Akinribade: Can New York Get Any Better?

AJ Akinribade ’15 – 7:30am. Up and at them! My first full day in NYC started off with the normal shower and brushing of teeth. Next was breakfast with beautiful female strangers from halfway across the world (France it seemed) and hostel staff who appeared inaudible; now I know I’m in New York.

9:30am. We walked to the New Ohio Theatre in the West Village. Today consisted of a lot of walking. We also rode the metro to the theatre and I am yet to fail at the card swipe, #Winning, unlike some of my fellow NYC visitors.

A.J. during theater ‘exercises’

At the New Ohio, an uniquely shaped red building that you cannot miss, we did an acting and movement workshop with one of Dr. Cherry’s established New York connections, Mr. Marc Weiss, Viewpoints extraordinaire. During the workshop we sat, we stood, we fell, we jumped, we ran, we stopped, we fidgeted…we exhausted ourselves. But it was awesome! The experience was really worthwhile because we got to fully engage ourselves in an acting concept that made us think outside of ourselves and grow to appreciate the nonverbal relationships we build with our fellow stage members. Through the Viewpoint exercise, Mr. Weiss challenged us to feel the stimulus of our group, which would inspire us to respond. It wasn’t easy and even after the crash course in it we learned that Wabash doesn’t really teach us how to follow directions well, but in the end, and I’m sure I can speak for the class in saying that we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow as actors.

2:00pm. The 9/11 memorial was an honor to see! Before landing in New York, I was unaware of the waterfall memorial—it’s simply gorgeous! First of all, the square -fall is enormous. Second, the power behind the waterfall representing the fallen, whose names are engraved along the stone ledges for all to read, is truly commendable.

Also the fact of how impressive the new towers look after more than ten years into the process exemplifies the resiliency of the American spirit.  We may get knocked down six, but we’ll get up seven. I also love the way the towers in construction are right there, in your face.

We’ll skip the part where I got lost from the group.

4:30pm. Sooo the view from the Brooklyn Bridge was phenomenal. The walk seems as if it’ll take a day and a half. Every step is worth it! And sure it’s a tourist attraction so you’ll see all sorts of people alongside you, but the true richness and diversity in culture that I soaked up walking along the bridge, captures why New York City can be rightly claimed—capital of the World.

8:30pm. And then the thing happened! The Wild Bride at the St. Ann’s Warehouse theatre in DUMBO, Brooklyn was beyond words. And this is coming from a football guy who felt spooked by the play when I read the preview and saw the set. The performance completely flipped the script on me! Yeah!

The bluegrass folktale told the story of a poor old country bumping feller who gets duped by the devil into selling his daughter for a fancy hat. Without giving too much away, the story continues with the little girl breaking the deal with the devil and finding her true love. The play was filled with mucho creativity and talent. All the actors acted, sang, danced, and played in the band effortlessly. The performance was inspiring! Our night ended perfectly with junior Josh Lutton spitting mad game to one of the actresses, who beautifully played the young version of the wild bride, and got her and the rest of the cast to snap a photo with us.

It’s only day two. How can New York get any better?!

Geary ’14, Students Wrap Up Frankfurt Visit

Connor Geary ’14 – Even though we have only been here for two days, today was one of the most educational days yet. The purpose of this trip was to have a hands on learning experience about the EU. Today our agenda consisted of visiting the European Central bank (ECB). After going through security we soon realized that we had stumbled upon a special chance to have our informational session in the same conference room as the Governor’s council.

The Governor’s Council consists of all of the presidents of the EU member states central banks, as well as the board and the president of the ECB. Victor, the senior press secretary of the ECB was the one leading the presentation about the ECB. This was a real treat, since Victor was very knowledgeable about what goes on in the ECB. One of the many things that we learned today was why the ECB keeps the inflation rate around 2%, which is due to the inability to have a negative interest rate; which is the tool used to combat inflation. Being able to sit in the same chair that one of the member states of the EU has sat in and made a decision that has affected that European Union in some manner, was really one of the highlights of the trip so far.

After our experience at the ECB, we all had roughly 4 hours before we have to leave to catch the train to Brussels (which is where I am currently writing this from at 270 kmh). Frankfurt has a multitude of cultural experiences to discover, and that is exactly what my friend Devan Taylor and I did. We left the ECB and headed east across the city with no real plan as to what we were going to do for lunch and the rest of the afternoon. One of the things that we discovered in a square was a protest of a new law that was being passed to subsidize parents who homeschool their children. The police officer that we talked to was very informative about what was going on and knowledgeable about the situation as well.

After observing the protest, we headed farther east in search of food. We stumbled across a hole in the wall place that specialized in Donner sandwiches, which consist of shaved of meat in a pita bread. If you ever get the chance to try one, do it, you will not regret it. After lunch we headed back to the hostel, but took a detour and strolled down the riverside, observing the locals.

We are currently headed to Brussels where we will see the European Commission, Parliament, and possibly take a trip to Waterloo. I think I speak for everyone in our group when I say that we are really gaining invaluable experience from immersing ourselves within the culture and with the institutions that run the EU.

I would like to thank the Rogge Fund for being so generous as to fund this trip. We really are gaining invaluable knowledge and experience. I would also like to say thank you to my professors Dr. Mikek and Dr. Hollander, who have done a fantastic job educating us about the economics and politics of the EU.

Hannon ’15 Appreciated Frankfurt’s Diversity

Tadhg Hannon ’15 – Greetings from Germany! I am sitting on a train, waiting to depart Frankfurt for Belgium. Today we had the pleasure of visiting the European Central Bank. A highly intelligent and well-dressed Polish man gave us a presentation about ECB monetary policy and how the Euro currency is administered on this incredibly diverse continent. We also had the good fortune to have our seminar moved into the conference room on the top floor of the EuroTower, where we were able to sit in the same seats as the European Central Bank Board of Governors. This was a rare treat for any tour group, and something that we certainly could not have replicated in Baxter 212.

After our informative visit to the Central Bank we took to the streets of Frankfurt where we were treated to thousands of German mothers demonstrating against German educational policy. This afforded us a live look at European politics. Apparently the mothers of Germany are quite upset.

Frankfurt is a fantastic city. The Main River runs through the center of city and provides a beautiful place to walk as the sun rises every morning. The best thing about Frankfurt is that although it is a major financial center and an important city within the European Union it is not a major tourist attraction. This has allowed us to get a better look of what actual German life is like. Frankfurt also has a large immigrant population, which exemplifies the freedom of movement and integration the has been a hallmark of the European Union. In Frankfurt you can dodge Germans riding bicycles while choosing between Turkish street vendors or an Italian bistro.

This is not to say that there is not anything to see in Frankfurt. Today I went and visited St. Paul’s Church, which was the seat of the first united German Parliament after the 1848 Revolution.

I would like to use this forum to thank the Rogge Fund for their generosity. Without the Rogge Fund this wonderful trip would not be possible. I have learned so much here in Europe that I could not have in Indiana.

Bradke ’14 Impressed by Central Bank

Ramsey Bradke ’14 – Today was by far the most informative and culturally exciting day I’ve had on this trip so far. Although I woke up not feeling well, the morning and afternoon were great experiences that gave me great perspective from a lot of the topics we covered in class.

This morning we headed to the European Central Bank, the youngest central bank in the world. Although the European Central Bank is a lot like the Federal Reserve in some respects, it hasn’t made a lot of the same monetary policy moves that the Fed has because of its relative youth. We got the opportunity to sit in the same room that the General Council of the Euro Central Bank does and were able to listen to the Senior Press s Secretary of the Central Bank from Poland.

We talked primarily about convergence criteria to be able to join the Euro Area. In order to meet these criteria, member states had to establish price stability, interest rate convergence, exchange rate stability, and public finance discipline. One of the more interesting topics we talked about was why a central bank would choose to aim for an inflation rate of 2% instead of a perfect rate of 0%. His conclusion was that it gives countries and central bankers the option of changing interest rates; at an inflation rate of 0% some countries may run the risk of negative interest rates.

After we left the central bank we were free till our 5 pm train departure to Brussels to roam the city. Jake Schild and I decided to head off and pick a restaurant we thought would diversify our pallet. We found a great little café called Conrads where we were able to sit outside and eat. We ended up sitting there for at least 90 minutes, if not more, just eating and talking about a range of things from school, career plans, economics, and girls. This type of experience was something I know I’d never see or do in America. We were able to sit with other people doing the same thing as us and not worry about the time or our other obligations. It was nice and relaxing to just have good friendly conversation.

On our way back to the town center we noticed there was a huge rally of some sort in the square so we walked over to the large crowd to try to figure out what was going on. At first we couldn’t figure what was happening outside the fact that there were probably 600 people blowing whistles with their children listening to a speaker. When we asked the native Germans what they were doing they told us they were holding a rally because the German government was trying to cuts costs for education by increasing the number of children per classroom. It was really fun to get to see this “protest”, especially since I would support what they were doing as well.

Currently I’m sitting on a high-speed train en route to Brussels. It’s pretty cool how much the Europeans take pride in their train transportation; it seems like a great mode of transportation that is environmentally friendly. I look forward to the rest of our trip and I sincerely thank the Rogge Fund for supporting our time in Belgium and Germany.

Floyd Sees Differences, Commonalities

Riley Floyd ’13 – “We’re constantly evolving. We’re not like you.” That’s how our tour guide today summed up the British legal system. And she was serious.

It’s interesting to think of the British legal system as an evolving one. After all, the British legal profession is still (for the most part) split between solicitors (those who directly assist legal clients) and barristers (who litigate for clients). What’s more, the barristers appearing in court still wear wigs and robes. But despite these seemingly antiquated remnants of a fading past, British law is anything but static.

Riley Floyd ’13

Take the division between solicitors and barristers, for example. As time goes on and legal matters become more complex, the division between the two is beginning to fade. Increasingly, barristers have direct access to clients, and solicitors might not always need the assistance of a barrister to litigate their cases. The British legal system, despite its deeply rooted traditions, is still developing–much like our own.

We’ve talked a lot in this class about social and cultural values and how they manifest themselves in the law. I think it’s interesting that, as Americans, we often see ourselves as being more modern than our English predecessors. But, perhaps not surprisingly, the country that can trace its roots to 1066 and earlier has a lot to teach us. For example, British solicitors must rotate through four different sections of law during their training course. There is no such equivalent in American law. Sure, separate firms may institute requirements for their associates. But the ABA doesn’t mandate that every American lawyer must have litigation experience. Every British solicitor, on the other hand, must complete a litigation rotation.

Today, we toured the Inns of Court–complexes that initially served as the epicenters of legal education in London. Located throughout “Legal London,” the four Inns are: Gray’s, Lincoln, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple. Each Inn has its own style–much like a university or a fraternity. Early on, the Inns were a practical answer to a largely logistical question. Medieval legal proceedings took place in London. So, it became commonplace for visiting lawyers to rent space together. The Inns began as a place for lawyers to eat, sleep, and confer with each other about cases. Later, they became the destination for keen budding lawyers eager to learn. Today, the Inns of Court are still the aspiring barrister’s gateway to the bar. They contain a dining hall, library, and workspace. In addition, they house some practicing barristers. But they are not educational institutions. Joining an Inn is, however, mandatory for any aspiring barrister.

While solicitors complete training schemes with various firms, barristers complete what is known as the bar professional training course. They do so at the British equivalent of an American law school. The program lasts only one year. During their course, the barristers must attend 12 events at their Inn. The events might be formal, topic-based weekend retreats or formal dinners. The Inns provide networking opportunities for the next step in the barrister’s ascent to the bar: a pupillage in which an aspiring barrister works for a practicing barrister. It’s a kind of apprenticeship in litigation. And securing one is exceptionally difficult. I read somewhere that over 4,000 people compete for just 300 spots. Annually. Inns still prepare barristers for practice but without directly controlling their education.  The Inns, then, epitomize this concept of deeply traditional practices evolving to meet modern needs.

It was incredible to learn more about modern legal education in Britain. It’s just fascinating to observe the differences and commonalities between our two systems.  Today was especially fun because we got to learn from a professional. Our guide is a criminal solicitor. As we walked the streets of legal London today, I kept thinking about the differences between our legal system and Britain’s. My final paper in this class will take on a comparative study of modern legal education in America and Britain. Today’s literally on-the-ground learning added an invaluable layer to my research. And as we meet with practicing barristers and solicitors later this week, that will continue to be true. I love London. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. As an aspiring lawyer, I hope I’ll have the chance to work for clients who might have needs in Britain. It would be incredibly educational to team up with British colleagues. I get the feeling there’s a lot to learn.

Stroud ’14 Explores London Tower

Patrick Stroud ’14 – Amid the aged rocks–some imported from France–blackened fire pits, and tales of noble violence that comprise the Beauchamp Tower, there rests countless names carved into stone and mortar.  These signatures, quotes of Biblical verses, and other messages stand as the only remnants of the some 3500 prisoners that were housed within Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress, also known as the Tower of London.  A chill runs through the spine at the sight of these departing prayers, or even more haunting: nothing more than a first name, a forgotten remembrance for an oft-forgotten “guest.”

Stroud, second from left, and classmates.

This is but one scene of centuries of English legal history, and only one evocative sight within the Tower.  As a continuation of yesterday’s exploration of the Norman conquest vis-a-vis Hastings, our travels moved on to the things later built by William I after his ascension to the throne of England.  The White Tower of the Tower of London stands to this day as the most famous (or infamous) example of invading Norman architecture, a nine-hundred year amalgamation of royal construction that has produced the 18-acre complex that tourists visit today, with guided visits provided by the Beefeaters, Yeoman Warder guards wearing uniforms from the time of Henry VII and sporting trademark British military crassness.

Although visitors and guides often focus on the penitentiary aspects of the Tower, its history is much more complex.  Originally built as a Norman fortress against rebelling Anglo-Saxons, the Tower has served as a royal home, an observatory, a mint, a treasury, an armory for the Crown Jewels, an arsenal, and–an important fact for our course–the site for the King’s Bench and the Royal Courts of Justice, but was never officially a prison. All monarchs of England lived within the complex until the time of James I, and it was also custom for any prince or princess to process between the Tower and Westminster for one’s coronation.  Additionally, despite our positivist frame values when it comes to a historical progression, the century with the most executions in the Tower was the 20th.

The “white” of the White Tower, the central building, is derived from the white Norman stone imported to build the fortress, though it was later whitewashed.  It was here that William the Conqueror (née Bastard) lived from around 1070 until his death; this time also begins the long story of legal prosecution within the Tower, with the first prisoner being Ralph de Flambard, a bishop with ties to the construction of the complex itself.

While the cells have ceased their use since 1941, echoes of legend still haunt the halls of the complex.  Grim nicknames for buildings still exist: the Traitor’s Gate, named after the point of entry for many royal guests who would never leave their accommodations alive, including Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Oliver Cromwell, and Sir Walter Raleigh; the Bloody Tower, with its ongoing conspiracy surrounding the Young Princes, the sons of Edward IV who were mysteriously murdered, potentially by their uncle Richard III (at least, Shakespeare would have you believe so); and much more.  Guy Fawkes of the Gunpowder Plot was left to rot here, as well as the noble Lady Jane Grey, a teenager caught in the crossroads of royal legitimacy who served as Queen for just nine days.

Yet, despite all this, the Tower presses on.  As it is still labeled a Royal Palace, Queen Elizabeth II still has her private mansion within the complex, located next to houses reserved for the Yeoman Warders and their families.  Church services are held every Sunday within the chapels of the Tower.  Young students feed crisps to the Tower Ravens, the mythical birds who are said to predict the death of the monarchy should they ever fly away (don’t worry–their wings are clipped).

And, most of all, people are laughing, smiling, and taking in awe this auspicious place, appreciating the grim tales of bloody treachery, sneaking photographs of the Crowns and Scepters, smirking at the dry wit of the Beefeaters, and much more.  This is the new legacy of the Tower: a place where people come to realize legal oppression, to take murder as a matter of fact, and to beyond nine hundred years of dirty dealings as a means of coping and as a means of black humor that is educational yet tongue-in-cheek.

If only Yanks did this; why revere slaveholders and criminals yet remain ignorant of their faults, and instead take our atrocities to heart and laugh at their ridiculousness?  At the very least, that’s been our “modus operandi” for our course: to notice the role of history in law (or vice versa) as a trend and to laugh at its blatant inconsistency!  That idea, that task, gives us analytical purpose daily, and without it, we would flounder at the foot of the monolith that is “Legal Precedent.”

So, grab some fish and chips, have a pint, and help us laugh at history-in-law and the inherent values it presents, analyzes, and morphs.  You’ll end up coming out with it with much more than legal knowledge.

Looking Back at Hastings’ Visit

Rob Dyer ’13 – William the Conqueror (who then was known by the slightly less-prestigious appellation “the Bastard”) made landfall at Hastings several weeks later than he anticipated, which most historians attribute to unfavorable winds. It was fitting that our arrival was delayed as well, first by a series of mishaps on our train ride from London and then by a bungled bus commute from the station, which together consumed almost half of our first full day in the United Kingdom.  The long hours spent on immobile vehicles, however, no longer mattered once we set foot on the location where, on 14 October 1066, William and his Norman subjects defeated King Harold Godwinson of England in one of history’s decisive battles.

We received a guided tour of the battlefield, which lies about six miles northwest of Hastings in a town aptly named “Battle.” One of our professors for the class, Dr. Morillo, is one of the world’s experts on the Battle of Hastings. While at Wabash we are accustomed to student discussions, we relished the opportunity to listen to a lecture from someone truly passionate about the events that happened on Senlac Hill (“bloody” hill in the Norman language), where we occupied the position once defended by the English, copses of trees fortifying our flanks as they had done in the battle.

The battle more-or-less secured the English crown for William, whom the Pope had blessed to claim the throne instead of Harold.  As penance for the soldiers killed at the battle, the Pope ordered William to construct an Abbey on the site, which now sits mostly in ruin. The main altar, while it stood, marked the location where Harold was believed to be killed atop Senlac Hill.   There is now a limestone memorial in the ground, where, on the anniversary of the battle, the English leave flowers and a pint of beer in memory of the fallen king.

When William ascended the throne, he retained most of the English legal system, despite replacing the ruling class with his own Norman nobles.  It was at this point in history that we began our study of the common law in our classroom and set off our immersion experience in England.  As the week progresses, we will continue forward through history in the courts and halls which housed the evolution of the common law, thankful at every step for the immersion experience Wabash has provided us.

First Day Includes Phillips’ Visit

Noah Eppler ’16 and Tucker Mark ‘16 – Well, we’ve arrived in New York City. After a short flight and a shorter drive, we settled into our rooms in the Chelsea International Hostel, whose beds receive a welcome knock from the door when one opens it. In other words, the rooms are extremely small. Two beds, two lockers, shelves, along with a sink, make up our Spartan accommodations.

Dinner the first night in New York

But enough of that! Let us discuss briefly our first experience with navigating the subway system! Luckily, we had Dr. Cherry and Dr. Gelbman to assist us in case anything went wrong – like it did for senior Raynor Mendoza. While the rest of us were able to swipe our MetroCards successfully, ‘Papa Raynor’ failed to swipe his card correctly at the turnstile, and was, shall we say, delayed momentarily.

Later that evening, we explored the East Village for about an hour, taking in the alternative and underground culture of St. Mark’s place, the hip vibes surrounding Tompkin’s Square Park, and, finally, sampling some exquisite Indian cuisine at Raj Mahal, on 6th St.

Tight quarters.

Dinner was an absolute treat. We were joined by Wabash alum (and fellow TKE) Josue Gutierrez ‘11, as well as Jessica Phillips, an accomplished Broadway and television actress, (and the daughter of our own Dean Phillips), and her two sons. Josue is currently in the second year of his MFA in Acting at Columbia here in Manhattan. Josue had plenty of advice for all of us on the trip, encouraging us to get out and pursue whatever it is that strikes us, especially anything concerning theater.

As for our other guest, Jessica Phillips will soon be featured in an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” playing the role of an Assistant District Attorney, so be sure to look for her. Her two sons introduced us to a wonderful array of novice magic tricks, and even managed to make us all look a bit silly at one point.

All in all, our first day in New York was excellent, and we’re stoked for tomorrow.

King ’15 Impressed by German Culture

Sky King ’15 –  From what I have seen Germany is an amazing place. It breathes struggle and redemption, the infrastructure that was able to make it past World War 2 is full of pride while the architecture that has been created in wake of the destruction nurtures hope. I have always been amazed at the power and beauty of hope. I believe that is why I feel such a strong connection to the city of Frankfurt and the country of Germany. From the minute we stepped off the train at the Frankfurt station we have seen traces of past death and destruction. Traces of a war that tore away the flesh of the city just as it tore away the flesh from the German people until almost only bones remained.

The human condition is a difficult one and there exists much tragedy, but as the German population and cities have shown us, all we need is one more spark, one ounce of will and life will move forward. Germany has turned that spark into a wild forest fire that has spread throughout Europe. It went from hugely responsible in almost tearing Europe apart and now it is hugely responsible in pushing for a United Europe.

This speaks numbers to man’s strength and endurance. Germany is living proof that people can change; all they need is hope and opportunity. Frankfurt is a garden whose soil was tainted by evil and prejudice, but because of the purity of the river that runs through the city and cleanses its soil Frankfurt has blossomed.

This afternoon we traveled to the Money Museum where we saw currency from its birth in the form of cattle to its transition to numbers on a screen. One major focus was the significance of currencies stability and the stability of the Government it is attached to. Before I had the opportunity to see firsthand the culture of hope and strength that is Germany, I was unsure about the Euro. I was worried for the EU of the possibility of a Eurobond that would deepen the ties between the Union members. After walking the streets of Frankfurt and seeing the skeletons left behind from the war and the love of life that has risen from the graveyard I do not worry. Germany is strong and it is getting stronger. It is a country that has seen death, felt its grip, cold, hard and unforgiving, yet it has escaped. The resilience that Germany contains has given me faith to its ability to not only survive, but to excel.  If I were a member state I would place my bet in this countries scarred, but strong hands.

I would like to thank the Rogge fund and Wabash College for the opportunity to walk the streets of this city that was born out of the ashes of destruction and learn from its livelihood the true power of humanity. What I have learned from this experience in the first two days of this trip will far outlive the knowledge I have gained from the semester long class. The lessons that we learn on these trips are ones that do so much more than teach us Econometrics or the ability to analyze poetry, they inspire us. Inspiration is a lesson that is often hard to come by, but always welcome and one of the most conducive gifts to progress and change.

Thank you and I look forward to the opportunity to continue growing throughout the remainder of this trip and my tenure at Wabash College.

In spreading the fame of her lovely name …

Students See Frankfurt Stock Exchange

Jake Bolinger ‘ 14 – Wabash College has provided an abroad immersion trip opportunity for 16 students.  For some students, like me, it is their first time overseas, and are enjoying every second of it.  I want to start this by thanking Wabash College for giving students these opportunities, and also the Rogge Fund.  These trips are once in a lifetime opportunities for students, and are much appreciated.

Today was our second day in Frankfurt, Germany, and we started out the morning by going to the Frankfurt stock exchange, which is the largest of the seven in Germany.  We were able to see and take pictures with the bull and bear outside (these are terms used to describe good and bad markets).  As we entered we were given a presentation teaching us about the stock exchange and the people trading. The coolest thing I learned at the exchange is that their software can verify a trade in less than one millisecond.  Technology has become truly amazing.  We went to the trade floor after the presentation, which was not what I was expecting.  Most think of the trading floor as a chaotic, stress filled room like it is portrayed in films like “Wall Street.”  This was certainly not the case.  Because technology has grown, the trade room is now a quiet room with the employees sitting at computers.

Our second portion of the day was visiting the money museum.  We were given a tour and were able to see many interesting things.  My favorites were the first forms of money, including a giant stone, bricks of salt, and miniature axe blades.  We saw the first coin with a face on it, which is one of two left in existence.  The coin is worth 500,000 Euros!  After the tour we played games that taught us more about money and how it functions in the economy.  It was a very structured museum, and a wonderful experience.

Another great experience is the food.  Although they do have Burger Kings and McDonald’s, we have been exploring more cultural places to eat.  I have had the Turkish form of a gyro, currywurst, and an Italian pizza.  Tonight we are going as a group for dinner at a place that is referred to as a “carnivorous feast,” so it should be very delicious.  Frankfurt has been a great time, but I must admit I am very excited to head for Brussels tomorrow evening.  Make sure to look for blogs the rest of the week discussing our experiences in Belgium!  It has been a great time so far and there are more great times to come.