Ohio Wesleyan Students Span the Globe during Spring Break

Academics, service trips also in May, June

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Ohio Wesleyan University is committed to providing an educational experience that transforms classroom theory into real-world experience, and this mission is being carried out during spring break (March 6-13) as students, faculty, and staff learn and serve around the globe.

Students and faculty will be participating in five Travel Learning Courses tied to their studies this semester:

  • Assistant Professor of Politics and Government Ashley Biser, Ph.D., and 16 students will travel to Athens, Greece, to study the rights and duties of global citizens for the course “Citizenship in an Age of Empire: From Ancient Athens to 21st Century America.”
  • Botany Professors David Johnson, Ph.D., and Nancy Murray, Ph.D., and 12 students will travel to Oaxaca in southern Mexico to study ethnobotany, the relationship between people and non-commercial plants, for the course “Mezclada con Maiz: Plants and People in Oaxaca, Mexico.”
  • Assistant Professor of Geology-Geography David Walker, Ph.D., and 11 students will travel to San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, to study economic and cultural globalization from a geographic framework (the border region) for the course “Geography, Globalization and Place: The Mexico-U.S. Border of the Californias.”
  • Professor of Philosophy Shari Stone-Mediatore, Ph.D., and seven students will travel to Chaipas, Mexico, to study Zapatista politics and culture in the course “Modernity and Colonialism: Global Perspectives on History, Justice, and Truth.”
  • Professor of Economics Andrew Meyer, Ph.D., and 12 students will travel to Costa Rica to study how sustainability can be practiced in tourism, government, and business for the course “Sustainability, Ecotourism and Eco Certification.”

A Theory-to-Practice Grant is enabling seniors Dias Ayubayev, Pratyush Agarwal, Bibhav Chapagain, and Murtaza Hussain to travel to Brazil to study the Brazilian-innovated Consorcios (microfinancing) system. They eventually plan to take this knowledge back to their home countries of Nepal, Kazakstan, and Pakistan.

Thirty-six OWU international students will travel with staff to Washington, D.C., to learn about our nation’s capital. Each year during spring break international students have the opportunity to participate in a trip to either New York City or Washington (locations alternate). Since 2006, Gordon V. Smith ’54 and Helen Crider Smith ’56 have funded these trips to provide cultural education and enrichment for OWU’s international students.

Eight groups of students will participate in Spring Break Mission Team Trips sponsored by the University Chaplain’s Office:

  • Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge in West Springfield, Massachusetts
    Team members will spend a week helping a person or family with the construction of their home. The team will also explore issues interwoven with homelessness both nationally and globally.
  • Re-New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina Recovery
    This team will be continue the ongoing effort by OWU students, faculty, and staff to work with the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, gutting or rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. They also will explore issues of community building, as well as national and global responsibility for disaster restoration.
  • Chapters, Houses, and Homes: Flood Restoration in Nashville, Tennessee
    This team, led by OWU fraternity and sorority members, will partner with the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church to help Nashville recover and rebuild from massive floods that happened in early 2010.
  • Crossroads of the Powerful and Powerless: Washington, D.C.
    Team members will spend time with the poor and those working on the grassroots level to alleviate poverty, as well as lobbyists and politicians who strive to reduce poverty. The team will also partner with the Community for Creative Nonviolence (CCNV), one of the largest homeless shelters in the nation.
  • Building and Rebuilding: Lakota Nation, South Dakota
    This intentionally interfaith team will engage in the United Methodist Church’s long-term mission to rebuild Lakota-Anglo relationships through respectful conversation, deep critical reflection, and dedicated service.  This team will continue its long-standing relationship with the Tree of Life community in Mission, South Dakota by helping as needed to build or repair a home, serve meals in the senior center, or assist with children. Each evening, the team will meet with tribal and spiritual elders of the local Lakota community.
  • Women in Community: The Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania
    Participants will experience the Benedictine model of faith, community, prayer, and social action as they help with a variety of service projects (including a soup kitchen and an inner-city youth art house). They will learn about the social justice initiatives of the sisters, participate in the community life and prayer life of the monastery, and reflect upon the role such “radical hospitality” plays in relationship to urban poverty and social justice.
  • Love and Hope Ministries: Children at the Core of El Salvador
    This team will return for the sixth consecutive year to an orphanage operated by Love and Hope Ministries in El Salvador, an evangelical (but non-proselytizing) Christian ministry. Team members will work on service projects at the orphanage, spend time with the children, and reflect on the significance of such ministries in the context of dispossessed children globally.
  • Truth behind the Tourism: Justice and Jamaica
    Known for tourism and vacations, the island nation of Jamaica is also a land whose governance has left it economically and socially disadvantaged. This team will explore the connections between Christian faith and social justice as they immerse themselves in the prophetic call of Micah to act justly and love mercy. Team members will work with local organizations to refurbish a Jamaican pre-school as well as lead youth-oriented Bible studies and worship.

Other OWU students will participate in the University’s annual Spring Break Wilderness Treks, also sponsored by the University Chaplain’s Office. These trips are intended to provide students with opportunities for physical challenge, emotional growth, and spiritual engagement.

  • Trail Magic: Community and Hospitality on the Appalachian Trail
    Students will spend five days in the mountains of North Carolina looking at the ideas of community and hospitality while camping, walking, and living together in the woods.
  • Florida Everglades: 10,000 Islands
    Students will spend seven days in the Ten Thousand Islands—a chain of mangrove islands off the coast of southwest Florida that is home to a variety of wildlife.

More Travel in Store This Semester and into Early Summer

During this entire semester, Associate Professor of Black World Studies Randy Quaye, Ph.D., and students are living and learning in Tanzania through the Ohio Wesleyan University in Tanzania program, based in Dar es Salaam.

After classes are over in May, faculty and students from five spring Travel-Learning Courses will also participate in these opportunities:

  • Assistant Professor of Economics Saif Rahman, Ph.D., and students will travel to Bangladesh to observe extreme poverty and discuss conventional actions to alleviate poverty in the course “Global Poverty: Diagnostics & Solution.”
  • Assistant Professor of Humanities-Classics Anne Sokolsky, Ph.D., and students will travel to Hawaii and Japan to study the boundaries of race, gender, class, time, and genre, for the course “War Stories: The Depiction of the Pacific War in Literature, Film, and Culture.”
  • Associate Professor of Botany-Microbiology Laurel Anderson, Ph.D., and students will travel to Brazil to study the ecology of the Amazon rainforest, global changes, and its challenges in the course “Global Change Ecology and Environmental Sustainability.”
  • Assistant Professor of Physical Education Chris Fink, Ph.D., and students will travel to Italy to study behavioral influences related to food and physical activity in the course “Obesity and Prevention in Italy and the United States: A Systemic Examination.”
  • Professor of English Robert Olmstead, Ph.D., and students will travel to Smyrna, Florida, to write, read, and share their works in progress for “A Writer’s Retreat: Atlantic Center for the Arts.”

In addition, Ohio Wesleyan students and faculty will travel in May for the following projects funded by Theory-to-Practice Grants:

  • Rebekah Smith ’11 will travel to Bengaluru, India, to intern at a microfinance institution for her project, “Asha: Microfinance in Urban India.”
  • Senior Beth Ann Robb and first-year student Colleen Waickman will travel to Thailand to work with organizations that assist women and children rescued from the sex trafficking for the project “Prevention and Rehabilitation Strategies for Human Trafficking Victims in Chaing Mai, Thailand.”
  • Assistant Professor of Modern Foreign Language Ching Hsuan Wu, Ph.D., and students will travel to Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, China to use their Chinese language skills and immerse in the culture for the project “Experience China.”
  • Associate Professors of Zoology Danielle Hamill, Ph.D., and Ramon Carreno, Ph.D., and students will travel to the Florida Keys to obtain research samples and materials for the project “Exploration of Subtropical Invertebrate Diversity: Genetics and Parasitology in the Laboratory and the Field.”
  • OWU students, alumni, and staff will travel to Haiti for service work for the HaitiOWU Impact Initiative project.

In June, seniors Sharif Kronemer and Kyle Herman and sophomore Guanyi Yang will travel to China to assess the water crisis for the project “Assessment of China as a Model for Impending Global Water Crisis.”

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