FBI Visit a D.C. Highlight for Tapper ’16

Josh Tapper ’16 – Have you ever met with a PAC before? Have you ever been able to tour the FBI?  If you answered no to either one of those previous questions, I am sorry, and if you ever get the chance you should do so.  Luckily, this small group of Wabash men was able to do both of those things in the same day.  Washington D.C. is very fast paced and it seems that everyone is constantly doing something and that rings true so far for us.

Prof. Sara Drury's class at the FBI Headquarters in D.C.,

Prof. Sara Drury’s class at the FBI Headquarters in D.C.,

We started our Tuesday off by meeting with Joseph Pounder, President of the America Rising PAC.  While in our meeting we were able to learn how tools such as thinking critically are put into use in the real world, mainly politics in this case.  In this meeting we learned what the benefits of close research and application of minor details can do to either make or break a certain candidate’s run for office.  It is interesting when meeting with groups such as America Rising to note that we may not be electing a President this year, but regardless the effort to secure a spot for your candidate to be on top never ends.  It was also nice to get a helpful reminder to be careful about what you post on social media, because that stuff is never fully gone whether you think it is or not.  As you can now see this meeting with America Rising was helpful in multiple areas, and definitely was able to get a good amount of us to ponder our future.

Everybody knows what the F.B.I. is and hopefully if you ever encounter the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you’re not the one being investigated.  Thankfully, we were not in contact with the F.B.I. for negative reasons, but rather we got one of a few rare tours that are given out these days.  We started out at noon by getting to see a brief firearms demonstration that was definitely able to keep us all on the edge of our seats.  The F.B.I. must really know how to grab the attention of young men between the ages of 18-20 if they start out with something like that.  We met with a few different people from the Bureau and learned some pretty interesting things.  One of the coolest things that I personally learned is that the F.B.I. is not looking for people right out of college.  The F.B.I. prefers to have a well – rounded person like the education at Wabash promotes.  If anybody is reading this and you are under the age of 30 and think you may have some interest in the F.B.I., diversify your resume.  At the end of the day organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation are so successful because they don’t just look for anybody to work for them, but they truly do look for people who are the best of the best.

All is going well here in the nation’s capital.  We have all been given opportunities to do many things that will help further our education in and out of the classroom.  My spring break is quite interesting so far, and I’m sure it will only get better.  If you ever get the chance you should make sure you visit D.C. too.

Juthani ’15 Seeing New Sides to Old Dispute

Basilica of Annunciation375

Wabash students at the Basilica of Annunciation, Nazareth

Kalp Juthani ‘15 – Shalom from the Sea of Galiliee! Today, we had the opportunity to tour Nazareth and learn from a Palestinian Peace Activist in Shefar’am; both of which challenged me to rethink the conflict that has plagued Israel for centuries. We started the day in Nazareth, where we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation. After weaving our way through local markets to avoid the pouring rain, we entered Basilica and were stunned by its magnificence.  Light from its stained glass windows bounced off of the floors and illuminated the church with an absolutely beautiful assortment of colors. The central dome dominated the hall, protecting a grotto beneath it. Roman Catholics believe that its location is the site where the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that she would conceive Jesus. In many ways, the beauty of the church induces a feeling of spirituality and left us all with a powerful experience.

Kalp Juthani

Kalp Juthani

We climbed up a spiral staircase in the basilica and found numerous mosaics depicting Mary from different parts of the world. As we explored the main hall, the Muslim call to prayer could be heard in the distance. The sound echoed through the church but it did not seem to disturb any of its rituals inside. A few minutes following the call for prayer, we heard monks reciting Latin chants and large bells ringing from the churches towers. This is when it all finally began to connect for me. The religions were competing against each other with sound. It was clear that both Muslims and Christians wanted to be heard in the city. The competition didn’t just end here. We were then taken to a site holy to Muslims on an adjacent lot and encountered a site of contestation. We learned that the Muslim community had intended to build a Mosque on the site to celebrate the life of a holy man but had been denied permission to do so. The rivalry between the two religions has become central to the life of the people of Nazareth and their fight continues to dominate every scene in the city.

Students David Phillips, Shane Hoerbert

Students David Phillips, Shane Hoerbert

We continued our afternoon in Shefar’an, an ancient town that overlooks Haifa. Despite sharing a history that is shrouded with myths involving events in the life of Jesus, the town was completely isolated from other pilgrimage sites. We drove through narrow alleys, passed an abandoned synagogue, and arrived at the House of Hope, where we met Elias Jabbour, a Palestinian peace activist. For many of us, he immediately shattered our presumptions about Palestinians in the region. Mr. Jabbour was a Christian and argued that the earliest Christians were also Palestinians. What surprised me was the large number of Christian Arabs in Israel. I have met a few Christian Arabs in the states and have always assumed that the vast majority of them fled persecution and ended up settling outside of the Middle East. This is definitely not the case. They receive very little recognition from other Christians and continue to be fragmented by the Arab Spring.  I am certain that the pilgrims that we encountered in Nazareth have similar assumptions if not worse ones regarding Arabs.

Before I begin preparing for tomorrow’s exciting day in Jericho and Jerusalem, I wanted to thank everyone that has made this experience possible. It has been beyond anything that I could have imagined.

Bradke ’14 in Awe of Israel’s Holy Sites

Ramsey Bradke ’14 – Today was easily the most fulfilling and engaging day so far on the trip. Before we left the beautiful and quiet city of Haifa we enjoyed yet another delicious and colorful Israeli breakfast. Breakfast in Israel is my favorite meal of the day because of the diversity and color of the food. Green and purple cabbage, freshly squeezed juice, bread spread with hummus and paprika, watermelon, steamed carrots, and beansprouts. Although breakfast entrees are fundamentally different than one would find in America, Israel wakes us up with fresh vegetables and fruits rather than meats and eggs. A different but enjoyable change of pace.

Bradke375Our first stop today was a Greek Orthodox Church where Mary allegedly was informed by the archangel Gabriel of her mission to bear Christ, then a Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the city of Nazareth. The Orthodox Church was a historical spectacle. As we moved closer and closer to locations where Jesus and his mother may have walked and talked the significance of the trip really began to sink in. It became easy to sympathize with the holiness and spirituality that this country projects. The Basilica of Mary was equally as impressive. Outside the church were depictions of Mary and the young Christ from at least 50 different country’s perspectives. The Chinese and Ethiopian depictions, for example, used paintings or mosaics that depicted the Virgin and Christ as native Chinese or native Ethiopian. Although this seemed odd and blasphemic to me at first, Dr. Royalty assured me that this was completely acceptable within Catholic dogma. Catholics, who wished to become a universal faith, saw these different depictions as no different than translating the Bible into different languages such as English and Spanish to relate to peoples all over the world.

Prof. Royalty's colleague Elias Jabbour spent time with Wabash students.

Prof. Royalty’s colleague Elias Jabbour spent time with Wabash students.

My favorite part of the day though was our lunch and conversation with Dr. Royalty’s colleague from the Palestinian House of Hope. This organization, which was based out of a small home, was a run by a Palestinian Christian family and leader, Elias Jabbour, whose aim was to bridge the division between native Palestinians and Israelis who have been unable to come to a territorial or spiritual consensus over the years. This man’s conviction, kindness, and positivity was unnaturally contagious and engaging. His smile and family’s hospitality truly impacted me. We were able to ask him questions about the peace process and he gave us some striking and surprising answers. His main concern was the persecution and diminishing population of Christians in countries like Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. Although he applauded the Arab Spring’s movement for democracy, he decried the silence from the West with respect to its voice for the Christian minorities being killed and persecuted through the process of revolution. He also was very convicted in the assertion that Christianity had its roots and origin in the land of Palestine, a notion myself and others have seemed to forget or not recognize. His firmness coupled with his positivity and kindness were unbelievable. Not to mention the delicious homemade Palestinian lunch his family made us!

To finish the day we traveled to the shores of the Sea of Galilee where I am writing currently. This is where Jesus is said to have performed miracles and walked on water. Being able to put my feet into the Sea of Galilee and look at the two sides of land where Jews and Gentiles once lived during Jesus’s mission reaffirmed my excitement and awe from this trip. It is impossible to ignore the spirituality and history this land provides. I am anxiously awaiting our journey to Jerusalem tomorrow.

Bryant ’16 Learning More of the D.C. Rhetoric


Patrick Bryant ’16 – The students of the Rhetoric Department’s Voices of America course send you greetings from our nation’s capital.  As you’ve read over some of my classmates’ posts, you can tell we’ve already had a great day and a half exploring the sites and examining the rhetorical strategies behind the nation’s most iconic monuments and museums.

Today was a great opportunity to make site visits, gain some insight into the lives of some of Washington D.C.’s professionals, and have a chance to ask both policy and “day in the life” questions.  The site visits included stops at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a visit at the U.S. Capitol Building through Senator Joe Donnelly’s office, and an evening talk hosted by D.C.’s very popular Newseum.  The conversations and the sights made for a very worthwhile day and it was an honor to meet with Senator Donnelly for a few minutes this afternoon.

I want to talk specifically about some of the rhetorical agents witnessed in our visit to the U.S. Capitol.  This was my second visit, and we were very fortunate to have the assistance of Andre Adeyemi ’12 and Senator Donnelly’s office, to enjoy a semi-private tour.  We watched the 14-minute introductory video in the Capitol Visitor’s Center.  The video highlighted the strength, prominence, and evolution of the nation’s legislative branch.  Approval ratings and congressional gridlock aside, the video is meant to put the Congress in a light where it’s a direct representation of the American public.  It talked about the evolution of ideas, through the legislative process, to become the laws of this land – no mention of special interests, the power angling, and the debt crisis.  The movie and the ensuing guided tour through old chambers of the legislature and Supreme Court made for a tremendous history lesson, and rhetorically the unity between new and old demonstrated the keen importance of tradition, but the message of the movie coupled that with an eye towards progress.  The movie highlighted the discussions of slavery as the nation grew in the first half of the 19th century, but the tone changed as civil rights legislation took center stage in the 20th century.

Meeting with the Senator and hearing what he had to say gave us some perspective into the rhetoric that encompasses his role.  He referred to his office as “our” office, the office of the people of Indiana.  In a geographical area where symbolism is king, Senator Donnelly’s comment certainly garnered my respect.

I want to extend my thanks to the leadership of our classroom professor and leader of this trip, Professor Sara Drury, and the assistance of Professor Shamira Gelbman of the Political Science Department.  This has been an incredible experience and without the generosity of the friends of the College, these immersion experiences would not be possible.  I certainly hope that you take time to read the posts from my classmates as they share with you more stories from the week’s experiences.

Burtner ’17 Enjoying Capital, Meeting Senator

Adam Burtner ’17 – For the 14 Wabash Men visiting our nation’s capital this week, Monday was an extremely busy day. Now here in Washington for two days, we are settled in to our hotel, and have become acclimated with the D.C. Metro and the different areas of the city. Monday continued to impress, as I had some of the best food I have ever had, enjoyed a seminar from a prominent Anti-Censorship advocate, learned from three different Department of Justice personnel, and also met with Senator Joe Donnelly after touring the Capitol building.

We started our day off early so that we could grab some Starbucks coffee before hopping on the Metro and heading over to the Department of Justice for our meeting with the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division of the Civil Rights Department, Mark Blumberg. Mr. Blumberg engaged us in a very insightful and entertaining conversation on the Justice Department and what he gets to do everyday in defending the United States Constitution. He also brought along a very prominent lawyer in the fight for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act who gave us an inside look into the policy making and trial work done for a high profile bill such as DOMA. Lastly, Ed Chung gave the group the political side of the DOJ and also within the senate. One take away message that all three speakers told us, was that we need to take opportunities when they come to us, and to always try new things and expand our network and skills in the workforce.

After the Department of Justice the group got a quick lunch before heading over to the Capitol building to meet with Andre Adeyemi, Wabash class of 2012, who gave us an inside tour of the Hart Senate office building and the Capitol building, its chambers, and its historical artifacts. We also got to enjoy a video on the U.S. Capitol’s history in which we analyzed the patriotic and nationalistic rhetoric in the movie and what that portrays to the Capitol visitors and the ideals in which it emphasizes. After our incredible tour of the building, we headed to Senator Joe Donnelly’s office where we had the wonderful honor and privilege to speak with him as well as take a group photo with him. Senator Donnelly sung praises for Wabash and encouraged all of us to apply for internships on the hill. I myself have met with two other Indiana Senators before, however Senator Donnelly was by far the most enjoyable and friendly in his interactions with us. I am sure I am not alone in saying that meeting Senator Donnelly will be one of the highlights of this week and our immersion trip experience.

After spending the afternoon on Capitol Hill, a group of seven of us decided to get an early dinner at a sit down, family style Italian restaurant. We ordered a mix of pasta, chicken, and appetizers and absolutely feasted upon what in my opinion, was the best meal we have had thus far in this trip. After dinner we headed over to the Newseum where we were able to attend a seminar given by Greg Lukianoff who addressed the ongoing issues of censorship and first amendment rights on college campuses. After this presentation there was a very nice reception where we were able to meet the speaker and socialize with other D.C. locals. After the event, many guys joined Dr. Drury on the nighttime walking tour of our national monuments.

Monday was an amazing day for the Little Giants, and we are all looking forward to the experiences that are to come the rest of the week. Tomorrow I am looking forward to the Newseum, our tour of the FBI, and as well as our meeting with Joe Pounder who runs the Super PAC America Rising. Words can quite honestly not describe how influential and enjoyable this immersion trip has been so far, and thankfully it has just begun!

D.C. Advertisements Fascinate Dothager ’16

Brandon Dothager ’16 – When applying for this trip, I started with, “Double-majoring in Political Science and Rhetoric, Washington D.C. is my Mecca.” Based on how it’s going so far, Mecca has been an understatement. Everything about D.C. exudes an attitude – I’m tempted to call it patriotism but it isn’t; “American spunk” is the closest I can come to portraying the idea. It’s an aura of being a part of the capital, literally being within a metonym for the nation as a whole, that exists within every building, monument, and D.C. native you see. In fact, D.C. has the best plate for not being a state! “Taxation without representation.”

Brandon Dothager-1One of the first differences from the “rest of America” that I noticed was that advertisements are never for movies, but rather political statements. Humane Watch puts a lot of effort into lobbying public transportation. They’ve got per-state charts everywhere on various subjects, such as the attached “Pet Shelter Spending by State.” (Excuse the blurriness, the Metro isn’t quite smooth.) There’s also quite a few direct statements on current policy, such as healthcare.

However, hands down my favorite “advertisement” is a diplomatic one. There’s an entire subway exit that has had all of its advertising bought out by Canada in an attempt to promote US-Canadian relations. It is very amusing to leave a train in DC and see maple leafs everywhere.
After we finally disembarked from the Metro, we went to the White House. The White House was underwhelming – it is not a big building by any means and it satisfied my curiosity to see it very quickly. After I got bored of watching people awkwardly pose for selfies in front of the White House, I noticed that there was a booth set up across from the White House. As a result, I wasn’t nearly as interested in the White House as I was the protestor that was in front of it. Concepcion Picciotto has been protesting in front of the White House since 1981; she holds the record for the longest continuous protest. Her central focus is peace and elimination of nuclear arms. However, she also makes arguments that I find more controversial
– she’s anti-Israel though she never said anything that struck me as explicitly anti-Semetic. While she was in very poor shape, she was able to hand out paper print-outs of her Emails to President Obama. (She calls herself Obama’s “closest neighbor.”) Her persistence is incredible.

After eating some of the best pizza I’ve ever had at “We, the Pizza,” we went onward to a free concert held at the Library of Congress. I’ll admit that I wasn’t that excited – I had never heard of jazz singer Gregory Porter. However, by the end of the show, his concert became my favorite concert that I have ever attended. During a live version of “Work Song” (different from the Spotify version, unfortunately) his performance was so powerful that I’ll admit I actually shed a tear. Jazz’s improvisation makes it one of the best genres to be heard live. The favorite song in the Derek Andre-Patrick Bryant-Brandon Dothager room is now firmly “1960 What?”

I’m loving D.C., and I’m just very happy I had the opportunity to make such a patriotic hajj.

Students Tour Civil War Battle Sites


Ryne Ruddock ’15 & Andrew Sunde ’16 –  The sunbeams lit through the window and provided a confident feeling for the day. The troops awoke at 7 a.m., ate breakfast, and loaded up in the vans to explore the fascinating battlefield at Antietam Creek, Maryland.

After arriving at 9 a.m. the students were warmly greeted by John Hoptak, a tour guide at Antietam National Battlefield. Hoptak spoke for 20 minutes, spilling his knowledge of the battle and enlightening the students about every intricate detail encompassed in the battle. Hoptak discussed the misfortunes the Confederates faced. Stonewall Jackson and his army had to bring his men from Harper’s Ferry and defend the north flank Union General McClellan. Robert E. Lee defended the south, holding Brigadier General Ambrose Burnside on the other side of Antietam Creek. Ultimately the Union took the battlefield. Hoptak noted that Antietam was an important battle not only because it was the single bloodiest day in American history, over 23,000 wounded or deaths, but because it was General Lee’s intention to move the Civil War from the south and fight on northern soil. The Union victory at Antietam Creek was the lift President Lincoln needed to sign and announce the Emancipation Proclamation.

After Hoptak presented the events in the battle, the class went out to the different sites of the battlefield and observed up close what conditions the soldiers were pitted against. After visiting the hospitals and farm houses the soldiers commandeered during the battle, the class returned to the headquarters at the park and prepared to leave. Loading into the vans around one o’clock, food was the next thing on the agenda.

The long day at Antietam National Park had students craving some down home cooking. After eating in a small diner, filled with delicious home cooked meals, the students loaded back up in the vans and ventured to West Virginia to the historic Harper’s Ferry.

The small town located on the peninsula where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River merge and simply become a larger Potomac River. Harper’s Ferry was an important town. John Brown led his attack on slavery, where he was captured and later hanged for his radical actions. Harper’s Ferry was also the largest Federal surrender in the Civil War, as Stonewall Jackson decimated the Federals defending the town. Harper’s Ferry also started one of the earliest integrated schools to educate former slaves, Storer College. The school was finally closed in 1955.

The weather was absolutely perfect for walking and seeing all of the sites the sites had to offer. The long day took its toll on the students, however. Upon returning to the hotel to clean up and get dinner, many students went straight to bed, resting up for the long day ahead at Gettysburg.

Wabash Men Visit Site Built by Herod

Professor Gilberto Gomez with Wabash students talking to Haifa University students and Professor

Zeno Joyce ’14 in the Market for morning juice.

Shane Hoerbert ’15 – As I lay in my bed around 4:30 in the morning with the second day of our Israel trip about to begin I hear the first Islamic prayer being played over loudspeakers throughout Tel-Aviv. After stepping out on the balcony to listen to the prayer I lace up the shoes for a run with Bradke along the beach. I think about the exciting day ahead and think about the track team (congrats on the fourth NCAC title) and all my fellow Wabash Men back home and on all the other immersion trips.  How lucky we are!

After a quick breakfast we headed north out of Tel-Aviv to Casarea, which was built by Herod the Great, and has continually served as a port city until it was turned into a national park. We relived the religious and cultural history of the amphitheater, hippodrome, palaces, and bathhouses. We took a bunch of awesome pictures including one in which the group was reenacting the usage of the bathrooms located in the hippodrome.

Shane Hoerbert

We then proceeded further north to the old city of Acre in which we visited the White Mosque and witnessed the ritual cleanings and prayer. After stopping for a taste of traditional Israeli cuisine we headed back south to Haifa, and visited the Bahá’í gardens.

After the gardens we proceeded to the University of Haifa and visited with students and the Professor of Jewish studies. We intellectually and socially connected with this people on important sociological and political viewpoints.

After this long and amazing day we have arrived at the Colony Hotel (it is niceeeee). Words cannot express how excited I am for the rest of this trip. The guys are yelling at me to finish this blog so we can eat dinner. Shalom!

Students Exploring on First Day in Israel

David Phillips ’14 – After staying up for over 30 hours I finally got to sleep in a bed. There has never been a more restful sleep than that in my life. I woke to do my morning reading and enjoyed a wonderful sunrise. It was also nice to hear a rooster crow in the morning and look out and see a bustling city. Breakfast was fantastic and bus ride to Caesarea was beautiful and scenic

David Phillips

Today in Caesarea we all go to sit in an outdoor theatre that looked out upon the ocean. It was truly mind blowing how beautiful it was! We then went to see the remains of Herod the Great’s palace which was between the theatre and the amphitheater. We also got to see a public restroom which was literally a few slots on the side of a walk way, outdoors, with no stalls. I am so happy we live in an era with dividers. But anyways moving on from the bathrooms we went to the amphitheater which was massive! This is where chariots and other games would be held. We were told that they used sand on the ground for the amphitheatre to absorb the blood better. Fantastic, I was literally standing on possibly a guys remains a couple thousand years earlier! After we left from Caesarea we went to Acre but on the way there we passed Mount Carmel. This mountain has some significance in the Bible because it hosted the story of Elijah killing a bunch of the pagan prophets.

Joe Jackson, Kalp Juthani, and Scott Hastings at the White Mosque

When we arrived to Acre we go to go into the white Mosque which was built by a Sultan that was nicknamed “the Butcher”. A real nice guy, great with kids I am sure… anyways we got to go see the inside of the mosque and observe a guy praying. The mosque was stunning! After this we ate at a little place that served shwarma. If you have never had shwarma you are missing out! Essentially it is seasoned chicken with vegetables you add contained by pita bread. It is simply delightful. After we ate we passed through a market that was down a few alleyways. The vendors had an assortment of items, from fake toys to spices and fish.

To finish the day we went to Haifa University to talk with the students there. We talked about a song’s lyrics and what it meant to all of us. It was enlightening experience to learn what other cultures think about a topic. Overall this trip has been nothing more than incredible. I am so grateful and blessed to have gotten to go on a trip like this! The place has been amazing but even better is the men I have gotten to share it with.

Bleisch ’16 Exploring Washington D.C.

Josh Bleisch ’16 – Day two of our Washington, DC immersion trip proved very exciting. While we did not need to be ready and in the lobby of the hotel until 10:30, I got up early to attend mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. It was a great opportunity to be able to visit this beautiful and historic Church. St. Matthew is the patron saint of public servants, very fitting for the seat of the Archdiocese of Washington. St. Matthews was also the location of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral mass. In addition to the rich history, the inside of the cathedral was absolutely stunning. The incredibly detailed iconography lined the walls, and the music from the large pipe organ filled the cavernous sanctuary. St. Matthews was definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

Bleisch, at right, with Dylan Miller in front of the White House.

From there it was back to the hotel for a quick 30 minute nap before the group hoofed it over to the closest metro stop to begin our day. From there we spent some time in the American History Museum. The place was so chock full of amazing artifacts, I was only able to see about half of the exhibits. One of the exhibits that stuck with me in particular was the “Star Spangled Banner.” Inside, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his poem that would eventually become our National Anthem was on display. What an amazing piece of American History!

For lunch, the group walked down the National Mall to the National Museum of the American Indian. It wouldn’t be a rhetoric class trip without Dr. Drury explaining to us all the difference in the narratives seen in the American History Museum versus the Museum of the American Indian. After Lunch, and a brief walk through that museum, it was free time. My friend, Dylan Miller, and I walked over to the National Gallery of art and had the chance to see some famous works by Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, and Picasso.

After that, we went back to the hotel to get off our feet and make plans for the evening. We decided to go to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. A sign on the wall listed the people who were allowed to eat there for free, and those people were Bill Cosby, and President Obama and family. The place was packed, and for good reason, the food was fantastic! Dylan and I then decided to go back to the White House for some classic touristy photo ops. We asked a nice family to take our picture. Judging by their accents, they must have been from Texas. When they asked us where we were from, we explained that we were on a trip with a class from Wabash College, expecting to have to explain that it is a very small school outside of Indianapolis. However, the father had a friend who was an alum of the College, Small World!

One more thing: apparently, on the south side of the White House, you aren’t supposed to walk on the road, so we were “emphatically suggested” to move back on the sidewalk by a Secret Service agent. Just one more thing to check off that bucket list!

Tomorrow is another long day with plans to tour the Capitol and meet Senator Joe Donnelly, and I look forward to all the other great experiences I’m sure to have while here in DC.

1 12 13 14 15 16 23