Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part II: An Odyssey of Learning, Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum’.]

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (13)c

Chelsea Reed ’13

When I began my Oglethorpe journey, I never could have anticipated everything I would both gain from and give to this incredible community. As a freshman, I vividly remember studying The Return of Gilgamesh in Dr. Shrikhande’s Core class, Narratives of the Self. The epic tells a tale known as a bildungsroman, a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. Retrospectively, it seems that these past four years have been something of my own bildungsroman, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Oglethorpe’s key role in the person I have become. Following graduation this past May, I embarked on a study abroad trip in June, spending 20 days touring Greece with two of my favorite professors, fellow alumnae, and students earning academic credit in art history or studio art. The trip was a serendipitous way to end my time at OU, celebrate graduation, and solidify my entire college experience.

Although I’ve been back in Atlanta for a couple of weeks, I am still trying to fully process the amazing journey through Greece. We began in Athens, island hopped, ventured back to the mainland for a land tour, and then ended up back in Athens, full circle, before heading home. In Athens, we were blown away by the historical value of the Acropolis and the majestic Parthenon and entertained by the hustle and bustle of the busy Plaka where we ate and shopped. When we left on a ferry, I could feel the vastness of the Aegean Sea begin to settle my soul as we voyaged toward the islands.

Parthenon - Chelsea Reed (2)cor

The group listens to Dr. Collins at the foot of the Parthenon.

Our first stop was the beautiful island of Mykonos. We felt like we were in paradise at our quaint resort. A maze of streets lined with crisp white buildings with blue accents, Mykonos was as lively as its famous Don Quixote-esque windmills. I would’ve gladly stayed, convinced that it couldn’t get any better aesthetically—until we arrived on the island of Santorini.

Santorini, the remnant city, is re-established in optimism after one of the largest volcanic eruptions of all time wiped out the entire Minoan civilization and devastated the island. The desire to remain here despite fear of another natural catastrophe was much easier to understand after seeing Santorini’s beauty and grandeur in person. We hiked Nea Kameni, the burnt island, feeling empowered as we stood on the basalt of a dormant volcano. The view from the winery, where we sampled local wines, was absolutely breathtaking, illustrated with shades of blue I thought could only exist in my imagination. One night as we walked back to the hotel from dinner, we paused to gaze upon the charming town on a cliff, lit up against the dark sapphire sea. In that moment, I understood why so many people from all over the world find Santorini so special and appealing—it is certainly the most gorgeous place I have ever seen.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (1)cReluctantly leaving behind Santorini, we made it to the island of Crete, with its unique combination of metropolis, oceanic and mountainous scenery. We spent much of our time in the old port of Hania, characterized by a beautiful lighthouse and an animated town. There we saw the Phaistos Disc, one of archaeology’s great mysteries, engraved with some of the first known hieroglyphics.

We finally made it back to the mainland of Greece, where we recuperated in the serenely quiet coastal town of Nafplio. We had become fairly well acquainted with Greek cuisine by this point in the trip, and were thrilled to have a great feast followed by lessons in traditional Greek dancing. I will never forget Dr. Collins doing a flip or proposing a toast to Professor Loehle for his tireless efforts in challenging us artistically.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (12)cAfter much anticipation, we got to the mystical town of Delphi, which felt like another plane of existence with its astonishing view of mountainous landscape for miles. A cozy town with a main road of shops and cafes, Delphi seems ordinary, but the spiritual feeling it evokes in its visitors is anything but. One morning, we arose early with the roosters and went for a run along on what was once known as the sacred road to the Castalian spring. Mystics before us had cleansed and hydrated themselves with its healing waters, and I gained from our ritual an awakening I will never forget.

Everyone in our group seemed to be on the trip with an objective. Whether we realized it beforehand or not, we were all searching for something… education, mental retreat, vacation, spiritual awakening, perspective (albeit personal or anthropological), or maybe a little bit of all these things. What we would all manage to find throughout our journey in this fascinating, ancient place—and also within ourselves—far exceeded our expectations.

Chelsea Reed graduated this past May with a major in Communications and Rhetoric Studies and a minor in Studio Art.

Whitepoint: A New Way to Look At Oglethorpe’s Campus

WPYWOver the last semester, student interns in Pegasus Creative, OU’s student communications agency, have worked with alumnus Matthew White ’99 to create a mobile campus guide—all while helping to beta test White’s new app. White is the CEO and founder of Whitepoint, a new software platform which allows anyone to create interactive environments which can be viewed through the Whitepoint app, available for iOS and Android devices.

Fellow intern Mon Baroi ’15 and I were able to work directly with a professional to give feedback that had real impact on White’s evolving product. Our feedback directly influenced the app’s overall design, content and interactivity.

Navigating Oglethorpe’s campus through Whitepoint is simple: each environment, or “Scape” (in this case, the Oglethorpe campus), has a series of individual locations, or “Scenes” (think Lupton Hall, Hearst Hall, the quad), which display a high-resolution photo of that particular Scene. Red “Whitepoint” icons (see the image displayed here) indicate highlights are available about the Scene you’re viewing.

Matthew White '99

Matthew White ’99, CEO and founder of Whitepoint

Users can easily navigate between Scenes or browse through a comprehensive list of Scenes. Click on a Whitepoint icon, and a window pops up with information specific to that  Scene. Say you want to learn more about the Book of Kells in the library: navigate to the “Lowry Hall” Scene, click the Whitepoint near the Book’s location in the library, and a pop-up is triggered complete with a photo of the book and info like “The facsimile housed at Oglethorpe is one of only five in the world.” Cool, right?

White is excited about this opportunity to provide a new way for people to discover more about Oglethorpe. “When I first heard about the need to share views of the campus with prospective students,” White explains, “the core Whitepoint technology was ready, and I mentioned that this technology could help.” As Pegasus Creative collected photos and information about the school and some of its lesser-known features, even White himself learned a few new things about our campus. “Watching the first Oglethorpe University scape evolve, I realized there are interesting things about Oglethorpe’s campus I didn’t know, even though it’s my alma mater!”

So, what does White see in the future of Whitepoint? “…There are some exciting things in the works. The technology of social mapping is still very young, and the market is still working on understanding what social mapping even really is. Much of its direction will rely on the content that authors provide, and authoring is free and open to everyone.” White sees the potential for this app to benefit a wide variety of patrons such as museums, retail stores, real estate, airports, and more, as well as be a perfect virtual campus guide for schools such as Oglethorpe.

The Oglethorpe University Scape is available to the public now. To use, first download the free Whitepoint app to your iPhone or iPad in the App Store, or to your Android device on the Google Play Store. Then, search for Oglethorpe within the app to begin exploring! Also, you can read more about Whitepoint by visiting its website at www.whitepoint.mobi.

Josh Harris ’10: Making a Living by Making Laughs

Josh Harris '10

Josh Harris ’10

After being featured in the Carillon magazine last winter, Josh Harris ’10 has made major strides in his career as a comedian. He launched his own website and shares his love of comedy by teaching stand-up comedy classes at yourACT Acting Studios in Decatur, Ga.

While continuing to do live stand-up, Josh has shifted from being on stage to being on screen. This transition came after Josh realized that writing and producing are equally important components of comedy as performing. As a result, he’s created a series of comedy videos to test his new interests.

One video was taped on the Oglethorpe campus in the Dorough gym. The video is based on “The Brand Expanders,” one of Josh’s regular sketch comedy routines that centers around a pair of marketing men who pitch crazy ideas to famous figures. In the video shot on campus, Darth Vader is promoting his own sports drink called Vaderade. Check out the video to see what happens!

Josh attributes the success of the video shoot to the numerous students and alumni who came out to volunteer as extras and to support his endeavor. This connection with students (along with a sweet alumni deal offered by OU’s special events department to use the space!) made for a rewarding and progressive experience in Josh’s career. His comedy videos are now showcased at Sketchworks in Decatur where they’re some of the most requested sketches at the theater.

The OU community can support Josh Harris by attending one of his many stand-up performances or by taking his stand-up comedy class at yourACT. Even if you aren’t a comedian, Josh says that the experience of being on stage also improves public speaking skills and boosts confidence. Now who wouldn’t want that?

“I really love not only performing stand-up, but there’s something about having your own vision and putting it on paper. Just having a crazy concept and then seeing it, bringing it to life…now that’s really something I enjoy doing.”