Students on the annual “One America” trip are underway at some historic spots in the southeast U.S. Read about their trek and follow the blog from the road!
In the past, they’ve been to the Alamo, stood on the 50-yard line star at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, and seen the Stars and Stripes flying over Fort Sumter, where the first artillery of the American Civil War was fired. What experiences will the One America class report upon during their trip over January break? Tune in to their collective social media to find out. Spoiler alert: the intrepid travelers are going to be in Graceland on Elvis’s birthday. We can only imagine what that will be like.
Originally envisioned to be an opportunity for members of the College community to branch out, see their country, learn about other areas’ histories, and boldly go forward into cultures unknown, One America still holds true to its mission.
This January, Michelle Mirti will join Professor Bob Surbrug, who prepped fifteen students on a slice of life along the Mississippi River. Mirti is Bay Path’s assistant director of student activities (and tour director/ reservation booking specialist/ vacation planner… you name it!). She said that this trip will differ from years past in the locations to be visited. Such variety is the only constant behind the One America trip.
Over the course of this past semester in Surbrug’s History 272, "One America/ Mississippi River in American Culture" class, they read passages from Mark Twain and examined Spike Lee’s documentary, “When the Levees Broke” about the post-Hurricane Katrina destruction and aftermath in New Orleans, in addition to many lectures on the history and culture of their destinations. The One America troopers will be starting their trek on January 6 in St. Louis, Missouri, wending their way to the historic city of Natchez, considered the oldest city on the Mississippi river, be-bopping over to the blues capital of Memphis, Tennessee, before finally ending the tour in New Orleans.
It will be quite an adventure for these Bay Pathers. “Some of these students have never been on a plane before,” Mirti said. Charged with crafting an “authentic” perspective on these cities, she explained that the group will be avoiding the overt touristy locations one might normally find in such spots. While they simply cannot avoid the masterpiece of American iconography in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, for dinner that night, the group then heads to the historic section of town called “The Hill,” where they dine on toasted ravioli at the legendary restaurant, Mama’s. Apparently it was a favorite of baseball legends Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra, who grew up nearby.
To be in Graceland on The King’s birthday will certainly prove to be an interesting experience. And so too will their time in New Orleans, just days after the famous festivities for Mardi Gras. For Mirti, she’s looking forward most to being with the students as they go beyond their familiar. “The most change and growth comes from pushing yourself outside your comfort zones,” she said. “We’re going to try different foods, see new sights. Keep trying something new!”
As in the past, there are opportunities for community service at stops along the itinerary. This year, the students will be helping out at an animal shelter in Natchez, and also working for a day with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. Want to find out what is happening to the One America trekkers along the way during the trip? Stay tuned to Mirti’s blog, oneamericamississippi.blogspot.com, to live vicariously through this group as they roll along the banks of the mighty Mississippi.