Christian Bionat, Pre-Departure Blog:
Tuesday, November 9, 2011
Hi, I’m Christian Bionat, co-President of the Junior Fellows. We are heading out on another trip, this time a tour of the Deep South. The trip is actually similar to one taken by the organization in January, but with new members and the opportunity to see significant sites in six states, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
By “we,” I mean Will Phillips, Melva Gomez, myself, and our “Junior Junior Fellow,” Ryan Brim.
We’ll be travelling for five days and four nights, visiting parts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. The trip, however, is more than a geographical tour.
We’ll be sampling the culinary offerings of the south, eating Cajun food in Louisiana; soul food in Montgomery, AL and Jackson, MS; and southern favorites in Savannah, GA.
We also hope to get a taste of the South’s rich history, touring the Vicksburg battlefield, the marvelous historical homes of Savannah, and the Garden District of New Orleans. These tours will also include the Confederate Veterans Memorial and the Confederate White House of Montgomery, AL, a town that also includes a Martin Luther King, Jr. home, and the Rosa Parks Museum, which we will also be visiting. To cap off the civil rights aspect of our historical tour, we’ll also stop by the Medgar Evers’ home.
As we drive to our various destinations, we’ll be listening to some geographically themed music. In New Orleans, we’ll catch some tunes by Satchmo and Harry Connick, Jr.; in Savannah, we’ll play some of the lyrical poetry of Johnny Mercer; in north Georgia, we’ll listen to the pop sounds of R.E.M. and the B-52s, both of which hail from Athens, Georgia. And we’ll also catch some Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers as we pass through their home towns of Georgiana, AL and Meridian, MS, respectively.
In our down time, we may also even read some short stories by some of the authors that we’ll learn more about this trip. In Montgomery, for example, we’ll be touring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s home and museum; in Jackson, MS, we’ll be stopping to see the home of Eudora Welty; and in Savannah, we’ll be touring the home of Flannery O’Connor, as well as the Mercer-Williams home which was prominently featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (and which Will actually read prior to the trip).
Apart from these great stops, our ultimate destination is to attend the Georgia Political Science Association. The GPSA is hosting their annual conference in Savannah, Georgia, and we will attend conference presentations on Friday and Saturday. We are looking forward to not only the beauty of Savannah, but also presentations of cutting-edge research by the faculty presenting at the conference.
Of course, we also hope to stop in to see some art, check out some offbeat museums (New Orleans Museum of Pharmacy, anyone?), and learn a lot more about the southern part of our country. We hope you’ll join us as we travel, sometimes haphazardly, across the south and sample from the worlds of politics, history, art—including the culinary arts—music, and literature.