Puckett ’15 Fascinated by Kings, Cathedrals

Austin Puckett ’15 – As our group entered into day five of being in Paris and studying the different Gothic themes of the Cathedrals in Paris and the surrounding cities, it was easy to tell that everyone was becoming more comfortable. Conversations started to become a little more organized and a little more passionate. That was largely in part because now we have seen multiple cathedrals, enough that we can start making comparisons and viewing common themes.

One of the biggest aspects that I have found particularly interesting when we are looking at these cathedrals is the way in which the government of the time was and still is intertwined within the religious community. That is something that we have been asked to look at since day one and it is just something that is difficult to wrap your brain around. We visited the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims today and one of the things we were told to look at was the way in which the kings of France were shown in stained glass windows at the very top of the church. The kings were even given their power inside of the cathedral and the coronations happened there also We find this so interesting because in America we mainly see a major separation of church and state and here we see the actually leaders of the country being displayed inside what is a holy, religious building.

It wasn’t just at Notre-Dame de Reims in which we saw evidence for this; it was also at Notre Dame de Paris, where the statues that are located in the front are associated also with the 28 kings of Judah and Israel. We are not actually sure who the statues are supposed to be but throughout the years it has been accepted that they in some way they depict these kings. Obviously, there would have to be a reason for this intertwining to happen and it would have had to stem from the people. The reason I believe this happened is security. The people that resided in the town would have wanted security and to feel safe. That is what the cathedral gave these people, the sense that they were part of a bigger community and not a stranded individual. They lose themselves within the church and therefore feel safer.

Another aspect of this churches that I have seen in almost everyone we have visited, something that I believe correlates well to the first idea, is the open space that is located in front of most of these cathedrals. The open space maybe today, is seen as a tourist area but what it could have been used for is amazing. Essentially you have a building where everyone goes to church to worship and then you have all this space out in front in which they all fit, this is where the two worlds collide. The church is where citizens went and citizens make up the city and therefore the government and church are intertwined. It was an inevitable merger that played out and has been personified within the walls of the church. There are stain glass windows that depict God giving the power to the King and also the fleur-de-lis is found throughout many of the churches. The idea that the church and the state being one is so foreign to us as Americans. We see that as something that would hinder the efficiency of the government but however the French embraced the idea and we can see that within the cathedrals that we are studying. The citizen went to the church for everything. If there was ever a problem, the church is where they would go. The readings only made me believe more in this idea that the church helps to manifest these principles of security and comfort within the individual. They gained knowledge of government and certain issues all while worshiping within the walls of the church. This was the idea that I found the most intriguing and challenging as I searched for a topic within the readings and group discussions we had.

Zurek ’16: Immersion Trip Lives Up to Billing

Mason Zurek ’16 – When I was signing up for this class, I was torn between whether or not to take it. I had yet to go on an immersion trip anywhere, but I had not gone on the fabled collegiate Spring Break trip. At the beginning of the immersion trip, as I received numerous Snapchats and texts about the sun, beach, and women, I feared I had made the wrong decision. I figured “Washington DC is not going anywhere soon, but I only have a couple Spring Breaks in college.” Yet, as the week went on, I realized the incredible opportunities that the immersion trip offered me.

Washington D.C. has rhetoric of every type present: political, journalism, media, and public opinion. We studied them all. The politics part is simple: DC is the center of politics in the United States. The Newseum offered a funny and entertaining perspective on journalism and media (there was an Anchorman exhibit). Public opinion was on display when we met with America Rising and heard the procedures and ways opinion is shaped during campaigns. DC is an incredibly rhetoric-rich environment and probably the best place to study for a major like myself.

From meeting with lobbyists who could contact some of the most powerful people in DC with a single phone call to chatting with Representative Messer, a Wabash Phi Delta Theta graduate, the people we met and the things we did were once in a lifetime events. I cannot foresee having another chance to tour the FBI or any of a number of things we did, and I realized the true beauty of the trip was networking: professionally and personally.

On the professional side, I was able to meet and connect with a large number of alumni who were more than happy to offer advice and their business card. Even better was their insight into life in the city and after college. I learned it is quite important to establish yourself young in order to advance later in life.

Personally, I was able to bond with my classmates and fellow Wabash brethren in a new way. The 14 of us went everywhere together and had some discussions that I never would have expected. The Democrats and Republicans sparred on a bunch of issues, gay marriage was debated, and the intricacies of Tinder were brought up at shockingly regular intervals. It was refreshing to go outside of my friend circle and connect so well with other Wallies.

In conclusion, I had an incredible trip. The meetings, camaraderie, and city itself were wonderful. Wabash Immersion Trips are experiences everyone needs to have before they graduate, even if you skip going to Florida.  It is most definitely worth it.

Regnier ’16 Enjoys Library of Congress Visit

Rep. Luke Messer '91 with Wabash Rhetoric Class.

Rep. Luke Messer ’91 with Wabash Rhetoric Class.

Tyler Regnier ’16 – Today was our last day in D.C.  To start the day, Kyle Stucker ‘17 and I toured the Library of Congress.  The tour guide enlightened us with hidden insights about the meaning of the elaborate murals and carvings that fill the Jefferson building of the library. The designer wanted to build something as grandiose and ornate as a European structure, in order to show the European world powers in the 1800’s that the United States could compete with them.  The space certainly conveys power by aesthetically overwhelming one’s senses with massive marble columns and vivid and colorful murals.  The design of the building not only conveys the political power of our nation, but also the power and value of knowledge.  The Great Hall and the Main Reading Room feature murals and sculptures that speak to the different subjects housed in the library.  From corner to corner, the building is filled with symbolism.  For instance, the golden light fixtures at the main entrance to the building have thirteen bulbs to represent the thirteen original states.  Being the first building in D.C. to be wired for electricity, people came to the library just to marvel at the light fixtures.

After lunch we met with Representative Luke Messer (class of ’91) in his office on Capitol Hill.  I think it’s safe to say that the whole group enjoyed sitting down to chat with him.  He gave us a perspective on working on Capitol Hill, trying to balance family and work, as well as keeping his presence in Indiana while in Washington.  As Wabash men often do, we felt a sense of camaraderie as he told us of his days at Wabash as a part of the Wabash football team and a member of Phi Delta Theta.  After our meeting with Representative Messer, we met with Prime Policy Group, one of D.C.’s first truly non-partisan lobbying agencies.


Regnier at the Library of Congress

Library To end the day, I visited the major monuments of D.C. with Dr. Karl Grimmer (class of ’03) who now resides in D.C.  The monuments were majestic at night, especially the Jefferson, brightly lit with the wind whistling through the pillars and the sound of the water lightly crashing into the dam.  The Lincoln seemed to really speak to his power and the effect he had on our nation.  With its grand columns, slightly resembling the Parthenon, and the massive, gleaming white statue of Lincoln himself, the monument conveyed his graceful power and immeasurable influence on the U.S.  Almost equally as powerful, was standing in the spot where MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.  With Lincoln over my shoulder, looking out at the moonlit mall where thousands gathered in hope of justice, I got a sense of the pivotal moments in civil rights that have happened in our nation’s capital.  It helped me realize how fitting it was for MLK to give the speech from the steps of the Lincoln memorial, because the only other man that had such a strong and positive effect on civil rights in the U.S. stood right behind him.

Hernandez ’14 Capitalized on Insiders’ View

Alex Hernandez ’14 – Friday was a phenomenal ending our trip. I was able to visit the National Education Association (NEA), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Indiana House Representative Luke Messer, Prime Policy (a lobbying) Group, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Due to the fact that I had to sign up for an appointment weeks prior to the trip, I was not able to have the grand tours of NAE and NCLR; however, I was still was able to interrogate the front desk on what their organizations stood for and what types of opportunities (i.e. internships and externships) they had, so it was not a total loss because this potentially gives me another reason to go back to D.C.

Following NEA and NCLR, my class and I were able to visit House Representative Messer and the Prime Policy Group.

Being a non-Indiana resident and not familiar with Indiana’s congressional representatives, I did not know who House of Representative Messer was or his platform. On the other hand, the way he interacted with us was pretty neat. Many people believe that politicians or those that hold high offices do not have a laid back personality because they have to continue with the professional façade, however he welcomed us with a big smile and a fraternal environment. He told us about his time at and after Wabash, which gave me a reassurance that Wabash College is worth all these sacrifices, especially being away from home. On a side note, I wonder if my Texas representatives, or even President Barack Obama, are able to interact with people a personal level.

After meeting with Congressman Messer, my class and I got to meet with the Prime Policy Group. Honestly, this group was my favorite of them all because of not only the panel but also because of what they do and what their organization stood for.

The work they did and the message that they conveyed through their organization is very impressive because they work from as much of a collective and bipartisan standpoint as possible. The sense of community that they created was concrete because they had to learn how to hear out and respect opposing ideas and beliefs. Somehow, to paraphrase what they said, we just agree to disagree.  This polarization has weakened our government and society.

Personally, what stood out the most was the sense of unity and humility that our panel portrayed. Everybody in our panel were from different generations and backgrounds, but the way they interacted with each other and with us was just plain awesome. Even though they were from an earlier generation than ours, they were able to interact with each other and us as if they were in their twenties again; their diverse backgrounds and passion for their work, shows that their organization is a place to consider as a potential future workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign was another place that I enjoyed exploring. As a demonstration of the power of Wabash alumni, I was able to explore the organization because my host Gary James had his friend Noel, who works in HRC, take time out of his hectic schedule and give me a personal tour of the organization and the people. The interactions I had and the warm welcome that I received from this organization motivated me to apply to their summer internship, so wish me luck!

Overall, my Friday, as any other day in the week, was just plain awesome. D.C is a place that I see myself enjoying living in.

Sklar ’15 Sees Gothic Church Differently

Stephen Sklar ’15 - In Political Theory one can use architecture to provide a sense of place and time where ideas were originally produced. Difficulty with this method naturally arises when the architecture is changed or renovated. After observing the Chartes Cathedral one may encounter this difficulty. The new painting of the sidewalls in the back of the cathedral, which in turn redefines what something meant to be gothic, causes this conception. With this new belief one can also take a different view on the royalty’s use of power.  French cathedrals all possessed many of the same qualities.

FranceWhen the standard person reflects on a vision of a gothic cathedral, one will most definitely think of dark shadows and large grey stones. With their use of light, many gothic cathedrals possess a feeling of mystery and sometimes almost fear.  Some remark that the dissolution of light from the stain glass projected on the walls creates an atmosphere of unity or oneness. This theme, which one can draw from the gothic cathedrals, can be transferred to themes in Medieval Political thought. However, all this changes when someone introduces color to the walls.

Chartes does not possess unity; it is just another pretty church. Chartes Cathedral’s treatment of light is almost unnoticeable in the front of the church. Although, the windows are beautiful, the soaring magnificence of shadow from the floor on upward is lost due to the reason of the pillars flanking the center of the church are now painted in a brownish color. For this single reason one could postulate that the Chartes Cathedral new coloring made it lack the gothic feel.  If this is to be true then the modifications of the cathedral have desecrated this once gothic church and transformed it into something else. Yet, to one’s own surprise the painting of Chartes is mimicking how it was decorated in the 12th century and throughout the medieval times.  So what truly is Gothic?

The common view of the medieval is skewed. Most people conceive that the classic gothic church is a dark dreary place to  its lack of paint.  This derives itself from the churches presentation in the modern day as paint lacking. In spite of this, the medieval Gothic church actually was painted fully and the shadow and darkness that most people preconceive in their minds of the gothic is only a modern notion. This in turn forces one to rethink all of medieval political thought.

Cathedrals among other symbols represent France. The cathedrals were a conduit for emotion and thought including that of political actions by the ruling kingdoms such as, the coronation or the funerals of the ruling class.  One could immediately assert that there is a massive difference from celebrating the royalty in a dark place without paint to a beautifully painted cathedral. The effect on the individual would be me more calming and festive than that of pure subjection to the royals. The gothic cathedral can now be thought of as a more joyous institution.  The painting in the gothic church actually makes sense if one asserts that the royalty, to bring joy to their followers and to provide a beautiful place to contemplate and feel secure did the painting on purpose.

One must change their notions about the gothic as a truly mysterious institution to that of a joyous place subtly showing subjection.  One can make this notion for the reason that the preconceptions of the gothic being dark do not relate to the church’s origin being painted and bright. This impression changes one’s view on the purposeful actions of the royalty and their desire to remain in power.

Wittenberg More Than Expected: Chapman ’16


Cole Chapman ’16 – Arriving in Wittenberg, we weren’t sure what to expect.  The quaint little train stop did not seem to fit our mold of the Wittenberg we had read of in books.  Instead, it was this small town which had so much history packed into each stone.  We traversed the streets to the Marktplatz where two beautiful statues of Luther and Melanchthon stood.  Not too far past that was our hotel, which gave us some prime-time real estate.  After lunch at Tante Emma’s and a small walk, we arrived at the Lutherhaus.

It was quite large for the humble Luther we had experienced in class.  The sheer volume of Luther history was unbelievable.  The impact that Luther had could be seen in items such as the disputation bench which bears his image.  We wandered through the museum, encountering things such as the judgment sword of Wittenberg, which Luther saw as a symbol of power over the body, but not the soul.  One of the most fascinating items to see was one of Luther’s first prayer books and his translation of the Bible into German.  Both of these articles had extreme importance to Luther in his time, and continue to be important around the world today.

After our visitation, we met Bishop Guy Erwin for dinner at a local restaurant.  The only proper way to end the night was with good food and good friends, which was exactly what we did.

Class tours Civil War Battlefields in Virginia

Jacob Sheridan ’14 & Stephen Fenton ’14 – Se were at the Fredericksburg battlefield Friday visiting the other three civil war battlefields in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The four battles together resulted in approximately 15,000 fatalities, making it the bloodiest area of the civil war. The tour guide we had was one of the best of the trip, and he wasn’t even a park ranger, but just a private historian.

Unlike most of our other battlefield visits, the Spotsylvania battlefield did not seem to be at all preserved. In fact, the tour guide told us how he has fought to preserve some of the battlefield, but unfortunately most of it has been lost to developers. We learned about General John Sedgwick whose troops were being harassed by confederate sharpshooters all day. Against the advice of his subordinate officers, Sedgwick moved towards the front line to personally direct the placement of the infantry and artillery. Once there, he saw that his men were literally trying to dodge the sharpshooter’s bullets, which disappointed him greatly. Sedgwick said, “They couldn’t hit an elephant from this distance.” Soon after uttering this phrase, Sedgwick was fatally hit by one of these confederate sharpshooters. We also visited the spot of the Bloody Angle where the bodies were stacking up three and four high due to the intense close combat. In fact, there was a large oak tree that was cut through on one side with so much musket fire that it was knocked over.

We also drove through parts of where the Wilderness battle would have taken place, but because the battle essentially happened in the woods, we did not extensively visit this site. It is believed that there are still many human remains on the Wilderness battlefield.

At Chancellorsville, we were able to follow the approximate path that Stonewall Jackson used to flank his 28,000 men in place to attack the union forces. They made this 12-mile trip with nearly 40 pounds of gear in around eight hours. Luckily for us, we drove the distance making much better time, but the feat of Jackson’s men was nonetheless impressive. This risky maneuvering, which had cost General Robert E. Lee at Antietam, proved quite beneficial at Chancellorsville where the confederates achieved victory.

Our final stop of the day was the spot where General Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire. On the night of May 2, 1863, during the battle at Chancellorsville, Jackson and his staff were riding back into camp when the 18th North Carolina Infantry confused them for Union cavalry. Jackson and his men tried to identify themselves, but the North Carolina men believed it was a trick and continued to fire. Jackson was hit by one bullet in the right hand and two more in his left arm. Several of Jackson’s staff was killed as well. Jackson’s left arm had to be amputated and he later died of the wounds and perhaps pneumonia. In response to the event, General Lee said, “Jackson may have lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.”

Wentzel ’14 Fascinated by Wally Immersion

Jeremy Wentzel ’14 – I’ve been trying to pinpoint one specific theme that makes the Wabash immersion experience so great and unique from a social perspective.  Having gone on a previous immersion trip to Europe, I believe it’s possible to articulate a specific “slice of life” that is specific to a group of Wabash men overseas.

It should come at no surprise that a Wabash immersion experience, in many cases, is the first opportunity for a Wabash student to travel outside of the United States.  It should also come as no surprise that, for many, there is an immediate visible exposure to the new culture.  Some students can blend in better than others.  However, what I’ve noticed that inevitably comes from this process of cultural adjustment, is that the Wabash man manifests himself in a different way, with a guiding spirit that comes from the college mission statement.  To put it more concisely, you can spot a Wabash man wherever you go in the world, but that same Wabash man might not have to be perceived as a stereotypical American.

It comes as no surprise that taking risks is part of the Wabash education, as well as the ethos of many students.  In Paris, I have observed a healthy amount of risk taking that transcended cultural barriers.  Some risks were in the purview of an American outlook, but more commonly, there were risks taken for the sake of humanity – risks that truly embodied the mission of Wabash College, in a different nation.

Maybe it was the times when students would, out of sheer curiosity and friendliness, talk to strangers on the Paris Metro.  The Metro is traditionally silent, but for some strange reason, a group of Americans livened the atmosphere in a tasteful way at various points.  Or, maybe it was the time when a student gave up his seat for a couple to sit with each other on another form of public transportation.  Generally, the couple would have had to split up to find separate seats.  Or, maybe it was the time when I was walking with another group of students in the evening when one decided to strike up a conversation with a gentleman walking his dog.  Generally the gentlemen would have not been approached by an American on his evening walk, but the small risk on the part of the Wabash man led to a brief encounter of positive conversation.

These impulses are very specific to a group of Wabash students who find themselves immersed in places they don’t understand completely.  Yet, when our power of lingual and cultural certainty are diminished, small risks that enhance humanity sort of filter through.  This is another example, to me, of “spreading the fame of her honored name” in a culturally sensitive way, that comes only through immersion learning through Wabash College.

Rosenberg Added Unique Perspective to Trip

Professor Warren Rosenberg – I want first to thank Prof. Bob Royalty for inviting me on this immersion trip to Israel, and thank him as well for the terrific job of planning he did. I have led three Wabash immersion trips and know what organizing one entails, and mine were to a United States location. The complexities of planning a trip to the Middle East are far greater, and while the trip has another day to go at this point, I can label it an unqualified success. How do I know? I can see it in the students, and I can see it in myself.
Professor Warren Rosenberg with Elias Jabbour.

Professor Warren Rosenberg with Elias Jabbour.

Let me contextualize my remarks by saying that this is my first trip to Israel, after being born one year after the country was founded n 1948. As the only Jew in the group, I have a unique perspective on the trip. My attitudes have been shaped by growing up in a Jewish American household, with three grandparents who were immigrants from Eastern Europe. (My maternal grandmother was born in the US, but her parents were from Europe). I grew up thinking that if they had not made the decision to come to America in the early 1900′s they would have almost certainly been killed in the Holocaust. I, like many American Jews, was strongly influenced by reading the novel Exodus and seeing the 1960 film, both strongly romanticizing the Zionist enterprise. And while I grew up a somewhat practicing Jew, attending Hebrew school, having a Bar Mitzvah and attending synagogue on the High Holy days, I have abandoned practice but still feel a strong Jewish identity.

So coming to Israel with a group of Christian students (with only one non-Christian student) and a religion professor who teaches the Bible and early Christianity is interesting in itself. It has been fascinating to watch our students being exposed to the sites that are religiously meaningful to them, as well as to the sacred sites of Judaism and Islam.  Visiting Haifa, the stunning Sea of Galilee, Jericho, and Jerusalem have been powerful aesthetically, historically, and emotionally. Our morning on the Temple Mount, having the very rare opportunity as non-Muslims to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, was an experience that I know all of us will long remember.
Yet the key to a truly successful immersion experience lies in meeting and interacting with people, and it is here that Bob’s planning has borne the richest fruit.  We have spent the most time with our tour guide Habib, a Christian Israeli Arab, who embodies the incredibly diverse identities that it seems like everyone in Israel shares.  Because he is a Christian, his passion and deep knowledge really emerged as he took us to all of the sites associated with Jesus. But he has also shared with us his experiences as a Palestinian living in Israel, the humiliation he feels when stopped at a checkpoint, and the clearly strong feelings he has about the land and his people’s connections to it. We have met bright and interesting Israeli students–Arab and Jewish–at Haifa University, articulate and passionate Palestinian students at Bethlehem University in the West Bank, and an equally articulate and passionate Orthodox Jewish couple (he from Cleveland and she Connecticut) who met on a trip to Israel, fell in love with the place and each other, and decided to stay, who invited us for a wonderful Shabbat dinner in their home.
Our students have been completely engaged in all of these human interactions, as well as those they had on their own in each location. I see them processing these stimulating experiences on the bus and at meals. They are thinking about their own identities, about sacred texts, and they are thinking about the difficult political realities that are facing this country and region–even as fighting has erupted this week in Gaza and today on the Lebanese border. The “contested sites” of the course’s title are anything but purely academic, as they are learning each day of this trip.
For me, even at my age, the complicated processing of identity has been re-kindled by this trip. I am drawn to the Western Wall, where my grandparents would have given much to be able to pray, to the sites where King David lived, to Yad Vashem, the almost overwhelming Holocaust museum, and to a country with a Star of David on its flag. But when I see the other wall, the one that brutally separates the Palestinians from portions of their ancestral lands, I become upset and troubled. I think of the young Palestinian university student who wanted to talk with me about The Great Gatsby when she heard I was a literature professor, but who cannot travel freely to visit friends or family outside the West Bank, and who is restricted from seeking a job in the thriving Israeli economy just beyond the wall after she graduates, a person for whom the green light at the end of the dock is a daily reality. I see the face of a young boy in a run down neighborhood in Hebron desperately trying to sell me a bracelet for a few shekels. These interactions raise strong questions about any identification I might think I have with this beautiful and complex country. Clearly, this  is a trip that  I, like our students, will also be thinking about and learning from for a long time to come.
- Photos by Ian Baumgardner ’14

Prof. Gomez: There is Hope in the House

Professor Gilberto Gomez – Mr. Elias J. Jabbour is a kind gentlemen of sharp eyes, a generous smile, and a big heart. Almost 80 years old, he however is energetic and passionate about the possibility for peace and understanding in a troubled world. A descendent of the Canaanites who inhabited the lands around Nazareth from times immemorial and a self-defined optimist, Mr. Jabbour runs the “House of Hope” in the living room of his modest home in Nazareth, where he took our entire group for a convivial lunch prepared by his wife and grandchildren. It is a rectangular room lit by fluorescent lamps and adorned with handmade sings. “Love,” “Faith,” and “Hope” are all in English. There are also signs in Arabic and in Hebrew. Another sign wishes us a “Happy New Year in 2007.” The food is delicious, and Elizar goes around the table to make sure all students Andes accompanying faculty try the hummus that is served in small dishes. “It is made with the best olive oil in the world,” he says.

Prof. Gilberto Gomez listening to Benjamin discuss life in Israel.

Prof. Gilberto Gomez listening to Benjamin discuss life in Israel.

Mr. Jabbour is a minority within a minority: a Christian Palestine. He has devoted his life to the search for understanding and reconciliation in present day Israel. He bemoans the walls, physical and mental, that separate the various communities throughout this small country, and finds that situation extremely abnormal in a land in which the three major religions, which all share a common core, managed to coexist for centuries. An “optimist at heart,” he thinks there is not only room for reconciliation but a dire need for it. “We will be here together, or we will not be able to be here at all,” he says indicating that there cannot be a “solution” that excludes others. He doesn’t particularly blame one group or other. “We are all humans and thus all different,” he says, adding “we need to live with our differences and learn to love them, why does it have to be so hard? We are humans, and sometimes not the best humans.”

He emphasizes that only through the opening of the heart can a stalemate of decades begin to be solved. He laments that Jewish and Palestinians, although living next to one another, find it so difficult to meet and interact. Children, for example, go to separate schools. The town down the road from Nazareth is Jewish and is only three miles away, yet no one from Nazareth ever goes there, no one from there comes to Nazareth, perpetuating a separation that is lasting too long. Most dire, in his view, is the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, large numbers of whom have migrated and continue migrating elsewhere. If the situation is not changed, he thinks we will see a paradoxical situation where the  Holy Land, the place where Christianity was originated, will be devoid of Christians.

“Hurry up and eat more hummus,” he reminds the whole group now. And then he reveals the secret of why it is the best hummus in the world: “It is made with olive oil that I myself produced,” he says with a coy smile. Now, there is hope in this world.

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