History In the Making: Oglethorpe Visits Cuba

Dr. Mario Chandler and Dr. Viviana Plotnik, together with President Schall, led a group of OU students on an educational trip to Cuba over winter break as part of a course focusing on Cuban history, politics and culture.  This is the first Oglethorpe University educational trip to this country.

The course, taken for academic credit, included extensive lectures, readings, films, homework, and other requirements. The trip focused on hands-on exploration of Havana’s extensive Asian heritage, the historical and contemporary importance of Cuba’s tobacco industry as well as the island’s economic importance.  After the trip, each student had to turn in a journal and each are required to write a reserach paper due later in the semester.

The trip coincided with Delta Airlines’ adding direct flights from Atlanta to Cuba in December 2011. The decision allows  for flights for passengers with close relatives in Cuba, for those who are involved in the medical or agricultural business sectors, or for education or religious activities. OU’s group was on one of the first  flights to Cuba, just a few days after Christmas. Dr. Chandler shared his thoughts on the trip with the OU Blog.

OU Blog: How did the trip to Cuba come to fruition?

Dr. Chandler: The idea for the OU trip to Cuba was inspired, in fact, by President Schall, who has great interest in the Spanish language and Latin American issues.  The President approached me and my colleague in Spanish, Dr. Viviana Plotnik, and shared with us his desire to see such an opportunity come to fruition for our students.  Dr. Plotnik and I designed the itinerary and course, which received an enthusiastic and immediate response from the campus community.  We were able to put all of the organization pieces together during the Fall 2011 semester.

OU Blog: Why was this trip important?

Dr. Chandler:  For me the trip to Cuba symbolized one important, but all-encompassing notion: opportunity.  This trip constituted an opportunity for Oglethorpe students to engage Cuban culture, history, and society on that country’s terms rather than through a five-decade long filter of misunderstanding and distrust between Cuba and our country.  Unfortunately, the average American students’ views about Cuba are often imbued with misunderstanding, so an opportunity to challenge popular opinion by allowing students to meet Cubans and engage issues from an internal perspective is a powerful and potentially transformative educational experience.  As Spanish professors, Dr. Plotnik and I couldn’t be more proud than to have had the chance to shepherd our students in their navigation of this wonderful opportunity, an exercise that takes place, ideally, in the people’s language…Spanish.

OU Blog: How was the Oglethorpe group received by the local people?

Dr. Chandler: Our OU group members were consummate ambassadors throughout our Cuban journey.  We were proud to see our students using the Spanish language for engaging in daily contact with Cubans, for holding conversations and maintaining discussions, and for cultivating acquaintances that extended beyond the typical tourist demarcations.  Frequently, throughout our Cuban travels, we used public transportation alongside Cubans going about their daily tasks or ate peanuts while strolling the country’s prados and malecons, in small but significant ways bringing us closer to our Cuban hosts and erasing barriers on both sides whether real or invented.

If you would like to learn more about this trip, Dr. Chandler, Dr. Plotnik, and Oglethorpe students will give a presentation about their experiences as part of tomorrow’s OU Day celebrations. Join the conversation, “OU Student Reflections on Cuban Culture–What Happens in Cuba Doesn’t Stay in Cuba,” on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 12:10 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center. For more photos from the Cuba trip, check out Flickr. For more information about Oglethorpe’s study abroad program, check out OUSA’s page.

Two Birds of a Feather (Blue Jays & Petrels Unite!)

On January 29, Oglethorpe Women’s Lacrosse in conjunction with the Sports Medicine Department, hosted Division I Johns Hopkins’ head women’s lacrosse coach Janine Tucker for a six-hour Coaches’ Clinic in Lupton Auditorium.

129 youth, high school and collegiate coaches from all over the Southeast participated in this event making it the largest coaches’ clinic ever conducted by Hopkins and a FIRST for Oglethorpe University

In addition to providing a detailed book of skills, drills, offenses and defenses, Coach Tucker also shared her team philosophy, favorite game strategies and practice plans for the first two weeks of the Blue Jays’ preseason. Coach Tucker’s dynamic personality and enthusiasm left the coaches asking for more! 

This was a HUGE step forward for Oglethorpe Women’s Lacrosse as we prepare for our inaugural season in the 2012-13 academic year. Thank you to everyone who attended and volunteered!

LeeAnn Tutchton is the Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Oglethorpe University.

“Mandalas by the Patients of Carl Jung” Exhibit at Oglethorpe University Museum

A new exhibit opens at the OU Museum of Art on February 5, 2012. “The Secret Round: Mandalas by the Patients of Carl Jung” features 40 original mandalas created by the famous Swiss psychoanalyst’s patients during their treatment between 1926 and 1945. This first ever exhibit is courtesy of the C. G. Jung Institute in Switzerland.  

Mandalas were used during therapy to help patients express both the conscious and unconscious. Included in the exhibit is a handmade book containing one patient’s dream descriptions and drawings, hailed as the feminine version of Jung’s famous The Red Book.

The exhibit is accompanied by a series of guest lectures, presented in partnership with the C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta, and featuring top Jungian analysts. Each lecture will unveil a different aspect of the mystery that is the mandala.

Curator Vicente de Moura, archivist at the C.G. Jung Institute.

The Public Opening will take place on Sunday, February 5, 12 noon – 5 p.m.  A special lecture by exhibit curator Vicente de Moura, C.G. Jung Institute archivist and Jungian analyst, will start at 3:00 p.m.  As always, OU students, staff and faculty have the amazing opportunity to visit the exhibit for free with a Petrel Pass. The exhibit will run through May 6, 2012.

Join us and immerse yourself in the inner world of mandalas!

Club offre la culture française à l’Université Oglethorpe

The OU French Club visited La Violette French Restaurant

The OU French Club organizes exciting French experiences and culinary adventures for their club members and the rest of the Oglethorpe community.

“The French Club is here to benefit anyone who is interested in being exposed to French culture,” said Alexus Whilby, club president. “You do not have to speak the language to have French fun! We share French food, fashion, language, and hospitality with all who come to visit our group.”

French Club celebrated Marc Chagall with a Magical Museum Night

Events organized by the French Club include a French cuisine cooking class, a Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans, and regularly scheduled French movie nights. Last semester the club took advantage of having the exhibit Chagall: The Early Etchings of the 1920s on-campus at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, by hosting French arts-themed event in the museum.

OU French Club encourages everyone to join in the fun. “You do not need an invitation to any of our meetings,” said Whilby. “They are held every Thursday from 5:00-6:00 p.m. in Hearst 101. Come one and all and experience the journey of the true “French life”, right here on the Oglethorpe campus!

For more information about OU French Club and their upcoming events, contact Alexus Whilby at awhilby@oglethorpe.edu, or Like their page on Facebook.

Do What Oglethorpe is Forcing You to Do

Foss Baker

Senior Foss Baker is the news editor of the Stormy Petrel student newspaper.

My dad often used the phrase “college teaches you how to learn.” I don’t know where he got it from, or if it was his own invention. All I know is that it made no sense in high school. I would question it because it essentially made college useless. Every high school kid knows how to learn, right? No, absolutely not. All of them think they do; I was no different.

I came to Oglethorpe thinking I had it all figured out: career, dreams, and how to reach both of them. I was going to be a hugely successful sports/entertainment attorney. I was going to make tons and tons of money. I was going to have it all. From Oglethorpe, I learned none of that was what I wanted. I don’t care about money that much, I don’t care about having a hugely successful name that strikes fear in the hearts of sports franchises and movie producers. I just want to learn.

Oglethorpe has been designed in such a way that questioning your self is unavoidable. Just look at the first year of Core. “Narratives of Self”?What else could that be other than an examination of your being and values? Just when you think you figured out the problems from that course, you have “Human Nature and the Social Order”. Another puzzle for yourself that you must answer: what values do you hold, where do you stand in society, and what do you want from society? After this, you’re thrown another curveball, being forced to reexamine these practices and decisions in “Historical Perspectives.”

All of this, hopefully, allows you to look at yourself and question the pit of your beliefs. Maybe you have to find new ones, maybe the ones you held before Oglethorpe are reinforced; either way, you’re a better person for it. You have gained a system of beliefs that you hold concretely, and there are very few things more comforting than knowing you stand for beliefs that have been stripped down to their very core, and you found them agreeable.

Perhaps this type of examination of Oglethorpe only exists in the mind of a philosophy major. Perhaps I examined this the way I did because of the professors that I have. Dr. Belcher showed me that your beliefs are basically worthless if you don’t know why you stand for them. Dr. Carton taught me that nobody is the same, and there are so many different internal processes that make up a person that understanding them all is impossible. From Dr. Smith I learned everybody does things their own way. We don’t know why some things are done the way they are, but the fact that they are done in such a way might tell us more about that person or those people than if they had done it the “normal” way. Numerous other professors here taught me other things, but these are the ones I hold in the highest regard.

The most important thing to notice about the things I learned is that none of them are classes. I didn’t take a “reasons why your beliefs might be wrong class” or a class on “things that people did in history that we don’t understand” because they don’t exist. Sometimes, the most important thing to learn from a class isn’t the subject of the class at all. This takes some work, but the work and payoff will be well worth it. Your experience will undoubtedly be different. You will have different classes, different professors, and different friends. This difference will make you examine things in your own way, and that leads to a different experience for everybody. This means Oglethorpe has done its job.

In hindsight, I want to leave the readers of this with a few suggestions. First, don’t live your life thinking you know what you want because that is what your parents want for you, or because you saw it on TV. If you really want to be this idea you have in your head, no amount of reexamining will change your mind. If you end up changing your mind, it means you’re growing, learning. Have an open mind, it will do wonders for you. Second, take Oglethorpe for what it is. The classes can be frustrating and, believe me, I hate Petrel Points* as much as the next guy, but I love Oglethorpe. The community, professors, faculty, and students will always hold a special place in my heart. If you come here expecting perks of a large university, don’t expect to be satisfied. Take the small school atmosphere and embrace it. Develop relationships with your professors; and gain close friends; you won’t regret it. The third suggestion is to just listen to people. You can’t learn if you don’t. Listen to professors; they are wildly intelligent and are here only because of the students. They honestly have your best interests at heart. If they suggest you think about something or reexamine something, do it. They care and know best.

And above all else, just learn.

*All first-year students are required to accrue a total of 12 Petrel Points during their first academic year by participating in three areas of campus life: arts, education and ideas; civic engagement; and campus leadership and citizenship.

Printed in the Stormy Petrel student newspaper, Dec. 1, 2011, and reprinted in the Carillon magazine, Winter 2011.