From: Samuel Hand
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2014 1:39 PM
To: Jay Masingill
Subject: GIT part 2 update

Mr. Masingill,

I hope this email finds you well. Here is another brief recap and update of part of what the Ramsey Family has made possible in my life thus far:

For Part 1 of my GIT (Spring 2013), I was able to learn much from wonderful experiences in France, Austria, Slovakia, the UK, and Spain thanks to the financial support provided by the Ramsey Award and the Austrian extension of the Ramsey Family (the ~2 week trek around Austria and Slovakia was incredible and spent partly with John and Susanne!). The time spent visiting London, gawking at Gaudi’s art in Barcelona, sensing pain and injustice at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, kicking around with John Harris and Susanne Binder in Austria and Slovakia, and tramping across France has proved foundational in my life. I would not have had such life-changing experiences had I not received the award–it opened many doors to a diverse array of European experiences.

For Part 2 of the GIT (summer 2014), it doubled as a honeymoon!!! Here was our itinerary:

June 9th-20th (all in Ireland): Dublin, Carlow, Kenmare, Balleyvaughn, Beaulieu/Drogheda….June 20th-30th (all in Greece): Athens, Nafplio/Mycenae/Epidavros, Monemvasia, Corinth.

This is an adapted excerpt from my previous email I sent out previewing part 2 of the GIT: Ireland has a long history of struggle for human rights and liberties. It has rich pre-historic and ancient history (with large portal tombs that are centuries older than the pyramids at Giza, for example) and, through the rich culture of its historic monasteries, it was the protector of western civilization while Europe was struggling through the Dark Ages. Ireland’s artistic resurgence throughout the Belle Epoque produced some of the most talented writers to master the English language, and its Enlightenment-age philosophers still speak to us. Some famous Irish authors include: James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and George Barnard Shaw. Western Civilization owes much to Ireland, and it undoubtedly owes much to Greece as well.

I chose Greece for similar reasons. What better way to celebrate Professor Ramsey’s Great Ideas of Western Civilization course than to explore the nation that gave us democracy and representative government? In addition, Greece’s ancient history extends further back in time than some people may know. A civilization distant to the Ancient Greeks flourished almost two millennia before them west of Athens (around about 2000 B.C.)–the Mycenaean Civilization. The ruins of Ancient Mycenae were absolutely incredible! The Ancient Greeks gave Western Civilization a love of arts and the humanities as well that carries over into modern times. For example, the pieces of Greek playwrights were rediscovered at the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy and in France–the same classic works so foundational in Western thought were rehashed centuries later to fuel the Enlightenment that changed Europe and the western world forever.

In modern times, both of these nations have seen their shares of troubles and hardship. Ireland and Greece both enjoyed booming economies prior to the worldwide economic downtown that has particularly plagued Europe. However, there is a resilience found in the people of both of these nations that makes me feel that Ireland and Greece will both adapt to whatever the globalized economy will throw at them.

All things considered, I greatly enjoyed part 2 of the GIT in Ireland and Greece. I feel that I have a better understanding of some of the great ideas of western civilization now that I have explored the cultures that embraced them and protected them throughout the years. Below is just one major highlight from each country we visited for part 2 of the Great Ideas Tour:

Ireland: being the only Americans at a small concert where the world’s best Uilleann Pipes (Ireland’s traditional pipe instrument) player jammed for ~4 hours with an Irish family of musicians and dancers. The lovely Irish couple we shared a table and a Guinness with sneakily convinced the pipes player to give us a honeymoon shout out towards the end of the concert!

Greece: sharing a patio with local Corinthians watching Greece snag an improbable win in the World Cup on a penalty kick. Watching village life trickle along was refreshing to our souls. The owner of the taverna where we watched the game warmly welcomed us and offered us generous lagniappes since we were honeymooners!

Thank you again and thanks to the Ramsey Family for providing me with incredible opportunities that have shaped how I live my life every day.

With gratitude,

Samuel Hand