January 21, 2003

An adventure in Scotland

India Herndon is communications specialist for Emory College.

Last fall, I had one of those mildly life-changing experiences. Like any good adventure story, it involved elements of danger: exhausting journeys, towering heights, driving rain, fattening sweets. But throughout, there was laughter and friendship and fun.

In the spring, I was awarded one of two Dean’s Staff Travel Awards, an opportunity for Emory College staff members to experience the college’s international programs firsthand. My proposal was to meet with the Bobby Jones Scholars during their year in St. Andrews, Scotland, and to make a brief film for the college website about their experiences.

A Universitywide opportunity, the Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholar-ship was established in 1976 to honor the late Bobby Jones, an internationally renowned golfer and Emory alumnus also remembered for his rare loyalty, compassion and integrity. The scholarship provides a travel stipend and a year of study for four Emory students at the University of St. Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland, located next to 600-year-old golf courses known as the Links. The 2002–03 Bobby Jones Scholars are:

• Elizabeth Barchas ’02C, Russian language and culture and English double-major who plans to attend law school.

• William Leasure ’02C, religion major with a premedical concentration who will attend the School of Medicine next year.

• Lauren Mayros ’02C, international studies major who plans to pursue a doctorate in political science.

• David Roemer ’02B, business administration major who plans to continue working for Apple Computer, or to start his own company.

Being an introvert with no experience in either filming a video or traveling for business (domestic or overseas), I was nervous. I worried that I’d do something dumb, like film with my lens cap on and cause someone to loudly call my bluff.

The good news was that the Bobby Jones Scholars were a delight. Generous and encouraging, all four went out of their way to make me feel at ease. And I discovered that, even in unfortunate weather, you can’t go wrong when filming in a romantic, medieval setting like St. Andrews.

Days One/Two: Sunny
On Oct. 19, after 18 hours of travel by four buses, two planes and two trains, my fiancé (and now husband), Erik, and I finally arrived at our lovely (insert sigh of relief) bed and breakfast in the small city of St. Andrews. The first scholar to knock on our door was Lauren with her bright smile and easy laugh. Next came Elizabeth, cheerful and energetic, and David, quiet and quite funny. William (friendly, thoughtful—and tall!), we found out later, slept through his alarm. They’d returned that morning from a weeklong trip to Dublin, Ireland, to visit with President Bill Chace and his freshman seminar and had not slept the night before. So we discussed a game plan for the next day and said good night.

Day Three: Cloudy and cold
All four students arrived in the car they share, and we rode up (the lefthand side of) the street to the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, built in the 12th and 13th centuries. We were all shy about what to film. We did some posed walking shots, some “looking off into the distance at St. Andrews Bay” shots, some jiggly landscape shots. Then Lauren suggested we ascend to the top of St. Rule’s Tower (not quite a ruin) and film the view.

There’s nothing that plays havoc with your ego quite like climbing a 10-story, spiral staircase with athletic students who are 10 years your junior. Footage from the top of the tower exhibits a sweeping panorama of the town, cathedral, golf courses and bay, the majesty of which is marred only slightly by my wheezing into the microphone.

At nearby St. Andrews Castle, the students sat together on a stone wall and gave a spontaneous group presentation for the camera about their experiences so far, a documentarian’s dream come true. For 15 minutes, I assumed the standard amateur filmmaking posture—legs apart, videocamera clutched to my face—until my hands went numb from cold and my nose was in desperate need of a long, loud sniffle. It was then I made the directorial decision that we’d reached a good stopping point.

We traveled next across town to the Old Course, part of the Links and known as the “Home of Golf.” As a tribute to Bobby Jones, we filmed the students crossing the Swilken Bridge by the 18th hole and then the classic “wave for the camera” by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754. Have I mentioned what good sports they were? I will be forever grateful to them for indulging me by lining up and waving simultaneously “to the folks back home” with only the mildest hint of embarrassment in their smiles.

Day Four: Rainy, windy and cold
We drove to Lauren and Elizabeth’s beginning golf lessons. A driving range in the driving rain, to be exact. In what looked like a horse stable,

I filmed while they whacked golf balls into a wet field marked off in feet (as the sign reminded those unaccustomed to a non-metric system). I thought they both did a terrific job. After golf practice, everyone met for dinner at The Balaka for Bangladeshi cuisine and had a grand time discussing movies, physics, biology and, of course, more golf.

Day Five: Rainier, windier and colder
Afternoon plans to film the students by the beach were cancelled because of the weather.

My idea to instead have Erik film my introductory speech by St. Andrews Bay was thwarted when we were unable to walk down the street. The wind was blowing us backwards so hard it was like suddenly finding yourself miming against your will. Classic British period piece-type weather, I thought to myself. Very dramatic and Masterpiece Theater. I expected any minute to see a horse-drawn carriage come galloping down the street and fought an irrepressible craving to wear taffeta and plumed hats.

Huddled just outside the entrance to our bed and breakfast, Erik tried to balance the umbrella handle and the camera while I did a fabulous job of tripping over my words and giggling through take after take. As drizzle became rain and Erik’s umbrella was blown repeatedly into the shot, I decided I could come up with something later through the magic of editing, and we dashed indoors.

Day Six: Drizzly and cold
After a Scottish breakfast I will be dreaming of for years to come (sausage, sautéed mushrooms, potato scones, fresh juice…) and a day of wandering among tiny town shops admiring all manner of things warm and woolly, Erik and I met with three of the students (William was in Glasgow for a swim meet) for one last on-camera Q&A. Then David and Lauren took us to a fish and chips shop for a local specialty: freshly battered and fried candy bars. I learned that (a) they taste better than you’d expect, and (b) I prefer a fried Mars Bar over a fried Snickers.

After an evening of conversation at a pub, it was time to say farewell. I hugged and thanked the Bobby Jones Scholars for a wonderful experience. They were candid, entertaining and gracious company. Bobby Jones would be proud.

To hear the scholars’ own words about their experience in Scotland, I invite you to view the movie on the college website at www.emory.edu/ COLLEGE/alumni/.






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