’s character realizes Murray needs to hear it and plays it for him. The scene is touching not only due to the beautiful music but in showing the bond the seven art professionals turned soldiers shared.

This scene nicely demonstrates Clooney’s narration in which he explains these men actively participated in World War II to save art and culture for the future. Their participation left them vulnerable to the same heartaches as any other soldier. The film raised truly moving and important questions about the mission. Was saving the art worth it? Is anyone going to remember the men’s efforts 30 years after the war? The men preserved our culture, and there is a movie depicting their endeavor. Essentially, the answer to both questions is simple and positive.

However, how many people really remember these men and their mission? Many are unaware art was even stolen by the Nazis, let alone that men risked their lives to retrieve the works. Perhaps unintentionally, the film also effectively showed how important the film is to our society and where education lacks if it means the mission was forgotten. The film portrays men who fought to preserve culture, but we barely keep the men in it.

“The Monuments Men” does not provide a particularly action-packed story as most war movies do. With basis in a true story, one can brush up on their understanding of art history. Most of all, the film touchingly reminds the audience to be grateful for everything, even something as intangible as our culture.

You can share your opinion here.

Survivor Cagayan: And the Winner Is

 The season finale of “Survivor: Cagayan” had me on the edge of my seat, staring intently at the screen with my mouth hanging slack. This is, of course, a compliment to Jeff Probst and the creators of “Survivor.” I would recommend this series to anyone who is interested in an action-packed reality TV show—not the uneducated banter and mindlessness of a certain few (to which I will leave nameless.)

The series focused on “Brains, Brawn and Beauty,” which is how the teams were originally formed. Each team had six players, and the general idea was to determine which categorized team would play the best game. Each team had their fair share of victories, but the intensity of the game truly exposed itself after the three teams merged into one. Spoiler alert! The winner was Tony.

I was enthralled with the shifts in dynamic between the final four players, and the suspense was unmistakable. Tony, a police officer, Woo, a martial arts instructor, Kass, an attorney and Spencer the economics student were faced with an immunity challenge that would guarantee one of them a spot in the top three. In what Probst announced was “the greatest comeback in Survivor history,” Kass won the challenge when all hope for her was diminished.

An original member of the “Brains” tribe, Kass had an uncanny ability to remain calm under pressure. She had fallen behind during the endurance portion of the challenge, but rose to the occasion at the end, where she completed a puzzle with effortless ease.

During tribal council, Spencer was eliminated, leaving Tony, Woo and Kass to compete in a final immunity challenge. The winner of that challenge would determine the outcome for the other two players. One would be eliminated, and the other would a finalist. In another incredibly close competition, Woo defeated Kass and Tony. Kass was just half a second behind Woo, this time earning Probst’s narration of “the closest challenge win in the history of Survivor.”

In a riveting tribal council, Woo chose Tony to be the additional finalist, which sent Kass packing. At that point, it was up to the jury members, who consisted of the previous nine eliminated players. The intensity was buzzing in the air like the mosquitos that harassed the players all season.

Some jury members asked deep, thought-provoking questions of Tony and Woo, trying to decide which one deserved to win. Tony, who burned bridges with almost every jury member during the game, was ripped apart ravenously (hypothetically, of course).

Here is where the twist lies. Viewers witnessed Woo receive praise while Tony was thrown under the bus, but Tony played the way the game was originally intended. He lied, stole and cheated, which separated him morally from Woo. Woo whole-heartedly believed in playing the game with integrity—but according to the jury—integrity does not win someone one million dollars. I, personally, disagree. “Survivor” is a huge social experiment; it tests human limits and moral choices. How quickly will an alliance disintegrate? To what extent will someone swear on the graves of their loved ones that they are truthful? The game constantly has viewers on their toes.

After several nail-biting minutes of deliberation, the viewers see that Tony was the victor, the Sole Survivor, the recipient of one million dollars. Although I disagree with the decision of the jurors, it appeared by the reaction of the live audience that Tony was the player who deserved it most. I have been an avid “Survivor” fan for years, and this past season was full of twists, action and chaos—something I enjoy in reality TV. It left no unanswered questions, and the plot was easy to navigate through and comprehend. I would recommend the series to anyone.

Lancaster Barnstormers Trump Bridgeport Bluefish in 14-6 Victory

The Lancaster Barnstormers led a 14-6 victory over the Bridgeport Bluefish on Tuesday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

With a stunning number of RBI’s and line-drive doubles, the game logged at three hours and 18 minutes. Lancaster surged ahead by several runs, leading 4-0 in the first inning alone. The starting pitcher, Dan Osterbrock, held his own for the first 6 innings, only letting in three runs while his home team scored eight. Highlights of the first inning include first baseman Austin Gallagher’s two RBI base hits and RBI double.

Second baseman Yusuke Kajimoto played a stellar game, starting with a steal to second during the second inning. Kajimoto is a designated hitter with an AVG of .344. Outfielder Blake Gailen, batting leader with an AVG of .418, followed with a left fielder double hit, leaving the bases loaded for Gallagher. Gallagher slammed it into right field, getting an RBI single. The Barnstormers scored seven unanswered runs until the top of the third, when Bluefish outfielder James Simmons hit a homerun into left field. Immediately after, infielder Sean Burroughs splintered the bat with a strong hit that fouled right.

The score of 7-1 remained the same until the top of the fifth when Burroughs scored a two-run homerun. During the bottom of the sixth, Kajimoto delivered a double and Gailen hit another line-drive RBI, putting the score to 8-3.

During the seventh inning stretch, fans were entertained by I.M. Fun and the Fun Patrol, who provided entertainment through t-shirt tosses, kiss-cam, Turkey Hill Iced Tea races, bungee games and electric car races. Prizes were awarded to the winners during inning warm-ups.

The Barnstormers brought the heat during the seventh inning. Bridgeport earned two runs, both of which were single RBI’s by designated hitter Cody Overbeck and first baseman Luis Lopez. The Bluefish edged closer to the Barnstormer’s lead with an 8-5 score, but were quickly shut down.

Newcomer Amos Ramon was walked; followed by catcher Juan Apodaca who hit the ball into the center and made it to first. Subsequently, Kajimoto was walked, leaving the bases loaded for outfielder Greg Golson. Golson pummeled the ball over second base and scored a double RBI. Gailen was on deck and earned a single RBI, putting the score at 11-5. Outfielder Cole Garner highlighted the inning by delivering a 3-run homer, propelling the Barnstormers ahead at 14 runs.

With a 9-run lead at the top of the eighth, the Barnstormers switched to their closing pitcher, Jason Richardson, who let one fly and earned a run for Bridgeport. As the ninth inning reared, Bluefish’s outfielder Prentice Redman got a double left-fielder pop, and all hope relied on catcher Luis Rodriguez, who stuck out and ended the game at 14-6.

The Barnstormers, 2-0 so far in their four-game series against the Bluefish, will compete in game three on Wednesday at 11 a.m.