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I See Elsie

The Ithaca College London Centre

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Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 7:16AM   |  Add a comment

My right to work at the ICLC is based on the fact that I am a dual citizen.  I am both American and German.  Don't worry, despite some rumors, it is completely kosher and loads of people are dual citizens. The Germans are aware that I'm also American and the Americans are aware that I'm also German.  Being a German citizen makes me a member of the European Union and eligible to work in all EU countries.  Being a natural born American citizen makes me eligible to be the president of the United States.  So both passports come with perks.  Today I would like to announce the "dual citizenship" of the ICLC's blog.  Begun using Blogger, we are moving over to the IC blog format and continuously experimenting with it.  The original blog will still be there, but it is now a dual citizen of Ithaca College and Blogger.

Decoration in my office


On a side note, the ICLC will have at least 3 dual citizens coming to study in London this spring.  I have seen a number of cases of students coming over here to study, falling in love with Europe and chasing up their roots to find out if they can become dual citizens.  Even if it isn't possible to to get a hold of that second passport, digging into family history and ancestry can be really interesting.  A few years back I researched where my great grandfather on my father's side had been born in Northern Ireland.  When my brother came to visit me in Dublin, we took a bus north of the border and found the site of the family farm that his birth certificate said he had been born in.  It is now a tile shop, with very generous proprietors who gave us a large ceramic tile with a picture of a French boulangerie to commemorate our trip.

Wall decoration outside Sarah's office

There is a show that the BBC makes called Who Do You Think You Are? and I have decided that I would like to become a celebrity so that one day they will do an episode based on me.  The premise is that they take a well known figure (usually a tv celebrity) and help them track down their roots.  Often the celebrity has some sort of question about a relative that they are interested in answering.  Sometimes they trace families back to the person's grandparents, sometimes they are able to follow them backward centuries.  I have seen a few episodes where the people were even traced back hundreds of years to royalty.  My grandfather, on my mother's side, was convinced that we were illegitimate Hapsburgs.  I'm ok with this allegation because being illegitimate probably means that there isn't much of a history of in-breeding in the line I descend from.  I know that the point of the show is to get people interested in making their own discoveries about their past, but my mother and I had a look at some old papers that my grandparents brought over from Germany, and they are written in a beautiful Gothic German script that is nearly impossible to read.  The language barrier was a bit rough, too, even though my mother and I have both studied some German.  The German language seems to go through overhauls once in a while, so it was a little like trying to read your family history as if Jane Austen had written it.  No, I think I would like the BBC to help me with my research.

The Union flag with the Scottish Royal Standard sneaking in on the side

We have a worldly staff, with all members culturally associating with more than one country.  Bill was born in Canada but has spent more than half his life in the UK.  Sarah is Welsh but grew up in Holland.  Heather is American and is married to a Yorkshireman.  Choosing to remain a bit of a mystery, it seems that Elsie, who is mostly manifested in our blog, is a dual citizen of Ithaca College and Blogger.  Congratulations Elsie!


-Claire (Elsie would have helped, but she is on holiday celebrating her new citizenship)

Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 11:12AM   |  Add a comment


This is a completely true story:


This morning Sarah was in my office with me.  We were the only two in the building, as it's Fall Break and most people are enjoying some time away from the London Centre.  Weren't we surprised, then, when my phone started beeping to let me know that I had an internal call coming in!  There is the normal phone ring that you get when an external call comes into the building, but that wasn't what I heard.  The internal ring is more like a beep.  It's a repeating monotone and the caller's extension appears on the phone's screen.  The extension that appeared was 200, which is the phone on the Work Study desk across from mine.  No one was sitting there.  Last night when we were closing Sarah went through the building to make sure it was empty and to lock it up.  This is what happens every night.  I set the alarm when we left, and I am sure there was no one else in the building with us.  I was the first one here this morning, and when I opened the door, the alarm was set as I had done it the night before.  There was no one else in the building!

Elsie left her mark in push pins.  I may have helped her.  This was back when I thought she was a figment of Bill's imagination.

As I said, Sarah was in my office when this happened, and we were the only ones here, so we know that it could only be Elsie calling.  Sarah said that this reminded her of the first time she was alone in the building.  Bill, Heather and the students were away on a trip, and Sarah was working hard, when the lights of the 6 phone lines coming into the building started flashing for her own personal light show.  Only slightly unnerved, she checked with Heather and Bill when they returned to find out if this was something they had ever seen.  Heather said she had seen it plenty of times before.  So perhaps Heather has more in-depth knowledge of Elsie than the rest of us guessed?


This is what my phone looks like when I get an internal call, though I wasn't fast enough to capture it with Line 1 lit up.

Not that I'm trying to spook anyone as Halloween gets closer, but I had always thought of Elsie as the creature that would reach through the balustrade for my ankles as I ran up the stairs from locking up the basement in the dark (the light switch is at the bottom of the stairs, so it's a dim trip up).  Or perhaps she would be the one banging on the radiator behind the closed door of room 8.  I guess I just didn't expect her on the phone.  I think that one has been used for the plot of more than one horror film.  Come on Elsie, show us a bit of creativity!


I guess the moral of the story is that Elsie doesn't make outgoing calls, because if she did, it might be a worry to us all that she is going around the ICLC to phone her friends, and she might be giving the alarm code away.  But the alarm was untouched this morning, so she probably doesn't know how to work it.  On the other hand, she may not know how to dial out of the building either, so she keeps it to internal calls, which is fine since Bill, Sarah, Heather and I all know the alarm code already, so she wouldn't be divulging confidential information to us that we don't already know.  Or maybe Elsie just forgot to dial 9.  Luckily this happened when we were both in.  Tomorrow I leave for Ithaca and it will just be Sarah.  If Elsie grabs her ankle on the stairs, who will hear her scream?


And these are the things that happen in the ICLC when the students aren't in.


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