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Miles College European Study and Research Abroad/Miles NATO Youth Summit

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Adriauna Davis

Europe/NATO Study Abroad Travel Log


Indeed it is a great day at Miles College! 

Greeting Mileans,

I am Adriauna Davis, a senior, double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice with a minor in International Studies and Public Policy.  First giving thanks and honor to God for all His many blessings and the generosity of our illustrious President Dr. George T. French, Jr. Miles College has truly been a blessing to my life.  My institution has allowed me to experience not one but two Study Abroad excursions.  Only at Miles College will you be afforded these types of opportunities, all expenses paid.


Amazing architecture at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam…

My experience in Amsterdam has been an experience like no other.  Being a delegate, from Miles College, to represent the Netherlands is an outstanding opportunity to understand the unique approach of the Netherlands and how the country handles and decides the issues they face politically.  The delegation of Miles College had the privilege of going to The Hague to the Foreign Ministry for our briefing with the Senior Policy Advisor, Rein Dekkers, to discuss our topics on smart defense, public policy, planning, and defense missiles for our debate in Brussels which was really helpful.  The Senior Policy Advisor was very welcoming and respectful; he received us very well.  We were able to go to the Resistance Museum then to the Anne Frank House.  The Dutch Resistance Museum, selected as the best historical museum of the Netherlands, tells the story of the Dutch people in World War II.  To hear and read the fascinating stories about the exceptional and everyday life was phenomenal.  Furthermore, Anne Frank House was beyond belief, probably the most impressive of the tour.  We learned first-hand what the Jews experienced during the time of the Nazis.  Anne Frank wrote her world famous diary while in hiding in occupied Holland.  Her family and four others were hiding for two years before being sent to the concentration camps back in Germany.  Anne’s father was the sole survivor from the concentration camps. 

Whenever someone obtains the opportunity to study abroad they must be prepared to go with an open-mind.  The food in Amsterdam was great.  In the United States people eat their French fries with ketchup; however, in the Netherlands their fries are eaten with mayonnaise.  It may sound different, but it really is quite good.  The Netherlands food was so delicious that my colleagues and I could not resist.  We ate at one of the famous sandwich shops twice.


 Lunch was great!  A butcher shop called “Vat”

Brussels, Belgium is a beautiful country to tour.  It has so much history.  While touring, we came across some Americans, who recognized Miles College and asked, “What is the pride of Alabama doing here in Brussels?”  We were poised and we responded with confidence and they were very impressed.  Upon our arrival to the hotel that NATO provided, we met several delegates from Spain, Poland, Greece, and Canada to name a few. We mingled and had the opportunity to get acquainted with other delegations. 

 I am excited about the experiences to come over the coming days.  I am so appreciative that Miles College has given me the experiences of a lifetime.  Again, thank you to President French, Dr. Welch, and Dr. Tharpe for this awe-inspiring opportunity; also my mom for being supportive in all my endeavors.



 Amsterdam is built on a series of canals with water being integral in the Dutch life

Devin Jenkins

Europe/NATO Study Abroad Travel Log


I thank God, President George T. French, Jr., Dr. Ba-Shen T. Welch, Dr. Alan Tharpe, and the entire Miles College administration for providing me with an excellent first overseas experience.  My stay in Amsterdam has been a memorable one and has enhanced my worldview by exposing me to several new experiences in only two days into our travels. 

The Dutch selections of food are similar to American choices but yet so different.  I have now eaten stamppotten with hotchpotch (a mixture of mashed potatoes, carrots, onions, and sauerkraut served with sausage, bacon, and a meatball) an amazing curry mustard, “Prins” poffertjes (miniature pancakes topped with powdered sugar and ice cream) and even escargots (snails).  I also have gained a new appreciation for eating French fries with mayonnaise.


 Fantastic view from the hotel

The most moving experience for me so far was walking through the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.  Realizing the pain and loneliness that was experienced where I was standing was overwhelming.  Our visit to The Hague to be briefed by Rein Drekkers, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs Senior Policy Advisor, was a defining moment of our Amsterdam visit.  We gained a Netherlands perspective on different political issues such as Afghanistan, emergency crisis management, Syria, Turkey, and several others.  Mr. Drekkers was beyond helpful in providing us with information to aid in our preparation for the Model NATO Youth Summit in Brussels, Belgium, where we will be representing the Netherlands. 

To anyone who may be visiting Amsterdam soon, my most important words of advice are watch out for the bicycles!  They rule the roads, and as our tour guide told us, “They will hit you then get off the bikes and abuse you for getting hit”.


Dutch dining at its finest

Amanda Vaughn

Europe/NATO Study Abroad Travel Log

I truly thank God for Miles College! This institution has taken me on my first international trip and for that, I am grateful and honored. The first stop on our voyage landed me in beautiful Amsterdam where I got to taste amazing food, and see wonderful architecture. Our tour guide, Michael led us around the city and shared with us its rich history. The interactions we had with him were not only fun, but extremely educational.

Apart from seeing the interesting sights, one of my favorite experiences was walking through the house of Anne Frank. I can honestly call my visit Life Changing. It is one thing to learn about her in school or read her diary, but visiting her “Secret Annex” does something that cannot be described in books or in the classroom.

Another blessing was our invitation to visit The Hague to meet with Rein Dekkers, Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His insight helped us become better delegates at the NATO debate as we will represent the Netherlands. I now feel more confident in my own ability to convey Netherlands policy and viewpoints. Finally, my time in Amsterdam gave me a chance to bond with my colleagues. I may see them almost every day at school, but visiting another country with a person offers a unique and intimate bonding experience. My heart is filled with such joy and appreciation, I could never say “thank you” enough to suffice. Ms. Hancock, thank you for all of your help and dedication (and for keeping me in line). Dr. Tharpe, thank you for answering my myriad questions and helping me learn my material. Dr. Welch, thank you for caring enough about me to teach and groom me into the scholar you know I can be.  Moreover, President French, thank you very much for this opportunity to represent Miles College abroad. Again, I truly thank God for Miles College.


 This building once housed the largest Dutch trading company

Donald Jackson

Europe/NATO Study Abroad Travel Log

As a recent graduate of Miles College, I am more than ecstatic to have the privilege to represent Miles College for this once in a lifetime tour to Europe visiting places such as: Amsterdam, Belgium, and Paris. Our main objective for this trip abroad is for the Model NATO Youth Summit (MoNYS), which happens to be held at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. I am delighted to have this opportunity to be able to participate in one last Model NATO conference with the Members of the Miles College delegation including Kacey Webb, Devin Jenkins, Adriauna Davis and Amanda Vaughn; and a great Administrative staff, Dr. Welch and Dr. Tharpe who went above and beyond to ensure that Miles College indeed shared the same playing field with the likes of a Canadian and several universities from throughout all of Europe.

If there is one thing that I could take from this trip, it would be the various types of foods that I had the opportunity to try, but more so, the once in a lifetime meeting that took place with a Senior Policy Advisor, Mr. Rein Dekkers, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands. Mr. Dekkers, was very flexible with the question and answer session and also informative with providing great detail with insight on topics that could potentially help our delegation. Questions asked were along the lines of The Netherlands position on SMART Defense, Reforming NATO, NATO’s involvement in Syria and NATO’s relationship with other outside organizations, such as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the Arab League along with influences from China and Russia.

I would like to give great thanks to Dr. Tharpe, our delegation advisor who prepared us with endless materials and great belief, and most of all I give many thanks and high praises to both Dr. Welch who took the chance to allow students of various backgrounds to come together and represent the International Studies Department of Miles College. Finally, Dr. George T. French Jr., the President of Miles College, whom I believe, day in and day out is always making progress to take Miles College to the sights of something PHENOMENAL! I give him many thanks for making it possible for Miles College to be represented at the Model NATO Youth Summit. 



 A lovely evening in the Netherlands in front of a beautiful Catholic Cathedral dating back to the 1500s.

Kacey Webb

Europe/NATO Study Abroad Travel Log



First of all I would like to thank God for granting me the opportunity to attend Miles College, and for Miles affording me so many opportunities.  I would like to thank President George T. French, Jr. for his international vision, Dr. Ba-Shen T. Welch for her leadership over the program and Dr. Tharpe for his guidance and wisdom.  Thanks to my mother, Student Affairs, and everyone else who assisted me in reaching this point in my life.

Day 1

As we began to depart for the airport, I was overcome with excitement.  We were embarking, after a semester of hard work and NATO simulations, on a trip to NATO Headquarters and various places throughout Europe.  As we left the Birmingham airport headed for Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I could still hardly fathom the idea that I would be studying abroad, especially on my budget.  Upon entering the newly built international terminal at the Atlanta Airport, I was astonished.  It was marvelous.  After finding our terminal and exchanging some currency, we prepared ourselves for the eight hour flight.  While boarding the plane to head abroad, I realized how blessed I truly am.

Day 2

A few hours later, and 3000 miles away from home, I landed in Europe, Amsterdam to be more specific.  We walked out of the airport, to two Mercedes vehicles awaiting our arrival.  The first thing I thought, God is good.  We then took our things to the hotel, the Movenpick.  This wonderful hotel sat on the river and our room oversaw it.  Our first day in Europe, we met our tour guide, Michael.  He was a fast-walking and very knowledgeable man.  The first thing he told us about Amsterdam was the hierarchy of the road.  The queens of the road are the bikes!  Being home in America we would laugh if a biker tried to dominate the roadway, but here in Amsterdam, I saw a car with the right-of-way stop and wait on a biker to come and pass.  Wow!  We then learned that the kings of the road were the trams which are their public transportation system.  Armed with the rules of the busy streets, we ventured into the city center. Here is where concerts are held, and where the king and queen’s palace is located. 


The old Dutch architecture is some of the most beautiful architecture in the world.  The Dutch people live more vertically than we do.  They have small houses that are very tall.  In order to compensate for the lack of space, they have extremely narrow stairways.  We took a trip over to the old Jewish community where there was a dramatic change in architecture due to much of it being rebuilt after World War II.  We also walked down through the Chinese community to a small butcher shop called “Vat” which translated to English means “Fat”.  Our tour guide told us that people of all different classes wait in line for the sandwiches that they sell.  We were told that the line sometimes stretches around the block.  Once I tasted the sandwich, I understood why.  The sauce on that sandwich was so delicious, that I saved the bag with the restaurant’s name, in order to research the sauce. 

Other differences I noticed were the differences in hygiene habits.  People in the Netherlands did not bathe daily or use deodorant for the most part.  The temperature rarely reaches 80 degrees, and it rains 200+ days a year.  The mild summers make it commonplace to not have any air conditioning.  The Dutch keep windows and doors open to allow for the constant wind breeze to flow throughout the buildings.  They let cats run free throughout buildings including restaurants.


Day 3

We woke up to an early start to head down to The Hague.  This is a world famous place because the Hague serves as the home of the world court.  Although this would be an excellent place to come for pleasure, we were here for business.  While in The Hague, we visited the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zalsen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.  While at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, we were received by Senior Policy Advisor Rein Drekkers.  This is a pretty high ranking individual in the organization and we were very pleased to get to debrief with him before participating in the Model NATO Youth Summit.  After going through security, we were able to sit down and speak with Mr. Drekkers.  The briefing was specific to issues the Netherlands are facing with relations to NATO and other countries including crisis management, smart defense, and issues with Russia.  We were better prepared for NATO after leaving here.  We took the train back to Amsterdam and returned to our city tour.  We visited “Fat” again for another sandwich.  We went to the Resistance Museum, where we learned in detail the struggle of the Dutch Jews during World War II and how they fought against the holocaust.  This also showed how some Dutch people his and tried to protect the Jews.  This set the stage for our next museum trip, Anne Frank’s House Museum.  This was a one of a kind experience, because of Anne Frank’s detailed account of her story in her diary.  We walked the hall of her house and saw the small quarters that she and seven other family members lived in silence for almost two years only to get caught and all except the father died.  The first-hand experience of this was truly moving.  We then headed to a canal cruise in order to see parts of the city not as visible by land.  After another lovely dinner, we headed back to the hotel.


Day 4

Today was a very interesting day.  We had to be up early in order to make the train to Brussels.  After 2 hours on a train we had arrived.  We went to the hotel and checked-in then headed out to tour the sites of this historic city.  The Grand Plaza is the most famous site here.  It dates back hundreds of years.  Some of the churches we saw dated back to the 1300’s which is amazing that it’s still standing when you think that it is almost a thousand years old!  We then walked to see the peeing boy which is a very famous fountain here in Brussels.  Then as is tradition in Belgium, we had a Belgian waffle which was so different and better than any waffle that I ever had in the states.  


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