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Central Alumni Newsletter

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hello, friends of Central College Abroad! Our quarterly newsletter is intended to keep you in touch with what’s happening with Central College Abroad’s programs across the globe.

Students enjoy a piece of home in London. From left to right: Dan Steinhoff,
Jessica Boertje, Katie Geitz, Angela Johnson attended the
Vikings v. Steelers NFL game this fall

Reflections: on site with Central College Abroad in Merida

Written by: Blaire Modic, director of study abroad

Of the many skills a resident director must exercise, the balancing of structured vs. unstructured time is one of the most delicate.  Directors must measure unstructured and structured time at every level of program planning and execution, from the master calendar down to a day’s schedule.  I recently had the opportunity to observe Valerie Grimsley, resident director of Central College Abroad in Merida, Yucatan as she artfully struck this balance during a five-day program excursion to the Mayan ruins at Palenque and the Mexican State of Chiapas.  I observed Valerie balance structured and unstructured time in a space where myriad complementary and contending forces influenced the degree to which the excursion’s academic objectives could be achieved. 

Valerie’s work in this space was masterful.  At Palenque she framed the visit by connecting the ruins with themes from the program’s required course.  She introduced and lent credibility to our knowledgeable guide.  Perhaps most important of all, she addressed students’ unspoken questions about the structure of the visit, explaining that after 90 minutes of guided touring there would be plenty of unstructured time for students to explore the site in their own way.

From left to right: Modic joins Molly Burkhalter, Saint Ambrose University,
Allison Zuel, Central College, Mercedes Rutherford, Central College, and
Sara Anderson, Central College atop ruins in Palenque

This last part was what made the biggest difference. Providing unstructured time recognized and encouraged students’ individual curiosities and gave them an opportunity to connect with the site in their own way.  In part, they sustained engagement with the guided activity because they were keeping a mental log of interesting things they could return to after the tour. During our time at Palenque, it was clear that the information that students acquired while engaged with the structured tour supported their exploration and discovery during unstructured time.

My experience as a program director confirms the value of managing structured vs. unstructured time in this way. While facilitating discussions between U.S. and Moroccan students in Morocco, students appreciated the structured and unstructured times, and understood how to make the most of both.  After a group discussion it was common to see students use unstructured time to go deeper into topics that intrigued them or to connect with each other in more personal ways. Through student feedback, I learned that the right measure of structured and unstructured time significantly supported students’ growth, discovery and sense of independence.

Back to Palenque, I will close with a nice memory of students anxiously looking skyward as light rain began to fall on the ruins. It was the end of the structured tour. Before the rain came down, they wanted to get back to the part of Palenque that had captured their attention. It was time to make their discoveries in their own way, just as Valerie had intended.
Enjoy time in the Yucatan!

Creating music in Vienna

Imagine learning from an internationally acclaimed violist, a composer and Gustav Mahler composition award recipient. Students studying in Vienna have the opportunity to work with Alexander J. Eberhard who takes claim to all of these titles.

Eberhard studied viola, as well as composition and electroacoustic and experimental music at the University for Music, Vienna. He is internationally acclaimed for the Christine Lavant Quartett, previously known as the Egon Wellesz Quartett, which he created to honor composers exiled during World War II such as Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Stoehr and Viktor Ullmann. Eberhard also created the Viennese electronic duo, bonanza, a playful and innovative mix of genres, which has been rocking dance floors since 2006.

Students working in Eberhard’s recording studio

In 2000, Eberhard joined the Central College Abroad Vienna staff as a lecturer of Viennese Music History. This class covers everything from the Grecian meaning of music to the developments he and other musicians are making in the 21st century. Not only was Eberhard teaching music history, but he was working with the students in workshops. 

Beginning spring 2005, Eberhard began offering a unique workshop as part of the history course. During a two-day Electric Orpheus workshop, students learn how to use music software to create songs from these pre-recorded sounds, such as students’ voices, music and ambient sounds. The popularity of this workshop grew exponentially. Eberhard now offers this workshop every spring to every student in the program, even those not enrolled in Viennese Music History. Students agree that this workshop is an excellent opportunity to explore alternative music styles and is simply a lot of fun!

Learn from incredible instructors in Vienna today

Listen now!

New Center for Global Experiential Learning

To mark Central’s transition to a more comprehensive model of global, experiential learning, a new space has been designated for a Center for Global Experiential Learning on the second floor of Geisler Library. The new space now houses the office of the associate dean for global education and the study abroad offices with an office space reserved for the future hiring of a coordinator of international students and shared reception and classroom space.  

Faculty and staff stopped by for a reception in the new area

The center also includes working with off-campus domestic programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York, in addition to international programs. Faculty and curricular development for global learning are included in this more comprehensive model as well. Lyn Isaacson, associate dean for global education said of the move, “The new center provides us with a means for global initiatives across campus to come together and to have a more visible presence on the campus.  We are thrilled to have the expanded space for globally-connected events and work in the classroom.”

Contact us with any questions!

Faculty development workshop in Spain & Morocco offered in 2014!

Granada Spain, May-June 2014
Central is excited to offer a Global Experiential Faculty Development Workshop May 27-June 9, 2014 in Spain and Morocco.  The Global Experiential Development Workshop is open to faculty of all disciplines. It is targeted at those whose Spanish is near-beginning or lower intermediate who would benefit from an introductory course. The workshop is designed to help build support towards broad global learning at participants’ home institutions by using locations around Spain and Morocco as a lens through which to explore the Spanish language and interrelated cultures and history of Andalucian Spain and northern Morocco. This affordable opportunity costs $2275 per person and includes accommodations, most meals and program activities. Applications are due by Feb. 17, 2014.

For an application or more information about the workshop please contact Lyn Isaacson, associate dean for global education, by email at, or by phone 641.628.5266.

Coffee time with Shane

Shane Gansen, a senior at Central College, studied in London fall 2012 and landed a unique internship with the help of assistant resident director Jen Pollard. 

When Gansen spoke with Pollard about what he was looking for with an internship in London, he specifically told her that he was interested in small business management, entrepreneurship and was passionate about coffee.  After calling coffee shops all over London, Pollard was able to acquire an internship for Gansen in “The Coffeesmiths Collective.”

One day a week, Gansen worked directly with the CEO, Tim Ridely, on various projects. One of the biggest projects he had the opportunity to work on was revamping their online store. This project allowed him to learn about many coffee making products and the creation of a website while also giving him the autonomy to make important decisions. He also worked behind the counter one day a week, alongside the employees making coffee drinks.

Gansen on an excursion during his semester abroad

Gansen exclaimed, “I met a ton of amazing people and made some friends. I also got the chance to learn from top notch baristas!”

Gansen praises the knowledge he gained at his internship. The greatest aspect he drew from his experience was the notion of having to step out of his comfort zone and have confidence in himself.  He advises others to “be specific in what you want from an internship and share your interests with Jen. She does an amazing job finding internships and will do her best to hit all your criteria.”

Find the perfect internship for you with the help of the London resident directors!

A long-awaited reunion

Written by: Stanley Kissinger, Spain 75-76 alumnus
“La persistencia de la memoria” (“The Persistence of Memory”) is arguably the most recognizable work by Catalán artist Salvador Dalí. Though not exactly Dalí’s artistic vision, both the title of the work and its subject matter serve as particularly apt metaphors for the reunion of the Central College of Iowa Spain Study Program of 1975-76. Held in Geneseo, New York the first weekend in August 2013, twelve of the twenty-six participants in the program attended the reunion, along with two long-suffering spouses.

A trivia contest about events from nearly four decades ago, a slideshow using a Kodak Carousel projector unearthed in a basement, recitations from journals whose pages have yellowed and turned brittle and a sing-along to “canciones de tuna” learned in our first two months together in Santiago de Compostela magically brought new life to memories once thought forgotten.

How truly amazing to be transported back to the cobblestone streets of Santiago, peering through the windows of the seafood restaurants lining the Rua do Villar at the showcases of shellfish, unfamiliar, even otherworldly. To feel, again, the nausea of our bus trip from Santiago to Granada, speeding nearly the entire length of Spain along narrow, winding, mountain roads, our terror relieved only by one of our classmates belting out showtunes in the aisle. To breathe the crisp air of a November morning running to the local newstand to purchase newspapers announcing the death of Francisco Franco and to worry that we would not be permitted to stay for the full year.

To smell the paella cooked over an open fire on the beach, the wall of flowers surounding a portrait of the Virgin Mary, the burnt gunpowder from the spent fireworks falling at our feet after illuminating the sky directly above our heads during the celebration of Las Fallas in Valencia. To sense the surreality of being seated at a table at La Casa Grande outside of Madrid for our farewell dinner, dressed in our finest attire, being served by tuxedoed waiters who would not let a crumb fall to the starched, white tablecloth or a sip be taken from a sparkling, crystal water glass without taking immediate action. Memories, persistant and wonderful.

Alumni gathered together for a ‘family’ photo

Of course, viewers of the Dalí painting cannot escape the imagery of the limp clocks draped over a bare tree limb or the edge of a table. For many of us, those images reflect all too well our bellies hanging over our belts as we exhale. Time and indolence have conspired to ensure that long-latent dreams of hiking the Camino Francés will remain just that. Still, we consider ourselves fortunate in the extreme to have located 24 of the 26 members of our group. And, even though we have overcome prostate cancer, still struggle with the after-effects of a near-fatal automobile accident and battle pancreatic cancer, we are all amazed and grateful that we are still around to share those memories and to create new ones as we join together, even more a family than we were during the year we unanimously agree was the best of our lives.
Share your experience from abroad with us!

International Education Week

International Education Week is a nationwide event promoting global vision and the importance of international education programs. This year Central College Abroad is excited to team up with the Modern Language Department to facilitate two full weeks of events. Events include British and Chinese tea time, cooking demonstrations hosted by our language assistants, public speakers and so much more! View the schedule.

Central College learns about Day of the Dead

Central College Study Abroad, Center of Global Experiential Learning and Intercultural Life recently teamed up to educate students about the Yucatecan Day of the Dead celebration.  Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos in Spanish or Hanal Pixan in Maya, is celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin America.  A holiday that is often misunderstood, Day of the Dead is actually related to the Catholic holiday, All Saints’ Day, or All Souls’ Day. Those celebrating Day of the Dead commemorate the lives of the family and friends who have died by creating altars (memorials) in honor of the deceased, visiting the grave site and reminiscing about the life of those who have died.  

Lab assistants teach visitors about the altars.

Students, faculty and staff were invited to  try traditional Yucatecan fruit salsa, Pan de Muerto (sweet bread), traditional atole (a corn drink) and Mexican Hot Chocolateand visit an altar set up with help from visiting Yucatecan students. Visitors learned that every piece of the altar holds symbolism—from the marigolds to the candles.
Learn about a different culture today!

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

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