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Students bring stories from travels, memories of Christmas Break

As students begin another semester at Oklahoma Christian University this week, memories from the three-week Christmas break are still fresh in the minds of students on campus. From educational experiences in New Orleans, cruises from New York, to a visit to Rwanda, students reflect on the memories they made in between semesters.

Students Brandon Kiefer, Cody Milner, Justin McLeckie, Laine Weatherford and Turner Smith joined Professor and Departmental Chair of History John Maple for the Phi Alpha Theta national conference hosted in New Orleans, LA over the break. Students from across the country submitted papers discussing various historical subjects and presented during the conference.

Sophomore McLeckie said the trip gave him a chance to get to know his professor and peers in a new setting. According to McLeckie, each student had a section of time to present his or her paper, and during the interim time, they had the opportunity to hear others discuss their historical research.

During their time in New Orleans two different celebrations, the parade of Joan of Arc and the celebration of the city’s birthday, took place. Some of the best moments from their time in the city, according to McLeckie, were walking around New Orleans and talking with other students who enjoy history.

“There was one time when we were walking down a busy street having a very heated discussion of who the best founding father was,” McLeckie said.

Junior Sydney May went home to Tulsa, OK for Christmas and her parents surprised their family with a trip to New York City and a cruise to the Bahamas. May said she enjoyed New York and watching a Broadway show, but the trip soon took a turn for the worst when the cruise ship encountered a winter storm.

“Our cruise sailed alongside the giant winter storm that is taking over the east coast right now,” May said. “There were 60 mph winds and 20 foot waves up against the boat, and the winds were blowing from the east. They were tipping the boat over, so they had to purposely tip the boat the other way. There was one night where all of our stuff fell off the table in our room and there was broken glass. They didn’t tell us what was going on other than to not go outside. It was terrifying. I did not sleep at all one night, because the ship was so rocky that I could not fall asleep, because I was afraid for my life.”

Once May returned to New York, she said all the flights returning to Oklahoma were either delayed or canceled due to the storm. May said she found a returning flight to Oklahoma but her family stayed a few days longer in search of another flight.

Junior Lincoln Ngaboyisonga had the opportunity to go back home to Rwanda for Christmas break. This marked the first time he returned for Christmas since he left for college.

During his time at home, Ngaboyisonga got to see his great grandmother. He said his family brought her to their house and had “a lot of fun together,” exploring a national park with giraffes, zebras and elephants.

“We often take things for granted,” Ngaboyisonga. “I didn’t cherish time with my family before I went off to college, and now that it is a rare opportunity to all be together, it is really important to be in the moment and enjoy everything and take it in, because you never know what is going to happen, or who is going to go where or when you’re going to see everyone again.”

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