Hernandez ’14 Capitalized on Insiders’ View

Alex Hernandez ’14 – Friday was a phenomenal ending our trip. I was able to visit the National Education Association (NEA), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Indiana House Representative Luke Messer, Prime Policy (a lobbying) Group, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Due to the fact that I had to sign up for an appointment weeks prior to the trip, I was not able to have the grand tours of NAE and NCLR; however, I was still was able to interrogate the front desk on what their organizations stood for and what types of opportunities (i.e. internships and externships) they had, so it was not a total loss because this potentially gives me another reason to go back to D.C.

Following NEA and NCLR, my class and I were able to visit House Representative Messer and the Prime Policy Group.

Being a non-Indiana resident and not familiar with Indiana’s congressional representatives, I did not know who House of Representative Messer was or his platform. On the other hand, the way he interacted with us was pretty neat. Many people believe that politicians or those that hold high offices do not have a laid back personality because they have to continue with the professional façade, however he welcomed us with a big smile and a fraternal environment. He told us about his time at and after Wabash, which gave me a reassurance that Wabash College is worth all these sacrifices, especially being away from home. On a side note, I wonder if my Texas representatives, or even President Barack Obama, are able to interact with people a personal level.

After meeting with Congressman Messer, my class and I got to meet with the Prime Policy Group. Honestly, this group was my favorite of them all because of not only the panel but also because of what they do and what their organization stood for.

The work they did and the message that they conveyed through their organization is very impressive because they work from as much of a collective and bipartisan standpoint as possible. The sense of community that they created was concrete because they had to learn how to hear out and respect opposing ideas and beliefs. Somehow, to paraphrase what they said, we just agree to disagree.  This polarization has weakened our government and society.

Personally, what stood out the most was the sense of unity and humility that our panel portrayed. Everybody in our panel were from different generations and backgrounds, but the way they interacted with each other and with us was just plain awesome. Even though they were from an earlier generation than ours, they were able to interact with each other and us as if they were in their twenties again; their diverse backgrounds and passion for their work, shows that their organization is a place to consider as a potential future workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign was another place that I enjoyed exploring. As a demonstration of the power of Wabash alumni, I was able to explore the organization because my host Gary James had his friend Noel, who works in HRC, take time out of his hectic schedule and give me a personal tour of the organization and the people. The interactions I had and the warm welcome that I received from this organization motivated me to apply to their summer internship, so wish me luck!

Overall, my Friday, as any other day in the week, was just plain awesome. D.C is a place that I see myself enjoying living in.

Sklar ’15 Sees Gothic Church Differently

Stephen Sklar ’15 – In Political Theory one can use architecture to provide a sense of place and time where ideas were originally produced. Difficulty with this method naturally arises when the architecture is changed or renovated. After observing the Chartes Cathedral one may encounter this difficulty. The new painting of the sidewalls in the back of the cathedral, which in turn redefines what something meant to be gothic, causes this conception. With this new belief one can also take a different view on the royalty’s use of power.  French cathedrals all possessed many of the same qualities.

FranceWhen the standard person reflects on a vision of a gothic cathedral, one will most definitely think of dark shadows and large grey stones. With their use of light, many gothic cathedrals possess a feeling of mystery and sometimes almost fear.  Some remark that the dissolution of light from the stain glass projected on the walls creates an atmosphere of unity or oneness. This theme, which one can draw from the gothic cathedrals, can be transferred to themes in Medieval Political thought. However, all this changes when someone introduces color to the walls.

Chartes does not possess unity; it is just another pretty church. Chartes Cathedral’s treatment of light is almost unnoticeable in the front of the church. Although, the windows are beautiful, the soaring magnificence of shadow from the floor on upward is lost due to the reason of the pillars flanking the center of the church are now painted in a brownish color. For this single reason one could postulate that the Chartes Cathedral new coloring made it lack the gothic feel.  If this is to be true then the modifications of the cathedral have desecrated this once gothic church and transformed it into something else. Yet, to one’s own surprise the painting of Chartes is mimicking how it was decorated in the 12th century and throughout the medieval times.  So what truly is Gothic?

The common view of the medieval is skewed. Most people conceive that the classic gothic church is a dark dreary place to  its lack of paint.  This derives itself from the churches presentation in the modern day as paint lacking. In spite of this, the medieval Gothic church actually was painted fully and the shadow and darkness that most people preconceive in their minds of the gothic is only a modern notion. This in turn forces one to rethink all of medieval political thought.

Cathedrals among other symbols represent France. The cathedrals were a conduit for emotion and thought including that of political actions by the ruling kingdoms such as, the coronation or the funerals of the ruling class.  One could immediately assert that there is a massive difference from celebrating the royalty in a dark place without paint to a beautifully painted cathedral. The effect on the individual would be me more calming and festive than that of pure subjection to the royals. The gothic cathedral can now be thought of as a more joyous institution.  The painting in the gothic church actually makes sense if one asserts that the royalty, to bring joy to their followers and to provide a beautiful place to contemplate and feel secure did the painting on purpose.

One must change their notions about the gothic as a truly mysterious institution to that of a joyous place subtly showing subjection.  One can make this notion for the reason that the preconceptions of the gothic being dark do not relate to the church’s origin being painted and bright. This impression changes one’s view on the purposeful actions of the royalty and their desire to remain in power.

Wittenberg More Than Expected: Chapman ’16


Cole Chapman ’16 – Arriving in Wittenberg, we weren’t sure what to expect.  The quaint little train stop did not seem to fit our mold of the Wittenberg we had read of in books.  Instead, it was this small town which had so much history packed into each stone.  We traversed the streets to the Marktplatz where two beautiful statues of Luther and Melanchthon stood.  Not too far past that was our hotel, which gave us some prime-time real estate.  After lunch at Tante Emma’s and a small walk, we arrived at the Lutherhaus.

It was quite large for the humble Luther we had experienced in class.  The sheer volume of Luther history was unbelievable.  The impact that Luther had could be seen in items such as the disputation bench which bears his image.  We wandered through the museum, encountering things such as the judgment sword of Wittenberg, which Luther saw as a symbol of power over the body, but not the soul.  One of the most fascinating items to see was one of Luther’s first prayer books and his translation of the Bible into German.  Both of these articles had extreme importance to Luther in his time, and continue to be important around the world today.

After our visitation, we met Bishop Guy Erwin for dinner at a local restaurant.  The only proper way to end the night was with good food and good friends, which was exactly what we did.

Class tours Civil War Battlefields in Virginia

Jacob Sheridan ’14 & Stephen Fenton ’14 – Se were at the Fredericksburg battlefield Friday visiting the other three civil war battlefields in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The four battles together resulted in approximately 15,000 fatalities, making it the bloodiest area of the civil war. The tour guide we had was one of the best of the trip, and he wasn’t even a park ranger, but just a private historian.

Unlike most of our other battlefield visits, the Spotsylvania battlefield did not seem to be at all preserved. In fact, the tour guide told us how he has fought to preserve some of the battlefield, but unfortunately most of it has been lost to developers. We learned about General John Sedgwick whose troops were being harassed by confederate sharpshooters all day. Against the advice of his subordinate officers, Sedgwick moved towards the front line to personally direct the placement of the infantry and artillery. Once there, he saw that his men were literally trying to dodge the sharpshooter’s bullets, which disappointed him greatly. Sedgwick said, “They couldn’t hit an elephant from this distance.” Soon after uttering this phrase, Sedgwick was fatally hit by one of these confederate sharpshooters. We also visited the spot of the Bloody Angle where the bodies were stacking up three and four high due to the intense close combat. In fact, there was a large oak tree that was cut through on one side with so much musket fire that it was knocked over.

We also drove through parts of where the Wilderness battle would have taken place, but because the battle essentially happened in the woods, we did not extensively visit this site. It is believed that there are still many human remains on the Wilderness battlefield.

At Chancellorsville, we were able to follow the approximate path that Stonewall Jackson used to flank his 28,000 men in place to attack the union forces. They made this 12-mile trip with nearly 40 pounds of gear in around eight hours. Luckily for us, we drove the distance making much better time, but the feat of Jackson’s men was nonetheless impressive. This risky maneuvering, which had cost General Robert E. Lee at Antietam, proved quite beneficial at Chancellorsville where the confederates achieved victory.

Our final stop of the day was the spot where General Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire. On the night of May 2, 1863, during the battle at Chancellorsville, Jackson and his staff were riding back into camp when the 18th North Carolina Infantry confused them for Union cavalry. Jackson and his men tried to identify themselves, but the North Carolina men believed it was a trick and continued to fire. Jackson was hit by one bullet in the right hand and two more in his left arm. Several of Jackson’s staff was killed as well. Jackson’s left arm had to be amputated and he later died of the wounds and perhaps pneumonia. In response to the event, General Lee said, “Jackson may have lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.”

Wentzel ’14 Fascinated by Wally Immersion

Jeremy Wentzel ’14 – I’ve been trying to pinpoint one specific theme that makes the Wabash immersion experience so great and unique from a social perspective.  Having gone on a previous immersion trip to Europe, I believe it’s possible to articulate a specific “slice of life” that is specific to a group of Wabash men overseas.

It should come at no surprise that a Wabash immersion experience, in many cases, is the first opportunity for a Wabash student to travel outside of the United States.  It should also come as no surprise that, for many, there is an immediate visible exposure to the new culture.  Some students can blend in better than others.  However, what I’ve noticed that inevitably comes from this process of cultural adjustment, is that the Wabash man manifests himself in a different way, with a guiding spirit that comes from the college mission statement.  To put it more concisely, you can spot a Wabash man wherever you go in the world, but that same Wabash man might not have to be perceived as a stereotypical American.

It comes as no surprise that taking risks is part of the Wabash education, as well as the ethos of many students.  In Paris, I have observed a healthy amount of risk taking that transcended cultural barriers.  Some risks were in the purview of an American outlook, but more commonly, there were risks taken for the sake of humanity – risks that truly embodied the mission of Wabash College, in a different nation.

Maybe it was the times when students would, out of sheer curiosity and friendliness, talk to strangers on the Paris Metro.  The Metro is traditionally silent, but for some strange reason, a group of Americans livened the atmosphere in a tasteful way at various points.  Or, maybe it was the time when a student gave up his seat for a couple to sit with each other on another form of public transportation.  Generally, the couple would have had to split up to find separate seats.  Or, maybe it was the time when I was walking with another group of students in the evening when one decided to strike up a conversation with a gentleman walking his dog.  Generally the gentlemen would have not been approached by an American on his evening walk, but the small risk on the part of the Wabash man led to a brief encounter of positive conversation.

These impulses are very specific to a group of Wabash students who find themselves immersed in places they don’t understand completely.  Yet, when our power of lingual and cultural certainty are diminished, small risks that enhance humanity sort of filter through.  This is another example, to me, of “spreading the fame of her honored name” in a culturally sensitive way, that comes only through immersion learning through Wabash College.

Vaught ’16 Sees East-West German Differences

Samuel Vaught ‘ 16 – Tuesday was our first day in Erfurt. Leaving Mainz, we made the journey eastward into new territory. We left the low-lying vineyards of the Rhine for more mountainous regions, such as Eisenach, our Wednesday destination. This was our first day in the former East Germany, culturally and politically separated following World War II and under Soviet control until 1989. The difference was notable – English is spoken much less frequently, and tourists are few and far between. When we stepped out of the train station in Erfurt, I could immediately tell I was in a different Germany. It could have been my imagination, or some Western-inspired delusion, but I felt icy stares from many people as we schlepped our luggage over the cobbled sidewalks through town to our hotel. We stood out like the twelve sorest thumbs I’ve ever seen.

I soon got a sense, however, that not all of this cultural difference is negative, and I would be remiss not to point out the aspects of eastern Germany that I have enjoyed. While the population is poorer than in the west, they seem more community-focused here. Vendors filled the Domplatz – the main cathedral plaza – with fresh food, flowers, clothing, and other goods in the morning, welcoming Spring with bright colors and fragrances. The man selling the local favorite, Thüringer bratwurst, stayed open until 11 PM – we were his last customers that night. It is a nice change not to squirm our way through tourist-crowded avenues, like we did in both Mainz and Heidelberg. We don’t have to deal with the rampant commercialism that has taken hold in the west, which can lead one to believe that the streets of these German cities are no different than those of Chicago or Philadelphia. The people here in Erfurt don’t dress like supermodels, and our own clothing blends in more than it did on Sunday and Monday. I’ll let you decide if these less-Western traits are good or bad for the region. Regardless, it is a remarkably different experience.

St. Mary's Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral

The cathedral in Erfurt, Mariensdom (St. Mary’s Cathedral), presides over the entire city. The cathedral is a fourteenth-century masterpiece of French gothic design, built atop a substructure that dates from several hundred years before. It was founded by Saint Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon apostle to the Germans, revered throughout the country with statuary and namesake and given patronal status. It was here, at the high altar, that Martin Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507, in the city in which he went to university and lived in as a monk for eleven years. Next to the cathedral sits Severinkirche (St. Severus’ Church), a companion to the larger cathedral but still magnificent in its own right (the organ is a spectacular Baroque creation – the most ornate I’ve seen so far).

I’m struck by the fact that these churches are the backdrop, the skyline, for so many people as they go about their daily lives. They walk to school and work, shop, eat, and socialize, all in the shadow of this majestic work of art and piety. I genuinely wonder if they take it for granted, like we often do in Crawfordsville. Do we know when we walk the brick paths of campus that we stand in the presence of the mighty Eric Gugler, who transformed Wabash in the mid-twentieth century and gave us the mall as we know it today? Do we know that the hands that sketched the plans of the President’s Dining Room in the Sparks Center also sketched the “President’s Office,” in an oval shape, in the west office wing of a white mansion in our nation’s capital? I’m not suggesting that we compare the likes of Erfurt Cathedral with Wabash College, but it is important to keep in mind how we perceive the storied and fashioned landscape that surrounds us. Erfurt taught me that.

Citadelle Petersberg

Citadelle Petersberg

The icing on the Wednesday cake was a stroll through the Citadelle Petersberg, an enormous fortress complex that rises off to the side of the cathedral and rivals it in height. Now a park, it was once a garrison for soldiers from a period of time I could not determine, but at least since the time of Luther and certainly much earlier. Most of the buildings on the citadel are dilapidated, excluding a few used for museum and concert space. Perhaps the old armory has been abandoned since the fall of the Soviet Empire at the end of the twentieth century. The most distressing example of neglect was Peterskirche, a 1000 year-old pre-gothic church that might be the oldest building I’ve seen this week. The entire space, however, is still in good use. A park, a restaurant with a million-dollar view of the city, and probably more tourists than we think keeping it running well, despite the decaying structures that dot the grassy hill.

Harrison, Matt, and I stumbled upon a labyrinth on one side of the park, formed into the earth with ridges and depressions. This is a spiritual tool for meditation or prayer, an ancient contemplative practice that centers the mind, body, and spirit on a circle as one walks the circuitous path around it. As I was treading the worn dirt, circling back and forth, I caught different views of the city. At one point, I caught a perfect glimpse of the Augustinian monastery in which Luther lived, marked by its turreted tower that avoided the destruction of most of the monastery during a World War II bombing raid. I couldn’t help but think that the labyrinth was the perfect metaphor for our journey to this point – the winding, seemingly directionless journey that took us to Wabash, and then to this moment – in a foreign land, assaulted with inspiration and Old World beauty, with the story of a man who changed the course the course of human history. When you walk the labyrinth, it seems hard to imagine you are nearing the center. You come close only to turn and walk further away. However, at the end, you round a corner to find a straight shot to the center, where a small stone beckons you to sit in silence. If our own journeys are like that labyrinth, we have little to be afraid of. We don’t always see where we’re headed, but we hope that peace is at the middle, that the destination exists. I wonder if Luther ever contemplated the same things, thinking those dangerous thoughts beneath the tower I now have my eyes on. Don’t we all?

I rose from my seat, and oddly calm, began my descent back into the city, ready to welcome the rest of this eye-opening experience.



Kubisz ’14 French Major Exploring History, Baguettes

Philip Kubisz ’14 – Bread, stained glass windows, and calves of steel – so far I have increased all of my skills in these areas throughout the many runs across Paris. From the walk down the stairs in the hotel to the impressive cathedral doors I have picked up on the conversations of the locals and put my French education to the task! There is a very strong sense that I am truly elsewhere in the world, and how my diet and process of learning has changed in the past handful of days has really helped the transition from the classroom Paris to the living and breathing Paris.

The much-visited Notre Dame

The much-visited Notre Dame

Baguettes, baguettes, baguettes – I have been deemed the bread master by many thus far. Vegan life in Paris is not always the most glamorous, yet it functions very well with the small bakeries and markets that thrive in the city. Around every corner there is a place welcoming me to experience their take on the French classic. As well as the beginning of my evening tonight leading me to the sole vegan bakery in the town, I have given my best to experience what Paris has to offer to my lifestyle.

As far as my knowledge of the language and tidbits of specialization of the French history goes, I have proved myself quite useful to the group and I have had a few more genuine opportunities of participating in the native culture than otherwise. It has been a very enlightening experience upon entering the cathedrals and seeing not only the magnificent displays of the churches, but the groups of young students who experience all of these important parts of the history of France at such a young age. The international culture that is present here speaks to me in a way the gives me something to look forward to with my future in Europe starting later this year. The people here speak all kinds of languages coming from all corners of the world – either visiting or working in this cultural center of Europe, and the city has a lot to offer everyone.

With one visit outside of the busy city and two more to come I look forward to the contrasts to the busy life in the city and to experience the country side landscapes and life of those in smaller towns. This of course in addition to checking out all of the Patisseries!

Davis ’14 Gets Deeper Look at French History

Ethan Davis ’14 – Today in Paris the separation between tourism and education became particularly apparent. After visiting Notre Dame de Paris on Tuesday and seeing the masses of international tourists, we found ourselves in a place filled with predominantly French people, taking in their history. The class visited Musée du Moyen Age. Here we saw many of the relics, particles and original artifacts that originated from all over medieval France, including Notre Dame de Paris.

The most striking part of this museum for me was when I entered a large room filled with statues that had been beheaded (many of the severed heads were also on display). Many of these statues were part of the unrestored Notre Dame. These statues told an interesting story that goes largely unknown by so many who visit Paris. You can observe the true story of what happened to a nation and how its symbols have been interpreted. We see that there is an effort to instill an Aquinas type of order within the context of these icons. A deliberate effort to reorganize these statues in this way, and not to show the reality of their history to the masses, shows that they are placing them in an order that they see fit.

The intentionality of destroying defiling these particular statues depicts the tumultuous history of the nation and shows us, as the modern viewer, how important the use of symbols are to political movements. Revolutionaries attacked not only the political institution above them, but they then continued to destroy the emblems and the associated institutions to further there point. But the continued narrative of these statues doesn’t end with their desecration, but the resurrection and ascension of their more modern counterparts back to Notre Dame, shows us that the purpose of these symbols continued to be used to send political messages.

The most curious element of these uses of symbols is the lack of involvement in the complete story by all those that visit Paris. The relatively small amount of people that wondered throughout the Museum is immensely dwarfed by the masses who flow through Notre Dame. It forces one to wonder what many of these people could learn about themselves and their own governments, if they understood a fuller portion of Notre Dame’s story. Perhaps this is the most disappointing portion of the trip. The image of Notre Dame as it is now is what so many people walk away with. To leave with an understanding of themes such as this use of symbols is what sets the education at such a deep level. Seeing the useless way that so many walk away from these structures enforces in me more resolve to observe more decisively how symbols are used in the American political system and what ideas they are trying to instil in me.

Fredericksburg Battlefield Holds Great Historical Importance

Sunken Road at Fredericksburg, VA. Bottom Row, left to right: Stephen Fenton, Nathan Whisman, Ryne Ruddock, Sam Schabel, Andrew Schmutte, Brock Hammond, Sam Mattingley. Top Row, left to right: Terrance Pigues, Blake Jennings, Jonathon Young, Quinn Bittle, Tracey Salisbury, Kenniss Dillion, Andrew Sunde, Robert Horsey, Bailey Combs, Jacob Sheridan, Robert Thompson, Aaron Morton-Wilson

Sunken Road at Fredericksburg, VA. Bottom Row, left to right: Stephen Fenton, Nathan Whisman, Ryne Ruddock, Sam Schabel, Andrew Schmutte, Brock Hammond, Sam Mattingley. Top Row, left to right: Terrance Pigues, Blake Jennings, Jonathon Young, Quinn Bittle, Tracey Salisbury, Kenniss Dillion, Andrew Sunde, Robert Horsey, Bailey Combs, Jacob Sheridan, Robert Thompson, Aaron Morton-Wilson

Bobby Thompson ’14 & Terrance Pigues ’15 –  Day five of our exciting tour through the Civil War battlefields on the United States East Coast lead us to the battle of Fredericksburg. This battle took place on December 11th through the 13th of the year 1862. Fredericksburg is part of the bloodiest county in all the Civil War, Spotsylvania County. This battle is primarily known for two reasons. The first is what it meant to the war. Fredericksburg was the first big victory for the Confederates giving them hope that they could win the war and march onwards to the North. The victory came at the feet of a Union mistake that opened the door for General Robert E. Lee of the South. Lee was paired with Stonewall Jackson as generals of the South; these two men are arguably the greatest generals in the war. Their opposite in this battle was generals Burnside and Hooker. The Union Army miscalculated the attack and will power of the South leading to their loss. After this Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Union troops.

This battle is also known for two historic landmarks, the Sunken Road and the Chatham House. We were given a tour of Sunken Road. Sunken Road was where the Confederate line was drawn for the battle. The location is significant because it is behind a series of stone walls, which are great for protection. This line of Confederate troops consisted of only 5,000 men, which was significantly less than the Union army. These men caused 8,000 casualties, yet only suffered 1,000 despite being so outnumbered. This site is also home to the memory of Richard Kirkland, a South Carolinian troop who helped injured men of both armies by rushing water to them. His monument as well as a picture of Sunken Road can be seen here.

Another prominent landmark at Fredericksburg is the Chatham House. The house was built by William Fitzhugh between 1768 and 1771. The significance of this home occurs because it was used as the Union headquarters during the war. It has also been the temporary home of three presidents: Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The house lies on the outskirts of Fredericksburg atop a hill, making it a great lookout spot.

Aside from the monuments and battle sites the trip has been filled with fun, enthusiasm, and laughter. It shows the typical Wabash experience, a bunch of men coming together to get stuff done. Our trip will continue with a Civil War adventure camp where we will spend the night at a camp, eat hardtack, and get fully dressed in Civil War uniforms representing the North and the South.

Wabash Men Tour Civil War Battlefields

Nathan Whisman ’14 & Drew Schmutte ’15 –  After an early breakfast, we set out to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg.  As we arrived, we viewed their exhibits, while watching a special presentation of the famous cyclorama of Pickett’s Charge.  This large circular painting is the largest work in North America, and it gives you a full view of the battle as if you are standing in a frozen moment of American history.

Leaving the exhibits, we began to tour the battlefield.  We were able to see sights such as Little Round Top, Devils Den, and The Angle.  Seeing and walking these places gives you a sense of walking across ground that was, for a brief moment, a center of death and violence.  Moments of the Civil War are romanticized by movies and authors, but when you walk the hallowed grounds of this war, you realize the gravity and magnitude of the casualties both armies sustained.

Andrew Schmutte at New York 51st infantry monument at Gettysburg

Andrew Schmutte at New York 51st infantry monument at Gettysburg

As I walked on the hill of Little Round Top, I imagined the confederate troops storming up the rocky slope of the hill.  As I walked up the slope of the hill I imagined what those men faced as they had to battle up the terrain of the hill while facing murderous fire from the union troops above.

At The Angle, I was taken away by the size of the space where the troops of Pickett’s Charge attacked and the distance that they had to cover while being under constant fire.  You have to admit their dedication and the bravery of the soldiers to endure what happened at Gettysburg.

In the evening, we are taken on a ghost tour of Gettysburg.  The tour guides gave us the viewpoint of the citizens of Gettysburg during the battle.  Hearing the stories of the fighting in the streets and the churches being converted into hospitals for unending waves of wounded soldiers gives the town a spooky vibe.  At one house that was considered “active” with ghosts, I was able to go down into the old basement.  While stooped over and looking at the basement with a flashlight, I was slightly spooked out by the basement’s past history (it served as a hospital for 5 wounded Union soldiers). After squeezing through a narrow gap into a smaller part of the basement, I noticed a very old metal spring bed frame in the dirt. It was amazing to learn about all the paranormal activity and ghost encounters in the area.