Jim Amidon, March 9 — The Wabash Bookstore has a red T-shirt with some Dr. Seuss characters on it with a tagline that reads, “Oh, the places you’ll go… at Wabash College.”
I was thinking a lot about that story, Oh, the places you’ll go, last Friday as I watched dozens of students and teachers loading into vans and departing for Spring Break.
If you don’t know the Dr. Seuss story, Google it and read it online. Like all Dr. Seuss, the lines are playful and light, but a powerful message is hidden in the rhymes.
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”
You see, Wabash College students are traveling the world this week.
And all I can think of is Dr. Seuss.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes; you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Why not Florence, Italy? What about Brussels in Belgium? Take a dip in the seas of Belize or a romp down Madrid’s ancient streets.
That’s what Wabash students are doing this week.
Over 125 Wabash guys are traveling with their professors to extend the classroom from West Wabash Avenue around the globe. Another 125 are traveling with the Glee Club, working on mission trips, or playing sports in the sunny south.
Those guys in Belize? They are students taking a biology and aquatic ecology class with Professor Eric Wetzel.
Professor Bill Cook is leading his history students through Italy, where they’ll get up close and personal with their studies of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Out there things can happen and frequently do, to people as brainy and footsy as you.”
Other students will gain a deeper understanding of the politics and economics of the European Union — in the heart of the action in Belgium and Germany with professors Peter Mikek and Ethan Hollander.
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
Spanish teachers Dan Rogers and Isabel Jaen-Portillo hope their brainy students studying Baroque art and architecture in Madrid will do all their walking and talking in Spanish, not English.
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act."
It’s that kind of daring and exploration that makes immersion learning really work for Wabash students. We thrust the students far outside their comfort zone where they are often confronted with problems and languages foreign from their own. Solving those problems and learning to communicate effectively is a powerful way to learn.
“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.”
Thirty-five Wabash guys will be at it with hammers and saws, wheelbarrows and shovels, helping the impoverished people of New Orleans regain their dignity and pride.
“On and on you will hike and I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.”
Fifteen Wabash athletes raised a few thousand dollars each to travel to Botswana, where they’ll continue the missionary work begun a year ago. They’ll spend a week with orphans, and using the international language of sport, will bring a little happiness to their lives.
“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! So… you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”
Here’s wishing all Wabash folks, faculty and students alike, safe travels and good learning as they move mountains, near and far.
Note: Ten groups of Wabash students and teachers will be keeping live web journals or blogs with photos and stories of their travels. Check them out at www.wabash.edu