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Fredericksburg Battlefield Holds Great Historical Importance

Sunken Road at Fredericksburg, VA. Bottom Row, left to right: Stephen Fenton, Nathan Whisman, Ryne Ruddock, Sam Schabel, Andrew Schmutte, Brock Hammond, Sam Mattingley. Top Row, left to right: Terrance Pigues, Blake Jennings, Jonathon Young, Quinn Bittle, Tracey Salisbury, Kenniss Dillion, Andrew Sunde, Robert Horsey, Bailey Combs, Jacob Sheridan, Robert Thompson, Aaron Morton-Wilson

Sunken Road at Fredericksburg, VA. Bottom Row, left to right: Stephen Fenton, Nathan Whisman, Ryne Ruddock, Sam Schabel, Andrew Schmutte, Brock Hammond, Sam Mattingley. Top Row, left to right: Terrance Pigues, Blake Jennings, Jonathon Young, Quinn Bittle, Tracey Salisbury, Kenniss Dillion, Andrew Sunde, Robert Horsey, Bailey Combs, Jacob Sheridan, Robert Thompson, Aaron Morton-Wilson

Bobby Thompson ’14 & Terrance Pigues ’15 -  Day five of our exciting tour through the Civil War battlefields on the United States East Coast lead us to the battle of Fredericksburg. This battle took place on December 11th through the 13th of the year 1862. Fredericksburg is part of the bloodiest county in all the Civil War, Spotsylvania County. This battle is primarily known for two reasons. The first is what it meant to the war. Fredericksburg was the first big victory for the Confederates giving them hope that they could win the war and march onwards to the North. The victory came at the feet of a Union mistake that opened the door for General Robert E. Lee of the South. Lee was paired with Stonewall Jackson as generals of the South; these two men are arguably the greatest generals in the war. Their opposite in this battle was generals Burnside and Hooker. The Union Army miscalculated the attack and will power of the South leading to their loss. After this Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Union troops.

This battle is also known for two historic landmarks, the Sunken Road and the Chatham House. We were given a tour of Sunken Road. Sunken Road was where the Confederate line was drawn for the battle. The location is significant because it is behind a series of stone walls, which are great for protection. This line of Confederate troops consisted of only 5,000 men, which was significantly less than the Union army. These men caused 8,000 casualties, yet only suffered 1,000 despite being so outnumbered. This site is also home to the memory of Richard Kirkland, a South Carolinian troop who helped injured men of both armies by rushing water to them. His monument as well as a picture of Sunken Road can be seen here.

Another prominent landmark at Fredericksburg is the Chatham House. The house was built by William Fitzhugh between 1768 and 1771. The significance of this home occurs because it was used as the Union headquarters during the war. It has also been the temporary home of three presidents: Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The house lies on the outskirts of Fredericksburg atop a hill, making it a great lookout spot.

Aside from the monuments and battle sites the trip has been filled with fun, enthusiasm, and laughter. It shows the typical Wabash experience, a bunch of men coming together to get stuff done. Our trip will continue with a Civil War adventure camp where we will spend the night at a camp, eat hardtack, and get fully dressed in Civil War uniforms representing the North and the South.

Wabash Men Tour Civil War Battlefields

Nathan Whisman ’14 & Drew Schmutte ’15 -  After an early breakfast, we set out to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg.  As we arrived, we viewed their exhibits, while watching a special presentation of the famous cyclorama of Pickett’s Charge.  This large circular painting is the largest work in North America, and it gives you a full view of the battle as if you are standing in a frozen moment of American history.

Leaving the exhibits, we began to tour the battlefield.  We were able to see sights such as Little Round Top, Devils Den, and The Angle.  Seeing and walking these places gives you a sense of walking across ground that was, for a brief moment, a center of death and violence.  Moments of the Civil War are romanticized by movies and authors, but when you walk the hallowed grounds of this war, you realize the gravity and magnitude of the casualties both armies sustained.

Andrew Schmutte at New York 51st infantry monument at Gettysburg

Andrew Schmutte at New York 51st infantry monument at Gettysburg

As I walked on the hill of Little Round Top, I imagined the confederate troops storming up the rocky slope of the hill.  As I walked up the slope of the hill I imagined what those men faced as they had to battle up the terrain of the hill while facing murderous fire from the union troops above.

At The Angle, I was taken away by the size of the space where the troops of Pickett’s Charge attacked and the distance that they had to cover while being under constant fire.  You have to admit their dedication and the bravery of the soldiers to endure what happened at Gettysburg.

In the evening, we are taken on a ghost tour of Gettysburg.  The tour guides gave us the viewpoint of the citizens of Gettysburg during the battle.  Hearing the stories of the fighting in the streets and the churches being converted into hospitals for unending waves of wounded soldiers gives the town a spooky vibe.  At one house that was considered “active” with ghosts, I was able to go down into the old basement.  While stooped over and looking at the basement with a flashlight, I was slightly spooked out by the basement’s past history (it served as a hospital for 5 wounded Union soldiers). After squeezing through a narrow gap into a smaller part of the basement, I noticed a very old metal spring bed frame in the dirt. It was amazing to learn about all the paranormal activity and ghost encounters in the area.

Budell ’15 Understanding Ancient Conflict

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Wabash men touching the 'Stone of Annointment."

Wabash men touching the ‘Stone of Annointment.”

Austin Budell ’15 – I write on this cold and rainy day from the holy city of Jerusalem. Three of the sites we visited today constitute the “climax” of our immersion trip — The Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Non-Muslim tourists rarely receive the opportunity to enter the Dome of the Rock, but we enjoyed the privilege of exploring the sacred site. The Dome of the Rock (located on the Temple Mount) is highly contested for a variety of reasons. First, the rock is located over the site where Abraham was (traditionally thought) about to sacrifice his son. Whether this son was Isaac or Ishmael is the object of dispute. Muslims regard Ishmael as the son to be sacrificed, while Jews believe it was to be Isaac, who would later father the nation of Israel. The site is also disputed by Jews due to the Dome’s location on where the former Temple sat. Considering that the Temple Mount is the most sacred place to Jews, it is not surprising that both Jews and Muslims continue to dispute ownership.

Al Aqsa Mosque, also lying on the Temple Mount, is considered to be the third-holiest place to the Muslim faith. Built in 705 A.D., Al Aqsa is one of the oldest mosques on earth. The significance of the site is associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey, mentioned in chapter seventeen of the Holy Qur’an. After making this journey, the Prophet instructed his followers to begin praying towards the direction of Jerusalem (which was later changed to Mecca). The controversy surrounding this site is two-fold. First, the Prophet Muhammad made the Night Journey in approximately 621 A.D., where he traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night to “the farthest mosque,” or Al Aqsa mosque. This begs the question of how the Prophet Muhammad could have traveled to Al Aqsa Mosque before it was even constructed. The second object of dispute is, again, its location on the Temple Mount, the holiest site to the Jews. Thus, Al Aqsa is a contested site on both its legitimacy in context of the Night Journey and on its location of the Temple Mount.

Budell in the Mosque

Perhaps the most peculiar of all the sites we visited today was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This church is thought to house the location of the last five Stations of the Cross, being the division of the garments, the nailing to the cross, the crucifixion and death, the taking down from the cross, and the laying in the tomb. Each station is associated with a unique relic or legend related to a specific station, the most prominent being a tomb where Jesus was thought to be buried. Upon entering the church it was readily apparent that the features were of Greek-Orthodox characteristic, evinced by the elaborate mosaic portraying Christ’s death and the abundance of distinctly Greek candle holders hanging from the ceiling. Upon further investigation, however, it became clear that a variety of Christian sects had laid claim to this site.

Tour guide assures students he knows "all the answers."

Tour guide assures students he knows “all the answers.”

After climbing to the second floor of the church, you could actually see where the line dividing Roman Catholic and Greek-Orthodox jurisdictions occurred. The right side was apparently Roman Catholic, as its minimalist layout stood in staunch contrast to the many ornate candle and incense burners occupying the ceiling of the Greek-Orthodox side. Our guide later stated that six Christian sects have a claim to this site; the three major sects being Roman Catholic, Greek-Orthodox, and Armenian, with the minor three being Coptic, Syrian, and Ethiopian Orthodox. All six of these Christian branches occupy a space or shrine within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which demonstrates how this site is contested among Christians.

With the fifth day of our journey in the Holy Land coming to a close, I cannot help but realize how eye-opening of an experience this immersion trip has been. Between speaking with the locals, traveling to holy sites, and experiencing local cuisine, I feel like a world away from good old Wabash. Overall, the trip has been totally worth the jet lag and sleepless nights with early mornings, and I would strongly recommend anyone interested in making a pilgrimage to Israel to do so.

Vargas ’14 Amazed by Visiting Israel’s Holy Sites

Isidro Vargas ’14 – Over the last few days I’ve found myself stuck in a troubling routine. Waking up too early, feeling unrested, and staying up too late, anxious in anticipation for what the next day might bring. As I lay here typing, it’s still hard to believe that just this morning I walked though some of the most sacred religious sites the world has to offer. Our Wednesday journey included: An early morning tour of the Temple Mount, where we received exclusive access to the Dome of the Rock, and Al-Aqsa Mosque, two of the holiest sites in Islamic tradition (excluding the Kaaba). Before the sun could reach its highest point we had also made our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; which contains, according to tradition, both the Tomb of Jesus Christ, and the site of his crucifixion.

Professor Bob Royalty talking with his religion class students.

Professor Bob Royalty talking with his religion class students.

It’s such a blessing to have visited some the sites of which most Christians and Muslims can only dream about; sites, which beforehand, I had only been able to picture from textbooks and personal research. I have to say that this experience is both everything I expected it to be, and so much more.

As our Wabash group has made its way though Old City Jerusalem we have found ourselves in a new world, one which we are still struggling to understand. In the Al-Aqsa mosque, for example, there is a display case holding bullet shells and tear gas canisters from the 1967 Sixty-Day War, but the reality is that at any moment Israeli armed forces could potentially strike Palestinians in this holiest of sites. Throughout the city one can still find the scares of bullets on the bricks of walls and gates, a permanent reminder of the tensions between Israelis, Palestinians, and other pseudo-religious-political groups. As many of my group members pray and hope for an end to these conflictions, we have also found some peace in the individuals we have met throughout our stay. Individuals who have welcomed us to their home, and treated us with the type of respect we hope they will one day project towards each other.

Vargus inside Al-asqa mosque.

Vargus inside Al-asqa mosque.

To conclude our journey, we would make a visit to see Yad Vashem (holocaust research center) and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are held at the Israel Museum. These final points in our itinerary are seemingly appropriate. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain the old oldest known manuscripts of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. Thish as been the primary text of my religious endeavors over the last four years at Wabash, and I am ecstatic to see the proof of religious antiquity for my own two eyes. At the same time visiting the Holocaust History Museum in the same land where Jews continue to be persecuted really hits home; serving as a final reminder of just how low humanity as fallen into sin, and why these so called ‘foreign’ matters need to be addressed, rather than brushed off as if the problem will solve itself.

Crouch ’17 Digs Deep into Rhetoric Research

Cole Crouch ‘17 -  On Wednesday, the class made three exciting and unique visits in D.C. The first was to the Pew Research Center, the second to ICANN and the third to NPR.  Throughout the day, the class engaged in meaningful discussion with professionals that helped develop a deeper understanding about the vast and vital voices shaping America. In reflection, one cannot truly comprehend the rhetorical agents present in America without visiting D.C. and seeing firsthand the immense inter-connectivity between government, organizations, and businesses.

Cole Crouch '17

Cole Crouch ’17

At the Pew Research Center, the class was presented research and polls about how to understand and communicate demographic studies concerning religion in America. Dr. Gregory Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Religion and Public Life Project, led the discussion about the prominent role religion and religious studies serve in shaping American politics. From 30,000 feet, Dr. Smith discussed that religion is extremely powerful, prominent, and necessary to analyze and monitor in America. In his findings, he concluded that religion, behind race, is the 2nd leading factor in projecting voting patterns in America. Furthermore, it was fascinating and bit humorous for the class to learn from Dr. Smith’s studies that 1 in 5 Americans have no religious affiliation; hence, the research study was entitled the “Nones” on the Rise. These studies prompted perhaps the most class discussion and questioning as they sought to think critically about how and why religion is such a principal voice and rhetorical agent in America.

From the Pew Research Center, the class continued their conversations on over to ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – where Patrick Jones ‘96, Senior Director, and Global Stakeholder Engagement led discussion.  Jones informed the class about the unique role the Internet and ICANN has in connecting not just Americans domestically, but people globally. ICANN primarily functions to manage Internet resources for the public benefit by coordinating the Internet’s unique domain name system, but it also has grown an international mission. Since it’s founding, ICANN has been working to connect multi stakeholders via unique Internet strategies that cut through barriers in language, culture and government. Ultimately, the cornerstone mission is to create a globalized Internet community. As an appropriate bonus, the class was able to celebrate along with ICANN the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web! Just as well, Jones showed us a rare, neighboring skyline view of the White House.

Suess ’17 Sees Inside D.C. Political Rhetoric

Jimmy Suess ’17 – On Tuesday, we had the chance to meet with Joseph Pounder of America Rising in the morning, and the FBI in the afternoon. So far on this trip, we have been able to experience Washington, D.C. with more special opportunities than the common tourist. Our opportunities continued into Tuesday.

Pounder, President of America Rising, spoke with us about his job as the leader of this political action committee (PAC). He gave us a new perspective of the political process, a much more realistic perspective. Their job at America Rising is to frame how the people view the candidates; nothing is off limits. Both Democrats and Republicans participate in every election. We see PAC’s work when we see political scandals or flip floppy candidates. An example of this could be Romney’s views on healthcare. It was brought up that Romney had instilled a healthcare bill quite like the Affordable Healthcare Act, so he was framed as a flip flopper candidate by a democratic PAC. PACs do a lot of the unseen work that goes into politics. They are the researchers behind all candidates or nominees, and try to influence politics in favor of their party. I was unaware that this job existed, and I am now very interested in learning more about the process. From a rhetorical perspective, PACs like America Rising, are influencing the audience of their choosing in order to persuade public opinion of their candidate. Since rhetoric is defined as the art of persuasion, applying to work for a PAC would be right down a rhetoric major’s alley. Pounder shared with us some of his experiences working on the Bush and Romney’s campaigns and even opened the door for future internships.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was an especially intriguing site because not everyone gets to see the things we saw. The Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) looked like the scene of 24. It was where everything big happens. For example, the Boston bombing investigation and pursuit took place in the center. The FBI is the backbone for all national crisis events, and serve as an integral part to the United States’ freedom and safety. Countless times I heard from the FBI agents and officers that their job is to protect the Constitution. This experience of going inside the FBI gives me a new confidence in our internal forces that justice will be served, and this nation will keep thriving.

Miller ’16 Enjoying D.C. Exploration

Dylan Miller ’16 – Well it has been another long and fun-filled day in our nation’s capitol. After a long day of traveling, we got to have a leisurely morning with a departure time of 10:30am. From our hotel, the group made its way to the nearest Metro station where we made a quick stop at Krispy Kreme for our free Happy Daylight Savings Time doughnut before piling into the metro train. A few train switches later (oh the joys of public transportation!), we were at the American History Museum. We had about an hour and a half to explore the Americana-filled museum. Not nearly enough time, but we had a busy schedule, and it was off to the Museum of the American Indian. As we approached the museum, Dr. Drury pointed out the stark contrasts between the American History Museum and the Museum of the American Indian. The stone walls and undulating architectural style of the Museum of the American Indian compared to the clean-cut industrial style of the American History Museum showed illuminated how the creators wanted these two museums to be interpreted. With a rhetoric professor by your side, you’re never free from (rhetorical) criticism and interpretation.

ChiliAfter making our way through the two museums, the group split up to further explore the city on our own. My classmate, Josh Bleisch, and I made our way to the National Gallery of Art to check out some Van Gough and Monet paintings like any good liberal arts student would do (I love those water lilies). Next was some much needed R&R in the hotel room after hours of walking around the city and museums.

With empty stomachs, Josh and I headed out on the town for some authentic D.C. cuisine. Naturally, we ended up at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, a local favorite of Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, and a fairly well known D.C. local by the name of Barack Obama. The long, looping line the length of the restaurant was a correct indicator of the amazing chilidogs and fries. From Ben’s Chili Bowl, Josh and I made one final stop to a large eggshell colored house (or maybe it was white, I’m not good with colors). After getting some cheesy touristy pictures and getting yelled at by the Secret Service (apparently we were supposed to stay on the sidewalk?), we headed back to the hotel.

Now it’s time to be domestic and iron my suit for tomorrow’s business-professional excursions!

Legerich ’15 Ponders Cathedral’s Symbolism

Clay Lengerich ’15 – After a day filled with studying St. Julien’s cathedral, one theme remained prominent among the group and myself.  This theme stems mostly from the reading Dr.Hoerl provided us with – which was a segment of The Golden Legend.  This piece argued many different ideas about who Saint Julien actually was.  But, I will be focusing on the beginning of the piece and how it forensically picked apart the name “Julian.”  The section reads, “Julian, Julianus, begins like jubilus, jubilant, and ana means upward: so Julian is close to Jubilans, one who strives upward toward heaven with jubilation” (Pg. 126).  This prominent quotation was looked at from many different angles throughout today.  But, most of these viewpoints were structured around the idea of “striving upward.” We found that the church itself was “striving upward” in many different ways, much like Saint Julian himself.

Cathedral1The class noted that one could look at this quotation from a geographical standpoint.  This had to do with the positioning of the cathedral on a certain area of land and also with how the rest of the community was situated in regards to it.  First, Saint Julian’s cathedral is placed on the highest peak visible in Le Mans.  The class talked about this largely.  It seemed that we all believed that it was a depiction of how mankind, like Saint Julien, was striving ever upward towards the heavens – which could also be seen as salvation. Second, St. Julien’s cathedral is placed at the very epicenter of Le Mans proper, or what would have been the city limits during its medieval use. By it being in the center, and also being at the peak, the cathedral was visible at almost all times in the Le Mans proper area.  In this theme’s context, some of the class thought that it was a symbol for the residents of Le Mans to witness at all times.  When one looked skyward they would see the cathedral and their minds could then turn to that need for striving upward towards salvation – continuously providing existential purpose for all citizens.

This quote was also deeply analyzed from an architectural standpoint.  The outer architecture displayed the idea that was brought forth above.  From the earth, this enormous cathedral was reaching higher than any other manmade structure could.  But, I believe that the most prominent architectural correlations with this quote were found inside the cathedral.  The class reinforced this idea during discussion.  When one enters Saint Julien’s cathedral, there are not really any important or prominent symbolic ornaments at eye level.  One had to look up!  When one looked up, he could see a ridiculous amount of stained glass with different symbols – each representing a different story.  These windows rose up so high that many were impossible to actually comprehend with the naked eye.  But, architecturally this made sense if those building had this theme in mind.  With all of the beauty being upward, it would inspire the congregation to gaze upward.  By gazing upward they could feel that close connection with God, the church, and the community that had provided this cathedral.

Wentzel ’14 Questions Cathedral’s Light

Jeremy Wentzel ’14 - On Monday, the class made two site visits in the City of Le Mans.  The first and most in-depth visit was to the Cathedral at St. Julien, and the second being at Eglise de la Couture.  Being written after a tremendous class discussion on the return to Paris this evening, this blog seeks to identify key themes in that were captured by the group.  These site visits marked the first of many for the class, therefore the excitement and intellectual romanticism of freshly observed sites flowed freely in the discussion.  Importantly, the ideas presented at this evening’s discussion and within this blog offer insight into the large questions about architecture, religion, and political power that will guide us through visits to other cathedrals in the week.

LightWhat does light and darkness have to do with the individual’s perception of oneself in relation to God?  No – not good and evil, but quite literally lightness and darkness within the cathedral.  How do the natural elements (or lack thereof) of the exterior of the cathedral engage the senses as to what role the individual has, and what role those above the individuals have?  Finally, how does order make individuals feel, and how does architecture – the cathedrals support it?  These questions illuminated our group conversation at a café during sunset in the heart of Paris.  Ultimately, these questions will aid us in forming a more solid connection between politics and architecture in medieval and gothic churches.

In the role of discussion leader, I took note of these questions and more.  Upon examining the interior and exterior of the Cathedral of St. Julien, I found the cathedral to be living and in harmony with nature.  Sitting atop the highest point in Le Mans, the cathedral is visible by many places in the city, and sits in bright harmony with its built environment.  Some scholars have suggested the cathedral to be robust and lively – a joyful celebration.  I couldn’t agree more.  The light wind sweeps through the elegant structure.  The sun amplifies the elaborate stained glass, and provides reflection off the lightly colored walls inside.  The green exterior surroundings enhance the feeling that this cathedral is alive.

But on to the question of power – does a cathedral that feels alive, both inside and out, give some agency to the individual?  Does the individual feel closer to God if the church is more inviting?  Is the plain style inside the structure (made quite visible through the contrasting high gothic and Romanesque styles fused together) inhibiting of order?  I dare to suggest that the Cathedral at St. Julien provides a closer connection to the individual and God through its architecture.  Yet, because it does this, there are considerations to be made.  If the individual is somewhat empowered – even a presumably illiterate individual from the times – how much power does the church have over that individual?  When examining the question of political power, we see numerous relationships from the individual: an individual/God relationship, an individual/intermediary relationship (the church as an institution and church leadership, both as “intermediary”), and an individual/intermediary/God relationship.  We found that architecture of a cathedral directly affects our perceptions and/or the realities of each of these relationships.

Consider the Eglise de la Couture, whose darkness provides a sense of mystery.  The darkness of the cathedral, through fewer windows and its presence in a neighborhood built environment, is striking in comparison to the Cathedral of St. Julien.  While the group had differing interpretations of the darkness, it was clear that in all interpretations was the notion that the eeriness of darkness was powerful.  I suggest that darkness reinforces the power the intermediary has.  In other words, the darker the cathedral, the more one feels small and distant to God.  Thus, the necessity for a priest and church leadership provides a sense of security for the individual in the quest to feel or search for God.  My personal opinion (thus far) is that a successful cathedral incorporates a healthy individual/intermediary/God relationship.  This means that the individual does not feel too close or too far from God.  There is the presence of a priest – and institution that seeks to promote duty and accountability, but does not suppress the role of God.  This model, in my opinion, relates healthily to notions of reason and searching that we see in writers of metaphysics.  As a result, political power is not dominated by one source: the individual, God, or the intermediary.  Instead, while perhaps imbalanced, there is not a monopoly on power, but instead a distribution of it.

Our conversations were fruitful.  Our thoughts were even more so.  The organic nature of the intellectual flourishing that occurred here today is a sure reflection of the power and necessity of immersion learning at Wabash College.  Our uncertainty and bold unabashed idealism will be certainly refined over the course of the week.  Yet, there is a beauty to the excitement of the first full day – an excitement that comes only from a step outside the classroom at Wabash.

Joyce ’14 Moved by Israeli Experience

The Israel Immersion trip class with Jerusalem in the background.

The Israel Immersion trip class with Jerusalem in the background.

Zeno Joyce ’14 – Even with the title of our class being “Contested Sites, Contested Texts”, I wasn’t sure how my life’s contestation would even fit or if it were even applicable. But I too would realized, I am not alone in this struggle of faith.

Zeno Joyce at Mount Olive

Zeno Joyce at Mount Olive

I never knew how moving this experience could be until today. I struggled to sleep in Capernaum, waking up at 12am, 2:30am and finally 5:30am, feeling empty that I had not joined my comrades in their visit to the Sea of Galilee. So at 5:30, I went to the bank at the Sea of Galilee, with hopes that the sun hadn’t risen.

Fortunately, I was able to mediate and pray as the sun slowly breached the horizon. Then immediately my mouth began to sing songs from church, those about the goodness of Jesus and the inability to complain because of His sacrifice. I was filled with so much joy, in that I could feel and hear the words of my Grandmother – whom I know would have cherished this opportunity and is the reason for my religious commitment.

After leaving the Sea of Galilee, we went to the site where Jesus was baptized near Jericho. It was here my emotions would get the best of me.

I was blessed to meet a fellow brother from Uganda, whom too is a Christian. We conversed on our birthplaces and how we both envy one another. He expressed to me that despite the negative image and stereotype of African American – African, we are connected by faith and that is all that matters. I was moved by this candid nature and quickly jotted down his contact information, seeing that I only had 1 minute to make it back to the bus.

Joyce300This interaction exposed me internally. I too have personally contested my African and American identity. As I sat on the bus on the way to Jerusalem, all I could do was think about how much love I was shown by a complete stranger despite all my personal uncertainties. My eyes began to flow with streams of emotion and love, as I was reminded of Jesus and the Apostles on the Sea of Galilee. Our tour guide Habib, had pointed out earlier in the King James Version that the apostles are called children by Jesus. Unlike other translations that say Jesus called them friends, this is not the case because they too learned from Him.

This stood out to me, not only because I learned the ages of the apostles, but in that they too needed to learn and grow just like all of us. Not only have I been exposed to new culture and traditions, but I have learned that we all are children of God—not matter your color, creed, race or religion. As a religion major, this trip to Israel is the apex of my Wabash journey.

- Photos by Ian Baumgardner ’14