Looking Back on Trip to Pompeii, Rome Trip
Patrick Smith '08 - As our time in Rome came to an end, the group – which had lived and traveled in close quarters for a week – began to unravel. The Professors Day left for Greece, several students left to continue their travels in Europe (to places like Genoa, London, and the cities of Mitteleuropa), and a core of us set out for the United States. Arriving home in Crawfordsville, emptied of most students and beginning to become populated by the summer interns and workers, the trip seemed like a blur. Now, with a little distance and a lot of sleep, the journey through Italy begins to snap into some focus.
We felt like we knew some of these places, having read so much about them and their denizens all semester. Not only did we know their physical topography, but we knew the social environment and the academic issues surrounding them. However, being in the country – seeing the buildings, streets, and works of art that had populated our coursework for at least a semester – it changed. These were no longer abstract structures, they were real. The people were no longer nebulous entities, controlled and supposed by academics, but flesh and blood residents of streets and neighborhoods that we could see.
This trip allowed us to see these places, and it allowed us to experience life in the successors to ancient Roman cities. Journal articles, books, and websites provide a wealth of academic knowledge; however, there is no better supplement than being on site and walking streets that have seen thousands of years come and go. This trip, while it dealt with the ancient Roman city, also hammered home the Wabash experience – both in a broad sense and in various unique ways. We all realized how special it is to attend a college that will facilitate on-site learning for students. This trip also emphasized community. A diverse group of men lived, traveled, and relaxed in close quarters.The trip was a microcosm of the Wabash community, both in the concept and arrangements. Men learning and living together, not only on campus but also around the world.
In Photo: The group learns about the monumental Baths of Caracalla, a gift to the people of Rome from the infamous third century C.E. emperor.