Students from Shawnee State University will be departing for a 17-day tour of Europe on June 25 thanks to the help of The Betty & Jim Hodgden travel fund.
The Hodgen Fund was designed to help students from Shawnee State see the world and engage with the culture provided by other countries.
The students are being led by Dr. Nicholas Meriwether and Dr. Mich Nyawalo, the two taught a Special Topics course together, and four students from the course chose to participate, meeting eligibility and financial requirements.
The first leg of the tour will begin in France, with Dr. Nyawalo leading the students.
“There’s often a misconception about France and Paris, typically people think of the Eiffel Tower and people wearing berets and holding baguettes,” explained Dr. Nyawalo. “But there’s much more to it than that, of course the students will be visiting these major landmarks, but they’re also going to learn about African culture as well.”
The students will be taken on a tour of Black Paris, and study African American Culture within France and the surrounding areas.
“Racism was not legalized in France like it was in the United States, it was a refuge for a lot of people. They found a sense of freedom there and actually enjoyed Paris,” explained Dr. Nyawalo. “It was an interesting setting, you had African Americans in Paris and people from the French colonies who were also in Paris, meeting these African Americans. It became a meeting place for people across the Black diaspora, they created wonderful literature, art and culture.”
After spending a week in France, the students will tour Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria with Professor Meriwether.
During part of their time in Germany, the students will be visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the Jewish museum.
“One of the major themes of the course was modernity. One aspect of that theme is the way that minority groups are treated in Europe,” explained Dr. Meriwether. “So we’ll be looking at what happened to the Jews within the context of modernity in Germany.”
The students will also be traveling to the Berlin Wall to see the effects of Communism on the country as well as investigating the rise of monarchy and it’s relationship to modernity.
“In Paris we’ll see the Palace of Versailles, but in Berlin we’ll see Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great,” said Dr. Meriwether.
Ultimately the chronology of modernity will fall into place throughout their travels, over 500 years of history beginning with the reformation.
“We’re really looking forward to the trip, I think the students are going to be utterly exhausted when it’s over, they’ll probably be sick of seeing churches and palaces,” joked Dr. Meriwether. “I know they’re going to have a great time.”
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