Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Breathtaking Ocean

Ah, it is nice to be home! Here are some photos I took on Labor Day weekend near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Inside the Castle of Chillon

Friday, September 01, 2006

More photos

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Important Links

You can view the following important links to learn more about our experiences:
Daily Diary is a group blog where we took turns posting commentary and photos.
Our Flickr page has combined photos from various students in the group.
Our research wiki shows each group's final research project. Mine is called the Dutch Muslim Community

Presentation Photos

Monday, August 28, 2006

Presentation and Coming Home

Our presentation on Saturday morning was very successful; we had probably fifteen audience members not associated with our group coming in and out- about half a dozen stayed for the entire session. Considering there were twelve other sessions going on at the same time, and that it was at 8:30 a.m. in the morning on the final conference day, we felt good about that. Each group presented a really focused talk about their research, experiences, and findings. I will post the link to our powerpoint slides and research wiki sometime when I get home. One audience member talked about this type of interdiscipinary/cross-cultural research as spreading "seeds of peace" and said it was "moving". In my mind, that was the highest compliment as many of us were discussing controversial issues (our group presented on Dutch Muslim relations). It feels great to be done, and I will be coming home in a day!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

And then there was cheese...

I am writing about Friday, Aug. 25. I woke up and had breakfast of coffee, juice, and a fresh apple tart from the corner Boulangerie. Then Chris, Engy and I walked to the train station to catch a train to Veytaux-Chillon to tour the Castle of Chillon. On the way to the train station, I stumbled upon a "G-string stand" which was new to me (and very funny), but I guess normal in this different culture...anyway, the castle environment was stunning...Lake Geneva was clear and expansive, surrounded by mountains and vibrant flowers. The castle, from the 12th and 13th century, was very cool to see as it was my first one. The tour was well organized and I enjoyed exploring, especially seeing the crypt and climbing around between each chamber. It felt surreal, like a movie set. Several paragliders were visible in the sky during our time there, doing somersaults in the air. We saw a couple of swans and a really cute miniature brown lizard on the way out- of course, hitting the ultra-touristy shop there before our departure!

And then, there was cheese...we headed to Gruyeres on a fancy train with plush green material on the seats, gold trim, and tables that folded down so we played a game of "Go Fish" on the way. Beautiful scenery from the train! I felt like there were about ten different shades of green among all the hills, trees, and little lakes we saw. The landscape was ripe with brown, black and white cows. We arrived at Gruyeres and immediately purchased a late lunch of fresh bread, cheese, and salami. One of the best cheeses I have ever tasted in my life! We went on a cheese tour which was actually geared toward young children ages 6-12 (nice of them to leave that piece of info out)...the audio tour was told from the perspective of a very silly female British cow named Cherry. One of my favorite bits was her saying "Hot, isnt it? Just like when the milk comes out of my udder- all warm and frothy! It takes 400 liters of milk to make a 35 kilo cheese!!" I did learn that cows have four stomachs, so I guess the tour was worth it(?)

Finally we headed back to Lausanne for the group BBQ with Paul. On the way, I found an interesting beverage- iced tea with Swiss cannabis flavor- which I quickly consumed without any unfortunate side effects (or any pleasant ones, for that matter!). The group dinner was fun, and we gave Paul a card and bottle of scotch with our thanks and appreciation. Went to bed early to get enough rest. What a lovely day in Switzerland!

Monday, August 21, 2006


Tonight is my last evening in Amsterdam before heading to Lausanne, Switzerland for the conference where we're presenting the research projects. I plan to eat at a favorite restaurant, an Italian one around the corner from my dorm, which serves delicious food at cheap prices. I have been there the past couple days so they recognize me!

We leave at 6:15 a.m. to get to the airport and catch an Easy Jet flight to Geneva, then take a train from there to Lausanne. The conference begins Wed or Thurs, and we have to present on Saturday morning. We did a "dress rehearsal" this morning, and it went very well. It's amazing how much progress we have made in only three weeks time. Last night my group went to have dinner with an Iraqi woman and her two wonderful teenage daughters in their home. The homecooked traditional meal was very tasty and we talked education, politics, etc- Engy did much translating from Arabic to English. The woman had been a high school science teacher in Iraq and now cannot even volunteer here because she wears a headscarf. It seems ridiculous to me. I've learned much about what the "Dutch tolerance"means in reality vs. on paper...and from this perspective, many things re: ethnic populations & prevalence of discrimination here echo the U.S. environment for African Americans during the 50's and 60's.

Time to go. I am really looking forward to visiting Switzerland before heading home. I miss everyone and wish you could all be here to directly share the experience!

View of Utrecht

Visit to Utrecht

On Saturday, we traveled to Utrecht, which is a half hour away by train. We visited the Dom, an beautiful church with a bell tower...went on a guided tour, climbing over 400 steps to get near the top. What a stunning view of the city!