By Erika Gallion, English and Creative Writing Major On May 14 2013, I left for a ten day trip to Greece and Turkey. The trip was tied to the Honors program and our Honors 390 class, and was led by Dr. Chris Swanson. For ten days, I traveled through the beautiful country of Greece and visit the enormous and vibrant city of Istanbul, Turkey. During this ten day trip, I was on a whirlwind adventure seeing Athens, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, Nafpacto, Kalambaka, and Istanbul. While in Greece, I had the opportunity to see most of the ancient ruins, like the Acropolis in Athens, the ancient Mycenaen temple, the Epidaurus amphitheater, the ancient site of Olympia, the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the Meteora Monasteries. These sites were incredible for many reasons: for one, every site was incredibly old— Olympia dates back to 776 BC when the first official Olympic Games were held, and Mycenae dates back even further to 1600 BC. The preservation of these ruins, although they had been destroyed during invasions or damaged due to natural disasters, was truly impressive, and it showed the great skill the ancient Greeks possessed. The ancient theatres, especially Epidaurus, interested me because of my background with literature. This specific theatre sat 15,000 people and contained perfect acoustics- the performers could be heard perfectly from any area of the theatre because of the strategic architecture. I was overwhelmed and thrilled to see the birthplace of drama. My favorite place we visited was Delphi because of its beauty and importance to ancient worldwide culture. I climbed through the Oracle’s cave and walk through Apollo’s shrine; it amazed me to think how many people from all over the world and across all centuries have seen the same sights and let themselves be amazed as I did. Greece was a completely different world to me because of the combining of the ancient world and modern world. I absolutely loved it and the trip encouraged me to keep travelling; it has impacted my life personally and academically. I’d recommend studying abroad to any student of any discipline!
Wees waar jou voete. Translated to the Afrikaans language this phrase means "Be where your feet are." In many aspects of my life, I have been given this very wise advice: be where your feet are, live in the moment, and soak in as much as you can. It was not until this May, when I had the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa for two weeks on a Literature Study Away Trip through Ashland University, that I fully understood the importance of being present in the moment. Physically being in Cape Town was one thing, but being there mentally and spiritually was something I never expected to have such a deep impact on my life.
A wild ostrich hanging out at the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western point of Africa.
As an Integrated Language Arts major at Ashland, one of the classes I could choose to take was African Literature. While most students were registering for study trips to Ireland, Greece, and Costa Rica, the South African Literature trip intrigued me the most. The trip was in conjunction with the class, so this past spring I studied many books with South African authors. We read authors such as Mark Behr, Rayda Jacobs, and Sindiwe Magona and read about all kinds of lifestyles and cultures and people that make up South Africa. As the time neared, six AU undergraduate students were on board for the trip, as well as our professor, Dr. Dan Lehman, his wife Dr. Barbara Lehman, and five of her OSU Graduate and PhD students.
Meeting with Sindewe Magona, author of Mother to Mother.
On May 17, our group of fourteen met at the Columbus Airport to begin our 8,229 mile journey to Cape Town. During our two weeks in the Western Cape we were able to experience a myriad of tourist-y things including Table Mountain, Robben Island, the V&A Waterfront, Stellenbosch Wineries, Greenmarket, and Long Street. However, our trip became much more than a tourist vacation. We came to learn, to be cultured, and to grow as individuals. We had the opportunity to go into the township of Langa and take a walking tour where we got to see and talk to children and residents; we met Sindiwe Magona and Niki Daley, well known South African authors; we got to visit Stellenbosch University and interact with students and faculty; we went to a traditional African church service in the township of Khayelitsha; and we ate traditional African food like ostrich and malva pudding.
The township of Langa.
I personally experienced what it was like to be a minority in the very diverse country of South Africa. Most importantly, I was present in the moment. Every single second, I tried to remember where I was and tried to take advantage of what I was doing. By the end of the two weeks, I no longer had to try. I had completely immersed myself into South African culture and I am so fortunate to have had this experience.
The whole group on Signal Hill with Table Mountain in the background.
As the cliche goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and I can tell you that my pictures are worth much more and hold much more than what can be captured through a lens. They hold memories and experiences of a lifetime that I have captured in my heart and soul. The pictures you see are only a glimpse at the wonderful world that is beyond the United States of America. As a twenty-two year old, white, female, middle-class student I am so blessed to have had this amazing experience. I have new plans, goals, and dreams to see the world and make a difference in the lives of others. I encourage readers to do the same, to see as much of the world as you can. Learn from it, grow from it, and most importantly, be where your feet are.
A book recently published by the Ashland Poetry Press (housed in the Ashland University English Department), The Rigid Body by Gabriel Spera, was the a silver medal winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Award in the Poetry category. An awards ceremony was held on May 29 in New York City.
The Rigid Body was the winner of the Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize, judged by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, in 2011. Deborah Fleming, professor of English at Ashland University and Editor of the Ashland Poetry Press, selected Spera's book as a finalist for the Snyder Prize. The Ashland Poetry Press is directed by Stephen Haven and managed by Sarah M. Wells.
The Sigma Tau Delta annual book drive recently drew to a close. Organized by the wonderful Conner Darsee, David Mohn, and substitute STD advisor Dr. Linda Joyce Brown in the fall, the book drive was in full swing throughout the latter half of the spring semester. A special thanks goes out to the rest of the book drive committee: Andrew Kistler, Catrina Dunlap, Brian Gryczan, Kelsey Myers, Mariah Moyers, and Stephanie Schaffner. Because of their efforts, STD was able to collect seven full boxes of books for the BetterWorldBooks organization. Thank you to anyone who helped with the drive or donated books. It was a great success!
During the months of February and March, members of Sigma Tau Delta collaborated to surprise their professors with gifts to show how grateful they are to learn under their care. Professors came to work noticing hallways full of the colored gift bags in their wall baskets. Inside the bags were notes of appreciation from students printed on scrapbook paper, candles, chocolates, and sponges to signify the students' ability to "soak up" the wealth of knowledge, inspiration, and wisdom the professors leave for them.
After much planning, writing, emailing, and shopping, the crew met on Easter Sunday night to print the notes, build the sponges, and assemble the bags. While only a few are pictured in the photo story below, at least half the honor society was involved in the project. Not pictured is Erika Gallion, who also helped assemble bags. The crew chose scrapbook paper and candle flavor according to the professor's personality, and then delivered the bags that night.
The next morning, on April 1, the professors found their surprises, which were well received!