Hoover ’15 Learns About Education Opportunities

Daniel Hoover ’15 -   As we are wrapping up our week in Chicago, let me first say that I am so grateful and blessed that I have been able to partake in this education learning experience. I will say that Chicago is a whole different world than where I grew up, but it has been an eye-opening experience overall. I am placed at De La Salle Institute, which is private catholic school a block away from US Cellular Field. Interestingly enough, my school has two gender-based campuses, so I have been able to relate to my students well considering we are both in all male institutes.

One of the best parts about this trip in the classroom has been able to experience such diversity in the classroom. De La Salle accepts an even amount of white, Hispanic, and African-American students. Having been able to co-teach these wonderful students has opened my eyes in terms of how different people have grown up. It has been a pleasure to experience different cultures in the classrooms.

This week, we have been studying a unit over the Renaissance Era. Specifically, today we talked about the Reformation and Martin Luther. At the end of the class, I was able to discuss with the students what they would like to reform. I was quite impressed when the students said that would like to do work in the community to reform some of the problems that Chicago faces. It was extremely thrilling listening to high school freshman so engaged in wanting to perform in the community.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we had the privilege of exploring the Museum of Science and Industry and what it had to offer in terms of education. Before, I had never really thought of putting a museum in a lesson plan. However, the museum taught me how to incorporate possible field trips in the future.

Overall, this week has been an amazing experience. It has really opened my eyes to urban education. Since the trip began I have really enjoyed working with my students and it really has changed my perspective on urban education. Again, I would like to thank all the alums who have made this trip possible.

Kile ’16 Better Understanding ‘Immersion’

Erik Kile ‘16 – Prior to our arrival I wasn’t sure what to expect from this immersion experience in Marburg. I had been to this region of Germany last year to visit family, and when I was with them everything was comfortable and relaxed. On this trip I have had to rely more on myself to use German in everyday situations. The first day we were here several of us had a rough time just trying to order food at a Döner Kebab stand. But now, after a few days of dedicated language practice it seems that everything has opened up for us and we are able to apply what we learned in the classroom at home to a real world setting. I am now able to converse entirely in German with my family and friends who live nearby in Neustadt.

Learning more about Landgrafenschloss in the museum.

Learning more about Landgrafenschloss in the museum.

We have also been experiencing the rich cultural history that Marburg has to offer. We’ve seen a plethora of historical sites throughout the city that escaped my attention when I came through here last year. Professor Redding led us on a tour of the Elisabethkirche, which some people claim is the oldest purely Gothic church in Germany. It was built by the Order of Teutonic Knights to honor St. Elisabeth, who gave up her rich life as Landgräfin (duchess) of Thuringia to care for the poor and the sick. She basically worked herself to death and was canonized in 1235, just four years after she died.

Yesterday after language class and lunch at the Mensa (student cafeteria) we visited the Landgrafenschloss, the castle that dominates the skyline of Marburg. We studied the castle inside and out, and learned about its role in the development of the city. In fact, Marburg takes its name from the castle, with “Mark” being an old German word for border and “Burg” meaning fortress or castle: Mar(k) + Burg = Marburg. In addition to its role in the birth of the modern German state of Hesse, the castle also hosted the famous Marburg Colloquy, a theological discussion between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli. The meeting did not go well and essentially solidified the split between the Lutheran and the Reformed wings of the Protestant movement.

It was well after 5 p.m. by the time Dr. Redding turned us loose, but several of us still had enough energy to grab some supplies at the grocery store and hike to the top of the steep hills opposite the castle, where we picnicked and enjoyed the spectacular view of Marburg. We are less than halfway through our stay and already we have a lot to reflect on, and a lot to still look forward to.

Rezek ’15 Embracing Classroom Experience

Patrick Rezek ’15 -  Well, Tuesday was day two of our week-long immersion trip in Chicago. My host school is Kenwood Academy, a public, magnet school that for students grades 7-12. I have been placed in a 7th grade English class with a general class size of 42! This can get a little crazy at times, but the students are good at helping calm each other down when it’s time to get work done.

My class just started a unit over The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The novel is full of short, little vignettes that are meant to give a snapshot depiction of Esperanza’s life as she struggles through adolescence. Its is a perfect time for these students to be reading this short novel because many of them struggle with the same problems that Esperanza does. We haven’t gotten much of the reading done, but we have been engaged in deep conversations and debates over important themes presented in the novel: family, identity, gender/race, lifestyles and expectations.

I have had some of the most unexpected and inspiring stories about the lives of these students and what they go through every day, and it’s an experience that you cant get anywhere else besides being in the classroom with them. My host teacher has created such an environment where the students are able to open up and discuss real life problems as they also see them applied to literature.

I look forward to teaching a full day of lessons Wednesday and Thursday! The experience of co-teaching in Chicago has opened up a new door for me in terms of both my options as a career but also my passion – my desire to help those students who really want to do well and continue their own educational growth, but may not have the money or resources to do so. Thank you to those alums, faculty, and current students who continue to donate financial support for immersion trips such as this one. It has truly been rewarding and inspirational!

Germany Through the Eyes of My Students

Redding, far right, with students studying Marburg's Elisabethkirche.

Redding, far right, with students studying Marburg’s Elisabethkirche.

Professor Greg Redding – It has become a Wabash tradition for students to write blog posts during their off-campus immersion experiences. For the first two days of our current study program in Germany, however, the students have hardly had time to catch their breath, let alone write about their impressions thus far. By tomorrow we will have settled into a routine, so student reflections will be forthcoming. In the meantime I want to offer a few observations from the point of view of a professor who is traveling abroad with students for the 14th time in his 19-year teaching career.


Redding and students with Elisabethkirche in background.

Redding and students with Elisabethkirche in background.

When one travels as much as I and so many of my Wabash colleagues have, it is easy for it to become routine. Germany for me is not a strange, foreign place: it is like a second home. So when I arrive in familiar places like Marburg, where we are currently studying, it feels like a long-awaited homecoming. The language and the culture are comforting to me.

This is not true for my students. They are young men traveling in a group, so of course they do not willingly betray any lack of confidence. But almost immediately things begin to happen that challenge their self-assurance, the most important of which is the language. The students on this trip have had from 2 to 4 semesters of college German. They’ve been exposed to all of the essential grammar, have acquired (in theory at least) an active vocabulary of more than 1,000 words, are somewhat culturally competent, and have many hours of situational language practice.

There should be no real difference between using German in Crawfordsville and using German in Marburg, but as one might expect it does not play out that way in those first few encounters with native speakers in context. The simplest exchange becomes cause for self-doubt, sometimes even panic. I have to admit, I find those first blundered transactions amusing, but only because I know that what seemed difficult on day one will be quite simple by the end of our stay. Each situation that the student successfully navigates shows him that the German he has practiced in the Detchon classroom really isn’t any different than the German he hears on the streets of Marburg.

The German 202 immersion experience is immersion in the truest sense of the word. The students are expected to live the language and the culture while they are here. They live separately rather than in a group. They have at least 7 required active hours of language practice per day, and more on some days. They pick up groceries and cook their own meals at home. They have assignments that are designed to get them away from each other, to discover Marburg on their own, to gather information and bring it back to share with the group — in German of course.

Already there have been some surprises. Any notions the students might have had about German stereotypes have been challenged by some of their language partners. Each morning they have 4 hours of formal instruction with an instructor whose heritage is Turkish. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have an additional 3 hours of “on the street” German practice with conversation partners who have Mongolian and Russian heritage. Marburg is multi-cultural, a small university town with a strong international presence that for the next two weeks includes 9 students from Wabash.

By the time these 9 young men return to Crawfordsville, they will be well on their way toward becoming citizens of the world. Their next trip abroad will seem a little less daunting, and those first conversations in a language other than English will be approached with confidence. They will move forward while in Marburg, and I will move a little bit backward. Watching them will remind me of the time when speaking German was not natural for me, and when the culture seemed foreign. I will rediscover Germany through the eyes of my students and reclaim a bit of the excitement of the new for myself.

Combs ’15 Embraces Classroom, City

Bailey Combs ’15 -  I would like to begin by thanking the generous Wabash alumni and the College for funding this trip into the often misperceived Chicago area and its educational system. Today was my first full day observing at Kenwood Academy. Far from being a failing school, Kenwood strives to get students to graduate and get into college but also take with them up to 12 college credits as well.

The first class I observed started promptly at 8 a.m. and was a senior psychology class working on a psychological disorder unit. It required every memory of Dr. Horton’s PSY 101 class as well as a cast of friends who exemplify some of the disorders. After that, it was several periods of 8th grade human geography class where I engaged students to fully develop their PowerPoint presentations and  classroom activities for their group projects. Students were very interesting in talking to me and I had several fun conversations throughout the day about class, assignments, and of course Wabash College. Additionally, I was able to observe how to handle a stressful situation amongst co-workers as a white teacher and a African-American teacher soon discovered that the seemingly innocent nursery rhythm, “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” had a more sinister rendition many years ago. There were apologizes all around and an acknowledgement that ignorance and not malice was truly at the middle of the situation.

After classes were over for the day, I met up with Patrick Rezek, who is also observing at Kenwood Academy, and we started our journey back across town to the hostel we are staying at in downtown Chicago. We had the opportunity to talk with one of the chefs at the school while we were waiting on the city bus. He was very happy to hear that we were enjoying our time at the school and that we recognized urban schools weren’t all gangs, drugs, and violence. Unfortunately, the crowded environment of the Chicago Transport Authority Bus No. 6 prevented us from discussing urban education, as well as sports, with this kind gentleman.

Following dinner, everyone on the trip signed up for an architectural tour of the city by boat. My favorite part was when the tour guide asked if we knew anything about the Art Deco style. It didn’t take long for the memories of soft, warm breezes, crying seagulls, and beautiful buildings of Miami and Havana that  I saw on Dr. Hollander’s Cuba Immersion trip last fall to be recalled and my interest level to be peaked. The only downside to seeing all of the old super concrete building of the 1920s and 30s Chicago was hearing about how expensive it was to live downtown. $1.2 million dollars for a townhouse? Suddenly, room and board at Wabash doesn’t sound so bad.

As the week goes on, I plan to not only be more active in the classroom but I also want to see more of the historical sites and museums that Chicago has to offer in the evenings once classes are done for the day. I would like to thank the College and the wonderful Alumni for granting me this opportunity to extend my Wabash College experience beyond the campus but beyond the school calendar too.

Hammerle ’15 Learning About Interaction

Connor Hammerle ’15 -  Monday was the first day we student-taught at our host schools in Chicago.  The school that I will be teaching at this week is Collins Academy which is a turn-around school for high school students.  For today’s lesson, my sophomore class began working on their final immigration project for the semester.  The last few weeks the students have been learning about the process many immigrants go through to become citizens in the US and their project places them in the position of a person who wants to come to the US and must to decide if they will come legally or illegally.

I personally spent the day working with the students individually and helping them brainstorm different scenarios that could play out for the particular immigrant they had selected.   All of the students I worked with today were engaged with me, the teacher, and the prompt they were given.  It was refreshing to see students that genuinely cared about their education.  One of the best interactions I was able to see between one of the teachers and a student was listening to my host teacher ask students about their weekend and then pestering them when he felt their answer wasn’t sufficient.  He pushed them to actually talk to him about their weekend and I could see the appreciation in their eyes, although they tried to hide it.

Even on the first day I can see the connection between my host teacher and the class, and how important it is to the students to have someone in the school that they know is genuinely invested in their success.  Working with the students in Collins has been a great experience so far and has really opened my eyes to the possibility of teaching in an intercity in the future.

Preparing for a Week in Chicago

DAY 1Cody Buresh ’15 – The day began early for all of us this morning. We have had the privilege to ride the Amtrak into Chicago, which was a new experience for most of us. After arriving to the train station the group made its way to the hostel that we will be staying in for the rest of the week. When we reached the hostel we had a brief meeting about our one-day experience prior to this trip.

Our group was getting settled in Chicago and getting mentally prepared for the week ahead. The best way to get to know Chicago and feel more comfortable with the city is to have a dinner with some of our amazing alumni. The friendliness, connections, and just all around love of Wabash when talking with our alumni always blow me away. The community feel of Wabash only seems to grow over time. We dined at Tufano’s, an Italian restaurant with a great environment to talk about our past endeavors and what our future entails. It was amazing how natural all of the conversations were between the current students and alumni present.

The simple factor of Wabash College brings individuals from many different backgrounds and experiences together as big community. All of the current students are excited to have the opportunity to actually teach and observe urban education. This new experience of education with an unfamiliar environment and diversity will most definitely enrich our learning and teaching ability for the future.

Cuatecontzi ’17 Impressed by Pew Research

Felipe Cuatecontzi ’17 – Mar. 12 was such a busy day. In all, the class made visits to the Pew Research Center, ICANN and NPR. When the day first began, I had a hard time understanding how these organizations could possibly correlate with our class, which focuses on the rhetoric that is present in government and politics. After having discussions with the professionals of these individual organizations, I understood that these organizations were voices that fell into the relationship of government and organizations.

The first place we visited on that Wednesday morning was the Pew Research Center. It was explained to us that the Pew Research Center conducts research and polls to understand the relationship between religion and demographics in the United States. Leading the discussion was Dr. Gregory Smith, director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Religion and Public Life Project. Dr. Smith explained how religion is extremely important to monitor and analyze. Dr. Smith discussed that his research led to the conclusion that religion is the 2nd leading factor when determining the voting patterns of Americans, just behind race. This was very fascinating to hear, but what I found most fascinating was how Dr. Smith also went on to reveal that 1 in 5 Americans have no religious affiliation. These Americans are called “nones” as Dr. Smith labeled them. It was at this point in the discussion that you could notice an increase in question of how and why exactly religion is such an influence in how people vote.

After leaving the Pew Research Center, the class headed over to ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Personally, I think that the acronym rolls of the tongue a little easier. It was at ICANN that we met Patrick Jones ’96, who is a senior director, to engage in a discussion with him. Jones told our class that ICANN aimed at not only connecting Americans domestically, but also internationally. The purpose of ICANN is to manage Internet resources thru the Internet’s domain system.  ICANN has also been aiming to extend its boundaries by connecting with multi-stakeholders and by using certain strategies to overcome obstacles that include language, government and culture ICANN has begun to do so. One thing that I found a little ironic about our visit to ICANN was that the day of our visit also happened to fall on the same date as the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web!

Thoughts While Exploring Notre Dame, Paris

Adam Pagryzinski ’14 – Mar. 14 – We like to think of gothic cathedrals as temporally static, giant stone anomalies which have escaped the passage of time; constants that connect us with the genius of a lost age. This perception of cathedrals as constant and unchanging engenders feelings of comfort, security, awe, and perseverance which speak to the human desire for universal truth, for immortality. The thought that these stone giants could be movable, transitory, or destructible is existentially troublesome, for how can something that has endured so long be subject to the fickleness of time, subjectivity, or human interpretation? This was the very struggle encountered today while exploring the cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres.

Despite the breath-taking exterior, intricate carvings, and the most magnificent stained glass windows ever created, the focus of our investigation and discussion was the partially complete renovation project seeking to return the cathedral’s interior to its original state. Rather than the gloomy, somber, and bare stone walls so associated with the gothic aesthetic and the medieval ages, we instead found brightly painted walls and columns in hues of yellow, red, green, and blue. The shadowy mysticism and cold uniformity of the building was lost, and along with it all the feelings and sentiments typically associated with the gothic.

In the quest to rediscover the lost historical aesthetic of the cathedral, a different aesthetic truth has been destroyed. The perception of cathedrals held by modernity, although not true to history or the creators’ intent, has maintained for centuries and is engrained in the global mind. The traditional bare stone walls offer us something; they fulfill some need, satisfy some unique desire which remains unaddressed by society. While it is true that modernity has a duty to antiquity, to preserve and rediscover the lost realities of lost times, we must also be careful not to destroy the modern conception of the cathedral that has been developed over hundreds of years. It is evident after appreciating the cathedral in Chartres that the role cathedrals play in politics, community, religion, and society has changed since the birth of the gothic, however we must reach a balance between remaining true to the gothic aesthetic of antiquity and exploring the modern gothic interpretation lest we lose the many things that this new aesthetic provides.

Late Night Walk Impressive as Site Visits

Derek Andre ’16 – Over the past week, 14 Wallys, myself included, had the opportunity to travel to the nation’s Capital as part of a Rhetoric course about the various rhetorical aspects of Washington, DC. Over the course of the week we were able to meet with Senator Joe Donnelly, Representative Luke Messer ’91, visit NPR, America Rising, and Prime Policy Group, and see all the sights that DC has to offer. The trip was designed to provide those of us in the course, entitled Voices of America: the Rhetoric of the Nation’s Capital, the opportunity to view DC firsthand and to take our acquired knowledge back with us so that we can create a final project analyzing some aspect of the District.

Unlike the rest of the group, my project entailed a trip to Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals. For my final project, I plan to analyze the rhetorical constructs surrounding Nationals Park, including the way that the park constructs a history for the young team and how the park plays into the overall rhetoric of DC. For my project, I took a tour of the ballpark, seeing the Presidential Lounge, the Washington Level suites, the clubhouse, and even throwing a pitch in the bullpen. Overall the tour yielded a surprising amount of interesting information and aspects of the stadium that will be useful in the analysis of the ballpark.

While the trip was great for seeing the sights of DC and visiting a number of offices around the District, one of the most memorable moments took place during a discussion I had with our professor Dr. Sara Drury and two of my fellow students. As we were walking between the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial we started discussing the ways those two memorials and the World War Two Memorial conveyed three very different messages when viewed at night. We talked about the lighting of the memorials, the presence or lack thereof of seating, the size and layout, and even the positioning of the three memorials. Without going into copious detail, the conversation embodied the critical thinking that is the backbone of a Wabash education.

I’d like to thank Drs Sara Drury and Shamira Gelbman, Wabash College, my parents, and my classmates for making this phenomenal trip possible. Not only was the trip intellectually stimulating, but I also was able to solidify old friendships and make new ones. Last week when we flew out of Indianapolis I didn’t know what to expect. But one week, six memorials, a Capitol tour, a trip to NPR, and twelve games of euchre later, I can honestly say that an immersion trip to DC was a great way to spend a Spring Break.

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