Blossoming Beyond the Books

Christian Quattrociocchi

Would you ever feel motivated enough to get up at 5:30 a.m. on a cold Sunday morning and walk down to the Hall of Presidents through the snow to catch a bus? Well, most would rightly say no, but I know I certainly was on November 4 for a trip with my FSEM classmates to New York City. The FSEM is “Church, State and Law in America” with Professor Reinbold, and the trip was an all-day affair of interviewing and surveying. My classmates and I traveled to various religious organizations and some of us posted up there, while others, including myself, went out onto the city streets to take some surveys from the random passerby. The focus of our work centered on a concept closely related to our course material: whether or not people think it is permissible for public schools to rent out space to religious groups outside of school hours. I administered some surveys on a street corner in Harlem with a fellow classmate and the experience was initially very nerve-wracking for me.

However, after meeting real people and talking with them face-to-face about real issues, the tension quickly slipped away and I began to enjoy myself. Many people were very receptive to the image of a college student trying to administer some surveys for an educational project, and I learned a lot even from the meager six surveys that were completed over the course of a half-hour.

In terms of the constitutional question on which I was gathering data, I discovered that most people not only found no problem with religious groups using public school space off hours, but that most people did not even know that this was a real phenomenon. I really enjoyed this rare ability to enlighten others out in the world while learning something from them in a hands-on environment.

I myself am generally a visual learner who flourishes in the classroom with books, but I have come to learn that more tactile experiences impact me as well. This “Beyond Colgate” excursion most definitely broadened my learning experience in terms of expanding on course material and on my personal development as a student.

I set out on this trip tired and nervous, demotivated in the face of a demanding day, and at the end, I felt more rewarded than ever by that very experience. At the end of a long day of interviewing and surveying, we all kicked back and relaxed at a local Dominican restaurant specializing in roasted chicken, which, along with fried plantains, was delicious. My professor used all of her course funding to enable the trip, and it couldn’t have been better spent. I could not be more grateful for a more enriching out-of-class experience, which, in this case, was much more than the run-of-the-mill

field trip. 

Colgate’s endowment is doing very well, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead both in my future course material and future out-of-class excursions. Anyone interested in seeing the results of our FSEM research firsthand can visit and click on the “Journey Poll” article posted on the home page, which outlines our work and provides pictures of the various sites that we visited.

Contact Christian Quattrociocchi at [email protected]