Sarah Banks, Staff Writer
Welcome to the Salzburg Global Seminar, two Warren Wilson students’ utopian reality for one week over Winter Break.
Seniors Laura Lilley and Cait Coffey each participated in this year’s seminar. The program is housed in the Schloss Leoplodskron, the palace featured in the Sound of Music.
Students from Appalachian and historically African American colleges participated in lectures, group discussions and class trips to promote the global perspective of world citizenship.
Lilley, a chemistry major, recalled the experience.
“The program wakes you up in a com- pletely new way,” Lilley said. “The culmi- nation of the place and the people created sense of togetherness that crossed socio- economic and racial backgrounds. I’m still processing everything that happened.”
Coffey, a global studies major, said that the seminar helped her with her thesis on multiculturalism and feminism in the Netherlands.
“I gained a better understanding of where Americans position themselves as global citizens and how that perspective needs to change,” Coffey said. “Education is the key to making that change.”
The group visited Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich, Germany. “[We walked] through the gates where 100,000 people walked in and only 10,000 walked out,” Lilley said. “We walked through the gas chambers where it all hap- pened. It was a completely life-changing.”
The group participated in an activity called “the cave,” based on Pluto’s famous parable, after visiting Dachau. Students sat in a darkened room and were asked, one by one, to leave. They were not told what was happening.
“Understanding one another is a choice: our decisions affect others in silence. It is a choice to be awake and aware of the world,” Lilley said.
Part of the task for the seminar was to bring back some of this global perspective and leadership.
“Coming back to the Wilson bubble has been challenging,” Lilley said. “I’m strug- gling with how to bring this all back to Wilson. This campus is difficult – there are a lot of radical people.”
Lilley said that the greatest skill to have is good listening.
“To think radically is to listen to everyone and take it all in,” Lilley explained. “Input is great, but I have definitely gained the most from listening.”
Ben Feinberg, professor of anthropology, participated in the program in 2009.
“The focus was on heightening the emphasis of global citizenship of in small college settings,” Feinberg said. “It’s important to realize the global nature of that experience.”
The Salzburg Global Seminar has offered many different programs since 1947, but this particular program has been for running for three years. Many Warren Wilson faculty have participated but this was the first year it was possible for students to attend this particular program.
“The seminar left me feeling with greater resolve that global studies shouldn’t be isolated as a particular course of study,” Feinberg said. “That [...] sense of global awareness should be integrated into to all courses of study.”
Faculty and students remain hopeful that this seminar will be open to students in the future. Coffey warns any potential students to be prepared for the food.
“They fed us every three hours,” Coffey said.
“The food was incredible,” Lilley added. “We had three meals a day, two teatimes, and an after-dinner snack.”
Lilley said she felt less like a foreigner than she expected.
“Salzburg was amazing, I felt really welcomed,” Lilley said. “It was my first time on a plane and my first time leaving the country. The people were so friendly, they kept coming up to me and speaking to me in German.”
Coffey added that her views on American foreign policy was changed.
“I have a better understanding of the worldview of Americans, and American politics,” she said.
Whether the funding for this program, through the Mellon Foundation, and the Appalachian College Association will con- tinue is uncertain despite being a positive experience for all involved.
“My eyes have been opened now,” Lil- ley said, “and I’m much more sensitive to things.”