Gustavus Campus News
The evaluations in a competitive first round of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program 2018-2019 are complete and a record number of Gustavus Adolphus College students were named semifinalists for the prestigious grant program. Their applications have been forwarded to their respective countries for final review.
“This is the largest number of semifinalists Gustavus has ever had, so it is a very exciting time for these students as they work through this challenging process together,” said Gustavus Fellowships Coordinator and Associate Professor of Chemistry Amanda Nienow. “Through Fulbright, students are able to immerse themselves in a different culture and learn more about themselves as individuals. It is an important opportunity for students to explore themselves and the world before the next step after graduation.”
Six Gustavus seniors, Megan Johnson (Vietnam), Megan Kallestad (Peru), Ellen Kneeskern (Norway), Liza Long (Nepal), Isabella Robertson (Malaysia), Ally Xiong (South Korea), and two Gustavus graduates, Julia Rydberg ‘17 (Taiwan) and Emma Schmidtke ‘17 (Taiwan), represent the College as English Teaching Assistant program semifinalists. Through the Fulbright ETA program, recent U.S. college graduates and young professionals serve as teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities overseas to improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States. At the same time, the U.S. students are able to expand their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
“I first came to Gustavus from out of state, and then I interned abroad in Sweden. I want to continue to break out of my comfort zone and keep growing an expanding network,” said Isabella Robertson, a communications studies major who applied to teach in Malaysia. “This opportunity would allow me to immerse myself in a different culture, represent the United States in a positive way, and incorporate the two cultures for the better.”
Gustavus senior Amanda Landaverde, a psychological science, Spanish, and Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies triple major and the ninth Fulbright semifinalist, is seeking a Fulbright Research/Study Grant to conduct research in El Salvador. Also funded by the U.S. Fulbright Student Program, the Research/Study Grant allows recent college graduates and young professionals to develop and execute a unique research project for a specific country. If accepted, Landaverde will return to her father’s home country to complete her proposal, an investigation of generational trauma and its impact on anxiety and stress.
“Most of the existing research on generational trauma is completed in European countries, so I am very interested in using my LALACS studies to investigate the impact of the civil war and violence that occurred during the 1980s in El Salvador and how it affects young people today. The entire research project would be in Spanish, which adds another element,” said Landaverde.
“As coordinator, I have loved meeting the best and brightest students from all departments to help them find unique opportunities abroad,” said Nienow. “Our applicants and finalists in this world renowned program bring an element of prestige that we are proud of here. Having past finalists return and help read the applications and guide the process for current Gusties makes it even more special.”
Working with both students and alumni, the Gustavus Fellowships Office assists applicants in identifying and applying for appropriate nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships. The various programs provide Gusties with the opportunity to spend time overseas, conduct independent research, earn money toward undergraduate tuition, or attend graduate school. Nienow and a team of faculty and administrators support students from all majors as they strive to secure fellowships both domestically and abroad. In order to learn more about the Fulbright and other programs, she encourages students to contact her directly.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Tennis and Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College will benefit from a generous $1 million gift from Boy and Betty Toy of Mounds View, Minn., camp director Neal Hagberg announced today.
The commitment serves as a cornerstone gift of Tennis and Life Camps’ (TLC) ambitious 40-Love Campaign, which seeks to raise $4 million over the course of 40 months to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the nation’s preeminent summer tennis camps.
“Boy and Betty come from harrowing beginnings, barely escaping World War II China with their lives,” Hagberg said. “When you see people as kind as they are who believe in their depths about giving back, and that it is a privilege to help others, it makes us reevaluate our own beliefs and opens up more generosity in us toward others.”
The couple’s gift will establish the Boy and Betty Toy Endowment Fund to support the Wilkinson Legacy Endowment, which seeks to fulfill the dream of late Tennis and Life Camps founder and former Gustavus Men’s Tennis Coach Steve Wilkinson to continually upgrade the College’s first-class tennis facilities by providing for court maintenance, improvements, and expansion.
The gift will also provide funding to support the Swanson Tennis Center renovation project and supplement the Boy and Betty Toy Tennis and Life Camps Staff Programming and Development Endowment Fund, which the couple created in 2015.
“Our first attendance at camp gave us unbelievable mental and physical changes in our daily living. The bottom line is we not only learned how to play better tennis but also how to be better people in life and to control the things we can control, accept the things we cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference,” the Toys said. “Steve and Barb [Wilkinson] are both wonderful and generous individuals who gave so much of their lives to create TLC so others can become better tennis players and more importantly better citizens of our country. We have a deep desire for continuous support of the organization.”
For more information about the Toys’ gift, their motivation, and their affinity for Tennis and Life Camps, visit the Tennis and Life Camps website.
The non-profit Tennis and Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College have taught over 60,000 campers not only top-notch tennis but the TLC Three Crowns philosophy of Positive Attitude, Full Effort, and Good Sportsmanship. Founded by Steve and Barb Wilkinson in 1977, the camps were gifted to Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010. Learn more at tennisandlifecamps.org.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Thirteen days and thirteen cities later, we stepped off the train and joined the busy crowds on the streets of Paris. As we arrived at the last hotel stop of the trip, the same building as our first two nights in France, a familiar feeling came back.
It didn’t quite feel real. Looking out the balcony windows over the city that we had only begin to explore, it felt as if we were just kicking off the trip again. A whiff of the suitcases, a long scroll through our phones’ photo album, and a glance at our journals would tell quite a different story.
In the time between our two stays in Paris, we had stood on the tallest bridge in the world, visited ancient Roman amphitheaters, ate countless baguettes, and watched at least four teammates face plant as we ran down the sand hill of the Dune du Pilat.
Trying new foods every day, we accidentally said “si” instead of “oui” too many times and ate more than we should.
We listened to experts of history and culture as we followed guided tours through each city, surprising each guide with how many sites we had seen that day.
In Carcassonne, we toured the medieval city and visited the cathedral inside. After climbing the much more modern steps to the Orange Vélodrome, we watched Marseille soccer fans choose their season tickets in two of the nearly 70,000 seats inside the stadium.
In Nice, we walked along the beach, looking for sea glass and pretending we wouldn’t have to return to a blizzard back on the Hill. During our afternoon in Monaco, we posed for pictures outside the palace and hiked down to the streets of Monte Carlo.
Knowing it was taking us home, our second ride on the TGV, the fastest train service in the world, wasn’t nearly as fun as the first trip two weeks prior.
It was the busiest and prettiest two weeks I have had in a long time. So, as we packed our final night in Paris and hoped the bags were still under 50 pounds, the reality set and it was clear. We would have to return.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
In an attempt to travel beyond tourism, this class allowed many of us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in French sport culture and play soccer while abroad. Before leaving, I knew that we were scheduled to play full 11 v 11 matches, play against teams from the French women’s professional division, and all the while pretend to not be out of shape. As a team, we were psyched for this exciting possibility. For me, I was also grateful to be able to play alongside my teammates one more time in a black and gold jersey. But in the end, the parts we did not know and did not expect are the experiences we will never forget.
After a day of touring the city of Bordeaux, visiting the Dune du Pilat, and learning about the history of French wine at a local vineyard, we had our first game. We were scheduled to play two teams, US Talence, a DH league team in French women’s professional soccer division and FC Girondins de Bordeaux, a League 1 professional team. As our bus pulled up to the field, we were greeted by loud cheers from a dancing group of local fans. We could not help but smile. We knew that our fellow Gusties would be cheering from the stands, but we did not know that they would be joined by such a large crowd.
Walking to the field, a group of young kids followed closely, asking to trade jerseys and trying English as we tried French. At the start of the match, we knew that we would have a professional start followed by a group photo with both teams, but we did not know that the beginning kickoff would be performed by the Mayor of Bordeaux and that our photo would appear in the French newspaper the following day.
Following the game, the players from the opposing team invited us to join them for dinner. We shared stories, talked through our teams’ similarities and differences, and even swapped social media to stay in touch. The language barrier didn’t mean much when we could all talk about soccer.
A couple of days and many sites and cities later, another match was scheduled. Leading up to the game, we knew we were going to face Montauban, a League 2 team in the professional division. However, until the morning of our game, we did not know that we would also be playing in a small sided tournament with local teams. Over the loudspeaker on our bus, our tour guide passed along the exciting news. Women’s teams from local towns had heard a women’s team from the United States was visiting and they wanted to play.
In between the shortened games, we met the players from the local towns. Ranging in age, talent, and experience, all of them loved the sport. As the tournament closed, we said our goodbyes as many of the women ventured up to the stands to watch our match-up with Montauban on the same field. The end of the game brought another after-party and further opportunities to practice French and learn more about professional women’s soccer.
As I write a couple days later, the soccer is blur (except the 40 yard stunner a Montauban forward scored that even our favorite All-American goalkeeper complimented as unstoppable), but all together, the experience was unforgettable. We experienced community and gracious hospitality, met new people with very cool interests, played high level soccer, learned a lot, and made the paper. We might have to stay.
It’s a story of Olympic proportions. A baby in Korea is adopted into a Minnesota family, grows up playing hockey, really good hockey, then returns to Korea to be a leading athlete on its Olympic team. It’s like the origin story of a Greek goddess.
It is Marissa Brandt’s story, and she’s likely embarrassed by that comparison. The gracious, hardworking Gustie greets old friends warmly, and new folks with a quickness to connect. In person, she’s the exact opposite of “goddess-like” (not counting her current level of physical fitness). Instead, she is completely down-to-earth.
“It was an easy decision. It is an amazing opportunity. I get to play hockey,” she says, summating her incredible story in that humble and straightforward way of hers. But press a bit and even she will admit there is more to it. She is a Minnesotan, a hockey player, a Gustie, and, now (as before) a Korean. Her story is one of identity, community, family, sport, and excellence. Despite her best efforts to downplay it, she really is something special.
She is former Gustavus hockey player Marissa Brandt. And she is current Korean national hockey player Yoon Jung Park. Come February, she will be an Olympian.•
“When I was younger, I wanted nothing to do with Korea or being Korean,” Brandt says. She is in Lund Arena, quietly accepting her fate as an interviewee. She blushes when asked if she is a starter. (She is.) Brandt was adopted from Korea by Greg and Robin Brandt when she was four months old. The couple then became pregnant with her sister, Hannah. The sisters, only a year apart, did everything together. “We would actually go to Korean culture camp,” Brandt says. “I never wanted to go but my sister did.”
Both sisters loved hockey. They started playing in elementary school, played on the same teams and for Hill Murray High School, and went on to play in college. For sister Hannah, it was the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. For Marissa, it was Gustavus. “I liked that it was a small school,” she says, “And of course the hockey program is great!”
But it was a hard first year. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I sat a couple of games,” she says. She had to work to stay in the lineup. “She was a unique player in that she could play forward and defense, and she had great skating technique,” says Gustavus women’s hockey coach Mike Carroll. Plus, he says, “She had a gift that not many students have—she could talk to adults as well as her peers.” Says former assistant hockey coach Kirstin Peterson ’11, “She was a great communicator. She can change the culture of any situation.” A great relator, Brandt thrived in Kathi Tunheim’s human resources and organization behavior courses, and declared a management major. She also worked for women’s soccer coach Laura Burnett-Kurie. “She lived the life of an ideal student-athlete,” says Burnett- Kurie. “Marissa was committed to hockey, but she also got the big picture. She was trying to be the best in all aspects of her life.
“Really, the Olympics are just the next step in her process.”•
“I wanted to get married, get a job, nothing crazy.” Brandt says of her life-after-Gustavus plan. But during her senior year, Rebecca Baker, an assistant hockey coach at Bethel, called. Baker was consulting for the South Korean national team as it prepared for the 2018 Winter Olympics. (As host country, Korea’s teams are granted automatic entry into this year’s Olympics.) Baker had seen Brandt play. Would Brandt consider trying out for the Korean national team? “I was terrified,” Brandt says. Everything that was wrong with the idea went through her head: She didn’t speak the language. She didn’t know a single person. Maybe the call was a prank. Plus, Brandt says, “I was so shy about being Korean. I really didn’t want to tap into that side of myself. “But I found myself saying yes right away.”
Within two weeks, Brandt was stepping off a 15-hour flight and into her birth country, one she’d not been back to since she was adopted from it. “It was so surreal. I never thought I’d be back to Korea under those circumstances,” she says.
It was a silent 90-minute car ride to the training center; she and the driver didn’t speak any of the same language. “I was crying nervous,” Brandt says. When she met her teammates for the first time, “They all bowed. I just bowed back! I thought, ‘How am I going to learn everyone’s names? How am I going to last here?’” The next day she met another English-speaking tryout from Canada. Later, teammates from Colorado and North Carolina joined in. In total, there are five “imports” with Korean ancestry on the Korean national team. Once their positions were established, “We decided the most important thing is to bring as much knowledge as we can,” Brandt says.
In general, Koreans don’t grow up playing hockey. There are only 200 registered players in Korea, says Brandt. Aspects of the game that American players and fans take for granted are growth areas there. “Even little things like jumping over the boards,” Brandt says. The team trains six hours a day—at least two hours in the gym, at least two hours on ice. The Gustavus student-athlete and culture-changer in Brandt has kicked in. “We made a community of our team. I wanted it to feel like it did at Gustavus,” she says. As a starting defensive player, a lifelong skater, and, at age 24, one of the oldest on the team, she is a clear leader. (The average age of the team is 20.) Her Korean teammates call her Mother Marissa and have soaked up as much knowledge about hockey as Brandt and the other imports can teach. In return, Brandt says, “They teach me Korean, and I learn about the culture.”
And that, she says, has been the truly transformative aspect of her remarkable story. “Tapping into my Korean self—that is the most important thing. I’ve been able to accept it.” Case in point: The moment in April when the Korean national team won Division IIA World Championships for the first time in history and were promoted to Division IB. Korea was hosting, so it was a win at home. Says Brandt, “We were lined up and watching the flag being raised. I was, literally, in that moment, so proud to be Korean. I wasn’t ashamed about it in anymore.
“I realized that it’s okay to be Korean and American. And I’m excited to do this with my family, with my team, and with my countries.” •
Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, are Feb. 9. Korea plays Switzerland on Feb. 10.
Gustavus Adolphus College professor of health and exercise science Karl Larson is the 2018 winner of the Karen Denard Goldman Mentor Award from the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). The award, which will be presented to Larson at the organization’s annual conference this April, honors mentors who help students close the gap between research in the classroom and work in the professional world.
Larson was nominated for the award for his work creating a National Case Study competition that presents students with a public health issue and challenges them to solve it. Since the first competition in 2005, the program has grown to include 12 undergraduate teams and six graduate level teams, and continues to expand each year.
“My personal goals for the SOPHE Case Study Competition are to provide an opportunity for students to display their skills from coursework in designing and planning an approach to a public health issue,” Larson said.
Larson’s team writes new cases each year based on significant public health issues and student groups have two weeks to design their approach to the problem. The teams gather at the national convention to present their ideas to a panel of judges.
“I see mentoring as one of the most important things we do,” he explained. “Conversations, application, research, community service… We are the guides for our students to have these types of experiences, and it is where I find great value and reward.”
Outside of directing the Case Study Competition, Larson is involved in SOPHE as the current president of the Minnesota chapter. The organization is home to public health educators and professionals across the nation.
While the Karen Denard Goldman Mentor Award speaks to Larson’s talent and passion for setting up students for a life of success, he isn’t content with the status quo. As the professor looks to the future, he hopes to find a sponsor and increase funding so the case study competition can continue to expand.
“My goal is to provide a vehicle for students to display their talent,” Larson said. “As a professor, you watch them get really excited about a new opportunity and you know you got it right.”
Visit the SOPHE website to learn more about the public health organization.
Gustavus Adolphus College will begin the expansion and renovation of the iconic Nobel Hall of Science in early February, College President Rebecca Bergman announced today. When the project is completed in 2020, Gustavus science facilities will rival those of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.
The $70 million project, which will nearly double the building’s footprint to 177,300 square feet and completely renovate the existing facilities, received final approval from the Gustavus Board of Trustees on Friday, January 26. Nobel Hall houses the departments of biology, chemistry, geography, and geology along with interdisciplinary programs in biochemistry/molecular biology and environmental studies.
“Academic excellence is at the core of the Gustavus experience,” Bergman said. “This facility is a tangible example of our strong commitment to support state-of-the-art, hands-on learning opportunities and student-faculty collaboration.”
The 74,000 square-foot south expansion will include new laboratories, teaching and study spaces, and connect Nobel Hall with Schaefer Fine Arts Center, creating a laboratory theatre. By pairing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with the Arts, Gustavus is intentionally focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education. The combination of traditional STEM disciplines with the Arts is consistent with the growing STEAM education movement that produces well-rounded students who are prepared to drive innovation. A 12,400 square-foot north expansion will highlight student/faculty research and showcase the College’s signature event, The Nobel Conference ®, and the College’s living connection with the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden.
The project will be managed by Kraus-Anderson Construction, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest commercial general contractors and construction managers. The company’s partnership with Gustavus stretches over 40 years and includes the campus reconstruction after the 1998 tornado and recent projects such as Anderson Hall and Beck Academic Hall. Hastings+Chivetta, based in St. Louis, Mo., serves as the architect of record for the project.
Work on the first phase of the project, the Nobel Hall expansion, will commence in early February. Once the expansion is completed in summer of 2019, the existing building will be completely renovated, with the entire project expected to be concluded by the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year.
“Our mission compels us to provide students with the skills and experiences they need to lead lives of leadership and service in society,” Bergman said. “Momentum at Gustavus continues to grow thanks to the generosity of our donors, the vision of the Board of Trustees, and the commitment of our talented faculty.”
Nobel Hall Expansion and Renovation Quick Facts:
Existing square footage to be renovated: 90,900
New square footage to be added: 86,400
Total size of completed expansion and renovation: 177,300 sq. ft.
Original Nobel Hall dedication: 1963
Number of teaching labs: 20
Full-time faculty supported: 40+
Amount fundraised: $50 million
Amount financed: $20 million
Total cost of expansion and renovation: $70 million
Dr. Maria Sirois, a master teacher, facilitator and author, recently visited Gustavus Adolphus College for a three-day residency hosted by dance professor Michele Rusinko.
Rusinko met Sirois at Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center in the Berkshire mountains. Rusinko went to take the course “Radiance: Create an Amazing Life After Cancer”, of which Sirois was one of the instructors. Rusinko was powerfully influenced by Sirois. “I developed the January interim course, Bouncing Forward and later the .5 semester course, Resiliency Rebound, based on my studies with Maria and others”, said Rusinko.
A positive psychologist and consultant, Sirois focuses on the resilience of the human spirit particularly when under chronic stresses, during significant transitions or changes, or when feeling the shock of wholesale change. Her work in the medical, legal, human service, financial, technology and educational sectors focuses on building capacity and engagement around stressors such as conflicting goals, difficult conversations, unrealistic expectations and moments of failure — using such moments to leverage sustained positive shifts in perspective and ability.
On campus, Sirois led three sessions in Rusinko’s January Interim Experience class “Bouncing Forward”. The focus of the class is on resiliency skills for college and beyond. The course provides an introduction to the tools, concepts and principles of resilience offered by current research in the field of positive psychology and mind-body medicine. Students were pleased by Sirois’ visit to their class. “Just having an internationally known individual take time out of her schedule to speak with our small class in Saint Peter, Minnesota gives me the impression she is a very generous, and incredible person,” said first-year Emily Jesmer.
In her sessions with students, Sirois shared with them different concepts of positive psychology to help them grow their resiliency skills. In one of her sessions, she introduced the positive emotion of gratitude. According to Sirois, appreciation boosts self-confidence and softens the impact of trauma and stress. With gratitude as a point of reference, she introduced an activity called Love Bombing where students were able to name different offices on campus that are not appreciated enough. Students wrote them notes of gratitude that they brought to them after class. “She has made me really appreciate what I am grateful for and often times take for granted,” Jesmer said.
Sirois also introduced the practice of Clear Mind. “The biggest take away I have from my time with Maria is learning about The Clear Mind Practice, which is grounded in optimism through the power of ‘and’”, said Junior Katie Velek “Adding the ‘and’ transitions us from a negative thought pattern to a more optimistic one.” Sirois at the end of the class session revealed to the students, “my hidden agenda is to make you the hero of your life. I want to shift you from ordinary to extraordinary living”.
Sirois also led workshops with the Counseling Center, Health Service, PEaCH and CARE, the Student Life Division, Collegiate Fellows (CFs) and Peer Assistants (PAs). In her workshop with CFs and PAs, she focused on mindful pausing. She believes that every day has best moments and that we need to regularly pause and savor those unique moments. Sirois also gave a public lecture in Alumni Hall. The title of her talk was When Good Things Happen in Dark Times and in it, she spoke on how happiness leads to resilience.
Sirois left a lasting impression on many. “Right now wherever I go on campus someone stops me and thanks me for bringing her to campus. It was a rich time for so many people” says Rusinko.
We made it.
Eleven hours, two airports, thirty-eight suitcases, too many plane pretzels, and lots of yawns later, we arrived in Paris, France.
Over 3,500 miles from Saint Peter, we boarded a bus at 7 a.m. local time and headed to the Stade de France, the country’s national soccer stadium, for our first tour. We ignored the fact that it was the middle of the night back in Minnesota with a mix of excitement, nerves, and curiosity. There was a big day ahead of us…one I had been anticipating for quite some time.
Watching the buildings get taller and taller as we neared the famous city, part of me didn’t think it was real. When I had first arrived at Gustavus, I had never traveled outside of the country. (I could count a couple of hockey trips to Winnipeg, but that would make this less dramatic.) Falling in love with the College over my four years, I could never quite get myself to make the decision to follow one of the many opportunities to spend a semester away in a new country. But after welcoming more and more friends back to campus from places all over the world and listening to their exciting stories, I knew I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. Then, a perfect opportunity presented itself in the middle of my third year on campus when the January Interim Experiences for the following year were announced. One of the international trips featured a course focused on exploring sport and culture through firsthand experience in France. Alongside many of my teammates from the women’s soccer team, I signed up. And the wait began. My participation on the soccer team has been an integral part of my college experience and the chance to study French history, travel the country’s cities and stadiums, play soccer with local residents, and gain a better understanding of the sport’s role in the French culture was an opportunity I could not miss.
The bus slowed as we circled the massive stadium, a place I had only ever seen on television. The site housed the French National Soccer Teams and important musical and cultural events, boasting the ability to host 81,338 spectators. We walked through the never-ending bleachers, picturing a game on the pitch below and imagining the deafening cheers of lifelong fans. We visited the locker rooms, posing in front of the famous names on the backs of the hanging jerseys. It still didn’t seem real, even when we used the same bathroom as Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry.
Boarding the bus again, we headed to the heart of the city. We visited the Place de la Bastille, the Notre Dame de Paris, Sacré-Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe and other historic sites. Capturing the true significance and beauty with an iPhone camera is not quite possible, but the group certainly tried. On any other day, the brisk wind and rain might have detracted from our mood, but knowing we had 14 inches less snow than our Minnesota friends, we happily stood on the second tier of the Eiffel Tower and beamed in front of the camera, our matted hair and mud-stained clothes irrelevant for the moment.
That night, we had a warm welcome at a local restaurant, greeted with smiles and “Bonjours” as we sat down to end the busy day. As the first course was graciously placed in front of us, we began to eat. However, even with the long wait with months to prepare, and hours in the classroom practicing short French phrases and learning respectful etiquette, we seemed to have missed one small detail.
“Do not eat that!” our tour guide exclaimed from the table with our chaperones. “The soup is coming!”
Hungry and naive, we had all begun to eat the vegetables in our bowls, thinking the word “soup” on the prepared menu may be a little different and a lot more solid than we understood it to mean at home. However, as the waiters chuckled with our tour guide while pouring the soup over the vegetables on their second trip, we quickly understood our mistake. We joined the laughter, the embarrassment quickly fading as reality hit: we were finally here. It wasn’t the first mistake of the trip, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but I still consider it a perfect first day.