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President Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.” In his case, he may have considered his Presidential Library as one of the rewards. On September 17th,Providence students had the opportunity to visit the Reagan Library and Museum, which is located in the breathtakingly beautiful Simi Valley,California. The museum exhibits included displays about Reagan’s family and professional life as well as artifacts like the First Lady’s wardrobe, saddles from his ranch and gifts given to him from dignitaries around the globe. One of the most memorable attractions at the museum was the Air Force One pavilion where the plane itself is on display.  Students were able to walk through the very plane that once flew President Reagan around the world as he dealt with the pressures of the cold war. The gardens at the end of the tour featured a piece of the Berlin Wall and a memorial to President Reagan overlooking the valley.

As they reflected on the day spent at the library, students considered Reagan’s place in history, the value of his policies and the nature of his faith as well as critically observing the light in which the library portrayed the 40th President. The reflection concluded with the students offering ideas of how a trip of this type relates to the mission of the college:  “… to equip students to be firmly grounded in biblical truth, thoroughly educated in the liberal arts, and fully engaged in their church, their community, and the world for the glory of God and for service to humanity.

Upon consideration, the group concluded history is one of the tenants of a liberal arts education, and The Reagan Museum portrayed an important time in the history of America and the world, that this excursion held academic value. Another student noted that by just being in the museum they were able to observe the culture of the people around them; by having a physical presence and an observant eye in society it is possible to recognize the human nature of the visitors, President Reagan, and even reflect on the self as a member of the fallen human race. A trip like this can be inspirational to students with an interest in policy, and also encourage students to be more politically active. Though it is hard to define what it means to engage culture, students felt that by actively learning the history, thinking critically, and observing the nature of man and history, this Avodah was an asset to their college experience.

For more photos, click here:  Reagan Library Avodah 2011

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