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Central Alumni Newsletter

Friday, January 13, 2012

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

Bicycles and canals are common place in the Netherlands.
Bicycles and canals are common place in the Netherlands.

Partnership Essential in Global Experiential Learning

Following a celebratory inaugural year of reflection and creative thinking, Central College President Mark Putnam set into motion an intense second year of planning, with some of higher education’s most well-known players lending their expertise. His innovative leadership and second-year planning experience challenges these experts and other campus leaders to think about how to change the landscape of higher education. Listen in as Dr. Putnam describes the Central College planning year with a special emphasis on global experiential learning and partnership with our cooperating institutions.

Tune in next month to hear Dr. Putnam discuss unique opportunities for faculty and student development abroad. Learn more about Central’s planning year initiatives.

Summer 2012 applications due March 1

Bust the boring routine of your usual summer break and study abroad! Take advantage of the unique cultural, language and internship-rich experiences waiting abroad while you earn academic credit and build your resume. Personalized programs allow you to get the most out of your experience abroad. Take advantage of our online application. It's fast, easy and FREE!

Act now — the March 1 application deadline will be here before you know it.

Joyeux NoŽl

Sometimes the things that surprise students the most during their time abroad are the similarities. Travel over oceans, cross language barriers and move past cultural differences and what you find is a group of people not wholly unlike those at home.

In the middle of a full year studying in Paris, France, Central College student Amelia Giacovelli learned just that. During her winter break, Giacovelli celebrated Christmas with her roommate Perrine and her family.

Giacovelli visiting a Christmas market in France.

 “Christmas back home in the States for me is spent amongst family,” said Giacovelli. Since that wasn’t an option in France, Giacovelli was happy to accept Perrine’s invitation to her family Christmas in Beauvais, a town about 180 miles west of Paris. “I expected it to be a rather ‘normal’ Christmas which would include opening presents and having a big meal with everyone,” she explained. “But I knew that it would be somewhat different because it is a different culture and I wouldn't be with my own family.”

What she discovered was no matter where it is being celebrated, Christmas is a family affair.
During her three-day stay, Giacovelli saw many similarities between the French Christmas traditions and her own. Stateside, she normally gets together with family. In the morning, they exchange presents, follow that with a large lunch in the afternoon and then spend the rest of the day enjoying each other’s company.

Similarly, Perinne’s family started their celebration with an aperitif, opened gifts and followed with a large Christmas meal in the afternoon. The family tradition was so strong, she said it was hard to tell the difference between their celebration and her own. “The only difference I could really see between their Christmas celebration and mine was that they didn’t do stockings,” she said.

Of course some of the details were different. The French have strong traditions for their holiday meal. On Christmas day, they ate the popular “la dinde avec des marrons,” or turkey and chestnuts. They finished the meal with a traditional desert, bûche du Noël (translation: Yule log), a cylindrical dish of spongy yellow cake filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream and decorated to look like a log ready for the fire. While the dessert can be bought at patisseries around the country, Perrine’s family makes it according to a family recipe, as do many French families.

Following dinner, Giacovelli took part in another of her hosts’ traditions: a walk through a nearby forest preserve. While not a ubiquitous Christmas custom, the family tradition nonetheless gave her a closer look into French family life.

And with 4,000 miles separating her regular Christmas traditions, she was happy to experience a little bit of family. “I am very thankful that I got to spend Christmas with Perrine and her family and see what their Christmas consists of,” she said. “It was an experience that I will cherish forever.”

Learning Spanish in Merida, Yucatan
By: Martivón Galindo, Associate Professor of Latin American Latino/Latina Studies and Study Abroad Coordinator at Holy Names University

Students explore the art and architecture of Yucatan.
Students explore the art and architecture of Yucatan.

As a travel grant recipient, I visited the Central College Abroad Merida program in October 2011. During my visit, I stayed at Casa Central, attended classes facilitated by excellent teachers, took my meals with the students and met with on-site resident director Valerie Grimsley.

Central College Abroad offers a rich learning experience in Merida, a city located on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. At the comfortable Casa Central, CCA welcomes U.S. language students, placing them in classes appropriate to their proficiency level. While Spanish language fluency may be the students’ first goal, they also study the history of Mexico, as well as the art and literature of Latin America. The Art and Architecture of Yucatan class includes visits to the many Mayan sites in the region. CCA is affiliated with Marista University, Modelo University and Autonomous University of the Yucatan (UADY), and advanced language students can take classes at these universities.

I visited two service-learning sites including Indemaya, a governmental organization that serves Mayans, and Amor y Vida, a nonprofit organization for abused and abandoned children. In these service-learning placements, students are introduced to a different side of the Yucatecan culture and can make a difference in the community.

CCA students are encouraged to discover the beauty of Merida’s many cultural events and sites. Handcrafts and local products are sold on Sundays in the Plaza Grande, a park located in the heart of the city. I walked through the many stalls selling all kinds of crafts, candy and beautifully embroidered huipiles, blouses and shawls. On Thursday evenings, the square of Santa Lucía hosts the traditional “Serenade of Santa Lucía.” Valerie invited me to attend the event to listen to Yucatecan singers and enjoy traditional dances. Attendees of all ages sat under the stars on a perfect temperate evening, listening to romantic boleros and the skillful guitarists of Yucatan.

Strolling in Merida, I was captivated by its beautiful mixture of styles including pre-Columbian, colonial and modern. Merida is at once both old and modern and is full of life. Music can be heard everywhere on any given day. Free concerts, dances, museums and galleries contribute to the beautiful educational environment. Students are immersed in the Spanish language and also experience the Mayan culture in a safe and welcoming environment.

One of the benefits of being a member of the Central College Abroad Cooperative Council is having access to a travel grant program. Each year, members of our Cooperative Council are given the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 travel grant to visit one or more CCA programs. Seven grants are awarded each academic year. Learn more about the travel grant program.

Ask named winner of fall photo contest

Congratulations to Jordan Ask of Oklahoma Wesleyan University for being named the fall 2011 grand prize photo contest winner. Ask will receive a $50 Amazon gift card for being named the winner.

Ask describes the winning picture as “a picture taken during gorge scrambling day of Outdoor Pursuits. My teammate Kelsey Peasley (University of Iowa) 'baptized' me in a deep area of the gorge. Our Outdoor Pursuits instructor Sally Ward took a picture of me with Kelsey's waterproof camera just as I was hitting the water!”

Fall photo contest winner submitted by Jordan Ask of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Grand prize winner submitted by Jordan Ask of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

Special thanks to all students who participated in the fall photo contest and look for more information about the spring 2012 contest coming soon. To see all the fall photo contest winners, visit the CCA Facebook page.

Readel Interns at the U.N. in Vienna

After a high school European adventure, Drew Readel of Central College knew he wanted to study abroad in college. However, Readel didn’t discover Vienna, Austria, until a friend returned from the program with a glowing review. “My friend Marshall Romero (Central College) spent a year in Vienna and loved every minute of it,” he explained. “I am studying political science and recently added a German major, so studying abroad in Vienna just made sense.”

Readel is putting his political science studies to work with an internship at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Library (UNCITRAL). As a library research scholar assistant, Readel archives important U.N. books and articles and helps with website up keep, among other tasks.

“The best part about my internship is sitting in on delegation conferences held in the Vienna U.N.,” said Readel. “There are 60 member countries in the UNCITRAL (including the U.S.), and each country attends the delegation conferences. Basically, I get to see international diplomacy and politics at work. It’s pretty awesome!”

Readel (back row, right) on a weekend excursion to Budapest with his program-mates
Readel (back row, right) on a weekend excursion to Budapest with his program-mates
and on-site resident director Ruth Verweijen (front row, third from left).

Readel took one year of German before studying abroad in Vienna and becoming proficient in the language is one of Readel’s goals. He is accomplishing this goal through course work at the Sprachzentrum of the University of Vienna.

“I completed two months of intensive language classes at the Goethe Institut in Schwabisch Hall, Germany, and am now continuing my studies in Vienna,” said Readel. “I can carry on full conversations and have even been asked by native speakers for directions! My goal was to obtain an intermediate level of German proficiency, and I’ve already accomplished this.”

Readel gained more than German-language and workplace skills in Vienna and feels study abroad has helped him step out of his comfort zone. “I have loved every aspect of my multi-faceted study abroad experience,” explained Readel. “I’ve enjoyed making international friends, and studying abroad has allowed me to experience so many different cultures. I’ve grown as a student and global citizen and realize things aren’t as set in stone as I once thought. This experience has really opened my eyes.”

Learn more about internships in Vienna.

Join us at the Forum on Education Abroad in Denver

Central College Abroad will present at the Forum on Education Abroad conference Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23, in Denver, Colorado.

Brian Zylstra, manager of on-campus operations at Central College Abroad; Kelly McLaughlin of Yale University; Michael Zoll of Semester at Sea; Kevin Kehl of Abilene Christian University; Cheryl Young of Miami University of Ohio; and Larry Braskamp of Central College will lead a session titled “Overcoming Barriers in Using Data to Improve Study Away Programs.” The session will take place Friday, March 23 from 10:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Jennifer Larson, senior coordinator of institutional relations, and Whitney Longnecker, territory representative, will also be in attendance.

Please visit the conference website for details and full session descriptions. Contact if you would like to meet with a Central College Abroad representative at the conference.

More than outdoor adventures in Bangor

The CCA summer program in Bangor, Wales, focuses on an experiential learning course called Outdoor Pursuits. Through activities like rock climbing, canoeing and rappelling, students learn the skills and attitudes appropriate to a variety of recreational activities as well as personal development. The self-motivation and leadership, teamwork and communication skills gained through Outdoor Pursuits are very desirable to future employers. Hear Jordan Ask of Oklahoma Wesleyan University describe his Outdoor Pursuits experience.

Outdoor Pursuits: “Four days a week, I had full-day Outdoor Pursuits classes. My favorite Outdoor Pursuits activities were surfing, gorge scrambling, sea level traversing, mountain biking and kayaking. I loved learning these fun and challenging outdoor activities with my program-mates and our instructors, Sally Ward and Sadie Steele.”

Ask (right) and program-mates after a successful day of Outdoor Pursuits.
Ask (right) and program-mates after a successful day of Outdoor Pursuits.

Skills Gained: “I learned how to work with people who have different personalities and expectations. Instead of always being competitive, I had to learn to encourage others and make things as fun for them as it was for me. I developed a different perspective on leadership through this program, one that included knowing how to build people up in different ways, depending on their personalities. I learned that communication was very important in each activity, and communication skills are something I will always need in my future career.”

“My primary goal for the Outdoor Pursuits program was to learn different physical and mental skills and be able to use those skills when interacting with others during challenging times. Outdoor Pursuits was more beneficial than I ever imagined.”

On-site resident director Tecwyn Vaughan Jones: “Oh, Tecwyn, I don't know where to start! He's one of the funniest, nicest people that I've ever met, and it was great having him on-site. He was so fun to travel with during our excursions, and he taught my program-mates and me about the different cities and cultures we visited. His sarcasm and funny faces will always be remembered, along with how much he truly cared for our group. Tecwyn wanted us to have the best experience we possibly could, and he definitely accomplished that.”

Missing Wales: “It's hard to narrow down what I miss most about Bangor and my study abroad experience. I miss everyone from the group, as well as Tecwyn, Sally and Sadie. I miss the Outdoor Pursuits classes especially surfing, sea level traversing and gorge scrambling. I miss the weekend trips and Wednesday excursions with Tecwyn. I miss the Welsh culture and using the Welsh terms I learned. Lastly, I miss all the laughs my program-mates and I had together. I would give anything to go back and do it over again. It was the best experience I've ever had.”

Start your application today for the Bangor Outdoor Pursuits summer program.

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

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