Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Britt Sean 01 feature

A man and his shovel

Archaeologist Sean Britt digs into the past, makes way for the future

Sean Britt ’00 got his first taste of archaeological field research working on a sugarcane plantation one summer while a junior at Wheaton.

His interest had already been piqued by “Anthropology 101,” his favorite class, and deepened as he pursued his major in history and minor in anthropology, just one course short of a double major. And then Jim Chiarelli, the father of James Chiarelli Jr. ’02, offered him a job at the Earthwatch Institute working on an archaeological dig examining a historic sugarcane plantation on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

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What’s that ticking sound?

In November, while we were celebrating our art director’s birthday over breakfast, a colleague remarked that there were only four days of work remaining before Thanksgiving break.

We all let out a collective gasp of surprise, recognizing how fast time flies. (My summer clothes had yet to make it to the attic, for goodness’ sake!) This issue of the Quarterly takes a moment to honor the passing of time:

February marked five years for me as editor of the magazine. It seems like just yesterday I was having a cup of coffee with my boss on the deck at Balfour-Hood and telling him about my interest in working at Wheaton.

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Facebook flash forward

Take Facebook. Add students who crave intellectual conversation. Bring in experts on a variety of subjects. Post and share.

What do you get? Flash Seminars—a new series of quick lectures presented by professors, alums or students on interesting topics designed to create more opportunities for academic engagement outside of the classroom. Think flash mob brainiacs.

Kimberly Nash ’12, working in partnership with Thomas Bruemmer ’12, brought the idea to Wheaton this academic year with support from the Student Government Association (SGA). Nash, who is a member of the SGA’s executive board and the student representative to the Board of Trustees and alumnae/i, says she wanted to start the series to generate additional energy and excitement around learning.

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A minute with…Donghan Yang ’14

Donghan Yang ’14There are easier ways to build endurance and to learn important life lessons than going on a monthlong bike ride through China, but those ways likely aren’t as adventuresome as the time Donghan Yang had last summer. A native of Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, he and a friend rode their mountain bikes from Chengdu, Sichuan, China, to Lhasa, Tibet, China. That’s 1,300 miles—28 days of biking, four Donghan Yang ’14days of resting, and four days walking through a tropical rain forest in Tibet. But who’s counting? Road test: “A friend of mine did this a year ago and wrote about his trip on the Internet. I was inspired by his article and photos. So another friend and I agreed to do a trip like this. I wanted to challenge myself, see how persistent I could be in achieving a goal and see how well I react under difficult circumstances. Also, riding a bike over this kind of long distance is a way of life that not many modern-day people can experience.” Pedal power: “I have never done anything like this before. We went through 24 towns. We rode 70 to 80 kilometers a day. We climbed over 13 mountains—10 of them were over 4,000 meters high, two of them were over 5,000 meters high.” Wheel-y hard: “It was difficult. We were riding on high plateaus and there was a scarcity of oxygen. We also experienced extreme weather along the trip; heat, cold, rain, snow and hail were common. We encountered wild dogs chasing us. If the inner tire of one of our bikes broke, we had to fix it by ourselves. The road conditions were extremely varied. Sometimes we could not even ride because of the mud and rocks that were used to pave the roads. Sometimes we were immersed in the dust when cars and trucks drove by us. There were so many difficulties, but I learned to calm down and not let myself become anxious, because I knew only a strong body and a tough mind would help me get through it.” Moving forward: “I learned to never give up when faced with difficulties. This has helped me with my coursework at Wheaton because I’ve begun to get rid of my problem of procrastinating. I’ve learned to persist in my schoolwork, even when I am tired.”