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Central Alumni Newsletter

Friday, May 11, 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.

February photo contest winner in the "A New Adventure" category submitted by Liasor
Second place winner in the April photo contest. Photo submitted by
Chris Wedemeyer of Central College (Bangor, Wales, participant).

Putnam published in Inside Higher Ed

In a piece requested by editors at Inside Higher Ed, Central College President Mark Putnam speaks to his experience at Central, the future of private liberal arts colleges and why people and relationships matter in education.

Read Dr. Putnam’s Inside Higher Ed article titled “Conventional Wisdom Is Killing Us” and join the conversation. “Liberal arts colleges should stop listening to experts’ gloomy predictions and calls for efficiency, and focus on building relationships with students,” Mark Putnam writes.

Successful Coop Council Conference

Central College Abroad welcomed visitors from across the globe for our annual Coop Council Conference April 12-14. Of the nearly 40 attendees, many were members from our cooperative council throughout the nation. This year’s conference theme, “Facilitating Student Learning: Before, During and After,” provided a foundation for the sessions and meetings.

Veronica Garcia Montero, Granada resident director, visits with conference attendees.

Central College Abroad resident directors spoke on behalf of their programs and developments in student learning as they relate to CCA’s student learning goals. Study abroad alumni presented in sessions regarding sustainability practices abroad and global health programs, and program sessions ranged from strategic study abroad planning to reductions in student dogmatism. Central College President Mark Putnam also spoke at the conference. Dr. Putnam visited each CCA program location this year and shared his observations with conference attendees.

Members from cooperative institutions received professional development including ideas and strategies to take back to their own campuses. The conference also served as a crucial opportunity for Central College Abroad 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 and view photos from the conference on Facebook.

See you in Houston!

Join Central College Abroad at the NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in Houston, Texas, May 27 – June 1. Take this opportunity to meet with two of our on-site resident directors, Valerie Grimsley (Merida, Yucatan) and Tecwyn Vaughan Jones (Bangor, Wales). Other staff attendees include Maria Rohach, coordinator of institutional relations and Lisa Ellor Smith, territory representative. If you are interested in setting up a meeting at the conference with a Central College Abroad representative, contact

Poster sessions: We are excited to be a part of NAFSA’s conference on international education. Plan to attend the following sessions:

  • Student Learning Enhanced Through Study Abroad Program Integration Requirement – presented by Jones, Rohach and Maggie Parke, International Officer at Bangor University. The presentation takes place Wednesday, May 30 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. at the Enhancing Learning Before, During and After Education Abroad fair.
  • Connecting Career Skills and Study Abroad Through Ex-Patriot Networks – presented by Grimsley and Ellor Smith. The presentation will take place Wednesday, May 30 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. during the Work, Internship and Volunteer Abroad fair.

Central College Abroad will also be exhibiting in Houston. Visit us at booth #1040.

Going the Distance in Vienna

Participation in cultural events is encouraged on all Central College Abroad programs but students on our Vienna program recently took integration to the next level. Three students, partnering with music Professor Alexander Eberhard, recently completed the Vienna City Marathon.

From left: Aude's mother, Aude and Williamson at Omaha Beach in Normandy.
After the marathon. From left: Luke Fillmore, Devan Schmid, Professor
Alexander Eberhard and Chelsea Ford.

An experienced marathon runner and five-time finisher of the Vienna City Marathon, Professor Eberhard brought the marathon to the students’ attention, thinking it would be a chance to start a new tradition on the Vienna program. “Professor Eberhard thought the marathon would a neat idea and a great opportunity to participate in something different,” said Chelsea Ford of Davidson College. “He asked for volunteers and Devan Schmid (Norwich University), Luke Fillmore (Central College) and I expressed interest.”

This was the first marathon for many of the students, although all were active prior to the race. The students and Professor Eberhard trained together a few times before the race but most training was done individually. The race was run as a team with each participant taking a leg of the 42 km race.

“It was absolutely amazing! My leg of the race started at Schönbrunn Palace and ran past the Rathaus, Parliament, down Vienna’s main shopping street Mariahilfer Strasse and past the main University building. I had one of the more scenic routes,” said Ford.

With over 36,000 participants and hundreds of fans lining the race route, the race atmosphere was very encouraging for CCA runners. “Running through the streets with so many people around you was actually a lot more fun than I expected,” said Schmid. “It was more motivating than running alone.”

“Running through the city of Vienna opens students to a new perspective of the city,” said Professor Eberhard. “The students can discover new areas and see Vienna from another point of view.”

The Vienna City Marathon has shaped the students’ semester abroad. “The race reminded me that being part of something larger than myself is something that I have missed subconsciously,” said Fillmore. “Running with all those people and being a part of an international marathon really gave me a sense of what global citizenship is all about.”

“In a big city, sometimes it is hard to feel truly connected as if you belong. However, running in this marathon made me feel much closer to Vienna,” said Ford. “Before studying abroad, I would never have imagined running in a marathon. This is just an example of how being abroad truly changes and shapes people and widens the range of possibilities. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and do things you never imagined.”

Experience Vienna.

Merida, Yucatan: La ciudad de paz (The City of Peace)
By: Lindsay Olson of St. Ambrose University. Lindsay is studied abroad in Merida, Yucatan, this spring.

After talking to one of my professors at St. Ambrose University, I immediately knew Mexico was the perfect place for me to be this semester. My number one goal for study abroad was to become as fluent as possible in Spanish because I am studying to be a Spanish teacher. I wanted to be immersed in the Mexican culture because the Mexican culture and spin on the Spanish language is very evident in the U.S. However, when I first told my parents that I wanted to study in Merida, they were not easily convinced. The news we receive in the U.S. states that Mexico is an unsafe and unstable place. My parents, therefore, had a negative perception of the country.

By mid-December, I began to realize I was leaving for Mexico very soon, and I was anxious and scared at the same time. When I would tell people where I was going, they would ask “Is it safe there? Are you scared?” or say “Be careful!” After hearing this over and over, I started to get scared! However, I really trusted that Central College Abroad would not put me in a dangerous place.

When I got to Merida, I was pleasantly surprised. I can say that I never once felt unsafe in Merida, even at night. The Central House is in the most beautiful neighborhood and people are out and about at all hours. We ran to Pilates class every day, I took the bus to the Centro on my own to my internship at an elementary school and I walked to class every morning with no problems at all. Also, all of the host families are within a short distance from the Central House. The locals were very welcoming to me and helpful whenever I needed something.

Understand Mexican healthcare services through site visits
Olson’s mom and dad meet her host family.

I was so excited for my family to visit me in Mexico and experience this welcoming culture firsthand. I asked my parents to write about their own perspective in terms of safety in Merida and here is what they had to say: 

“We got a call from our daughter last May, and she was totally ecstatic because she was just accepted into the CCA Merida program. Our first reaction was to be happy for her but in the back of our minds, we were extremely apprehensive about sending our daughter to Mexico. We attended pre-departure orientation at Central College, and the staff and Merida alumni put our minds at ease; we knew she would be in great hands. We sent Lindsay off in January, and the first call we got from her was extremely encouraging. Lindsay was in love. She had nothing but great things to say about the people of Merida, the staff, her host family and the area! “

“Our family actually got to experience Merida for ourselves on March 21. We went down to visit Lindsay, and our stay was truly amazing. This was our first time out of the country and after this trip, we would do it again! The people of Merida were so caring and sweet. Once we arrived and received a tour of the Central House, the staff arranged bus tickets and cab rides for our stay, which was extremely helpful and was one less thing for us to have to figure out! We can’t say enough good things about Valerie, Merida resident director, and the staff. They are amazing people.”

“As long as we had my daughter by our side, we had no issues with the language. Our biggest concern with Lindsay going to Mexico was her safety, and after we visited, I knew I could rest at ease. The people there are so friendly and the area was very safe and secure. We had the comfort of knowing Lindsay was in a great home because we had the chance to dine with our daughter’s host family. They are such a great family. During our dinner and time with the family, they made us feel as if we were also part of their family which makes me feel better knowing this was where my daughter was living! My family and I loved Merida and would go back in a heartbeat.”

Before going to Merida, my biggest concern was safety. However, people who have no knowledge of Merida or Mexico were the people who created this concern for me. My advice for future study abroad students is to not let people talk you out of studying in Merida because it is unsafe. This program has been around for decades and has many years of experience.

Since I’ve learned so much about Merida and Yucatan this spring, my goal now that I've returned to the U.S. is to educate others about Mexico. You can’t really see the country’s beauty until you experience it for yourself. Since I have first-hand experience, I’d like to help alleviate concerns others have about studying abroad in Mexico.

Learn more about safety in Yucatan.

Beyond Point-and-Shoot in Leiden

As the birthplace of Rembrandt, Leiden has a long and rich cultural history. The city offers an art and cultural experience to students with an art background and to those without. A popular course in Leiden is The Art of Photography, which teaches students how to observe their environment and interpret it through the lens. “In knowing how to better use my camera, lighting and composition, I can reach my goals with my photos,” said Alicia Borton of Central College. “I love that not only can a picture capture a moment but also an emotion. My new knowledge helps me to capture those emotions.”

Please enjoy photography submitted by students on the spring 2012 Leiden program. Learn more about art opportunities in Leiden.

Bangor students prepare for an Outdoor Pursuits high ropes course.
Roots. Photo taken by Kristin Shaw of Morningside College.

Roots by Kristin Shaw of Morningside College. A tree stands tall no matter what it faces: rain, snow, high winds. This would not be possible without its firm foundation, roots. This photograph was taken while walking in Killarney National Park. Our assignment was to make something appear in the photo that is not really there. This was a perfect example for me as a tree has multiple meanings to me. It means strength, family, sustainability, life, and the list goes on. For me, it is all based on the roots; a tree would not be there without them, but sometimes they are forgotten as they are not seen. This picture is to make you appreciate the small things behind the scenes that make everything right in the world, the foundations for all that is possible and the family that has helped you become who you are. 

Adventure. Photo submitted by Brittany Wood of College of William & Mary.

Adventure by Brittany Wood of College of William & Mary. This particular week's assignment was focused on using the technique of white balance. For this photograph I set the white balance to a red, which makes the picture greener. The lack of color adds to the story. The line of the tree leads the eye upwards. The unfocused background gives the image a sort of surreal feeling—similar to children going on an adventure in the woods on a day off from school.  

Two Gentlemen. Photo submitted by Alicia Borton of Central College.

Two Gentlemen, St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy by Alicia Borton of Central College. When it comes to being an artist, I do a little bit of everything—from drawing to stained glass. I am always looking for new things to pick up. I have, however, had a lifelong love of taking pictures. Even before I was aware, I would take my mom's camera and snap photos like I had an itch. I was overjoyed to get my first digital camera, as was my mother. I, of course, have been going nuts since then.

The Two Gentlemen is one of my favorite of the pictures I have taken. These two old men were sitting on the square chatting, old friends with that youthful flame still burning. Our friends and family are there for us. We grow together and one day will sit and chat of all the good times, having forgotten the bad.

London Wins April Photo Contest!

During the month of April, we challenged alumni and students currently abroad to compete against one another to see which program could submit the most photos for our photo contest. London program participants submitted the most photos and were named the winners of our photo contest program challenge! The program challenge results were as follows:

  • First Place: London
  • Second Place: Bangor
  • Third Place: Merida
  • Fourth Place: Leiden
  • Fifth Place: Granada
  • Tied for Sixth Place: Paris and Vienna
  • Seventh Place: Hangzhou

All entries were voted on through Facebook, and the winning photos have been selected. The following winners will receive a customized digital photo keychain.

  • First Place: Jacob Eischeid of Central College. Eischeid studied abroad in London, England.
  • Second Place: Chris Wedemeyer of Central College. Wedemeyer studied abroad in Bangor, Wales.
  • Third Place: Megan Sterzinger of Carthage College. Sterzinger studied abroad in Bangor, Wales.
  • Fourth Place: Sungjin Yoo of Calvin College. Yoo studied abroad in Vienna, Austria.

Fourth place winning photo submitted by Yoo.

View winning photos on our Facebook page. The winners from February, March and April photo contests will be entered into the grand prize drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. Visit our photo contest website to learn more.

Central College Abroad Quick Links for Faculty & Advisors:

Contact Us

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

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October 1
Spring 2013 application and scholarship deadline


May 27 – June 1
CCA at NAFSA, Houston, booth #1040

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