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Friday, February 13, 2015
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.
With so many institutions including “global citizen” or similar terms in their mission statements, isn’t it time to discuss what these words mean? Conference workshops will be led by two thinkers with different approaches to deconstructing the mission of shaping global citizens.
This conference and celebration are the culmination of Central College’s year-long focus on global citizenship during the 50th year of its study abroad programs. The integrative nature of our conference theme is relevant to a wide range of educators who foster the values of global citizenship: faculty advisors, study abroad professionals, career development and community-based learning professionals, intercultural educators and administrators of these areas. We especially encourage teams from different departments to attend to foster communication and collaboration across areas of campuses.
Schedule at a glance
Friday, April 17
Saturday, April 18
I just got back from a semester abroad in Mérida, México. It was hands down the best semester of my college experience. I could tell story after story about my days on the beach in Tulum, swimming with sea-turtles, climbing so-so-SO many Mayan ruins, endless nights out on the town, class every day under palm trees. But you’d probably get a little tired of hearing me ramble. So I’ll just give you a little taste.
In August, I left my little, safe home of Pella to spend a semester in Mexico. When I arrived, I didn’t know a soul in the entire country. I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know what classes I would take or where I would live or what I would do during the semester. I was alone, in a foreign country, unable to communicate with almost everyone around me, and it was 100 degrees every day. Needless to say, it was a little scary.
A few weeks into the semester, as part of my Spanish class, I was assigned a language partner who would hang out with me and chat. In Spanish. Sounds great, right? Well, that meant spending 3 hours at a time talking to a person I didn’t know. In a language I didn’t know. About a culture I didn’t understand. Let’s just say there were times it got pretty awkward and uncomfortable.
One of my classes in Mérida was called Latin American Dance. Go ahead and imagine what all of this (gestures to self) looks like trying to Salsa and Merengue. With my two left feet, you better believe it wasn’t always beautiful. The class was only with American students, so thank goodness, no one knew what they were doing. There were lots of toes stepped on and wrong steps.
What did all three of those stories have in common? You guessed it. They made me uncomfortable. At first, anyway. As the semester progressed, the things that at first, made me the most uncomfortable became my favorite part of the semester.
The people, both from Central and other schools, American and Mexican, have become some of my closest friends. All of whom I would never have met if I’d been on campus, doing the same old, same old.
My many hours hanging out with Andrea, my language partner, never stopped being awkward. But they did get better. Y ahora, puedo tener una conversación sólo en Español. Porque tenía que hacerlo. Mejoraba muchísimo. For those you who didn’t get that, my Spanish improved a lot.
And as for my Salsa class? Well, I’m really good at making chips and salsa, if that counts for anything… Hey, if you turn on a good salsa beat, I’ll give it a go.
But in all honesty, we’re not meant to live inside our comfort zones. I once heard it said that if you made a Venn diagram of ‘things you’re comfortable doing’ and ‘important life experiences’ there probably won’t be any overlap.
Being inside your comfort zone — doing things you’re comfortable doing — that’s great and all, nothing wrong with that. However, it gets pretty mundane. And even worse, you aren’t taking full advantage of life. Don’t just dip your toes in the shallow end of the water. Jump in. I’m going to hate myself for saying this, but YOLO (you only live once). Be an active participant in your own life. Get outside your comfort zone.
Being uncomfortable forces you to grow, to find out who you are. And that’s the best part. To be comfortable is to be stagnant.
So go talk to that one person who seems fun but you don’t know very well. Join that extra-curricular that you’ve always wanted to try but never have. Take the leadership position. Sit by someone new at the dining gall. Hell, go to Mexico.
My name is Betsy Van Haaften. And I believe in being uncomfortable.
Central College Abroad has begun a webinar series featuring its resident directors. Each of the webinars will highlight a specific aspect of one of our programs. The first webinar in the series took place on Jan. 26 and focused on a new English-language track in Vienna. Ruth Verweijen, our Vienna resident director, gave an in-depth look at the academic opportunities available to students at the University of Vienna.
If you were unable to watch the Vienna webinar live, click on the following link to view the recording: https://centralcollege.adobeconnect.com/p8h8uhi52nq/
The second webinar will take place Feb. 13. It will be led by our Granada resident director, Veronica Garcia Montero. Veronica will highlight the excellent experiential learning opportunities in Granada, many of which are co-curricular. The third entry in our webinar series will be on our Merida, Yucatan program.
These webinars are relevant for faculty, study abroad advisors and anyone involved in academic advising or responsible for discussing study abroad options with students.
During the fall 2014 semester, the Mills Art Gallery at Central College celebrated the 50th anniversary of study abroad with a special exhibit. The display included banners designed by Leiden alumna Alison Ranniger with photos from 1965 to 2014, as well as “artifacts” from each program. The curator, Jessica Klyn de Novelo, spent numerous hours preparing and generating buzz on campus for this exhibit. Alumni from every program graciously donated a few of their favorite items from their time abroad for this special celebration.
The exhibit engaged the campus community in many conversations and memories. Alumni shared many experiences that they said profoundly impacted their lives.
“I would never have traveled to….if it hadn’t been for study abroad.”
“I would have never considered my career if it hadn’t been for Paris.”
“I still think about my study abroad experience all the time.”
“I wouldn’t have even know this existed without study abroad!”
Some of the artifacts came from recent alums, others dating back to those who traveled to Russia on the Wales program, visited Germany right after the Berlin Wall came down, and collected terra cotta sculptures made of clay mined in the Yucatan in the 70s.
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