Howard W. Hewitt – I’ve posted blogs from students traveling abroad for the past four years. During the immersion trips I’m always taken by students’ writing about the experience.

One aspect I never quite understood was Wabash men talking about making new friends and the camaraderie. Most of us – students, faculty, and staff – know most of the names and faces on campus. But it has always been surprising that students frequently mention the new friendships.
I saw that first hand in late December and early January when I traveled with Bill Cook and 16 students to Italy. Some of the guys on the trip barely knew each other, even though most of the group had been taking the same course all fall. By the end of the trip, each had made new friends. We teased each other, laughed together, and enjoyed each other’s company on long and often tough days.
There is some change in dynamic when traveling to a foreign country, living together, eating together, and spending the day learning together with friends you barely knew before the trip.
It may be one of the hidden benefits of Immersion Learning that helps bond all Wabash guys not as Independents, Betas, or Fijis – but as Wabash Men.
In that light, it was great fun Thursday night to join Cook and about 10 of those students I traveled with to Florence for dinner. Bill hosted the guys and two of the “old folk” – his words, not mine – in Rogge Lounge. The old folk turned out to be Dr. Keith Baird and the blog guy!
Bill fixed simple pasta with a very basic tomato sauce and a marvelous pork roast with an olive oil and herb rub. Bill then gave a little history lesson noting the pork dish recipe dated back to the Medici era in Florence.
The gathering was nothing more than getting together with friends who shared a common experience. It lasted only an hour but the group jelled as before. Doc Baird even led us in a “three cheers” for the cook or The Cook – whichever way you’d have it!
Plans call for Bill to lead an alumni group on a similar trip this summer. Registration is still open. I have traveled to Europe three times. This was my first trip accompanying Wabash students. I can only say the opportunity to go to these great sites, see the great art, and experience Italy with Bill Cook is an experience you can’t put a price on. You could not buy a tour guide with a fraction of this man’s scholarship and knowledge. It’s unlike any experience I’ve ever enjoyed.
We maintained two blogs while on our 10-day trip. The students wrote about the daily experience here – Florence & Italian Renaissance and I maintained a blog about the travels and lighter side of the trip –Cartolina da Italia.