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Colonial Williamsburg

 Written by    June 6, 2017

This is a bit overdue, but over spring break 2017, I had the opportunity to venture out to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, through a four-day trip sponsored by the Office of International Affairs. Williamsburg was the capital of the Colony of Virginia from the late-1600s until 1780.

In the early morning of the March 11, the trip began at the Union. Our group consisted of approximately forty people–half were from the United States, and the other half were international students. We were divided into small groups for when we would do tours. And for the hotels we would stay at, one international student was paired up with one domestic student. I was paired up with a student from China. He told me his “American name” was “Harrison.” I asked him why and he explained to me that when he was a kid, one of his favorite films was that Harrison Ford film called “Air Force One,” and I guess it struck a chord within him.

Harrison was a cool guy and we hit it off immediately.

We all boarded a large bus, took attendance, and began the journey to Virginia.

From the start, it became evident that the trip would be an epic, gastrointestinal undertaking marred (or enhanced, I should say) by overindulgence and glut. Save for a few unappetizing meals at fast food restaurants while on the road, we were treated to delicacies such as soul food, gourmet pizzas, buffets, and pot pies throughout the trip.

 

It’s hearty because it sticks to your arteries and shaves years off your life.

At the end of the first day, we checked into our hotel. Some of us met up in the hotel lobby afterward to introduce ourselves, play games, and talk. It was nice to break the ice and bond early on in the trip. We called it a night shortly before midnight.

On the second day, we were bused out to a reconstruction of Jamestown, as well as a reconstruction of a Powhatan Native American village. We learned about what life for the first wave of colonists would have been like, as well as what life was like for the Indians they would have encountered.

Later that day, we ventured back to Colonial Williamsburg. The area has been reconstructed to appear as it did during the early-1700s. Reenactors took on personas and occupations the original colonists would have had. We saw several sites of interest, such as the Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse, and the Governor’s Palace, where the Royal Governors of the Colony of Virginia from England would have resided.

Inside the Palace’s foyer.

The Governor was a warm, inviting man.

On the third day, we went to Yorktown, where the British were final defeated and the Continental Army, aided by the French, won the Revolution. And in the evening, we also saw the University of Virginia, of which Thomas Jefferson was the founder.

The Rotunda. It’s no Ohio Union…but it will have to do.

And on the final day, we had the pleasure of seeing Thomas Jefferson’s home and estate of Monticello. The trip to his house involved a winding trek up a tall, wooded hill. But the view from the top was pristine, and because it was a cold March morning, a thin sheet of ice and frost sheathed the trees and shrubs. It was beautiful.

“I had to grind for this view.”

His house was quite impressive too. Over his life, he had collected and invented numerous little gadgets. Various artifacts from Native American and African tribes adorned the walls of his home. We also learned that while Jefferson opposed slavery, an army of slaves ran Monticello and allowed him to live the ostentatious lifestyle he happily adopted.

After a brief lunch, we boarded our bus and headed home. The journey took the better part of a day, and we did not arrive at the Union until about 10 o’clock in the evening.

The trip was educational and genuinely fun thanks to the people I had the pleasure of traveling with. I realized that while Ohio State pushes for greater diversity, most people are innately cliquey and generally interact with those that are similar to them. But when we are placed in situations where we must interact with people we would likely never approach on our own terms, more often than not, we are able to get along with them, seek similarities and common ground rather than differences, and find incentives to invest in them, rather than to judge and ignore them. We may look different, speak different languages, and worship different gods, but at the end of it all, our shared humanity, interests, and experiences bind us together.

I almost forgot to mention, I was also publicly humiliated for insubordination.

The OIA is organizing trips across the country and abroad throughout the school year. You can learn more about these trips, as well as their work on campus, at oia.osu.edu.

Try to go on one of their trips before you graduate. They are worthwhile.

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