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.

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum’

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 IV: An Oglethorpe Journey.]

After seven hotels, five ferry ridKatherine Law 2es, four chartered buses, a few terrifying cab rides, a couple donkey rides up some cliffs, and a cable car to the highest point in Athens—I was back home in Atlanta.

After this trip to Greece, my biggest fear was losing momentum. It blows my mind how much we moved, literally from the mainland to the islands and back again. I knew I would be okay with coming back home because I know it’s a totally different feeling after these trips. You come back motivated and inspired, determined to not slow down. The longing I felt was for full days, long tiring days of seeing and doing everything I possible can. Time spent exploring the landscape, the people, and myself.

Greece was not an escape, a break from reality, or a vacation. I can say now, it’s an experience I can always look back on and carry with me. I made it to Greece this summer with Dr. Collins and Professor Loehle because of the incredible journey we took to Italy last summer. I feel alive and determined when I get back from these trips—an absolutely priceless souvenir, if you ask me.Katherine Law 3

Greece is the center, the cradle of western civilization, and my two feet got to walk all over it. The sea, the land, the people, the food, the ruins, the aromas, the aesthetics…we soaked it all up. I was discovering new parts of myself in this Grecian context, and based on my experience last summer after Italy, I could trust myself to bring these new self realizations back home with me.

I am so in love with my time spent in Italy and now Greece. As a May ’13 grad, I head into an unknown future with my time in Greece fresh on my sleeve. Being part of such a positive collection of professors, students and mentors was comforting, inspiring and irreplaceable. We were being led but also pushed—pushed to take steps out of our comfort zones and embrace the unfamiliar. Professor Loehle and Dr. Collins pushed us, led us, and questioned us for ouKatherine Law 1r own opinions. We need more people like them in the world. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel the world with those two and build foundations for our life-long friendships.

And with my undergrad education now at an end, I can confidently say my OU short term study abroad trips are now the backbone of my liberal arts education from Oglethorpe University. Everything I learned in the classroom and abroad have come full circle. And I feel I have truly earned the right to march into my future confident and humbled, determined and centered. I have so much to give and now, after Greece, even more to share.

A studio art major, Katherine Law graduated in May 2013.

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

 

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.