Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy students get to know their University of Iowa and Iowa City community partners.

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy hosted its second salon at the University of Iowa Theater Building.  The topic was “wonder,” with each student being paired with an invited guest.  Students and guests alike brought an artifact that represented wonder to them.  At the end of the night, each group shared a word that represented their conversation.  The words were gathered and spontaneously turned into a song by local blues artist, Kevin “B.F.” Burt.  It was a wondrous evening indeed.

The following are a few student reactions to the night:


Collen Mahoney shares his discussion with calligrapher Cheryl Jacobsen.

At the Bucksbaum Academy’s second salon of the year, I had the pleasure to be paired with Cheryl Jacobsen, a calligraphy instructor at the University of Iowa.  We had an amazing discussion about how one finds wonder in life’s little things.  We both brought objects of wonder; Cheryl bringing a piece of her art, and I a copy of the United States Constitution. Overall, the salon was an amazing experience, and I am so glad to have been able to speak with such a remarkable person! – Collen Mahoney, student


Madi Huffmann describes what wonder means to library director Alison Ames Galstad.

I had a really nice time talking with Alison Ames Galstad, who is the Library Director at the Coralville Public Library.  Alison and I talked about books and how they were a source of wonder throughout our childhoods.  Books continue to be a source of wonder for Alison.  While books still provide a bit of wonder for me, my interests have changed.  This spurred a conversation about how the things we are passionate about can evolve and develop.  We closed the night by discussing the things that make us feel warm inside.  It was a wonderful evening. – Madi Huffmann, student


Kelsey Vandenberg explains how poetry produces a sense of wonder for Professor Robyn Schiff.

I was so pleased to find out that I was paired with Professor Robyn Schiff for our salon on wonder.  Poetry is something we have in common.  We also draw from similar inspirations, and exhibit related writing styles.  During the course of the evening, we talked about Emily Dickinson, how inspiring poetry can be, the many styles in which a poem can be written, and how no style is wrong.  Robyn even gave me a copy of one of her artifacts of wonder, a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks.  I really enjoyed getting to talk with Robyn and hear her perspective on poetry and wonder. – Kelsey Vandenberg, student


Andrew Van Nice recaps his evening discussion as Professor Chris Cheatum listens on.

I was very happy to meet with Professor Chris Cheatum at the salon on wonder.  We shared our connections with science as we grew up.  It was great to hear about his research at the university, analyzing protein motion at the femtosecond level.  We even have a shared interest in playing bass guitar. – Andrew Van Nice, student


William Mitchell shares the insights he learned from Professor Udaykumar.

At the salon on wonder I was paired with Professor Udaykumar, from the department of mechanical and industrial engineering.  Professor Udaykumar’s perspective on wonder is informed by his Ph. D research on patterns in nature.  He also told amazing stories about his time working in India and the wonder he has seen in people all over the world.  Professor Udaykumar is the nicest man I have ever met, and I am delighted to have had a dinner with him. – William Mitchell, student


Shayla Ides makes graduate student, Tempestt Farrar, laugh describing their conversation.

I was paired with Tempestt Farrar for our second salon.  Tempestt is a graduate student at the University of Iowa, pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance. Our discussion centered on how passions have influenced our lives and the wonder we find in them.  We also discussed our upbringings and how as children we experienced wonder through theatre and music.  The opportunity to speak with, and learn from, someone like Tempestt is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I look forward to keeping in contact with her. – Shayla Ides, student


Andrew Shearer acknowledges his dinner companion, musician Kevin Burt.

On Sunday, February 18th, I went to the second Bucksbaum salon at the Theater Building, on the west side of campus.  Once there, I was paired with Kevin Burt, a blues musician who recently won the International Blues Challenge.  We talked about our lives and how both of us have felt guided in the work we do.  (From my criminology/psychology major just ‘feeling right,’ to music presenting itself throughout Kevin’s life.)  I enjoyed the experience immensely and love these opportunities to connect with people from the University of Iowa and Iowa City communities. – Andrew Shearer, student


Keishanique Moton-Tyler shares the artifact that represents wonder to her.

I can see why Jan says the salon on wonder is her favorite.  I had a great time laughing and listening to my guest Carrie Wolford over a delicious dinner.  Carrie is a Master PLAYologist at the Iowa Children’s Museum.  In this day and age, it is truly amazing to have a meaningful conversation and get to know someone who seconds before was a complete stranger.  Just when I thought my Sunday afternoon couldn’t get any better, blues musician Kevin Burt sang to us with his beautiful voice.  I had to hold back tears. – Keishanique Moton-Tyler, student

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Rachel Farrier listens to musician Kevin Burt sing “What a Wonderful World.”

I sincerely enjoyed meeting with Thomas Agran, the Director of Public Art at Iowa City Downtown District.  Our conversation evolved from the planned topic of wonder to travel, religion, and how to determine our calling in life.  I really enjoyed getting a chance to talk with someone who has such a different perspective than I do.  It was also neat to get to know another artist. – Rachel Farrier, student


Assistant Director for Student Services, Jan Warren, helps get the salon started.


Susan Assouline, director of the UI Belin-Blank Center, shares her meal with graduate student Alyssa Choate and David Gould, Administrator at the Bucksbaum Academy.


A collection of words depicting wonder to the various groups.  These were integrated into a song, and performed by Kevin Burt, to close out the evening event.



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