Jewish Ghetto: A Reflection

Having spent the last three years studying genocide, I know far too well the tragedy of intolerance. Today, we spent a good part of the day in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. The cobblestone streets, that I have grown to be all too familiar with over the last two weeks, are missing a common element of daily life: cars. Why is this you may ask? It is because the Jewish Ghetto was constructed in such a way that even to this day it remains somewhat closed off from the rest of the world. Remains of the wall that was constructed to separate the Jews from the rest of Rome seem to narrow the streets as you walk by. Guards stand watch at each entrance to the Ghetto safeguarding the people from any discrimination that may still persist. In front of doors, there are golden plates embedded in the street in remembrance of families who had once lived there, but were torn from their homes because of their ethnicity by the Germans in 1943.


I like to believe that most of us look back at WWII with regret. We regret that so many lives were needlessly ended. We capture the grief in movies such as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Schindler’s List. We encourage our young people to read books such as The Book Thief and Sarah’s Key. In high school, an entire unit was dedicated to teach my class about WWII and The Holocaust. But why? Why is there so much out there telling us about the tragedies that occurred throughout the world in the mid 20th century? After WWII, there was a mantra that was adopted by the international community: Never Again. Never again shall we what? Never again shall we turn a blind eye to our fellow human being. Never again shall we ignore the warning signs when they are so visibly apparent. Never again shall we allow such a great tragedy to plague our world.

Most people know about The Holocaust. It is something that everyone learns about in school, yet many people aren’t aware of the tragedies that have occured since the end of WWII in 1945 and those that are ongoing to this day. For example, the Rwandan genocide, The Ugandan genocide, The Cambodian genocide, just to name a few. As I am typing this hundreds of Rohingya Muslims are being terrorized and driven out of their native country of Myanmar. Our world is wracked by chaos. You can’t turn on the news without being bombarded with crimes that have occurred against our fellow man. Terrorist Attacks. Hate Crimes. Events which scare us and sometime make us wary to even check the news.

Today, I saw a wall that was constructed to KEEP PEOPLE IN. To segregate them from the rest of society. Although you feel regret for this wall ever having to exist, you feel joy for seeing it in shambles. The few remains exist as a remembrance of a great victory. You hear talk about walls in the states and it makes you wonder why we constantly let history repeat itself. We don’t need walls. What we need is tolerance, acceptance, knowledge, and more than anything love.

The thought of people who are different than us is scary. I know this from experience. The thing is, it is easy to be afraid of something that you know so little about firsthand. You can’t rely on what people tell you or what you hear in the media. You need to go out and find your own truth and I’m a firm believer that the only way to do that is to go out and experience that which you know nothing of. It is surprising how quickly you learn that people who you once thought were so different than yourself, are not that different at all.

So, I guess that what this post all comes down to, and trust me I know it isn’t this simple. I’m not offering a solution or some enlightened plan on how to handle the troubles of our world, but also bear in mind that what we are dealing with aren’t aliens from space. They are human beings, same as you and I, and although I recognize that not all of you out there are Christian, if you believe that Jesus accepted the prostitute, the leper, those who others cast their eyes down upon, then you should do the same. If we recognize the tragedy of The Holocaust than perhaps we need to challenge ourselves to respond and learn from those who chose to act, despite widespread indifference. Keep yourself accountable for your fellow man.

For those of you who decided to stick with me through all that, here are some photos of our exploration through Rome. This one is a photo of the inside of St. Bernard’s which is right outside the Jewish Ghetto. IMG_5636.JPG

And this one is a photo of what remains of the wall today…. Unknown.jpeg


Albano Laziale

Hello everyone! Today we had to take a little trip to a city called Albona Laziale. The official reason for our voyage was to get our student visas, however, it was a nice change of pace. Rome is incredibly beautiful BUT it is extremely hectic. In Albano you get all the joys of Rome (yummy food, great shopping) without having to deal with the craziness of the city of the seven hills.

IMG_5119.JPGI had to stay behind yesterday because I came down with a stomach bug, however, this morning I managed to push through. After we were given our short guided tour of this city we were set loose to explore. I still wasn’t feeling great so I decided to go off on my own so I wouldn’t have to struggle with keeping up with anyone.

My first stop was at a small pizza shop called PizzaItalia. For all of you pizza lovers out there, you have no idea how good pizza can actually be. The food over here is pretty great. The other day while I was in Roma Termini I ordered a delicious cannoli. Typically in the states I’m not a fan of this Italian dessert, but over here, they just taste better. They aren’t quite as mind boggling sweet. We spent quite a bit of time in the first few days exploring Roma Termini so we would know how to use it. Since we spent so much time there, it wasn’t unusual for us to grab a quick lunch. You wouldn’t believe the quality of food these fast food restaurants serve. My favorite thus far was called a crudo. It had prosciutto, mozzarella, parmigiano, and salami. All of this deliciousness was beautifully served on a toasted croissant. If you ask me, it doesn’t get any better than that

IMG_5064.JPGAnyhow, now that I am done bragging about the amazing food that I get to enjoy for the next five weeks I suppose I should finish telling you about the rest of my day. After I grabbed lunch I spent some time walking around enjoying the scenery. Although it might take more energy, my favorite way to experience a new place is on foot. Even in the states, I love getting to walk around and explore new places. Look at some of these beautiful photos I took. The streets in Italy tend to be very narrow. Hence, a lot of people tend to drive around smaller cars. IMG_5117.JPGSince I still wasn’t feeling 100%, I decided to head back to campus early. As many of you know, I am somewhat directionally impaired, so I knew this was going to be interesting. Luckily, I was able to figure it out. It was kind of liberating that I was able to catch a bus and make my way back to campus on my own. I love traveling with a group and although I realize there is safety in numbers, I also really enjoy being able to go out and see what I want to see. I’m looking forward to maybe making my way into Rome solo at some point and re-discovering everything it has to offer.  In all, it was a pretty relaxing day. I hope all is well at home and a shout out to my dad whose birthday is today! Sorry I couldn’t celebrate it with you!


And here is a picture of yummy gelato because I’m obnoxious. Honestly, if there is one thing that motivates me to not hate the flight over here, it is the promise of yummy European gelato. IMG_5060.JPGI hope you all have been enjoying following me on my journey! Tomorrow we will be going into Vatican City and on Friday I leave for my weekend trip to Paris!


Blouin Global Scholars

I had always wanted to go Walsh University. My cousin and role model, Tricia, graduated form Walsh in 2003. I look back fondly on Lil Sibs weekend spent at Walsh University with Trish. This was my first exposure to the university that I would later come to call home. Who would have thought?

As time passed I was certain that Walsh was unattainable. Not because of my grades, but because of the hefty price tag. Consequently, I set my sights on Akron knowing full well that it was not where I wanted to end up. It was in December of my senior year that I got a scholarship offer from Walsh. Thee Vanesse scholarship was the answer to my prayers. I opened it while in the car with my family whilst on our way to our annual visit with my cousins at The Carlisle Inn. When I opened it my mind immediately went to those offers you get in the mail that are just too good to be true. I scoffed and showed it to my mom who immediately went wide-eyed. “Hannah… this isn’t a joke. You got a scholarship offer.” I burst into tears. Although many of you know I tend to be overly emotional, this moment is one that will always stay with me. It was the first time in years that I was willing to consider that my dream of being a Walsh student could come true.

Fast forward two months and I was completely convinced Walsh was for me. I scoured the website like crazy latching onto any piece of information that I could find. I was always interested in global learning, so I decided to venture the info page on the Walsh site. The Blouin Global Scholars tab popped up and guess what?!?!?! The due date for the application was only two days away. I rushed to my school computer lab, printed out the application, and finished it during study hall. In my haste of filling out the application I texted my best friend Helen and encouraged her to apply for the program as well. We both were accepted.

When I applied for The Blouin Global Scholar Program, I had no idea what it exactly involved. The word “global” in the title was good enough for me. When I went to interview for the program I learned that I would get the opportunity to travel to both Africa and Europe during my time at Walsh. Not only that, but I would get the chance to live on campus for my first two years in college as part of a living, learning community. I WAS OVER THE MOON, and equally as terrified. I never expected to live on campus. Although high school had prompted me to come partially out of myshell, I was still shy and reserved.

When I got the letter that I was accepted into the program I felt like I was walking on air. I had given up Facebook for lent, but I made an exception and voiced on Facebook how thrilled I was to get such an opportunity.

In December of 2015, right after the fall semester of my sophomore year, I was on a plane destined for Uganda. It was a life changing experience (but that is for another post) and now, one and a half years later I’m readily preparing for our trip to Rome to commence. Who knew I would get so many amazing opportunities? Travel is a chance to broaden your perspective and become more accepting of people and ways of life that are different from your own. My greatest thanks go out to the staff of Walsh University that have worked to made these great opportunities possible and I urge anyone who has a flicker of interest in travel to just do it. If nothing else, these great opportunities have taught me that experiences matter much more than any material good. Always choose adventure.

What amazing places have you visited? Leave a comment below! I would love to here about everyone’s adventures!

Girl vs Carry on: Travel Necessities

I am full of little surprises. Actually, not really. I’m an open book and to those who know me well, I am completely and utterly predictable. So, my friends… can you guess what I’ve spending the last month doing? You got it! I’ve been completing my checklist for Europe. That is, all the little necessities that I can’t live without. Recently, I’ve been trying to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Whether or not this lifestyle change will stick is left to be seen, but one thing that I’m certain of is I don’t want to be toting every article of clothing, makeup, jewelry, etc. that I own all around Europe. Also, I don’t want my luggage to be lost like it was for four of my friends when went to Uganda. What a disaster! So, I’ve challenged myself to pack everything that I need in my carry-on. I plan on taking a suitcase just in case I can’t help myself and end up purchasing lots of European goodies (scarves, sun dresses, did I mention scarves?). Luckily, I’ve had a bit of experience with international travel and have compiled a short list of things that I absolutely cannot live without. This list is supposed to consist of items that you typically won’t think about, but make travel a whole lot easier. Enjoy!

  1. Power Strip- some of you might be surprised by this one, but it is not a rare occasion that I’m the hero of the day for having a power strip that everyone can charge their phones with. Plus, no one wants to be carrying around extra adapters and converters. So, if you have a power strip laying around, go ahead and throw it in with your luggage. It will come in handy.
  2. Dramamine- I do not know about you guys, but I get REALLY BAD motion sickness. Sometimes this comes in handy. For example, rarely am I forced to sit in the back seat during a long road trip; however, this seems to backfire when I’m taking a train or metro when traveling. I always keep dramamine on hand! Especially on the plane. Whether you know you get motion sickness or not, if you are new to flying I definitely recommend keeping some in your purse.
  3. Journal- I have never been much for journaling BUT I pushed myself to write every day while I was in Uganda and now I have a precious account of my travels. One of my biggest regrets is not keeping a journal while I was in Europe last time. I just got a new journal insert for my Midori Travelers Notebook and I cannot wait to fill it full of my adventures.
  4. A comfy pair of shoes- The first time I went to Europe I brought flip-flops, a pair of new sandals, and sneakers that I got from Payless. Needless to say, it was a painful trip. So painful in fact that I have put way to much thought into what shoes I’m going to be bringing with me this time around. Regardless of what shoes you decide to bring on your travels, MAKE SURE TO BREAK THEM IN!
  5. A pair of hoops and studs- I love jewelry. I’ve been collecting earrings since I was around ten, but when your traveling is not the time to bring your most precious stones.I brought a pair of hoops and studs to mix things up a bit but both matched perfectly with any outfit that I decided to wear.
  6. Brita Water Bottle- I’m sort of a water snob. Sometimes the tap just doesn’t cut it, especially when you are in a foreign country. I love bring my brita water bottle with me. It has an activated charcoal filter that leaves your water tasting fresh. I wouldn’t leave the country without it.
  7. Sun glasses- sun glasses have never been that important to me. I rarely wear them, but last time I went to Europe I couldn’t leave my hotel without them. When I was in the Louvre I must have set my pair down somewhere, because once I was outside I immediately found myself blinded by the European sun and had to dash to the nearest touristy shop to pick up a new pair. Uganda was even worse. Being on the equator meant having to the deal with intense sun rays. Sunscreen and sun glasses weren’t an option if you didn’t want to be miserable.

As many of you can see, I’ve been putting a bit too much thought into my checklist. It has been haunting my thoughts and I’ve been keeping my journal at hand in case I need to add or omit something from the list. If any of you guys have any suggestions on things to bring abroad that people typically don’t think about, please comment! 8 days until take-off!