A Dream and a Plea

By Colleen

The world is vast.  Even I could tell that as a young child, staring out into the valley behind my home.  I would wonder at the facts that I had been told: that the world is so much larger and more varied and fantastic than that tiny green valley, that there are millions of people out there, with different faces and languages.  This inspired in me a great desire to travel, experience the world, and see if what I had been told really was true.  That desire has stayed with me, and now I have the opportunity to actually live out my dream through the University of Dallas’ Rome Program.

Why Rome, one might ask?  While Italy may not seem to be an English major’s first choice of place to study abroad, I know that it truly is important for my education. I want to challenge myself. I also really desire to gain a larger world perspective.  Having never left the country, I feel very close-minded and ignorant of other countries and cultures-I want that to change.  I have so many questions to ask the world!  How do other cultures view Americans?  And how do I view them, or rather, how should I view them?  There is so much to be learned from other cultures and the vast, vast number of people on this earth; how can I begin to understand them?  Well, I’m planning on starting by going to Italy. The University of Dallas is a liberal arts school, and the texts read here are completely steeped in the Western tradition. During the Rome semester, I will be able to visit the places in which many of these authors lived and wrote about.  To not only be able to read and comprehend these texts, but to be able to actually be physically present in the environment in which they were conceived will be amazing.  In Rome, I will be studying the ancient Greek comedies and tragedies, reading Antigone and Oedipus Rex in the theater in Epidauros where they were performed, reciting the lines of the Orestae on the site of Agamememnon’s palace in Mycenae.

The University of Dallas’ Rome Program is a full semester long, focused on learning the truths of the tradition of the Western world.  Daily, I will be immersed in Italian history and culture, as I study the great works of art and literature surrounding me.  I will be able to read about Michelangelo and then go out and see exactly what I just learned about.  Also, as a Catholic university, it is essential that the program is located in Rome, the epicenter of the Catholic world.  This nearness to the church is another, personal, reason that I have chosen the Rome Program.  As a strong Roman Catholic, it will be life changing to be so close to the center of the Church.  My personal faith life is sure to deepen, and I know that I will grow as a person.  Being surrounded by the awesome beauty and the sanctity of the basilicas and shrines that populate Rome cannot go without a personal effect.  In Rome I will be given a clear picture of the Catholic Church in its very essence, and I will be able to truly embrace my faith.

Italy is very far away from my home on a small organic vegetable farm in western Wisconsin.  The step to leave the area and go to a school a thousand miles away in Texas was large enough and almost impossible.  I am the seventh of nine children, and money has never been abundant in our home.  My father is a small-scale organic farmer and does his best with our small acreage.  My mother works as a substitute teacher at the local schools. Their combined income does not do much against the rising costs of living, and just recently my grandmother moved in with us.  It’s a happy life, but one can never be sure if the phone bill will be paid on time.  Luckily, I have been instilled with a strong work ethic, and I worked hard throughout high school.  I graduated from my small public school as the salutatorian of my class, and I scored well on my ACT exam.  These two factors are the only reasons that I am able to attend the University of Dallas.  I could never afford to go here otherwise.  The Pell Grant that I receive from the government is a huge help as well, but with the added costs of the Rome Program, there is no way I can cover all the expenses next semester.  My parents are not able to help me pay for college at all, and I have been working all throughout this year in addition to school to pay my own tuition.  Even if I work a job all summer, it will be well nigh impossible for me to get to Rome without help.

And so, I end this with a plea.  Please help me get to Rome.  I will not only be fulfilling a little girl’s dream, I will be furthering my education and the formation of myself.  I will be more equipped to handle to world with a global view, not stuck in the small bubble of localism.  I want to know the world and understand what lies beyond that small green valley- and to share what I learn with the readers of this blog.

If you are able to help in any way, please contact me at colleen.r.s@hotmail.com

Thank you so much, Colleen

2 thoughts on “A Dream and a Plea

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots

    Colleen, I understand your situation and it is a difficult one. My son, who graduates from high school in two months, has had to turn down opportunities to attend certain universities because of cost. He has nearly a 4.0 GPA, scored exceptionally well on his ACT and has other accomplishments that would make him an outstanding candidate for admission to any college. Thankfully one particular university (an affordable one with an excellent reputation in his field of study) is offering him some great opportunities.

    It troubles me that these days, more and more, educational doors are open to only those with money. Like your family, ours leads a simple life, living within our means and not focusing on material possessions.

    This, of course, doesn’t help you with your goal to study abroad. I don’t have the answer except to advise you not to go into debt. Given the current economic climate and job outlook, it is unwise for students to immerse themselves in deep debt. Also, make sure your English major is marketable. A friend’s daughter has an English degree (no teaching certificate) and is unable to find employment. Of course, that can be said for many college graduates today. It is a difficult time for young people and I so feel for you.

  2. Jenna

    I hope it all works out and that God provides in a miraculous way for you to be able to go to Rome!! It sounds like an amazing semester. My semester abroad in Paris back in 2004 was one of the most awesome experiences of my college years.

    P.S. I wish I were independently wealthy so that I could send you a blank check!

  3. Havilah

    Hey Colleen, I again have no money to send you, but some helpful advice. When I needed help getting to Calcutta I used a little donate button that I stuck in the side bar on my blog. You can get one for free with paypal, you just have to sign up on their site. They of course take a percentage of all your donations but it sure makes it easier for people to give to you. Which means people are more likely to send you help, than if you tell them to email you and then you email them back and then they mail you a check. Just put the button in the side bar and see how it goes!


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