DeVan – As I know these little charms add to this amazing experience. Today began like any other day: early. We were off first thing to visit the European Council and in the bustle of the daily happenings of the European Union bureaucrats, journalists, etc. we had the honor of meeting with an organizer of the news conferences that happen after the Summit meetings of the EU Member State Heads. Sit here drying out after a long afternoon navigating through Belgium in pouring rain to Waterloo, I can’t help but think about that we sat in the meeting room of the European Council and listened as he explained how a normal meeting would be orchestrated and updated our group on some of the recent meetings that have happened in the last week and will happen in the next few weeks as well. I sat where the Portuguese Prime Minister would sat while Dr. Mikek represented his native Slovenia to my right. I was blown away by how informed he was of American politics past and present and while we continue to be challenged by the complicated integration of the European Union’s institutions, his personal insights added more context on where some view the European Union is headed in the future.

After our visit we had some time before our adventure to Waterloo in the afternoon. Surprisingly, Waterloo is not as marketed as you might expect. You’d think that the battle brought peace to Europe in the 19th century would be a hub of tourist attraction and vibrant area. While it was busy with people, it was very clear how infrequently “foreigners” visit these parts. After we left the museum and trekked up 226 steps to the top of the hill constructed about a decade after the war in honor of those that fought and died on the battlefield, we began the walk back from Waterloo getting drenched in none other than good old fashioned Belgian rain. Took no more than 500 meters for us all to be soaked and trying to figure out when the bus would come to head back to the train and then Brussels. The bus came and an air band composed of myself, Carter, Connor, and Sky were in the back of the bus jamming to Journey and at least the people in the back of the bus found it entertaining. A girl about our age found us so interesting that she followed us for a while and asked what Americans were doing Brussels. She also recommended that we might find better work than a traveling air band.

I’ve been around the world a bit, and every time I am more appreciative of these opportunities. These experiences will stay with me and we have a great group of guys and two great professors who have continued to open our minds and challenge us in and outside of the classroom. By the end of today several of us were ready to work for the European Union and the prospect of going home, at least for me, is bittersweet. Going back after living this life and immersing myself at every opportunity will be difficult, but being able to afford this opportunity to students in the future once I graduate this year will also be just as cool. If you ever, and I mean ever…ever, get the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, take it. Whether it be Germany, Kenya, anywhere; because the beauty of experiencing a new world, a new way of thinking, and always meeting new people never gets old and affects you in ways that can’t be articulated.

I would like to give a special thanks to Drs. Hollander and Mikek for taking on this amazing journey and to the Rogge Fund for donating the capital to continue this tradition of European immersion. Au-revoir!

Hammering Out the Meaning of Katrina’s Destruction

Chet Turnbeaugh ’14 — Two years ago, I decided to tag along on the yearly spring break trip to New Orleans.  I was ready to enjoy the summer-like weather and to hopefully rebuild, what was in my mind, a broken city.  As a freshman, this trip was eye opening in many ways.  The irony of a city, which had been built and maintained by the resourcefulness of its ports, nearly destroyed overnight by water, seemed surreal to me.  How tragic it was to think of the loss that had occurred in a city as majestic as the Big Easy, how even more tragic it was to witness first-hand six years after the first winds of Katrina.

Nearly eight years since disaster struck, I approach the topic of New Orleans much differently now.  Having been here once already, I knew some of what to expect going into it—boarded up windows, caved-in roofs, magenta and olive colored shutters, red and black x’s on the doors, and beads of all colors imaginable.  Yet, what I wasn’t expecting to find was the depth of meaning that I found in my physical labor.

This time around we have partnered up with, a nonprofit organization that pairs local homeowners in the Lower Ninth Ward—the poorest and worst affected portion of the city—with volunteers to help return original community members to their homes.  My team was placed on a house a few miles outside of the Lower Ninth, that belongs to a gentleman who has done a lot to help in the rebuilding efforts, but has received little in return.  His home, which his family has owned for over thirty years, is in need of a new roof.  During the storm, his garage and most of the interior of the house were rendered uninhabitable.  My time has been divided equally between replacing rafters on the roof and destroying he remnants of the garage. In these seemingly opposite natured tasks, I have encountered the duality of the universe: creation and destruction.

On the morning of the third day, we were standing on a wobbly roof and by three o’clock the entire structure was dismantled.  The astonishing fact about this was that every board remained in tact, because these would all be salvaged to reuse on other portions of the house in order to diminish costs.  As I was hammering, sawing, and pulling boards apart I was reminded of the strong winds that originally broke windows, doors, and roofing tiles.  Consequently, I realized that until the boards were all taken down, which meant the death of a once functional garage, they could not be reestablished to their new position on the roof. Sometimes, destruction is necessary to learn to appreciate and accept all that is, before allowing it the grace and flexibility to naturally take shape in a new form.

In the case of one homeowner on Franklin Street, the destruction of a garage means the rebirth of a roof over his family’s heads.  Similarly, perhaps the destruction of New Orleans was to illuminate the real Road Home—a world where humans recognize their connectedness to other humans’ needs and are more than willing to help restore the wounds beauty suffers at the hand of fate.  If this is the nature of the story in New Orleans, than maybe I am not as distraught as I was a few years back.  This week, I have enjoyed breaking down the useless to reform the useful and I walk away with a better appreciation for the benefits that can come only from dealing with loss.

Real People, Just Like You and Me

Mike Witczak ‘14 – So you guys, you totally should have taken Theatre 303. I am currently writing this blog post in a tiny Hostel room consisting of two beds that are literally touching. I am sitting on my bed facing the wall, which I can touch with my big toe if I lean back and extend my leg out. My window is slightly cracked and sounds of people yelling, laughing and sirens rushing around fill my room like I am in the movie Taxi Driver.

So why should you have taken this class? Let me tell you what I did today (as if the whole Taxi Driver argument wasn’t enough). I woke up and had a bagel that was the best bagel I have ever had. You underestimate how good a bagel can be before you have one like the one I had. I then met a man who runs and started his own theatre website. He told me that he would love to help me out if I was ever in the city trying to write about theatre myself. I then saw this play called Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. It was on Broadway, which is kind of a big deal. Oh, did I mention that it starred Scarlett Johansen? Believe it or not the whole play she is married to a guy who can hardly look at her let alone kiss her (only in New York right?). Anyway, other then me not being able to relate to denying the love of a woman like Scarlett, the play was really good. I am a total sucker for the classics and they definitely did this one justice.

I should also mention that we got to go back stage after this Broadway play. I didn’t realize that there was no room back there. You imagine glamorous changing rooms with plenty of space to move around, but people forget that many of these buildings are around a hundred years old. There really just isn’t much space.

In all honesty this class is a perfect example of why immersion trips are a vital part of the Wabash experience. I have seen some of the most talented actors in the world, worked through acting workshops with professionals and eaten dinner with an actual Broadway actress. I know what its like to be backstage of a major production and I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. My point is, that no matter how much you read about something, actually experiencing it will add true perspective. You watch movies and you read about actors, but to actually meet them and watch them perform live makes it feel so much more authentic. No longer is the dream of being involved in New York City theatre something stuck in my head, it is more tangible now. The people we read about are real, just like you and me.

Gaining a Clearer Understanding

Ben – Today we went to Bruges, Belgium for our first full day in this country. We visited the College of Europe, which was founded after World War II, much as the European Union was, to create cooperation and a sense of European Citizenship between the once factious countries. We listened to a lecture by Professor Chang at the college that was entitled “Reconstructing Economic and Monetary Union”. The focus of the lecture was the European Union does not have a political union which hurts the credibility of states, such as Greece, that are involved in the EU. If they were more integrated than many of the problems of the Euro Crises could have been solved a lot sooner. Her conclusion was interesting because the representative from the European Central Bank that we talked to early this week said that credibility is its greatest asset. But why is integration so hard for members of the European Union? This is hard to accomplish because of their sense of nationality and the fact that each of the members are their own sovereign countries. We have also heard this textbook answer in class, but until I walked around Bruges after the lecture I finally began to understand why there are so many problems with integration in the European Union.

The architecture of the city is breathtaking and everything is historic. I walked in a church that was located downtown that has been serving parishioners since the 1500s. We took a boat tour through the canals in the city, and the tour guide explained the city takes great pride in preserving its history. Satellites are prohibited on the rooftops and all of the basic services, such as electricity and cable, are buried underground to preserve the medieval feel of the city. We ducked under bridges that are currently still functioning. but are over six hundred years old. Everything from Chocolatiers on every corner, to the metal boot scrapers that are embedded in the walls outside of each house next to the thresholds is still original. We could never be able to discover the emphasis that Europeans have on these customs and traditions without actually witnessing it first-hand. Learning the “European Culture” in this way has had an extraordinary effect on my understanding on the problems that are facing the European Union today. This immersion trip has opened my eyes to so many things that I thought were completely normal to me before I was able to experience from a different viewpoint. I sincerely thank that Rogge Fund for continuing to fund this trip and I hope that students are still able to be exposed to these vital realizations for years to come.

Arriving in Brussels

Jim – Today we went to the College of Europe in Brugge (Bruges). It is a grad school that focuses on the European Union and European integration. The program lasts 10 months which is faster than any grad school in America. We got a presentation from one of the professors at the University, Michele Chang. She is a friend of Dr. Hollander’s, so we were lucky to receive a presentation from her. She offered more in depth analysis of the Economic Monetary Union happening in Europe currently. One area of note is that the EMU had a saying, “If everyone obeys the rules there will be no problems”. This turned out to be false because Spain and Italy followed the rules of the Maastricht Treaty and still ended up in bad shape.

After the presentation we were allowed to visit the city of Bruges. When we arrived off the train I felt I had left a time machine because of its architecture. The city is so beautiful with old churches and cobble stone streets. To say it is scenic would be an understatement. I feel Bruges is the perfect blend of modern times with renaissance buildings.  The only time I had ever heard of Bruges was from the movie In Bruges starring Colin Ferrell. The best part of the city was an outdoor market. The carts sold meats and cheeses, some I have never heard of until today. Bruges is not as big as Frankfurt is, but it has a lot of twists and turns. Another European factor I discovered today was the idea of space. Many of the buildings were cramped together. In the US it seems the buildings are more spread apart. I wish I could spend more time in Bruges for its wonderful shops and exciting atmosphere.

I am excited to walk around Brussels tonight for two items: Fries and Waffles. The fries are served in cone shaped paper and what seems to be 30 different sauces and toppings. Last night I did not have the chance to get either of these items, so I have lost time to make up.

I would like to thank the Rogge Fund for allowing me to take a trip like this. The only times I have been out of the country I visited Matamoros, Mexico and Toronto, Canada. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was lucky to be a part of because I get to discover new lands, people and language. I finally started to understand German, and now I am in French speaking Belgium. Tonight I am going to find my surroundings here in Brussels and rest up. Tomorrow we are going to the European Commission which should be awesome.

Visiting the College of Europe

Rashid – We left at 6:25pm on Tuesday for Brussels via the high speed Inter-city express (the German version of the Bullet train) The ride lasted for three hours, but the breathtaking scenery along the way ensured that it was far from mundane. There were lush green meadows and farmhouses, and each city married modern, cutting edge architecture with stately, historical architecture that showed national pride. For example, Cologne had glass and steel buildings on one side of the track and had the gigantic gothic Cathedral of Cologne that was built over a hundred years ago.

We would be in Brussels for three days, courtesy of the Rogge foundation, and will be going to the European commission and European council buildings during our stay here. However, our first event in Belgium happened to be in Brugge at the College of Europe where we would be lectured about the EMU (European Monetary Union).

The college of europe is a graduate school which is designed to help educate people about the policies and structures that exist within the EU. The school is not only open to EU citizens and openly welcomes students from other regions in the world. We arrived at the institution about an hour and thirty minutes before the scheduled time. This gave us a few minutes to familiarize ourselves with the town, enjoy the city briefly and make sure that we do not get lost on the way out!

The City of Brugge is very culturally rich and beautiful settlement. There was a waterway that swept through the town’s medieval looking brick houses, horses drawing carriages through the city’s brick-tiled streets and, of course, chocolate and waffle shops at every corner. There were boat tours on the waterways that started from one end and ran down to the other end of the town. The college was right in the middle of the town, overlooking the waterway.

Our event started with a brief history of the European college and is objectives, and then moved on to a lecture on the EMU. We had discussed the EMU in class and the lecture summarized (and confirmed) all what Dr. Mikek and Dr. Hollander had been teaching in class. The lecture also spoke about Europe’s current sovereign debt crisis and how further European integration would go long way to help solve the issue.

The lecture ended at 1 pm and we had about two hours to explore the city. We got to Brussels at 6pm and we are now preparing for our trips to EU commission and the EU council.

Learning from Barristers and Solicitors in England

Michael Carper ’13 – Our course of study this semester has straddled between history and law. We may discuss current legal issues or case law in class, but it’s to conclude historical and legal development, and then project issues for the future. For instance, our last unit focused on equity’s takeover of common law in civil cases–that is, how the more flexible procedures of equity replaced the rigid writs of the common law. We would then look at a “current” application of this trend. Today and yesterday’s meetings with current legal professionals in London provided an incredibly timely issue with historical bearings. But first, a parallel example from our course work, which demonstrates the broader theme this current example falls under.

One odd theme that I’ve noticed in class, as we’ve studied these trends of legal development, is the unplanned accumulation of structure, and then resistance to it. Indeed, the replacement of writs with equity’s discovery of evidence is a perfect example of this. Discovery was intended as a more discretionary way to determine the merits of a case before starting, much more so than writs, which couldn’t help but bring on a full trial. Based on the potential benefits awarded to the winner, the costs paid by the loser, and the actual existence of evidence, the judge may decide to grant summary judgment, that is, stop the case, or let it go  through.

And yet, the mere method of discovery is subject to structure. We looked at the Supreme Court case Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (2007) which dealt with how much “evidence” the plaintiff is required to present in order to stop a summary judgment–that is, to make the trial process go through. Despite the fact that the charge at hand, anti-competitive activity, isn’t easily discernible without the discovery process, the Court ruled that the evidence the plaintiffs could present before discovery as evidence wasn’t sufficient. Discovery, like much of equity, was supposed to avoid rigid, impractical adherence to rules. But as it progresses, it begins to resemble what it was supposed to replace. It seems the Western legal system will always be destined for rigidity.

What does this have to do with London? Yesterday, we took a tour from a solicitor-turned-tour guide. Solicitors in the English legal system counsel clients. They do everything except argue in front of a judge or jury–which barristers do. We met a barrister yesterday as well, who elaborated on the divide between barristers and solicitors. Barristers only answer to the court, and are hired by solicitors to advocate in it. They’re self-employed and have no contact with the clients. There’s greater risk, and thus greater reward. Chris admitted a certain sense of superiority over solicitors.

Today, we met some solicitors who are partners in Prof. Himsel’s international law firm, Faegre Baker Daniels. John and Stephen attributed most typical “lawyer” work, like giving counsel, collecting evidence, and drafting documents to solicitors. However, when they prepare for trial, solicitors have to work with barristers to prepare the case–since the solicitors have knowledge about the specific case and client, while barristers know the law and how it will affect the case and client.

They remarked that the divide between barristers and solicitors is beginning to crumble. Solicitors can be trained to argue in court, while barristers can be hired in a solicitor-type role. A large client might want both in-house, in order to avoid outside counsel and secure the most expansive representation. The tasks relegated to each are no longer unique. Both Chris and John and Stephen foresaw greater fusion of the roles

I see this is as yet another example of resistance to structure. The divide between solicitors and barristers is result of the long struggle between law and fact. In the English Common Law, the jury was supposed to find only fact, not law. The instructing judge was supposed to explain the law. Yet this division of personnel overlooks the complicated relationship between law and fact, and the flexibility required to apply the law to new facts. Equity tried to solve this procedural by granting the power to decide both to the sitting judge, albeit at separate levels. However, the personnel problem, in the U.K., resides. Nowadays, barristers are supposed to explain the law, while solicitors know the facts. Yet if they have to work together, why make a hard distinction between them–and why hire two lawyers?

It may be that in 20 or 30 years, the historical divide between counsel and advocate will be further eroded. And though it’s a current event in law, it’s one rich with historical development and parallels. This particular intersection of law and history was only apparent upon our visit here. It came straight from the horse’s mouth, from lawyers who are actively intertwined with these developing legal trends. It wouldn’t have been possible without a trip here.


UK Theatre Production Wows Students

Zach Canon ‘16 – Tonight, we attended an original piece called, The Wild Bride, performed by the KneeHigh Theatre Company out of the U.K..

Canon at the 9-11 Memorial.

In one word, it was Phenomenal, Amazing, Outstanding, Superb, Wow and It’s Not Fair That They Have That Much Talent.

This story is all about a girl battling through the ups and downs of life, struggling and persevering, and finding joy amidst it all. With a live band on stage played by the actors themselves, the entire rhythm of the play was based on the bluegrass/folk music being played. This original text was well crafted and the acting/musicianship was mesmerizing. From moment to moment I found myself shifting from uncomfortable to amused, excited to fearful, and a slew of other conflicting emotions. In fact, in a conversation with one of the leading actresses following the show, I praised her for her performance and said that she made me feel sick to my stomach. Upon hearing that, she keeled over in laughter and said, “I love it when I make people sick to their stomach!” In an unfair summation, the play was raw, thought provoking, challenging, aesthetically and kinesthetically pleasing, and moving.

In the afternoon prior to the show, truthfully, and as my mother would say, “For the first time in my life,” I was left speechless at Ground Zero. We stood in the presence of a graveyard yet basked in a site of much hope. Two waterfalls etched in the footprints of the twin towers flowed downward eventually making its way into what seemed like a bottomless pit. The pit was haunting. It was as if the dreams of every name honored around the edges of the waterfall accompanied the drops of water as the drops headed down the pit. I found myself wanting to jump in, get closer, and examine the contents of the pit… but I couldn’t. This gnawed at me. I was helpless in the same way I was as an eight-year old watching the events unfold. As Dr. Cherry phrased it, 9/11 could very well be the most important American event in our lifetimes.

Marketing Group Learns’ Cummins’ Diversity

Jacob Sheridan ’14 – On Monday, through our connection with recent graduate Paul Liu ’12, the Marketing Immersion Program visited the Cummins satellite office in Indianapolis. Our host was extremely generous to us, which reflects their attitude and service towards their customers. Mr. Liu provided us with some Cummins giveaways including a t-shirt and a book on the history of Cummins. He opened the presentation up with a brief history and background of the company.

We learned that Clessie Cummins and W.G. Irwin founded Cummins in 1919. We quickly moved on to learning about the modern day Cummins. Cummins is most popular or well known for their diesel engines, but that is only one of their four product lines; the other three being power generation, distribution, and components.

As we sat in the 18th floor meeting room with a great view of the downtown, we were able to listen to several leaders in the communications department. We first listened to the Director of Executive Communications who told us about her job, the companies mission statement, and their message triangle. Our group then learned about the Visual Communications department, which focused on creating media for the company including: training and motivational videos, documentaries, and executive presentations. The department head of Internal Communications talked about how they strive to provide good communication between all their employees. One way he said they were doing this now, was installing large TV’s in all of their factories that would display company relevant news. His other roles included issues management, communications planning, and crisis communications.

The next speaker was the department head of External Communications. I found this part of the communications department the most interesting. He quickly talked about his duties, which included press release coordination, crisis communications, media strategy, media training, media monitoring, and to serve as the company spokesperson and/or media contact. He wanted to focus on the bigger picture of his job, which he said was developing relationships both with his coworkers, but also especially with the media reporters that he connected with on a regular basis. Next up was the head of Functional Excellence, which seemed to have the main goal of maintaining the right direction for the company. She further explained the importance of the message triangle, saying it was like the thesis statement and three main body points of a paper, except it represented the entire Cummins Company. She also talked about their Six Sigma program, which provided a universal communications training that enhanced communications between employees of the international company. The last speaker we heard from was also particularly interesting and he spoke about his job as the head of Digital Communications. He was in charge of managing the company’s external and internal websites as well as the company’s social media strategy. He said that his department was like an iceberg in that there were basically two other people who worked with him on the executive level, but that there were over 300 people company wide that were involved in content creation and editing for the digital communications department. He also noted the importance of company diversity and listening to your customers.

Mr. Liu wrapped up the presentation with some advice, distributing his contact information, and encouraging us to apply for internships, especially with Cummins. The visit was exciting, interesting, and educational. We were able to see what these people did and learn about careers that we might like to pursue. Although, I had known Cummins was a good company before, I think it is fair to say that most guys got to learn a lot about a company that they wouldn’t mind working for someday.

Marketing Immersion Visits Angie’s List

Ricardo Aguirre ’13 – The Marketing Immersion Program has been an exciting opportunity as we have had ample opportunities to both learn and enjoy ourselves.  Our schedule has been filled with great activities that connect us with alums and allow us to talk with very experienced marketing executives.  Today, we visited Angie’s List in Indianapolis and were given a presentation by multiple different departments.  We also met with alumni JP Patterson ‘08, Curtis Peterson ‘10, Craig Vetor ‘10, and Hugh Vandivier ’91.

During our morning discussion, we had an interactive activity which involved coming up with a quick and short presentation on a product that we were also tasked with laying down a basic “product” description.  From there, we decided what type of marketing we wanted to do, the pricing scheme we felt would be appropriate for such a product, and what type of placement we thought the product needed.  Four groups of three were formed for the activity, and everyone was able to both receive and give criticism on the presentations.

Following our discussion, the group attended Boulder Creek Restaurant in Brownsburg. This lunch was another experience for us to open up as a group and get to know each other better.  All of the planning yesterday, with respect to time, was well done as we permitted for a long lunch and made it to Angie’s List with plenty of time to spare.

The first thing I noticed while at Angie’s List was the relaxed atmosphere.  It quickly became apparent that the pressure there was to perform, not necessarily on how to dress. The environment seemed very open and close-knit, as everyone was smiling and dressed casually.

The most exciting part about this opportunity was the fact that every presentation we received was not just open, but new.  They spoke to us about the importance of analysis in marketing as well as interpreting that analysis.  Their staff worked on marketing through a good mix of both the use of numbers and the application of creativity.  One team member described the experience as “the perfect mix of left and right brain.”

Overall, our experience at Angie’s List and during the day describes another day at the Marketing Immersion Program.  We have been busy learning and listening to those with more experience than ourselves.  It’s only been two days and one night, but the value of this experience, though non-quantifiable, has been to educate us as well as open our eyes to the marketing world and, so far, two different approaches through Cummins and Angie’s List.