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Covert ’18 – Global Health Immersion

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Jacob Covert ’18

Jacob Covert ’18 – One of my greatest experiences in Peru was the amazing opportunity to shadow and be the right-hand man of a Peruvian doctor at a medical outpost in Huánuco.

The doctor gave me insight into many of the problems that his people face on a daily basis from gastritis, to lower lumbar issue, to malnutrition. All of these issues are prevalent problems not only within Peru, but also within the larger global health context.

Furthermore, the doctor had me working with a Peruvian medical student who helped me to understand that many of the medical problems of Peruvians stem from a lack of education about nutrition, wellness, and general health. The educational deficits are also a larger global problem that the global health approach tries to tackle by educating local leaders who, in turn, teach the larger community.

Being able to peer through the eyes of another individual, let alone a whole other culture, truly has changed the way I understand the world and the role of global health in it.


O’Donnell ’19 – Global Health Immersion

El Presidente

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El Presidente

Kevin O’Donnell ‘19 – It was our first full day in Lima and I was still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was out of the United States for the first time. Everywhere we drove was a new experience. I was actively comparing every little thing that we passed driving through the capital city of Peru.

The first work we did was with the children of Pamplona Alta. These kids acted strikingly similar to U.S. born children around that age. We helped them make sock puppets. They were so happy and didn’t have a care in the world, but the kids that were closer to our age only wanted one thing –they wanted to take selfies.

Later that day came the truly big surprise of the entire trip. We were on a tour of ancient ruins and at the top of the site, the guide said, “If you look closely, the newly elected president of Peru is having a banquet down there.”

We were amazed at the low level of security protecting the president. When we finished the tour and were waiting for our bus, the first lady of Peru walked out and almost instantly recognized Wabash College and asked if it was in Indiana.

We talked for a little bit and asked for a picture, and she just simply stated that we should wait for the president. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.


Hayes ’20 – Global Health Immersion

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Samuel Hayes ‘19 with the Global Health Initiative immersion group

Samuel Hayes ‘19 – The Global Health Initiative immersion trip to Peru was an unforgettable experience to say the least. Culture shock set in as soon as we exited the airplane in Lima, and it lingered for the rest of our time there.

While in Peru, we visited areas throughout Lima, and other communities such as Huánuco, Tingo María and Pamplona Alta. Every destination had its share of poverty and health issues. In some instances, the degree of poverty exceeded anything I could imagine witnessing in the United States.

We spent time volunteering in a health mission in Huánuco, and it was probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had. We assisted doctors in their practice, veterinarians in their treatment of animals from the city, and helped educate the locals on what a good, nutritious diet would be for all ages. I witnessed first-hand the suffering of many individuals, children, and their pets, and my perspective on the needs of people around the world became much more accurate.

I feel like one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed in Peru (at least in the communities we visited) is animal control. Everywhere we went, there were tons of dogs running around the street, each harboring its own infestation of parasites and disease. The health of the dogs itself is a huge issue; however, the problem does not stop at the dogs.

Many of the families in the communities around Peru considered many of these dogs to be pets, which means they allow these unhealthy animals to come around their homes and families, bringing their diseases into the homes. In our time assisting in the treatment of those animals, my classmates and I saw many dogs with an unbelievable amount of fleas and ticks, and those are the only vectors we could see with the naked eye. We also analyzed feces samples from dogs in Pamplona Alta and we found eggs of parasites in many samples.

I believe that if an initiative was taken to educate people in these communities on how to take care of their pets, a lot of easily avoidable health issues would decline in frequency.


Francoeur ’17 – Global Health Immersion

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Chase Francoeur ‘17 works with veterinarian

Chase Francoeur ‘17 — Huánuco, only 10 years ago, was a city of slightly under 75,000, but has since seen an influx that has boosted population by 230%. Combined with sup-par infrastructures, few resources, and poor health care, this would often spell disaster for many areas. What I witnessed in Pillco Marca, a southern district of Huánuco, showed little different than what I expected.

We first became aware of Pillco Marca through the health clinic that we set up in partnership with Universidad Nacional Hermillo Valdizán (UNHEVAL), which was held at a health center (compound), in the district. As we exited the bus for the first time to enter the center, we witnessed a line of nearly 20-30 individuals, covering all age groups, that stretched from the entrance gate down the side of the road.

As we entered through the gate and finally through the glass doors, we saw a rundown center with small leather benches that had rips all the way down them, and many places with the ceiling exposed to the open air. At any given time of the campaign I estimated a minimum of 100 patients and volunteers inside the building with only three restrooms per gender available, none of which contained toilet paper, soap, or paper towels.

Although I was personally involved with the veterinarian portion of the campaign held outside the building (but still within the compound), I overheard descriptions of the poor conditions that this population was enduring. Many times the locals were living with their health problems for 6-12 months, if not multiple years, before ever entering a doctor’s office, and many were unable to continue with treatment after their visit because they could not financially support it.

The same situation was also evident on the veterinarian side. Many of the dogs (perros) and cats (gatos) that we saw were only there because the free clinic was being held, and if it had not been held, many of these animals would continue to endure their condition. I would estimate that 90-95% of the animals we saw had either fleas or ticks, and of those, about half were so infested that if you were to push their hair against the grain, you would not see skin but a black sea of bugs.

Some individuals would bring a couple of their pets, return with two or three more, and then come back after an additional period with even more — it was hard to imagine that they were not just rounding up the local dogs and cats on the corner of the street and bringing them.

Not a single animal we saw throughout our two days of work, which was approaching 100 total dogs and cats, were spayed or neutered, and throughout the duration of our time in Huánuco, I think that every animal I saw was capable of reproduction. This is a staggering fact when considering how many animals roam the streets and alleys searching through piles of trash for food. The resulting feces simply remains in the areas that kids go out to play, ultimately fulfilling many parasites life cycles as the children lack proper sanitary habits.

Our time in Huánuco, and specifically our experiences at the clinic, left me questioning how is it possible to improve these conditions to levels comparable to what I see in the U.S.; barring an enormous improvement of multiple aspects of infrastructure, nutritional food availability, and health education to name a few, it’s difficult to see how this would happen.

Although the U.S. has those without access to health care and some populations exist with conditions similar to those witnessed, the commonality of it in Huánuco is was what truly left a lasting impression.

 


Cottingham ’18 – Global Health Immersion

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Huánuco, Peru

Jared Cottingham ‘18 – I spent the day working with other students in the veterinary section of the clinic in Huánuco, which was an interesting experience. The sheer number of pets per household was unbelievable; each home likely had a minimum of three dogs or cats on average.

The veterinarian treated almost every animal for fleas and ticks, which led me to believe that the animals had spread a great deal of insects and possibly disease throughout the household, therefore affecting the people within them. It was very unusual to think of these animals serving as potential vectors of disease and affecting the family, as this is relatively unusual in the United States. Year-round veterinary care could easily avert these effects, however that level of care just isn’t the case for this portion of Huánuco—making our presence even more important.

As I walked about the clinic and observed what was going on, I began to notice a lack of soap and toilet paper/paper towels within the restrooms. Additionally, many areas of the clinic were not roofed. Working in a hospital myself, this was utterly shocking to me. How were the workers and or patients washing their hands? I immediately began to think of the potential bacteria and disease that were being passed throughout the clinic and was truly moved. Even in a place of healing, community members could not be properly isolated and protected from infection. This was a sobering realization.

However, I couldn’t put my earlier sentiments entirely out of my head. As the children brought literal bags of animals into the clinic, something unfortunate dawned on me. These children, maybe five or six years old, were given responsibilities that children of the same age don’t have in the United States. I can’t imagine a child of this age bringing in four animals to the veterinarian back home.

Furthermore, as we walked throughout the community passing out flyers for the clinic, I came across a young boy carrying a pail of water that was much larger than he—yet another example of the immense amount of luxuries we are afforded within this country. If a child wants a drink of water, they walk to the fridge. In Huánuco, the same child would have to walk nearly a mile or more and carry a full pail back to the household.


Calvin ’19 – New York City: Theatre, Film, and the City

Quinn Cavin ’19 – I learned more in five days about storytelling in New York City than I learned in months in Crawfordsville. It’s simply a matter of the extreme diversity of art in New York City and the acceptance of experimental and bold stylistic choices. I saw the most inspiring shows I could imagine and had the greatest week of my life.

Acting Workshop with Marc Weitz (far left).

Acting Workshop with Marc Weitz (far left).

I was wildly surprised by where incredible theatre can come from. I saw shows on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in small local theatres. The best theatre is not congruent with size, funding, or location. I saw the largest show I have ever seen at the largest proscenium I have ever attended, Fiddler on the Roof at the Broadway Theatre. It was far from the best piece of theatre I have ever seen. The large crowds destroyed any notion of intimacy I had with the actors. Because I was not emotionally attached to any of the actors, I could not sympathize and was not invested in the story. I was not seduced by the choreography and underwhelmed by the music. However, in a theatre seating less than 30 people, I saw the most indescribably fascinating and surreal show I could even imagine. Ship of Fools was far from flawless, inexperienced, and potentially vexing to some viewers. But it was majestic and raw. Fiddler on the Roof felt boring, because it was safe and simple. However, I may never forget, but may always struggle to explain the symbolism and effects in Ship of Fools because it was the most unique and sophisticated spectacle I have had to pleasure of experiencing.

My full attention and emotional investment was captured by Sleep No More. Unlike large Broadway musicals, I was eminently close to the actors, within 6 feet at any given moment. This is a testament to proximity’s relationship with emotional engagement. I have never been so monumentally engulfed by a narrative, as I was with this this loose interpretation of Macbeth. Another contributing factor to my submersion is that I had choices within the show. I chose where to go, who to watch, and the view I wanted. Because the actors could interact with the spectators, we were a part of the story, too. On nearly a dozen occasions, I had some variety of physical contact with the actors. Whether this was being taken into a small hut and spoon-fed tea by a nurse, clothing a naked, wet, and crazed Lady Macbeth, or being a young woman’s last kiss after being poisoned by Hecate, I was living the story. I was inundated by the characters’ struggles and plights. I wanted to help them and I felt genuine sympathy for their quandary. It was the greatest theatrical experience I have ever encountered.

Meeting Jessica Phillips was a really important reinforcement for my understanding of how to be successful in the film and theatre industry. I collected several tidbits from conversations with her, like the necessity of networking, where social media resides within the business, and edict of interacting with the hierarchy. As important as these concepts are, the most important part is perseverance and dedication. Auditioning is critical. Especially early on, actors should audition for everything they can, if they think they are qualified or not. While between jobs, creating content is essential. Actors can make their own jobs if they are writing scripts and helping produce theatre or film. Between constantly auditioning and crafting, an actor cannot take a break.

In short, I fell completely in love with the city. The diversity of theatre to experience and people to meet is unflinchingly boundless. I was heartbroken to leave it behind.


Willats ’17 – 2016 NYC Theater Immersion

Rory Willats ’17 – It isn’t about knowing a celebrity. It’ about building a community

A week in New York City gave me the opportunity to see some inspiring theater, to eat some unforgettable food, and most importantly, talk to and learn from performers, writers, and other artists working in the city. These are people wading through the jungle of NYC theater every day to find and make their own work. Some of my most memorable talks were with Nick Rehberger, Jack Moore, Ashley Black and Emily Koch. My biggest take-away from these conversations was a shift in my understanding of an old cliché; “It’s who you know”. It truly did seem to be that who you knew mattered to finding success in the city. It wasn’t, however, though helpful, dependent on knowing a celebrity or bigwig in the theater scene. Rather, who you knew was about who you had as a support group. It’s more about your cohort, the friends to remind you of your passion, to keep you on your feet, to find a way to enjoy a 400 sq ft. apartment in a city where leaving that apartment seems to cost $20.

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Acting with the Camera exercises at The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.

Originally, I thought “It’s who you know,” was a bitter way to express dissatisfaction that the theater scene isn’t a meritocracy and that, “if only I had known the right person – that’s all it took for what’s-his-face and I’m better than him!” And there is certainly merit to looking for upper connections in the business to learn from the best. In our lunch talk with Jack Phillips Moore, Literary Associate at The Public, he encouraged us to email those in the business we admired and ask to grab coffee and talk about their work. After all, “everyone LOVES two things: coffee and talking about themselves.” Jack emphasized that people in the business recognize the struggle of the emerging artist and usually want to help. I took from this that it is advantageous to know people in the business, to find the best and learn from them. However, that doesn’t have to be a product of fate. Rather, you can take it upon yourself to meet the who’s of the, “who you know.” It isn’t that the only way to make it in New York is to have a connection when you move. You can move and make the connection.

Jack also talked about how through connections with friends, through being willing to work hard and developing a cohort, the connections that create a career are made. He told us to volunteer to help on as many projects as possible. Which will later yield work is impossible to know. His position at The Public stems from a job he got only because a friend of his told him about it and encouraged him to apply. Similarly, Nick Rehberger, who played Fyedka, and Tess Primack, ensemble and swing for four roles in the production of Fiddler on the Roof, talked after the show about their journeys to Broadway. Both leant heavily on their friends from undergrad for support and business connections. They told each other about auditions and entertained each other through nights of crummy apartment living and rejections.

This was reinforced when I met Emily. After our last show of the trip, I stopped by a friend’s birthday party. I had met this friend, Stephanie, at a workshop for a show the previous summer. I didn’t, however, know any of her friends. Nervously, I started chatting with the woman next to me. I would later find out that her name was Emily, she had just left a run of playing Elphaba in Wicked for two years and that she wasn’t allowed to talk about her next project. She was tearing up the city, knew great connections and now I had met and befriended her. All through a connection from a weekend-long gig months ago

Originally I found the phrase, “it’s who you know,” disheartening. I don’t have an agent. I don’t know casting directors. I know very few people in the city. However, now I realize that what’s more important is knowing good friends, building a good support system. And now, I’m encouraged by the phrase. I’m graduating with a strong, caring and generous cohort from Wabash and am ready to lean on them for support and inspiration as I tackle the theater scene at large.


Swift ’18 – Reflection on New York Immersion Trip

Henry Swift ’18 – New York is the capital of the world, it’s the Big Apple, it’s America’s metropolis. It is a melting pot that brings people from every walk of life in the same area and forces them to cooperate. New York is America’s theater capital because it is so diverse. It has shaped the American theater since there was an American theater. Broadway is big and beautiful and showy, but the real action in theater is happening off Broadway. The off-Broadway shows that we saw moved me more because they explored more emotions and issues. Off-Broadway shows like Nat Turner in Jerusalem used theater as a tool to explore issues that Broadway shows cannot touch.

The crew in front of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

I learned that New York lives up to the stereotypes. Everyone walks fast, no one makes eye contact, everything is kind of dirty, the people are not friendly, but it is diverse, and no one cares what you do. This is all true because it has to be. The city is huge so people walk fast to get to where they’re going, no one makes eye contact because they are surrounded by strangers, it is diverse and accepting because there are so many different ethnicities represented in the city that people do not have time to care about racial differences. New York is New York because it has to be.

New York was brilliant, it was loud and bright and private and overwhelming. I learned that the appearance of a show or restaurant does not tell us about its quality. The worst looking restaurants and the most modest shows were my favorites. Teachers have been telling me that looks are deceiving since I was a first grader, but the trip gave me a better idea of what they meant. This trip helped through another step of my education and helped me to think critically about what makes something worthwhile.


Really Immersed in Using German Language

The Wabash guys got a fun break during the week learning to make authentic German pretzels.

The Wabash guys got a fun break during the week learning to make authentic German pretzels.

Erich Lange ‘19 – As we begin the second week of our trip, I have finally grown accustomed to the fact that I am actually in Germany.  I am no longer in a classroom in Crawfordsville  speaking German with nineteen and twenty year olds. For the first time ever, it has become necessary for my classmates and me to utilize our acquired German language skills in nearly every daily interaction — from purchasing a Döner Kebap at the corner store to asking a local resident for directions. Over the past two days of our immersion trip, our capabilities have continued to grow.

Students at the former site of the Tübingen synagogue.

Students at the former site of the Tübingen synagogue.

Unlike in the United States, the Monday after Pentecost is a holiday in Germany, thus we did not have “Unterricht”, or class, for the day. Instead, we worked on group projects on a topic of our choice. My group, in particular, did research on youth culture in Germany (specifically Tübingen). With the topics of our project spanning from music to politics to sports to modern slang, the best way for us to acquire the information needed for our project was to interview German students studying at the university in Tübingen. These interviews required us to not only use our German, but carry on a conversation regarding some pressing issues of the day — all in a foreign language.

Yet, immersion learning is about more than just the classroom. That’s why Monday afternoon, Professor Tucker took us on a tour of the city with the specific theme of Jewish life in Tübingen. Of course, when talking about Jewish history in Europe, the Holocaust is unavoidable. After visiting a memorial dedicated to the Jews of Tübingen, we walked a little over a mile into what seemed to be a normal, residential neighborhood. However, if you stopped to look at the sidewalk, you could see small, metal plates embedded in the pavement. The brass plates are placed at the home of Jewish families and people who were deported in the Holocaust. On the brass plate is the name of who lived there, the year they were born, when they were deported, the camp(s) they were at, and if they were liberated or killed in the concentration camps. The moment of clarity for me was when I saw the plate of Ruth Marx, an eight-year-old girl shot and killed alongside her mother outside a concentration camp.  Until then, the Holocaust had always been something distant and in the past. It was not until that moment in which I stood at the door of that little girl’s home, in the street in which she played, that I fully understood the Holocaust’s magnitude and depth.

Wabash men learning the art of pretzel making!

Wabash men learning the art of pretzel making!

On Tuesday, class resumed in the morning. Former TA Elena Mezger never fails to make the class fun and enjoyable. In the afternoon, the students and faculty participated in a pretzel-making workshop at the “Gehr” bakery. There, we not only learned how to make authentic German pretzels, but also learned the history of pretzels and how they are tied in with the history of southern Germany.

After the workshop, we had our third meeting with our Tandem partners. These meetings are a time for us to casually sit down with a German student and practice our German in a conversational sitting. This was perhaps the most fun evening thus far, as we are finally settling into using German on a regular basis, and could truly interact with the Tandem partners on more than just a superficial level. Yet, perhaps even more important than practicing German with our Tandem partners is the cultural awareness that the Tandem meetings give us — teaching us understanding and acceptance.

This experience over the past ten days has truly been extraordinary, and I could not imagine having an experience like this were it not for the incredible opportunities Wabash offers. Immersion learning allow students to not only further develop their skills learned in the classroom, but learn the necessity of cultural acceptance and understanding, and what it truly means to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.


Weekend Excursions in Germany

David Mason ’18 – We began our weekend with a trip to Stuttgart on Saturday. About an hour north of Tübingen, Stuttgart is a bustling city with more foot traffic and geographical spread. Once we made our way through the city, we visited the Staatsgalerie art museum with its massive displays of both historic and modern art.

We had approximately an hour and a half to view whatever interested us, with a small assignment attached. Professor Tucker asked us to describe, in German, two works of art that particularly interested us. This was a great exercise in applying the German that I’ve been preparing since I began studying the language my freshman year at Wabash. We had to describe the work’s appearance from the viewer’s perspective, a task that is not all that common unless you regularly study art. Describing visual art in words is already difficult, but doing it in another language is even more challenging.

Over the weekend, students had the chance to visit a Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Over the weekend, students had the chance to visit a Mercedes-Benz Museum.

While viewing the art was visually compelling, it was also a fun challenge to attempt to read and understand the complex summaries of the different exhibits in the German language. The gallery offered translations in English as well, but I enjoyed trying to see what information I was able to glean in German before checking the English. It’s always helpful and informative to see examples of how one says certain phrases in German. Reading difficult things like that improves your attentiveness and focus when reading; in other words, it is great for comprehension.

Ronnie Posthauer ’15, a German major and Wabash track runner, met us at the gallery to hang out and see the exhibits with us. Ronnie has spent most of the last year working as an Au-pair in Dortmund, Germany. Naturally, he has been speaking German almost the entire time. Since graduation (the last time I actually talked to him was probably still when the spring semester of 2015 was at full-speed), his German has improved to what I would consider Native level. This means two different things: He sounded like a German when he spoke German, but he also sounded like a German when he spoke English. This was extremely puzzling initially, as Ronnie (despite the German-sounding last name) is quite American, at least according to the last time I heard him speak. He said that other people had pointed it out but that he doesn’t really notice. I’m glad I got to run into Ronnie and see the progress he’s made with his German, as it was proof that I too can achieve such a level of fluency. I heard recently in Germany that you know you’re an “insider” when people stop complimenting you on how well you speak the native tongue. Such must be the case for Ronnie.

After the gallery, and then after lunch, we all trekked to Mercedes-Benz Museum. An architectural wonder, the museum was massive and featured a downward-spiraling eight-story chronological telling of the development and history of Mercedes-Benz from the late 19th century to the present time. Each level had car displays and plenty to read and learn about the technological advancements of the company. I particularly enjoyed, as at the gallery, attempting to decipher the German-language exhibits before reading about each presentation in English. I noticed an inconsistency between the German and the English displays: The German displays completely used the present-tense while the English used the past-tense. For example, the German version would say that in 1912, the Titanic sinks. But the English version says that the Titanic sank in 1912. This is pretty much an irrelevant inconsistency, but is interesting to know for students of either language. If there’s one important thing to know from this, it’s that the translations are not literal and are edited to flow the best according to each language’s patterns and forms.

Both excursions within Stuttgart were great ways to view and learn about interesting topics that are relevant to the real world while also doing my best to follow along when reading German texts. By the time we were finished, everybody was exhausted. We quickly grabbed some dinner (for me, a Doener box with Rice) before many of us crashed. I stayed up a little later, but had no interest in going out. I have the sneaking suspicion that we are kept so busy on this immersion trip to prevent us from becoming too rambunctious and doing things that could get us into trouble. Even if that’s not the primary intention, it is certainly the effect. I say this only to emphasize that we are both staying busy and out of trouble, which may or may not be of interest to those who are reading these blogs.

Professor of history Sabrina Thomas explains the Roman settlements in southern Germany.

Professor of history Sabrina Thomas explains the Roman settlements in southern Germany.

On Sunday, we went on a shorter excursion to Rottenburg, which is both closer to Tubingen and much smaller than Stuttgart. I had no idea what we were going to learn in Rottenburg, but that only made things more interesting. A quaint and small town, Rottenburg am Neckar sits atop a former outpost of the Roman empire. Archaeologists found a museum’s worth of artifacts, ranging from currency to large structures to dining utensils. Unlike the prior attractions, everything at the Sumelocenna museum was in German. This posed a greater challenge, removing the crutch of my native tongue and allowing me to try my best to decipher the meaning of each exhibit. There was a lot to read and take in, and plenty that interested me. Before exploring the museum, we watched a short film about the ancient civilization. To say that this video was a great exercise in listening comprehension would be an understatement. One can say that this entire trip is one giant reading and listening comprehension exercise.

Once we finished visiting this museum, we had a brief lunch break. A bakery had earlier caught my eye, so I and two others went back to that bakery. I both love and fear those times where there is absolutely no other means of clarification besides asking the native speaker of German to repeat their sentence. It is utterly terrifying but also a confidence booster after the fact. One comes across many accents and speeds of speech, so that it seems like a huge feat simply to get through a meal in a different town.

After lunch, we briefly visited the cathedral, which was a gorgeous structure in the middle of town. There was a solid mix of people visiting the church (probably mostly our group, looking back) and people actually performing prayers. This reminded me that travelling to new places is not simply some big museum experience of viewing old objects used by people who have no present connection to us. Rather, I felt that I was in a real place where people still carry on with their ordinary lives. I get a weird feeling whenever people visit my historic hometown as tourists. It’s a weird feeling, witnessing other people see your home as something out of the ordinary. I’m sure that’s similar to how the residents of Rottenburg am Neckar feel when tourists like us stumble through their streets on a quiet Sunday, speaking English and pointing at everything.

The weekend exploring other towns outside of Tubingen was highly informative and definitely gave me more perspective on the southwestern region of the country. A key part of the immersion experience is attempting to step off the diving board into the deep-end of the new language, which is exactly what I got to experience, even if for a few hours. Thus, I would say that the weekend component of our immersion trip was successful. I definitely wish to return to Stuttgart to see the TV Tower, among other things. However, this was a great exposure to other parts of Germany