Aaron Tincher ’18 — We went to Ostia today to visit the ruins. Unlike Rome, Ostia has not been built over multiple times and therefore provides a good snapshot of what life would have been like in ancient Italy. There was one small hiccup in getting to Ostia, the transportation workers went on strike, and therefore the train was shut down. We were able to catch some cabs and make it to Ostia. In Ostia we heard four different presentations from students, and I gave a presentation on the Jewish Synagogue in Ostia. We learned about and saw the cult of Mithras, the market at Ostia, and the cult of Cybele. Each gave an interesting contrast to that of Christianity, it was important to visualize and try to understand how these religions competed with Christianity. We also ate a picnic lunch in the Ostian theatre; we ate a wide variety of authentic meats, cheeses, and bread. It was a great meal and good bonding experience for our group. We learned from class how Rome was such a cosmopolitan city and was very diverse. Visiting Ostia only reinforced what we learned, because we saw many different religions and learned how busy and diverse the market was by analyzing tiles painted on the floor. The tiles had pictures of different food, different animals, and different goods from different countries. Visiting Ostia also reinforced the idea that while ancient Rome was a hierarchical structure, the city was open enough to let lower class people rub up against the elites of society. I was not expecting Ostia to be as large as it was, and I was not expecting the ruins to be as intact as they were. Seeing the city helped replaced the mental image I had of ancient Rome with a real one, which will help in future studies of the ancient city. I have been impressed all week with the craftsmanship and building ability of the ancient Romans, and today was no exception. I am blown away with how detailed their work was and how long it is able to last, they truly don’t make it how they used to.
Jacob Chrisman ’20 — Today we explored the Vatican City where we started off looking at Early Christian art in the Musei Vaticani. The biggest take away was Christian expressionism pre-Constantine and post-Constantine. Pre-Constantine a lot of Old Testament images were used, however a transition to New Testament images and greater Christian expression was prevalent post-Constantine.
Another thing we did in the morning was explore the other parts of the museum. There were many imperial age busts; friezes, or inlaid wall sculptures; sarcophagi; and mosaics along with many renaissance art selections. To see these side by side was cool because of the influence of Roman art on the renaissance era.
We capped off the morning by looking at the Sistine Chapel and this has been by far the most amazing part of the trip for me. Ever since I saw pictures of Michelangelo’s paintings I’ve wanted to visit the Vatican. When I saw Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam I didn’t know how to feel. I was so over come with joy and emotion all I could do was stare at the scene for several moments. This feeling was unique to me, even in a city where wonders like this are around every corner.
In the afternoon we encountered was St. Peter’s Basilica that is built over the tomb of St. Peter. This was amazing despite the fact that I’m not particularly religious. To have “someone” that is one of the founders of Christianity, one of the 12 original apostles, right in front of you 2000 years later was amazing.
One thing that stood out to me was the Greek inscription that’s when translated says, “Peter is within.” Though this means almost nothing for the confirmation it acts as a grave marker or tombstone type deal that acts with the other elements that lead us to think that it is Peter. One of the early accounts of this is when Dionysus of Corinth writes to the Roman Church telling them about the burial place of Peter around 174 AD.
What’s most amazing to me is that about 138 years later Constantine builds a Basilica/Church with the alter over the tomb and then in the 16th century the Basilica/Cathedral is rebuilt but the high altar is in the same place. This is all done without confirmation of the tomb, but rather out of faith and belief that Peter is there. I think this speaks of the power of Christianity over people and this is evident in all the churches and religious symbols in the city.
Anthony Eley ’19 — Ever since I stepped into my first Classics class, in the spring of last year, I have been captivated by the art, archeology, and extensive history of Rome. With this emersion course I have been able to experience all of those aspects of the ancient Roman and how they relate to the development of Christianity. The part of the trip that has had the biggest impact on me is the scale. Not just the scale of the city itself, but the monuments that inhabit the city. During my studies in the art, archeology, and history of Rome, the true size of the monuments and buildings that still inhabit the city never fully sunk in through the power points or pictures about the monuments. But when I approached the 112 foot Column of Trajan, the true scale of everything came into picture. I slowly began to realize that this city of emperors and the center of the greatest empire in the ancient world was truly to scale to its reputation. This city is truly like no other and from the forum, to the Basilica of Saint Peter, it’s enormous buildings and monuments support this notion even more. Walking into a building like the Pantheon, a building that is over 1900 years old, and seeing the grandure and beauty of the building and being astonished at the fact that it was built within the help of power tools or machines completely baffles my mind. Everyday so far has brought to life a piece of art, architecture, or a piece of history that has truly astonished me and I hope that trend continues for the rest of the trip.
Patrick Azar ’19 — Today we spent much of our day exploring the roman forum after visiting some churches in the city including the basilica di Sante Croce (basilica of the holy cross) and the Lateran baptistery. The Basilica of the Holy Cross was built in the fourth century and holds many church relics including Saint Thomas’s finger that touched Jesus’ wound, wood fragments, a nail, and the sign from the Holy Cross, and thorns from Jesus’s crown of thorns. All of these relics were brought to the city by Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena after her visit to the Holy Land.
The Lateran Baptistery originates from the time of Constantine however the structure seen today was built in the fifth century. This structure for a long time was the only baptistery in the world. This was very important as Christians from all over the world would travel to Rome to be baptized by the pope. These two Churches made the city of Rome very important in early Christianity because many Christian’s would travel from all over the world to see the relics in the Church of the holy cross and to be baptized in the Lateran.
Much of our time today was spend exploring the Roman Forum and the significance of the structures there. We see that the forum was a very public place that all the citizens would spend time in. Because the forum was such a public space, emperors would take advantage of it and use the space to demonstrate their power. For example we saw how Julius Caesar built shrines and large monuments with his name on it in front of those of the old republic. I presented on my site today which was the Portico of the Dei Consentes and described to the class how it’s restoration in the fourth century represented pagan resistance to the rise of Christianity in post-Constantine Rome. Finally, we saw the gigantic basilica Constantine built in the forum and furthered the conversation we had in class debating whether or not Emperor Constantine was truly Christian referencing the works of Macmullen and Eusebius. Seeing these amazing sites and presenting to my classmates in the old roman forum was an amazing experience and I’m thankful for Wabash College and Dr. Nelson and Dr. Hartnett for giving me the opportunity to see this city especially with all the knowledge we learned in the classroom leading up to the trip.
Tim Leath ’18 — You would think that traveling a city for eight hours a day that you would run out of things to explore. That is the complete opposite case here in Rome. It seems as though every building you explore leads you to another. We spent a lot of time looking at the surviving pieces in the Roman Forum, which at the time was a great focal point for the city. In the forum, we could see the types of buildings that would have been put up at that time. Types of structures such as temples dedicated to gods, but also structures like the Basilica Nova that would be placed by the Emperor (Constantine at the time) to exemplify his power. These buildings were not normal sized, this one in particular was over 100 of feet tall, approximately 350 feet wide, and approximately 150 feet wide. By no means were these small buildings, but built on a grand scale to show how much power the emperor would have held. When I saw the forum, I was blown away with the amount of building that has survived for over a thousand years. It is also worth mentioning the detailed artwork that would be put onto the buildings that gives them character and bring them to life. The Roman Forum is a site that offers a look at the past directly and is a great opportunity that I am glad I had.
Brandon Johnson ’19 — The vast difference between the Roman Constantine and the Christian, the man trying to appear to be the most Roman, while also attempting to appear the most devout, has shown me the duality of history. Regrettably, nothing in history is as simple or perfect as it seems at first glance — there is always some sort of hidden mirror of intent which, upon finding and peering into, offers an opposing reflection, shifting what you thought you had found.
I made such a realization today upon visiting two seperate monuments commissioned by Constantine: the Triumphal Arch of Constantine and the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Both are very different structures, yet both still fully represent Constantine. Between these two, there is a great juxtaposition of culture and religion. The Triumphal Arch is very Roman in nature, depicting Constantine as the social point of several group scenes as well as numerous subjugated enemies, with inscriptions on the inside of the arch calling him the “liberator” and “founder.” Most interestingly, the side which most would walk through was opposite the Colossus of Apollo, a statue measuring over 100 feet, quite interestingly creating a pagan focal point for the Triumphal Arch of the famously first Christian emperor.
Another of Constantine’s famous construction projects was the Basilica of Saint Paul Outisde the Walls, a massive church. Interestingly, framing the apse of this church is another arch, which helps represent a different type of conflict: the battle between life and death. Dr. Nelson postulated that this arch, and the depiction of Christianity as some sort of battle or war between life and death, good and evil, light and dark, are potentially evidence of the fact that Constantine so corrupted the church that it was taken away from its peaceful roots.
These creations are not what you would typically believe go be associated with a great Christian figure, and the stark difference between the two surprised me. Both offer a lot to consider concerning Constantine. The most significant thing these monuments have taught me is that the past, just like the present, is three dimensional. The lens of history should not change that.
Nicholas Vedo ’19 — Life is much like the liberal arts in that it requires solving problems from a variety of angles and disciplines of thought. Before going to Peru for the Global Health immersion course I was quite nervous, I had never been outside of the United States before and was anxious about how different Peru might turn out to be.
Peru did turn out to be different in a very good way. Peru opened my eyes to the privileges that I possessed as a citizen of a country as developed as the United States. Peru showed me how truly comfortable my life was compared with that of the local people in Tingo María, Huánuco, and even Lima. However, Peru also showed me how immensely kind and honestly happy its people were on a scale that I had not seen before. Despite the flawed health infrastructure of their country, these people lead their lives to the fullest. I really admire their mentality, and seek to replicate it in my own life.
What I noticed almost immediately in terms of health problems in Peru was that often they did not have one single source; rather, there were a host of larger problems that had combined to cause those that we were seeing every day in the cities and towns we visited. For example, in Tingo María one of the local hospitals had a problem with rats because the government had built it directly next to a market. If the government had not failed to put in the necessary resources to build a safe and sanitary hospital, then the health related issues of the locals might have subsided.
Just as problems have multiple sources, they also require solutions from multiple views and directions to be fixed. During our trip we met the president of Peru outside of a restaurant in Lima. He was a very kind to us, but it was quite obvious to everyone there that he was a very busy man. The health change Peru needs must come first from the people of the country. Only the people can put the pressure on the government that is needed to cause notable and lasting change.
Peru has a lot of work to do and the evidence for that is visible throughout the country. Whether it be in the capital city of Lima, where half of the city resides in slums with little hope of escape or a better future, or in the Andean mountain city of Huánuco, where dogs outnumber people and carry any number of diseases, these problems must be addressed immediately or they will continue to fester and cause greater problems for a developing nation like Peru.
David Vavrinak ’19 — Out of all the activities we did in Peru, the visit to the Neurological Hospital in Lima on Aug. 8 was the most memorable for me.
The day began with a presentation on neurocysticercosis by Dr. Javier Bustos. Neurocysticercosis accounts for 25 percent of all reported seizures in Peru and is common in most developing countries.
The doctors researching this disease were interested in treating all pigs and killing all the existing parasites, as neurocysticercosis is one of seven prominent diseases that can be eradicated in Lima. The cost of eradication, however, is quite expensive. This lecture really opened my eyes to the privileges we have in the USA, where this type of disease is rarely heard of.
In the States, when a disease that is both life-threatening and eradicable becomes an issue, the government provides sufficient funds so the problem does not persist. In Peru, however, the government does not have the same level of resources to provide. As I continue my journey to become a neurosurgeon, this trip to the Neurological Hospital will continue to ring in my head as a source of revelation and inspiration.
Wyatt Tarter ’17 — While in Peru, I saw a massive number of dogs, or perros. When I say hundreds of dogs over the course of the trip, I am not joking; dozens per day, all wandering around the neighborhoods.
Sadly, many were in poor health, and I specifically remember two really examples, which I’ll talk about a little later. Despite their poor condition, it was obvious that the owners loved and cared immensely about each and every one of them.
When in Huánuco, we ran a health clinic that tried to help the people and pets. Chase and I were assigned to the pet clinic portion, and our duties primarily involved holding the pets while they received shots, deworming medicine, and were sprayed to get rid of fleas.
One family brought three different pitbulls, each around 60 pounds, and another brought four different dogs and a cat. One of the dogs was brought in a burlap sack because the family was worried it might have an extremely contagious disease. One of the doctors proceeded to give him a shot through the bag, and after he did, the dog started bleeding excessively from the place it was pinched. It turned out the dog had mange, and its piteous squeals still stick with me.
Matt Hodges ’19 – It is easy to let a sense of hopelessness creep in standing between the dilapidated houses and garbage piles of Pamplona. Clean water is scarce or nonexistent, feral dogs prowl the streets carrying disease, and looking out away from Lima it appears to go on ad infinitum, the population numbering well into the millions. To complicate matters, the developed regions of Lima (Google ‘Larcomar, Miraflores’ to get a glimpse of what I’m talking about) continue to thrive just a stone’s throw away.
Despite virtually every set back in the book, Casa Huertas stands out as a stronghold of hope and vision. Through education, instruction, consistency, and love, local volunteers and the Global Health Initiative have established a foundation to support and orient the next generation as they grow up in this deserted and barren environment. Through fun lessons and projects dealing with recycling, plant growth, hygiene, and many more, the children in the “Growing Together” program are learning to live sustainable, conscientious lives in a safe and consistent environment.
The message of sustainability and resource management isn’t only for the children, either. Through programs like SUMI (a microbusiness producing baskets and other goods from recycled newspaper) and the community kitchen, women in the area are given opportunities to exercise their independence and provide for their families. With a flower bed, herb garden, and dirt soccer field, Casa Huertas and its associated programs are making the surrounding region brighter and brighter, little by little, day by day.
The example set by Casa Huertas is a massive call to action, especially to those in the Global Health community. I realized standing there between the junk and the dogs that this small group of people, with no electricity and one hour of running water per week, creates more direct positive change in two little rooms during any given week than I have managed to during my 19-year privileged life.
I am not saying we should shun our culture and upbringing due to the existence of inequalities in the global economy. I am simply saying that we should strive to improve the future both globally and on a community level just as much as the dedicated individuals at Casa Huertas, especially since we belong to a community that doesn’t have to deal with many of the setbacks and challenges faced by the residents of Pamplona. No individual can fix the poverty in Lima, just like no individual can fix the refugee crisis or the AIDS outbreak in Scott County. But what each person can do is put their drop in the bucket and use their unique background to make an effort towards a better future.