The Saint Mary’s student body will see some new faces in leadership positions next week with student government elections Feb. 24. Twelve girls are seeking election in various campus organizations including Resident Hall Association (RHA), Student Activities Board (SAB), Student Diversity Board (SDB) and Student Government Association (SGA). Junior Kat Nelson is running for the position of RHA president with Sarah Copi as her vice president. According to Nelson, their platform is “there’s no place like home.” Nelson and Copi plan to increase awareness of RHA on campus if they are elected. They also hope to implement hall improvements, interact with other clubs and organizations and establish a forum for student feedback. “We hope to continue making Saint Mary’s feel like home to all of its students,” Nelson said. Allie Courtney, the current SAB president is seeking reelection with vice president Caitlyn Wonski. As president this past year, Courtney has increased the number of activities hosted by SAB from a few major events every semester to one every month. Courtney hopes to continue with these events, and plans to create new campus events. “We were really excited with the outcome of our Belles Bash and hope to expand on that. We also had a great success with Bellakazam, and hope to continue that tradition,” Courtney said. “We hope to have the biggest Tostal SMC has ever seen, and keep getting input from the student body.” Emma Brink and Liz Busam are running for student body president and vice president, respectively. As part of their campaign, Brink said she wants to focus on the students’ wants and needs. As part of her goals, she hopes to pursue the issue of placing printers in each dorm, turning the Student Center lounge into a student-friendly area with booths and tables for studying and reclaiming the seating lost in the Cyber Café and C-Store merger. In addition, she plans to continue the SGA’s renovation of the Le Mans Hall basement. Brink says she and Busam will place a greater emphasis on helping clubs by promoting sponsorships and raising awareness of their events on campus. “Liz and I love Saint Mary’s and we are committed to making it the best possible environment for students,” Brink said. “We care about each individual student and we want to make their time here worthwhile by inspiring them to get involved. We want each student to be an active presence on campus.” Brink and Busam are running against two other tickets — Casie Palmer and Maureen Parsons, as well as Nicole Gans and Jacqualyn Zupancic. Palmer and Parsons said they hope to serve the needs of students. “We hope to continue to work with various offices on campus to accommodate these needs. Specifically, we hope to work with the dining hall staff, as well as IT to address issues such as hours of operation and technology in the dorms,” Palmer said. “We also hope to create a more welcoming, homey environment here on campus through various events and school-wide programming.” Gans and Zupancic said they hope to re-establish Saint Mary’s pride. If elected, they plan to initiate Saint Mary’s pep rallies for sporting events, and they hope to strengthen the bonds between faculty, staff and students. They also hope to increase the presence of Saint Mary’s in the community. “This semester has been a great start to get involved with alumnae around the area and supporting them,” Gans said. “We would like to have [the] opportunity to bring the community to campus, especially local school programs. “We would like to start an after-school program that is on Saint Mary’s campus, where the girls get to mentor [young area] students. Hopefully having it on campus will be a way to get more girls involved, as well as a chance to share Saint Mary’s with the young community of South Bend.” Lastly, Kelly Reidenbach and Guadalupe Quintana are seeking presidency and vice presidency of SDB. Reidenbach is the current vice president of SDB and Quintana is the treasurer. Both hope to continue promoting the fundamental goals of SDB. More specifically, Reidenbach hopes to spread truth about diversity. “My personal hopes are to spread awareness to the Saint Mary’s community that diversity is not a synonym for minority,” she said. “It is my personal belief that each and every one of us is diverse. We all come from various backgrounds, and we all have hopes and dreams. “I hope to begin changing the image that many students and faculty have of the student diversity board which is that this board is open to an supports every single individual, not just members of groups considered minority or under represented.” Campaigning to the student body will begin next Sunday, Feb. 20, and will run until the evening of Feb. 23. Elections will be held Feb. 24.
President Barack Obama’s modification to the contraception mandate, which shifted responsibility for funding contraceptives from religiously affiliated institutions to insurance companies, does not apply to Notre Dame because the University is self-insured. Law professor Carter Snead said institutions that self-insure effectively function as the insurance company under the new policy. As a result, he said Notre Dame will be required to provide and pay for contraceptives in its insurance plan. “I’m not persuaded that this shift is meaningful for us,” Snead said. University Spokesman Dennis Brown said Notre Dame is self-insured, but works with Meritain, a third party administrator that processes the University’s claims and provides administrative services. Calls and emails to representatives from Meritain over the weekend were not returned. University President Fr. John Jenkins, who has spoken out against the contraception mandate, called Friday’s announcement a “welcome step.” “The widespread concerns expressed by Catholics and people from other faiths have led today to a welcome step toward recognizing the freedom of religious institutions to abide by the principles that define their respective missions,” he said in a statement Friday. “We applaud the willingness of the administration to work with religious organizations to find a solution acceptable to all parties.” However, Jenkins said the University still plans to work with the government on unresolved issues regarding the contraception debate. “We look forward to joining the U.S. bishops and leaders from other religious institutions to work with the administration to resolve them,” Jenkins said. Many are calling Obama’s new plan a “compromise” because it addresses concerns about religiously affiliated organizations paying for a product they do not believe in, while still giving women access to free contraceptive services. Professor of Political Science Michael Desch called Obama’s plan a “bookkeeping” change. “It was clearly a compromise position in the sense that the contraception mandate is still there, it is just more of a bookkeeping thing,” Desch said. “It has been placed on the insurance companies rather than the institution.” Snead, however, said he does not consider Friday’s modification a “compromise,” even for institutions that do not self-insure. He said the new policy still requires religiously affiliated groups to purchase insurance that provides a service that goes against the groups’ moral beliefs. “It is naive to imagine that the services are truly cost-free and that these costs will not be passed along to the employers who purchase these plans,” Snead said. However, Desch said the modification was a realistic compromise for Obama and religious groups. “[Notre Dame’s] ideal scenario would have been [for the government] to completely back off the mandate for contraceptive coverage, but I think it would have been unrealistic to expect that the Obama administration could walk that far back,” he said. “So this is a classic political compromise — both sides can point to it and say they got something out of it.” Desch said he believes the contraception debate will be just one of many religious issues to pervade politics in the future as the religious and private sector of life increasingly converges with the public and secular sector. “There are going to be a lot more conflicts like this down the road,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to make Notre Dame the focus for creative thinking about a new balance between faith and the public sphere. “It’s a challenge in the sense that issues like this are difficult to resolve, but it is also an opportunity for the University to play a leading role in rethinking, moving forward, how we balance faith and the public sphere.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement Friday opposing the new policy. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend could not be reached for comment Friday because he was out of the country.
For those who pass through O’Shaughnessy Hall today, SonnetFest 2013 will bring all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets off the page and to the public with an unconventional reading in celebration of Valentine’s Day. As part of the fourth annual SonnetFest, 87 readers will recite sonnets in the Great Hall of O’Shaughnessy Hall today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The readers will deliver their sonnets sequentially in a variety of languages. Scott Jackson, executive director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame, said the goal of the event is to share the poems’ beauty with the entire community, and the Valentine’s Day context just complements the experience. “Back when the event started, we had been trying to figure out a way to engage the student population with Shakespeare and bring his work off the page,” Jackson said. “The idea of a public reading of the sonnets seemed like a great way for everyone to be able to make a small contribution in an unintimidating, accessible format, especially somewhere as public and high-trafficked as the Great Hall.” Jackson said the combination of Shakespeare and Valentine’s Day “just makes perfect sense” because of the deeply sentimental nature of the sonnets. “Sonnets deal with all different times in life, from birth to death to romance to betrayal, but all have this element of friendship underlying,” Jackson said. “Most of them are in some way about love, but sometimes this love transcends its dictionary definition.” The event is scheduled down to the minute, with most of the 87 readers contributing two sonnets each, Jackson said. Participants come from all colleges and departments of the University and combine to create an experience Jackson described as “a bit of a marathon.” “It’s incredible because all these different departments, all these different students gather around something as universal and timeless as Shakespeare’s verse and unite through that,” Jackson said. “To see students across the University make that leap and find that engagement is amazing.” The idea of internationalizing Shakespeare is a priority of SonnetFest, and Jackson said the variety of languages augment the experience since it becomes clear that the sonnets’ themes ring true in any translation. “We’ve had 15 or more languages, everything from French, Spanish, German, and Russian to Klingon, Morse Code, Parseltongue and American Sign Language,” Jackson said. “We’ve had folks sing sonnets, and people have definitely had fun with it.” Professor JoAnn DellaNeva, associate dean for undergraduate studies and one of today’s readers, said she appreciates how public the event is and how it is uniquely capable of reaching a diverse audience. “I love that the SonnetFest is held in the O’Shaughnessy Great Hall with its continuous traffic, so that even people who hadn’t planned to attend this event or who didn’t even know about it suddenly find themselves in the middle of a public reading and stop and listen to a poem or two,” DellaNeva said. At its core, the event is about giving life to the language and helping students and faculty access the true beauty and significance of the poetry, Jackson said. “I feel that Shakespeare’s language is constricted when you just read it off the page,” Jackson said. “The words affect you differently when they’re voiced, and you get to make a personal connection to them.”
Notre Dame’s home football season wrapped up with the Nov. 23 game against Brigham Young University in frigid weather, and Director of Game Day Operations Mike Seamon said it was a “very successful” weekend celebrating the team’s 31 seniors. Seamon said the highlight was recognizing the contributions the senior players made to the program at the Friday Football Luncheon, the pep rally and the pre-game program. “Overall, it was a great weekend honoring all the seniors and their contributions to Notre Dame,” Seamon said. At the pep rally Friday night, captains Bennett Jackson, TJ Jones and Zack Martin spoke about their experience as part of the team and the University. A highlight video was shown for each captain at the pep rally, and all seniors were recognized with highlight videos during the Friday luncheon. “Despite the extremely cold weather, there was still a sizeable crowd on campus for the home season finale,” Seamon said. “The tunnel on Friday had 4,150 visitors and the pep rally at the Compton [Family Ice Arena] had approximately 6,800 in attendance. “We estimated that there were approximately 85,000 fans on campus for the BYU weekend.” Phil Johnson, chief of police for Notre Dame Security Police, said the day turned out well from his group’s perspective despite the cold weather and snow. “Traffic ran smoothly and there were no reported crashes,” Johnson said. “Police made two custodial arrests Saturday, Nov. 23. One man was arrested for public intoxication and possession of marijuana and the other for public intoxication.” Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at [email protected]
On Wednesday night, students gathered in Vander Vennet Theatre for a screening of “The Laramie Project.” The film is adapted from a play based on interviews of townspeople after Matthew Shepard, a 22-year-old gay man, was kidnapped, beaten and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.This years’ Saint Mary’s Margaret Hill Visiting Artist is Barbara Pitts McAdams, who performs in the film and helped create the it and an award-winning play.“We blundered into Laramie because we were all affected by what happened there,” Pitts McAdams said. “We weren’t qualified to do what we were doing.”The film is about Shepard, who was openly gay in Laramie, a secluded town of skeptics. Before Shepard was killed, he attended the University of Wyoming. One of Shepard’s best friends in the movie said Shepard was interested in politics and had a passion for human rights.The town was shocked to learn that Shepard was killed by two young men from Laramie — they expected the perpetrators to be from elsewhere. The men bound Shepard to a fence and beat him with a pistol. When an officer found him unconscious, she said the only place on his head that wasn’t covered in blood was where he had been crying. He died several days later.Pitts McAdams said all the actors for the play were “dramaturgs,” which are actors who provide extra research or structural support.“They keep their eye on whether or not we’re veering from the story,” she said. “I was one of them.”“We interviewed 200 people for the Laramie project, but we ultimately had about 60 characters,” she added. “We each may have been a dramaturg for our character or someone else’s character.”Pitts McAdams played the landlady of the trailer park where one of the perpetrators lived. She was given information from the woman’s interview such as her occupation and her connection to the perpetrator. Pitts McAdams said playing this character made her confront her own assumptions.“The first time I was handed her interview, I made this assumption in my mind,” she said. “To be crass, I assumed trailer trash. When I listened to her whole interview, she has a double major from the University of Wyoming and she owns the trailer park. I heard trailer park and I made all these blue-collar assumptions about her.”When she met the character she was playing, Pitts McAdams realized there was more to the woman’s life.“I really put her in a box. It made me realize how even those of us who consider ourselves not prejudiced that we still have to check ourselves and our assumptions about people,” she said.Pitts McAdams is currently writing and directing a play that will be put on at Saint Mary’s, titled “If You Knew Me.” She has been interviewing students at Saint Mary’s about their experiences of diversity. Pitts McAdams said she has learned so much since doing “The Laramie Project.”“What didn’t occur to us was that if we put people’s real names in the play, thousands of people will contact them,” she said. “We would probably do it differently now to protect our interview subjects from intrusion, but we just didn’t even know any better.”Unlike “The Laramie Project,” the stories gathered for “If You Knew Me” will be anonymous.Assistant director of the play, senior Makena Henell, had never seen “The Laramie Project” before Wednesday night.“I thought it was really powerful and heartbreaking to see every side of the argument,” Henell said. “You thought people would be sympathetic, but they weren’t.”Henell said the purpose of the Saint Mary’s play will be to bring awareness to diversity and inclusion.“What the show really is is holding a mirror up to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “How is Saint Mary’s inclusive, how is it not inclusive? We’re trying to include diversity in every aspect — race, sexuality, mental illness — by listening to people’s stories and their perspectives.”Pitts McAdams’ process is different than what Henell has worked with in the past.“The big thing we’ve learned working with Barb is that it’s a lot harder working on an original project,” she said. “You’re really building on the experiences of other people. I had a friend tell me you have to remember people aren’t numbers — these people have friends and families and dreams and desires.”Pitts McAdams said she is inspired by working on Saint Mary’s campus.“Wherever we are in the conversation about diversity or inclusivity, I can totally see why anyone would want to go to college here,” she said. “It really is beautiful to experience.”Tags: Barbara Pitts McAdams, Laramie Project, Vander Vennet Theatre
The Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) will perform William Finn’s musical “A New Brain” from Thursday to Saturday in Lab Theatre in Washington Hall.“A New Brain” follows songwriter Gordon Schwinn, who is diagnosed with a severe brain disorder and is forced to face the possibility that his life and his dreams could soon come to a close. Sophomore Caroline Lezny, director of the show, said the musical conveys the universal human struggle to balance relationships with personal aspirations, as well as the significance of using time carefully and wholeheartedly. Courtesy of Denise Dorotheo Cast members rehearse for PEMCo’s production of “A New Brain”, while director Caroline Lezny looks on. The play, which follows the story of a songwriter with a brain condition, will run from October 5-7 in Washington Hall.“The idea that we’re really trying to drive home is that relationships are the most important things you can have in your life and that you shouldn’t waste the time you’re given, because you don’t have the time that you think you do,” Lezny said.In addition to the dialogue, which occurs almost entirely through song, Lezny said the combination of the costumes, lighting and overall design highlight the theme of the musical.With a small cast, Lezny said she focused especially on characterization, or understanding characters on a personal level, with the actors.Junior Shane Dolan, who plays the lead character — Schwinn — in the show, said he worked closely with Lezny to create a backstory for his character, particularly regarding how Schwinn’s past affects his relationships in the present.“In the beginning, we worked a lot on really expressing what you’re saying while singing a tune,” Dolan said. “Then, we talked more about backstory for characters and put that back into the musical process.” Similarly, sophomore Samuel Jackson, who plays Schwinn’s boyfriend Roger, also considered his character’s history to fully capture Roger’s essence.“I created the entire context through which Roger lives his life. I asked myself how old is he, where did he go to school, who are his parents, how long has he been dating Gordon,” Jackson said. “Through those experiences, I tried to find a mapping between his life and my life, so I could not only act as the character, but have some type of connection to him so that, on stage, I don’t just know the information, but I can live in it.”Dolan hopes the audience will identify with Schwinn.“I’d want people to take a look at [Schwinn], who is having a really tough time … and maybe see a little bit of themselves,” Dolan said. “Then, they can see how and why this can affect his life so completely in terms of how he views his past and how he’s looking towards his future, if there is going to be a future for him.”“A New Brain” is unique to PEMCo in terms of the centrality of a same-sex relationship, senior Kelsey Dool, the show’s executive producer, said.“This is one of the first times, if not the first time, that PEMCo has featured a same-sex relationship fully fleshed out on stage,” Dool said. “This is a show that treats the relationship between two men as if it were a heterosexual relationship. The show is not about Gordon being gay. He just happens to be gay, and his relationship with his boyfriend is a very central part of the show, but it is just treated as a fact of his life, and I think that will be very exciting for Notre Dame students to see.”Lezny, Dool and Dolan expect “A New Brain” to resonate with the student body through its depictions of ubiquitous human truths.“We think that theatre, and musical theatre in particular, is a great place to go to see something that both resonates with you from personal experience but also exposes you to something new and allows you to spend time thinking about it afterward, which I think this show is going to do a really good job doing,” Dool said.The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as 4 p.m. on Saturday in Lab Theatre. Tickets are available for $8 per student and $10 general admission at LaFortune Box Office.Tags: A New Brain, PEMCo, Washington Hall
Campus organizations have let their voice be heard after University President Fr. John Jenkins announced his decision on Sunday to cover controversial murals depicting the life of Christopher Columbus in the Main Building.The Native American Student Association of Notre Dame (NASA-ND) was quick to give its support. The group, which has in the past voiced opposition to the murals, thanked Jenkins in a Facebook post Sunday evening.“The Native American Student Association of Notre Dame is thankful for Father Jenkins’ thoughtful and wise decision,” the statement said. “This is a good step towards acknowledging the full humanity of those Native people who have come before us. We sincerely hope that Father Jenkins and his administration will continue to prioritize Native issues on our campus in the coming weeks and months as there is still work to be done.”Alan-Mychal Boyd, vice president of NASA-ND, said he saw the decision as a victory for all involved.“It’s great,” he said. “It was really a compromise [for] both sides that would take an opinion on it. A really good step forward, I think, because in the past Notre Dame has not been the most welcoming to Natives.”Moving forward, Boyd said he hopes the University remains receptive to NASA-ND and other Native American groups.“I think this is a really great symbolic gesture, and I would like it to be more than that,” he said. “A symbolic gesture in the sense of a new era of cooperation with not just NASA-ND but with the Pokagon Band of Potawotomi area.”Those concerned for the murals’ future are welcome to reach out to him, he added.“I would be willing to have a conversation [to] see if we could come to an agreement,” he said.The Notre Dame chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a conservative youth organization, also released a statement on the controversy Sunday night calling on Jenkins to overturn his decision.YAF national chairman and Notre Dame law student Grant Strobl said the group sees the move as antithetical to the University’s role as an academic institution.“Higher education was founded for the purpose to pursue knowledge and to pursue truth and when they stray away from that mission, YAF will hold them accountable,” he said. “In this situation, Notre Dame has decided to move away from its mission of really examining the painting and learning about Christopher Columbus and debating the idea behind it. Instead they’re hiding it behind curtains.”In choosing to cover the murals, the University has also turned its back on its Catholic roots, he said.“[Columbus] is the guy who basically introduced Catholicism to the Americas,” he said. “It seems kind of hilarious that they’re removing the very person who made Notre Dame possible … The icon of Catholic education backed down on its own values.”YAF started a petition asking for the decision’s reversal Tuesday morning. In a group meeting that evening, sophomore and chapter chairman Luke Jones said it had already reached about 300 signatures.Saint Mary’s junior and YAF member Catherine Viz appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” Tuesday evening to offer her thoughts on the controversy.Viz caught the attention of the network after publishing an article about the murals Monday on Campus Reform, a conservative college news website.On the show, Viz said she felt the decision would obscure students’ understanding of Columbus as a historical figure.“As an important part of learning where we need to go in the future, we need to acknowledge the evil things that may have happened, no matter how unfortunate,” she said during the broadcast. “To have history, you need both sides — the good and the bad.”While Viz believes the move was made with diversity and inclusion in mind, it would only serve to stifle progress in this area, she said.“I don’t think that the solution is to literally cover something up,” she said. “For as many times as Fr. Jenkins speaks on having fruitful dialogue and having conversation that truly stimulates culture and diversity, this is blatantly something that is completely shutting that down.”Tags: Art on Campus, Christopher Columbus, Columbus murals, Gregori Murals, Main Building, NASAND, Native American Student Association of Notre Dame, Notre Dame Young Americans for Freedom
Danny McMaster looks forward to lunch on Thursdays. He knows he will file up to the salad bar and order a serving of Notre Dame’s celebrity meal: the Southwest Salad. (Editor’s Note: McMaster is a Viewpoint columnist for The Observer.)“Every student at Notre Dame could be in the line and I’d still get in the back of it,” the senior said. Campus Dining serves between 1,200 and 1,500 of the wildly popular dish every week at both dining halls for Thursday lunch. The salad includes beans, corn, Frito chips and fried chicken with chipotle ranch dressing on top.Chef Greg Larson, who runs North Dining Hall, did not expect the salad he created ten years ago to become a campus sensation.“You know, we never thought it would be this popular, and we’re a little baffled about why it is so popular,” he said in an interview.Larson started tossing the salad in 2009 when Campus Dining launched a program called “interactive salads.” The program consisted of 10 salads which dining hall workers would toss individually for students in the dining room during the week. Soon, Larson began receiving emails asking for the Southwest Salad to make an appearance every week. Campus Dining started entertaining the requests in 2012, and moved the salad to Thursday afternoons in 2016.Even though Larson said he does not know why the salad gained popularity, he suspects the preparation of the chicken has something to do with it.“I think the crispy chicken is really what set it off, because all the other salads got grilled chicken, so it was like this indulgent salad,” he said. Director of Student Dining Luigi Alberganti wonders whether the texture of the salad could make it popular.“You have the corn, you have the bean, you have the crunch of the chips that we put in there, plus the crunch of the chicken,” he said. “That could be a contributing factor for the popularity of it.”Still, others think the source of the dish’s fame cannot be found on a plate.Director of Campus Dining Chris Abayasinghe turns to ancient Japanese wisdom to describe the salad’s appeal.“There’s something in our culinary world called ‘umami,’’’ Abayasinghe explained. “[It’s] the essence that can’t be pronounced, that is beyond the six senses.”“It’s an additional flavor that is created when all the flavors come together,” Alberganti added. Praise of the salad by students suggests Abayasinghe may be right.When asked whether he will get the Southwest Salad for the rest of his final year at Notre Dame, McMaster responded without hesitation.“Yeah, 100%,” he said.Tags: Campus DIning, news podcast, North Dining Hall, Southwest Salad
Courtesy of Caroline Myers Notre Dame students paint the bathroom of the David School in David, Kentucky. The David School, which specializes in assisting disadvantaged youth, is one of 20 sites across the Appalachia region that students visited for the Fall 2019 Appalachia Seminar.Sophomore Maria Teel said in an email she saw the Appalachia seminar as a gateway for greater involvement in the Center for Social Concerns (CSC).“I had heard a lot of great things from people who went in the past and felt that it was a good introductory way to be involved with the CSC,” Teel said. “I also wanted to learn more about poverty in a different area of the country that I’d never been to before and didn’t know much about.”Over the midterm break, Teel traveled to David, Kentucky, and visited the David School to experience firsthand the challenges the community faces in the local education system.“This site gave me perspective into the education system, challenges to education in Kentucky and alternative education strategies,” she said. “We spent half of every day shadowing a student in their classes and the other half of the day doing a project around the school. Because of the format of this site, we were able to form connections and spend time with students.”Senior Julia Cogan, a leader for one of the immersion trips this fall, is in her second year of the seminar program. Cogan said both of her experiences within the Appalachia program allowed her to gain a unique service perspective on the region and its challenges.“Appalachia was a really good way for me to focus in on a whole area and whole group of people that often get forgotten in America, and I think that’s really important because you can easily look to other places that are foreign service trips,” Cogan said.Over break, Cogan’s group served at the Binns-Counts Community Center in Clinchco, Virginia. Cogan spoke to the tight-knit community she encountered in Clinchco.“One thing that was cool was that we got to meet with different members of the community, and we stayed at a center that has bunk beds and different stuff,” Cogan said. “They also have a really good relationship with the people who live in the community because it’s founded and run by community members.”Leading up to the immersion trip, students in the Appalachia program attend class once a week. The course continues after the trip. Cogan said the class sessions allowed her to gain insight on Appalachia while getting to know her fellow students going on the trip.“I read a couple books before I went this year and felt like I’d learned a lot more about the region,” Cogan said. “But the class is mostly just really good to spend time with your team … and as a leader, I really liked just seeing everybody that was going to be there with me.”In class meetings following the trip, the students reflect on their trip and create a final project to share their personal Appalachia experience. Cogan said her group’s project from last year holds significance to her.“Last year, my group made a video with short clips and pictures,” Cogan said. “Watching the video over makes me sentimental, but it’s a great way to be able to look back and remember the experience I had with the community and my small group.”The Appalachia seminar will also be offered for the spring semester with an immersion trip during spring midterm break.Tags: Appalachia, Appalachia Seminar, Center for Social Concerns Students enrolled in the Appalachia Seminar this semester traveled to the Appalachia region over fall break as a part of the immersion component of the one-credit course. With 203 students enrolled in the seminar this fall, trips were made to 20 different sites across the region.Adam Gustine, assistant director of social concerns seminars, said the immersion program stresses meeting communities where they are and learning from encounters with members of the community.“We just try to talk about what it means to go to another place to encounter another kind of community to learn from a place that might be different than the place we grew up,” Gustine said. “All [sites] have this common thread of encountering people and learning to be good question-askers in someone else’s home.”The trip centers around the history and culture of the Appalachia region with an emphasis on the social and economic challenges each site faces.“[The Appalachia region] has been a significant source of Catholic social teaching,” Gustine said. “Every time we have a seminar, we are thinking about the Catholic social tradition and our own individual responsibilities and different things that we might see and learn.”