Jan Term Journeys abroad

Read about these rich experiences, then go.

By Kim Williams

Jan Term, as a requirement to graduate, this phrase may be a source of aggravation and dread for some. However, just because it is required doesn’t mean these trips aren’t a lot of fun. Just ask Christine Frieman, a senior who has gone on not one but two studies abroad during her time at McDaniel.

The first trip Frieman took, a study of the Holocaust in January of 2006, took her to Poland and Israel. The students visited concentration camps such as Auschwitz before venturing on to Israel. In a moment of reflection that is highly complementary of the emotional power of the trip, Frieman explains that visiting the concentration camps gave the students a sense of the “terrible things that had happened” while their final destination, Israel, offered the travelers a “sense of relief.”

The trip had a somber tone as they explored areas haunted by the suffering of the past and met with people who would never forget the terrors of World War II, long after many Holocaust survivors have died. She describes this trip as “life changing” and is still in close enough contact with the woman that organized this trip, whom she receives calls from her fairly frequently.

The photography trip to Italy in 2007, on the other hand, had a “different feel.”

Frieman recalls how she just “had fun experiencing culture” and reveling in the chance to look at “history and art [she] had only ever heard about.” Asked whether or not the students interacted with the locals, Frieman recalls one instance where a fellow student “made out with an Italian in a bar.” Not quite what I meant, but interesting nonetheless. When I ask her favorite part of her time spent in Italy, she quickly replies, “gelato.” Well there you have it.

Interested now? At least one (if not all) of the Jan Term studies abroad this year are sure to capture your attention. While there is an option to take a class on campus, students who have taken trips abroad in the past highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity if the cost falls within your price range. Frieman, whose trip to Poland and Israel was actually her first trip to the continent, explains that these trips “offer an opportunity to people who don’t have the time or aren’t comfortable enough to go abroad a whole semester.” She also adds that “since you don’t get much credit, you take something that you’re really interested in.”

Clearly, Jan Term trips offer a variety experiences. If you are interested in having a good time and doing some sightseeing, there are a variety of appealing trips. On the other hand, if a trip that involves volunteer work or getting to know the people of the country is of interest to you, there are a whole other set of trips to consider.

The choices for Jan Term 2008 are the England Theatre Tour, Dominican Republic and the Educational Life Experiences of the Deaf, The Kenya Village Experience: Life under an African Sky, The Philippines: An experiment in community-based costal conservation, Volunteer in Guatemala, Treasures of Central Europe, Culture and Politics Cameroon, Landscapes of Memory, Routes of Hope, Italy through the Lens, the Tropical Marine Biology class in the Bahamas, Fishing and Diving in Belize and Viva Mexico. Unlike the frigid temperatures around here during January, some of these locales offer the hope of a little sunshine and perhaps, if you are not as fair complexioned as I, a bit of a tan. One thing that they all have in common is that they will all be memorable.

Dr. Debora Johnson-Ross will accompany students on the trip to Cameroon this winter for the third time. After doing grad school research over there, Johnson-Ross actually organized the first Mc-Daniel trip to Cameroon. During this excursion students will visit the University of Boya, interact with students, visit an active volcano, and do volunteer work with orphans and vulnerable children. She asserts that “the time period [of the trip] is short but you learn far more than you anticipate.” She also reiterates Frieman’s comment when she laughingly remarks, “Not to be hokey, but it really is a life changing experience.”

Lucia Goodhart, an organizer and a companion of Frieman’s on the journey to Poland and Israel along with Dr. Emanuel Goldman, works with a foundation at Mc-Daniel called the Interpreters Forum. She is actually from Poland and was raised in Israel, so her involvement in what she likes to call an “educational journey” seems natural. As an educator for 40 years, Lucia explains that she “sees how boring history can seem” and she “wants to get [students] out of the classroom.” Learning certainly seems like it would be easier to swallow while visiting fabulously foreign locales.

All of these trips can be found on McDaniel’s Archway site. With the date for registration quickly approaching, consider your options and go for it. Have a good Jan Term!