July 14, 2017
Honors students recently returned from a month-long excursion to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy with Cultural Routes, a program designed and directed by Dr. Ron Pitcock, Assistant Dean and J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Honors Fellow. Cultural Routes, or CR9 to designate the ninth year of the program, allows students to explore cities beyond the “postcard” through experiential learning opportunities. With backpacks in tow, students walked over 280 miles and traveled via high-speed trains as they adopted a city-as-text approach to studying and experiencing cultural differences.
CR9 members made their first stop in Germany. In Berlin, students studied how Berliners have responded through public memory to Nazism and communism, and from there, the group traveled to Munich to study Bavarian culture, climb the Alps, and visit Dachau Concentration Camp. In Switzerland, students had a brief reprieve in Interlaken, the “extreme sports capital of the world,” before traveling to Cinque Terre to hike the trails that link “The Five Lands” on the Italian Riviera. In the final two Italian stops, CR9 members studied art and architecture in Florence and concluded the trip in Rome, the founding site of Western Civilization, with a visit to the Vatican and Coliseum. While in Vatican City, CR9 members were hosted by the Canadian Embassy to the Holy See and spent an afternoon with Chargé Louis Bono of the United States Embassy and Canadian Ambassador Dennis Savoie.
Throughout the trip, CR9 members recorded their experience in journals, blogs, and an e-portfolio. In final blog posts before returning home, students reflected on their CR9 experiences:
“There are so many things I experienced and appreciated about other cultures as we traveled through Europe. But, as much as my eyes were opened to the cultures of other countries, my eyes were reopened to the culture of my very own country.” – Jacey Elliot
“See this is what CR does, it combines people and culture into a perfect combination that grows you in more ways that you can understand and lets you have so much fun while doing it.” – Chandler Webster
“The potential to change the world existed in the environment that is CR. And that is what we will do. We might not have the solution to poverty or world peace, but I have no doubt that CR will change the world in more ways than one.” – Christian Keller
“If we are able think about things in reverse with a ‘What would happen if that happened in the United States?’ or ‘How would this make me feel?’ mentality, we can move closer towards a better understanding of the world around us. Cultural Routes helped me think in reverse and gave me a foundation so that I will be able to think like that in the future. I am forever thankful that I was able to have this experience.” – Cassidy Willie
CR9 members will present their findings to a larger group of Honors students in the fall, and all Honors students interested in participating in Cultural Routes 2018 (CR10) are encouraged to attend.