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March 17, 1988 - Image 48

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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The tape begins with Tchaikovsky's
1812 Overture. "So you're feeling full
of life today," a soothing voice says
over the bombastic music. "Let's march
along life together, from womb to tomb ...
Your mother always said you were a good
egg-you were a good egg there in the ovi-
duct. You remember the battle: the sperm
traveled past the epididymis .. . " This is a
biology class? You better believe it, says
Prof. Marvin Druger of Syracuse. "You
have to get students to laugh first. Then
they're ready to study."
In 26 years Druger has taught introduc-
tory biology to more than 25,000 students.
Many are nonscience majors fulfilling a
distribution requirement. "They hate sci-
ence," Druger says, "so we first have to get
them to like it." The wacky cassettes are
one method; jokes during lectures are an-
other. Druger does impressions of Charles
Darwin and other scientists; sometimes he
impersonates a brain surgeon, an Indian
scientist, even a character named Sam
Sperm. "We don't cut back on subject mat-
ter," he emphasizes. "We simply add hu-
mor to make it more palatable." The stunts
also help personalize what might other-
wise be just another mammoth lecture.
Druger, a basketball fan, has been known
to reschedule tests when they conflict with
big games. Fun aside, Druger considers
himself "a missionary." His vision: "I don't
teach students; I help them learn and grow.
I have the chance to influence thousands of
students-and I like that."
NANCY COOPER with SARAH OKESON
in EvanstonD V I D A R BozA in Boston,
LAURA ROW LEY in Urbana-Champaign,
ANDREw HUNT in Salt Lake City,
JAMES CAGE in Atlanta and
RENEE STARZYK in Syracuse
Laugh and learn: Druger at Syracuse
STEVE SARTORI-SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

1

Yank in the U.S.S.R.: Georgian explains anti-U.S. sign to Williams student Tom Loose
Aimding Student Trade
A program links American and Soviet universities

Before a dozen students from Williams
College in Massachusetts set out for
Soviet Georgia last January, pretty
much all they knew about the Soviet repub-
lic on the Black Sea was that old television
ad in which a 114-year-old Georgian wom-
an ate Dannon yogurt. But as part of the
University Pairing Program, the Ameri-
can undergrads learned a few more things
about the life of a Georgian student at Tbili-
si State University. For many, the most
interesting part of the exchange was extra-
curricular, including a tangible difference
in Soviet partying: no dancing. "There's
lots of food and lots of drinking and you
pretty much stay seated," says Darra Gold-
stein, an assistant professor of Russian at
Williams who led the group. In place of keg
parties, there were elaborate toasts but,
says junior Jeff Urdang, an economics ma-
jor, "their beer is terrible."
Since 1985 the New York City-based Citi-
zen Exchange Council has facilitated such
exchanges of Soviet and American under-
graduates. By next year the University
Pairing Program, run by CEC, will expand
the number of institutions offering recipro-
cal visits from 10 to 21 pairs. During the
first year of a school's participation, CEC,
through a MacArthur Foundation grant,
gives $13,000 to the school toward ex-
penses. After that, the university must
fully finance its own exchange. The idea
originated with 15 Yale students who in
1985 arranged their own trip to Moscow
State University. The group happened to
arrive right after the death of Soviet leader
Konstantin Chernenko. Walking through

Red Square with cameras dangling, the
students were mistaken for foreign jour-
nalists and led in for a private viewing
of the body.
This program is different from more
standard exchange arrangements. Unlike
most exchanges, which deal with Russian-
language and Soviet-studies majors, UPP
is open to all undergraduates regardless
of major. While other exchanges usually
last at least one semester, UPP is only two
weeks long. Visiting students participate
in classes, dances and sports (Williams took
an overtime victory from Tbilisi in basket-
ball), live in dorms and eat in school
dining halls. They also participate in semi-
nars and question-and-answer sessions ar-
ranged by the host university on such top-
ics as arms control. The return visits
usually occur within the space of one year;
the Tbilisi State group, for instance, will
visit Williams this fall.
Glasnost and perestroika have affected
the administration of the exchange. Rath-
er than work through central education
agencies, the paired universities handle
arrangements directly with each other.
(In order to apply, U.S. schools should
have students, faculty and a proposed pro-
gram in the works.) This actually makes
negotiations more difficult, says Michael
Brainerd, president of Citizen Exchange
Council: "It used to be easier dealing with
the Soviet Union's monolithic bureaucra-
cy." The inconvenience may be a small
price to pay for progress.
CHRISTOPHER M. BELLITTO with
NANCY KLINGENER in Williamstown

APRIL 1988

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