Tag Archives: Ursuline Studies

Ursuline Studies Common Book Initiative: Discuss ‘Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain’

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Now in its second year, the Ursuline Studies Program common book for the 2014-15 academic year is a memoir titled Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi, charting her struggles with self- doubt, body image and acceptance – struggles that manifest themselves in a severe eating disorder that nearly costs de Rossi her life.

As with last year’s offering, all incoming students received a complimentary copy of the book, stamped with her or his name, as a gift of welcome to the college. The book also serves to provide a truly common experience to all new students in 2014, and is a symbol of their purpose at Ursuline: to earn a college education. Faculty and staff likewise had the opportunity to pick up a copy, and will again participate in Chew & Chat events to foster connections across the campus. This year, alumnae will also be invited to participate, whether by attending Chew & Chat events, or by posting comments on VOICES online.

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Travels to France

Traveling to France was a dream come true for me. I had such a fabulous time that, the Lord willing, this will not be my last trip to the fantastic French land. I remember anticipating the trip, listening to French for Dummies and meeting a French tutor in preparation for the trip of a lifetime.  I have to say that the country of France did not disappoint.

The architecture of France is everywhere. As we traveled on the Metro, I marveled at the frescoes that covered the ceiling of the railcar. The magical scenes of horses and men displayed stories that a writer’s pen could compose a novel.  The ceiling was full of choreographed works of art of ancient times.

The Seine River was named appropriately for after traveling on the river cruise there were not many Parisian sights that I had not seen. The Eiffel Tower, the Musee D’Orsay and the Notre Dame Cathedral were the fabulous sights that I snapped with my camera as we journeyed down the river. The beauty of the bridges, the artistic figures of men, animals and the intricate detail of the objects were astounding.

The variety of cafes and restaurants gave me an opportunity to sample and to enjoy many different types of food. I was surprised by the variety of cakes that were available for breakfast.  The French people enjoy a number of sweet, delectable desserts from breakfast until dinner.  The hot chocolate at Angelina’s was the best that I have ever tasted.  The French culture has taught me to really delight in food.   It is important to take the time to taste, feel and savor the texture and flavor of the food.  In the United States, we are so busy that we live in a Styrofoam world, from to-go boxes to disposable coffee cups with lids; we neglect the importance of sitting down, taking a breath, enjoying our food and fellowshipping with others.

The visit to Claude Monet’s home and gardens was the most beautiful part of the trip.  I was reminded of special times that I spent with my grandma picking and planting flowers every year.  I savored the aroma of the many varieties of flowers. The pond was a body of still water that completed the peaceful scene.  As I think about Claude Monet, I try to imagine him as he was surrounded by mounds of flowers as he tried to decide which flowers to paint first.

Claude Monet’s home displayed his love for art with frame after frame of paintings and artwork covering every wall in the home.  The early twentieth century stove, the wash basin and other late nineteenth, early twentieth century items helped me to envision a time of simple living that included people spending quality time with each other and delighting in loving one another and not focusing on things the way that many people do today.  The many pieces of Japanese art surprised me.  As I was walking through the home, other visitors were discussing Monet’s fondness of Japanese art and how this art influenced his paintings.  Even though Monet had cataracts in his later years, he continued to paint and although the work was not as defined as his previous works, the outline of what he was painting is apparent and the colors are still vibrant.

The beauty of Monet’s home and garden added to the intriguing nature of France.  While the gardens represented life, the travel to the Omaha and Utah beaches were also a reminder of life.  Without the courage of the soldiers to come together on D-Day, I may not be here today.  If Hitler had continued his tyranny, my ancestors and many others who did not meet the narrow criteria of who was considered a perfect person would not have survived.  I am thankful to my grandfather and countless others who served in the military during World War II who fought for our freedom.  I learned a number of remarkable historical facts from our guide, Nigel, and from touring the museum.  If was fascinating viewing the items that were used eighty years ago such as clothing, supplies medications, weapons and phones, radios and telegraphs that were used to communicate.

The time in Paris included spending moments in a town with a vibrant night life.  Whether it was Saturday or Tuesday night, Parisians fill the streets and restaurants enjoying good food, good music and good company.  I would love to go back to France and spend a month touring the museums, walking along the river and breathing in the fresh air while standing on the countryside.  The trip to France has modified my thinking, increased my focus on what is important and helped me to stop and smell and appreciate the roses, to revel in the time spent with friends and to bask in the glory of nature that the Lord graces mankind with day after day.

April Braden, Student

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Reflections on France: Jewish-Christian Tour

Recently, twenty-three students, faculty, staff and friends of Ursuline College embarked on a Jewish-Christian tour of France. During their travels, the group experienced both the captivating atmosphere of France and the history of World War II. The experience in France left a lasting impression on everyone involved with the trip. Read their reflections below. To see more photos from their journey, click here

 

April Braden
The trip to France, namely Paris, was a dream come true for me.  I am named after the song “April in Paris”  and ironically, I was previously married to a man named Paris.  There were a number of enjoyable things that France offered from the Eiffel Tower, to Le Musee du Louvre, to the Seine Riverboat ride.  I would have to say that the opportunity to attend Claude Monet’s home and garden was my favorite.  The beauty of the variety of flowers and the aromatic scent that engulfed my sense of smell reminded me of the days spent with my grandmother looking at, selecting and planting multitudes of flowers every spring.  Although Claude Monet experienced problems with his sight in his latter years, the paintings that he created during the latter years were fabulous.  His ability to display an astounding creation on canvas, even with impaired eyesight, was not diminished, yet instead showed a God given talent that gave the world beauty and exquisite detail in many breathe taking works of art.

John
The trip to France this past Fall Break was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had! The tour was truly unbelievable and I am so thankful for all of the different things we were able to experience.  It is hard to pin-point one thing on the trip that I liked the most, but Mont St. Michel and visiting the D-Day Beaches were on the top of my list. I am very thankful for Anne Lukas and everyone else that helped plan this trip!

Danielle
Thank you for the absolute amazing trip to France. It was a remarkable experience that I will never forget. I enjoyed each day of the journey. I have gained so much knowledge and saw unforgettable landmarks that many do not have the opportunity to experience. Although I loved every day’s planned events, my favorites were Mont St. Michel and Normandy.  I enjoyed staying at the hotel in the “village-like” town at Mont St. Michell. The food was exquisite and the view from my room was absolutely beautiful.  The beaches are astonishing. To be able to see the beaches, explore the bunkers, and stand on the battlefield is an honor. In addition, the museum in Normandy grabbed my attention and helped me gain insight of the war. This trip was by far the best experience I have ever had; and I am looking forward to the trip in 2015.

Gabrielle
Thank you so much for the wonderful trip to France. It was an amazing experience to visit the many places. Walking on the beaches of Normandy, and roaming through the bunkers that real soldiers used for shelter was an intriguing and fun-filled experience. I really hope to join you for your next trip to Italy and part of France.

Carol & Howard
This trip to France was a joy from beginning to end. We had a real welcome in Rouen from the kind and gracious University Hospital people. Mont St. Michel was storybook beautiful and a real treat. I think the best part was the day we spent in Normandy reliving D-Day. Our guide led us through the day with details about persons, places and events with great skill. I think I learned more about this piece of history in that one day than I did in my entire life. The cemetery visit was meaningful because of all we had learned before. Paris was Paris – busy, beautiful, full of history, wonderful food, music, shopping and memories!

Michael & Susie
Susan and I pooled all of our infrequent flier miles and joined the Ursuline trip to France. Random thoughts about our journey:

1) The French Government has made and I suspect will continue to make every effort to memorialize its positive track record during World War II. Not only did 75% of French Jewry survive the war, but there are more Jews living in France now than before the war. Most European Countries can’t make that claim.
2) Rouen was nearly left in ruin, but is thriving today.
3) If you want to pack in experiences throughout each day, Anne Lukas is the ticket.
4) No one on the trip knows the Ursuline fight song.
5) Because we walked at least five miles each day, I gained only two pounds in spite of eating more croissants than any other time in my life.

Je m’appelle Beurre Saltzman.

Holly and Riles 
What a fantastic journey! The program design was flawless and rich with history. Our tour guides were extremly knowledgeable, engaging and attended to every detail and accommodation needed. Every day’s activities were both educational and enlightening! We have gained such an appreciation for what happened in the past and brought us into the future. From the beautiful streets of Paris, to the breathtaking countryside of Normandy to the welcoming people of Rouen- we enjoyed it all. We also embraced the pain and suffering that people endured through such moving visits to the Internment camps and Shoah memorials- there are no words.

In particular, the best part of the entire trip were the members of our group! It was sincerely a privilege to have met such wonderful people who were all very caring and respectful to one another. Thanks to Anne’s vision and expertise, the trip far exceeded our expectations!

Pat Maskow Firem, Ph.D.
Our trip was an amazing combination of history, culture, spirituality, and health technology. Imagine climbing the stairs to a 1400 year old castle surrounded by water; climbing down into a 1200 Jewish yeshiva now underneath a courthouse, and walking on the very beaches on which our soldiers fought for a foothold during the WW II Normandy landings…all within a few days of each other. We participated in the liturgy in Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, as well as in a bar mitzvah during a Sabbath service. The staff at the Rouen Hospital gave us a royal reception with hors d’ouvres that never seemed to end! All in all, we had the French experience of a lifetime. Thanks to Anne Lukas and all others who made this possible.