Students to Commemorate Titanic's History at Sunday Event

Last spring Sheryl Rinkol boarded the Azamara Journey, a memorial ship that traveled from New York City to the site of the Titanic’s sinking in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the marine disaster.

While on the journey Rinkol visited with relatives of survivors, heard from some of the world’s leading Titanic experts, visited graves of Titanic victims, and participated in a 90-minute memorial service where all 1,503 victims’ names were read aloud.

Rinkol, the assistant director of Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Cooper Center, has spent the fall semester sharing her experience and artifacts with first-year students enrolled in the Liberal Arts Seminar (LAS) titled, “Boarding the Ship of Dreams: Sailing Across 100 Years of Titanic.”

Students have spent the semester studying the ship’s history, how the ship was built and marketed, and how the media portrayed the fateful journey.

Now it’s the students’ turn to commemorate the Titanic. On Sunday, December 9, the students will spend two hours remembering the journey and celebrating their new appreciation for its history. There will be tribute poetry, interactive questions and answers, and a performance of “Nearer My God to Thee” — the song that Titanic survivors reported was the last played as the vessel sank. Guests will enjoy Edwardian teatime desserts.

The free public event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower level of the Smith-Curtis Administration Building.

“My knowledge of the Titanic was very minimal before taking the class,” said first-year student Alexandria Bardwell of Omaha. “I only knew what the movie and basic articles had presented.”

Bardwell said she has enjoyed learning more about the passengers aboard the Titanic, and has developed a real connection to their personal stories. Now Bardwell wants to share her interest with others.

“The fascination still surrounds the Titanic today,” she said.

The event will also include a display of various memorabilia that Rinkol has collected over the past 30 years. As a college student at NWU, Rinkol completed an independent research project about the infamous ship and did her student teaching in Southampton, the English port from which the Titanic departed.

As an adult, she’s traveled around the world to see Titanic exhibits and museums and along the way has collected countless memorabilia like posters, books, model ships, and even coal and wood splinters from the Titanic.

“I don’t want it to go away,” Rinkol said of why she decided to teach a LAS class about the Titanic. “The Titanic deserves attention beyond 100 years. It’s an important part of history.”

Following Sunday’s event, students will participate in the capstone to their semester-long Titanic studies. They will attend a theme dinner, “The Last Dinner Aboard the Titanic,” at Omaha’s Renaissance Mansion where they will participate in an eight-course meal that replicates the last meal enjoyed by first-class patrons on that fateful night in 1912.

“The students are absolutely looking forward to this opportunity,” said Rinkol.

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Sheryl Rinkol stands at the wheel of the ship with her aunt and the captain aboard the Azamara Journey last spring.