REL 362: Violence/Nonviolence: Global Religious Perspectives Class Field Trip

In the spring semester 2017 Professor Sijapati and her REL 362: "Violence/Nonviolence: Global Religious Perspectives" class traveled to a Bosnian mosque at the B & H Islamic Center in Mechanicsburg, PA. Students met with the Imam and community leaders. Through conversation students learned about the Bosnian Muslim community in central Pennsylvania and about Bosnian Muslim interfaith work in the area. They also learned about how the Bosnian Muslim community in this region has forged strong community ties in the aftermath of war and genocide. The mosque was built almost entirely by the Bosnian community themselves. Muslims from as far as Lancaster, PA to Chambersburg, PA attend prayers and community events there.

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REL 204: History, Literature, and Religion of the Hebrew Scriptures Class Field Trip

During the Spring semester of 2016 Prof. Myers and his REL 204: “History, Literature, and Religion of the Hebrew Scriptures” class traveled to the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, DE to view the exhibit entitled, “Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible.” This exhibit contained 70 pages of The St. John’s Bible, which is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery in 500 years. The text of the New Revised Standard Version translation of the entire Bible was hand-copied on sheets of vellum (calfskin) and was illuminated with original artwork. Students had a chance to see and hear about this unique Bible, which was produced by world-renowned calligraphers and artists over a period of more than a decade. The Bible will soon be returned to Minnesota, where it will be bound into seven over-sized volumes.

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Prof. Charles (Buz) Myers’ First Year Seminar’s Annual Trip to Washington DC

Each fall Professor Charles (Buz) Myers takes his First Year Seminar entitled, “Death and the Meaning of Life” to Washington, D.C., for a full-day of sight-seeing. The climax of the trip is a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for a 2 ½ hour self-guided tour. No pictures are allowed to be taken in the USHMM, so pictures from that site do not appear here. Before entering the Holocaust Museum, the class visits the Lincoln Memorial, where we stand under the words of the Gettysburg Address and stand on the steps where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in August of 1963. The next stop is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which was dedicated in 1982. Students look up in large paper directories the names of Gettysburg College alums who were killed in Vietnam. Then, they find those names on the Wall and make rubbings of the names. We also visit the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which celebrates the role women played in the conflict. This memorial was dedicated in 1993. The class then travels to the newly-dedicated Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, which was dedicated in the fall of 2011. After a picnic lunch we enter the Holocaust Museum. After the Holocaust Museum exhausted students climb back into the minibus for the ride back to campus. This day-long field-trip is a tremendous learning experience but it is also emotionally-draining, which is obvious from the pictures taken on the return trip.

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Pilgrimage To Visit The Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit In Philadelphia, PA

In some semesters special field-trips take advantage of exhibits that are showing in nearby cities. In the fall of 2012 an excellent exhibit of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls was on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Prof. Charles (Buz) Myers made two trips to the Institute to take interested members of his REL 205: “History, Literature, and Religion of the New Testament” to see this remarkable display of rare artifacts and material culture from ancient Israel. This kind of field-trip enhances a student’s understanding of the biblical world before, during, and after New Testament times. After each visit, both groups of students elected to experience a little bit of present-day Philadelphia culture by feasting on Philly cheese-steak sandwiches.

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From ancient cave grottoes to urban temples, five students spent nearly a month visiting Buddhist sites in southwest China with religion Prof. Deborah Sommer.

Gettysburg students visiting Leshan giant BuddhaThe research trip’s focus was “Buddhism in the Modern World: The Quest for Social and Religious Identity in Southwest China.”

A portion of the group members' preliminary report follows:

Prof. Deborah Sommer
With the kind help of our friends and colleagues in China, we visited many different kinds of Buddhist sites: urban temples in downtown Chongqing, ancient Buddhist cave grottoes in Dazu, the giant Buddha at Leshan near Chengdu, the Tibetan temples and markets of Chengdu, the peak of Mount Omei in Sichuan province, and many more besides. We met dozens of Chinese students and visited people from all walks of life. And after spending several days in remote Southern Sichuan province visiting the people of the Yi culture, we were able to contrast their nonbuddhist shamanic traditions with the Buddhist traditions of the Chinese Han people. Entering and leaving China we passed through Beijing, where we also had the opportunity to contrast the cultural and economic conditions of Buddhist sites in Southwest China with those of the metropolitan capital. We found that modern-day Buddhism is largely used to support a thriving tourist industry. The motivations of this tourist laity, if it can be called that, are a combination of commercial, recreational, and spiritual factors.