Within the Walls

"The [Alnwick] program is designed to . . . give [participants] an understanding
of life in Great Britain. By living within the walls of an ancient castle . . . "
-- From a promotional piece by the Center for
International Studies at St. Cloud State University

these ancient castle walls encompass football fields of yard

"SCSU students and faculty occupy only a portion of the facility."

the walls of my room in Alnwick castle measured 8 by 12 feet --
smaller than a room in Sherburne Hall -- with one tiny
window opening onto an overgrowth of trees and bush hiding garbage
and a green gas heater with peeling paint, faded walls

"A commitment to intercultural learning is important for success abroad."

intercultural learning takes place when
my neighbor smokes pot from an Arabian hooka
and we puke beer from five different nations -- mixed with Lipton tea and scones.

within the walls are we not trapped?

"There is no formal selection procedure for the program . . .
You must have a cumulative grade point average
of 2.25 at the time of application and departure."

through six inches of plaster live three boys in their twenties. Within
their walls this afternoon one plays solitaire while another
watches and carves his name in the table for the third time.
Another heats a butter knife from the kitchen
in the gas heater's blue flame. He uses the knife to
melt the tiny brown brick of hash he holds
between his thumb and forefinger.

"There is no formal selection procedure for the program."

a girl from upstairs enters and complains she needs a new pair of Doc Marten's.

My neighbor from down the hall cranks Van Halen and masturbates
to "Page-3 Girls" -- pictures from a British tabloid of topless women.

"You must have a cumulative grade point average
of 2.25 at the time of application and departure."

the Assistant Directors enter the room,
notice the hash,
and close the door behind them.

5 more students knock and enter.
Soon the room is lit -- they are getting burnt by the gas heater.

Within the walls of the Pottery Room, Alnwick Castle,
Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Are ten boys and girls now, crunching
broken glass and bumping their heads on the low pipes here,
the basement laundry room.
Seven time zones away
in a house on 8th Avenue, St. Cloud, Minnesota,
50 people are crammed in a basement, around a water-heater and
broken washing machine.
All of these boys and girls
are drinking Busch Light Draft from plastic cups,
and toking off a one-hitter.

Between them lies half of North America
-- the third largest continent in the world --
and the entire Atlantic Ocean.

One group is learning culture.
The other is smoking hash within the walls of Alnwick Castle, Alnwick,

by Tim Frohrip

© 1998 Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope Online

Last update: 1 July 1998

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/kaleidoscope/volume8/within.html

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