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Central Alumni Newsletter

Friday, June 17, 2011

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

Take in historic city sites in while studying abroad in Paris.
Take in historic city sites while studying abroad in Paris.

CCA staff returns from successful NAFSA conference

Elwell speaking at the CCA annual NAFSA breakfastCentral College Abroad staff members have returned from the annual NAFSA conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nearly 9,000 international educators attended this year's conference. Central College Abroad was one of more than 400 exhibitors who participated in the conference.

Central College Abroad held its annual NAFSA breakfast June 1. Distinguished CCA alumna and retired member of the International Monetary Fund Catherine Elwell entertained the audience with a presentation titled "On-site and on mission – 35 years in French-speaking Africa." The event brought together members of the CCA cooperative council as well as CCA friends.

We were also excited to contribute to the conference poster sessions. Maria Hickle, coordinator of institutional relations, and Mark Simmons, London resident director, presented "How to Meet Student Learning Goals through Meaningful Internships Abroad," which highlighted Central's leadership in experiential learning. Central's manager of on-campus operations and student services, Brian Zylstra, and territory representative, Lisa Ellor Smith, also presented Central's pre-departure advancements in "Techno Educators: Engage Students in their World."

Other staff attendees included Lyn Isaacson (associate dean of global experiential learning), Jessica Klyn de Novelo (assistant director of institutional relations) and Whitney Longnecker (territory representative).

Special congratulations go to Patriece Campbell, assistant director of the international center at the University of Michigan-Flint. Central College Abroad had a drawing for an iPad2 during the conference and Campbell is the winner!

All of us at Central College Abroad appreciated the opportunities to meet with so many colleagues in the field.

Safety first! CCA staff members setting up the booth in the NAFSA conference expo hall.
Safety first! CCA staff members setting up the booth in the NAFSA conference expo hall.

Learn more about becoming a cooperating institution here:

Jess KlynCentral College Abroad staff member receives Rotary Ambassador Scholarship

Shouldn’t we always practice what we preach? Jessica Klyn de Novelo, assistant director of institutional relations for Central College Abroad, thinks so. Beginning July 1, Klyn de Novelo will take a year leave to complete graduate-level studies in anthropology and international relations at the Pontifica Universidad del Peru in Lima, Peru.

Klyn de Novelo is one of three scholars selected from Iowa for the 2011-12 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. Ambassadorial Scholarships, The Rotary Foundation's oldest and best-known program, was founded in 1947. Since then, more than 40,000 men and women from about 100 nations have studied abroad under its auspices. Today it is one of the world's largest privately funded international scholarships programs. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will allow Klyn de Novelo to complete a Master's of Intercultural Relations through the University of the Pacific in addition to gaining valuable international experience through service with Rotary.

“I am honored to have been selected as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and am absolutely thrilled for the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead this next year," says Klyn de Novelo.  "I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking courses at the graduate level in Spanish and learning about a new part of the world. This will be a great reminder of the experience we prepare our students for each term. I look forward to returning next year with the added experience and education to work successfully with our students and cooperating institutions. I’m incredibly grateful to Rotary and to Central College for all the support that is making this experience possible.”

Lyn Isaacson, associate dean of academic affairs, overseas global experiential learning at Central College and will take over leadership of the Central College Abroad institutional relations team. She will serve as the main contact for Central College Abroad cooperating institutions during Klyn de Novelo’s leave.

Students live African culture in Accra

While classes end for most students in May, the adventure is just beginning as Central College Abroad students embark on their travels to Accra, Ghana. Starting June 1, students will spend a month in the heart of West Africa, exploring traditions and cultural issues that have shaped the region's performing arts.

The Ghana program kicked off with an excursion to the Kakum Forest Reserve, home to one of only four tropical rain forest canopy walks in the world.

"The canopy walk was like nothing I have ever experienced," said Hannah Worrall (Central College). "The view from the canopy was spectacular."

Worrall taking in the view during the canopy walk.
Worrall taking in the view during the canopy walk.

The students will participate in two courses, "Introduction to the Living History of Ghana" and "Introduction to Dance and the Performing Arts in Ghana." Both courses include lectures as well as excursions to historically and culturally significant sites such as castles in Elmina and Cape-Coast, The Ghana Arts Center and archeological sites. The group will also spend a weekend in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana and capital of the fabled Ashanti Kingdom.

"We had our first dance class, and it was fun but we need a lot of practice," said Worrall.

Michelle Ness (Central College) is enjoying the culture in Accra and hopes to bring an authentic African dress home.

"My favorite experience in Ghana is the markets," said Ness. "There is nothing comparable to them back home. They can be very overwhelming and hectic but so much fun! The girls in our group bought fabric and are having dresses handmade by one of our professors."

Worrall explains the significance of studying in Ghana and what it means for her future.

"From studying abroad in Ghana, I hope to learn about another culture that I have never experienced," said Worrall. "It is a whole new adventure in my life that I cannot wait to continue. I am looking for this experience to open my eyes to a world of exciting possibilities."

Learn more about the enriching opportunities offered in Accra, Ghana.

Assistant Director Spotlight: Beth Downes

Each of Central's programs are run by a number of highly qualified and committed staff members ready to provide you with the personal touch you would except from a small, private liberal arts college. Beth Downes, the London assistant director, offers a wealth of information about internship placements, travel opportunities, and is a go-to resource for all things London! Downes joined the London staff in 2009.

Meet Downes: I grew up in a small town in Dorset, a beautiful county on the south coast of England. I moved to London in 2006 to start my degree at University College London. Coming from a small town in the English countryside, I was initially daunted by the hustle and bustle of the city but soon eased into the urban way of life. I quickly realized that although London is a big city, it is actually made up of lots of little areas, each with their own unique atmosphere, making the city easy to navigate and exciting to explore.

Downes along the coast in Dorset
Downes along the coast in Dorset.

Day-to-day work: My role as assistant director is a varied one. As the internship coordinator, I work with students to find a placement that suits their individual needs. Liaising with potential internship sites is a time consuming and, at times, stressful process, but it is rewarding to see a student thrive at their placement.

Leading up to each new semester I work with Mark Simmons, London resident director, to plan and arrange program events, including excursions, and ensure that all is ready for orientation week. I am on hand throughout the semester to advise and support students, manage internships, and help lead program excursions and outings. I really enjoy getting to know each new student and watching them blossom with confidence as the semester progresses. Each semester brings new challenges and there is certainly never a dull moment!

Hobbies: I have recently taken up bouldering (rock climbing without the ropes!), which is completely exhausting but great fun. I am a keen skier, and I also enjoy cooking for friends and love experimenting with new recipes.

Beth's travel highlights: I have travelled extensively throughout Europe and the UK. My favorite European city to date is Ljubljana, Slovenia – it has the charm of a historic Italian city (including the delicious food) but without the tourist crowds and large price tag. I would love to travel more in Eastern Europe, as the cultures and traditions are very different to those of Western Europe.

Other travels include trekking in northern Thailand, bartering for spices in Cairo, and sipping mint tea amidst the crowded streets of Marrakech.

Want to meet Beth in person? Study abroad on the Central College Abroad London program.

Re-entry tips for study abroad alumni

Welcome home! Your experience abroad has undoubtedly left you with many fond memories and new ideas. Returning home from a study abroad experience is both an exciting and challenging time. As an alumnus, you are probably eager to be home but also may be feeling a little lost. It can be difficult for parents and friends to understand what you are going through or know how to be supportive during the re-entry time period. Keep the following tips in mind as you move through the re-entry process and reintegrate into your home culture.

    1. Mentally prepare for the adjustment process.
    2. Allow yourself time to adjust.
    3. Understand that the familiar may seem different.
    4. There will be some cultural catching up to do now that you're home.
    5. Reserve judgments.
    6. Respond thoughtfully and slowly.
    7. Cultivate sensitivity.
    8. Beware of comparisons.
    9. Remain flexible.
    10. Seek support networks.

Stay connected with Central College Abroad to ease the re-entry process. With involvement ranging from becoming a study abroad ambassador to submitting video or photos on our Facebook page or YouTube channel, there is a level of engagement appropriate for every student. Learn more about Central College Abroad alumni resources here:

Re-entry tips adapted from Dr. Bruce La Brack (University of the Pacific).

Hear from a peer: Learning French

No amount of classroom instruction is as effective for language learning as true immersion. The Central College Abroad Paris program offers students a variety of opportunities to develop their language skills while gaining a deeper understanding of the French culture. From program excursions to internship and service-learning placements, students of all language levels benefit from this language intensive program. Meghan McKeever (University of Michigan), a spring 2011 alumna, shares her thoughts on studying French in Paris.

Practice your language skills with local students in Paris.
McKeever (second from right) and friends exploring Sacre Coeur in Paris.

McKeever on immersion: Before arriving in Paris, I thought study abroad was about living in a new city, traveling throughout Europe, gaining independence, and meeting people from all walks of life. After spending several months in Paris, I came to realize that study abroad is really about immersing yourself in the host culture and learning to speak a new language. Although I studied French throughout high school and college, there is nothing that could have prepared me for living in a city where the language spoken is not my native tongue.

Language improvements: When I first arrived in Paris I was greeted by my French-speaking roommate who knew little to no English, and my French was far from perfect. Even stepping into a pharmacy to ask for aspirin or going to a bakery for a baguette was difficult because, while I had some ability to speak French, I simply did not have the confidence. With time, however, I began to gain confidence when I started understanding almost every word the cashiers, waiters and my roommate said! I also saw how appreciative people were when I would try to speak French. While they knew I was not from France, many of them encouraged me and complimented me on my speaking abilities, which continue to improve every day.

The importance of language efficiency: As a student who lived in Paris and interacted with Parisians every day, it was important to me to speak French so I could leave Paris knowing that I at least tried to act like a French citizen. It would have been very easy for me to ask "Parlez-vous anglais?" or "Do you speak English?" everywhere I went, but in the end it was much more gratifying to know I did it on my own!

Experience the French culture for yourself. Study abroad in Paris.

Premiere of "The Corn Grows Ripe: The Musical" a success!

Students in Merida, Mexico, took a unique approach to learning about the Mayan culture this spring. The students wrote and produced an original musical titled "The Corn Grows Ripe: The Musical" after visiting the Mayan village of Tinum and reading the children's book "The Corn Grows Ripe." The musical became a reality through participation from all 16 students on the Merida program.

The book tells the tale of a young Mayan boy named Tigre that must grow up quickly after his father is injured working on the milpa (farm). The group members were struck by the village life in Tinum and wanted to share their experience.

"We read all about Tigre's struggles with the milpa and got to see it first hand by staying with families who deal with the same problems as the characters in the book," said Katelynn Lockhart (Anderson University). "Our trip brought the book to life, and we wanted to bring it to life for others as well."

"The group was so creative and enthusiastic they decided even before we left Tinum that they would produce a play by the end of the semester," said Valerie Grimsley, Merida resident director.

Students performing "The Corn Grows Ripe: The Musical."

The outcome was a semester-long project that resulted in four choreographed song-and-dance numbers based on well-known songs. "In the Jungle," from The Lion King, became "In the Milpa," and "Love Lockdown" by Kanye West became "Milpa Burntdown." The students used their talents to develop the play—one group worked with the songs, others organized props and costumes and some demonstrated their acting abilities.

The performance was enjoyable for all those involved.

"We used this performance as part of our despedida, or going-away party, so all the staff, teachers, host families and friends in Merida came to watch and they all loved it," said Kayla Donner (Central College).

The production and presentation of the musical was declared a success, and the students walked away with a better understanding of the Mayan culture as well as of themselves.

"We became a big family and knew we could depend on each other," said Lockhart. "I think this relationship is something really special and the musical definitely added to this."

Learn more about study abroad in Merida.

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

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