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J-Term in Puerto Rico, 2015

“Every time we’d put our paddles into the water, the water would just start to glow. Fish looked like shooting stars.”

For Cody Tucker ’16, Carthage’s J-Term has always been an opportunity to travel. Her freshman year, she went to Spain for an intensive language study. Her sophomore year, she traveled to China for the course Exploring China: Cultural Traditions and Modern Society.

During J-Term 2015, she added Puerto Rico to her list. As a student in the course Filming Cultures: Explorations Beyond Tourism, Cody spent two weeks in Puerto Rico, exploring its history and culture. 

All photos by Cody Tucker ’16. Click on any photo above to view larger; use arrows or arrow keys to navigate left and right.

 

Filming Cultures: Explorations Beyond Tourism was taught by Modern Languages Professor Matt Borden and Communication and Digital Media faculty member Kari Duffy, and blended cultural study with lessons in digital storytelling. Students were tasked with creating “travel show”-style videos as they explored Puerto Rico, so they learned first-hand the techniques and strategies of digital filming and editing.

“We learned a lot about Puerto Rico’s culture by talking to people; I was doing interviews all the time. It was a lot of work, but you’re also spending January on an island in the sun.”

“We filmed everything we did, then logged our own footage, and edited our footage into a short video,” said Cody, adding that her own video focused on the advice locals gave for the perfect Puerto Rico trip. “We learned a lot about Puerto Rico’s culture by talking to people; I was doing interviews all the time,” said Cody. “It was a lot of work, but you’re also spending January on an island in the sun.”

Their destinations included Castillo San Felipe del Morro, San Juan’s 16th century citadel; the El Yunque Rain Forest, where they went swimming near waterfalls; Old San Juan; and Fajardo. A highlight of the trip was kayaking into one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays. A microorganism in the water (the dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense) glows whenever the water is disturbed.

“Every time we’d put our paddles into the water, the water would just start to glow,” Cody said. “It started pouring rain while we were in there, and the raindrops lit up the water. Fish looked like shooting stars.” 

Their last night in Puerto Rico, they went on a whale tour and saw a mother humpback whale and her calf. “We were so close,” she marveled. “It was the perfect way to end the trip. It was absolutely gorgeous.”

For Cody, J-Term has been an exceptional way to learn and travel. As a public relations major, with minors in digital photography and communication, she has selected study tours that fulfill course requirements and advance her skills and knowledge. In the future, she hopes to travel to Europe for Prof. Jon Bruning’s Sports Journalism course.

“J-Term study tours are both a vacation and a class,” she said. “I’m getting credit for the courses, plus I’m traveling. It’s the smartest way to do what I love to do.”

Ready for your own adventure?