Sunday, June 15, 2014

Final Summary

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Low Country and Sea Islands Summary

            The Low Country and Sea Islands on the East Coast of the United States of America have a distinct and unique region, culture, and people. The region is, of course, close to the sea and low to sea level. When I first heard about the trip, I never imagined it would turn out like it did. The trip was way more than I ever could have expected. I loved most if not all of the activities that the group did. Dr. Deal did a fantastic job of organizing and planning this May Term trip. We as a group really did immerse ourselves into the low country and Sea Islands. The cultures that we witnessed were just as unique as the landscape itself. My favorite culture by far was the Gullah-Geechee community at Pin Point Heritage Museum. The people at Pin Point really do care about and express their ancestral roots to the max. I love that they care for what they believe in as well as what they stand for. The people on the islands and in the low country are completely different. On Tybee Island, I met some locales and they were completely different than locales from Charleston. Charleston was relaxed and laid back but Tybee was even more relaxed and laid back. The Sea Islands are truly on island time because most are retired, elderly couples and they just want to enjoy the rest of the time they have on this earth while Charleston is a big city where people have to go and do stuff on a regular basis. I had been to both islands and big cities but the Sea Islands and Charleston are completely unique from their peers. I had never heard of the low country or the Sea Islands before this trip so I did not know what to expect. However, after this trip, I would always like to return to the Sea Islands for vacation or retirement. I fell in love with St. Simons Islands, and Tybee Island. Those two islands are vacation islands but nothing like Myrtle Beach or Daytona. On the Sea Islands, you get to experience vacation but on our own time and not on someone else’s. In Myrtle Beach, your day is dictated by the shows and restaurants in the area and what time they close and open. On St. Simons, you practically have all day to do what you want and I loved it. I will go back to the Sea Islands one day and hopefully it is for good. As for Charleston, I would not mind vacationing there or going on a cruise from there, but I would never want to live there. Overall, the trip was amazing and the time was memorable. Well, it has been a fun three weeks for me and the rest of the gang but this is Ryan Kluk signing off for the last time.

Fort Sumter: Day 20

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Fort Sumter

Description: On the groups last full day in Charleston, South Carolina, Holden, Graves, Austin, and myself decided to go visit Fort Sumter National Monument. The four of us had to pay eighteen dollars to get on a ferry and ride over to the island where Fort Sumter is located. We got to walk around the entire fort and see inside the gunpowder room and magazine rooms. My favorite spot on the fort was the spot where the first shot from Fort Johnson hit Fort Sumter. My favorite story about Fort Sumter was the one about how after being bombarded by cannons, the fort got stronger even though the walls were falling. Fort Sumter is a neat fort and it has a lot of history as well. Fort Sumter is the place where the Civil War first began between the North and the South.

Reflection: When you see a place of history like Fort Sumter, you stand in awe by what the people of the time were able to accomplish. Fort Sumter is made entirely by hand with no machinery. The fort is by no means small in size either. When I saw Fort Sumter, I could not help but be amazed because in the mid 1800’s, Sumter was built. In today’s society, being able to work with your hands is almost a lost art but during the time Fort Sumter was being built, working with your hands was all that mattered. My dad is a carpenter and all he does is work with his hands but he works with wood and not masonry. However, the concept is still the same and I am grateful that my father taught me and still teaches me how to work with my hands to this very day.

Analysis: While the building process of Fort Sumter is neat, the part most people care about is the fort’s part in the Civil War. Fort Sumter is where the Civil War began as mentioned above. Fort Sumter was the first victory for the Confederacy as well as the Civil War. Fort Sumter, along with Fort Moultrie, was key to protecting the important port city of Charleston. Charleston was the main port on the east coast for the Confederacy. Without Fort Sumter, Charleston would have fallen to the Union much earlier than it did. Fort Sumter should always be remembered, not for being part of the Confederacy, but for being part of a war that gave many people their freedom. Slaves helped build Fort Sumter but after the Civil War, former slaves occupied the fort for the Union during Reconstruction. Fort Sumter was key to America and the Confederacy but ultimately, the fort sided with the Union metaphorically speaking. Overall, history is key to the future and Fort Sumter has a lot of history to display to the people of Charleston and the people of America. 

Gullah-Geechee Part 2: Day 19 cont.Image provdied

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Gullah-Geechee Part 2

Description: During a Piccolo-Spoleto Event in Charleston, South Carolina, our group went to a Gullah-Geechee concert. The group we saw sang multiple songs including some from the opera Porgy and Bess. The concert lasted about an hour and ten minutes and it was lovely. The group sounded amazing and it was cool to see how they value their ancestral roots. There was five different soloist and each soloist did an exquisite job. Listening to this concert really tided in a lot of the trip with the Gullah-Geechee community.  The concert was my favorite part of being in Charleston besides Ft. Sumter.  That can’t there was not only great entertainment but it was also a great way to learn about the Gullah-Geechee community and history with music.

Reflection: Seeing how this Gullah-Geechee community in Charleston still values its ancestral roots shows me that I should value my Polish ancestral roots even in America today.  While listening to the concert I thought to myself that I should also remember my ancestral roots just like is Gullah-Geechee community does today.  When you remember your ancestral roots, you remember your family’s history and where you came from.  Remembering where you came from is key to where you’ll go in the future.  While most people want to go headfirst into the future they must first remember the past to succeed.  While the future holds the change in the world the past holds how we will change the world. I want to be able to remember my ancestral roots just as well if not stronger than the Gullah-Geechee community that the group witnessed while in Charleston, South Carolina.

Analysis: The concert in Charleston, South Carolina is important to the community of Charleston because the Gullah-Geechee community lies at its roots.  Charleston is a port city as we all know, which allowed slave traders to bring a lot of slaves into the city.  When those slave traders brought the slaves and to Charleston, those ladies eventually form their own community called the Gullah-Geechee.  The Gullah-Geechee have been in Charleston for hundreds of years and today that community has dwindled to a very small amount.  The city of Charleston should remember the Gullah-Geechee because the Gullah-Geechee have been in Charleston since its inception.  The Gullah-Geechee community should always be remembered because of its ancestral roots. The concert during the Piccolo-Spoleto event reminded the audience that even though the Gullah-Geechee community in Charleston is small, they are still prevalent in today’s society.  Overall, a concert at the AME church in Charleston featuring the Gullah-Geechee community was a perfect display of how that community is connected to the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

For Moultrie: Day 19

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Fort Moultrie

Description: In the morning of the group’s second full day in Charleston, we visited Fort Moultrie National Monument on Sullivan’s Island. Fort Moultrie was first built for the Revolutionary War in 1776 using Palmetto trees and earth and was in service until 1947. The fort was in use for six different wars spanning 171 years. The fort has been built and rebuilt a total of three times. Fort Moultrie got its name because the first commander of the fort was Colonel. William Moultrie. Fort Moultrie was the site of the first naval victory in the Revolutionary War for the Patriots. Fort Moultrie is now a brick fort and is smaller than the original fort built for the American Revolution.

Reflection: I love history and getting to visit, see, and walk through a fort that had been in commission for six separate wars was amazing. I loved how the National Park Service made Fort Moultrie part of Fort Sumter National Park. When touring Fort Moultrie, you see and read information that no website or video can depict. Our park ranger told the group the story of how the fort was used during the Revolutionary War and I loved that story because Fort Moultrie is the site where the United States won its first ever naval battle. I had never heard of Fort Moultrie before we went to visit the park but I am glad we did visit that particular fort. Everyone knows about Fort Sumter but not nearly as many know about Fort Moultrie which, in my opinion, is more important because Moultrie helped America gain its independence from the British.

Analysis: Preserving historical sites like Fort Moultrie is a common occurrence in Charleston. One of the old train depots that ran through Charleston is now a Harris Teeter and looks just the same as it did before it was converted to a grocery store. Fort Moultrie was key to the city of Charleston because it protected the city from the British until the city was sieged in 1780. When the British took control of Charleston, they completely avoided Fort Moultrie because the Patriots easily defeated British Admiral Sir Peter Parker in 1776. Without Fort Moultrie, Charleston would have been taken over by the British in 1776 and they would have been able to start their southern campaign earlier than 1780 which might have won them the war. Fort Moultrie was also used extensively during the Civil War. Confederates used the fort along with Fort Sumter to protect the port of Charleston. Fort Moultrie is also the birthplace of the South Carolina state flag. William Moultrie designed the blue flag with a crest in the corner to fly at Fort Moultrie. Later down the road, the citizens of South Carolina added a Palmetto tree to Moultrie’s design to commemorate Fort Moultrie’s victory in 1776 using Palmetto logs as the outer wall of the fort. Overall, Fort Moultrie is important militarily and its legacy lives on through the South Carolina state flag.

Walking Tour of Charleston, S.C.: Day 18 cont.

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Walking Tour of Charleston, S.C.

Description: On our first full day in Charleston, South Carolina, the group took a walking tour of downtown Charleston. The group saw the city market, which was given to the city of Charleston by the Pinckney family, the battery, and Rainbow Row. Our tour Guide, Mrs. Georgia, provided the group with a plethora of facts and stories that involve the city of Charleston. The tour lasted around two hours and we walked a total of about three miles. Mrs. Georgia gave the group facts that only a local would know including showing the group where Stephen Colbert, a comedian from Hampden-Sydney, grew up.

Reflection: While on the walking tour, I realized that Mrs. Georgia did the same thing the Savannah Trolley Tours did on our first day of the trip. However, I discovered that the walking tour of Charleston was more interesting than the trolley tour of Savannah because we as a group were walking the city and seeing the history up close. The walking tour provided knowledge on the history of Charleston which I adored. Learning the history of a big port city in America gave me so much excitement. Charleston was and is still influential in the economy of the South. Listening to Mrs. Georgia tell the group about Charleston was a perfect event for me because I loved hearing how the history and stories of Charleston developed and molded the culture and vibe the city gives off. The walking tour also gave the group a great look at while Charleston is considered the low country. While on the tour, and especially at the battery, I saw how close the city was to the sea level

Analysis: A walking tour of Charleston is the best way to see the city, learn its history, and experience its unique culture. The walking tour gives the people on the tour a personal and up close look at the many aspects the city has to offer. You get to see Catfish Row, the place where the opera Porgy and Bess was based off of. You also see Rainbow Row, a row of houses painted with bright colors that has no historic value but is just interesting. Not only do you visit historic and touristy attractions, you also see people who call Charleston their home. The people of Charleston take pride in the city’s history. They also embrace the new direction that the city of Charleston is headed. The city is starting to rely on tourism more and less on the port itself. While the port is still the main attribute of Charleston, the tourism of Charleston is growing and the citizens of the city understand that and they take advantage of it. A great example is the walking tour the group took. Overall, the walking tour is the best way to see most if not all of the amazing qualities the city of Charleston, South Carolina has to offer.

Drayton Hall Plantation: Day 18

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Drayton Hall Plantation

Description: In Charleston, South Carolina, the first use of Georgian-Palladian architecture in North America was displayed at Drayton Hall. Drayton Hall was built by John Drayton in the 1730’s. The mansion sits on a 350 acre property that backs up all the way to the Ashlie River. Carter Hudgins, a Hampden-Sydney graduate from 2000, gave the group a private tour of the plantation. We saw the slave cemetery, the mansion, the landscape, and the archeology building that holds all the artifacts found on the plantation. The plantation was not a commercial plantation like most plantations were at the time. The Drayton Hall Plantation was the headquarters of all the plantations owned by John Drayton and his son, Charles Drayton. Not only was Drayton Hall the headquarters for John Drayton, the mansion he built was also a display to show the power and wealth that he had.

Reflection: Carter Hudgins, our tour guide, is the deputy director of the Drayton Hall Plantation. Carter received a degree in history from Hampden-Sydney College in 2000 and now he has a job where he can use those skills he learned from Sydney. I want to be like Carter in a sense because I want to be able to incorporate my love for history with the job profession I choose. Carter runs a museum which displays multiple aspects of history. I want to do the same as Carter but at a museum like the Smithsonian. Now, the Smithsonian is a larger and more important museum than Drayton Hall but the concept is still the same. The Smithsonian incorporates multiple aspects of history on a larger scale. Seeing Carter and is love for history proved to me that I want a profession where I can use history but also love what I do for a living.

Analysis: Drayton Hall Plantation is a different look on plantations in the South. Drayton Hall was not used for commercial use like Monticello in Virginia or Hayes Plantation in North Carolina. Drayton Hall was a plantation to display John Drayton’s power and wealth as well as the headquarters for the rest of his plantations. Drayton Hall shows people today that large plantations with hundreds of slaves was not always the case. Drayton Hall was only 350 acres in size and had twenty to thirty slaves on the grounds. Most plantation owners lived on a plantation that was used for commercial use but John Drayton did not and he set the norm for South Carolina. A lot of other plantation owners in South Carolina began to do what John Drayton did at Drayton Hall. They would build a mansion on a small plantation and use it as a headquarters for the rest of their plantations as well as use it to display their wealth. Overall, Drayton Hall started the new norm of plantation owners in South Carolina and introduced a new form of architecture in America called Palladian.

Wild Horses Roam the Island: Day 17

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Wild Horses Roam the Island

Description: On Cumberland Island, wild horses roam freely all over the 21,000 acres. The horses are a key factor to why people visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. The horse population on the island averages around 150 every year give or take twenty horses. The horses on the island are a variety of colors including black, brown, and white. The average lifespan of a Cumberland horse is seven years. Now, seven years is not a long time for a horse to live and the reason the Cumberland horses have a short lifespan is because of the minimal amount of grazing land on the island and inbreeding. The horses on Cumberland Island are not native. They were first brought by the Spanish in the 16th century and then again by the Carnegie family when Thomas Carnegie bought the island in the 1880’s.

Reflection: Seeing wild horses on Cumberland Island was my first experience of seeing horses that were neither in a stable nor on a farm. Seeing the wild horses allowed me to take a step back in time because horses use to run wild and free in America before the United States started to expand west towards the Pacific Ocean. The horses on the island are so used to humans that anyone can get close without the horses acting scared or frightened. When I saw the wild horses, I was in awe for two reasons. First, they are wild horses and I had never seen a wild horse in my entire life. Second, the horses are extremely malnourished due to the poor grazing area on the island. When you got close enough, you could see five to seven of the horse’s ribs. The wild horses allowed me to see what America was like before people started capturing and herding the wild horses.

Analysis: The wild horses are a major factor to why some people visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. Yes, some people do want to see the First African Baptist Church, Plum Orchard, or Dungeness but some want to see horses wild and free. The environment is the major factor to the small size of the horse population and their short lifespan. The island has only a few spots where there is grass for the horses to graze. And the grass that the horses do graze does not have all the nutrients that the horses need to live a long and healthy life. The National Park Service thought about getting rid of all the horses on Cumberland Island because the horses are not native to the island and they damage the environment. However, the National Park Service decided not to eradicate the horses because of how the horses played into the history of Cumberland Island. A law was passed by the state Georgia that protects the horses on Cumberland Island so that they can never be eradicated. Overall, the wild horses on Cumberland Island are not only a spectacular site to see but also a piece of the history of the island.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Land and Legacies Tour: Day 16

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Land and Legacies Tour

Description: The National Park Service on Cumberland Island gives a tour of the northern part of the island as well as Plum Orchard. At the north end of the island is the First African Baptist Church and the Settlement. The Settlement is where the newly freed slaves and the generations after them lived while working for the Carnegie family until 1972. Plum Orchard is one of the Carnegie mansions on Cumberland Island. Lucy Carnegie built Plum Orchard as a wedding present for her son, George Lauder Carnegie. The tour also takes the passengers through the wilderness area on Cumberland Island. While on the tour, our tour guide gave us bits and pieces of information about every spot we visited. The tour really gave the group a perfect outlook on what life on Cumberland Island was like not only for the Carnegie’s on the island but the newly freed slaves and their descendants.

Reflection: While listening to our tour guide tell us facts that I can no longer remember, I thought to myself ‘Why didn't the newly freed slaves leave the island?’ Well, I discovered that Cumberland Island was all that the former slaves knew. They had never been anywhere but Cumberland Island and they only knew a certain skill or two focusing mainly on agriculture. When I realized this, I began to appreciate the opportunities I have been given in life to explore and try new things. The former slaves on Cumberland Island only knew Cumberland Island, nothing else. Me on the other hand, I have opportunities to my left and right every second of the day. Now, I can either choose to take advantage of those opportunities, which I usually do, or just let them pass me by. I realized that people should take every opportunity he or she is presented with if given the chance, myself included.

Analysis: The Land and Legacies Tour is crucial to Cumberland Island because the tour allows visitors to see and learn about the people and culture of the island from roughly 1865 to 1920. The passengers of the tour get to see how the former slaves lived and made a living on the island. The passengers also get to see how the Carnegie’s used and built Cumberland Island to their liking. The tour also gives visitors of Cumberland Island a perfect view of the wilderness area. While on the tour, passengers see and learn about the people, their culture, and the environment of Cumberland Island. Without the tour, visitors may not have the chance to experience the north end of the island, which is vital to explaining the role of the black community on Cumberland Island. Overall, the tour is a perfect way to display Cumberland Island’s environment, people, and the culture those people developed on the island.

Kayaking the Altamaha River: Day 13

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Kayaking the Altamaha River

Description: On the group’s eighth full day on St. Simons Island, we drove to Darien, Georgia to kayak sixteen miles on the Altamaha River. Kayaking sixteen miles on the Altamaha in six hours in one day was a greater distance than the group’s first kayaking trip on Little Tybee Island where we kayaked fourteen miles in three days. Kayaking the Altamaha River was a calm and peaceful trip excluding the last half mile or so. For the first fifteen and a half miles, the group flowed with the river and the outgoing tide but for the last half mile, the group faced a strong headwind. The headwind forced the group to use their strength and kayak the final stretch. We saw many different stretches of the river. We saw the tight and narrow swampy area, the wide large open area, and a narrow, man-made channel called Rifles Cut. Rifles Cut got that name because of how straight the channel is.

Reflection: What I learned while kayaking on the Altamaha River was that my first kayaking experience during the May semester prepared for my second kayaking experience. While the Altamaha kayaking trip was a greater distance in a shorter amount of time, the trip was easier because I had great practice days before when kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean. Kayaking uses a person’s arms, upper and lower back, and abdominal muscles to paddle and get the kayak to move. While kayaking, one needs a lot of endurance, stamina, and strength and I discovered that I had more of all three after kayaking the Altamaha River. Just before we departed, I felt like I was not going to be able to stick with the group and push myself all the way through, but I did and I am extremely proud of myself for doing so.

Analysis: While kayaking the Altamaha River, the group got to see many of the features the river provides for the locals and natives surrounding the Altamaha. The group saw how the Altamaha provides recreation, food, and water for its residents. Recreation was seen by all the boats on the river either fishing or just relaxing or kayaking like we were. Food was seen because the river is full of fish for the locals to catch and eat. Water was seen because the Altamaha River provides water for the locals to drink after it has been purified. The Altamaha River is key to its surrounding inhabitants because the river is a gateway to the Ocean as well as a place where businesses can thrive for the community. Overall, the Altamaha River is key for the locals and natives surrounding and depending on the resources and features it provides them.