From Greenfield to Guinea: That’s one well-traveled Alumni Calendar!

January 23, 2009

If Liza Ramlow had seen a GCC Alumni Association Calendar in the home of a friend somewhere in Franklin County, she probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But seeing a picture of her neighbor from Gill, Erika Heilig ’96, on a GCC calendar in Guinea, West Africa stopped her in her tracks. Thousands of miles away, there was Erika’s smiling face and a story about how her GCC background helps her succeed with the riding stable and therapeutic riding center she runs with her partner, Sarah Rury.

Liza, a local Nurse Midwife, saw the calendar while traveling in Africa this summer with Sekou Sylla, an African Dance teacher at GCC, and a friend. During their travels, they went to Conakry, the capital of Guinea, and visited the home of Sekou’s children. Searching for a way to communicate across the language differences, Liza picked up a book sitting under the television and beneath the book noticed a calendar with the familiar GCC logo. She flipped through the calendar and was amazed to see the picture of Erika. Then, using her limited French, Liza explained to her hosts that the woman in the photo is her friend and neighbor. Pleased to see the picture of Erika, Liza decided to bring her a gift from her travels. When she got home, she wrapped the wood carving in a piece of cloth and left it with a card in Erika’s mailbox. Just a few hours later, Erika ran into Liza at the hospital while taking her son in for an appointment. Liza said, “Did you check your mailbox yet?” Erika hadn’t, and was delighted to find the carving and to read Liza’s note telling the story of seeing her picture so far away. Erika has had a number of comments from people in the area about the calendar, but never imagined her picture and story would travel that far. Sekou sent the calendar that Liza saw in Conakry to his children. As a GCC faculty member, he is just one of 4,000 people who received a calendar this year, the third year the GCC Alumni Association produced a calendar to spotlight GCC alums and raise awareness of the college and its success stories. Every graduate of the college receives a calendar, either handed to them with their diploma on stage, or mailed to them if they weren’t able to attend graduation. Others who receive a calendar include all GCC staff and faculty, every mayoral and selectboard office in Franklin and Hampshire Counties, the northwest Worcester County area and southern Windham County (VT), and all of the GCC legislative delegation, including the U.S. and State Senators, U.S. Congress Representatives and State Representatives who serve the 50+ towns and cities in GCC’s service area. Additionally, guidance offices in every secondary school in the area receive a calendar. That’s thousands of calendars, in the hands of thousands of people, spreading out across the state and beyond. Wherever your travels take you – whether it’s around the county or around the globe – keep an eye out. In places you might not ever imagine, perhaps you’ll see the smiling face of a friend or neighbor on a GCC calendar.

Thousands of miles away, there was Erika’s smiling face and a story about how her GCC background helps her succeed with the riding stable and therapeutic riding center she runs with her partner, Sarah Rury.

Liza, a local Nurse Midwife, saw the calendar while traveling in Africa this summer with Sekou Sylla, an African Dance teacher at GCC, and a friend. During their travels, they went to Conakry, the capital of Guinea, and visited the home of Sekou’s children. Searching for a way to communicate across the language differences, Liza picked up a book sitting under the television and beneath the book noticed a calendar with the familiar GCC logo. She flipped through the calendar and was amazed to see the picture of Erika. Then, using her limited French, Liza explained to her hosts that the woman in the photo is her friend and neighbor.

Pleased to see the picture of Erika, Liza decided to bring her a gift from her travels. When she got home, she wrapped the wood carving in a piece of cloth and left it with a card in Erika’s mailbox. Just a few hours later, Erika ran into Liza at the hospital while taking her son in for an appointment. Liza said, “Did you check your mailbox yet?” Erika hadn’t, and was delighted to find the carving and to read Liza’s note telling the story of seeing her picture so far away. Erika has had a number of comments from people in the area about the calendar, but never imagined her picture and story would travel that far.

Sekou sent the calendar that Liza saw in Conakry to his children. As a GCC faculty member, he is just one of 4,000 people who received a calendar this year, the third year the GCC Alumni Association produced a calendar to spotlight GCC alums and raise awareness of the college and its success stories. Every graduate of the college receives a calendar, either handed to them with their diploma on stage, or mailed to them if they weren’t able to attend graduation. Others who receive a calendar include all GCC staff and faculty, every mayoral and selectboard office in Franklin and Hampshire Counties, the northwest Worcester County area and southern Windham County (VT), and all of the GCC legislative delegation, including the U.S. and State Senators, U.S. Congress Representatives and State Representatives who serve the 50+ towns and cities in GCC’s service area. Additionally, guidance offices in every secondary school in the area receive a calendar.

That’s thousands of calendars, in the hands of thousands of people, spreading out across the state and beyond. Wherever your travels take you – whether it’s around the county or around the globe – keep an eye out. In places you might not ever imagine, perhaps you’ll see the smiling face of a friend or neighbor on a GCC calendar.