Banner

Austin Crosley ’18

Austin Crosley ’18

My study abroad experience has left me incredibly thankful and humbled. As the French novelist Gustave Flaubert put it, “travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” I felt as though I have seen so much of the world, but as I look at a globe I see I still have only seen but very tiny piece of it. I am grateful for my family, Wabash College, and the Givens family for allowing me such a grand expedition of the self and of the world.

My study abroad program began in Florence for a two weeks intensive class in survival Italian. This proved useful in keeping from starving, because I then had the tools to order food and ask directions. It was a great plan to begin a program in Florence before entering the enormous city of Rome. Here I was able to get comfortable in a foreign place without the added stress of the big city. In Florence I got to experience amazing art and architecture like the statue of David and Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (often referred to as The Duomo as it is the largest masonry dome in the world).

Austin Crosley standing in line to enter the Château de Versailles

This is me standing in a long line to enter the Château de Versailles, which housed King Louis XIV. This is one of the most iconic representations of French baroque styled architecture. My visit to Paris and the Château de Versailles was made possible by the generous scholarship of the Givens family.

After getting my bearings In Florence and travelling to some important cities in northern Italy like Pisa, Siena, and Venice I finally made it to Rome. In the first weeks I visited all the major sites and got to know my classmates. I only started to truly engross myself in the new culture after the excitement of a new place started to cool although walking past the Vatican every day to school doesn’t get that old. It wasn’t just a goal to see Italy, but to feel like I was a part of Italy. I soon learned that Rome is not a representation of Italy, but in reality Italy is very diverse place. From region to region one can find different dialects, local dishes, ideologies, and influences. I could compare Rome to New York more easily than comparing Rome to Sorrento or Perugia. However, one thing that most Italian cities have in common are amazing churches. I think I may have visited about fifty, each as beautiful as the last. Sharpening my previous statement, I only started getting engrossed in the Roman culture after I settled into my new home.

One of the most enriching moments of my study abroad experience was getting teach English to elementary students in Rome every Tuesday and Thursday. It was quite the challenge as it was my first time teaching, I don’t know Italian, and the teachers knew very little English. Working through the language barrier and experiencing very human moments of understanding, curiosity, and happiness with the young students made me hopeful in spite of so much change and confusion in the world. One of these moments came after the presidential election and a couple months away from home that left me in a slump. In one of the classrooms I was helping two students with constructing a sentence and a classmate who had a mental condition interrupted and pulled my attention towards him for help, then I would go back to the other students and I would be called back to the boy. In each of these moments the students remained patient and understanding of the situation. It was their consideration for the boy with special needs that reminded me that people are all at their root good. This moment along with many others like it gave me hope for people amidst what I have been reading in the news of hate crimes and mindless violence.

I surprised myself by studying abroad and getting into the classroom in different way, and I am truly grateful for every new friendship and idea that was a product of my trip. I wouldn’t have been able to get outside of my comfort zone, or outside the bubble that is Wabash College, or the bigger bubble that is the United States without a push from friends and family, but I am grateful and overjoyed that I did, because it allowed me to experience friendships and perspectives I would have never been acquainted with otherwise. This trip has inspired further travel in the future!

Crosley with school children in Rome

Kids all over the world know the meaning of the term “selfie,” so when I uttered the word I had an avalanche of volunteers. These were some of the kids I had the honor of helping with English in an elementary school in Rome!


Benjamin Elliott ’18

Benjamin Elliott ’18

Musée d’Orsay

Before this semester, the last art class I took was in junior high, if I remember correctly. I’d never seen myself as particularly artsy, anyway – I’ve never graduated beyond the stick figure school of drawing, I was 15 the last time I seriously played an instrument, and I’ve always taken more solace in the works of Cormac McCarthy than those of Pablo Picasso.

While I wouldn’t say that I’m a budding art buff by any means, I’ve been shown in these last few months how wrong I was to have dismissed an entire discipline of art for so long. I’ve found a joy and a rich history in painting that I hadn’t previously known. There is a certain facet of human expression that is captured best by paintings, I realize now.

Below are three of the paintings that most impressed me throughout my travels in Paris, two from the Musée d’Orsay and one from the Louvre. All thanks to the Givens family for the scholarship that made the trip possible.

A Burial at Ornans (1849-50) Gustave Courbet, 315 cm x 660 cm, Musée d’Orsay

A Field of Tulips in Holland (1886) Claude Monet, 65.5 cm x 81.5, Musée d’Orsay

I think my favorite aspect of this particular work is the fact that it necessitates an explanation. I came to this particular tableau after wandering through many other galleries of the wonderful Musée d’Orsay in Paris, including some of the seminal works of the Impressionist movement. Indeed, it felt almost tucked away, but then I came into the room with it. A picture doesn’t quite do it justice – this thing is big.

But why bother? It’s a decidedly banal scene, for all intents and purposes. In Courbet’s era, paintings of this size were intended for scenes of import – Biblical scenes, old Greek legends, historical touchstones, and the like. And then we have this somber, grey scene with markedly normal people. Artists, quite simply, did not paint scenes like this at such a scale, if at all, if they wanted to make a name for themselves.

It is for precisely that decision that I was struck by this painting. It took courage to take the time to paint a scene such as this in Courbet’s day. In doing so, he helped to shape the Realist movement of his time, as well as later movements like Impressionism that took the time to capture the quotidian.

 

Quite honestly, I could have chosen any of Monet’s paintings I saw while on my trip in Paris. While learning about French art history this semester, I fell in love with the Impressionists, and Claude Monet above all other’s. There is a certain elegance to the Impressionist style and a realness that supersedes any other movements I’ve studied.

This is truer for Monet’s works than any other’s. The range of colors with which he paints here is breathtaking. He, above any other painter I saw in the Musée d’Orsay’s Impressionist gallery, was able to capture the exact colors I imagine one would see if they were to travel to this same field. Monet once said he wanted to paint the way a bird sings, and in viewing this, I’d have to say he got darn close.

 

I was impressed by this piece for several reasons. It’s extremely well done, and the way the light illuminates the scene throws everything into sharp contrast. The man shown in this painting is Jean-Paul Marat, a casualty of the French Revolution and the resultant Terror in which he took part. He was murdered for his role in the short-lived regime.

To begin, the figure of Marat himself is idealized. The man had a rather bad skin condition, which necessitated daily baths in the tub in which he has been painted in this scene. For what appears to be a pretty serious stab wound, also, there is not too much blood. Finally, the way his arm drapes out of the tub is reminiscent of Caravaggio’s Entombment of Christ — an artist who inspired David. The parallels between Christ in that painting and Marat here clearly suggest martyrdom of this revolutionary.

It is in that declaration I find myself fascinated by this painting. It became quite quickly after its unveiling a piece of propaganda for the Montagnards who presided over the terror – Maximilien Robespierre included. It speaks volumes about who these people thought they were, and how they comported themselves. For such a short-lived, tumultuous reign, the Montagnards were resolute to the point of death for their cause, which is impressed on me when I view this painting.

 


Cody Cochran ’18

Cody Cochran ’18

Cody Cochran ’18

Before I ultimately decided to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, I looked over the course catalogue; the one class that stood out to me particularly was one titled, simply, ‘Picasso’. Based on the course description given on the program website, I was expecting to be taking a class solely about the life and works of Picasso, which on its own would have been very interesting. After being here, enrolled in this class for almost three months, the class and the content have exceeded my expectations and then some. In addition to learning about the life and works of Picasso, we have been learning about the different styles of art used by Picasso separately, ranging from Neoclassicism to Impressionism to Cubism, which has helped to give me a greater knowledge about art in general. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve learned more about art this semester than I had throughout my entire life before arriving in Valencia. In addition to all that I’ve learned in the classroom here, my studies have been complimented by traveling to multiple locations across Europe and visiting many famous art museums, all of which allowed me to apply what I had learned in my Picasso class to works of art which I had the opportunity to view. These opportunities to visit these places came as a direct result of the Givens Scholarship: a generous gift granted to me from the Givens family.

One of the countries in which I was able to see a good deal of western art was Italy. When I was in Italy, I visited Rome, Florence, and Venice. When I was in Rome, I had the opportunity to get a tour of the Vatican, which included the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing to be able to see iconic works of art that I had seen many times in pictures but never thought I’d have the opportunity to see in person. When I went to Florence, I was able to see all four parts of the Piazza del Duomo, including one of the most iconic structures in the entire world, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Since I’ve been in Spain, I’ve been able to see a good amount of art in both Valencia and in Madrid. In Valencia, I’ve been to the Museo de las Bellas Artes multiple times: twice with my professor and classmates for my Picasso class. I originally went to this museum with just myself and a couple of friends one weekend, but after that I went twice with my Picasso class. My professor was able to point out many things that I hadn’t taken note of on my first visit, from artistic symbols to the gradual change of styles from certain areas over time. Though my time in Madrid was very limited, I felt like I was able to accomplish a lot. I was able to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, which was extremely interesting due to the widespread collection of the palace, varying from intricate tapestries to the world’s only collection of the instruments of a full Stradivarius quartet. Although the Royal Palace was incredible, in my opinion, the Prado art museum blew the Palace out of the water. It was almost overwhelming to be able to see so much of the world’s best art in the same location. I would constantly have to remind myself where exactly I was and what exactly I was looking at because there were hundreds of world-famous works of art all around me. Throughout all of the museum, I’d have to say that my favorite works were the Black Paintings by Francisco Goya.

Cody CochranWhen I was in Amsterdam, I went to my favorite museum that I’ve ever been to: the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. Without my Picasso class in Valencia, I feel that I would not be able to appreciate this museum nearly as much as I did because we learned a good deal about many of the styles used by Van Gogh in his works. While learning about the styles in the classroom was essential to my enjoyment of the museum, being able to see some of the works in this museum and apply what I had learned when observing some of these works gave me whole new appreciation for art that I saw and for works that I will see in the future. Without the knowledge I gained in my class, a painting that I may have merely skimmed over during my pass through the museum before became a painting in which I’d observe and recognize the multiple artistic elements and truly appreciate. This trip to Amsterdam was one that very likely would not have been possible without the generous donation of the Givens family, and I am deeply grateful for this opportunity I received.


Experience in Education

Chase Francoeur ’17 – During my first month in the French capital I spent much of my time visiting the typical tourist areas with the other students in my class, places such as Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Versailles, Tour d’Eiffel, and Arc de Triomphe. On the weekends my program would take us outside of the city to visit other sites such as the home and gardens of French painter Claude Monet in Giverny, the wine cellars of Tours and the southern city of Toulouse where the Cassoulet (a meat stew) could rival any American chili.

After settling in and getting the rush of exploring a new city and new country out of our system, our classes began to delve into the problems that existed in not only Paris but also France as a whole as they battled against many of the very same things that headline our own newspapers and media. Place de la République, a plaza in central Paris, was a shining example of the turmoil surrounding the country in relation to immigration, racism, police brutality and more. The plaza only two years ago was a bustling place for youth to hang out and spend their summer afternoons, but is now the focal point for violent protests, even forcing the metro station in the middle of the square to be indefinitely closed as it has become so dangerous after sunset. As we shifted to seeing past the façade that is a beautiful, bustling city we began to identify the daily hardships that many faced, many of them first-hand through our weekly class excursions.

The recent terror attacks, one of which occurred on Bastille Day (July 14th), were almost commonplace, as were the protests as France struggled to maintain control over a mass of immigrants entering the country through Marseille from countries bordering the Mediterranean. The task was made even more difficult when considering many citizens were also unhappy with the government as it pushed labor agendas that inch closer towards capitalism in a strongly socialist country.

In Calais, the closest city to the United Kingdom, a refugee camp nicknamed ‘The Jungle’ because of its harsh conditions, is home to over 7,500 refugees. Crowding many of the disbanded railroads of Paris, Roma communities, known to us more commonly as gypsies, have been present for well over a decade despite walls of plywood and tarpaulin roofs that are held down with anything they can get there hands on.

Although many of the children in these communities were born in France they are not considered French citizens as if you are born to parents of a foreign nationality you are considered a foreigner until you are 18, at which point you can declare as a French national. Even upon declaring as a French national, many still experience unofficial discrimination from the government as decades of intolerance have led to inequality, which directly contradicts the country’s motto, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

Although France utilizes laïcité, religious neutrality in public spaces, and separation of church and state, the system faces constant harsh criticisms. In 2011 the government banned women from wearing the burqa or niqab in public, a measure that many believe interferes with the ability to practice Islam. Religious symbols were also banned from public schools in 2004, and as a result many religious families moved their children to private education, which has caused a slight divide in the culture as these children do not grow up with exposure to other religions and their corresponding cultures and have a higher prevalence of intolerance towards them.

When one thinks of France we often picture a short man dressed in a black and white horizontally striped shirt, a red beret and sporting a well-maintained moustache while holding a bottle of red wine in one hand and the legendary ‘baguette’ in the other. Or, if you don’t picture that, maybe it is of a group having a picnic in the countryside with a platter of various cheeses, breads, and a few bottles of wine. After 10 weeks exploring and studying in various parts of France (Bordeaux, Caen, Chantilles, Paris, Toulouse, Tours) thanks to the Rudolph’s generous donations, I have discovered for myself how the culture and daily life of the French is so drastically different from what I personally once thought. My experiences have taught me that while you can be in an area for even a few months, you will still be blind to much of the society and culture and if you seek to be able to truly immerse yourself you must be ready to break down barriers, leave behind preconceived notions and experience difficulties and defeat.


Schafer ’17 Summer Study More than German

Harrison Schafer ‘17 – Once again, Wabash has given me an opportunity that I could never hope to repay. With funding from the Rudolph family and their summer abroad scholarship, I am able to write this blog post from Goethe’s Munich office just around the corner from the Altstadt.

Though I came to Munich to primarily enhance my skills in German, I now see how this trip has helped me become a more able Wabash man. I would like to think myself more independent because of this trip. No longer can I rely on the Sparks Center’s seemingly endless supply of warm meals, available whenever I want. Instead, I travel every week to the supermarket down the street to figure what I am going to cook for lunch, not only forcing me to learn how to finally provide for myself but also provides me with a little German practice as I run through the checkout or decide what to actually buy. Every weekday, I unfortunately experience the mixed bag that is public transportation. Despite the U3 line being the oldest and busiest line in all of Munich’s subway system, I’ve developed perhaps an odd affection for the line. With Munich’s size, I experienced an unbelievable range of people on my daily trips, with more variation than I am used to in Crawfordsville.

Schafer '17, at far left with new friends.

Schafer ’17, at far left with new friends.

Munich offered an overwhelmingly different perspective than Wabash’s campus. I attended my Goethe classes with an international smorgasbord. To my surprise, I interacted with far more than just Germans during my time abroad. I became friends with Mexicans, Panamanians, Spaniards, Saudis, Russians, and encountered many more nationalities through our weekly “Goethe Treff” program, where students attended dinner at renowned Munich restaurants and created new friendships over plates of Bavarian cuisine. Outside of the classroom, I also took the opportunity to observe the enormous variety of internationalism in Munich. Sitting on the Marienplatz fountain, I watched and listened as thousands of tourists shuttled to and from the famous square to the nearby Viktualienmarkt or Frauenkirche; I heard echoes of Southeastern Asian languages, Australian & British accents, nuggets of fellow Americans’ English, and, of course, the busy conversations of Germans bustling about on their lunch breaks. People-watching quickly became a new hobby, as I slowly realized that Munich was not the rustic, quintessential Bavarian town known only for Oktoberfest, lederhosen, and pretzels. To my surprise, Munich offered much more than merely language studies; it allowed me to appreciate cultures from across the globe.

Within my classroom, I studied German with people of many different backgrounds. Under the command of a wonderful German from Hessen, our class developed a quick sense of friendship, despite hailing from diverse backgrounds. My classmates and I formed bonds by striving through our language course; in fact, German was the only common language between me and a few other classmates. Despite having only four weeks with this international crew, I know I will miss them and hope to visit them in the future.

My application for this scholarship talked about how learning German at Wabash and immersion trips only whet my appetite for overseas study. Foolishly, I thought that this trip would sate that hunger. My time abroad has opened my eyes to new possibilities in the future; why not try to continue what I started this summer? I am completely thankful for my opportunity, which has now set in motion more concrete plans for the future–though I would have loved to have experienced this yearning sooner!


Xu ’17 Started German on Flight

Tianhong Xu’17 — First of all, I would like to thank the Rudolph family, who offered me an opportunity to take a month-long German language program at the Goethe Institute in Hamburg, Germany. With this opportunity, I had more chances to learn German not only in classrooms but also in real life situations.

My learning did not start with the program, but on the flight over. Before arriving at the Goethe Institute in Hamburg, I had an opportunity to meet one of my high school classmates in Paris, France. I had a flight to Hamburg operated by Germanwings, which was the time I spoke German in Europe for the first time.

Xu '17 in center of the photo.

Xu ’17 in center of the photo.

I was sitting in the 11th row in the flight. The flight attendant was doing cabin catering services, providing drinks for the passengers. I was not quite able to understand the substance he said with the front passengers, but, I knew that it was German. At the same time, I was so nervous: I will not be able to understand his sentences. What should I do? How embarrassed I would be!

The flight attendant had already been catering row 10, and he would reach row 11 at any second. My heart went to pit-a-pat suddenly. The flight attendant asked: “what drink would you like?” I did not realize he would use English to speak with me. “Orangensaft (orange juice)” just escaped my lips. “Here you are,” he said. “Danke schön. (Thanks very much)” “Bitte schön. (You’re very welcome.)”

It was a short conversation, but it was totally unexpected. That’s probably the start of my German language learning in Europe. Teachers in the Goethe Institute gave us a chance to learn German in a way that was different than my language learning at Wabash, due to the short duration and intensity.

My teacher, Kathrine, introduced us a relatively different learning method for learning German as a foreign language. Even though we know memorizing new words and phrases should be conducted by the students, Kathrine would use a large amount of class time to help us remember them. She asked us to match words and the corresponding pictures. Compared with the method of after-class, self-learning at Wabash, this study method actually did accelerate the speed of familiarizing and memorizing the new words and phases for us.

Also, Kathrine spoke German all the time. Even I could ask questions in English, but she would always reply me with German. In the beginning, I was not totally comfortable with that, but, as time goes on, I am totally fine with her all-German class atmosphere. By this way, I feel like I have a better grasp of the listening part of German.

Even though one month is a short period for language learning, I was able to use German to deal with some basic real-life situations. For example, I spent one weekend exploring the rich history of Berlin (about 1 hour and 50 minutes by train) and was able to ask some basic questions like, “How do I get to the Berlin Wall?” and “Which subway I should take to go to the Brandenburger Tor?”

In the meantime, I met lots of classmates from all around the world: Thailand, Malaysia, Italy, Bangladesh, Turkey, Scotland (I learned that some Scots do not identify as being British) and more.


Peterson ’16 Spends Summer Traveling

Peterson (second from left) gathers with classmates.

Peterson (second from left) gathers with classmates.

Aren Peterson – Grüß Gott!

I would like to start by sincerely thanking the Rudolf family for funding an absolutely fantastic summer for me! My language skill grew tremendously through the constant interaction and immersion in the German language!

I’ll start by briefly summarizing the itinerary of my time abroad.  The day after finals finished, I boarded a plane with my German 202 classmates for a two-week immersion course in Tübingen. After our wonderfully conducted course had wrapped up, I took a train to Stuttgart to stay a few days with a friend before flying to meet my parents for their 25th anniversary in Edinburgh. When I returned, I took a train from Stuttgart to Luxembourg City to stay a week with a friend I met through my internship with the university there. From Luxembourg I took a bus to Heidelberg to stay a week with yet another friend before finally making my way to Freiburg for a month of my Goethe Institute language courses. From there I traveled to stay with my Great Uncle in München for a week. My final stop before flying home was a stop in Ulm to visit my Großonkel’s twin brother for a few days.

If that seems like a lot, I assure you it was. Pairing the physical exhaustion of so much travel with the mental strain of thinking and interacting in another language left me always craving more sleep. Fortunately Wabash had prepared me well for that, so I did just fine!

You may ask if my “dedication” to learning became spread thin by so much travel;  quite the opposite! Excluding the short excursion to visit my parents, I had to hold my own continually with native speakers; all of my German friends and family I spent time with were well aware of my interest in learning German, and certainly didn’t go easy on me! I had heard testament to the value of “immersion,” but for some reason figured its effect was exaggerated. Now I fully appreciate how difficult but rewarding something as simple as keeping up with a conversation can be!  Outside the classroom is certainly as much, if not more of a learning experience in a foreign country!

Peterson2The classes were fantastic as well! I was placed with a dedicated and engaged group, who kept me accountable when I was tempted to slip back into English. The benefit of such an international group of students attempting to learn German is that it tends to be practically the only language connection! Our teacher introduced us to plenty of learning materials and opportunities, and the institute certainly provided an excellent environment to interact exclusively in German.

Definitely worth mentioning is how absolutely beautiful Freiburg is! Located on the South-Western corner of the Black Forrest (or Schwarzwald), it is backed up to some gorgeous coniferous covered mountains. The glittering Dreisam flows nearly through the heart of the city, and feeds the dozens of mini-canals and gutters that help supply the Altstadt (or city center) with fresh, cool water; wonderful for chilling your feet during the many over 100 degree days in Germany’s hottest city! The Munster is also one of the oldest in Germany, made from red Limestone that is always corroding, and requires constant restoration; the tower hardly is ever without its hat-like scaffolding!

Overall, the whole summer and abroad experience was utterly invaluable, certainly providing me with experiences and interactions I simply couldn’t get in a classroom.  It also provided me with a more international understanding of issues of which we only ever get to hear one side! I look forward to sharing my experiences with anyone interested, and know I will be going back to Germany some day in the near future!


Locksmith ’16 Arrives in Germany

Germany1Timothy Locksmith – First helpful tip about living in another country for any amount of time… It’s a hell of a lot easier if you speak the language fluently! I came to Bremen with the goal of improving my German at the Goethe Institute here, but man the way I handled my trip was a bit like learning how to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

My flight to Hamburg was scheduled and easy enough to get to since I took off from Orlando and only had a layover in New York (both airports I am relatively familiar with, and everyone there speaks English). However getting from Hamburg to Bremen (a bit over an hour trip by train), wasn’t quite so easy. I was up for a bit of a challenge so I didn’t buy my tram/train tickets ahead of time, and told myself I was going to only speak English if I really got into trouble.  Long story short, Germans speak very quickly so any of the directions I was given meant absolutely nothing to me. So I asked for a “Stadtplan” (map) and figured it out by myself after a while, since I was a bit too embarrassed to ask them to repeat themselves for a fourth time. Eventually I arrived safely in Bremen, and after I was finally settled into my room and had taken my placement tests, I realized that I hadn’t slept for the past 28 hours (34 if you count the time change) and took a quick 14 hour nap.

So on my first real day in Bremen, I walked around the school a bit on my own and then had a proper tour just before starting my first lesson. The campus is much larger than Wabash’s, and has many gorgeous spots hidden around with great views where one could sit out and study, or just relax and enjoy the weather (unless it’s raining… which it does here frequently). The lessons are going fine, all in all not too difficult with the exception of the listening comprehension. I’m not too worried though because I’ve already noticed some improvement, and I believe that will only get better with time. My instructor’s English isn’t great and very little is spoken in English, save a few word here and there for clarification. Luckily I’m here to learn German, which she is (obviously) fluent in.

Germany3So far my best experience has been “exploring” the older part of the city. I use quotations here because most people would probably say that I was lost. To elaborate I had gotten rough directions from my roommate to the Tram Büro so that I could get a ticket to ride the trams for the rest of the month free. Seemed simple enough, so I headed on my way and wouldn’t realize that I had left my map behind until I was in the middle of the old part of the city without a clue where the Büro might be. Since I had a few hours before my lesson started that day, I figured I might as well have a look around and ended up touring a large portion of the city by myself, while occasionally asking a passerby in broken German about certain areas. I’m not sure why, but being lost in an entirely foreign city while a bit frightening, was extremely exciting, and it was so satisfying when I was able to ask someone for directions, and then manage to understand said directions well enough to get me back to the university.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Bremen, and it has already become clear to me that one month isn’t very long, as this past week and a half has flown by. But I plan on doing a bit of traveling this weekend to fully take advantage of my time abroad, and will hopefully have plenty more stories to share with you in the near future.


Miller ’16 Finishes in Germany

Kurt Miller ’16 – From Turkey to Finishing up in Freiburg

Oh my how this summer has flown by! Last week, our program visited Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. For nine days, we explored ancient cities, new cities, and learned about Turkey’s accession process towards the European Union. Surprisingly, it was actually colder in Turkey than it is in Germany!

The first stop in Turkey was the university city of Izmir. Myself and my classmates attended the Izmir University of Economics and stayed in their dorms. Our professor’s father-in-law owns a beach house and invited all 23 members of our program to come out and spend the 4th of July on the beach. Unsure how Turkish people would react to Americans celebrating our independence day in their country, I was shocked when our presence was greeted with applause and shouts of “U.S.A!” It was heartwarming to feel welcomed and at the end of the perfect day, the father-in-law had a special surprise for us – fireworks.

After leaving Izmir, we first stopped at the ancient city of Ephesus before we made it to Istanbul. The ancient city, originally built in pre-Alexander times, was remarkably well preserved. I was stunned to see how the ancient Greek writing had survived Roman, Ottoman, and now Turkish occupation.

When we arrived in Istanbul, my first impression was shock. The city was HUGE. I had never been to a city this large, but at approximately 17 million people, this is one of the largest in the world. Between workshops on Kurdish and Armenian issues, strolls through the Grand Bazaar, and tours of both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia, my experience in Istanbul was eye opening. I witnessed Muslims fasting for Ramadan, the integration of Christian and Muslim cultures, and the recent problems brought about by such a large influx in Syrian refugees. My favorite experience in Istanbul, however, was visiting the Byzantine Cisterns. These ancient well-like structures were buried deep underground and held up with massive columns. During times of siege, this underground oasis kept water flowing to the city.

Today, I am well rested and back at the IES Center in Freiburg, Germany. Over the summer, this city has become my home. Unfortunately, this program and my summer will soon come to an end. This has been the most progressive summer for my personal development in my entire life. Being abroad has taught me many new lessons, and very importantly, made me ever so thankful to be born in the United States and attend the great institution of Wabash College. I want to thank the Rudolph Family Scholarship Fund for the generous assistance this summer. They allowed me to explore and understand our modern world from a whole new perspective, and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am afraid that many students go abroad and succumb to their fears of being alone in a foreign place. With the preparation I received at Wabash College, I feel more prepared than many of my peers to face the challenges of studying abroad. Learning abroad with other non-Wabash students has made me more proud than ever to be a Wabash Man.

The German Department, specifically Professors Redding, Tucker, and Miles, have all taught me exceptionally well. With their guidance, I have been more than able to get by in Germany speaking their language.

Wabash Always Fights!


Miller ’16 Learning in Srebrenica

Srebrenica
by: Kurt Miller ’16

How can we pat ourselves on the back when so many died?
When good men do nothing, evil always thrives.
Through the horrors of horrors, that bloody genocide,
Too many tragedies in too short a time.

History says we saved them, but we are the victor.
It’s a filthy lie that with time, only grows thicker.
Remember not the guts and glory,
But the Cowards who fled, now that is the story.

Peace keeping is foolish, when war has begun,
But it is even more silly to drop everything and run.
All for the sake of a few dozen men,
Tens of thousands met their tragic end.

Why, oh why did these events unfold?
So many chances to not repeat the mistakes of old.
“Never again” – the mantra we uttered,
But how, then, does this keep happening amongst brothers?

Too many mothers grieving for sons.
Even today, many still succumb.
Genocide on an industrial scale,
A tragedy of modernity, people still wail.
While we all were young, crying and sleeping,
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, evil was creeping.

 

Kurt Miller ’16 – This summer, we  have studied over the past several weeks the limits and potentials of enlarging the European Union to include the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. This week, we visited the beautiful city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Amongst this ancient and beautiful city, the scars of the devastating war from 1992-1995 still remain present. It is hard to imagine that for four years in the 1990s, while I was living a comfortable life in the Midwest, this city was under siege. The longest siege of a city since World War II has left an eerie mark on this city. Shrapnel scars pepper buildings and many structures remain skeletal shells – stuck in a state of limbo as their legal owners’ fates are unknown.

The real tragedy of this war was not, however, the siege of Sarajevo, but the genocide committed throughout the country by paramilitary and military forces. Yesterday, we visited Srebrenica – a town smaller than Crawfordsville, Indiana. This picturesque town, nestled between scenic mountains and lush green forest, was the site of the most destructive genocide on European soil since World War II. We met with a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) who lost both his twin brother and his father to Serbian forces. His eyes and speech told me the story of his struggle and I felt his pain during his presentation.

Bosnia & Herzegovina is divided into two main state entities comprising three main ethnic groups. In one half of the country, the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina contains a majority of Bosniaks (Muslims) and a minority of Croats (Catholics). In the other half of the country, Republica SPRSKA, an overwhelming Serbian majority (Orthodox) is present.  The conflicts between these ethnic groups and religious groups reflect thousands of years of foreign occupation dating back to Ancient Rome. Over the past 2,000 years, further occupations by Ottomans, Austo-Hungarians, Nazis, and Communists dichotomized this country and drove deep divisions based upon ethnic lines.

After the breakdown of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, multiple wars of independence were fought. In 1992, Bosnia & Herzegovina was on the brink of civil war between the two state entities. During a parliamentary session, the leader of the Serbian delegation threatened the “extermination” of the Bosniak population. Bosniaks expected war, but they did not expect genocide. When Serbian forces rolled into the mountains around Sarajevo, cutting the city off from all electricity, phone lines, water, and food sources, horror stories began coming out of tales of mass murder. All Muslim men between the ages of 12 and 77 were targeted by Serbian forces. The goal of these murders was to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks in order to create a greater Serbian state.

When we visited the site of the largest genocide yesterday, I felt an overwhelming wave of sadness. As a Wabash man, we are taught to think critically, lead effectively, act responsibly, and live humanely. All of these values could have helped prevent these heinous crimes from unfolding, yet none were present. U.N. Peacekeepers were present at this site during the time of the genocide, yet they did NOTHING to stop it. I cannot help but feel regret that the international community did so little to stop these atrocities. The hardest part was knowing how many mothers and young children still grieve at the unknown fates of their fathers and brothers.

We have intently listened to multiple speakers tell their stories of the war and while the scars are present, they paint the hope for future reconciliation. The international community has by and large failed to solve this country’s problems, so the people take the difficult responsibility upon themselves to cobble together a history that is neither discriminatory, nor falsely accusatory.

We will return to Freiburg, Germany on Saturday, but the people, cities, and mountains have told me the story of a people on the grieving side of history that I will remember forever. Twenty years after these tragedies, I feel a sliver of hope. Bosniaks still ostracize Serbs and vice-versa, but the killing has ended. The state, described by political scientists as a minimalist state, has successfully integrated military forces containing multi-ethnic units. This may not seem like much, but it is a major step forward that only two decades ago these men were killing each other simply because of their ethnic heritage.

For now, we must never forget. Before I came here, I knew next to nothing about Bosnia. Now, I leave here with the goal to never allow my fellow Wabash scholars to glance over this small Balkan country as another tragedy of history.



1 2 3 16