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Twenty-five students studied German language and culture for three weeks at the ActiLingua Academy in Vienna, Austria -- the most cosmopolitan city of the German-speaking countries of Europe, gateway to eastern Europe and crossroads of many cultures. They spent one week of travel focusing on historical and cultural centers of Germany, experienced homestays with Viennese families, toured Vienna and surrounding region (Alps), and took in cultural events (opera, theatre, concerts and dramas). Besides German language, the academic content encompassed music, art and architecture, as well as European history. Learning activities included morning classes, afternoon excursions, lectures and cultural events. Seminar leaders were Anne Gross of the music department and Ervie Glick of language and literature.
Thirteen students -- five African-American and eight Caucasian -- had an emotionally draining and powerful experience as they traveled in the deep south, and later to other parts of the United States that are racially divided. Students experienced civil rights "hot spots" in Atlanta, Ga.; Selma, Montegomery and Birmingham, Ala.; Oxford, Pearl and Jackson, Miss., then traveled on to Los Angeles and Oklahoma City.
Along with dozens of planned lectures and visits to museums, churches and other sites, the group had profound experiences simply as an inter-racial group traveling in the deep south. Most disconcerting were experiences in Pearl, Miss., where white folks flaunted confederate flags and clearly gave messages that the group was not welcome. One street vendor, for example, brandished a black doll baby with a noose around its neck, which he banged on the sidewalk in front of the group.
By the last stop in Okalahoma City -- a stop made more intense by the pending execution of Timothy McVeigh -- the group was quite exhausted, according to leader Jennifer Kimble, director of multi-cultural programs at EMU. The trip proved once again that one need not travel across an ocean to experience cross-cultural dynamics.
This cross-cultural seminar introduced students to the history, culture, and world view of two middle-American and Canadian (Algonquian) woodland Indian tribes: the Ojibwe and Cree peoples of Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba. A highlight of the term was participating in the "One heart conference" at the Eagles Nest Ministry Center in in Redby, Minn. The gathering brought together First Nations and other people to share about a kingdom vision incorporating Native culture and Christian priciples. Red Lake Nation is one of a few sovereign, closed reservations in the United States on land that has never been owned by the United States. Leaders were Bruce and Jewel Martin, campus pastors.
Twenty-six students enjoyed a three-week journey in England, experiencing country life and the city of London. A highlight was homestays in country homes, where students wallowed in good food and fascinating conversation. Host families shared family histories back to "King Arthur times," according to leader Jay B. Landis, of EMU's language and literature department. Students also rang church bells and experienced traditional country farm life. The term emphasized becoming acquainted with English people, their customs, culture, and history, noting church life, literature, theater, architecture, art and music.