Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74, and Dr. Phil Quanbeck II, religion professor emeritus, are hosting a tour to Turkey through Tutku Educational Travel on May 2- 15, 2024. The trip will begin and end in Istanbul. Participants will travel in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as well as cities mentioned in the Book of Revelation. This is a tour of Christian homelands of the first centuries of the Christian movement. And The tour will trace those traditions into modern Turkey.
Last year, Ruth and Phil had several alumni join them on their organized trip to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. “It was a very meaningful trip. We visited the biblical sites of the OT and the NT and the story of Jesus and the disciples. We also met people involved in contemporary reconciliation and justice issues from Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. We met with Dr. Mitri Raheb of Dar Al Kalima University in Bethlehem. Augsburg has a long standing connection with Dr. Raheb and Dar Al Kalima. We also visited Petra, famous for its ancient importance and modern setting for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. These journeys are also made wonderful by sharing the experience with interested and engaged travelers,” Phil shared. Ruth and Phil have also co-led trips to Greece and Turkey in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2008, and just returned in October from a trip to Istanbul.
Ruth and Phil welcome any Augsburg alumni and friends to sign up for this exciting adventure!
Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74, and Philip A. Quanbeck II, religion professor emeritus, will lead a pilgrimage tour to Israel and Palestine on May 20 – 31 with an optional extension to Jordan on May 31-June 3, 2023.
Dr. Ruth and Dr. Phil led four tours to Greece and Turkey with Augsburg University students in 2003, 2005, and 2007, and with adults in 2008. They also led an Augsburg alumni tour to Israel in 2012, and most recently, in 2017, they led their own tour to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, which included a number of Auggies.
“We had a good group ready to go in May 2020 but COVID hit and we had to cancel,” they said. Adding, that conditions are now very favorable again for travel to the Holy Land.
Currently, they are working with a travel agency in Bethlehem called Shepherds Tours, which is closely associated with Dar Al-Kalima University and the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. Mitri Raheb and Dar Al Kalima have ties to Augsburg. Several Augsburg faculty including Jacqui DeVries have been to Dar Al Kalima in recent years, and Mitri Raheb has visited Augsburg on several occasions.
Johnson and Quanbeck’s tours visit well-known biblical sites associated with both Old Testament and New Testament stories and figures. They will visit the Galilee region and Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, and Jerusalem. And Bethlehem on the West Bank. They also engage current realities in Israel and the West Bank (Palestine). The extension to Jordan will include Petra, the area of building carved in red rock.
“We also meet with the Parents’ Circle Family Forum which is an Israeli and Palestinian group of parents who share their losses of children in the struggle,” they said. “We visit an Israeli settlement on the West Bank and a refugee camp operated by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, camps which are a remnant of the 1948 war.”
Johnson and Quanbeck encourage Augsburg alumni and friends to join them on the next pilgrimage and experience the tour firsthand.
Dan Cherryhomes, class of ’73, and his wife, Pat, saw promotional material for the Augsburg trip to Thailand and Cambodia in January 2017 and decided to go to the on-campus information session.
Both Dan and Pat had thought about different ways to travel and tour in retirement, had looked at tours, but had never given serious thought to any group package.
“We had the opportunity to try out the idea in an orientation meeting with some of the people with whom we would likely travel. It was not so surprising to us that as part of the extended Augsburg family, we share the same values and hopes for the trip as a number of the participants. When we met the hosts, English professor Kathy Swanson, and her husband, Jack, we also learned they had spent time as Peace Corps volunteers in Thailand.”
Dan’s parents were missionaries, and he spent his first four years in Thailand. Jack talked with Dan about where he had lived and offered that they could make a brief side-trip one day in Bangkok to the place where Dan had lived.
“This was something we didn’t expect in a group tour—the willingness of our host to help make the experience more personally meaningful to us. We left the orientation and decided that the trip was not only something worthwhile, but that this was the best opportunity we would ever have to travel with people willing to share a similar experience.”
Tour host Kathy Swanson promises a trip that will be Uniquely Augsburg. Travelers will visit sites that appear on most trips to Thailand and Cambodia: the temples, the Grand Palace, the night markets, the floating market, Angkor Wat. The tour will, however, also include items that are uniquely Augsburg such as a visit to an orphanage for Hill Tribe children, Augsburg guides who know the country well and speak some Thai, and a group of travelers who share a common background and interest in being citizens of the world.
Swanson and her husband are already looking forward to the trip. “With all of our trips to Thailand, we most enjoy sharing our love and knowledge of the place with others who are interested in various cultures and new experiences. Each time, we see the familiar through the new eyes of our travelers,” she said.
Who should take this trip? “Anyone who values expanding a world view, learning about a new culture, experiencing beauty (and fun!),” said Kathy Swanson. As Mark Twain wrote:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” — from Innocents Abroad