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A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. By Peter Gildner ’09

Peter Gildner ’09 (Hatboro, Pa.), an art and chemistry double major, spent two weeks in Spain where he and four of his fellow junior art majors studied Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Spanish art and architecture as part of the Rothkopf Scholars Program.

  • Rothkopf Scholars Study Religious Art of Spain

This past spring, I had the wonderful honor of joining Professor Lynette Bosch, Professor Charles Burroughs, and four of my peers for a tour of Spain through the Arthur J. ’55 and Barbara S. Rothkopf Scholars Trip.

The Rothkopf Scholars Trip is funded by an endowment established through gifts in honor of former Lafayette President Arthur J. Rothkopf and his wife. This year’s focus on Christian, Jewish, and Islamic art provided a firsthand experience of pieces which we had previously studied in addition to exposure to marvels that were completely new to us.

The trip was planned to allow two days or so in each of our destinations to see and learn as much as possible. Our travels took us from Madrid, to Santiago de Compostela, Granada, Barcelona, and back to Madrid with a day trip to Toledo.

Having never been abroad, every new place we visited seemed extraordinarily unique to me, each with noticeably distinct characteristics. Settings ranged from the city life of Barcelona with its immense size and grandeur, to Toledo with its rich past and sheltered location, to Santiago de Compostela with its intimate side streets and quiet charm.

Looking up one particular morning to see the massive moss covered towers of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela looming above the quiet shop fronts was just breathtaking. We spent over an hour that day just wandering around the foundations and examining the extensively carved facade. All of the cities were truly spectacular in their own way, each offering us glimpses of their historical architecture and proud art exhibits.

Another highlight for me was standing before the works of Diego Velazquez, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Pablo Picasso, and many more to learn of their rich past and subtle messages. Professor Bosch and Professor Burroughs did a fantastic job of enlightening us with their knowledge while also giving us a chance to explore on our own.

Another unique factor of the trip was the intimate size of our group. With two professors and five students the experience never felt like attending a class. A handful of lectures were prepared throughout the two weeks, but oftentimes our discussions would span the course of a delightful meal together.

One evening, we had the pleasure of dining in a quaint restaurant tucked away in the side streets of Granada. Seeing the sun set on the beautiful Islamic architecture of the Alhambra in the nearby hills as we recounted the events of that day was an experience I’ll never forget.

Being completely immersed in the culture of Spain, the Rothkopf Scholars Trip for me was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My thanks and great appreciation goes out to everyone responsible for the planning and funding for this fantastic adventure.

The Rothkopf Scholars Program is a strong example of Lafayette’s goals in its new strategic plan to provide students with more educational experiences focusing on the creative arts and globalization. Lafayette is taking steps to strengthen its core instructional programs in art, music, theater, creative writing, and film and media studies. The College also plans to expand the geographical and cultural scope of its global offerings by enhancing study abroad opportunities, possibly creating a Center for Global Studies, and expanding the number of languages available for study.

  • Study Abroad
  • Strategic Plan
  • Art
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