Lessons from Prague: Human rights are universal, but how we see them depends on where we live

Prague: A window on a different world

 I personally believe that every trip officially begins once you reach the destination, you step outside and take that very first breath of air in a different environment. After months spent inhaling freezing Vermont air, and a dozen of hours breathing recycled airplane oxygen, stepping in the open-air of Prague was almost cathartic. I stood firmly outside just the time to fill my lungs with as much fresh air as possible, and for a second my mind brought me back to my home-country, Italy.

 A long frosty semester spent in Vermont buried by snow can play some tricks on your mind: Even if Italy and the Czech Republic have little in common, at first impression it felt familiar. At the end of the day, there are only a few European countries in between them, instead of an entire ocean.

  On the bus ride to the Anglo-American University, where the conference is hosted, by looking outside the window my mind kept comparing and flashing to my beloved Italy. I noticed people wearing stylish modish clothes and walking around the city smoking cigarettes and sipping espresso instead of diluted Dunkin’ coffee. I admired the combination of very modern and innovative building like the “Dancing House” designed by Vlado Milunić, standing next to ancient monuments dating back to war times. Tiny city cars were zigzagging between old bridges and narrow streets in order to pass slow trams and public buses.

  Finally, I saw green grass growing around wide parks, where people were enjoying the bright sun and the warm weather above 50 F, which will not occur regularly in Vermont for the next couple of months. From the nostalgic point of view of an Italian, Prague is a momentary cure for a homesick girl who has spent too much time in the light-deprived winter of Norwich University, yet an undiscovered city preserving an incredible turbulent history while following the European trend towards modernity and globalization. [Read more…]

Thoughts from Prague, Part II: History and Human Rights brought home

Guidon staffers Sonja Jordan and Michelle Masperi are in Prague during spring break to cover a conference on Human Rights co-organized by Norwich history professor Rowland Brucken.  

Last night we went on a guided tour throughout the city. We were all hungry, jet lagged, and had been on our feet all day. The wind was brisk and my feet were throbbing with every step on the old cobblestone streets. But when you are in the pack, you follow.
  We started first by seeing the Charles bridge. The sun had set and the water was lit up with the reflections of the car and boat lights. It was windy and loud, but oddly, I felt at peace and very quiet when I saw the bridge that had started being built in 1357. This bridge is the oldest man-made structure I have seen in my whole life. This bridge is older than my country.

  We pushed on, and arrived at the Cathedral Church Sts. Cyril and Methodius, otherwise known as the Parachutist’s church.It was here that on June 18, 1942, Operation Anthropoid was carried out. In the church was Reinhard Heydrich, the third-highest ranking Nazi, who was assassinated by seven Czech and Slovak men. This is considered one of the greatest acts of resistance in all of occupied Europe, especially considering Czechs were not allowed to fight in the war due to the Munich Agreement. [Read more…]

Thoughts from Prague

Guidon Editor Sonja Jordan, whiling away time on the way to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to report on a Human Rights Conference for the Norwich student newspaper.

After many meetings, many email chains, and many nights of hard work at Norwich, Michelle Masperi and I found ourselves this week traveling 3,800 miles throughout the late night on a flight to Prague, in the Czech Republic, for an Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Rights. Invited to join the trip at the last minute, as both Guidon staffers and communications majors, our aim is to report on this conference, organized in part by history professor Rowly Brucken, who also arranged for a group of Norwich liberal arts students to attend. But first we had to scramble to get organized and pack and get to Boston for our flight.

The first flight was delayed 40 minutes and was nearly empty, with full rows of seats left unoccupied. I spent the flight dozing and watching World War II documentaries. I looked out the window and saw nothing but black, it felt like I was actually time traveling. Behind me, the baby who stared at me though the crack in the seat cooed quietly, and I dozed to be awoken by a woman with Swiss yogurt and the strongest airplane coffee I’ve ever had.

We arrived bleary eyed at a brief stop in Switzerland, where I purchased a small iced tea for the cheap price of $10, and had my first experience at customs. I got the very first stamp in my passport, and ran across the airport for a much needed nap at the gate. Simultaneous to our travel, a group of students from Norwich attending the conference with us were spending their layover in Dublin, where they drank real Irish Guinness at 6:30 in the morning (the only acceptable drink to have at that hour in Dublin).
[Read more…]

New supervisor tries to spice up experience at the Partridge Pub

Andrew Thomas (left), Korey Leonard and Connor Guzda at a Pub quiz night trying out new drinks. Picture by Connor Guzda.

There were new drinks galore at Partridge Pub on the Norwich University campus, as the month of October brought “spooky drinks” to the bar and a new manager who wants to spice things up.
Eric Rosa, the new supervisor for the pub at Norwich University, has begun to make his mark on campus with Oktoberfest-like drinks at the school bar. The specials began October and will possibly run through mid-November.
“I wanted to do something special for the month of October,” Rosa said. “I personally, like Halloween, so I kind of found some spooky drinks that were easy to make.” These five new drinks include a 14th Star Brewery Oktoberfest Beer ($6) and four new mixed drinks each costing $5.
[Read more…]

Regi Ball rook proposals: Drama and anxiety

With Regimental Ball just around the corner on Oct. 27, the annual ritual of “rookie proposals” for dates is causing anxiety and humor throughout the halls of the barracks surrounding the Upper Parade Ground at Norwich.
“Rookie proposals can be pretty out there,” said Leah Andrea, a 21-year old communications major from Pittsburgh, Pa. “I have seen some hilarious ways to ask a person to a dance, it’s definitely not something you see every day.”
According to Andrea, there is not any specific criteria someone must follow during a rookie proposal. Generally, the recruits need permission from their cadre, but once permission is granted they may begin making their plans.
[Read more…]

Dating downfalls: Yup, there are some

Michael Dziatko and Suraya Davis prove that Corps/Civvy relationships do exist. Picture by Andrew Thomas

If you talk to many students at Norwich University, you’ll often hear that it isn’t a great place when it comes to the dating experience on campus.

Cadet Hayley Vance, 19, is a sophomore who is double majoring in mathematics and education and hails from Beacon, Ill. She says that it’s not hard to find guys who want to pursue girls, but it’s the guys staying around in a relationship that becomes the problem.

She calls that “a male issue,” pointing to the idea that since there is a higher percentage of males than females on campus, men make it a high priority to chase females.
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For longtime VP of students Frank Vanacek, Norwich character seen as defining trait

 

Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Vanecek has been at Norwich almost four decades, and has a strong sense of what defines the school.

As a boisterous laugh from outside his first-floor window peeled his eyes away from his computer screen, Frank Vanacek’s gaze rested on a group of students laughing in the warmth of the spring weather outside. Smiling to himself, the Vice President of Student Affairs turned back to his desk and let his mind wander to years past.

“I have taught at three other institutions other than Norwich University during my time working in higher education, and I will say that after my experiences at those other schools, I would choose Norwich over them every single time,” said Vanacek, who has been a higher education professional for almost four decades.

Vanacek doesn’t mean any offense to the other institutions that occupied his time, he simply says, they didn’t have what Norwich has. “Their students didn’t have that special character about them. They didn’t have the Norwich character,” said Vanacek. [Read more…]

Corps vs. Civvies: Norwich’s split personality could use a makeover

After more than two decades, a divide still exists between corps students and civilians who were first enrolled in 1994. Guidon staffer Ethan Miller thinks it’s time for both sides to respect each other. Norwich University photo

Commentary

 

Baseball has the Yankees and the Red Sox, racism has the oppressed and the oppressors, and Norwich, well Norwich has the Corps and Civilians. Sure, there are fights in all of them, but hey, at least Norwich has more middle fingers.

Unless you just got to campus, you’ve definitely seen the tension between the corps and the civvies. I was on my way to history of civilization one day, talking to a few guys, just messing around while we walked, when a corps kid walks up to us and tells us that we’re a bunch of “sissy no-brained civvies,” and then walks away. The next day I’m headed to chow with a couple of civvy chicks, when a different corps kid sees the chicks and yells “Hey ladies, you want to chase these boots?” But hey, maybe that kind of stuff only happens when I’m around.

When I first got to this college, I looked around at all of the corps members in uniforms and short hair and thought, “Huh, this seems like a serious college,” but I soon learned it’s not as serious as it looks. I started to realize what shenanigans went on around campus, whether it was the weird kid from down the hall who would run around with condoms on his face to the basic white girls getting drunk and throwing their half-filled Mikes (Hard Lemonade) out of their windows. I began to see that the school had a more party vibe than they had on the outside. [Read more…]

For Norwich seniors, it’s a look back at many memories, and a look ahead to the future

It’s like any other day for Angel Cruz, you wake up to get ready for school, making sure that you have all that you need. Yet those days were getting closer to an end for Cruz, a 21-year-old senior from Passaic, N.J.

With less than a week before graduation, “it’s an unreal feeling, knowing that my first 16 years of education are coming to an end, and I will be on my own for the first time,” Cruz said.

Like many Norwich students who are finishing their four years and about to join the class of 2018, Cruz was excited to discuss his future. And like his fellow seniors, who come from all backgrounds to Norwich to face challenges, gain leadership experience as well as to find new families, it is a time to look back as well.

“I recently bought my graduation tickets for my family to come see me, it’s exciting to know that they will be here to see me finish my time. They are very proud of me to see my accomplishments and how far I got,” Cruz said.
[Read more…]