30 Apr

The semester is drawing to a close and the students have been hard at work on a variety of creative projects.  In Woods Around the World, the first half of the semester is spent researching the back story to the culture we are studying.  In the second half of the semester, we work on presenting what we have learned.  To date, presentations have been made at a local Rotary Club and to the campus community at William Woods University.  Students have posted online reflections about the trip and have written a series of cultural analysis essays.   Thousands of pictures have been taken and thousands of words have been read.  Among the topics researched, we had students explore “The Italian Political and Legal System Through the Years”, important women in the early history of the Roman Empire, the nature of the Italian immigrant experience, the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance.  I encourage the students to make a storyboard of what they want to present and find the narrative arc in a topic of their curiosity.  Along the way, they create photojournalism projects, iMovie reports and even cooking shows describing the cuisine of a foreign culture and the regional flavors within a country. 




Rappin’ in Rome: Madeline Ortego

25 Apr


After we had completed our voyage in Italy, I realized that I wanted to take an unusual route to explain the details of the trip.  Thus, instead of composing a few paragraphs, I have decided to compile my experience into a rap

I’m here to tell a story

About some students in Italy

And I’ll probz come back

And make a pit stop in Sicily

Because it was so great

And I can’t get enough

You suckas got nothin’,

Cause we went to Europe!

We started in Rome

And then we went to Florence

Took a ferry to Venice

Always looking like tourists

Taking group Pics

With the William Woods flag

And all the while

Reppin’ Mid-MO swag

We learned a little language

Like "Gratsie" and "Prego"

But how do you say,

"Man, I ran out of euros!"

Because in these here parts

It costs a really pretty penny

I hope you saved up

Cause you’re really gonna need it

But you can’t put a price

On the greatness of this trip

I would do it all again

To relive the experience

We saw amazing things

And ate some really good food

We paraded in the rain

Being American fools

We ate our weight in gelato

In minutes you’d be full

I laughed when he asked,

"Ay blondie, eez eet gewwd?"

I guess I could never pass

For being a local

With my Woods Crew and Travis saying,


Thank God we had a native

Whose name was Margaret

Who kept us all together

Her "Chookies" and "Sweeties"

If it wasn’t for this woman

We may have never made it home

She hit Gina on the head

When she got lost in Rome

But here we are together

All in one piece

A trip in Italy checked off

Of of bucket lists

So from the Colosseum

And the ruins in Rome

To the "Barbie Paradise"

Houses in Burona

This will be a trip

I will never forget

Thank you to the faculty

For keeping us in check

All over the world

The Woods will go around

Here’s the inside joke:

"Gondola lays it down."

– Madeline Ortego, 2011

Images of Italy – April Jones

20 Apr

Rome (7) Asissi (17) Venis Venis (29)

At Home While Abroad: April Jones

20 Apr

IMG_5025 The trip to Italy was truly remarkable. It was simply amazing seeing first-hand all the history, culture, and art that have already made Italy so famous. I would have to say, my most memorable experiences of the trip were visiting the Colosseum, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and Venice. The Colosseum, being one of Rome’s national symbols, had always been a place I wanted to visit and when I finally got the chance I was awe stricken. The sheer size and complexity blew my mind, and the fact that it was still standing tall after nearly 2000 years was astonishing! I could not believe how the Romans built such a magnificent structure without modern day tools or technology.

The Vatican Museum was an overwhelming experience. There were rooms after rooms filled with beautiful paintings, magnificent sculptures, breathtaking frescos, and spectacular tapestries. The Basilica itself is definitely something that I will never forget. After going to a Catholic high school, even though I am Baptist, I had a good understanding of the importance of Saint Peter’s Basilica and a solid background on the role it played within the Catholic religion. It was really cool to see, face to face, what I had been learning about in my Catholic high school just before. The pictures in my high school books do not even come close to truly displaying the magnificence of Saint Peter’s Basilica and Saint Peter’s Square.

Venis (24) Here is a little background story about myself before I move on to why I loved Venice. My family is a water loving family. My father has owned a boat since he was 16 years old; he actually got a boat before his first car, and my mom has been water skiing since she was in college. Both of my parents love the water and they raised our family on the water. I have been going to lake and on a boat ever since I can remember. I have been swimming and water skiing since I was 3 years old. Every summer during my life, we have always gone to the lake, but not just once, we go every single weekend of that summer and have still gone every weekend during the summer to this day. As you can see, I have grown up on boats and the water. This is why I loved Venice. Not because of the scenery or the famous romantic gondolier rides, but because it was a culture born on the water, such as myself. Being around the water and traveling on the water taxies and ferries felt like being back at home, on our boat at the lake. I love the water and the culture around it. Venice had a homey feeling because of its water culture and it brought out the thousands of memories I have from all my years growing up on the water.

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is watch movies. I am a huge movie fanatic and have seen way to many movies to even count. While in Italy, I was constantly on the lookout for places or things that had been used or filmed in many of my favorite movies. I have always done this; anywhere I travel I am always looking for the location of famous movie scenes or objects used in the movies. In Hawaii, I stood in Godzilla’s footprints and hiked the valley where the Jurassic Park movies were filmed; and in China, I climbed The Great Wall, which has been used in numerous films including the most recent one, the 2010 Jackie Chan movie, The Karate Kid. Now I can add to my list several famous sites in Italy that have been used in many of my favorite movies. In Rome, we visited the Pantheon, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square, Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain, Castel Sant’Angelo, as well as many other places that were repeatedly used in the 2009 movie Angels and Demons. Also, in the 2010 movie The Tourist, there were several scenes filmed throughout the canals in Venice including the Grand Canal as well as Saint Mark’s Square. After we returned home, one of the interests that I brought back from the trip was to go back and watch all the movies that were filmed in Italy. I love being able to recall my own experiences in Italy while watching these movies and also being able to say that I have personally seen all the famous sites used in many popular movies.

There’s a Big World Out There – Jordan Murray

11 Apr

IMG_5029 For this Midwestern girl, the most impressive structure I have ever seen was on my fifth grade field trip to the St. Louis Arch. After traveling to Italy and seeing structures like the Colosseum in Rome and the breathtaking Doge’s Palace in Venice, my sweet homeland Arch was not so exciting anymore. Italy was my first big venture out in the world. Between the beautiful buildings, the fact that having bread for every meal is alright, and their undying love for disco music it is going to be a hard trip to beat.

There is art everywhere you turn in their cities. It seemed on every street there was some sort of monument displayed. Even the store windows were scenic. My favorite businesses to look into were the small restaurants and bakeries. Their pizzas and sweets looked more like artistic masterpieces than edible food. The gelato was the most beautiful, appearing as fluffy mounds of beautiful colors. Choosing just one flavor ended up being the biggest challenge! In Italy your eyes will most definitely become bigger than your stomach.

The biggest eye opener for me was how old all of the structures really are. Italians were creating magnificent pieces of architecture long before anyone else. On the first night our tour guide Margaret spoke of how Americans consider buildings that are a couple hundred years old ancient. In Italy their buildings, streets, and monuments are thousands of years old. After seeing the structures the thought of this culture creating these brilliant pieces of construction and never using any sort of modern day truck, crane, or technology is truly inspiring.

This trip for me was the real realization that the sky is the limit. My mother has always told me numerous times that “there is a big world out there.” After this Italian expedition I can finally concur with her statement.



When History Comes Alive – Liz Thomas

10 Apr

 IMG_4266 Going to Italy was a very memorable experience for me. I would say that the most memorable experience was going through the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. This part of the trip stuck with me the most because it had the biggest amount of history connected to it. The Vatican was enormous and had art work, sculpture and tapestries from thousands of years ago. Seeing all of this art work put together in one huge museum was truly a once in a life time experience.

Before going to Italy the class learned about the history and general knowledge of the Roman culture. But when we got to Italy a lot of things I learned deepened what I had already read. The biggest thing that had an effect on what I had learned from the reading was going to the Forum. Before we had left we learned a lot about how the Forum was built and who had built it. But to go and see the ruins was amazing because we got the see the facts that it was actually there and it was proof that what we had learned was real.

Going to Italy I learned a lot of general information. The biggest thing that I learned and that I will bring back with me is the history that the culture has and still respects today. When traveling to another country an American realizes how young our country is. For people in Italy to live and drive past the Colosseum everyday and just have that kind of history be normal to them was amazing to me.

In Italy I took a lot of great pictures. I took a lot in St. Peters and the Vatican which was my favorite place that we visited, but the best pictures turned out to be the funniest times we had in Italy. One great picture that I took was from dinner and this man that was selling odds and ends such as umbrellas came up to the window by our table and starting making faces and creeping through the window. So I end up getting this great picture of Mary not knowing this guy creeping on her in the back round. See below!


Becoming Cultured Abroad: Erica Begley

7 Apr

IMG_5027 I went to Italy! I still have to remind myself that it was real life sometimes. I have not done very much traveling in my life, but now to say, “I have been to ITALY!” is really wonderful. The trip was an incredible experience that I will think of often. It completely met my expectations and made me want to travel again and again.

What was the most memorable part of the trip for me? It’s hard to decide on my absolute best memory, so I am going to try to sum up a few.

image Many people have asked me what town was my favorite and I have heard others from the trip say this and I completely agree. To try to some it up, I enjoyed Rome for the history, Assisi for the small town atmosphere and beautiful landscape, Florence for the art, and Venice for the culture. For me it was absolutely amazing to see all the beautiful artwork that I have learned about and seen pictures of in their original form and in the country they were created in! It was incredible to be in a place where great work of art is everywhere.

Another amazing aspect of the trip to Italy was how history was intertwined with the present day. It was absolutely mind blowing to think that these structures, buildings, and pieces of artwork were hundreds and thousands of years old. I love that the Italian culture values their past and their heritage. They do not tear these things down and replace them with new and modern structures. The natives really did seem to respect and love their culture and history.

Venice was memorable because the way of life was so unique and different fromimage mine. Really, Italian way of life is much different, but a good different. Venice was unique even from the mainland Italy for obvious reasons. It was really fascinating to be able to experience life on an island and getting place to place by boat every day. Another incredible memory from Venice is waking up early with Kelcie on the West side of the island and walking a few minutes to the East side. We immediately came to a beach and witnessed the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen. The reflection and color on the Adriatic Sea was absolutely beautiful.

If I had to sum up Italy in one word it would be beautiful. The art was beautiful, the architecture was beautiful, the landscape was beautiful, the culture was beautiful, and the food was even beautiful (and delicious!).

I truly do feel much more cultured and experienced due to our travel to and in Italy.

A Taste of Italy: Darian Horn

7 Apr

 IMG_5006 OH ITALY!!!! I do not even know where to begin in reflecting on this magnificent trip. I guess I will start by addressing when I first realized that this was really happening and that was when I met our tour guide. Her name was Margaret and she was a true Italian women.  She was the exact stereotype that Americans have of a European.  Out of any person on this trip she is the one that taught us about the culture and gave us scenarios of the Italians way of life.   She was bold, fierce, genuine and aggressive. Even though she was a local she would warn us about places that would rip us off and give us great suggestions for restaurants and she protected us as if we were her own children.   She was a positive and wonderful representation of an Italian and we could not have asked for a better tour guide.

One of the more shocking aspects of the trip and one that I was warned about was how expensive everything was. When Margaret was expressing to us how expensive everything was she quoted "there are no top offs in Italy" which in American terms means that they do not offer refills. I had to pay for water (which was about $6 a bottle), to use the restroom, to sit down at a restaurant, to use wireless internet. Everything cost money.  Each sit down meal was about $30 a person.  But because the food was so amazing I would have paid much more. Margaret also told us that she took her small car into the repair shop just for some ordinary things like check the oil and breaks and small things like that and it cost $1090!!! Isn’t that insane! Speaking of cars I literally saw 3 trucks the whole time I was in Italy. I do not understand how families with minimum wage jobs survived.

    One element that I kept a look out for was how the Italians viewed us. I feel as IMG_5038 if they all respected us but there were times it seemed that we were tricked as tourists.  A few good examples of this was every time a few of us would walk into a restaurant or a shop the workers would crank up the American music.  If there wasn’t any music on at the time then they would turn the radio on and shut if off when we left. I mean I love my music but I feel as if they thought it put us in a trance and forced us in.  Another great example was when 7 of us went to this restaurant in Rome and the waiter (also the owner) came up to us and was extremely polite. He asked the first girl what she wanted and she said bruscheta and he nodded and smiles and said "oh yea great choice, do all of you like bruscheta?" and we all said yes and when he brought our food out we all had bruscheta with our meal even though only 2 of us ordered it and we all got charged. That was some trickery!

There are so many more wonderful experiences that I had during this trip. It was absolutely unforgettable and I would recommend it to anyone. Thank you Travis for making these fabulous lifetime memories possible.


Photos by Erica Begley

5 Apr




What Should We Name This?

5 Apr

This photo needs a caption contest.  Erica Begley, a graphic design student from Hannibal, took this picture of a sunrise in Venice.  It makes me think of item one from the bucket list of Carter (Morgan Freeman) in The Bucket List: “witness something majestic”.  This is a front row seat to something wonderful, the cameras and the seashells attempting to bring the moment home.