Archive for September 17th, 2009

Barry Hillenbrand: global journalist

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

hillenbrand-barry_2Barry Hillenbrand graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1963 with a degree in history. After graduation, he volunteered with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia then earned a graduate degree in history at New York University.

He joined TIME magazine in 1967 and spent most of his 34-year career as a foreign correspondent, including two years in Saigon covering Vietnam and Cambodia in the closing days of the Vietnam War. He bounced from three years in Rio de Janeiro to three more years in Bahrain covering wars and oil in the Persian Gulf with intermediate stops for a few years in the Chicago and Boston bureaus.

He moved to Japan as Tokyo Bureau Chief in 1986 being appointed London Bureau Chief in 1992 in time to chronicle Charles and Diana breaking up and the Irish making peace. He returned to the United States in 1999 to work in Washington DC covering foreign policy. He retired in 2001.

Hillenbrand has remained active with freelance editing and book reviewing for TIME, Washington Post, AARP The Magazine, and Commonweal. He has also edited WorldView, the magazine of the National Peace Corps Association. He edits The Herald, the publication of Ethiopia & Eritrean returned peace corps volunteers. He has also undertaken speaking tours for the State Department to Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

Loyola in the ’60s had a stellar array of history professors – John J Reardon, Edward Gagan,¬† Raymond Schmandt, to name a few – who taught me how to think. We learned to analyze an issue from all sides, ferret out sources, check facts thoroughly, and approach problems with skepticism while always questioning conventional wisdom. Wow. They were training future historians, but these were exactly the skills I needed for a life in journalism.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

I’d head right for the fine arts department and take FNAR 201, Renaissance to Modern Art, followed by Music 155, Intro to Symphonic Music. LUC had no courses in art history or music in the ’60s, and that was a big hole in my formal education-along with economics. I’ve learned a lot about art, music, and especially economics in years of reporting on them, but it would be fun to take some courses and see if what I learned was right.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

Sitting on the steps in front of Madonna della Strada Chapel looking at the Lake

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

Unlike the rest of my family, I had no aptitude for science and did miserably in my two miserable semesters in pre-med. But I could write pretty well-and I was a romantic idealist who felt that journalists could help right wrongs and make the world a better place. I didn’t right very many wrongs, but I explained the world to readers. Maybe that made it a better place. I’m still a romantic idealist. And I had a lot of fun.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Being paid to go to live in interesting places and learn new things. Every time I’d get bored (oh, God, not one more story on Japanese auto exports!), I’d be sent off somewhere (get to Manila today, Marcos is going down) and start learning a whole new topic.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

This may not be the greatest piece, but it was pretty good. An editor once suggested that I change “he refused to comment” to “he declined to comment.” That was subtle but important difference. So, I learned that journalists and writers need to pay close attention to the shadings of words and not use the overly dramatic word when a less contentious word is more accurate.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

I always have several books going at one time. I’ve been working my way through Rick Atkinson’s The Army at Dawn, the first volume of his excellent trilogy about the American army in World War II. Definitely worth the time.

I’m nearly finished with Richard Wolffe’s Renegade: The Making of a President, the first book published about the Obama campaign. It’s just okay; it needed more editing. A better read, I think, will be Dan Baltz and Haynes Johnson’s The Battle for America 2008, which came out in August. That’s next on my list. Finally, I am listening to an audio book of Melvyn Bragg’s wonderful The Adventure of English on my iphone when I’m at the gym or working in the garden. It’s a fascinating history of the development of English. Everyone should read it.

What (or who) inspires you?

Reading a well-reported, well-written story in a newspaper, magazine or even-when they appear-online. Otherwise, listening to Mitsuko Uchida play Mozart.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

Asia in 1945, based in Hong Kong. Everybody came through: Mao, Ho Chi Minh, MacArthur, Gandhi, Syngman Rhee, Magsaysay, dazed Japanese, failing British and French colonialists, bewildered, muscle-bound Americans. The second half of 20th century history was beginning.

Describe your perfect day.

A day when I can reach my retirement goal: never having to do anything you don’t want to do. I seldom reach that goal.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Gosh, having visited, for work or play, more than 90 countries, there’s not a lot left, but I guess I’d love to visit North Korea, a place only George Orwell could understand.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?

I haven’t eaten pizza in Chicago in 30 years. In fact, I seldom eat pizza anywhere, if I can help it, and that’s mostly because the only kind I remotely like is deep dish which seems to be out of fashion most everywhere except Chicago. Right?

Who would you want to be for a day?
James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Popcorn. I can never resist buying it, especially freshly popped by a street vendor. I recently had a great bag from a guy selling it in the central square in Skopje, Macedonia. Delicious. And cheap.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

An intellectual who thought he was an activist. Or was it the other way around?

Maribeth Brown Romslo: photo pro

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

romslo-maribethMaribeth Brown Romslo earned a Bachelor of Arts at Loyola in 2000. She also studied at the John Felice Rome Center, where she met her husband, Erik.

A documentary wedding photographer, she lives in Minneapolis with her husband, 6-month-old son, and dog. Prior to opening her own business, Red Ribbon Studio, in 2004, she was a magazine photo editor in New York City. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Real Simple Weddings, and Brides Magazine, and she was honored as a 2008 and 2009 “The Knot Best of Weddings” Photographer.

What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

Service. I volunteered in a few ways during my time at Loyola and it impressed on me the importance of service and volunteering. I loved being involved in the Hunger Week planning and events-I felt like it increased awareness about such an important topic.

Since Loyola, I have continued to make service a priority in my life. I ran as a volunteer guide with the Achilles Track Club (for disabled runners) when I lived in NYC, volunteered for Peace House Africa, and have organized a Christmas gift drive for a needy family every year with my book club.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

Color Theory with Professor Vodvarka (a professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts), I LOVED that class.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

In front of Madonna della Strada, looking out at the lake

What is your favorite place in Chicago?

When you’re driving on Lake Shore Drive and you go over the river. The view of the city and lake is so pretty right there-especially at night.

Why did you decide to become a photographer?

I love telling stories with my camera. I feel so fortunate that I am able to do it as my job! My grandfather taught me to take photographs when I was a teenager. I went to college not knowing I would major in fine art, but was very encouraged by my fine art professors to pursue it as a major.

I also photographed for The Phoenix (student newspaper), which was a great experience for learning how to document news events and stories. The documentary skills I learned photographing for The Phoenix were definitely a foundation for how I found my passion and direction in photography.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Every wedding day is unique-so personal and different for each couple. I love that.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Joy is the best makeup.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Yes, I would recommend it, especially to “dog people.”

What (or who) inspires you?

Love. Kindness. Color. Kids. Nature. Yoga. Friends. Family.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

The 1960s in the United States-it was such a transformational time: civil rights, JFK, Martin Luther King Jr…Plus I think it would be awesome to wear go-go boots on a daily basis.

Describe your perfect day.

Latte from the coffee shop. Go to a yoga class. Lunch with a girlfriend. Walk around the lake with my husband, son, and dog. Afternoon nap. BBQ dinner. Glass of wine and a movie after my 6 month old goes to sleep.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Back to Africa. My husband and I traveled to Tanzania for two weeks in February 2008 and volunteered at a school there. The school is run by a Minnesota based non-profit (www.peacehouseafrica.org) that I had been involved with the past few years. It was an amazing experience. The kids were so inspiring, they maintained such joy and hope in the face of adversity. I would go back and volunteer again in a heartbeat.

Describe yourself in three words. I am…

Happy. Busy. Energetic.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

These days, my 6-month old, Max. I haven’t used my alarm clock since March.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Artist