Chance meeting kindles bond over London Trip

April 22, 2014

From left, Jane Rice and Tiffani Roelle view a photo of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace in May 2013. The photo was taken just weeks earlier when Roelle was on the Chadron State College London Trip. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College) From left, Jane Rice and Tiffani Roelle view a photo of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace in May 2013. The photo was taken just weeks earlier when Roelle was on the Chadron State College London Trip. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)

Two Chadron women who met at the Story Catcher Writing Workshop and Festival on campus last May soon realized they had both participated in the Chadron State College study abroad tour commonly known as the London Trip.

Tiffani Roelle of Columbus, Neb., who had just returned from the trip, was excited to learn her new acquaintance, Jane Rice of Chadron, had completed the trip in 1984.

During their conversation, Roelle shared photos from her Facebook album on Rice’s pink smartphone as they discussed the similarities and differences of the two trips, taken 29 years apart.

In the months since their initial meeting, the two have become friends on Facebook and joined a local writing group.

Roelle, an English major who will graduate next month, earned six undergraduate credit hours in cross-cultural studies and education on the trip.

“Dr. George Griffith frequently mentioned the London Trip in my English classes with him, so that sparked my interest in the CSC study abroad program,” Roelle said.

Rice’s friend Deb (Adams) Swanson, a graduate student in 1984, encouraged Rice to join her on the trip led by Griffith. Rice, who had majored in drama and speech as a CSC undergraduate, later earned a master’s degree in elementary education from CSC including the credits earned on the trip.

The core countries on the tour have remained similar over the decades, with occasional variations.

In 2013, the full tour group visited Edinburgh, London and Paris with some students taking side trips to Germany or Ireland. The 1984 group stayed together as they visited England and Ireland led by CSC English faculty member Dr. George Griffith.

The size of the tour groups varied from 11 in 1984 to 32 in 2013 which included justice studies majors, justice studies faculty leader Dr. Tracy Nobiling, education majors and education faculty leaders Dr. Don King and Dr. Patti Blundell.

One of the many distinctions of the two trips include plane tickets, a printed one for Rice and an electronic one for Roelle.

Rice, a semi-retired, substitute elementary teacher, has archived most of her trip mementos including ticket stubs, programs, brochures, postcards spiral-bound notebooks and a photo album.

Unfortunately, Roelle lost most of her digital photos when her laptop was stolen while on another trip this spring.

Roelle said, “Looking at Jane’s tangible souvenirs made me appreciate the physical, lasting effect that the magazines, printed photos and postcards have. The items you can actually pick and hold seem to foster deeper, reflective thought and sentiment.”

Among the photos Roelle has preserved on Facebook is one of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Although the itinerary for Rice’s group did not include the well-known ceremony, she appreciated hearing Roelle's photos of it.

To prepare for her 1984 trip, Rice read CliffsNotes to better understand the symbolism used in the writings of William Yeats and Thomas Hardy, two of the authors studied on the Literary Tour.

In contrast, Roelle prepared a PowerPoint presentation about England during the classroom portion of the cross-cultural course held prior to the trip. The class met in a distance learning classroom which linked the students on the main campus to a student in Scottsbluff.

Rice and Roelle each chose to attend a major theatrical production in London and to see Stonehenge. However, in 2013, audio programs on rented headphones were available for Roelle instead of the printed pamphlets Rice received in 1984.

“I’m so grateful Chadron State offers this trip. You imagine this huge landscape with just rocks, but when you get there, all the crowds of people change the view,” Roelle said.

Rice said both Stonehenge and Albert Hall appeared smaller in real life than she thought they would be based on photos she saw beforehand.

Protestors were a common element on each of the respective trips. Rice has photos she took of Greenpeace members who had tied themselves to ropes and were suspended near the face of Westminster’s Big Ben.

Roelle and several others took a side trip to Paris the same day a 78-year-old French writer and historian shot himself on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, protesting same gender marriage. The CSC group was not in the cathedral at the time of the incident.

Transportation was different for the two groups with the 1984 cohort riding together in a white van to many stops on their itinerary. In 2013, students moved around London using the Tube underground metro system.

Roelle said, "In comparison to western Nebraska, the Tube exposed me to metropolitan travel. Learning the subway system was a different kind of cultural experience. In a major city, I was out of my comfort zone and forced to adapt."

A misinformed young tour guide led the 1984 group into an adventure where their van almost became wedged under an archway in the third level of an underground parking garage. Griffith, who was driving, was forced to reverse the van, a stick shift, through a corkscrew pattern back to the earth's surface, which all tour members were glad to see, according to Rice.

“It was the chance of a lifetime. It was a lot of fun. I would certainly recommend going. It’s all organized for you. It’s a great way to travel,” Rice said.

“Traveling with Dr. Nobiling, was amazing because she has visited London about a dozen times so she is very informative,” Roelle said.

Nobiling said in addition to the justice studies group traveling to Europe next month, future CSC travel plans include a possible trip to Cuba in December of 2014 and a capstone class trip to Costa Rica during spring break in 2015.

—Tena L. Cook, Interim Marketing Coordinator