Friday, February 10, 2017

Spring Film Festival Q & A with Dr. Tony Vinci

--> Coming up later this month, Dr. Tony Vinci will host the Spring Film Festival in the Bennett Hall Auditorium. This event, held on two separate nights during the spring semester, analyzes two different films chosen by Vinci, with specific themes in mind. He explained his reasoning for this semester’s selection in a Q & A recently.

Q: What was your reasoning for the films you chose this go around?
A: Like so many others, I’m both interested in and frustrated by the endless parade of remakes and reboots coming out of Hollywood. So, I thought I’d tackle one of the most popular reboots—Star Trek—and study it next to an original film—Serenity. I also thought it’d be cool to examine how a philosophically rich franchise like Star Trek became a mindless popcorn flick and how a little film like Serenity somehow manages to be a superhero movie, an action movie, a drama, a romantic comedy, a mystery, and a political thriller all while transforming the way we think about what it means to be human after 9/11.

Q: What do you hope students take away from each film?
A: With “Star Trek,” I want students to understand how a film can say one thing and do another, how it might inspire positive feelings while encouraging dangerous thoughts and actions.

With “Serenity,” I want students to engage the idea that every utopian vision, every attempt to “fix” the world, no matter how amazing or beautiful it might seem, will ultimately lead to a type of fascism. There is no “fixing” the world because my perfect world might be your hell. So, instead of believing in a perfect political solution to the world’s problems, we must learn how to live in a pluralistic society—a world in which we can hold competing truths in our hands and, instead of turning violent, become curious.

Q: How does activities like the film festival expose students to culture, in your opinion?
A: Students have been trained to not think about stories. Stories exist to entertain us or to help us escape some problem, pain, or personal discomfort—that’s what they’re told. I think that’s dangerous. Very dangerous. The film festival asks students to take themselves and their lives seriously by realizing that films are among the most powerful and significant forces we have in our lives. They give shape to our fears and hopes. They express what we can’t about our lives. Perhaps most importantly, they reveal to us visions (both wondrous and terrible) of our lives that would remain hidden without them.

In summary, Vinci added, “It’s inspiring to know that, in the middle of their busy lives, students will come out for a few hours on a weeknight, and it’s not simply to watch a movie and eat some pizza.” He continued, “The film festival reveals that so many of our students want something more in their lives. They want to think deeply and critically about themselves and the worlds they inhabit. They want to be challenged. They want to be invited into a world that offers them something new, something provocative, something beyond their everyday expectations. And maybe, just maybe, by sitting down in the dark with a group of semi-strangers and watching a story project itself onto the screen, they might fight a trace of what they’ve been searching for. That’s just cool.”

We think it’s cool, too. If you want to join in the fun for the Spring Film Festival, stop by the BHA on February 22 at 6 p.m. to see Star Trek and mark your calendar for March 23 at 6 p.m. to catch Serenity. Free pizza and soft drinks will be available.

Ohio University Chillicothe helps to bridge language barrier for local church

It’s not every day that an organization is in need of a course in a Western African language in rural Southeastern Ohio. That is, until the Chillicothe Baptist Church reached out to OUC’S Office of Continuing Education for this exact reason – to help their church prepare for an upcoming mission trip to Senegal.

The nation of Senegal is located on the western coast of Africa and is home to more than 14 million people of which nearly 40 percent speak Wolof.

Because of the language barrier posed to the church’s missionaries, Pastor Tim Cline began searching online for a way to help his church members better understand the language and possibly get training.

“I lived in Senegal for more than five years and was looking for somewhere that I could get some help for my people to learn this language,” Cline explained. “I was searching on the internet and found Dr. Steve Howard with the African studies department at Ohio University, and he helped us put together the idea and bring it to Chillicothe.”

Once Tim made contact at the African studies department at Ohio University, he and Dr. Howard were able to make a connection with student Macodou Fall, a Senegalese native working towards his master of arts degree in African studies. Macodou was then brought on as an instructor for the Wolof course teaching his native language to the CBC missionaries. 

“The students were excited and scared at the same time,” said Cline, referencing their first class. “Since Wolof is unlike many other languages, it’s overwhelming at first, but they are catching on and enjoying it.”

Fourteen students ranging in age from a sixth grader to a 60 plus adult attended the first session taught through the Ohio University Learning Network. OULN allows an individual or group of people to connect with others from a long distance through an interactive video network. CBC students meet once a week on the Chillicothe campus and link in to Macodou’s class in Athens. They’ll continue the class for 10 sessions over the next couple of months.

Pastor Cline explained that CBC takes a holistic approach to their ministry, offering insight on the mind, body and soul as well as teaching the Bible on their missionary trips.

“We don’t always want to work through translators,” he noted. “We’d like to get to know the people and learn from them, and knowing their language will allow us an opportunity to get back from their culture.”
Dr. Brenda Phillips, Associate Dean of OUC and director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development explained that this was a community specific need and that’s what we’re here for, to serve the community. The  Wolof class is being taught through the Continuing Education program at OUC.

“What you guys are offering is more training in the language than what I had when I went into the field in 1994,” said Pastor Cline. “We’re just thankful that OUC was able to help us with this endeavor.”

The church plans on making numerous trips throughout the year to Senegal for their missions and may add more Wolof classes for their members, or other churches, in the future.

The Continuing Education and Workforce Development program at OUC provides flexible and affordable education programs, seminars, workshops and training programs that meet the demands for the community they serve. For more information on the program, visit

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

OUC Professor Barbara Mahaffey selected to present at IAMFC conference

Ohio University Chillicothe Associate Professor, Dr. Barbara Mahaffey, was recently selected to present an education session at the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors conference in New Orleans, La. Feb. 3 – 4, 2017.

Mahaffey’s presentation was titled, “Creative Couples Counseling Directive Techniques: Advanced ways to Help Clients Connect and Communicate.”

Through this presentation, Mahaffey was able to demonstrate several techniques she has created to help clients understand cultural and characteristic differences, motivation and brain differences, and how they can create communications barriers.

“I was able to exhibit numerous methods I share with my students in the Human Services Technology program,” said Mahaffey. “This presentation was a peer reviewed acceptance to be a conference presenter and it was the most exciting conference acceptance in my lifetime.”

Conference attendees could sit in on Mahaffey’s presentation to explore techniques such as nonthreatening ways for counselors to help clients discuss their family rule book issues, diversities, barriers, and life issues. It also included take away activities which were cathartic and promoted client self-disclosure, insight, and problem resolution.

In addition to presenting at the IAMFC this year, Mahaffey has had several other accomplishments in the realm of scholarship and academics. She published an article titled “Applying Reality Therapy’s WDEP Tenants to Assist Couples in Creating New Communications Strategies” in the Family Journal with co-author and theorist Dr. Robert Wubbolding.
Additionally, her article, “Teaching Diversity in Introduction to Human Services: Using a Miscommunication Model to Enrich Student Insights,” was published in the National Organization of Human Service Educators and she wrote the conjoint family therapy entry for the Sage Encyclopedia of Marriage, Family and Couples Counseling in 2016.

Mahaffey is the coordinator for the Human Services Technology program at OUC, an associate degree track with a generalist approach to jobs and services such as mental health, prevention services, social services and chemical dependency.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, master’s degree in education in community counseling from Ohio University and a Ph.D. in education with a major in counselor education from The Ohio State University. She is a licensed professional clinical counselor with supervising counselor credential who specializes in marriage, couples and family counseling.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ohio eCampus Sunday Spotlight: Dr. Donna Burgraff

(Credit: Ohio University eCampus)

Dr. Burgraff is a tenured Associate Professor of Technical and Applied Studies at Ohio University. She teaches on both the Chillicothe Campus and online through OHIO eCampus, and coordinates the Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies for Regional Higher Education. Get to know her a little better:

I'm a native of Appalachia—a culture I am extremely proud to come from. You do not get much more Appalachian than I am, being both the daughter of a coal miner and a descendant from the McCoys (yes, "those" McCoys). The issues facing the Appalachian region are something I care deeply about.
I have had a broad career in education. I began as a high school teacher of English and German. I then moved to the collegiate level by additionally teaching undergraduate and graduate psychology and education. After many years as a teacher, I had several administrative positions at various universities before returning back to my first love: teaching. I am very passionate about helping all of my students succeed.

I have a B.A. in English with a German minor and an M.A. in counseling (both from Eastern Kentucky University), an M.S. in adult education from Marshall University, and a doctorate in higher education administration/leadership from West Virginia University.

I've also published articles in national journals and authored a chapter, “Leadership Lessons in Rock Climbing,” in the book, "Leading from the Heart: The Passion to Make a Difference." My most recent article was published in Higher Education for the Future and titled, “No More Textbooks: Changing How We Structure Classes.” I also have made presentations on the local, state, regional, and national levels.

I was awarded a prestigious W. K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellowship. During my fellowship, I traveled around the world studying cultural transmission. I love to travel and have been on every continent except Antarctica, and I intend to get there.

I also am a lifelong member of the Girl Scouts and a current member of AAUW. Thus, issues facing girls and discrimination against women are both keen interests of mine. For fun, in addition to travel, I love to read a good book and go to the theater.