Magellan Logo     
November 2013
 House mural in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
Photo taken by Coni Salinas, Class of 2014, on her 2013 Magellan.  

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Magellan Messenger, the e-newsletter that strives to connect the W&J community and friends of the College with the Magellan Project. Each issue features articles written by Magellan recipients as well as updates on events related to the program. 



    Clicking Into Place    
Xan Sayers, Class of 2016



Xan Sayers in Ireland.

Sometimes, things just seem to click into place. My experience with tea had made it apparent that we were mortal enemies. Even the constant attempts of my English friends could not help me yield to a seemingly simple steeped cup of tea, always ending in dark and bitter disappointment. I liked tea. I wanted to like making tea. I wanted to return the favor of making tea for each time my friends had brewed me a cup, but the disaster that occurred when tea met water by my hands quickly earned me a simple pat on the head and someone else saying that they would do it. Warm tea was not something I had come to experience regularly until the summer before I started college. It was not part of my family's culture to drink tea and since I did not like coffee I became the household master of hot chocolate. Upon working with international staff at a summer camp, however, I was curious about their daily lives and since the Brits loved their tea, I was eager to see what it was all about. It was their culture, one similar yet extraordinarily different from my own, and I wanted to know as much as I could about it.


My interest in other cultures started young as my neighbors were the only Muslim, and to a further extent non-Caucasian, family in my small town. Back then, I was too young to hold a prejudice and quite lucky to grow up open-minded of others and their differences. When that family moved away, I began reading about history and mythology on my own, yearning for the constant exposure to a separate culture that I had been in contact with. Through books, I traveled to Ireland, Greece, China, the depths of the oceans, and the peaks of mountains. When I was first introduced to Washington & Jefferson, and more importantly to the Magellan Project, I found an opportunity put before me that I had never been offered before. Within the first month of my freshman year of college, I was planning what trip I would take. Through workshops, conversations, and plenty of alone time familiarizing myself with every page in a travel book, my proposal evolved until I submitted it for consideration.


Ireland. The Emerald Isle, land of the Celts, and home of the lucky was also the starting point at which I had begun my independent adventures as a child, lured by tales of fairies, giants, and magic. It made sense that my journey as an adult traveling abroad independently began at the same place. I had planned for months to go to Ireland to study both its ancient and recent history and how it affected its culture and society from both an anthropological view as well as more personal means by meeting with archeologists to discuss artifacts and learn the history through storytellers. I also intended to study the landscape and learn how it influenced the lives of the people who lived there.


As someone who planned everything in a timely fashion and always kept on schedule, it was quite difficult for me to adjust to the advice of my host and "play things by ear." Still, I attempted to relax, making reservations later than I would have liked, though my trip otherwise remained well planned out. Apparently, Ireland's national bus company had never heard of being on time. On my second trip away from my homestay and across the country to the small fishing town of Dingle, I was found running across the streets of Dublin, attempting to cover ground that usually took ten minutes in five as well as lugging around fifty pounds on my back whilst wearing my heaviest clothes and clunky hiking boots to a bus station I had never been to or else miss my only chance of arriving at my destination that day. After following my gut, running myself to exhaustion, stopping once for directions, and cursing after a bored teller informed me the next bus for my journey would be too late, I felt defeated. Then, glancing up, I caught sight of the bus I needed to be on pulling out onto the streets of Dublin. That unsuspecting moment, standing in a bus hub covered in sweat, panting, and disappointed, was the pivotal point of my Magellan trip.


Grabbing my backpack, I sprinted out to the other side of the building, not even thinking the bus may not turn onto that street, and ran into the road with a hand waving in the air in front of the bus until it stopped and let me on. It was the single most spontaneous moment I had ever had and only led to even more. My last night in Dingle was one of the best nights I have ever had and definitely one of the most influential to my project. I had met an older, Irish musician who had left after my first night and then returned out of the blue. While we had not spoken a word to each other before, that day, while the sun was still high, we found that we could not stop talking. His name was Dermit and one of his greatest loves in life was to gather traditional songs that told the history of Ireland, most of them about things that were not recorded at the time as a way of keeping the stories alive. I discovered that Irish history was best learned through its music, not storytelling, which was a great relief as I had not been able to contact the storyteller who had promised to meet with me since arriving in Ireland. As the sun set, Dermit taught me to play a traditional pigskin drum and spoons whilst he strummed on his guitar, singing me history that his grandfather's grandfather had lived. After the evening chill had set in and the stars began blinking down on us, more musicians from all over the world came to join us, the wife of one being an Irish archeologist who was all too eager to casually talk with me on the aspects of her work pertaining to the Viking era. Well into the night, Dermit brought people together with songs, switching between his guitar and endless supply of harmonicas, only breaking to either grab us a few cups of tea or dance with me as two Belgian girls played a waltz.


While my spontaneity had increased tenfold since running into a street to stop a bus, I still left the next day as planned despite the attempts to sway me otherwise by Dermit and others I had met the night before. The moment the bus left Dingle, I cried with the first jolt of the vehicle, surprised by the sudden sadness that overwhelmed me. The night before, I had clicked into place. I had clicked into Ireland, with its rich culture and people. I had clicked into music, becoming a part of something rather than standing on the outside looking in. I had clicked with Dermit, a man whose kind wrinkles, poor dancing skills, and constant teasing that I took three spoons of sugar with my tea had made me feel like I was finally meeting the family I belonged with and living in the house I was meant to be in, but had never opened the door of.


My Magellan trip was more than successful as I not only accomplished my goals, but also experienced a life that I felt I had always been meant to live. Shortly after arriving in Ireland, I had accepted tea simply because I had felt pressured and had answered too quickly. Bluffing every movement, I sipped the drink hesitantly only to find it delicious. Before, the art of tea had evaded me, but in Ireland it had just ... clicked. Now, walking the paths of Washington & Jefferson as a Magellanite offers me a perspective I lacked a year ago and it is a perspective I would never risk losing.  I am more spontaneous now and willing to "play things by ear" as well as eager to become involved in things and share my experiences where before I was all too pleased to stand back. I still make tea, several cups a day, and Dermit and I mail each other back and forth. He sends me the good Irish tea that is lacking in our grocery stores and still teases me about my need to cut back on the sugar much like a doting uncle.


Sometimes things just click into place, and thanks to Magellan, I clicked into place in Ireland.


In Search of Contemporary Art     

Cat Beaudoin, Class of 2015     



   Cat Beaudoin in Prague, Czech Republic. 


Since taking three art history classes at Washington & Jefferson, I have grown ambitious to further my knowledge in the study of world art. With my last class involving the most recent material offered--a course on 20th-century art history--I wanted to delve into works that have yet to receive critical attention within the most recent editions of art history textbooks. From there, I found myself searching for the ideal location in which to explore contemporary art. With the aid of the Magellan Project, I explored the most revered museums and galleries in Berlin and Prague in order to understand the diversity of the contemporary art movement as well as to expand my conceptual horizons within my own work. I aimed to find a reoccurring theme of what cultural issues propel contemporary art in order to receive intellectual, artistic, and spiritual guidance.


When I first landed in Berlin, I was excited and scared. What I feared was nothing more than the unknown. One of the primary worries I had related to "couchsurfing," which I had elected to do as a way to keep my lodging expenses down and also to meet local people who could provide me with information about Berlin and Prague that you just can't find in a guidebook. Little did I know that what started as a measure taken to cut back on spending would become one of the most incredible experiences I would have while I was abroad. Before I get into the artistic component of my trip, I cannot elaborate enough about the people who hosted me on my couchsurfing journey. I get emotional thinking about those I left behind in the cities I quickly grew to love. These complete strangers went out of their way to make me feel at home and some even went out of their way to treat me like family. Of the many hosts I had, I stayed with several fellow students, a Bosnian refugee, a Paralympic and Olympic couple, and a Swiss artist. From the late night talks to the experimental dinners we would cook in their kitchens, my hosts blessed me with their presence. One of the wildest things one of my hosts had me do when the museums were closed involved freestyle mountain climbing down the face of an abandoned mine to swim in the ravine. When we made it back up to the surface, we climbed up to the highest limbs of some nearby cherry trees and ate the fruit for our dinner. It was spontaneous, terrifying, exhilarating and frankly gave me one of my favorite stories to tell when I returned.


As I walked the streets through the city of Berlin, I began to see myself becoming a local. The city itself was so diverse that you belonged even if you were an immigrant. It was about midway through my Magellan that I began to seriously consider coming back to Berlin for grad school.


As far as the contemporary art, Berlin did not disappoint me. Part of me knows I could return and still find more galleries, though I am rather certain that I went to the vast majority within the city's limits. The art I witnessed pushed my perception of what I thought contemporary art was. As I hoped, these works gave me a greater appreciation of the contemporary movement. My favorite collection I visited was that of Sammlung Boros. Once an old public bunker in World War II, the building itself was utilized in various ways for over half a century before it was finally purchased by a rather wealthy and artistically inclined family. Upon my visit, I could not draw and write fast enough in my sketchbook to capture all that was becoming infused into my creative spirit. The collection even harbored a piece from one of my favorite artists: Ai Weiwei.


I expected finding the same quality of contemporary art in Prague to be a challenge, but not nearly to the degree that I faced. After the severe flooding that hit Central and Eastern Europe this summer, several of the museums and galleries I planned on visiting were heavily damaged and closed to the public. Despite this unexpected turn of events, I did manage to find my other favorite artistic space within the limits of this city in the Czech Republic. The DOX Center for Contemporary Art employed a theme of questioning disability in its rotating gallery space. An entire two floors of warehouse space were filled with artists of a similar inclination: to inquire what is considered normal, both physically and mentally, and why. The works spanned sculpture, film, paintings, drawings, and infusions of a few together.


Along with the contemporary galleries and museums I visited, I also went to other significant museums and monuments to satisfy the history enthusiast within me. The German History Museum, Pergamon, Prague Castle, and Old Town Square were some of my favorite points of interest within the two cities. I even found myself following free walking tours to learn more about the history behind these incredible places.


Throughout my adventure I kept a journal along with my sketchbook. The journal contained the places I went, the people I met, and all spontaneous thoughts and emotions along the way. I firmly believe that every traveler, Magellan recipient or not, should record their experiences. Even as soon as a week later, I found myself recalling events that my brain later stashed into its junk drawer. Besides the photographs and the sketchbook, my journal was the best souvenir I brought back from my trip to Germany and the Czech Republic.


Back on campus, I return with a sketchbook bursting with possibilities inspired from my experiences throughout Europe. One of my first challenges was deciding which themes and techniques I would pursue in my own work. I find I have a better understanding of color theory as well as how to more effectively convey a concept visually.


Even before returning home, I found myself registering for Dr. Lambertson's 19th-Century Art History class, which was the only art history course left at W&J for me to take. I find that I am even more curious and driven than I thought I would be after my Magellan. I still believe I am the same person, but somehow wiser from my experiences. The material I witnessed firsthand spins creative gears in my head that have rusted since my childhood years. The people I met set my soul on fire, gave me purpose, and reassured me in the choice I made to embark on my Magellan in the first place. More than anything, I feel powerful, blessed, and grateful to have become a part of this incredible program here at Washington & Jefferson.


    Staying the Course       

David Loeffler, Class of 2014  



   David Loeffler at Bates Hall in Boston, MA. 


Arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, was by far one of the most daunting and stressful events in my life. There I was, bag in hand, walking into a whole new world. I was alone and independent. Every decision, every step was of my own doing and no one was going to be there to hold my shaking hand. The nerves, however, eventually subsided and excitement rushed through my mind.


While in Boston walking the streets and camping out in the libraries and Starbucks, I tried to imagine what Phillis Wheatley, one of two authors I was researching, felt when she first came to Boston in the 18th century. Clearly we are different people, but the fear and unknowing juxtaposed to the extreme excitement and wonder was something we both had in common. I lived in the Boston Public Library (BPL) and shuffled through books and articles looking for traces of a cultural identity. My work was promising. Wheatley showed me that even though she faced daunting hardships as a slave, Africa, and woman, she used those pressures forced on her by Euro-Americans in the sense of religion, language, and education to battle back and call out for the better treatment of her African people. Her works are filled with examples of her African cultural identity and a will to speak out on behalf of others.


Working in the BPL and also the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) taught me a lot about how to research at large institutions. Many of the books I used were not accessible via open shelves, so I was forced to fill out little white and yellow call cards. Then I would have to wait patiently for a librarian to climb the stairs and search the closed shelves for my sought after book. I also had to learn to think independently. I was without a prompt; nothing was given to me by a professor pointing me in a direction to begin. Instead, I had to come up with my own thoughts and reasons for this project. That out-of-the-box thinking forced me to think critically on a broader scale than I have in the classroom. It led to question after question, eventually making me question what I was doing. "Stay the course," I told myself. After some time, I did and I grew my "sea legs."


The result was my quest to learn and understand how Wheatley and Samson Occom, another 18th-century author, saw themselves in a world that was upside-down. Both Wheatley and Occom were minorities and victims of Euro-American colonization. At a young age, they both were exposed to western religions, education, and language. How did they cope? Did they bow to these new ways? This led to something else, something larger, more complex and unknown to me: What do these authors tell us about cultural identity through literature in the 18th century?


Before I answer those questions I think it is important to discuss the second part of my trip. After gaining a wealth of knowledge in Boston and finding my direction, I traveled to Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College. Occom is arguably the second most important figure in Dartmouth history, though I would argue he is the most important. During his life he helped fundraise for the College, thinking it would educate Native Americans. Sadly, this was not the case. While at the College, I spent hours upon hours in the many libraries scattered across the campus. I sailed through articles and books trying to piece together Occom and Wheatley. I yearned to answer the questions I posed above. But before I arrived, the two-hour bus ride from Boston to Hanover gave me plenty of time to think. As we chartered our course through the pine-tree-covered hills and cliffs I wondered how Occom saw this land and what his reactions were. Was he as amazed as I?     


Toward the end of my expedition, I was able to piece together what my research meant and I was able to answer the questions that set the wind to my sails. Using Wheatley and Occom as case studies, I was able to conclude that Euro-American pressures, such as religion, education and language, bombarded Africans and Native Americans in 18th-century New England. Wheatley and Occom faced these pressures through their writings. Instead of succumbing to them, they in turn used them to write literature that allowed them to speak out against the Euro-American domination and for the better treatment of their people. This "anti-colonial" style enabled Wheatley and Occom to reach different audiences and to some degree contribute to the positive advancements of minorities during this time. What stands out the most is that they stayed true, at least partly, to their core cultural identities.


I want to end on one of the most defining moments of my Magellan. I say one because I had many but on a personal level this one strikes me as important. It was one of the last days that I was in Hanover, and I really wanted to experience a New Hampshire breakfast at Lou's, the local diner. However, I hadn't been able to build up the courage to go in. Usually I would walk past and look in, and then just keep on walking. But on this day, things changed; I felt different. Fearful, as usual, I looked in and started walking away. But something stopped me, and I turned around and walked in. It may seem insignificant but that defining moment was when I realized that I could do anything I want. Nothing, no one, will ever stand in the way of my hopes and dreams. If that feeling, produced completely by my Magellan experience, made me go into a diner, then I cannot wait for what my future has in store for me.


You Can't Put a Price on Passion     

Thary Chea, Class of 2014    



Thary Chea in Quito, Ecuador.  

To put it simply, the Magellan Project has changed me. Probably even ruined me a little bit--or at least my future bank account--because I've discovered a true passion for diversity, culture and traveling. I know that I'll be spending the rest of my life searching for new adventures, familiarizing myself with foreign cities, and constantly learning and seeing with new eyes. I believe that I was lucky enough to find my passion thanks to my education and opportunities at W&J. I feel that I have been so blessed with incredible unlimited opportunities all because I chose the right college. I still have no idea what I'll be doing after graduation, who I want to be when I grow up, or if I'm going to change the world one day. I know that this is only the beginning, but so far, so good.


For my Magellan, I completed an internship with South American Explorers in Quito, Ecuador, and living and working abroad for 14 weeks made a lasting impression on me. I didn't have all my American friends nor did I have a host family to depend upon. I had to wake up each morning and be responsible for myself. I had to be independent. There was no one telling me that I had to go to work, that I had to make sure I saved money, that I had to buy groceries, or that I had to learn how to cook, clean and wash dishes all while working eight-hour days. These tasks seem so humble, but at the end of each week, I always felt proud of myself.


The Magellan Project didn't just offer me a sense of independence. It also taught me how to deal with conflict as an adult. On my way to Quito back in May, I was faced with a flight delay and was forced to stay overnight in Miami. I felt so discouraged because I had to pay for a hotel, wait another full day to travel to Quito, and my itinerary was not on track as I had planned. But before even arriving in Quito, I told myself that I couldn't let the little things shine a negative light on my experience. A minor delay and shelling out a few dollars wasn't the end of the world.


I arrived in Quito with a few days to spare before beginning my internship and decided to stay in a hostel for a few nights until I could find an apartment. I contacted my off-campus advisor frequently, hoping she could help me find a place to stay within my budget. I immediately heard from her, but only to learn that she wouldn't be available as we had planned because her parents were visiting the country. So I e-mailed, and called, and went into the office and left notes but no luck. I had to leave the city and stay with a friend on the coast because I was concerned about my overall budget. After nearly two weeks of non-stop e-mails and phone calls, I was finally given an answer. My intended supervisor had resigned and had no intention of returning to the organization. I panicked. I didn't know what to say or do except that I booked a round-trip flight and my departure date was August 27! Luckily for me, I ended up getting into contact with the president of the organization who decided to take me on as an intern. Even though I started a few weeks later than I had planned, I was thrilled that things were back on track!


During my internship, I found myself doing work from creating calendars; to answering telephone calls and emails inquiring about travel in Ecuador and throughout South America; to planning fundraising events; to speaking with government officials about the organization's financial status; to paying employees; and so much more. As a twenty-one-year old, I thought to myself that I hadn't anticipated so much work nor so much responsibility. But as time went on, I realized that the organization invested a great deal of trust in me. At first I felt so unprepared for this experience, but I quickly learned that I had all the assets and knowledge that I needed in order to be successful. Each day, I found myself applying concepts, ideas, and material from my W&J classes. I ended up working in all aspects of the organization and wasn't limited to marketing and public relations which allowed me to build on a variety of skills. My overall project was to create a formal internship program and guidebook for all future interns with South American Explorers. At the end of the internship, my boss was impressed with the work I had done, and I felt so proud that I made a meaningful contribution with the help of the knowledge I gained at W&J.


I'm proud to call myself a two-time Magellan Scholar and that I also had the opportunity to study abroad during my time at W&J. When I applied to come here, I made a commitment to make an impact in our community and abroad, and now as a senior, I know that I've gone above and beyond anything I had ever anticipated doing. I've volunteered in foreign countries; studied in a foreign country; worked in a foreign country; and dedicated hundreds of hours to the Washington youth community all thanks to the never-ending inspiration that exists on this campus. The Magellan Project is changing lives because it offers us an opportunity to accomplish goals and dreams that many students probably never could have achieved on their own due to financial limitations. But Magellan has proven that you can't put a price on passion.



Issue 5   

In This Issue
Clicking Into Place
In Search of Contemporary Art
Staying the Course
You Can't Put a Price on Passion
New interactive Magellan map now available. See where our students have gone and learn about what they have accomplished.

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