As students at a liberal arts institution each of us on this trip is in the process of pursuing an education. One of main tenants of this education is the idea that we must question the world around. Our professors have taught us to approach the world not as sceptics but as critical thinkers and this trip has given each of us the opportunity apply those critical thinking skills to our own lives and the world around us. During the course of this trip we have learned that our nation's history is filled with darker injustices and greater crimes than any of us have been led to believe. We have seen the brick and mortar realities that we have only glossed over in history books before moving on to the next chapter. We have also seen that the injustices of our past are not confined to our past and neither are the men and women who fight them.
We have seen injustice alive and well and learned that it is bounded neither the covers of our history books nor by the Mason-Dixon Line. Racism exists in Eau Claire as well as in Selma and this trip has given us the opportunity to explore how that racism works and how it has changed from the Jim Crow segregation of our textbooks.
This trip has helped us to approach our education, our perceptions, and our own opinions with a critical eye. This is not to say thay we have come away with a disparaging view of the United States but instead thay we have glimpsed a side of our past and our present that our high school teachers had neither the time nor the resources to show us. Most importantly though it has provided us with a means of improving our future. We have recognized that problems past are also problems present and been inspired by the freedom fighters of the past to address these problems.
For me this trip has been an essential part of my education. It has taken the two-dimesnional facts of our classroom education and added an essential tjird dimension. Our formal education has brought us as far as possible within the walls of a classroom but this experience has pushed us farther and I have every intention of pursuing further such opportunities.