9 Life-Changing J-Term Study Tours
“My J-Term experience in Guatemala was unforgettable. The trip taught me a lot about life and how I should appreciate what I have.” — Nicole Devine
In the course Sustainable and Unsustainable Development in Rural Guatemala, led by economics and modern languages professor Edward Montanaro and chemistry professor Timothy Eckert, students examined the sustainability of rural development practices around Lago Atilan and in El Peten. While primarily an economics course, the course paid particular attention to the interaction of factors that affect the sustainability of economic progress: governance, education, contract enforcement, and public safety.
“My J-Term experience in Guatemala was unforgettable,” said Nicole Devine ’14. “The trip taught me a lot about life and how I should appreciate what I have. The people there were so grateful for what they had and so genuinely happy.”
“There is so much we don’t know about life, and scuba diving in Honduras gave me a little slice of that unknown.” — Courtney Matula
Adventurous students headed to the Caribbean for the course Biodiversity, Brains, and Behavior, now led by biology professor Scott Hegrenes, sociology professor Bill Miller, and neuroscience professor Dan Miller. Students studied the ecology of a coral reef ecosystem while learning about the evolution of nervous systems and behavior. In preparation for the extensive diving required on the tour, the students became scuba certified.
“Honduras gave me this wonderful opportunity to see animals and plants in their natural ocean environment, and it gives you this resounding feeling of being so small in the world,” said Courtney Matula ’14. “There is so much we don’t know about life, and scuba diving in Honduras gave me a little slice of that unknown.”
“I have a new respect for the Cuban people and their ways of life, I have been awestruck by the incredible beauty of their country, and, most of all, I have been bitten by the travel bug. I want to go everywhere. I want to see everything. I want to do everything. And for that, I only have Carthage to thank.” — Ian McDonald
In the course Life and Politics: Surviving Socialism and the U.S. Embargo of Cuba, political science professor Jeffrey Roberg and psychology/neuroscience professor Penny Seymoure led students in exploring the impact of socialism. Students examined the differences and similarities between the Cuban and American political and economic systems; the impact of living under a restrictive political system and failing economy; and the biological and psychological consequences of living in chronically stressful situations.
“I have a new respect for the Cuban people and their ways of life, I have been awestruck by the incredible beauty of their country, and, most of all, I have been bitten by the travel bug. I want to go everywhere. I want to see everything. I want to do everything. And for that, I only have Carthage to thank,” said Ian McDonald ’14.
“It was my first time out of the country, and it was a ton of fun. The games we went to cover were absolutely amazing.” — Brad Hyland
Communication and digital media professor Jon Bruning leads a January study tour titled Sports Journalism: European Football. It’s a writing-intensive course in which students explore the history and culture of European football at some of the continent’s greatest football venues. During the 2014 course, students wrote in a variety of journalistic formats related to the live games they attended in London, Paris, and Barcelona, while also exploring non-sports museums and cultural sites.
“It was my first time out of the country, and it was a ton of fun,” said Brad Hyland ’14. “The games we went to cover were absolutely amazing. I have a history in soccer, and I really enjoy watching it.”
“France opened my mind in so many different ways.” — Ally Stonebraker
French professor Pascal Rollet and music professor Amy Haines teamed up in January 2014 to lead the course Life and Music in Paris. Students examined multiple aspects of French culture and music while staying in Paris. They learned through observation and interaction with French civilization, with daily, guided visits to neighborhoods, monuments, and museums. They learned about music by analyzing recordings and attending live performances.
“France opened my mind in so many different ways, trying food I would’ve never imagined, like escargot and duck liver; finding our way around a city we were not familiar with; communicating with people who spoke a language I didn’t fully understand; and seeing the most incredible monuments and museums,” said Ally Stonebraker ’14.
“There really isn’t a sufficient way to explain my experience in Namibia. You could call it ‘life-changing,’ ‘eye-opening,’ ‘heartbreaking,’ or ‘inspiring,’ but these words are still horribly inadequate.” — KristieRae Ellis
Music professor Peter Dennee led students to Namibia in southern Africa for the J-Term study tour Namibia: A Sociocultural Journey. Students learned about the lives and cultures of various tribes by camping and interacting with the Ovambo, Himba, and Damara tribes. They also visited the Etosha Game Reserve and the resort town of Swakupmond.
“There really isn’t a sufficient way to explain my experience in Namibia,” remarked KristieRae Ellis ’15. “You could call it ‘life-changing,’ ‘eye-opening,’ ‘heartbreaking,’ or ‘inspiring,’ but these words are still horribly inadequate. In Namibia, most people have very little in terms of material things, and many of them have lost a loved one to AIDS. But despite all of their struggles, the people still have so much hope and love. During our trip, their hope, love, and willingness to share it with us was nothing short of beautiful and overwhelming. So, when asked, ‘How was Namibia, Kristie?’, this is how Namibia was: overwhelming and beautiful.”
“It’s so hard to describe the feelings you get when you are building a garden for a family that you know will completely change their way of living, or seeing animals in the wild that you have only seen in zoos” said Maren Schutz ’15. “I’m grateful that Carthage offers these opportunities that inspire students to give back and explore the world.”
“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. 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.” — Prof. Patrick Pfaffle
Carthage’s J-Term study tour in Nicaragua is one of the most popular study tours. Biology professor Patrick Pfaffle and geography professor Matt Zorn team up to teach a course titled Biology and Geography of Nicaragua. The course is so popular, it’s offered twice a year. Students volunteer in rural medical clinics, help construct freshwater facilities, build and repair classrooms for local schools, and explore the country’s varied landscape and history.
“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 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.”
The trip lasted 10 days and was a life-changing experience for me.” — Andrew Rosenberg
In the course Shakespeare in Rome, led by Great Ideas and philosophy professor Michael McShane and Great Ideas and English professor Seemee Ali, students read three of Shakespeare’s most famous Roman plays before spending two weeks in Rome visiting locations relevant to Shakespeare’s work.
“The trip lasted 10 days and was a life-changing experience for me,” Andrew Rosenberg ’14. “Besides reading Shakespeare plays in the actual places they happened, we also experienced the rich Italian culture and explored the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome.”
“Take the challenge and step outside of your comfort zone. It will forever change your perspective on life and the world. I would give anything to go back.” — Brooke Kahly
In the course Exploring the Roots of African American Religion, led by social work professor Danielle Geary and religion professor David Musa, students are immersed into the rich, vibrant, and diverse cultural heritage of West Africa, exploring the intricate relationship and pervasive influence of religion on social issues.
“Absolutely incredible and life-changing,” said Brooke Kahly ’14. “If you have the opportunity to take a J-Term class abroad, do it! Take the challenge and step outside of your comfort zone. It will forever change your perspective on life and the world. I would give anything to go back.”