Part I: “They are Spartans”

Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history, is the director of OU Study Abroad. He and Professor Alan Loehle led the short term study abroad to Greece during June 2013. This is the first in a four-part series about the trip.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We have returned from an extraordinary odyssey across hundreds of miles of Aegean sea, islands, Santorini volcanoes, mountains, and endless olive and oleander. Our OU students stood before the sunlit ruins of the Parthenon, walked where Socrates and Plato taught, examined the sculptures in the new Acropolis Museum, and spent hours discussing, reporting, and engaging in lively talks about ancient architecture, politics, and myth.

At Delos, they stood in burdock growing where lush buildings and mosaics once gleamed in the Attic air; in Crete, they worked through the maze of Knossos, speaking of Theseus and the minotaur; in Chania, they marveled at a reconstructed Minoan boat that carried painted pottery and jewelry once to Egyptian ports 1200 years before the Parthenon was even built.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Santorini, they were dumbfounded at the stark and sublime power of the cliffs and the myth of Atlantis. Several read Plato’s Timaeus. There, they hiked the volcano, rode donkeys on Thirissa, and spent evenings in tavernas dancing the crane dances. Days of feta, bread, olives, baked cheeses, rich Assyritiko wine, sun, deep wind, pure light.

They gave reports and asked brilliant questions, sketched ruins at Delphi, and sang in the perfectly acoustical, ancient theatre at Epidauros. At Mycenae, they stood in the tholos tomb, and spoke of Agamemnon and the gold death mask. Some read the Odyssey; others, the Iliad. As we passed Thermoplyae, they laughed about the movie 300, and bought T-shirts, with the heroic and defiant words the Spartans retorted to the Persians when they told the Greeks to lay down their arms: “come and get them!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHistory was not for them mere words in a thick tome—it was alive, it was before them, it was under their sandalled feet, it was in their blood.

They felt it and knew it.

On boats, buses, on foot for many hours, our students voyages across vast expanses of water, through mountains and apricot groves, down twisting white alleys of Mykonos, upon slick marble floors in hotels and lobbies; our students journeyed with notebooks full of ideas and history and dates and poems and drawings, with digital cameras filled with thousands of photos of old widows in black dresses against blue doors, or of tanned fishers in the shoals, or of nameless dogs asleep near Byzantine churches, or of themselves, laughing and singing, and dancing—as they all did—like Zorbas in tavernas smelling of jasmine and kalimara. Oopah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho said learning should be all so serious? A Greek philosopher once said, we learn best when we laugh. Our students laughed at misspelled signs, worry beads, the wild chaos and charm that is Greece, the odd times of shop closings, but mostly at themselves, falling over stones, suitcases, and falling in love with every beautiful man—or woman—they saw. Apollos and Aphrodites on vespas—they are everywhere in Greece. Oopah!

We have not heard such excellent reports given with such passion and insight. Our students will never forget the flame of skies, the early morning belled sheep, the climb up Palamidi. They will not lose sight of what they accomplished and what they witnessed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn one of our final days, after long hours of talking and analyzing myths of Zeus and Demeter, history, ancient ruins, and wars, we took a silent sacred run, our ritual at Delphi, and saw, laid out before us, the outline of Gaia, the Mother Earth goddess, honored before Apollo and Dionysos were worshiped at the Delphi.

We watched in striking silence the sun curve across her flanks. We drank from the sacred Castelian springs, the source of poetic inspiration, as did everyone from Plato to Yeats.

No one can take the memories from them now as their coming blogs will show. They will live in our students’ hearts and minds as long as they live. No one could ever take from them now their newly discovered ideas and images—try, and they will no doubt respond: “come and get them.”

They are Spartans.

Part II: An Odyssey of Learning

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum

Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

 

Global LEAD Ecuador Beckons OU Students

More than 130 students from 30 universities are traveling to Ecuador, Greece and Cape Town, South Africa this summer with the official launch of Oglethorpe’s partnership with Global LEAD. Each will participate in Global LEAD‘s unique study abroad experience, which connects leadership, service-learning curriculum, adventure and local culture to help students better understand their role in a larger, global context.

Among the group heading to Ecuador later this week are Oglethorpe senior Bri Mongerson, a communications and rhetoric studies major, and junior Emmanuel Brantley, a business and Spanish major. Dr. Mario Chandler, associate professor of Spanish at Oglethorpe, is serving as academic director for the Ecuador program.

Dr. Chandler has an extensive background in study abroad trips, and will lead the academic curriculum for the group of 25 students in Ecuador. In addition to the core elements of leadership, service learning and personal development, Dr. Chandler will weave in Ecuadorian history and context into the class to further connect the curriculum with the host country.

Before they leave on their adventure, we asked Bri and Emmanuel to share how they were feeling.  Check out what they had to say below and in the video above…

Bri Mongerson

Bri Mongerson ’14

“I decided to go on Global LEAD after meeting (Global LEAD staff) Caro, Joanna, and Lauren at the study abroad fair at Georgia Tech,” said Bri. “When I met them, I had no idea that OU was going to partner with GL. Once I found that out, it made my decision that much more easier. I wanted to go to Ecuador for the different environment and culture. I am so excited to meet the people and learn more about their community. One thing that makes me nervous is the fact that I will be gone from my family and friends for five weeks but I know that this experience will be life changing!”

EB Photo 1

Emmanuel Brantley ’15

“The chance to stand on the equator, breathe the Amazonian air, tour the Galapagos Islands and mix with a distinct culture while exploring a new side of me in this capacity made Ecuador seem like it a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Emmanuel. “However, I was hesitant to apply and not sure if I would want to go through with it. This would be my first experience abroad… After a conversation with my Spanish professor, Dr. Mario Chandler, I was completely sold on the idea of going to Ecuador. He reminded me that I would have my awesome Global LEAD family (how could I forget that?) and made me realize that sometimes it is okay when things do not go as originally planned and that I have to continue growing in my academic career… Today, I am most excited to visit some of the smaller towns in Ecuador like Tena and Otavalo. There I expect to gain a true feel of Ecuador’s hidden treasures.”

Find out more about study abroad opportunities through Global LEAD!

Oglethorpe Alumni Excel in Medical Illustration Field

Nobles Green '03

Are you a biology major with an artistic touch, or an art major with an appreciation for science? Did you know about the career of medical illustration? Within the last decade, three Oglethorpe students have chosen to pursue this challenging career, and the rewards have been well worth the hard work.

Nobles Green ’03, an award-winning senior medical animator for Nucleus Medical Media, creates medical animations for a variety of clients, including pharmaceutical companies and TV shows like Dr. Oz and Oprah.

“I’ve always liked art and science growing up,” he said. “For a while I just wanted to pursue an art career, but the more I learned about biology… there was something that made me interested…There’s a lot of problem solving, so far as knowing what your client wants and knowing how to visualize what they’re saying, what scientific theories they want to express.”

Sarah Duff ’12 also works for Nucleus Medical Media, as the Production Assistant for Legal Medical Art at Nucleus Medical Media.  Nobles was integral in Sarah’s decision to enter the medical illustration field.

“He visited my senior year [at Oglethorpe] and I asked him what he did,” she said. “He gave me a chance to tour the company, to look around and see what it was like. Then in August, Nobles emailed me to tell me there was a job opening.”

Similarly, Katie Dale ’10 who was a double major in biology and art, found Nobles to be of great assistance in her quest to work for Nucleus Medical Media.

“All I did was contact Nobles,” she said, “and he was helpful and so nice, and he got me an internship… I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field though I wasn’t sure specifically what. I didn’t actually declare a major until the end of my junior year… one of my [golf] teammates was looking into [medical illustration] because she was an art major, and she told me I should look into it and I thought it was perfect for me. I didn’t have to give up my love of art, and I could still be in a science field!”

Nobles himself credits the decision to pursue medical illustration largely to Associate Professor of Art Alan Loehle.

“He’s been very encouraging, very helpful all throughout Oglethorpe,” said Nobles, “so I did all the mandatory classes with him as well as some individualized [classes]… I like to help OU students out, [and] every time Loehle tells me about someone I try to help them out, give them a tour.”

Thanks to faculty and alumni, these graduates have found a place in the competitive world of medical illustration. As Sarah advises, “Don’t be scared around alumni because they’re going to want to help you succeed..I’m so lucky to have this job because I absolutely love it.”

Oglethorpe’s Honors Program: A Worthwhile Challenge

Lindsey Mitchell presents her Honors thesis at the Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

As Commencement approaches, there is something I can’t stop thinking about: the moment when I will walk on stage and be “hooded” in front of hundreds of spectators. This simple act signifies and rewards numerous hours of research, writing and editing, all done in the name of a thesis for the Honors Program. In spite of all the time and dedication the process has required, every time I look at my 49-page thesis, I know that the work has been worth it.

The Honors Program is an opportunity for students to further challenge themselves intellectually, both within and beyond the classroom setting. Honors students participate in several cross-disciplinary classes, forging closer relations with peers and faculty from various disciplines who share a common enthusiasm for learning, while developing their own interests and initiative.

“The thesis-building years are not for the faint of heart!” says fellow Honors student Lindsey Mitchell ’13. “The level of research and writing that is required is excellent practice for students who are interested in pursuing higher stages of academia, and therefore it is very rigorous.”

“The skills you get are pretty amazing,” adds Jef Palframan ’13. “You get to do your own thing… plus, you get to work one-on-one with three PhDs who have something to do with your field.”

Samantha Flynn presents during the 2013 Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

“(The program) allowed me to bridge different fields of interest (political science, political theory, and political philosophy) to answer a question that is important to me,” said Samantha Flynn ’13. “I plan to expand this thesis into a book after graduation.”

Samantha’s thesis, “Invocatio Dei: The Competing Roles of Religion and Secularization in the Polarization of American Political Culture,” was inspired by the question, “What is the cause of the venom in party politics today?”. The answer, she argues, is found in the role Christianity plays in American politics.

“I specifically focus on the evolution of the modern Left, from its origins in Massachusetts Bay Puritanism, through Progressivism, and into modern liberalism,” she explains. “I contrast American secularization (which I argue is actually not happening) with European secularization, and reject modern theorists’ interpretations of why secularism happens with a return to Tocqueville.”

Jef’s thesis, “Lifting the Veil of Violence: The October Crisis, 1970” looks at “an event that changed the concept of sovereignty in Quebec.”

Jef Palframan '13

“There are two sides (to the crisis), but if you break the violence down, there’s more than English versus French,” he says. “We’re not against violence as long as that violence is used in the means of the state. When that violence goes against norms, we shy away from it.”

Lindsey’s thesis, “Discovering the Paths and Effects of Time Travel through Science Fiction,” has both academic and creative components.

“The creative portion is about two men who travel to a nearby section of the universe to photograph the way a certain cluster of stars looks in current time,” said Lindsey. “Eventually, the fatalistic nature of time travel catches up to them, (and) the two men are forced to abandon their missions and society, traveling forever forward in time until it is safe for them to return to the Earth. The academic portion is a series of essays attempting to explain the choices I have made within the research available to me. I represent certain areas of thought in the short stories, and the essays are my way of defending and breaking down the difficult theories so that they are understandable to someone who has not spent months researching as I have.”

Here I am presenting my Honors thesis at the Symposium!

My own thesis, “Horror-Comedy: The Chaotic Spectrum and Cinematic Synthesis,” debunks the idea that comedy and horror are disparate genres. By looking at common reactions, plots, and characters in movies, I’ve come to conclude that horror and comedy lie on a spectrum that consists of how threatening, plausible, and likable the characters, monster, and plot are. The Honors Program has added to my Oglethorpe experience in some astounding ways, and it is my hope that other students will participate in the future.

“The Honors Program is an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to dive into a wide variety of specialized topics that are not usually offered as full-length courses,” said Lindsey. “I would say anyone who has a passion for the process of learning would be an excellent candidate.”

Did any of these topics interest you? If so, look for them in the upcoming Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research. Thanks to all of the committee members who have helped these theses form!