Thursday, July 28, 2016

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Quick Trip to Berlin, Germany

This past weekend, Chris and I decided to take a weekend trip to Berlin, Germany. Neither one of us had ever been and had always wanted to visit. Even with the recent attacks, we both knew we would have regretted not going while we were over here in Europe. So, we booked flights for only €56 through Lufthansa, an airline that I would highly recommend using if you are ever in Europe, and made reservations at the Steingberger Hotel for the weekend.

On Friday morning we woke up from what seemed to be only a nap, because we went to bed just past midnight and set our alarms for 0330 to go catch our 0530 plane to Munich. We wanted to give enough time to try and find a cab as well as ensure that, if we couldn’t find a cab at 0400, we would be able to make the five-mile hike to the airport in time to catch our plane. Luckily, there was a cab company only a quarter mile from where we are staying. After reaching the airport with plenty of time to spare, we made it to our terminal and managed to take a cat nap until it was time to board.

Once we reached Berlin, we immediately went to the hotel to check in. We were in awe of the difference between Italy and Germany. There is an obvious difference not only in the architecture, but also the general level of cleanliness. Once we checked in, we dropped off our bags and went to the concierge to ask for suggestions on places to get lunch. To our surprise, he told us there was a bier garten no more than a quarter mile down the road. He also gave us the gift of two free local 0.5L beer coupons. Once at the bier garten, the food and beer did not disappoint!

Later that afternoon, we went on a hunt to find a local bar crawl for that night. Every person we spoke to highly recommended doing a bar crawl to try local bars that the common tourist might overlook. We ended up going on a bar crawl that another cadet, who had been in the area earlier this summer, recommended. The Hostel180 bar crawl costs €12 and includes drink specials at every stop, so it would be hard to pass up. Needless to say, it was a late night.

On Saturday, we decided to walk around sightseeing. We crossed the Spree and happened to come across the Parliament Building as well as a random festival taking place in the Tiergarten, right in front of the infamous Brandenburg Gate. Once again, we found ourselves going vender to vender, indulging in the plethora of German beer that had been ever so kindly laid in front of us, just asking to be sampled. Later in the afternoon, we went back to what had become our favorite bier garten for dinner before we went back to freshen up to go on yet another bar crawl later that night. This beer crawl was a little closer to our hotel than the one the previous night, but it was supposed to end in East Berlin… a place some argue is one the best party scenes in Europe. Again… it was a late night.
When Sunday morning rolled around, so did checkout. Our hotel was kind enough to store our bags for the day, so we could walk around and enjoy more of Berlin before flying out that night. We ended up walking to the US Embassy and following that street all the way to the city center and the Fernsehturm. Once there, we found a bar and restaurant at the top. We felt obliged to have a commemorative beer at the top — one last toast to what we felt was a very successful trip to Germany.

Then, we began our journey back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and continue to the airport. Little to our knowledge at the time, there was a large storm system over Frankfurt, which caused our flight to be delayed for an hour and a half. This, in turn, caused us to miss our connecting flight back to Naples. Luckily, Lufthansa automatically rebooked us for the first flight out in the morning, so we got to enjoy another night in Germany, this time in Frankfurt. Lufthansa gave us each our own room at a local hotel as well as €40 towards dining expenses.
The next morning, we found ourselves back at the airport at 0830 to catch our 0915 flight to Naples, and we were back before noon. My trip to Germany was all that I could’ve hoped for and then some. The overall experience was just superb, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is in Europe and looking for something fun to do one weekend.

Robbie Machamer

Political Science in Naples, Italy: The Role of the Italian Coast Guard in the Refugee/Migrant Crisis in Europe

Europe is currently experiencing possibly one of the largest shifts in population in its history. As of late, hordes of refugees and migrants have been landing on the shores of many of the southern nations in Europe, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain. A spike for Italy occurred in 2011 with the overthrow and later execution of the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi (National Geographic, n.d.). Many of these “guests” are making their journey from the western nations of Africa as well as the nations of the war-torn Middle-East. This journey is not one of luxury. The migrants often arrive in boats that the average Charlestonian wouldn’t even trust to take across the harbor over to Shem Creek. Yet, thousands of migrants are continuing to attempt to sail across the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of reaching Europe. Far too often, these daring voyages have ended in tragedy. This year alone, 2,606 recorded migrants were lost at sea on their voyage to Italy (IOM, 2016).
Due to the recent loss of life at sea, the Italian Coast Guard has been taking an active role in EUNAVOR, a joint naval operation being conducted by members of the EU in an effort to rescue migrants and refugees from the unforgiving waters of the Mediterranean. As of this year, the Italian Coast Guard alone has taken an active role in the rescue of approximately 37,000 refugees and migrants. Often, the Coast Guard scrambles every available vessel when it discovers vessels in distress, owing to the sheer numbers of migrants and refugees aboard these vessels.
The number of migrants and refugees on any given boat can range from 100 to 500, and often when one boat is discovered there is another in the vicinity (Guardia Costeria, 2016). This is because they often launch a couple boats at a time from Libya in the hope of staying together throughout the perilous journey (Vogt, 2016). There are cases, however, when the outcome is not fortunate for the migrants. This leaves the Italian Coast Guard rescue divers with the eerie job of body recovery. For instance, in 2013 there was a case where 368 migrants’ lives were lost at sea not far off the coast of a small Italian island (National Geographic n.d.).
Hope does not appear to be on the horizon. There is currently talk within the EU of closing the migrant route through Greece and Turkey, owing to instability. This means we will likely see a spike in the number of migrants and refugees that will take the long, daring trip across the Mediterranean in the near future. This will likely jeopardize more lives among those with the false hope of reaching a prosperous European nation. Little do they know that if they do in fact make it safely across the Mediterranean, they will merely land in a nation that is in the midst of its own financial crisis (Spindler, 2016).

Robert Machamer

Guardia Costeria (2016) “Comunicato-stampa-21-luglio-2016” July 21. Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

International Organization for Migration (2016) “Migrant, Refugee Deaths at Sea Pass 3,000 as Arrivals Near 250,000.” Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

National Geographic (nd) “Amid Record Waves of Refugees, Italy Finding Limits to Its Compassion.” Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

South China Morning Post (nd) “Italian coastguard rescues 4,000 migrants in two days, as asylum-seekers look for alternatives to Greek route.” Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

Spindler, W. (2016. Coastguard rescues some 1,000 refugees and migrants off Italy. Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

Vogt, A. (2016). “Italian coast guard scrambles vessels to rescue 3000 refugees in Mediterranean.” The Daily Telegraph, May 25, 2016. Available at: (accessed July 27, 2016).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Muslims in Naples, Italy

While in Naples, Italy, we have learned there is a large Muslim population here. According to a Pew Research Report, there are currently more than 2,220,000 Muslims in Italy, making up approximately 3.7 percent of the population. These “guests” as some refer to them, have brought with them a strong cultural and religious heritage. They have migrated to Italy, seeking to settle here or other countries in Europe and gain opportunities they would not have in their own countries.  As volunteers, we are working with Muslim individuals from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Their holiest holiday, Ramadan, was still in progress when we arrived.

We learned Ramadan is “the month in which Allah contacted the prophet, Mohammed, to give him the verses of the holy book, or Quran.” Muslims routinely pray five times a day, but during Ramadan, prayer is particularly important.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting while the sun is shining. The fasting period, which is considered an Islamic duty, does not allow them to eat or drink anything, including water, while the sun is shining. The purpose of fasting according to Muslims, is an “opportunity to practice self-control and cleanse the body and mind.” It also provides a feeling of fellowship with other Muslims. They also believe fasting and prayer makes them closer to Allah and compassionate for the poor. Muslims spend time helping the poor and giving donations to the Mosque during Ramadan
At the conclusion of Ramadan, there are celebrations with family and friends. People dress in their best clothing, give gifts to children, and eat special foods. 

A large feast is made to celebrate the conclusion of the fasting period. Two of our students were present at the end of Ramadan and accompanied the Muslim migrants to a town plaza for the final Ramadan prayer and celebratory feast.

As part of a city tour with a group from one of the shelters, we had an opportunity to visit one of the neighborhood Mosques and meet with an Iman. There were several women in the group that had to place scarves around our heads as makeshift hijab. One of the Muslim ladies with us took great care to tie the scarves for us in the appropriate style. 

When we entered the Mosque, we were told we were using the door normally used by men and that women have a separate entrance on the side of the building. We were asked to remove our shoes before entering the carpeted room. The only decoration in the room was a multi-colored lamp with a rug underneath. The Iman explained the lamp faced Mecca and was where the Iman would lead prayer.

The Iman displayed the Quran and informed us that Muslim people are traditionally peaceful, and ISIS and other terrorist groups are not acting in accordance with the faith.

The Iman believes the local community of Naples has accepted their presence and respects their culture and faith. The community cooperates with them by moving their vehicles from the street during holy days to allow the Muslim people to congregate for prayer.  He thanked us for attending the Mosque and hopes in the future the world will see Muslims in a different light.

- Barbara Brown

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Quick Trip to Berlin Before the Last Week In Naples

So, now we have finally come to our last full week in Naples. Honestly, this trip has been an amazing experience. I have had multiple opportunities to learn more about different cultures and the refugee crisis. It has also been interesting to see how our classes correlate so well with the actual volunteer work we are doing here. Learning more about human rights and development on this trip has made it even more interesting to be around people coming from poorer and war-torn countries. The cultural immersion that I’ve had on this trip is truly amazing.

Not only have I been studying and volunteering in Italy, but also this past weekend I had the opportunity to go with a fellow cadet to Germany. The two of us decided to take a long weekend vacation in Berlin, since neither of us has been there, and we’ve both wanted to go for a long time. We had a great experience, since we got to see much of the city and historical areas. The first day alone we got an opportunity to see Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg gate. Throughout the rest of the trip, we had plenty of new experiences, especially with the German food and historical sightseeing. Germany was a great trip, and I appreciated the fact that we got a chance to experience German culture and history during this program.

Now we just have the final week left in Naples before this service learning trip is over.  During this week, there is still tons planned for working with the refugees. We have a few more tours, taking them to different castles and more of the historical center in Naples. I will still be working in the office a bit more throughout this week. However, I was told it should be mostly administrative work for the remainder of our stay. After that, I will be heading home this Saturday to enjoy a few more days of summer before reporting back to the Citadel.

For me, this experience was very interesting, and I’m glad I got to go on this trip this summer.

Christopher Niepsuj

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Rome - The Vatican

This past weekend, a small group of us visited Rome. Let me tell you, it was incredible! I’ve explained to a few people that Rome is very nice (and surprisingly clean), but there are so many tourists everywhere! This week, we decided to be some of those tourists. After all, it’s Rome!

Barbara, Michael, Robbie, Chris, Todd, and I took a train on Saturday from Naples to Rome. It takes about an hour, but we got to see some beautiful countryside on the way there. So many small towns hidden in the hills and mountains. Gorgeous!

Confession: we were all more excited about the fact that our hotel had hot showers, wifi, and air conditioning than anything else. Plus, it had a great view of a quaint neighborhood outside of the “touristy” part of the city.

Our Saturday began by visiting the Vatican. We paid for a tour guide, so we could skip the line. The tour was terrible (the group was way too big), but it was worth the money just to bypass the lines. We entered on the museum side, so we had to go through security and a large gate. It was almost like going through airport security and customs. The Holy Sea is its own country after all. 
After we finally got in, we could had an amazing view of the back part of the city, including St. Peter’s basilica. It’s a huge dome, so you really can’t miss it.
We entered the museum courtyard, and I was a little confused about what everything was. This confusion lasted about an hour. Specifically, they kept talking about the Sistine Chapel there. Beforehand, I didn’t know that the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s basilica were actually in the Vatican. When we got inside, everything finally made sense.

The museum was incredible! So many pieces of art, that I became immune to it after a while. Almost. These were a few of my favorite pieces.
All of this and more was leading up to the Sistine Chapel. It is all so breathtaking that I was beginning to wonder if the chapel would even compare to all this art or if I would feel underwhelmed because of everything I had just seen. I was wrong. After viewing incredible ceilings and statues, we entered a plain white hallway that was very small. (I should mention that we among thousands of people shoulder to shoulder this entire time). This hallway turned into stairs, then after a few turns, we were there. The Sistine Chapel.
Our first inclination was to take pictures, but there were security guards there to make sure women covered their bare shoulders (a dress code); people don’t talk, and most important, that we didn’t take pictures. I broke the last rule. I got two or three pictures in before security stopped me. But, the first had to be the most amazing.
I remember studying about Michaelangelo in my fifth grade literature class. Our teacher taped a piece of paper under each of our desks, had us choose a scene, and we had to draw upside-down like Michaelangelo. It was very difficult and so much fun. Looking at this ceiling, all I could think about was the hard work that went into this piece of art. And, this was his first attempt at painting! We could see every little detail. I actually enjoyed the fact that it was silent; it made the moment feel more astounding. By far, the Sistine Chapel was my favorite part of Rome. 5 stars!

- Emily Harmon

Political Science in Naples, Italy: The Citadel — Number 1

I feel compelled to write a short blog of my own about the service learning program here in Naples, Italy.  This program, initiated by my wife, Dr. Sarah Tenney Sharman several years ago, provides "on the ground" experience for the students.  I have had the honor to accompany and volunteer with these student groups a few times.

The program here in Naples deals with the refugee problem and gives the students great insight into this problem globally.  There are four graduate students and four undergraduates in the program this year.  The students are working with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), dealing with a tremendous influx of asylum seekers, migrants, human trafficking victims, etc.  Over 76000 have arrived in Italy this year alone.  As you can imagine, this creates tremendous pressure on an already overwhelmed system. 

The students are writing their own blog about their experiences, so I will let that speak for itself.  My purpose is to tell the Citadel community that it would be very proud of these students and how they have represented the Citadel by diving in and working with these organizations.  As one organization leader put it, " these are real soldiers."
This is the vision my wife had when she initiated this program.  I think I can say confidently that for the NGOs here, the Citadel is #1 not only among Southern schools in America, but it is also #1 in southern Italy.

- Howard Sharman

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Immigration Tension in Italy

Italian policymakers currently face one of the biggest political dilemmas of their time: how to deal with immigrants coming into the country. The majority of these immigrants are young men from Nigeria, Pakistan, Gambia, Senegal, and Bangladesh. Is the reason for these men risking their lives political or economic? They all settle in the country seeking political asylum. However, the majority are migrating for economic reasons. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling whether their motivations are political or economic. Some may have come from devastating homelands, but others who have economic reasons for migrating may not be completely honest. Either way, there is a migration problem occurring in Italy.

            Natives in Italy have been arguing and protesting the construction of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose purpose is to assimilate these migrants into Italian life while they wait to be approved for asylum. This problem is not unique to Italy, but is common in many European Union (EU) countries. Immigrants coming from Africa are being picked up in the Mediterranean Sea and immediately transported to Italy. Out of the large number of immigrants that have crossed the border in the past year (approximately 150,000), less than half have actually been fingerprinted and identified (~68,000). Migrants intentionally avoid being documented in Italy, because their goal is to travel to Germany or Austria. This is because the unemployment rate in Germany is the lowest in the EU, and it is the highest in Italy. However, the Dublin Regulation, an EU immigration law, requires that the first country you enter is the one where you must remain.1 Thus, most migrants avoid documentation until they reach their intended destination.

            The terrible unemployment rate is the primary reason Italians are fighting immigration. Overall, Italians are a very hospitable people. But, the threat of migrants taking the few jobs available is enough to cause tension among the locals. The unemployment rate in Italy hit an all-time high in November 2014 at 13.10 percent. This month it rests at an average of 11.5 percent. The youth unemployment rate (jobseekers between the ages of 15-24) is at 43.70 percent.2 Most of this is a result of an economic crisis that began in 2007 and has been ever-so-slowly recovering. The country is starting to see restoration in the form of the Jobs Act (labor market reform). There has also been a shift from false freelance work to stable employment, because of declining costs.3 The lack of employment opportunities in Italy is enough to make the locals weary of outsiders.

            Migrants are not able to come into the country and automatically find (legal) employment. Approximately 77,970 asylum applications were filed in Italy in 2015.  Until their application for asylum is approved (a process that can take up to two years), the migrant must find a place to live. This can be with friends or family, or an immigration facility that houses migrants. An asylum seeker can only be placed in a facilty after his or her application have been filed. Even then, there is a shortage of facilities, which are already overcrowded.4 Once there, they are required to take language classes to assimilate to Italian culture. Some migrants, however, do not take advantage of this opportunity. A permit to work is granted six months from the time of the asylum application. The majority of these immigrants are classified as economic refugees, which do not qualify for political asylum, and their paperwork is declined. They then have the choice to appeal once; otherwise, they are deported.

            The requirements for political asylum are very specific. “You can apply for refugee status if in your home country you were directly and personally persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or if there is a well-founded and proved reason to hold that you may be persecuted in case you return to your home country (in compliance with the Geneva Convention).” If there is any prior refugee status or you have been convicted of a crime against the state, then an application for asylum is declined.5 Overall, this is a very lengthy and complex process.

            After working with many of the refugees staying in NGO facilities, I have witnessed the complexity of this system. However, many of the migrants living in these facilities live just as well, or sometimes better, then some native Italians. They are given a room, cell phone, meals, and a daily allowance (about €2 a day). The problem, however, is political and economic. Who among these immigrants qualifies for political asylum? How many claim asylum when they are migrating for economic reasons? This is the stressful job of the courts to determine who really qualifies. But, pressure from the EU forces governments to accept all immigrants, despite their reason for leaving their homelands. Where is the line to be drawn?

            Human rights advocates stress the horrible circumstances immigrants face while traveling and the fact that so many die trying to get to Europe. Even Pope Francis discussed this issue at a meeting with Catholic scientists and compared refugees that drown in the Mediterranean or die in the Sahara to abortion.6 But, is it Italy’s responsibility if someone from Africa puts himself in danger in order to make more money? Human rights are important, and many people have the right to work for a better life, but accepting all immigrants without question is like treating cancer with a band aid. At some point, we must get to the root of the problem: why are these people leaving in the first place?

- Emily C. Harmon

1.  The Dublin Regulation [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from
2. Italian unemployment rate [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from
3. Unemployment in Italy down [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from
4. Aiyar, S., Barkbu, S., Batini, N., Berger, H., Detragiache, E., Dicioli, A., Ebeke, C., Lin, H., Kaltani, L., Sosa, S., Spilimbergo, A., & Topalova, P. The refugee surge in Europe: Economic challenges [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from
5. How to apply for asylum in Italy [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from

6. Brooks-Pollock, T. Pope Francis compares Mediterranean migrant crisis to abortion [Internet]. [cited on July 24, 2016]. Available from

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Tales of the Flight

In the two weeks we have been volunteering here, I’ve had a good chance to listen to the many stories of the men who live in the center. For the most part, they are the same: fleeing West Africa from joblessness and harsh governments. Most of them have made perilous journeys across the Sahara and into war-torn Libya, hoping to find passage across the sea to any European Union state that will take them. Along the way, their statelessness and desperation make them the perfect targets for exploitation.

One man I spoke with had fled Gambia, because he was a wanted man by the Jammeh regime after his village had protested against unchecked government excavation of their land. Several of their small children had drowned in the massive holes the excavation had left behind. His forehead still bears a formidable scar to remind him of his current status with Gambian police.

Another man from Nigeria had left under similar circumstances. After he was accused of smuggling contraband in a government vehicle, he was incarcerated and administered beatings daily. After he was released, his family decided that he no longer had a life in Lagos.

Based on the conversations with many of the men, it seems there is little to no redemption for those who fall on the wrong side of the powerful. Becoming an enemy of the state essentially means that you are now living on borrowed time.

The Nigerian man struck out through Mali and made his way with two truck-loads of others across the vast desert of the western Sahara. The conditions were pitiful, and as dehydration and sickness claimed the lives of several, the only choice was an unceremonious burial in the hot sands of the desert.

As their small convoy neared population centers, highwaymen would speed alongside them, demanding money for safe passage. If they did not have the money, a quick burst of Kalashnikov fire would be shot into their vehicle as punishment. After reaching Libya, the Nigerian man was imprisoned by Arabs and beaten three times daily, often on the bottom of his feet. When asked why he believed he was imprisoned, the man could not offer an explanation. Like the Gambian man, his head was covered in scars. “I never used to wear my hair long for my entire life,” he tells me, “but the scars are too embarrassing to show. They are a way of taking your manhood.”

For the most part the refugee center feels like a purgatory. Although the staff do all they can to care for their “guests,” the uncertainty of successful asylum for the 90 men seeking refuge within the building means that little fanfare echoes about the hallways. Instead, most of the men are quiet and reserved, reflecting a feeling that they carry as many scars within as their bear without.

- Tucker Strom

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Week Two

The Citadel Group has started its second week here in Naples, and everyone is getting settled into their volunteer placements. We are all volunteering with local non-governmental organization (NGOs). Our job as volunteers with these NGOs is to provide support in any way possible. Four of the students, including me, are providing support for the organization LESS. In the just four days I have been working with LESS, I have learned many of the ins and outs of the organization and the specific migrant program we are assisting.

I work with a group of 12 individuals, 6 of whom are a family from India. The other six are from various African nations, such as Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burkina Faso. They live in a structure, or building for asylum seekers, in Mugnano, which is a suburb in the outskirts of Naples. Mugnano is well known for its extreme poverty-stricken conditions. My job consists of assisting my local coordinator in any way possible, to work with the children in the family, and to provide a sense of normalcy in their lives.

I have had the opportunity to go out to the structure twice this week. Both days I accompanied my local coordinator. My immediate impression of Mugnano was overwhelmed by the trash in the streets. Trash and waste of every kind littered both sides of the street. Furthermore, the living conditions in large worn-down apartment buildings reminded me of a city that was still developing. Mugnano’s reputation of poverty is well deserved.

When we arrived at the structure, I noticed the difference in the level of cleanliness. The sidewalk in front of the house was swept; the stairs were swept; and everything was in proper order. I walked in and met everyone who lived there. I think they were a bit uneasy with me at first, but I have grown very friendly with them. Most of the men from Africa only speak French, except for one individual who speaks English very well. The family from India speaks English very well and helps me by translating for me with the other men in the house. Everyone in the house is so nice and friendly. They have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome whenever I show up. It is amazing how people that have left their homes can have such a positive demeanor and attitude towards a complete stranger.

Besides traveling with my local coordinator to the structure in Mugnano, I have accompanied her and one of the men from Africa to the hospital in another city, Giuliano. It was quite the experience to go out and see more of the suburbs surrounding Naples.

 I was very impressed that LESS provides asylum seekers medical care along with all of the other services needed to help them assimilate in Italy. I have also attended another structure where we helped pass out pocket money. Each person in this particular program receives €2.50 a day, and they collect it once a month. This money can be spent however they please.

I’m very excited to continue work at the structure in Mugnano and continue to get to know the men and family better. I get to travel to the structure by myself now, which is a great feeling that my coordinator trusts me enough to get there and work hard. Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to start teaching the migrants more English. In the process, I might pick up some French. It has been a great week so far.

- Todd Truesdale 

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Pompeii

On our first weekend in Naples, we decided to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii. It takes about 45-50 minutes to travel by metro and train to get from Naples to Pompeii. But, it was definitely worth the trip.

The train ride to Pompeii is called “Circumvesuvia,” because it literally goes around Mt. Vesuvius to take us to our destination. This was just one of the amazing views we saw on the way.
Historians claim that during the time of Pompeii, the water (which is a couple of miles away in this picture) used to come up to where the red train station is today. Because of the amount of ash that came from Mt. Vesuvius during the famous AD 79 eruption, the land literally expanded over time.
Once we arrived at the correct station, we were at the gate to Pompeii. The view from the welcome center was spectacular! There are mountains all around this area, and if you look into the distance, you can see small cities built into the hills. It’s breathtaking and worth the train ride alone.

The walk to get to the main entrance of Pompeii is gorgeous. They have preserved a lot of greenery in this area making for a picturesque stroll.

Once inside the gate, we immediately experienced Pompeian culture. This is a picture of the “workout” area for a lot of the gladiators and slaves who lived in the perimeter. Some of the large statues that are found in many of the pictures are actually modern sculptures from an exhibit that was displayed in Pompeii; the sculptors then left their art to the city.

Over some time, historians believe that some of the gladiator housing was transformed into a “backstage” of sorts. A backstage for what, you ask? For the grand amphitheater!

This theater was just one of many found in the entire city of Pompeii. Like many other ancient cultures (and modern ones), the Pompeiians enjoyed their entertainment as a way to relax after a long, hot day of work. The bottom marble steps were, of course, reserved for the elite: leaders, politicians, scholars, etc. The next set of steps were for the middle class. Above that were the lower class seats (close to the top). A small portion of standing room at the very top remained for women, children, and slaves, who were seen as not as important in society. After a strenuous climb to the top, it was clear the acoustics and view were not hindered by seating arrangements. We would have loved to have seen the largest theater in Pompeii, but it was closed for maintenance to prepare for an Elton John concert!

The roads found in Pompeii are very typical of Roman roads during that time. In fact, we found out when we went to Rome (a blog for another time) that Pompeii has the most authentic Roman roads. The reason they are so iconic is because of the pattern they used. It is not necessarily the pattern of the boulders they laid, but the grooves within the rocks. Pompeii was a business hub, and many travelers would come to barter and sell. However, the grooves in the rock, which were made for horse carriages, were designed to be a specific distance apart. So, Pompeiians specifically made their wagon wheels to match this distance. However, any foreigners who came in to do business would have to leave their wagons outside the city and come in by foot. This was a specific way Pompeii businesses controlled who could come in.

Another interesting aspect of the roads in Pompeii is the crosswalks they built for pedestrians. If a person wanted to cross the road, he stepped on large boulders that were built above the street. The reason for this? Sewage. The sides of the streets in Pompeii were also where people dumped any sewage and trash they had, so when it rained, the streets would be flooded with...well, you know. If anyone wanted to cross the street, these boulders were the way to go.

One of the most iconic aspects of Pompeii has to be the body casts of the people caught in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. They only had three on site: the person pictured here, a baby, and a dog. Most bodies haven’t survived time, but these three were well preserved. Our tour guide explained that it wasn’t the lava that covered the city (much like we would see in a modern disaster movie), but ash and smoke. So these people most likely died from asphyxiation and were then covered in ash, which explains the body casts we find today.

The whole city is very beautiful and surrounded by plenty of vegetation. The picture to the left is a garden area outside of some homes near the largest amphitheater. On some plants we could actually see green grapes growing.
Pompeii is such an incredible city with so much to see and so many stories to hear. This view from the top, however, has to demonstrate the regal nature of this city.

It was a great trip that I would recommend to anybody. And, of course, we represented the Citadel while we were there.


- Emily Harmon

Political Science in Naples, Italy: The Art of Neapolitan Pizza

While we have been in Naples, we have learned the city is renowned for being the birthplace of pizza. Food is taken very seriously in Naples, but the art of pizza making actually led to Italian laws that specify what Is real Neapolitan pizza.
 On our first night in Naples, we learned that on Sundays, many of the businesses close early in the evening.  We naturally thought we should have pizza and began to seek a pizzeria that was open. The waiters stood in front of the restaurant and said “Prego” (welcome) and encouraged us to enter the open air street café. We quickly found one that also had free Wi-Fi, a commodity we have learned not to take for granted. Several of the group ordered Margherita pizza, which is Naples’s signature pizza. The flat bread with mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo, local plum tomatoes, and basil is reportedly named after a visiting Italian queen.  The 14-inch personal pizza baked in a wood-fired oven reflects the colors of the Italian flag—red, white, and green.

Pizza has been a staple since the 18th century, sold on city streets and served on ships sailing from the Port of Naples. It is cheap to make and only requires a few ingredients.  I learned Naples is so protective of its pizza, a law was passed by the European Union, “giving three pizzas—Marinara (tomato, garlic, and oregano), Margherita and Extra Margherita (both with tomato, basil, and mozzarella)—the same name protection as fine wine.”

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) we work with have contracted with Pizzerias to teach the proper making of pizza to selected refugees seeking political asylum. This is so they can become certified as Pizzaioli. The $1000 fee for a four- to six-month placement on the job-training course is paid by the NGO or through donations. We have been told that a certified Napolitano Pizzaiolo can easily find work. Hamid, the youngest Afghanistan man at one of the shelters I visited, is currently in a Naples program. He was selected to begin his classes after Ramadan, owing to his quick learning of Italian. Hamid was excited about the classes but admitted he still favors his traditional dishes. We informed Hamid that at times we too miss our traditional food. We encouraged Hamid to complete the program and attempt to adapt to a new culture while retaining his own.

The Neapolitan pizza, as defined by law, is made from a specific kind of wheat flour and yeast, round, no more than 14 inches in diameter and cooked in a wood-fired oven at temperatures above 905 degrees Fahrenheit.  The law specifically states the flat bread is to be made with mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo, local San Marzano plum tomatoes, and basil.

But, since the law went into effect, no one has been hauled into court for not pouring the extra virgin olive oil in a circular pattern starting from the middle, or for mixing the ingredients in a different order than the one prescribed by the painfully detailed regulations. The backers of the law—not all Italian pizzaioli are advocates—insist this is not about punishment, but rather sharing information about a key aspect of their culture.

- Barbara Brown

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Castle Nuovo


Castle Nuovo
The next few days, after my initial arrival in Naples Italy, allowed me to become much more confidant and adjusted to Italian life. I was able to pick up enough Italian to walk the streets, say basic greetings, and order food. “Dov’e il bagno” proved to be very helpful, and is always one of the first phrases that I learn  when visiting a new country. It means “where is the bathroom,” an important phrase  for anyone traveling abroad.

After walking around the city a little more, I could start to see the typical European influences throughout Naples, such as fountains, columns, and plaza squares with beautiful statues in the center. However,  the chaotic street traffic filled with cars and motor bikes, highly dense population, extreme heat, and all the warnings about crime also remind me of a city one would expect to find somewhere in South America.

Despite the chaos, the city does have very nice areas to shop and sightsee! In the neighborhood where we are staying there is a metro station, a lot of shops, pizzerias, gelato shops, and a real medieval castle! It is not every day that an American can walk around his local neighborhood and run into something from the medieval ages, much less an actual castle. Castle Nuovo is a great sight, and it came as a surprise to me, walking around and exploring my immediate area for shops and restaurants!

I was able to experience more of the busy city by making my way through the crazy traffic, ordering very good food — especially the pizza. We walk everywhere over cobble stone streets in mid-July in a very humid and hot city in southern Europe! The new experience of another culture for me is worth all the hardships. While there are some hardships in Naples, there is  also a unique and wonderful culture!

Tomorrow, I  I will begin my volunteer work with the refugees, and I have not the slightest idea what to expect. That is part of the fun of being a volunteer I suppose.

- Joseph Crossno

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Second Week

We are nearing the end of my second week in Naples, and this past week has been very interesting. Throughout the past week, my fellow cadets and I have gotten to see a bit more of Naples and the surrounding area. I have been working with migrants more directly, which is very nice, since the office work I’m doing doesn’t allow me to interact with them as much as the other members of our group.

This past weekend, which was our first weekend in Italy, my fellow students and I got to travel outside the city and see the ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii was very interesting with tons to see and explore. We spent almost four hours wandering through the desolated city and learning more about ancient Roman culture. We even learned that parts of the city not ruined during the volcanic eruption of 79 AD were destroyed during World War II from allied bombing runs in the region.

Three of us also got another interesting experience when we climbed to the top of Mount Vesuvius. It was a long trip just getting to the place, because we had a very long and crowded train ride. Once we arrived in the city of Herculaneum, we took a bus ride to the base of the mountain. Then, we began a very long and tiring hike up to the top. From the top, we had a very scenic view over a vast amount of Italian land with sprawling cites. The view was amazing, and we were fortunate to have our picture taken with Big Red while we were up on the peak.

Group Tour

At work, this past week was great, because I had more opportunities to interact with migrants than ever before. Within the office, I worked with other staff members to prepare a walking tour of the Otra Botanical gardens for the migrants. It took careful planning and preparation on my part, because I had to give part of the guided tour in English. When we eventually got to the gardens, there a group of roughly 30 migrants. We gave them a two-hour tour of the garden, and I gave the English version of each section of the tour. The whole event was a success; everyone had a great time and learned something new about the garden. I felt all the preparation paid off, since I managed my English delivery of the tour successfully.

This past week was full of fun adventures, sightseeing, tours, and preparing the tour for the migrants. Now, I am beginning to look forward to this weekend, since six of us from The Citadel group are traveling to Rome. We have plans to visit the Vatican, and sightsee around as much of the city as we can. I am a pretty religious man, and I am a follower of the Roman Catholic Church, which makes me very excited to visit the Vatican. So far, this has been an amazing trip. With our coursework on human rights and development, I am starting to learn firsthand about the crisis surrounding refugees and migrants.

- Christopher Niepsuj 

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Mt. Vesuvius

This past weekend Chris Niepsuj, Joseph Crossno, and I went to hike Mt. Vesuvius. Our day started at about 0700 on a Sunday with the hope of catching the early train and avoiding the crowds. To our surprise when we arrived at the station we found that not only was it swarming with people, but also one of the trains was out of service and would not be back online for the foreseeable future. This caused a mad dash of hundreds of people to board the next train out on our line. The three of us managed to get on together, but it took no time for us to get separated on the train, which was well over capacity by the second stop. After about a half hour of being like what I can only imagine it’s like to be a sardine in a 95 degree can, we made it to our stop and got off the train.  

After alighting from the train station, we came across a man advertising transportation to the mountain as well as prepaid passes to see Vesuvius. After purchasing the tickets, we were told it would be another half hour until the bus would be leaving for Vesuvius, so we found a corner shop and had a nice cold Gatorade to replace the fluids we lost on the train ride. After the half hour wait, we finally loaded the bus and were on our way to the mountain.

Left to Right: Robbie Machamer, Chris Niepsuj, and Joseph Crossno
The ride took us up winding roads for about 30 minutes before reaching the base of the mountain. From there, we disembarked on our journey to the top. This journey included an incline just shy of 65 degrees for about 600 meters of loose volcanic ash before we reached a refreshment stand, where we would later have fresh squeezed orange juice (something Naples is notorious for) on our trek back down the mountain. After taking a quick breather at the way station, we continued up the mountain another 100 meters to the crest of the volcano. This is where we asked a couple of Australian ladies to take a picture of the three of us with Big Red. After spending a half hour of admiring the view and taking pictures, we began our journey back down the mountain and got back on the bus, so we could meet the other members of The Citadel group later that afternoon for lunch.

Looking down into the center of Vesuvius. 
The trip itself probably cost about €50, but the experience was definitely worth every cent. Being able to look down into the volcano that wiped an entire city off the map, pushing back the shore 2 miles was a truly humbling experience. And, on top of that, being able to peer down on Naples from above the clouds and across the bay was priceless.

- Robert Machamer

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Ciao!

Io mi chiamo Emily Harmon, sono Americana, di Charleston. Sono in Italia da un mese. Ho 23 anni e io sono in scuola specialzazzione a The Citadel.
My name is Emily Harmon, I am American, from Charleston. I am in Italy for one month. I am 23 years old and I am in graduate school at The Citadel. 

Pizza from Del Presidente
 This is a small taste of our first week in Italy. It has definitely been one of adventure and a lot of adjustment. The first few days were spent exploring the city of Naples with our new friend, Ivan Fadini, the co-founder of INN (Internacional Napoli Network) and our go-to guy for just about anything. He has shown us around the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter) where we live, as well as Garabaldi, where we volunteer. One of our favorite local spots is Del Presidente, where Ivan took a few of us out to lunch. Practically unnoticeable from the street, this restaurant has attracted many celebrities from around the world, including Ronald Reagan and Justin Timberlake. Not only does it have delicious pizza, but also we were able to taste a maccheroni fritti e formaggio (fried macaroni and cheese). 

Of course the cuisine is perfecto, but that is not the only enjoyable aspect of Napoli culture. Neapolitans are naturally very friendly and helpful, willing to encourage our speaking Italian (slowly, but surely in my case). Their expressive nature is sometimes a surprising contrast to my reserved attitude, however I have been able to adjust, and perhaps even enjoy their enthusiasm. In addition to our good friend, Ivan, we sometimes enjoy the company of Sara, the other co-founder of INN. Sara and Ivan have been the epitome of hospitable to us since we arrived.

Street view from the INN (Internacional Napoli Network)
The volunteers in our team have been split up to work with different volunteer sites. My classmate, Tucker, and I have been assigned to a site called Virtus. This organization helps refugees adjust to Italian life as they wait to receive asylum from the government, a process that can take up to two years! So far, our work includes sitting in on Italian language classes and assisting the students with their work, or even helping them practice their English. Angelo is the primary Italian teacher, and one of my favorite people here. He is an excellent teacher, and the students really enjoy his lessons. Our other friend at Virtus is Marta, who helps keep the organization running. Both of these people have made our experience more enjoyable, and we look forward to becoming more involved in the coming weeks.

-Emily Harmon

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Day One

Arrival at Naples Airport
Today was The Citadel group’s first full day here in Naples, Italy. After an extremely long day of travel, it was nice to catch up on some sleep in the accommodation where we are staying. It is in an old Spanish monastery in Quartieri Spangoli (Spanish Quarter), a local neighborhood in the heart of the city. The view of Mount Vesuvius from our terrace is all I needed to know this is going to be a fantastic month abroad.
Mount Vesuvius from our terrace

The group started the day by going to breakfast at a local café not far from our house. Breakfast usually consists of coffee — an espresso shot back home in the States — and some kind of pastry such as a cream-filled croissant. Cappuccinos are a meal by themselves, a huge difference from the way we eat back home. The local volunteer coordinator, Usha, walked us from our residence to the local volunteer organization’s office. Walking the streets of Naples is similar to playing a game of Frogger. It is very fast paced and wild, but I loved it instantly.

After a short walk, the group made it to the office of the local International Volunteer Headquarters partner, International Napoli Network (INN). We met a few other volunteers while waiting for our volunteer orientation to begin. Orientation was made up of many different parts: we talked about our volunteer placements; we talked about the social customs and culture of Naples; and we talked about the founding of INN. It is a very young organization, just over a year and a half old. Our orientation group was one of the biggest the organization has had. We talked more about how we would be helping support local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I will be working with an NGO named LESS. I’m very excited to start volunteering and helping any way I can.

Our street in the Spanish Quarter
After our orientation at INN, we went on a walking tour with an INN employee and local Neapolitan, Alessandro. Alessandro was born and raised in Naples and studied international politics here at a university as well. He showed us around Naples and pointed out different streets and landmarks of significance. One street we walked down splits northern and southern Naples and can be seen clearly via satellite. Another street, famous for crafts, was lined with every good imaginable it seems. Red horns were present in most stalls, and we were informed that there is an ongoing debate about whether they are supposed to be a chili pepper or the horn of the devil. Regardless of its true identity, the red horn is supposed to give the carrier good luck and fortune. Throughout the city, the influence of many different cultures can be seen: Roman, Greek, Egyptian, an Asian motifs are commonplace. This is due to the complex and rich history of Naples. We ended the walking tour not far from our house in the Spanish Quarter.

It was an extremely eventful first day, and it has left me excited me for what is to come the rest of our time here in Naples. I hope that each day can live up to the experiences of the first. I’m a little anxious to start my volunteer placement, but I’m excited to be making some effort to support a local NGO.

- Todd Truesdale