2008 Conway Scholarship Report - German debris: a fragmentary account by Sid Della Santina

The 2008 holder of this scholarship was Sid Della Santina.  His report follows below.

This scholarship, which is worth $3000, is awarded each year to a student in the Honours or Graduate programme in History or International Relations.  The purpose is to enable the holder to explore aspects of German life and history, such a Art galleries, Battlefields, Concentration camps down to the Zugspitze in southern Bavaria.   Each student is free to choose his or her own agenda, but should propose an itinerary and indicate what his or her interest in German history may be.  Previous holders have investigated such as aspects as the Mennonite communities in present-day Germany, visited eighteenth-century Protestant orphanages and their successors, or inspected - by bicycle - the system of flood control and irrigation along the River Oder established by Frederick the Great.

This scholarship is intended to be an occasion for study and travel.   It is not designed for those engaged in archival research for doctoral degrees, but could include programmes for language study in Germany. There are no prerequisites, but the holder is required on return to submit a report on his or her experiences by October 1st.

Application forms can be obtained from the History Department and should be submitted to the Chair of the Scholarship Committee by February 2nd 2009.

Summary by Conway Scholarship recipient for 2008, Sid Della Santina

As the recipient of the 2008 Scholarship, I can say that the John Conway Summer Travel Scholarship is an exceptional opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of German culture and history, a unique chance to delve deep into this wonderful country.  It was a joyous and a revelatory experience to get to know Germany, its heritage and inhabitants at an unhurried pace, knowing that the object of my visit was that of absorbing as much and as many of the impressions which were to follow fast and thick. The Conway Travel Scholarship was an opportunity to open myself to the possibility of discovering aspects of Germany I had not expected from what I had learned through reading or hearsay. It allowed me to build a truly personal and lasting relationship with Germany, and in this it was a precious and unexpected gift.

I think it speaks to the spirit of the scholarship to say that it should be an invitation to realize a veritable Bildungsreise (a journey of personal development). In my own experience, I went to Germany with an interest in the development of its cultural institutions, its museums and universities. I wanted to see how these establishments helped form a sense of German identity in the 19th century. But it was not in the "disciplinary" investigation as such that I had the most to learn, but rather in the observation of the ways in which these seeminly arcane objects of study have marked the way in which current day Germans confront their past on a daily basis in interacting with the built world, from the surviving ruin from the past to the futuristic, post-modern architectural experiment. The ensuing reflections have helped me understand my own sense of "historicity", and I dare say, have made me a better historian as a result.

It is for the opportunity of engaging in an intimate and profound journey of discovery that I urge all who have an interest in German history to apply for the Conway Summer Travel Scholarship—you will surely be enriched by the experience—and, at the expense of sounding banal, I would remind all that there is really is no substitute for experiencing the richness and diversity of Germany first hand!

Full Report,  German debris: a fragmentary account