An Inside Look at a Cloistered Life

Passage adjacent to the Claustro los Naranjos (Orange Tree Cloister), a magical space within the convent where the nuns re-enact the Passion of Christ on Good Friday every year.

Founded in 1580 by Doña María de Guzmán, a wealthy widow who became a nun, Arequipa’s Monastery of Santa Catalina takes up an entire city block. The quiet spaces and rich colors of the convent struck a chord with honors art history major Elanor Jones.  Elanor is one of 16 honors students participating in the new H2Passport:Peru intercession course.

The sheer scale of the convent is almost definitely the most impressive part of the convent we saw today. With the sunny weather gracing us, the expansive system of bright walls and floral accents was sensory overload in the best way, each turned corner revealing a new visual delight or architecture and color. I loved the well-preserved displays that showed the way the convent once functioned, sandwiched within the currently operating convent that had to have been scaled down, allowing this set up.

Pots of geraniums bloom along a narrow cobblestone street.

One of the flower-lined labyrinthine streets inside the Santa Catalina monastery.

Walking through the courtyards it was easy to imagine a life of sitting in the sun quietly reading. This convent within a convent highlights the massive layout that held these nuns, truly making the visitor aware how it was understood as a city within a city. Considering the relatively small size of Arequipa, the city surrounding the convent, it is surprising that it was able to support such an extensive operation. Of course, the convent was not incredibly dependent on the public. Rather, the nuns supported the general population with charity services, depending on families to sponsor their daughters. It is impressive to me that sending a daughter to live this life was the more affordable option in comparison to a marriage dowry, as it was explained to us how much it cost to sponsor a daughter as a nun and the amount (if I remember correctly) was in the tens of thousands of dollars, a sizable amount by any standards.

Between the red and blue walls were bedrooms and kitchens and courtyards that suggested a life not of few possessions and solitude but one that was extravagant and fairly social for being somewhat shut off from the outside world. Servants and slaves would bring the nuns news (gossip) from the town outside and the nuns possessed fine china to put on display. As a whole the convent was an experience that exceeded expectations mostly because of the life that was still able to be felt in a dying institution, a dichotomy that projects a sense of limbo that is almost magical.

Posted in Art History, H2Peru, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Honors Courses, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences | Leave a comment

A New World Take on the Baroque

Colorfully painted dome

This beautiful dome crowns a jewel box chapel painted with flowers, birds, and patterns borrowed from Andean textiles.

The Spanish built their churches on the massive stone foundations of the Inca they conquered, but craftsmen took care to blend Andean and Incan themes into the usual Christian symbols. In this excerpt from her #H2Peru journal, honors biology major Rashi Ghosh reflects on an especially beautiful example in Arequipa.

panoramic shot of church courtyard.
It was only the third day of the Peru study abroad trip, yet we were already on our second city—Arequipa. We had only landed in the beautiful white city just that afternoon, and the exploration of indigenous and colonial duality had already begun. After riding the bus into town, we stepped off and walked for a bit through the busy streets until we reached our first stop in Arequipa—La Compañía, a Jesuit complex. La Compañía presented a wide array of examples of the hybrid Baroque architectural style, with the integration of Andean style into Christian iconography contributing greatly to this fusion. Continue reading

Posted in Art History, Art History, Biology, H2Peru, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Honors Courses, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences | Leave a comment

Window Seat on a Night Flight

Photo of plane wing taken as sun sets

On her way to Peru, honors biology major Kaitlyn Akel looks out the airplane window and finds unexpected visions in the city lights stretching out below. Kaitlyn is one of 16 honors students taking part in H2Passport: Peru, a new study-at-home-and-abroad experience offered by the Honors College.

When I fly, I always, always hope for a window seat, if it’s not guaranteed. Luckily, when booking the flights to Peru, the agent asked my preference and without hesitation, I said “window.”

And I understand those who prefer the aisle seats, as they are more accessible. You can get out and amble around the cabin without tripping over the potentially complete stranger next to you, thus avoiding an awkward interaction. It’s easier when there’s a friend next to you though.

But as I sit here in my cramped, but completely wanted corner, I’ve never felt so confident in my stance on airplane seats. In fact, I’d argue that in a window seat, your world is much, much wider, and therefore infinitely better.

 This is my first night flight in a while, and when I’m on one, I like to play this game where I make shapes out of the city lights below. Tonight, the more I shove my face against that window, the more I feel as though I’m floating through space. If I forget where I am and just take what is below me at face value, the small towns and cities become star clusters and galaxies that swirl through the sea of black, each of its own individual shape and luminous intensity.

I passed a city that looked exactly like a nerve cell, with a dark circular center as the nucleus, and I wondered what that spot could have been in reality. Some hill, maybe, or a park? The lights continued to stretch out of the cell body into sensory dendrites, and there was a linear trail of lights exiting the city that to me was the cell’s axon, but in reality, most likely a road system. Continue reading

Posted in Biology, H2Peru, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Honors Courses, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Peru, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Setting Out: A Pre-Departure Reflection

Honors College Fellow and English major Brock DeMark is the first student to submit a blog for H2Passport: Peru trip –– thanks Brock! Perhaps the biggest challenge at this point is packing for summertime in Lima and the rainy season in the highlands. You can follow Brock’s take on Peru in his blog, Intersession in the Land of the Inca: A Peruvian Travel Blog

Student packs small suitcase.

Packing. I plan to take just two small bags, which is proving to be a challenge considering all of the different climates we may be exposed to!

¡Hola y bienvenidos! Hello and welcome to my latest honors college study abroad blog!

In less than three days, I will be departing for Peru. The program I am participating in, which will travel to four major Peruvian cities over the course of thirteen days, is entitled: H2P Passport: Indigenous Ways in Peru from Colonial to Modern Times. H2P stands for “Honors Humanities Project,” a three-semester sequence of honors courses that I have been involved with since the inception of my University of Arkansas academic career.

I decided to participate in this program for two main reasons: it gives me a chance to apply the critical thinking skills I learned in H2P in a real-world setting, and it also gives me an opportunity to engage with a small group of students, faculty and honors college staff that value learning as much as I do. As an added bonus, I will be able to practice my Spanish speaking ability in Peru – which is helpful considering that I may be adding a Spanish minor to my degree plan in the near future.

While in Peru, I will explore a variety of landscapes and ruins, participate in daily class discussions, read source documents relevant to the sites we will be seeing, and of course, blog about my experience on a semi-regular basis.

map of Peru

Map of Peru. The cities I will travel to include (in this order): Lima, Arequipa, Puno (and the island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca), Cusco, and Machu Picchu.

I will also be presenting a 10-15 minute on-site speech at the church and convent of San Francisco in Lima. My presentation will focus on the quincha architectural style – an indigenous building formula adopted by the Spanish conquistadors in attempt to make large structures earthquake resistant. I will also be examining the difficulties in deciphering architectural style elements based on existing historical records (more on this to come!).

In order to reach all of the cities and sites on our itinerary, we will be travelling by plane, boat, bus, and train. It’s going to be a fast-moving program, but I am confident after three-semesters of skill building in H2P that I have the necessary tools to keep up with and adapt to the different environments we will be experiencing.

Perhaps the greatest day-to-day challenge will, in fact, be the environment. It’s summer time in Peru right now, but it is also the rainy season. Lima will be warm, but most of the other cities we travel to will likely be cool and wet due to their high elevation. We will be staying above 7,000 feet altitude for the majority of our journey, with two days being spent at 12,500 feet (Puno and Lake Titicaca). Layered clothing, rain gear, and hydration will be essential!

I hope you’ll join me on this journey by following along with my latest travel blog! I plan to post at least one time in each city (for a total of 4-6 posts over the course of two weeks), but I will of course have to work all of the details out once I’m on the ground in Peru – Wi-Fi availability and our travel schedule may vary.

This blog is intended to be both a catalog of my adventures as well as a critical analysis of the places and peoples I come into contact with. I will explore cultural confluence – be that between the Spanish and the Inca, or between myself and modern Peruvians – through personal encounters and observations in the classroom and on-site in Peru.

Thank you very much for reading and please stay tuned for more!

—Brock J. DeMark
30 Dec 2016

Posted in English, H2Peru, Honors Courses, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Peru, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Field Notes: Growing a Brighter Future

Honors horticulture student Olivia Caillouet traveled to Africa last summer to take part in Global Community Development in Mozambique. (Check out our video on the program.) This UA faculty-led service learning program  focuses on New Horizons, a poultry farm on a mission to change lives. Food insecurity is a day-to-day, gnawing reality for many families in Nampula. New Horizons has encouraged workers who raise chicks to supplement their income – and diet – by planting vegetables as cash crops. Olivia’s project looked at total cost of input, yield, and market price to determine which crop is the best bet for area farmers. She’s presenting her findings at the International People Plant Symposium hosted by the International Society of Horticultural Science in Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov. 9-13, 2016.

Student holds carrot.

1. This is the first carrot harvest of the season. This is a small carrot that says so much. A majority of the food consumed is corn and the ability to have other nutrients in the diet could improve the overall health of locals. Diversity is key to many issues regarding land, society, and economics.

Continue reading

Posted in Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences, Horticulture, Mozambique, Service Learning, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: “Tracking Trump & Hillary” Final Electoral College Predictions

 Can you believe it? It’s finally November 8. Election Day. Finally. Best case scenario? We know who our next President will be later this evening. Worst case? We head into December with all of us searching Wikipedia to figure out the what exactly happens if there’s a 4-4 vote in the Supreme Court on the issue of whether or not to extend a recount in the state of <fill in the blank>. For the collective sanity of our nation, let’s cheer for the former.

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, the focus of our “Tracking Trump & Hillary” class was to figure out which candidate is helping or hurting his/her chances of winning 270 votes in the Electoral College. The campaign has certainly had its ebbs and flows, which we have “tracked” every step of the way since the conventions. In preparation for the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November 2016 (big shoutout to the U.S. for still maintaining a political tradition that dates back to the agrarian society of the 1800s) each student in “Tracking Trump & Hillary” was asked to make a series of predictions, which included the production of an Electoral College map. I was also asked to put my political acumen on the line and do the same. Here’s what we’re thinking will happen: Continue reading

Posted in Honors Courses, Tracking Trump and Hillary | Leave a comment

Clinton Gains Security in Florida

florida

Kelly McKenzie is a Bodenhamer Fellow and senior honors student majoring in electrical engineering and physics from Searcy, Arkansas. She divides her time between solar cell research, the University of Arkansas Women’s Chorus and obsessing about politics. She plans to continue solar cell research in her graduate studies and lead America to a sunny future of solar cells on every home.

Florida is the quintessential battleground state, a highly diverse region that mirrors the diversity of the country. With both a large 50+ and a large minority population, it has a history of incredibly close election results. And as one of the states with the most electoral votes, the candidate chosen by Florida has won nine of the past ten presidential elections. As such, with a FiveThirtyEight tipping-point chance of a whopping 19.9%, it is probably the most important state to follow in this election. Continue reading

Posted in Honors Courses, Tracking Trump and Hillary | Leave a comment

Iowa in the 2016 Election

iowa

Spencer Soule is a sophomore honors student at the University of Arkansas, where he is pursuing a double major in political science and history. A native of North Little Rock, Spencer is an active member of the University of Arkansas Young Democrats and has done volunteer work for the Democratic Party of Arkansas. After college Spencer hopes to obtain a law degree and practice criminal law.

Though it may not carry many electoral votes, Iowa is poised to be one of the most unpredictable states in the 2016 election. Continue reading

Posted in Honors Courses, Tracking Trump and Hillary | Leave a comment

Ohio: A Dead Heat, or Clinton’s Race to Lose?

ohio

Maxwell Carter is a freshman biomedical engineering/political science major and Bodenhamer Fellow at the University of Arkansas. An avid follower of politics, Carter interned with the Democratic Party of Arkansas in the summer of 2015 and founded a Young Democrats chapter at his high school.

In line with trends of recent elections, Ohio has been one of the most contested and least predictable states in this election cycle. Since June, Clinton and Trump have exchanged the lead in Ohio four times. For an already-behind Trump, a win in Ohio is vital to reach 270. For Clinton, who already has the electoral map stacked in her favor, winning Ohio’s 18 votes would nearly guarantee a national victory. Continue reading

Posted in Honors Courses, Tracking Trump and Hillary | Leave a comment

Pre-Election State Analysis: North Carolina

north-carolina

Baxter Yarbrough is from Morrilton and a sophomore honors student at the University of Arkansas. He is double majoring in political science and psychology with minors in marketing, legal studies, and social work. Yarbrough is involved in the University of Arkansas’s chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Young Democrats, Pi Sigma Alpha, Rotaract, United Campus Ministries and Resident Interhall Congress. After graduation, Yarbrough hopes to attend graduate school and concurrently receive a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, as part of the two schools’ JD/MPS program.

Whether it was the signing of the highly controversial “Bathroom Bill” by Governor Pat McCrory into law, the fatal shooting of Walter Scott in the spring of 2015, the heavily favored Carolina Panthers losing Super Bowl L, or the recent effects of Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina has certainly been in the news over the past year and a half.  These events aside, North Carolina has once again emerged as an important swing state in the 2016 campaign. I could see either of the two major party candidates winning North Carolina, but I believe that Hillary Clinton will take the state this election. Continue reading

Posted in Honors Courses, Tracking Trump and Hillary | Leave a comment