On a warm May afternoon, two NER interns kicked off their work shoes and had a nice conversation at the swing set.
Mac Christopher: a senior Environmental Studies major who has a passion for photography, videography, and nonfiction writing. Mac is from Peru, Vermont, and likes dancing to Daft Punk and ’70s jams.
Qian Li: a junior joint English-Film major who is passionate about literature, film, creative writing, and journalism. Qian is from Shanghai, China, and is excited for the recent nice weather in Vermont!
Mac asks Qian:
MC: What drew you to this internship at NER?
QL: I genuinely enjoyed reading NER and it always fascinates me with the fact that the work is widespread across different cultures and genres. As someone who just got introduced to the field of creative writing, the opportunity to learn about the publication process behind the curtain and to be exposed to more creative work drew me to this internship.
MC: What are your major interests at Middlebury?
QL: As an English and Film joint major, I am interested in exploring different ways of storytelling either through written/spoken words, or still/live images.
MC: What is your favorite literature?
QL: I think my favorite literature gets changed from time to time as I have more experience in life. Recently, I just finished reading a Chinese novel called Youth by Geling Yan, a contemporary Chinese-American writer. Her words give me a taste of subtle poignancy and bittersweetness that intrigues me and stays with me for a very long time.
MC: What are some plans for after you graduate Middlebury?
QL: For short-term plans, the honest answer would be to find a one-year-long job that I can sustain myself on in the United States, ideally in the film production industry, but I am open to other possibilities as well. My long-term goal is to work on cross-cultural documentary films, as I enjoy traveling and getting to know people from all kinds of backgrounds.
MC: What was your favorite part of the NER internship?
QL: Reading various creative work submissions is my favorite part of this internship at NER. It has amazed me that the contributors come from different parts of the world and it is just incredible to think that somehow I get to read their work in this cozy office in Middlebury, Vermont. It is like peeking through a small rear window that exposes me to a different world from mine.
MC: What do you like to do for fun?
QL: I sing alto in Ingoma, aka the only African a capella group on campus, and I consider every rehearsal day as the fun day of the week! I also enjoy cooking good food with friends and stepping out of my comfort zone to try new things.
Qian asks Mac:
QL: What was the highlight of your experience during this NER internship?
MC: The highlight for me this spring was the opportunity to read such a wide variety of stories. It is really amazing to be exposed to the community of creative writing and the vast amount of worlds and characters that are created by individuals with different perspectives. There is something pretty magical about seeing such an array of themes, settings, aesthetics, and plots every day at New England Review.
QL: What is your aspiration in life?
MC: I want to be a nonfiction storyteller. I have always had a passion for photography and cinematography but what that has translated into in recent years is a desire to tell pressing 21st-century narratives using the multimedia tools of narrative journalism. Another aspiration I have is to work with marginalized youth with relation to storytelling and photographic and videographic instruction: something I am always thinking about is how we can improve the access of digital storytelling.
QL: What is your favorite reading spot on campus?
MC: I do my free-reading before bed, so my favorite spot is under a blanket with a headlamp and a candle brewing somewhere in my room. With readings for class, my favorite spot changes often: when I was a young lad here, I very much enjoyed the comfy chairs in Davis, but more recently I have been doing a lot of my work back home in Peru, Vermont.
QL: What is your life routine outside of NER?
MC: I am working on personal documentary projects that are definitely a major priority. Beyond that, I enjoy taking photographs and listening to music while making pictures. I also reserve time for silly activities like playing Nintendo Gamecube or watching Home Alone II: Lost in New York (which I watched last night). My routine is pretty unpredictable, and I have a feeling it always will be.
QL: What do you read for fun?
MC: I am a huge fan of memoirs. Some recent favorites: The Liar’s Club (Mary Karr), Down and Out in Paris and London (George Orwell), Blue Highways (William Least Heat-Moon), Horse-Drawn Yogurt (Peter Gould). John Steinbeck is probably my all-time favorite author, and I enjoy reading poetry by William Carlos Williams and Philip Levine.
QL: Tell us one fun fact about you!
MC: This fact is about my dad. My father was—in his early childhood years—a neighbor of Hans and Margret Rey (the author & illustrator of Curious George). As the story goes, my dad developed a close relationship with Hans when he was working on the illustrations for Curious George Learns the ABCs. While working, he was simultaneously helping my five-year-old father with his alphabet. So—for a period of time—my dad was Curious George: or, rather, Curious Dave.