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Central Alumni Newsletter

Friday, July 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.

Congratulations to Nikki Akers of Central College, our spring 2012 photo contest grand prize winner. Akers won a $50 Amazon gift card for her winning photo taken while studying abroad in Bangor, Wales.
Discover intricate architecture in Granada, Spain.

Transitions at Central College Abroad

Please help us welcome Jessica Klyn de Novelo back to Central College Abroad. Klyn de Novelo has been on leave for the past year completing graduate work in Peru as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Jessica shares about her experience:

“My year as a Rotary Scholar in Peru was rewarding in every way. Like our students say—it’s impossible to tell the whole story at once. The educational experience was phenomenal. I took classes at Peru’s top university, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, and worked with GRUPO de Apoyo al Sector Rural, a great organization at the university that develops technologies for some of Peru’s coldest and most remote areas. I did research on intercultural differences in service projects in the high Andes for my thesis the second term. My final degree is a Masters in Intercultural Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.”

“I have always been a believer of the transformative potential of international experience. I’ve come home with a renewed appreciation for how life-changing these experiences can be. Every day—in and out of the classroom—I was pushed to grow. I was constantly reminded of why we provide the level of support we do for students, as I struggled getting acclimated, going through waves of culture shock and finally adjusting and thriving in a new city. I saw international education and intercultural relations through new eyes. I am incredibly grateful to Central College and Rotary International, for the support to finish my degree in this way. I am excited to put a year’s worth of new knowledge to work serving students as Central continues to innovate in the area of global experiential learning. I look forward to catching up with colleagues from our cooperating schools this coming year.”

Klyn de Novelo at Machu Picchu.
Klyn de Novelo at Machu Picchu.


Please join Central College Abroad in thanking Whitney Longnecker for her two years of service as a territory representative. Longnecker will be attending graduate school in the fall in order to further her career in international education.

“My work with Central College Abroad has solidified my passion for international education, and I am truly grateful for this experience,” said Longnecker. “I will miss seeing and working with the staff, resident directors and institutions across the country. Thanks to everyone for your support and friendship during the past two years.”

In addition to acting as a liaison for students, faculty and staff from cooperative insitutituions, Longnecker has also made significant contributions to CCA operations, overseeing the monthly Odyssey newsletter and revitalizing our use of social media. While she will be greatly missed, we are excited to celebrate Longnecker’s decision to further her education in a field where she has found a home. Longnecker’s last day was Friday, June 29.

Impossible n’est pas français

Paris. It's too real and too beautiful to ever let you forget anything.
(Adapted from “An American in Paris”)

Michelle Woods of Holy Names University may be considered a non-traditional student, but she is just as passionate about studying abroad as any traditional student. Woods will take part in this summer’s Art in Paris program focusing on French language and art.

“My decision to study abroad was prompted by my three children—ages 23, 22 and 19,” said Woods. “They have been very supportive as I pursue my dream of becoming a psychologist and encouraged me to apply for the Paris summer program. Once I had their blessing, everything and everyone else was secondary.”

Woods visited Paris in 2006 and is eager to get back to the city of lights. “My trip was one of my most memorable experiences,” said Woods. “Because of my limited time in Paris, I wasn't able to fully appreciate all Paris has to offer by way of art, architecture and culture. France is a beautiful country with wonderful people, and I truly believe I could live there.”

There are many factors involved in a study abroad decision, and Woods’s included her full-time job. Fortunately, her co-workers and supervisor has been supportive throughout her time at Holy Names University and wanted her to take advantage of this study abroad opportunity. They worked with Woods to make her time in Paris a success.

Photo caption: The Eiffel Tower in Paris lights up the night.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris lights up the night.

With the details worked out, Woods is excited to make her way to Paris. “I am most excited about learning and being immersed in the language, history and culture,” said Woods. “I have visited all the websites of the museums we will be visiting, as well as the foyer in which we will be staying, in anticipation of learning about each and every place.”

Just like any other student, Woods is a little nervous about the experience, as well. “I am most nervous about being the oldest student in the program,” said Woods. “However, I have always said, the only time it’s too late to do anything is when you are dead! I am nowhere near dead and facing this small obstacle will not only be a learning experience, but it will allow me to go outside of my comfort zone and learn more about me! The psychologist in me wants to be more in touch with who I am so I can better help others.”

The summer Art in Paris program began July 1. Read the August Odyssey newsletter for a follow up article as Woods reflects on her time in Paris.

Social Work in Vienna

By: Admira Mesanovic of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Mesanovic studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, this spring.

Reading about cultures and looking at pictures was never enough for me; I always wanted more. There’s no more perfect way to learn and live the culture firsthand than by studying abroad. I knew I wanted to study abroad during my college career, and my global studies major allowed me to do just that. One of the requirements for my major is to complete a semester abroad and internship abroad. Vienna was always in the back of mind as a study abroad location because in the summer of 2010, I came to Austria for a few days and fell in love with Vienna. I also wanted to study in a German-speaking country because I had taken a few semesters of German in college already.

Mesanovic exploring Vienna, shown here at Henry Moore's "Hill Arches" on Karlskirche Plaza. Mesanovic exploring Vienna, shown here at Henry Moore's "Hill Arches" on Karlskirche Plaza.

I’m really glad that I am in the Central College Abroad Vienna program; I absolutely love it! I love everything from the city to my internship at Caritas, an international development and social service organization. The organization’s aim is to create a better world by helping the poor and oppressed. I work at Karwan Haus, where immigrant families live. The families are from different parts of the world that have struggled with some kind of hardship, ranging from war to natural disasters.

I work at Karwan Haus three times a week and do a variety of things. I tutor two students in English every week. I work in the front office answering the phone and helping with anything from paperwork to bringing in groceries. On Thursdays, I run errands for my boss and her coworkers. The errands range from picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy to delivering paperwork to the Caritas headquarters. I’ve also helped register new residents with the city if they are not physically able to do so themselves.

The people in the Haus have been through a lot and some of them were not able to get the help they needed in their homelands, so they came to Austria. I am learning and seeing how well the city and country is involved with the Caritas’s mission. The Haus gets a lot of donations from stores around Vienna. I get to pick up donations, which allows me to explore the city and places I would not normally think of going.

My internship is also helping me develop my German language skills because my coworkers only speak German to me, as do most of the people in the Haus. Some of the people in the Haus speak Bosnian and when they need help or cannot express themselves in German, they speak in their native tongue. Since I also speak Bosnian, I am able to help these residents.

I get to interact with many people in the Haus, including the children. Getting to know them and their stories is really great and interesting. The children ask so many questions and when they see that I cannot think of a word for something in German, they try to help me! For being so young, the children are very aware of language and the languages around them. They know how important it is to be able to communicate. Many of the children help their parents with the German language so they have a lot of patience with it. It is great to see.

This internship has really made me happy with my career goals and my major. I enjoy working at Caritas and with people from different backgrounds, especially immigrants. I’ve always wanted to help people that have left their homeland. My family had to leave their homes due to war so I understand what the Caritas families are going through. My experience with Caritas has made me realize I definitely want to work for an organization that helps refugee families and their children.

Gain real-world experience in Vienna with internships and service-learning placement.

Leiden Immersion: The Children's Farm
By: Kristin Shaw of Morningside College. Shaw studied abroad in Leiden, the Netherlands, this spring.

An assignment in The Netherlands and its European Context course was to complete at least eight hours of integration in the Dutch culture. This assignment helps students better understand the new culture we are living in and helps us meet people outside of the program. Brittany Wood (College of William and Mary) and I decided to volunteer together as we were both interested in doing something with children and nature. We came across the Children’s Farm after meeting with a volunteer organization here in Leiden and fell in love. This program seemed perfect.

At the Kinderboerderij Merenwijk or Children’s Farm, children get the chance to learn about the Farm’s chickens, cows, sheep and bunnies through hour-long nature education classes or self-exploration. There are many other animals for children to gain an appreciation for, including storks that are recorded 24/7 by a video camera so children can watch the young storks hatch.

Instead of being the typical petting zoo that one would think of in the U.S., this farm is focused on nature education. Throughout the school year the Children’s Farm has volunteer teachers teach classes about animals. The spring is dedicated to baby animals as this is when animals have their offspring. Leon, the teacher that we worked with most, told the kids about the characteristics of all the animals, what the kids should do when they interact with them and funny stories about the births, character and families of animals at the farm. For example, the children learned the growth rates of chicks and that guinea pigs are scared when they put their ears back and make lots of noise.

I volunteered a total of 15 hours throughout the semester. Tyler Aalfs (Central College), Wood and I helped the educator by passing out chicks and handling the bunnies. Since we only knew a little of the Dutch language, we found ways to communicate with the children using hand gestures. One of my favorite moments was when a young boy kept talking to me in Dutch but all I could say was sorry. He thought that I knew Dutch because “sorry” in Dutch is sorry. He kept talking to me until his teacher told him that I only spoke English! I am pretty sure he was just as excited to learn an English word as he was to hold the bunnies!

While volunteering at the Children’s Farm, I got to help teach a class for homeschooled children. I instructed the class and taught the children how to hold the chicks and bunnies. The best part was that I got to answer the children’s questions. I feel the children gained a lot during the class, and their parents were really excited about my program-mates and me being there.

Shaw teaches children how to hold bunnies at the Children’s Farm.
Shaw teaches children how to hold bunnies at the Children’s Farm.

From this experience, I gained a better appreciation for children, their need to gain knowledge about animals and their amazing patience. I also learned that the Netherlands has a need for volunteers and gained an appreciation for nature. On a side note, I also discovered that baby dwarf goats—kids—are the cutest things in the world!

Learn more about coursework in Leiden, the Netherlands.

"Final is never the end"
There is no doubt that study abroad has an incredible impact on one’s life, but sometimes it takes a little self-examination and reflection to realize how great the impact is. This is why Valerie Grimsley, resident director of the Merida, Yucatan, program, asks students to complete a project demonstrating how their time in Mexico has impacted their lives. This reflective project is the final assignment in the “Understanding Contemporary Mexico” culture course.

“The requirements are simple in that the project needs to reflect something that sparked the student's interests, experiences or passions while studying abroad in the Merida program,” stated Grimsley.

The final projects have evolved during Grimsley’s tenure as resident director. Grimsley said, “For the first three years or so, the final project was a research paper. I then decided to open the assignment to encourage more creativity and passion. While students still have the option to present a research paper, many choose more creative outlets often based on music, food, art, ecology, folk medicine or archeology.”

Grimsley has received projects ranging from papers about Mexican architecture, a musical performed by all students on the program, an illustrated children’s book, a musical playlist of the semester, a photographic calendar and many more.

One of the larger undertakings occurred this spring when Tess Roseburrough and Eva LaValle painted a mural on a wall on the second floor of the Central House. Both girls have art in their blood and study the discipline at Central College. Teaming up for such a large-scale project was a new feat for both girls, as neither had collaborated with another person on a project, nor had they ever painted such a large-scale mural.

LaValle and Roseburrough finishing the mural.
LaValle and Roseburrough finishing the mural.

Roseburrough and LaValle created a piece utilizing symbols of the Maya culture throughout the mural. Roseburrough said, “It was hard to decide what to paint, but we wanted it to identify with the Merida experience so we chose to do something Maya related. We chose the Ceiba tree because it is a central part of their beliefs—representing life, the universe and connectedness. We chose east and west, night and day and the respective symbols for each because it continued with the Ceiba.”

“Many students become passionate about their experiences while in Merida,” said Grimsley. “This final project is a way to express that passion. I love the mural Tess and Eva created. We recently installed a ceiling fan and light in the hallway by the mural to make the area around the mural more inviting. The mural has made the second floor so much more vibrant. I am totally open to other students who may want to challenge themselves to create something similar on a grand scale. We have plenty of white walls!”

See photos of other final projects on the Central College Abroad Facebook page. Delve into culture and self-exploration in Merida, Yucatan.

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Fax: 641-628-5375

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