That Guy: Lamar Shambley
October 20, 2009
__An interview at the Daily Grind with Lamar Shambley is inevitably peppered with friendly waves, greetings of “Hey beautiful” and energetic “Hellos” directed to his friends passing through for coffee. Perpetually sporting an infectiously large smile, Lamar is dressed in a gray sweatshirt with cartoon-like pictures of cheeseburgers, hotdogs and monkeys, exuding a carefree and almost goofy vibe. Underneath his contagious extroversion is an intellect gifted in the study of language, a cultural sensitivity far beyond his age and a meticulous attitude toward his iTunes maintenance. A dedicated fan of old-school hip-hop music, Lamar graces the Syndicate dance group with his moves and tells me about the upcoming, much-awaited step show with his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.__
*Tell me a bit about your relationship with Spanish as a language.*
I’m a Hispanic studies major, so of course all of my classes are in Spanish, and for the past three years I’ve been working in Miami teaching middle school math at a summer program, and Miami has a large Cuban population. A lot of my students are of Cuban or Haitian descent. I try to teach them math in Spanish, or have them teach me a few Cuban phrases. When I have parent-teacher conferences and meet with the parents, some of them don’t speak English at all, so I have to conduct the conferences in Spanish.
*What do you like most about travelling?*
I love travelling because I like to meet people from different backgrounds. One of my backgrounds for studying abroad was to learn what it’s like to be an American, because I had no idea. Before I studied abroad you could call me a dirty, stinking American and I would have no concept of what that means. So traveling abroad I had the chance to ask people good questions: What’s your idea of being an American? What are some preconceived notions Europeans have about Americans? I think by travelling, whether in or out of America, you can create definitions for yourself and understand where you stand in society as a whole.
*What word do people use to describe you?*
I have been described as an extrovert, which I think is perfectly fine. The thing is, before I came to William and Mary, in high school, I didn’t have a group of friends. I was mainly by myself and worked every weekend. You know [how] in high school people have that group of friends that they do everything with? I never had that strong group of friends, so when I came to college I was like, I need to put myself out there and get to know different people. In that way I’m so much more comfortable stepping outside my comfort zone. I will embarrass myself; I don’t care.
*Can you think of any standout embarrassing moment?*
Freshman year during orientation they brought in a hypnotist, and I was hypnotized on stage. Keep in mind this was the first week of college, I’m a brand-new student and he needs volunteers, so I jump up and down and he chooses me. In the show, he makes me fall in love with an apple, so I’m like happy as can be; I name the apple and I make the apple my best friend. Then he makes me hungry so I ate the apple, and sort of cried on stage over my best friend, the apple. Actually, I remember they would put apples on my tray in the Caf — I was the apple guy. I think some people would be really embarrassed by that, but I think it’s hilarious.
*So if you were caught in an elevator with only the stuff in the big pocket of your sweatshirt now, could you be alright?*
I have AT&T, so I’d probably never make it out [laughs]. But I have my wallet, which is important, [and] my iPod. I’m a huge fan of music. I’ve been listening to a lot of flamenco music because I’m on this like, “I miss Spain so much” thing and also because its 50 degrees and drizzly.
*What’s your staple music?*
Hip-hop, definitely. I grew up on Notorious B.I.G. and [the] Wu-Tang Clan — that’s the stuff my mom played in the house — Nas, Mary J. Blige, so I grew up with this type of music. People always talk about hip hop and its disgusting lyrics but I grew up [with] that; and I’m not normal, but it doesn’t make me want to go out and shoot someone. Also, I’m a huge fan of M.I.A., Santagold, the Roots. Also, on my iPod the artist has to be named correctly, the song has to be named correctly, the album has to be in order, and then I go to Allmusic.com to see what influence the artist had in making the song.
__After his experiences in Spain and Miami, Lamar is thinking about going back to Seville at some point after graduation to teach English. Take time to say hello to Lamar and check out his step show Saturday at 8 p.m. before this celebrated member of the College’s community says adios in May.__