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Speech Matters: Reframing the Discourse on Criminal Justice - Netherlands, Spring 2017
Come travel to Amsterdam with the Speech Matters program! Students will spend the first half of the semester visiting jails and talking to people who are moving back to society. Students will also attend legislative sessions in Montpelier, Vermont, that focus on life after incarceration. A speaker series will bring first-hand accounts of life behind bars and proponents of criminal justice reform from across the political spectrum. The final trip to Amsterdam will provide an important comparison as we look at how a country committed to decarceration successfully transitions its citizens back to society.
Dance in World Cultures - Senegal, May 2016
(Written by Kristin Horrigan) In May-June 2016, students in the Dance in World Cultures course had the opportunity to put their learning in practice during a three-week trip to Senegal. Co-organized by dance faculty member Kristin Horrigan and adjunct Senegalese dance and drumming instructor Elhadji Mamadou Ba, and supported by theater faculty member Jean O’Hara, the trip allowed the students to immerse themselves in the study of Senegalese dance, music and culture.
In preparation for the trip, students studied the practice of dance ethnography, learning about the questions and concerns central to ethical study of dance as culture. Students also met weekly for Senegalese dance and drumming lessons with Ba, a former professional dancer from Senegal, as well as for some informal study of Wolof language and Senegalese culture.
Once in Senegal, the Marlboro group stayed with Ba’s extended family in Dakar and took daily dance and drumming lessons with members of the renowned Bakalama Dance Company. When not dancing and drumming, the students took Wolof language lessons, spent time getting to know their Senegalese hosts, and visited local cultural sites such as Goree Island, the historical departure point for slave-bearing ships. Other highlights included a night camping in the desert (complete with riding camels!), a visit to Senegal’s former capital St. Louis, a Senegalese pop music concert, the wedding of one of our Senegalese friend’s brothers, and some beautiful time at the beach—often accompanied by more dancing and drumming. At the end of the trip, the students celebrated their learning by hosting a tannebeer, a large outdoor dance party for everyone in their neighborhood, where they shared the dances they had studied.
Embodying Diversity: Religious Communities and Practices in Nepal - Nepal, Spring 2015
(Written by Catherine O'Callaghan) In March 2015, students in the Embodying Diversity: Religious Communities and Practices in Nepal course traveled to Kathmandu with faculty members Catherine O'Callaghan and Lynette Rummel and staff member Chelsea Ferrell. Nepal is an ideal site to study religious diversity because it is a crossroads of many traditions, and on-site the group was able to explore how religious worlds are constructed as well as how people move through these worlds.
As is typical for Americans studying religion in other cultures, it came as a shock to most of the students that religious life was not relegated to a separate, hidden, or private sphere. Wandering the streets of Boudhanath, named for a giant, sacred stupa in central Kathmandu, the group found butter lamps burning bright and ordinary people busy with their prostrations. As they meandered through the great Shiva temple, Pashupatinath, the flames emanating from the newly dead and the tears of the bereaved mingled under a bright sun.
The class premise had been that the body is central to the experience and expression of religious life, and the group had many experiences in Nepal that reinforced that. On a pilgrimage to Namo Buddha monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas, new Tibetan friends taught Marlboro students how to perform prostrations before the image of Shakyamuni Buddha. The group had tried to practice these a bit in class, with the assumption that they are something to be learned. But only through repetitive practice could they know the joy of the full body reaching up, collecting at the head, throat, and heart, and lastly prone on the sweet earth. This pilgrimage site celebrates the Buddha’s sacrifice of his own flesh to save a starving mother tigress and her cubs, and images of the Buddha cutting his own body with a knife adorn the high paths.
Art on the Walls: Ceramic Tiles in Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, meaning and design - Turkey, Spring 2013
Visual arts professor Martina Lantin and Art History professor Felicity Ratte brought students to Turkey as part of their course entitled Art on the Walls: Ceramic Tiles in Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, meaning and design. The course was designed to give students a hands-on practitioner’s introduction to the design, style and history of Islamic architectural tile in the Seljuk (11-14th centuries) and early Ottoman periods (particularly the 15th and 16th century). This historical survey of tiles and their architectural settings in Turkey in the thirteenth through the sixteenth century was strengthened by hands-on creation in the studio.
Armed with the knowledge of the development of Islamic tile and ornament, students designed their own site-specific tile installations bearing in mind specific spatial and iconographical parameters relating to practices of the Ottoman Empire. The group also explored both the graphic nature of pattern repetition and the development of their own personal iconography based on their increased understanding of their design’s graphic application.
The two-week trip included visits to Iznik, Bursa (the first capital of the Ottomans) and Istanbul in Turkey to study specific buildings and their tile decoration in situ as well as visit with makers, restorers and historians.
Cuba: 1898 to the Present - Cuba, Spring 2013
This course examines the past 100+ years of Cuban history and the life of Cubans today. The year 1898 marks the end of Spanish rule of the island, Cuba's shift from colony to nation, and the rise of the U.S. to global prominence and significant influence in that country. The class will consider these early years of Cuba's dubious independence, the roots of revolution, and the Cuban revolution itself. Several weeks before the March break and trip to Cuba, we will begin to focus on contemporary life in Cuba with an emphasis on the everyday life in the capital city of Havana. Topics covered will include education, health, religion, politics, women, urban agriculture, and the arts (music and visual). The course will also deal with topics such as national identity, the role of Cuba in global politics, and Cuban immigrants in the United States.
In the weeks leading up to the mid-term break and course trip, students will be asked to identify a research topic, create a preliminary bibliography, and write a draft paper based on library research. Once in Havana, we will visit a number of locations together (e.g., the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Fine Arts). As part of our course time in Cuba, students will conduct fieldwork on their research topics. The last time this class was taught students researched and wrote on such topics as the Cuban medical system, baseball in Cuba, Jews in Havana, images of Che Guevara, women’s roles in Havana’s neighborhoods, gays in Havana, and Cuban theater.
Arabic language and cultures - Egypt, Spring 2009
Language is not only part of how we define culture, it also reflects culture. Thus, the culture associated with a language cannot be learned in a few lessons about celebrations, folk songs, or costumes of the area. Culture is a much broader concept that is inherently tied to many of the linguistic concepts taught in language classes. That was the main point of the two-week trip to Egypt, illustrating how challenging it is to teach the language and culture from a place very far away.
According to Ahmed Salama, Fulbright Teaching Language Assistant in Arabic, the main goal of the trip was "to practice Arabic and encounter different aspects of the Arabic culture, particularly Egyptian." Ahmed included aspects that shape the modern face of Egyptian culture including historical and political aspects as well as everyday life. Stopping in Cairo, Middle Delta and Alexandria, the group visited different historical and cultural sites and met with a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences.
The trip was a great opportunity to foster mutual understanding between east and west and bridge the gap between US and Egyptian cultures. Students Sarah Ferrari and Geri Medina summarized it best: "We were very impressed and so very grateful for having had the opportunity to meet so many intelligent and fascinating people, see so many places, learn so much history, eat so much authentic Egyptian food, speak Arabic with a number of people, meet a wonderful Egyptian family, and see a community organization doing beautiful things. It was certainly a unique and awakening experience."
Another Vietnam - Vietnam, Spring 2009
In the middle of an intensive six credit commitment to study the culture and history of Vietnam, nearly a dozen students and three teachers eagerly spent spring break gaining hands-on experience in the country. The travelers split into three smaller groups which each pursued separate projects. Lead by Tim Segar, one group studied the art and architecture of the Champa people while Cathy Osman's group worked with students at Hue College of Arts on collaborative printmaking. The third group, under the supervision of Todd Smith, explored the Tam Giang Lagoon while learning about local conservation efforts from students at Hue University.
These projects were the focus of the trip but students found plenty of time to explore other facets of the culture. Some spent time learning the national language while others spent a night out with Vietnamese students, singing karaoke in both languages. Everyone experienced the thrill of biking through Hue's crowded, and often confusing, streets which suited some students more than others. Other highlights included visiting what was known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during the American war in Vietnam, camping with Vietnamese students, bicycling through the countryside and visiting the My Son ruins.
Creative Collaborative Service Learning/Cambodian Arts - Cambodia, Spring 2008
In March 2008, the Cambodian traditional arts and community service learning class went to Cambodia for three weeks to study traditional arts and provide community service. The 10 students and two faculty members participated in a range of programs designed to support the education, health care services, and cultural revival of affected communities.
At Helping Hands, a school in the village of Prasat Char in Siem Reap province, they helped rebuild a fence of heavy posts around the school in the midday heat. They also had some lighter tasks, like creating a sock-puppet play to teach kids about brushing teeth and washing hands and collaborating with local students to paint decorative murals.
At Global Children’s Kompang Cham Orphanage, the group repainted latrines that sorely needed it and painted another mural featuring representations of kids reading. They also led a photography project, handing out 50 point-and-shoot cameras to kids and then working with them on a huge photo collage of their images. They worked with the kids on their hygiene and their English, as well as spending time just hanging out and playing soccer. The Marlboro group also taught English to local workers at the monasteries of Wat Bo and Wat Damnak and visited with patients at the Angkor Hospital for Children.