SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Ask some of the Slippery Rock University students who spent part of their summer involved in an international trip to Wroxton College in England about their experience, then stand back as the learning, highlights and details cascade from their memories.
Nate Shaffer, a history major from Lancaster, Brenda Butterbaugh, a history major from New Brighton, and Andrew Thompson, a secondary education social studies major from Ford City, gathered this week in Spotts World Culture Building to share highlights of their summer international study trip.
The trip was part of the "Power and Authority" course taught by Lia Paradis, SRU associate professor of history and who has formerly lived in England.
"The best part for me," said Shaffer, "was being assigned to what had been the 'Lord of the Castle's' room. It was bigger than a classroom here at SRU and had a huge, hand-carved fireplace mantle. It had a great view of the front lawn of the castle."
"The castle is the largest house I have ever been in with some 40 to 50 rooms," he said.
On the academic side, Shaffer said the daytrip to Oxford was among the most interesting portion of the 15-day program. "This was a great chance to get an up-close look at British history."
Butterbaugh cited her visit to London's famed British Museum as a particular highlight. "To see all of the Roman and Egyptian artifacts, the Magna Carta, the Rosetta Stone, the stone head from Easter Island and to understand they are the cornerstones of British imperialism was enlightening."
"To see the amount of history they have in that museum was awesome. To realize how much history England, and the other countries of Europe have, compared to that of the Americas, is inspiring," she said.
"At the Oxford Library, it was interesting to see all of the old books, some of them actually chained to the desks," she said. "I was also impressed by our tour of Parliament. We had a lecture about the workings of parliament the night before, then to see it the next day was perfect."
"And the night in London was great," she said.
Butterbaugh credited Paradis for making the trip especially interesting. "She had lived in England and knew the country. No matter where we were, she had information to share. It made the trip very interesting, especially when we were on the day tours and both the tour guide and Dr. Paradis could offer information."
As part of their course work, which was designed to trace British power from the monarchs (1700s) through World War II, including the change to aristocratic rule and the current rule of the people, the 10 participating students were required to submit a paper addressing the changes.
"The chance to meet my longtime pen-pals was certainly among the highlights for me," said Thompson, who is into online gaming and had become friends with fellow gamers online in 2006. "I had made arrangements to meet them when we got to Oxford," he said.
"For me, the trip and course gave me a new perspective on history. A major revelation to me in traveling abroad was to see how others view history. I now see that people in other countries can, and do, have a different take on history. They view the World Wars differently in Europe than the history I learned growing up in the Americas. They have a totally different view of Benedict Arnold," he said.
According to U.S. history, Arnold was an American Revolutionary War general who defected to the British. The U.S., in large part, regards him as a traitor, with even his name used as slang to signify a 'turncoat,' while the British regard the same man as a national military hero.
The students also visited Shakespeare's hometown, including the opportunity to see a modern adaptation of his "Hamlet." They also saw a live theater production of "War Horse" in London.
The summer course was part of SRU's summer school and internship programs, organized by Pamela Frigot, director of SRU's Office of International Services.
The Wroxton visit was part of a new relationship worked out with Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, which now owns the estate and uses it as one of their teaching facilities during most of the year, but hosts outside groups, such as SRU's history program, during summer.
The facility, originally a monastery in the 13th-century, was added to in subsequent centuries. It was the family estate of Lord North, who had served as prime minister of Great Britain during the American Revolution.
All three SRU students quickly agreed they would retake the trip in a "heartbeat."
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