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Field Trip to Washington, DC

One of Juniata College’s goals as a liberal arts college is to give students an education that goes beyond their individual Programs of Emphasis and delves into other disciplines and areas. Two of these requirements are Interdisciplinary Colloquia (IC) and Cultural Analysis (CA). I am currently enrolled in the CA course Samurai Legends and Lives; this course seeks to examine the Japanese samurai in its historical and mythic contexts, but also to analyze how accurately these historical texts match up to the Hollywood and popular culture portrayals of this warrior class. On Monday, March 30 the class took a field trip to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms and to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian to view some examples of Japanese art.

Leaving campus at 8:30 Monday morning, we began our trip to the US capital. We arrived and ate lunch near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to work against us and most of the cherry blossom trees have not yet bloomed. After lunch, there was time for exploring. My friend and I first walked to the Jefferson Memorial and went inside, since neither of us had been there before. After the Jefferson Memorial, we walked to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial where I got a picture with a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. This statue was the first time that a first lady has been honored within a presidential memorial. After this, we walked back to the bus to travel to the Smithsonian museums.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In particular, we were visiting the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This subdivision focuses on Asian art and the class was looking to relate different artworks to the ideals and characteristics of the samurai. Some pieces related very directly, while others required more contemplation. Of course, after class business was complete, we were allowed to tour the remainder of the museum to see the art from other Asian nations. We later ended the trip with a meal at a Chinese and Japanese restaurant.

I had never visited Washington, DC before this field trip, but I had a lot of fun seeing some of the capital and visiting the galleries. Making connections between the art and what we have read in class helped to put our class discussions in context and added to our understanding of Japanese culture; it was a chance to do some cultural analysis outside the classroom setting. Now, I’ll be attending the course for the rest of the semester with an added appreciation for the culture that we’re studying.

Guess What, Everyone? I’m On The Radio!

“Hello again, everybody, you are listening to Power 92.3 WKVR!”

erika blog

That’s right folks, I host a radio show. Once a week, my voice goes live on the air to tell stories and cheesy jokes and occasionally break out into spontaneous song (sorry not sorry) for anyone to hear.

When my housemate first suggested we do a show together on the Juniata station, I laughed. Speaking live, while people I don’t know would be listening? The idea made me a bit nauseous. But let me tell you – it is SO fun. For an hour, we talk about random memories we have from the past four years, share long playlists full of music and artists we like, and even chat about current events that matter to us, or interesting things from our classes. It’s like having a normal conversation, just in front of a microphone (and snazzy soundboard). Our show is also primarily a request show, so we get to play songs that listeners request each week. We also do competitions, asking people to tell us their best jokes or stories to win a small prize! Some of our dedicated friends and family listen in from wherever they are, and we even get mail requests! We are FAMOUS. (Of course I’m not exaggerating.)

I have grown to love the college radio station so much because it is just one of the examples of an initiative that is completely run by students, for students, that empowers us to raise our voices in the Juniata community, 100% as we are. All you have to do to host a radio show is sign up with the WKVR club. That’s it! The students who run the station are fantastic, dedicated, helpful and patient with any difficulties that arise.

Hosting the weekly show on Juniata’s radio station with my housemate has given me the chance to share and discover some really good music with Juniata students and anyone else who chooses to listen to the station. Even my best friend who goes to school in Amsterdam can listen. If you have the time, sign up for a show and see how much fun it really is.

“Have a great weekend, everyone. Power 92.3 WKVR, signing out.”

This Week at Juniata Week 15

International Week – Horses of God

International Week Schedule
International Week Schedule

Even though Juniata College is a very small campus there always seems like there is something going on. This week was International week. One of the events was a movie called the Horse of God about Morocco. I was excited to go to this movie because over the summer I went to The Gambia. Before arriving in that country we had a twelve hour layover in Morocco where we were able to go out and explore Casablanca. I liked the movie a lot; at the beginning they showed the kids running across the highway that had a white wall behind it, and I remembered that highway. We passed it on our way into the city from the airport. There is something simple to the white washed walls of the compound the people live in and the metal doors, and the sand. It seems to be a symbol of poverty in this region that is very much like the poverty we see in The Gambia.

Wall in Casablanca
Wall in Casablanca

At the beginning of the movie it shows the kids and their struggle. You don’t see these kids going to school, you see them rummaging in the garbage hemp for things to sell. You see the formation of the criminal activity that ultimately takes over their lives. What else is there to do to pull yourself out of poverty?

It is quite noticeable from an early point on that honesty is not something that is valued in this society. There a crooked cops, and a crooked law system. The mother also states that she prefers the money, instead of the honest living Tarek was trying to make. In a society of criminal deeds are the only profitable means of providing a life for yourself, that thread of honesty is non-existent.

I like how the eldest brother looked for that honesty in his younger brother. Until the very end of the movie, he was trying to keep his brother honest. To keep him from the life that he had to lead to feed the family. I personally don’t think either brother thought that this religious sect, who gave them something to strive for, would turn into their undoing.

It is easy to brainwash a soul that has already been broken – a soul that has hit rock bottom. In this poverty, you see a lot of terrible things, but they are not terrible to you – they are the everyday. The Muslim Brotherhood got these boys to believe in a paradise, somewhere where they would be reworded for their good deeds, where their hopeless plight of poverty and life would be erased and they would be in a sense reborn. The Muslim Brotherhood made them dream, and they gave them something to live for. What did they have to live for in the slums? Where was their legacy? It was nowhere. The Brotherhood gave them a purpose, and the belief that there is something so much better than the lives they live. The Muslim Brotherhood made them dream, those dreams lead to the deaths of 54 people including 12 suicide bombers. It wasn’t about religion anymore, religion was just a catalyst of place where the poverty would end, where they would stop being nobodies. Where they would finally be someone worth looking up to – they wanted to be martyrs.

Street vendors in Casablanca
Street vendors in Casablanca

While in The Gambia, or even in that short time in Morocco, I didn’t see terrorism or the religious sec. However, there was always that underlying theme of poverty, and the struggle to do anything to stay alive. Being able to travel abroad to this part of the world allowed me to view this movie very differently than someone who did not have this study abroad experience, because while in The Gambia and in Morocco, I saw the struggle of people and how hard it was for them to make a living and survive in these countries. My study aboard experience made me see that this wasn’t just a movie, there are people on the other side of the world that are going through this struggle right now. Even though I did not see any terrorism I can better understand how this brainwashing and religious ideology could appeal to these people.

Underrated Holiday

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving seems like it is the most underrated holiday because it’s between Halloween and Christmas. In which most cases Christmas trumps any other holiday, but my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. The reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday is because it solely concentrates on spending time with those you care about. There aren’t any presents or costumes or anything to disrupt its purpose. It’s about giving thanks and recognizing all that you have in your life as well as appreciating the people you have in your life. For me it’s hard to always be away from my family at this time since our break is too short and expensive for me to go home to my family in Florida, but I have great friends with caring families that willingly take me in and treat me as a member of their own family.

There are many things to be grateful for, but I am grateful for the love that I receive from all the people I care about. The joy of knowing that someone will always be there and no matter how long it has been or the distance that separates you, nothing changes. A bond made from memories that grow with time to fortify a lasting friendship that can’t be broken. To have that type of love from more than just family is a great experience and when you grow so much with a close friend they become family. I am so grateful to have people in my life that may not be blood to me but are still family and I cherish them for all that they do for me.

Needless to say this has been the most interesting Thanksgiving that I have had away from home. I learned how to shoot a gun so I was able to conquer my fear and dislike of them. Being with a family with a lot of energy and generosity was heart-warming. It is also fun to hear the stories from different generations and how things have changed. We may not realize how much we take for granted the things we have and being able to spend time with great friends and their families makes me humble. It makes me sit back and soak it all in as to how much I have in my life compared to others. Material things can’t beat time with those you care about, nor can it bring the same joy because memories can be made and never replaced.

So to those reading this, enjoy the time you have and show or tell the people you care about just how much they matter to you. Cherish what you have because there are people out there that aren’t so blessed to have all of what you do. I make sure that I express the love and appreciation I have for my friends and family because they are too important to go without knowing just how much they mean to me.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Gooble Gobble!