Thursday, August 9, 2012

Finally, some time to do a post!

All the reading is done.  Presentation on my article, finished.  Final paper, complete (but still need to turn into my Professor).

So, just to review,...Finally arrived in the UK, about 8 to 12 hours behind.  Oh, and Delta Airlines doesn't get my bag transferred to the British Airways flight they booked me on since by the time I left Raleigh-Durham I had missed my connecting flight to London.

After running between two terminals at Heathrow to try and find someone to talk to about my bad, which is still back in the States, finally figure out that I'm not going to be able to talk to anyone about my bag and I need to get to Oxford.  London-Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, so decided it would be best to try my luck with Delta customer service the next day.  Thank goodness I packed some extra cloths in my backpack along with my computer and readings for class.

Finally got hold of someone with Delta Airlines in the U.S.  They were very helpful and told me to go out and  get some things that I needed to get me through the next few days (cloths, bathroom items, etc.).  Told me to keep the receipts and once I got back to the terminal, bring my receipts and Delta would reimburse me.  I didn't go on a shopping spree or anything but I did get some things that made the wait easier,...until it became clear that I wouldn't get my bag until Thursday (August 2nd.).

The time waiting for my bag did give me some opportunities to walk to the downtown of Oxford several times and take some pictures, that I will post the next time.  For now, the Ben Stiller pic from "Meet the Parents" will have to do.

Image found at:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The journey begins,...and keeps on going, and going, and...

Came down and stayed overnight at the Siena Hotel with my wife and daughters.  Needless to say, at least one of them didn't go to bed until way late.  Did my part and got to RDU with plenty of time to spare on Saturday morning.  Thus begins my trip,...and then I go to the gate and Delta has oversold the flight.  

They were looking for one volunteer to take the next flight.  As incentive, a $400 travel voucher plus two $10 meal tickets.  Figuring that my Flight from JFK didn't leave until 7:30 pm and I've checked in for my connecting flight at 11:30 am, there's no way I could miss my flight from JFK to LHR - right?  

Twelve hours and a canceled flight later, I was re-booked to fly out of Atlanta at 9:20 pm.  Flight leaving RDU to Atlanta was 15 minutes behind, but that's OK.  I'm finally on my way,...right?  Get to the gate at the International Terminal and the flight has been delayed until 2:00 am!!!  At least they re-booked me on a British Airways flight.  

Well, looking on the bright side, I at least got the rest of my reading done for the first week of class at Oxford.  I also reactivated my Delta Skymiles number from way, way, way, back in the day - back in the 20th Century, I think.  

At this point, it's 12:20 am and I'm toast.  I can definitely tell I've been up for more than 16 hours straight.  Time to get a little nap and pray that my checked bag makes it on the British Airways flight.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Four days and counting...

Quite a bit going on since my last post.  All of my readings, with the exception of the articles to read on the Political-Economic Transformation in Egypt, are done!  This included three books (actually 11 chapters out of the books) and seven articles that cover the Political-Economic Transformations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria.  

Before Oxford sent out the final reading list with the specific chapters and articles to read, I had gotten well into Saudi Arabia in the Balance and A History of Iraq.  Luckily I had read the chapters I needed in for Saudi Arabia, but I had just gotten to where I needed to read for Iraq. So basically,...I've read the whole book.  Wasn't able to get to one article since it wasn't in electronic format to download.  I emailed Dr. Fred Lawson and he will be distributing this specific one himself. 

Since my last post I also submitted my Final Project Proposal (Master's Thesis) in June and my topic was accepted by the committee.  So, after Oxford, I will be writing about how social capital has been utilized in the growth of the Evangelical Political Machine.  This is very fitting since I live just south of one of the largest evangelical Universities in the United States (and world) at Liberty University. 

I'm also in various stages of cleaning around the house.  Trying to get things in as much order as possible before I leave so that my wife will be able to focus on our daughters and her work.  Still a good bit to do, but very close to getting things in order.  If I don't, and brimstone are a good possibility from my lovely wife! 

Very thankful that my mother-in-law lives relatively close to help out while I'm gone. Also, my niece and her son will be coming up during the last week I'm at Oxford to help, and visit a bit.  The girls haven't seen their cousin in about two years.  This should be good since my youngest and their cousin are about the same age.

Have several loads of laundry done and packing is underway - well, sort of.  The good thing is that packing for guys doesn't take that long.  Just have to be strategic in what I take to the UK.  It's not nearly as hot there as it is in Central and Southside Virginia this time of year. 

Have to put a quick plug in for my old boss, Anthony Carey, who is the General Manager at the Siena Hotel and Il Palio Ristorante in Chapel Hill, NC.  Since I'm flying out of RDU on Saturday, he's arranged for me and my family to stay overnight so we can spend some time together in a nice place before they drop me off at the airport the next day.  The Siena Hotel is an incredible place to stay - Four Diamond hotel and restaurant and consistently ranked high in Zaget's Survey of hotels and restaurants.  Great place for wedding receptions, meetings, or romantic getaways.

Still have three shifts to work at Gerald's, the locally woman-owned restaurant I'm working at right now while finishing up my Master's Degree.  I've also got my weekly political call-in to still do this week with WNIS AM790 out of Norfolk, VA on the Dave Parker Show.  Always interesting since the station is conservative leaning and I'm left-of-center, as they say.  At least the phone lines light up when I'm on!  This is suppose to  be a good thing - for them.

Now, back to cleaning and folding laundry...(YEAH! - Not...)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Initial readings for Oxford International Politics Summer School 2012

First thing this morning I got an email from the Programme Coordinator for the books I need to purchase for my class - Political Transformation in the Contemporary Middle East.  So, I'll be spending a little time on Amazon today.  I usually get my required texts from Amazon becauase they are far less expensive than any college or university Book Store.  Here's what I'll be diving into first: 
  • Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq, third edition.  Cambridge University Press.  2007
  • Aarts, Paul and Nonneman, Gerd (eds.).  Saudi Arabia in the Balance.  2005. 
  • Lawson, Fred H. (ed.). Demystifying Syria.  2009.  
Also, if timing isn't everything, this article from the Associated Press on the status of the Arab Spring in the Virginian Pilot Online this morning. 

This is starting to feel very real.  It's hard to put into words what it means for me to be given this incredible opportunity to travel to Oxford University to take this class this summer.  I'm close to pulling together the funding to go, but am still a little short.  If anyone that reads this can help with a small donation (even $25 adds up), it will be greatly appreciated. 

You can donate on-line by clicking the button below or send a check made payable to Barry B. Butler to 26 Grove Terrace, Rustburg, VA 24588

So, what's the back story to why I'm doing this?  I've been wrestling with this for a while, on what to say and how to say it.  In my next post I'll get into this a bit more. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Exciting news to share!

Dear Friends, 

I wanted to share some incredible news and ask for your help.  I have been accepted into Oxford University’s International Politics Summer School 2012 and offered a place in their “Political Transformation in the Contemporary Middle East” seminar group.  This course will run from July 29th through August 11th.  The chance to study at Oxford University, one of the leading universities in the world, is a rare opportunity. 

Some of you might be asking why Oxford and why now?  There are three reasons.  First, I’m two classes away from finishing my Master’s Degree at Duke University. Second, there’re no Political Science classes available to me at Duke during the summer.  Third, some of you might be familiar with this saying - You miss 100% of the shots you never take. 

Like many colleges and universities, Duke and Oxford have study abroad relationships that allow me to take classes at Oxford – upon my acceptance into their exchange program – and have the credit and grade transfer.  While my status as a student at Duke helped, it did not guarantee I would have this opportunity.

It’s an honor to be accepted to study at Oxford University, even if it’s just one class.  But I’m going to need your help to take full advantage of this offer.  That’s why I’m reaching out to you – my family, friends, colleagues, high school, college, fraternity and political campaign alumni. 

Because this is a Study Abroad course, the cost is higher than it would be if it were at Duke.  I need to raise $4,693.80 before June 1, 2012 to cover the tuition, housing, travel, and related expenses.  While Duke has been very generous to me during the time I’ve been a student, they are limited in the financial assistance they can give me over the summer.  Below is a breakdown of the program costs, estimated travel expenses, what’s been covered and what’s left to be paid: 

Oxford International Political Summer Program 2012 - Budget

Oxford Prog Fee


Duke MALS Tuition

Air Fare


Oxford Application


Fee Paid





Text Books



Left to Pay

Just like many of you, my family and I have struggled through some tough times these last few years.  At the suggestion of my good friend Terrance Taylor, who when through the same Graduate Program at Duke, I took the shot to see if one of our nation’s top Universities would grant me admission.  They did.  Duke isn’t cheap, but they offered me a generous scholarship to make it more affordable for my family and me. 

I began my Graduate work at a time when it seemed like the best time to make a change, career wise and professionally, and with the hopes of making myself more marketable once I finished.  There’ve been bumps along the way, tight family finances, and questions if this will really help my family and me in the end.  I firmly believe it will, and by taking advantage of this opportunity to study just one class at one of the finest Universities in the world, it will be a tremendous benefit to my family, my community, and me. 

So, what would you get by helping me raise this money to go to Oxford?  Besides my heart felt and humble gratitude, I will be documenting my preparations and time at Oxford.  Upon my return, I would make myself available to come and speak about my experience.  If anyone is interested in exploring opportunities like this, I am willing to discuss what is required and what to expect once there. 

What if I am able to raise more money than is needed to cover the cost of the trip?  If this happens, then I would apply the extra money to my final semester expenses at Duke.  If I’m able to cover those expenses, I plan to “pay it forward” and through the Duke Master of Arts Liberal Studies program (MALS), help a deserving student or students defray the costs of participating in the same program. 

Again, your support of $25, $50, $100, $250, or what ever you can comfortably give will help me cover the cost of tuition, housing, travel, and related expenses at Oxford.  Please make checks payable to Barry B. Butler (on the memo line – Oxford IPSS 2012) and mail to me at 26 Grove Terrace, Rustburg, VA 24588.  Or you can give online by clicking the donate button below:  

Thank you for your support! 

Barry B. Butler 
Masters Degree Candidate
Duke University 
Graduate Liberal Studies 

P.S.  If you would like to independently confirm that I have been accepted into this program, please email Margaret Dennis, Assistant Director of Graduate Liberal Studies, at

If you would like to learn more about these programs, click on the following links:  
Oxford International Politics Summer School 2012 
Duke University’s Master of Arts Liberal Studies