2018 Study Abroad Trip

Trip Highlights

By Abby Resendiz

 

Our trip started off in London where we had England’s traditional dish, fish and chips. This was not a crowd favorite; however, the Indian, Pakistani, and Turkish cuisine in London was fantastic. We also visited the Migration Museum were we engaged in stimulating conversations with our tour guide, Liberty. Additionally, we visited the London Central Mosque where we joined the Muslim community for Iftar. It was an incredible experience. The community was very welcoming and it was privilege to experience Ramadan with them.

 

After our first stay in London, we took a train to Paris and spent five amazing days there. We visited the Louvre for approximately three hours, but we shortly figured out that was not enough time to see a fraction of the works. Furthermore, we also went on a bike tour of Paris where we were able to see its most emblematic structures, like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. As a group, we met with French politician Pacome Rupin and discussed the refugee crisis in France, as well as European identity. One night in Paris we went out for a group dinner at Zerdar Café where we were delighted by rabbit legs, duck, bone marrow, and of course snails.

 

Our experience in Paris was exceptional; thus, we had high expectations for Berlin. It did not disappoint. Our excursions in Berlin were very thought-provoking. We met with the Turkish community for Iftar on the second day in Berlin. This experience left a big impact on us since we were able to hear direct narratives from Turkish refugees on their experiences leaving their country. Additionally, we visited the Tempelhof Refugee Camp where we saw the facilities and services provided to refugees. Furthermore, we were able to see children from all nationalists playing together at the refugee camp. Our visit to Ravensbrük Concentration Camp was an eye opening experience since everything takes on a larger scale when you are able to see it with your own eyes. Most of us were left with misty eyes.

 

 

The students enjoyed the World Cup watch party at Brandenburg Gate. Mexico beat Germany and one of our students, Abby Resendiz, was on the front page of the local paper as part of the Mexico cheering section.

 

 

On our last day in Berlin there was an important World Cup game happening – Germany vs. Mexico. There was a massive public view of the game with live shows featuring local musicians and dance groups. The atmosphere was amazing and fans from each team were dancing together to German music. It was great end to our time in Berlin.

 

On our second visit to London we went to the Playhouse Theater to watch the Jungle. The play was very moving; it told the story of a refugee camp in the outskirts of France. Additionally, the narrator during the play had previously been a refugee at the camp in France. On our last night in London we had a lovely dinner at a Pakistani restaurant. Our dinner table was overflowing with naan. We followed our dinner with gelato to properly conclude our trip and have our last conversations and laughs.

 

 

 Our last night in Europe was capped off with gelato!

 

 

 

Day 13

Visiting Westminster

Madison Rodgers

 

Today was our last full day in Europe! It began at 8:30 am with a train to Westminster. From there we had the fantastic opportunity to tour Parliament and meet with a member of the Scotland Nationalist Party, Alison Thewliss, as well as the Minister of Immigration, Caroline Nokes.

 

The class with MP Thewliss

 

As we visited Westminster, a vision of history and beauty was laid out before our eyes. Although we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside, many of us will never forget the tremendous perpendicular gothic architecture, as well as the art that portrayed many historical figures and events. Following our tour of Westminster, we sat down with a member of the Scotland Nationalist Party, Alison Thewliss. With her, we discussed Brexit, the push for the independence of Scotland, and refugees, among other pressing issues of identity and migration. Ms. Thewliss showed us great kindness as she was open and willing to take time out of her incredibly busy schedule to meet with us and answer the questions of the class. After our meeting with her and lunch, we sat in the gallery and listened in on a session of parliament as they discussed healthcare, a fire in Glasgow, and other vital issues. Our opportunity to sit in was brief as at 1 PM we had a meeting with the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes. In Westminster Hall, we discussed her stance on migration, the plan for the  Irish border, as well as Brexit.

 

The class with MP and Minister of Immigration Nokes

Following our meetings with these two women, many of the students felt ecstatic about what we had talked about as it brought light to the issues of immigration that we see fought on the news regularly in the US. For me, it was incredibly empowering to talk about these issues with two powerful women in parliament. With immigration being a hot topic in all of our brains after these meetings, we walked to nearby Parliament Square and discussed possible policy prescriptions for the very layered and challenging subject of migration. Most of the students put forth ideas that could help immigrants assimilate better, such as education, early socialization, and country-wide barbecues. The possibility of open-borders was also discussed as well as how they could be achieved and what the repercussions might be. With that, we were free to explore London on our last day in Europe!

 

Our last class meeting in the shadow of Big Ben and Parliament (both undergoing renovations) in the park at Parliament Square

Day 12

Berlin to London and the Jungle Play

Colin Davies

 

Our first day in London started off bright and early around midnight when we landed at Gatwick airport. We had an hour delay in our flight from Berlin to London but that was okay because it just meant more time to enjoy some German cuisine for our last time on this trip. We finally landed in London early in the morning and set off to our hotel. After getting to our hotel and getting some sleep it was time to enjoy London as the last stop on our trip.

 

On the streets of London

 

Today, we had our class meeting in a little gated area by the British Museum and talked about the “Windrush” generation. It was really interesting to see the information about that generation and see how the current political leaders in the U.K. are dealing with the recent scandal regarding those from the Windrush generation that have been deported. After our meeting, we got to explore the British Museum and see all the different types of art works and exhibits the museum had to offer. My favorite was the Egyptian exhibit about the mummies and the whole ideals that the Egyptian culture had around the practice of mummification.

 

Outside of the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End

 

After the museum we came back to the hotel to get ready for a play called The Jungle. Everyone got dressed up and wore the best outfits they had for the play. We knew that the play was going to be about refugees, but once we got to the theater, saw the incredible interactive stage, and experienced the first scene, we were all blown away by the storyline and the performance of the actors. When the play was over everyone came out of the theater stunned by the performance and by the message it communicated to us about refugees. It tackled issues of identity, the whole process of declaring asylum in a European Union country under the Dublin convention, and the tragic life circumstances of many refugees. The play was an experience that I am happy that I got to see and it showed me how the topics we are talking about in class are really happening.

 

 

Day 11

Last Day in Berlin

Leon Kockaya

 

Our last day in Berlin was busy as the schedule kept tightening. We can’t seem to find a moment to rest! Between formal and informal experiences, we are enjoying all the Berlin has to offer and learning from it, too. Today we watched Germany play Mexico in the World Cup amongst hundreds of cheering fans at an event held at the beautiful Brandenburg Gate. We got a close look at the fluidity of identity and the importance of nationalism. The effect that soccer has on identity is terrific—we had not seen anything so visceral and emotional from locals on this entire trip.

 

Enjoying the World Cup match between Mexico and Germany at the Brandenburg Gate

 

 

Before the soccer match, we sat under trees not far from the German seat of power: the Reichstag. This area is where we held our last class in Berlin. We talked about the circumstances of refugees fleeing their homes and what it takes to be admitted into refugee status in the countries that we have visited. Holding class in these monumental places has helped us become familiar with the places we have visited. Often times we the students have returned to these places to hang out with locals and learn about the culture and what it means to be European directly from Europeans.

 

 

Dinner with Dr. Jade Keller of The Freedom Story and her family

 

 

We also had dinner with Dr. Jade Keller and her wonderful family. Jade works with an organization called The Freedom Story, which fights sex trafficking. She was kind enough to talk about her work before allowing us to ask questions about possible relationships between immigration and a rise in trafficking. She also told us about ways that we individually can help. We also received personal insights into their experiences immigrating to Germany with a family of three.

 

 

 

 

Day 10

Berlin Adventures

Elizabeth Ray

 

We started our early day off with being late. Sometimes when traveling abroad, it can take longer than expected to get out the door and navigate public transportation. When we arrived at the Omar Mosque in Berlin, we removed our shoes and were ushered into the prayer room. As we waited for our tour guide, we took in the beauty and intricate design of the mosque. Despite its comparatively smaller size, I think that it was the most beautiful mosque we have visited during our trip. Our guide at the Omar Mosque began by teaching us about the architecture of the building. He explained that the name of the Mosque translated to “projects” mosque. He then went on to tell us about the five pillars of Islam, which make up what is required to become a Muslim and how you should act. He emphasized that Muslims are to be kind and try to be a good example of Islam.

 

The class at the Omar Mosque in Berlin

 

After the tour of the Mosque, most of the class headed to a vintage market. It was so neat to see the history of the city of Berlin on display in market stalls and we were able to get some souvenirs and presents for our families and to remember our time in Berlin. After the market, the class caught a train to Hohenschonhausen Memorial. There we learned about the vicious techniques of the Stazi and horrible living conditions of the prisoners. We were given a tour of the prison and spent an extended period in one of the cells. The door was open, and there was a slight flow of air. However, the cell still got hot and sticky exceptionally quickly. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the prisoners when the door was closed and the cell unclean. It was an eye-opening experience about the ways that human beings find to create divisions and be cruel to one another.

 

Looking into a prison cell at the former Stazi prison

 

Day 9

Visit to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Memorial

Allie Woodville

 

At 8:30 am the entire class met in the lobby of our hotel to catch a train. We raced up the stairs to choose the best seats for an hour-long train ride. For an hour the train was filled with laughter. We shouted jokes across the train to our classmates, played music, and thought little about what would change when the train stopped. Even as we walked from the train station to Ravensbruck concentration camp, at first our attitudes remained as they did on the train. But as we got closer to the camp, our posture changed. We walked past barbed wire fencing and stopped shouting jokes. Then we passed a tank and turned off our music. When we approached the Ravensbruck sign, we knew that things had changed since the train.

 

The “Burdened Woman” statue memorializes the prisoners of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp

 

Our tour guide led us to buildings which we learned were used to house the guards of Ravensbruk, we were then showed photos of a few of the women who were imprisoned. The photos looked like mugshots and some of the women had bruises and cuts on their faces; our eyes began to tear up. We entered through the official gate of the camp and were told about the atrocities committed within the walls. The prisoners were forced to do hard labor and were given little food, newborn babies were starved of milk and unlikely to survive, and death was everywhere. We were led to a museum and then a memorial park; we saw the crematorium and filled with tears once more. The tour guides’ stories of success gave our class some happiness back. Stories of reunited families, survivors coming back to Ravensbruk to share their experiences, and a new start for the buildings that housed the guards. The houses that were once filled with hate now belong to students who wish to learn about what happened at Ravensbruk.

 

The city is right across the river from the concentration camp, providing a stark reminder of the people who knew about the atrocities and said nothing.

 

 

Day 8

Refugees in Germany

Paige Topping

 

Today we visited the Berlin Templehof Airport- an old Nazi airport that had been converted into an emergency refugee camp after the refugee crisis in 2015. The refugees that occupied this camp originated from countries all over the world, ranging from Syria and Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq, and Moldova. Reports of the experiences of refugees around the world have been and continue to be profoundly compelling–however, seeing their experiences and living conditions face-to-face truly triggers unparalleled human emotions and responses. We saw children playing on the playground, practicing sports, and learning about music. We saw adults patiently waiting to be processed and evidence of families settling into the temporary housing all around us.

 

Children enjoying the beautiful day out on the playground at the Templehof Refugee Camp in Berlin

 

During this visit to this refugee camp, run by the non-profit organization Tamaja, I learned two major things. First, refugees who arrive at Templehof can apply for four different kinds of protection from the German government. They can apply for asylum protection, subsidiary protection, refugee protection, and protection from persecution if they can provide evidence that they are being persecuted in their homeland. Out of all of these options, subsidiary protections and refugee protections are the most common and they allow refugees to stay protected in Germany. The second thing I learned, however, is that while most refugees are thankful to Germany for taking them in, they are all, for the most part, anxiously awaiting for their homelands to become safe enough to return to. While Germany is extremely accepting of refugees and provides housing, food, recreational sports areas, playgrounds, and German classes for children and adults alike in areas such as Templehof, it does not take away from the very grim reality that most of the refugees living at Templehof had to leave their professions, homes and families behind in order to pursue a life in Germany safe from persecution.

 

At the indoor sports facility at the refugee camp, called Tentaja

 

 

Day 7

 

Berliner Unterwelten and Iftar with Turkish Community

 

Abby Resendiz

 

It is our second day in Berlin! The day started off with us heading to the Berliner Unterwelten Tour company. We did the “Under the Berlin Wall” tour, which focused on the methods used by men and women to escape the communist dictatorship in East Germany and flee to West Germany. We were able to walk in the underground metro tunnels and see models of the underground escape ways. Our tour guide, Anja Fliess, said men and women utilized metro tunnels, sewer canals, and dug their own tunnels in order to reach a save haven in West Germany. Additionally, these underground passage ways allowed them to reunite with their loved ones, for whom they had risked their lives to reunite with.

 

During the underground tour of the Berlin Wall, the class was able to view one of the tunnels dug under the Wall to help those escaping from East Berlin.

 

Later in the afternoon, we had class on the West side of the Berlin Wall. We had previously talked about the physical barrier the wall imposed on Berlin in our morning tour. So, our discussion moved away from the physical barrier to the social barrier the wall imposed on Berlin and, furthermore, Germany. We tied the discussion to an article we read, “Germany Reunified 26 Years Ago, But Some Divisions Are Still Strong,” by Rick Noack, which focused on the social difference between West and East Germany. In our discussion we agreed with Noack’s suggestions that the Wall had long-term cultural consequences. Additionally, we discussed the article, “Europe’s Muslims Are More Integrated Than You Think” by Tyler Cowen, that suggested the first sign of integration is learning the language. We concluded that language is a stepping stone towards integration into a society, but ultimately social experiences in a new country are the path towards assimilation.

 

We concluded our day by attending Iftar at a local Turkish Community Center. We engaged in conversation with recent Turkish refugees residing in camps in the Berlin suburbs. I personally talked to a young couple with two children and another on the way, who live in a nearby refugee camp. They came to Berlin eight months ago, fleeing the harsh situation in Turkey. During our conversation the husband stated he could not return to Turkey; thus, they intended to make Berlin their home. Both husband and wife expressed a strong desire to assimilate into German culture by learning the language. They were both professionals in Turkey—the husband was a university professor and the wife a medical physician. Thus, they wanted to get back on their feet and make a contribution to the country that had received them.

 

The class had dinner with a group of Turkish refugees, many of whom fled political persecution. The refugees are not pictured here because many of them fear for their families and friends still in Turkey.

 

 

Our conversations extended over a delicious dinner of Turkish food and tea the community graciously provided. They continued to share the stories about the difficulties of being a refugee. The narratives centered around being separated from their families and loved ones in Turkey.  Many refugees were separated from their wives and children back home. They shared pictures and videos of their families back home. We couldn’t help but be reminded of those we learned about earlier in the day, who crossed the Berlin Wall to be reunited with their loved ones. Even though the Turkish refugees we spoke with had been separated from their family, home, and country, they still had hope. They repeatedly stated they were positive about the future and hoped to regain their normal professional lives.

 

 

Day 6

Welcome to Berlin!

Colin Davies

 

Au revoir Paris! Today was our last morning in Paris. I have enjoyed the city so much and it makes me sad that I have to leave such a great place. We started our journey leaving Paris in a little bit of a panic. Dr. Williams was explaining to us that the metro line that we had to take to the airport was experiencing difficulties because of the workers going on strike. We made a mad dash to the metro and it is quite an experience trying to hustle a large group of people at a fast pace making sure that we are on time for our flight. When we finally made it to the airport we could take a breath of relief knowing that we were going to make it on time for our flight from Paris to Berlin.

In front of the Reichstag, the heart of Germany’s government in Berlin

 

We landed in Berlin and I can finally say Hallo nach Berlin! Once we had all of the bags collected from the airport we took off to our hotel. On the way to our hotel, I was looking at the subway system and it’s going to take me a few tries to understand how it works, but I am always up for a challenge! Once we made it to our hotel and got settled, it was off to start our walking tour of Berlin. We started by looking at the street and seeing these brick lines and that’s when we found out those lines represented where the Berlin Wall used to be. Then we saw the white crosses that represented those who died while trying to climb over the wall and escape to freedom. We then walked to the Reichstag, and that is when we learned that the National Socialist Party operated out of it during World War II. We then came across the Brandenburg Gate which is famous as a symbol of the East/West division during the Cold War. NBC was at that spot when they were filming the Berlin Wall coming down and David Hasselhoff was singing his hit song “Freedom.”

 

Working hard to get a good class selfie in front of the Oberpfarr and cathedral church of Berlin

 

We ended our night with dinner at a traditional German restaurant. I have had little experience with German cuisine and I have always wanted to try it. When I looked at the menu the first thing I saw was sausages and sauerkraut and I told myself that I have to try it. It was one of the most delicious meals that I have ever tasted and I cannot wait to try more German food and experience what Berlin has to offer.

 

 

Day 5 

Food and Politics in France

Jorge Gonzalez 

  

Bonjour, un expresso s’il vous plaît ! My 5th day in Paris, France has officially started right at noon. As I sit in a cafe drinking my espresso preparing for the day ahead I feel extremely pleased with this past week traveling with my fellow classmates and the memories created, but even more excited for what is to come. Being a Mexican-American, I grew up in the United States but would spend whole summers in Mexico experiencing the culture. This is what sparked my fascination with learning about different cultures. There is nothing more fascinating to me than waking up in a new city ready to explore every street as its buildings and sights tell a story. Every bridge that connects different parts of the city and every conversation with a stranger shares thing about our cultures.

 

Meeting with elected representative, M. Pacôme Rupin of the French National Assembly

 

Espresso time is now over. Dr. Williams and Dr. Glazier lead us to the metro and we travel to meet Mr. Pacôme Rupin a member of French National Assembly with the party La République En Marche, the party of the current French president Emmanuel Macron. Mr. Rupin sits at one end of the table while two of his political aids sit at the other end taking notes. We start the meeting with Mr. Rupin describing to us his positions and duties which essentially are similar to a congressperson in the United States. Mr. Rupin is part of the Immigration Committee, so he is able to speak directly to the issues this summer course is seeking to help us understand: immigration, identity, and migration.

 

Discussing French immigration policy with M. Pacôme Rupin

Part of my preparation this morning was to read several assigned articles, one of them was published by The New Yorker titled “The Other France: Are the suburbs of Paris incubators of terrorism? This article explored the challenges that alienated and impoverished immigrant communities outside of Paris experience. In our conversation with M. Rupin, I asked what his party’s solution is to this problem. His answer was simple—create employment and make the area more popular. Thinking back over my studies and experiences of the past few days, my first thought was that food would be a great way to accomplish this goal. There is no denying that the issues France is dealing with on immigration and these alienated communities are very complex problems, but what brings individuals closer than food? Perhaps France could create more tourist attractions and city fairs in these areas, which could create employment and bring people together? 

 

 Enjoying some famous French cuisine at our class dinner together

 

It is safe to say that this travel course has been nothing short of spectacular. Thinking through these important issues has been really rewarding. And, as the days go by and we explore different parts of the city, I am convinced that Paris is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

 

 

Day 4

European Identity in the Heart of Paris

Leon Kockaya

 

Our bellies full of lamb and couscous, on red bikes with sticky handlebars, we trekked the streets of Paris. With clouds to our back and sun to our chest, we stalled traffic with our newly-found friends from North Carolina. The bike tour of Paris we took today had many stops. The golden dome of Tombeau de Napoléon Ier left us with awe, the Eiffel tower stupefied with its sheer scale, the obélisque de Louxor, the epicenter of the French Revolution, was incredible. Standing in such a place for anybody interested in history is sobering. Those who have been reading our blogs know that we are here to understand identity: what does it mean to be French? What does it mean to be European?

 

In front of the Eiffel Tower

We spoke with a recent Russian immigrant to Europe, Sasha Leljak, and his wife Gerhild, who shared with us their perspectives and experiences. We learned about the bureaucratic challenges of immigration and especially about the importance of language. Immigrant communities tend to cluster together, but Sasha’s advice to new immigrants was to spend less time with your fellow immigrants and more time learning the language and culture of your new home.

 

Meeting with Sasha and Gerhild Leljak at the Jardin du Lexembourg

 

Another place of significance was our visit to the Grand Mosque of Paris. Paris is a beautiful city, it has aged well over the centuries and embodied a past that one can feel in every street corner. The Grand Mosque was no exception. The carved teak that lined the roofs was a sight to behold. The lapis lazuli and the colored stone lining the walls reminded one of the evil eyes. The North African style of architecture was alive and thriving. Like Paris, the Mosque told a story, in such detail that if one takes long enough to look, one may understand it. The gardens and the waterworks onsite were intimately intermingled. Being there gave you a glimpse of being Muslim in Paris. Tucked in the heart of the city the Grand Mosque showed at least this student a bit of what it means to be North African/Muslim in Paris, France. Specifically, that there is room for Muslim and French culture to thrive together.

 

Visiting the Grand Mosque of Paris

Day 3

The Louvre and Notre Dame

Lanie Benefiel

The Louvre is the second largest museum in the world and in the three hours we were there I was only able to take in a fraction of what is has to offer. From the Greek antiquities to the Mona Lisa, you can’t help but to be in awe of the history that you are standing in front of. Even the ceilings are covered in pieces of art, so if you ever go to the Louvre don’t forget to look up!

 

The Class at the Base of the Louvre’s Famous Period

 

While there I found a tunnel that lead to a stone column. If you examined the column you could see a window that inside showed that this column was actually a secret tunnel. It was this moment that I realized that not only does the Louvre hold thousands of pieces of history but it itself is history. After the much too short visit to the Louvre, we had a quick break for lunch and ice cream. In this ever-evolving, multi-cultural city, we found what was possibly the best falafel we have ever eaten!

Enjoying some amazing falafel

 

Next, we headed to the Notre Dame Cathedral. As you walk up to the cathedral it just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. I am a rather short person but never in my life have I felt quite so small. To take a picture of it you have to get at least thirty feet back to capture the whole of it. Finally, as you look closer at the Notre Dame Cathedral, it begins to tell a story of the history of Paris, my favorite part being the reattached heads of the saint statues that had been removed during the revolution having been mistaken for statues of monarchs. Now I truly understand why Paris is called the City of Love because you can’t help but fall in love with its history and beauty.

 

 

Day 2

The Migration Museum and London Central Mosque

Julie O’Hara

 

Today started with a walk to Altab Ali Park. This park was renamed in memory of Altab Ali, a young Bangladeshi man who was murdered on May 4th, 1978, in this location. His death was one of many racially-charged acts of violence that were common in the East End at this time.

While we were at the park we spent time discussing a controversial political speech by Enoch Powell called “Rivers of Blood,” as well as the historic outlook on how different governing systems in colonies might have affected the way migrants have been able to integrate with their sovereign state over time. One of the students, Paige Topping, lead this discussion by telling us about an article she read on how different generations of migrants have different feelings toward their host countries. The article, “Evaluating Migrant Integration: Political Attitudes Across Generations in Europe,” by Rahsaan Maxwell, suggests that first generation migrants hold very satisfied outlooks on their host countries governing abilities, whereas subsequent generations held about the same level of governmental satisfaction as those who are from that country.

 

 

Meeting Liberty Melly at the Migration Museum

 

Following this discussion, we went to the Migration Museum at The Workshop. It was particularly telling to all of us that this museum has yet to be governmentally funded, unlike its hundreds of academic rivals who have less-salient topics. Liberty Melly, who is in charge of community outreach, among other things for the museum, was there to tell us about the museum and be a leading part in our discussion on the exhibits. The museum itself was a thought-provoking experience that was able to take us through a history of migration in the British Empire while showing us what it is like to live as a migrant in today’s Britain. One part many of us found interesting was a wall where everyone is able to either leave a question and/or answer someone else’s question about migration. It was deeply heartening to see strangers having an open and productive dialogue about their experiences, concerns, and hopes for the future on this topic.

 

Meeting Sheikh Khalifah, Imam of the Central Mosque of London

After spending time at the Migration Museum, we were fortunate enough to meet with the Imam who is the Head of Religious Affairs, Sh. Khalifah Ezzat, at the London Central Mosque. Those who follow Islam are currently observing Ramadan, part of which involves fasting. This fast is broken at the end of each day with a prayer and a meal called Iftar, which translates to “break fast.” This was many of our first times being able to experience any aspect of the Islamic faith in person, and it was kind of everyone at the mosque to welcome us, talk to us about what it means to be Muslim, and let us take part in this celebration.

 

Iftar Dinner with worshipers at the Central Mosque of London

 

 

Europe Blog Post, Day 1

Off to Europe!

Dr. Rebecca A. Glazier

By the time this post makes its Internet debut, I will be amassing with 11 fantastic students and my colleague Dr. Christopher Williams at the Little Rock National Airport for our journey to Europe. The class Dr. Williams and I are teaching is about “Migration, Identity, and a Changing Europe.” With these 11 great students in tow, we will head to London, Paris, and Berlin to talk about and experience how migration is changing what it means to be European.

In London we will meet with members of Parliament and discuss Brexit, share a Ramadan meal at the Central Mosque of London, and attend a play about the crisis in the refugee camp in Calais. In Paris we will take an immigration walking tour; talk about the connection between burqas, culture, and religious freedom; and speak with recent immigrants as we meet in sidewalk cafes. In Berlin we will spend a day volunteering at a refugee camp, visit the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, and see the wall that once stood as a guard against the citizens of East Germany migrating west.

All along the way, the students will be taking turns reflecting on their experiences and sharing their thoughts on this blog. We will travel June 4-20, 2018 and each day will bring a new experience and a new post from a student’s perspective. Many of the students are working on senior projects and undergraduate research that will build on what they learn and experience through this study abroad course.

Dr. Williams and I are honored to be part of bringing this incredible learning opportunity to the students of UA Little Rock and we are grateful for the support of the Middle Eastern Studies Program, which makes this course possible. Many thanks also to our Little Rock friends with international connections! Imam Mahmoud Husseini connected us with the mosque in London and Dr. Mehmet Ulupinar connected us with the Turkish immigrant community in Berlin. Thank you for making our trip that much richer. All in all, it will be a travel and learning experience we will never forget!