‘One of the greatest experiences of my life’
One of the most popular J-Term study tours at Carthage is the annual J-Term trip to Nicaragua (BIOL 675 Tropical Medicine, History and Ecology of Nicaragua). Every January and June, between 20 and 40 students travel to the island of Ometepe, Nicaragua, where they spend two weeks studying tropical ecology, volunteering in rural medical clinics, helping to constructing freshwater facilities, and building and repairing classrooms for local schools. Students also visit historical sites around the island and explore the country’s varied landscape.
The trip is described as life-changing by students who have taken it.
“The hands-on experience from the clinics is something most pre-med students do not get until they are in medical school,” said Alex Nelson ’14. “I will always remember and truly cherish the interaction we had with the people of Nicaragua and the new friends we made.”
The study tour is led by biology professor Patrick Pfaffle and geography professor Matt Zorn.
“The students learn a lot about medicine, (and) about what it takes to have the kind of infrastructure that we have in the U.S. like roads, running water and electricity,” says Prof. Pfaffle. “Most importantly, I think they all learn a lot about themselves; what they are capable of, and that they can make a difference in the world if they really try.”
“This experience was one of the greatest in my life and career at Carthage,” said Jen Pasciak, ’10, who graduated from Carthage with a major in biology. “I got to travel to a place that I may not have seen otherwise; work in medical clinics, which confirmed my desire to work in the medical field; and learn about the people and culture of Nicaragua. Also, the trip turned a group of 30 classmates into a family that worked together and shared the greatest experience of our lives. I will never forget the experience and the people I got to share it with.”