Sunday, March 1, 2009

Greetings from Gainesville! This past week has been rather hectic, and I’ll confess that I had a test in one of my classes, so I did even less France preparation than usual! By the way, who said it was ok to give TESTS to second year doctoral students? Don’t they know that by now we’re programmed for projects and papers?! C’est la vie, no?

Despite little time to spend on actually looking for information about the trip, I have actually been thinking lots about it (and not just because the tuition bill came this week). One of the things I noticed when looking for information about Bordeaux last week, which will be our second city, was that the city’s Port of the Moon was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. In case you aren’t well versed in all things United Nations, UNESCO is the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization – essentially the body that preserves cultural, scientific and educational sites across the globe.

I first learned about UNESCO in April 2007 when I was on a trip with my family and some friends in western China. One of the amazing locations along the Silk Road route that we visited were the Mogao Caves, also a UNESCO site. This incredible site in Dunhuang Province is the site of what was once a center of Buddhism (according to Encyclopedia Britannica online, as of 366 C.E. to the early 13th century) and is a group of caves that were carved into the walls of what was once a riverbed. When the caves were “rediscovered” in the early 1900s, archaeologists encountered more than just the fabulous painted caves – manuscripts, carvings, paintings and numerous other artifacts of Buddhist life were unearthed. The site is considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The International Dunhuang Project is dedicated to archiving and preserving the site and its artifacts.

But back to France! So Bordeaux’s Port of the Moon has also been declared a UNESCO site and is, along with the city “an outstanding example of classical and neo-classical trends…and [have] an exceptional urban and architectural unity and coherence” (UNESCO site). The city itself has been considered a place where the “exchange of human values” has been promoted since the age of Enlightenment. I am particularly interested in the numerous museums in Bordeaux, the cathedrals, and of course, the food (what would France be without French food?) – the Musee de Beaux Arts, the Saint Andre Cathedral, which was part of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and also is listed as a UNESCO site, and Bordeaux Canale.

I have to run – have another (!) exam to study for this coming week….don’t these professors know what they’re doing to me?! Enjoy the links this week – I suppose they’re meant to be a stand-in for me actually writing much!