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Central Alumni Newsletter

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hello friends of Central College Abroad! This newsletter, released the second Tuesday of every month, is intended to keep you in touch with what’s happening with Central College Abroad’s programs across the globe.

Merida, Mexico students take a leap by the ocean side.
Surfs up in Bangor, Wales. Outdoor Pursuits students suit up to take on the waves.

Central College Abroad concludes a successful Cooperative
Council conference

Central College Abroad welcomed visitors from across the globe for our annual Cooperating Council Conference this past Thursday-Saturday, April 8-10. Of the more than 55 attendees, many were members from our Cooperating Institutions throughout the nation. This year’s conference theme, “Navigating the Study Abroad Experience with Assessment-based Programming” provided a foundation for our sessions and meetings.

Central College Abroad resident directors from all eight sites abroad spoke on behalf of their programs and the exciting new developments in student learning opportunities. Study abroad alumni also joined us to share their stories from abroad and informational sessions led our visitors through a simulation of the new pre-departure and re-entry courses to be offered beginning fall 2010. Central College’s president Dr. David Roe spoke at the conference, as well as Central’s newly named 21st president Dr. Mark Putnam, who will begin his leadership this July. Both have a dedication to international education that is inspiring as we look to the future.

This conference provided wonderful opportunities for all who attended. Members from cooperative institutions received professional development including ideas and strategies to take back to their own campuses. Many stated that they are even more excited to speak about Central College Abroad to students and colleagues when the return. The conference also serves as a crucial opportunity to grow through the feedback received from our partners.

Central College Abroad extends our sincere thanks to all who attended and made this conference a success.

Learn more about the Central College Abroad Cooperative Council at

Harry SmithExclusive invitation to meet Harry Smith, CBS news correspondent at our annual NAFSA Conference breakfast

Central College Abroad is pleased to announce Harry Smith, CBS News Correspondent, Host of CBS “The Early Show” and Central College alum will be speaking on the Value of Globalized Education Today at the annual Central College Abroad breakfast at this year’s NAFSA Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, June 2, 2010. Cooperating schools and partners of Central College Abroad have been invited to join this exclusive event. Limited availability. Please contact for more details about the event.

Alumni spotlight

Who: Catherine Elwell
Major: French, Mary Washington College 1973
Semester abroad: Paris, 1971-1972
Current Career: Retired, African Department in the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

How going abroad has helped: At the end of 2008, I finished a 35.5-year career in the African Department of the International Monetary Fund, where I worked on French-speaking African countries for most of those years. All parts of my training and education from Mary Washington College and Central College’s program with the Université de Paris—La Sorbonne were fully put to use as I prepared IMF Board papers and documents negotiated with country teams; interacted with French-speaking authorities, either at headquarters or in the countries themselves over the course of over 30 missions to most of the French-speaking countries on the African continent; as well as interacting with the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C., and in the capital cities of our member countries.

It was incredibly fulfilling to put my certificat annuel and diplôme annuel from the Sorbonne to use every day. It gave me a very strong grounding in French grammar, which was critical in preparing accurate documents during negotiations and preparing other official papers under tight deadlines, as well as facilitating other communications among working teams. It opened the door to travel and professional opportunities that I could not have dreamt of!

I am still in touch with many of my fellow Central College program abroad students all these years later, and we agree it was one of the best years of our lives!

For more information about our Paris, France program visit:
Cycling in Texel

Director spotlight

Every Central College Abroad program is blessed to have a very talented on-site program director who contributes immensely to students’ experiences abroad. For the Vienna program, Ruth Verweijen warmly welcomes students to Austria.

Central College Abroad student
Vienna’s on-site director Ruth Verweijen enjoys the opportunity to work with the students of her program

When it comes to Vienna, Verweijen is the expert. She brings a wealth of knowledge to her students whether they are learning about the city or the culture. Verweijen strives to provide her students with the best experience possible. She’s also a highly qualified individual receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the Vienna Tourism College, a Master of Arts from the University of Vienna, and a master’s of international and intercultural management from the School for International Training.

 As the resident director, Verweijen helps students by advising them on courses to take, leading them on an orientation of the city, and facilitating their personal growth in all their experiences.
 “One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work with the students. I love watching them learn, getting to know them, and getting to see them grow over the months that they spend abroad in Vienna,” she says. “My co-director and I are always available to our students and take great pride in helping make their experience abroad the experience of a lifetime.”

In her free time, Verweijen enjoys spending time with her daughter and traveling around the world.

Resident directors have a challenging job with all the planning, procedures and responsibility — but it’s obvious that Verweijen’s positive and international outlook qualifies her in more ways than one.

For more information about Ruth and our Vienna program visit:

Tours home stays provide warm welcome to Paris participants

Before settling into Paris, Central College Abroad program students take off for a two-week language adventure in Tours, France, in the Loire Valley. Here they stay with host families to truly become immersed in the French culture.

During this stay students have the opportunity to study French where the famous historian Michelet said, "Our language is spoken with the most beautiful and purest accent of all." The Institut de Touraine has been providing French classes for a century and currently welcomes students from 80 nationalities. Central College Abroad students take a required language course there and also participate in excursions throughout the city and region.

 “I loved the first month and the time we spent in the Loire Valley. My favorite part was getting an opportunity to live with a family for a month to see how they work, understand the culture and learn how they cook their meals. It's really nice to have home-cooked meals,” said Paris alum Nicole Infante, Villanova University.

London Photo
Paris students sit in awe of the beautiful Chambord castle visited while staying in Tours.

Not only is a comforting home-like experience provided to the students when they arrive in France, but they also have the opportunity to immediately participate in excursions to some of the best sites France has to offer.

“During our stay in Tours we visited the Chambord and Cheverny castles to discover the historic culture of France. We also had the opportunity to visit a culinary school where we were treated to a classy five-course meal!” said Paris alum Katie Huff, Central College. 

Tours not only offers a chance to get acquainted with the culture, but it also provides an opportunity to build a close relationship with host families.

“I loved the stay and am planning on going back to stay with Edith later in the semester because she said I'm always welcome in her home. We built such a strong relationship in just the two short weeks, and she temporarily replaced my family which made getting used to the distance a lot easier,” said current Paris participant Taylor Schuelke.

For more information about our Paris program visit:

Central Abroad students celebrate Easter with the Pope

Studying abroad provides opportunities to learn in many different ways — discovering new ideas, ways of thinking or a new language. It also provides opportunities to attend unique events that just are not possible by staying home. 

At Easter time this year, a group of spring 2009 London participants reflected on their trip a year ago to Rome, Italy, to celebrate Easter with Pope Benedict himself.

“My time in Rome was amazing, and the Easter Mass was really just, pardon the cliché, icing on the cake. Personally, being Catholic, visiting the Vatican was something that I’d always wanted to do. However, getting the opportunity to do it during such an important time of year was spectacular. It really strengthened my faith and gave me memories that I will always hold dear,” said London alum Mike Koscielny, St. Joesph’s College.

Central College Abroad student
Thousands of people attended Easter Mass to see Pope Benedict and receive an Easter Blessing.

With the beauty that is Rome, Italy, students were amazed to be in the presence of such a strong community in this celebratory time of year.

“My favorite part of the trip was realizing that I was surrounded and filled with this beautiful faith. So many Catholics had gathered that day to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit with the leader of our universal Church. This particular trip really made me want to travel the world to explore my religion’s history, and I definitely want to go back to Vatican City,” said London alum Amanda Powerie, Loras College.

Not only did Easter Mass display the strength of the Catholic religion but it also showed cultural unity.

 “Every part of the Mass was said in a different language displaying the diversity of Catholicism. There were flags flying from different countries, and people responding to the dialogue of the Mass in their native languages,” said London alum A.J. Spike, Loras College. “Never in my life have I been a part of something that was so familiar, yet so diverse. Catholicism has the same Mass all over the world, yet we saw diverse cultures celebrating the same Mass at the same time.”

The spring 2009 participants were not the only ones who ventured to the Vatican for this enriching adventure. Current London participant Chelsea Grieger also took the chance this Easter to visit Rome as well.

“I am Catholic, so spending Easter in the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I'm excited to see the Pope and being able to celebrate my faith at the center of the Catholic religion,” Grieger said.

For more information about what students are doing abroad visit:

Internship with Principal Financial in Mexico

Who: Danielle De Haan
Major: Business management and Spanish
Semester Abroad: Merida, fall 2009
Internship Placement: Principal Financial Group

Memorable internship: I was so fortunate to have an internship with Principal Financial in Mexico. I had no idea they had a branch there, and it just happened to be about a 15-minute walk from the Central house. I thought there would be at least one person at the office that was from the office in Des Moines to help run things but that wasn't the case at all. No one else in the office spoke English! It was a great experience for me to be separated from other students and my professors so I could use and improve my Spanish skills. The internship was a great success! I was able to help them out, and they taught me so much. I will never forget them.

Central College Abroad student

Going abroad helped my Spanish improve more than I ever could have at Central. Being completely immersed in a different language can even cause you to think and dream in that language which would have never happened at home.

I feel like my experience was unique because I still can't believe I did it. I remember lying in bed looking around wondering how I ever even got to the point that I convinced myself I would go anywhere. I've lived in Pella my entire life, never moved houses, never left town for more than a week. I still go home about four times a week and I live on campus if that tells you how much I'm used to seeing my family. I threw away every brochure that Central ever sent me about study abroad because that was just too long to be away. I don't know how it even happened but now, I miss it every day.

For more information on internships opportunities abroad visit:

Central College Abroad Quick Links for Faculty & Advisors:

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Central College Abroad
812 University Box 0140
Pella, IA 50219
Fax: 641-628-5375

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