Post-Trip Summary

Discussion of cultural differences, favorite places and adapting back to the states.

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Public Transportation

One of the defining aspects of the city of London is its public transportation system. The network of subterranean and above ground trains in addition to the double decker buses make it not only affordable but very easy for anyone to see all corners of the city. Before, departing for London I really did not realize the size of the city. Once arriving the immensity of this metropolis set in. At first the size was quite intimidating when trying to navigate routes to different destinations. Fortunately, thanks to its organization and convenience the London underground easily became apart of my everyday routine. There is really only one downfall because it is so efficient and reliable everyone else in London is also using it to get to and from. This made for some very warm and cramped train rides during the hours before and after the duration of the business day. Another form of transportation that the British fully uphold is cycling. As a cyclist myself I can fully appreciate this method of transportation. The amount of bikers in the city was overwhelming and compares to the large amount of cyclists in The Netherlands. The masses of businessmen, women and curriers filled the bike lanes of every street. On one of my final days in the city I too joined in on this phenomena and rented a Barclay’s bike. The renting stations are basically everywhere in the city and at a cost of two pounds for 24 hours who wouldn’t want to take one for a spin. Seeing the city streets from a bicycle was great it allowed for a more in touch feel with my surroundings.

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Last Moonraker Post

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Final Class Presentation Summary

Discussion of my final presentation about Palestinian and Israeli relations and the concept of state building.

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African Elections Lecture

On tuesday of this week the Nation Building course had the great opportunity of having a session of class taught by Prof. Cheeseman of Oxford University. Prof. Cheeseman specializes his research in African politics and has done work for the UK and US government in various African countries. This session was extremely informative on the makeup of African legislation and specifically African elections. The reading that we had read for class was titled “The Surprising Significance of African Elections” and it basically described when the power in a country is transferred from one party to another there can be some significant benefits that come with it. In African countries many leaders stay in power for a extended period of time even when elections are held. The amount of corruption involved and also the inability of opposition to organize and present a front to compete with the incumbent makes it difficult for power to change hands. In countries that display instability usually dictators or oppressive rulers terms end in either military cues or guerrilla group uprisings. In many cases the military groups that take power do much of the same, oppress the population and gain great wealth. In Africa it is a reoccurring theme once a party is in office usually after a short amount of time the best interests of the people are no longer a concern to the government. Another term for this type of selfishness and self-serving behavior is called extractive government practice. The clarification and also the understanding that I gained from Prof. Cheeseman was great and it made me much more interested in the topic then I was after the reading. Another aspect of this lecture that I really enjoyed was hearing Prof. Cheeseman’s experiences working in Africa. The way that he described the progress that is being made in countries like Kenya was assuring that there is a lot of economic and social potential in this region of the world, China certainly sees this. Overall it was a great addition to the class and I am sure he will continue to be invited back to this program.

-Heppert

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Irish Songs and Folklore

After spending a weekend in Ireland there are many things that I look back on that I really enjoyed. The Irish countryside that consisted of green fields as far as the eye can see, broken up with castles and large formations of limestone made a lasting memory in my head. Another aspect that really stuck out was the kindness and joy of the Irish people especially when sharing the stories and folklore of their ancestors. I have never been to a place that took more pride in passing along the tales of their forefathers and mythology of their people. On our group’s trip to the Cliffs of Moher the tour guide filled the ride with many Irish stories and songs to keep us entertained. The song Molly Malone was a group favorite and tells the tale of the most beautiful women in Ireland and the shy street musician who loved her. Unfortunately, Molly dies at a young age from a fever and because she was so beloved by all the surrounding pubs within a 15-mile radius stayed open for three days straight. The man who really loved her most was Timothy Pendleton who was so engulfed in despair from Molly’s death he left Dublin and immigrated to America where he became a successful trader. The story ends with how one night Timothy after having a few brandies plays a tune on the violin he had not touched since Molly’s death, seconds later she appears, kisses him and asks him to continue to paly so she may dance.  Timothy’s peers thought he was a little mad, because he never married and stayed in his home every night playing his violin by himself. Another similar Irish song is Galway girl, but what really interested me were the stories of the Irish fairies and ring forts. A ring fort is the home of an Irish fairy and it must not be disturbed. Farmers throughout the country have areas of plowed fields left untouched for fear that if they destroy these ring forts they will be plagued with bad luck. It is estimated that there are 45,000 ring forts currently on the island and that in the past there were over 90,000. Stories and traditions like these are passed down through the generations and are shared with visitors alike. This is something that I thought was so unique to this country and is something I really loved. 

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Molly Malone statue in Dublin.

 

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Ireland is Incredible

Video summary of a days worth of activities in Dublin.

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