B-Yourself: Ann Marie Eich

Photo and interview by: Angela Karen

Name:  Ann Marie Eich

Age:  21

Education: International and Global Studies (major), Spanish and art (minors)

Why did you choose this field?

In sixth grade, I became friends with a girl who had moved here from Spain. We kept in touch, and once I got to start visiting her, I realized that learning new about new cultures is something that I could happily do the rest of my life. Although traveling is always what people think of first, one part of this field that I think is very important for our culture and future is that we become more understanding of other cultures and realize that the stereotypes of different countries may be there because of hardships throughout history that were out of their control. I chose Spanish because it is one of the most spoken languages in the world, especially in the United States, and there are so many neutral or negative stereotypes that have caused misunderstandings and maltreatment of those who speak the language. Learning Spanish makes me more likely to connect with others around the world and those that live in Birmingham as well. Knowledge of the language and culture is my main focus, but studying photography helps further my knowledge and others’ because having a visual can help people understand a little bit more than just imagining.

What are your plans after graduation?

As of right now, I don’t have any specific plans because I still have to apply for jobs. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to travel a bit before starting a job though.

In college, what courses did you enjoy the most? Why?

Can I say I enjoyed all of them? Since Sewanee is a liberal arts school, it has some intriguing options like Polish Film which I took during my first semester freshman year. Just through studying Polish cinema, we learned about daily life and values, traditions, and even the general look of the country. The photography classes also interest me a lot, especially the ones that include platinum-palladium since it is a printing process that went almost extinct during the World Wars because of the high demand for both metals. Also, the platinum-palladium process was reinvented by my professor and his friend, and now museums are starting to use this method for archival purposes because the print will not fade and lasts as long as the paper stays intact.

Describe any recent project you’ve worked on. What was the purpose of the project and what was your role in the project?

The first project I started this summer is to help Kitty Kat Haven and Rescue update their Instagram to hopefully help increase amount of adoptions. By using my camera and my phone, I’m trying to take some portrait-style and some personality-style pictures so people can see what the cats are like when they consider adopting. Another goal is to make the account have a more cohesive look so it’s easier for people to see the pictures clearly.

I’m also hoping to get a project approved for my Independent Study when I get back to school. If it goes through, I will be documenting a man who has lived in Sewanee his whole life, but since he is gay, he’s had a different experience than those who are not, especially since Sewanee is a Southern town with influence from the Episcopal church. I would like to be able to show the community how his experiences have differed from others and how acceptance has evolved from when he was born to present day.

What are you going to miss the most about Sewanee?

I’ll miss how close I am to my friends and the college-style schedule. We can see each other practically whenever we want as long as it isn’t during class times or meetings. I’ll especially miss sitting with my friends outside and talking about what we have been learning in our classes and when we go on hikes together.

Tell us about life at Sewanee.

Life at Sewanee is fun at times and hard at times. It can be hard living in a small bubble because the closest big city, Chattanooga, is 45 minutes away. Sometimes I feel isolated and alone due to that bubble. On the other hand, it’s such a great feeling being around people that I love and getting to talk about anything, including the classes. A great benefit is that most professors live on campus, and sometimes they will invite you to a dinner at their house. Last summer, I did Sewanee’s study abroad program in Cartagena, Colombia, which starts off in Sewanee. To get to know each other better, our professor invited us all to her house to go out on the lake and eat dinner. Once we got to Colombia, we had class in her apartment almost every week and would all go to the beach together after. It’s odd for many people to hear that, but it is a unique experience that helps us feel more comfortable in class and makes it easier to learn too.

Do you have any unique social traditions?

I guess one social tradition could be going to Spain every summer for the past seven years. This would be the eighth, but I went abroad and then needed to stay home for the summer to prepare for senior year and searching for jobs. It’s definitely a unique tradition, but it is such a blessing that I’m able to see my friend and her family. It was also a great substitute for camps since I never found one that worked well for me.

Another tradition I have with one of my friends is to go to IHOP or the GooGoo Car Wash to give us time to catch up and either eat or clean one of our cars.

What is your biggest achievement?   

At this point, probably just all I have accomplished at school. At the end of the fall semester, I will have finished all the necessary credits for me to graduate with only three classes. It’s such an important thing for me because I was really sick the first three semesters of school with mono and a never-ending case of bronchitis. There was a point where the best option could have been to withdraw for the semester, but I pushed through and am now ahead in credits for my major and minors!

What is your biggest fear? 

That people continue to be closed-minded and unwilling to learn. Whether it’s about nutrition, different countries, art, the environment, etc. One of the greatest gifts we have as humans is the ability to learn and grow which helps us to become more compassionate and understanding. Learning is a beautiful thing, and I hope more people have the opportunity and drive to learn in the future and use that to help others.

If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

At this point, I really don’t think I would change anything. If I could change the fact that I’m a picky eater then that would be really cool though! There are so many foods that I could try, but for some reason my mind won’t let me like them even though I do wish I could.

People who know you best say that you are…

Artistic, level-headed, fair-minded, resilient

Whether it is in a few hours or a few years, what person do you see yourself becoming?

I definitely can see myself becoming more hard working. It has already become more noticeable this summer, but I’m looking forward to the future and specifically next summer to start making more prints and trying to sell some work.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

Some of my strengths include adapting to new environments, taking morning naps, and now cutting and dying hair! (I just cut and dyed my mom’s hair for the first time and it doesn’t look bad!)

Weaknesses include a fear of public speaking, getting out of bed in the mornings, and reading school-assigned books that are written in the most boring and confusing ways possible (we’ve all been there).

Current obsessions

Currently I’m obsessed with Hometown Market, the supermarket on Greensprings. It’s definitely a random obsession, but they have a variety of foods I’ve never seen before. It’s also the place to get fresh passionfruit which is a great summer fruit!

I am also obsessed with a ton of Spanish music. I recommend music by Rosalía because she is a pop singer but always has a flamenco beat, so she has combined two of Spain’s largest music genres into one in such an incredible way. Her most popular single of last summer, “Malamente,” has been recognized by many artists and it’s easiest to hear how she melds the two genres together.

One thing you can’t live without:

I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, but my phone. I have the ability to take photos, talk to my friends around the world, and look up anything I’m curious about, and it fits in my pocket. It’s great for looking at photographers’ Instagram pages, keeping in contact with the cat shelter, and making sure I get to any appointments on time too. Our phones are great for keeping in contact with people and keeping up with the time, but away time from it is also something I can’t live without!

Words you live by… 

All I can guarantee is I don’t regularly think of a pillow with cursive print that says “Live, Laugh, Love” even though everyone probably hopes to live by that. There are no phrases that really come to mind, but that one cliche saying does get to the point.

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