This post was written by Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, after she returned from her first Flying Jayhawks trip. One of Tegan’s responsibilities at the Alumni Association is to oversee the Flying Jayhawks travel program. Tegan co-hosted the trip with Teri Harris, director of membership for the Alumni Association.
I have been employed by the KU Alumni Association for nine months as assistant director of membership. One of my responsibilities is to oversee the administration of our Flying Jayhawks travel program for members. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to host one of our trips, a journey through the Baltic Sea. As you can imagine, it was the trip of a lifetime and quite the learning experience.
After traveling for a day we landed in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our group was greeted by the friendly Go Next staff and assigned to a bus while they took care of our bags. Copenhagen is a flat country, with an astronomical mark-up for vehicles, which meant there were bicycles everywhere! When it snows, they clear the bike lanes first. We enjoyed a three-hour bus tour of the city and checked out a few of the local sights: the Amalienborg Palace and the Little Mermaid. After our tour, we boarded the ship, passed our safety drill and enjoyed a cocktail reception with our group of 38 Flying Jayhawks.
Our next port was Warnemunde, Germany. After a three-hour bus ride on the Autobahn, we arrived in Berlin. Our local tour guide had just graduated from University and provided a wealth of knowledge about how the World Wars changed the city and the country. We made notable stops at the Allied Museum, Brandenburg Gate, the East side gallery of the Berlin Wall and Check Point Charlie. Our guide even arranged for some local beer sampling on the bus ride back to the ship to go along with our snacks.
After a day at sea, we made our way to Klaipeda, Lithuania. We visited the Theater Square and the Botanical Park. Inside the park we toured the Amber Museum, located in a 19th-century Neo-Renaissance-styled mansion where we learned about jewelry-making and saw prehistoric insects trapped in the amber (anyone else think of Jurassic Park?).
After getting back on the bus, we headed to the Basanavicius Promenade where we sampled the Lithuanian beer Svyturys before heading back to the ship. Later that evening we hosted a cocktail reception on the top deck of the ship for our Flying Jayhawks. At that point, we were out on the open water and cruising along; unfortunately neither Teri nor I had our sea legs (or stomachs for that matter). That was the only time that the cruise was a little rough; it was smooth sailing the rest of the trip.
Riga, Latvia, is dubbed the “Paris of the East,” has a population of nearly one million people and is the biggest city in the Baltic States. We walked through parks and through the older part of the city viewing the 13th century and Art Nouveau architecture lining the streets. Kim Maddrey and I were always lagging behind trying to get just one more great picture! Latvia is known for their wool, so there were scarfs, hats, socks, and mittens everywhere. On one of our shopping excursions Fred Chana, e’67, was wearing a beer hat.
From Latvia we headed up to Helsinki, Finland. It was a little rainy at times, but it didn’t slow down our group of Jayhawks! Right off the ship there was a large, interesting statue in the port, advising visitors to not pollute the Baltic Sea. We walked through Senate Square, Helsinki’s National Theater and Gallery, the famous Rock Church, and ended in Sibelius Park. Fun facts we learned on our way: Finland is the home of Angry Birds and the first SMS text message.
It was hard to believe our trip was almost over as we sailed to St. Petersburg, Russia, for three days. Russia was an interesting experience. It was interesting to talk with our guides about their feelings about previously being under Soviet Communist rule. We saw massive housing structures that were once run by the government but are now privatized; they’ve gone to ruin because no one has taken care of them in the past 20 years. I toured Catherine’s Palace, which was the lavish summer residence of the imperial family. It was under renovation, but it was detailed and beautiful. The parquet floors consisted of 15 different types of wood, the amount of gold leaf was overwhelming and the artwork on the walls and ceilings were impressive. This didn’t even compare to her Amber Room where all the panels were made of amber, and the massive marble Grand Staircase.
We experienced a traditional Russian meal. It started out with a shot of vodka, and our tour guide explained how to do this the proper way: breathe in, take the shot, breathe out, take a bite of brown bread and then proceed with lunch. Champagne, borscht and beef stroganoff refueled us for the next stop: the Peter and Paul Cathedral which was completed in 1773. We also made our way to the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.
On our second day in Russia, we toured the Hermitage and the Gold Room. The Hermitage was created by Catherine the Great as a place to get away and be a “hermit.” One of the benefits of traveling with the Flying Jayhawks is that we were granted access to the museum one hour before the public and had a scheduled time for a guided tour of the Gold Room. There were so many pieces of priceless artworks: Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Little Madonna” and a number of works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh were just a few of the highlights.
The third day I enjoyed the canal cruise and shopping. It was a cold and rainy day but we braved the canals. It was such a beautiful view to see the city from that perspective. And what would a trip to Russia be without Matryohka dolls and more vodka? I was even able to find a set of Kansas basketball players as a set of nesting dolls! Russia was quite the experience and it was interesting to hear about their history from local people.
The end of our journey was definitely a case of “save the best for last.” I had the lowest expectations for Tallinn, Estonia, but enjoyed it the most! I started the morning by touring the Kadriorg Park that was commissioned by Peter the Great. It is the summer home of two black swans that are on loan from the zoo. We went to the Song Festival Ground where up to 30,000 singers participate each year. It was reminiscent of the end of “The Sound of Music.” But, there’s a catch: to participate, you have to sing in the Estonian language.
As we packed up to head home, it was hard to believe the trip was over. We spent an hour on the bus from the port in Stockholm, Sweden, to the airport, and I saw the old Olympic Stadium on our way. It was a trip a lifetime. I have officially been bitten by the travel bug, and I can’t wait for my next adventure.
Thanks to Tegan for sharing a detailed account of her Flying Jayhawks experience! She also took a lot of pictures on the trip—549 to be exact! Watch the slideshow below or see the photos on Flickr. Alumni who participated in this adventure are welcome to download the photos for personal use. Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! Visit www.kualumni.org/travel for more information about upcoming trips and to sign up for emails about the Flying Jayhawks program.
Once again this year, we’re dispatching staff members to key cities across the United States to host watch parties for local Jayhawks.
Today, our fearless travelers are stationed in Denver, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Each location will have a KU Alumni Association table set up with free giveaways such as stickers and coasters. If you’re a member, though, be sure to show your card to receive a special gift! You can show your actual card, a digital copy of the card (it’s on some of our emails) or even a copy of a recent email that has your membership status at the bottom.
We’re already hearing reports from Teri Harris, director of membership, that Stoney’s Bar & Grill, our official alumni watch site in Denver, is packed with Jayhawk fans. The restaurant even put together a special Jayhawk menu with offerings that include “Naismith Nachos” and “Phog Allen Fries.”
And from Lottie’s Pub in Chicago, Tyler Rockers, coordinator of alumni programs, proclaimed that the sky is appropriately colored KU blue today.
Should KU win today over Eastern Kentucky and advance to Sunday’s game, staff members will host watch parties in Phoenix, Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, Portland and New York City.
Members of the recently graduated class of 2013 received a surprise in their email inboxes Thursday afternoon– an offer for two free tickets to a home football game of their choice during the upcoming season.
More than 5,000 graduates received the email, with a can’t-miss subject line of “A free gift! Football tickets for recent grads.” Several emails have already been sent to this group over the summer encouraging them to update their email address with the Alumni Association, create a free alumni profile at www.kualumni.org, find an alumni chapter across the country and get involved in alumni events.
A majority of the emails were sent to the former students’ ku.edu email addresses– so if you’re a member of the class of 2013 and didn’t receive the email, check your ku.edu account. And then, be sure to register at www.kualumni.org/register to create an account and update your email address, so you don’t miss other important emails!
6News Lawrence covered the story last night and featured staff members Teri Harris, director of membership, and Jane Mahoney, digital media and marketing coordinator and member of the class of 2013. Watch a video of the broadcast below, or click here to watch on the 6News website:
Congratulations, class of 2013! We can’t wait to see you during football season.
Don’t forget to join us for Game Day at the Adams tailgates at the Adams Alumni Center before every home football game. The tailgates start three hours before kickoff and include food, beverages and performances from the Marching Jayhawks and the Spirit Squad. Take advantage of your complimentary membership this year and receive a reduced rate for admission!
The Association hosted a dinner Thursday, Aug. 1 for 125 cadets, instructors and leaders of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, which KU has operated for more than 40 years in Yoder, 12 miles south of Hutchinson. Lynn Loveland, the Association’s assistant director for Kansas programs, and Teri Harris, director of membership, traveled to the KLETC to celebrate the cadets’ graduation, thank them for their service to Kansas communities, welcome them to the Jayhawk network and encourage them to get involved with their local alumni chapter. Since 2011, the Association has hosted two events each year in Yoder.
KLETC director Ed Pavey was the featured speaker, answering a question common among many alumni: How did the University of Kansas become involved in police training? When the Kansas Legislature created KLETC in 1968 as the central headquarters for all law enforcement training in Kansas, legislators needed someone to provide organizational oversight. The decision was easy. KU had been involved in law enforcement training since the mid-1940s through the University’s Governmental Research Unit. Police officers from across Kansas had traveled to the Lawrence campus to attend training sessions and workshops that focused on topics including homicide investigation, crowd control, traffic collisions and other important law enforcement topics.
To get up and running quickly, the center needed classroom and office space, as well as dormitory-style lodging that could be used immediately. Buildings on the former U.S. Naval Air Station located 12 miles southeast of Hutchinson were available, and the U.S. government advised the University that two buildings on the base grounds could be used with little renovation: They had been used during World War II and the Korean War for classroom instruction and dormitory housing for U.S. Navy pilots in training.
KU established KLETC in 1969, and the campus has continued to grow. Two new dormitory buildings that house 231 officers were constructed in 1998 and 2009. The center also features a state-of-the-art Emergency Vehicle Operations Driver Training Facility named after Robert J. Senecal, retired dean of KU Continuing Education, a 16-station firearms range and adjacent shotgun range, a crime scene house, a tactical shooting house, 15 classrooms and an 800-seat auditorium that can be divided into three separate training venues. The KLETC campus now spans 173 acres.
More than 400 officers from across Kansas are trained annually in basic programs. In addition, more than 5,000 veteran officers attend KLETC-provided or sponsored continuing education programs each year.
The KU Alumni Association is proud to support the KLETC by hosting a congratulatory banquet for new graduates of the training program.
More than fifty Jayhawks enjoyed the annual Front Range Golf Tournament in Colorado last Friday. The tournament is held at a different golf course each year, and this year the tournament was in Colorado Springs at the Garden of the Gods Club.
Staff members Mike Davis, Teri Harris, Kelsey Hill and Dan Storey traveled west to welcome the golfers. Thanks to all the Jayhawks who joined us this year!
Click here to see our photos from the event, or watch the slideshow below.