mandag 16. april 2012

Fulbright seminar in St. Louis

Dear readers,

Today is the second time that I, Karl, write an entry in our blog. I just came back yesterday from a very interesting trip to the Fulbright enrichment seminar in St. Louis. The title of the seminar was "U.S. Politics and Elections: Democracy in Action". There were about 140 Fulbright students and scholars from about 75 countries present, including some American alumni. Please note that this blog post is written entirely by myself (Karl Yngve Lervåg), and it represents only my own subjective opinions, thoughts and experiences. It should no way to be read as an official post by the Fulbright foundation or any of its associates.

The seminar started with a couple of interesting speeches, a dinner and a tour, all at the History Museum in the Forest Park (where the St. Louis World Fair was hosted in 1904). We got to learn about the history of the city, and also about the history about the United States.

The next day we had a typical American hotel breakfast with eggs, bacon, cake, danish pastries, some fruit, etc. The seminar will have an election simulation, and we therefore nominated candidates for the republican and democrat candidates. I was nominated and later accepted as a candidate for the republican party, which is interesting since I do not consider myself remotely republican. Later that day, we split up into three groups and participated in various community services. My group visited a community project in one of the relatively poor parts of St. Louis.

Later that day, we were invited in small groups to various St. Louis inhabitants for hospitality dinners. I and an Indonesian girl Dian were invited to a very nice couple, Kayla Vaughan and Dennis Roach, who had also invited a woman whos name I unfortunately have forgotten. Kayla had made a dinner of baked tuna, salad and an incredibly tasty soup, as well as a carrot cake for dessert. We talked all night about various topics, including politics, and I can only say that I had an incredibly good time. Since Dennis is the photographer, he is unfortunately not a part of the picture.

The following day we had the before mentioned election simulation. The entire morning was used to prepare for the primary elections in which the republican and democrat candidates debated (separately). I did not win the primary election (perhaps luckily?), probably because my debating skills were no match for the talented girl Katie from United Kingdom who won the republican primary. After lunch, she and the German girl Mara who was elected by the democrats had a new debate. I must say I am impressed at how good they were, especially with regard to how little time we had to prepare, and I congratulate Katie at becoming the new republican president of the United States of America of the St. Louis Fulbright seminar.

The same evening we had a tour of St. Louis that culminated at the Gateway Arch. This is a spectacular piece of architecture, and the view from the top is fantastic. We had a dinner in the museum below, and some of us had a very interesting and fun tour of the museum by one the museum guides after the dinner. Actually, I think this must be one of the most interesting structures I have ever seen, and I recommend everyone to have a look at the Wikipedia article. It is difficult to comprehend the size of this thing just by looking at the picture.

Later this night a group of us went to the City Museum in St. Louis. Before coming there I was thinking "yet another museum...", but this is not an ordinary museum. Imagine a 10 story high playground for adults, with caves, secret tunnels and paths, slides that run 10 stories down. It even has a bus over the roof top edge where you can climb during the summer. I am tempted to say that this is the coolest place I have ever seen, and that it is reason enough to travel to St. Louis just to see this place. I unfortunately did not take a picture, but there are plenty at their webiste.

Sunday I travelled back home to Irvine. The trip took about 10 hours, due to a lot of waiting at the airports. I must admit it was pretty neat to have a jacuzzi nearby when I got home. :)

Anyway, I am very grateful to the Fulbright foundation for hosting this seminar. I got to see much of St. Louis, and my impression is that it is a very interesting city. The seminar speakers and sessions had very high quality, and it was very fun to meet fellow Fulbrighters from all over the world. All in all it was simply a great experience.

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