From bananas to bowling- it’s Jan Term

McDaniel students participate in unique coursework at home and abroad

By David Robertson, Chief Photographer

“Did someone say England?”

Students returned to McDaniel for the spring semester reeling from their experiences abroad and on campus, though less than enthusiastic for commencing a more monotonous routine on January 28.

Aside from fulfilling a B.L.A.R. (Basic Liberal Arts Requirement), Jan Terms, lasting from January 3-25, give students the opportunity to experience something new—whether a medical or accounting internship, a first trip out of the country or an introduction to martial arts. On the other hand, one particularly adventurous trip was cancelled for reasons beyond college control.

December 2007 and January 2008 saw severe political turmoil across the country of Kenya, emanating from the Rift Valley and more recently spreading to the western reaches of the country. Foreigners fleeing to neighboring countries coupled with the decline of local incomes undergraduate students with faculty advisor Dr. Ochieng’ O. K’olewe had to cancel their trip just a few days before their scheduled departure.

For Erika Clark, ‘10, the trip to Kenya, rescheduled for the summer, fulfills an Education Minor requirement.

“It will really be a good experience for me and open my eyes to different learning environments as a future teacher,” she said.

However, Clark was not too disappointed with the cancellation “considering the circumstance that there were riots in Kenya.” She added, “I still want to go,” assuming the conflicts dissipate.

Professor Dr. Emanuel Goldman, together with Ms. Lucia Goodhart and The Interpreter’s Forum (TIF, in residence on campus), accompanied a group of students to Israel.

“With the Middle East at the center of world affairs,” said Goldman, “and President George Bush visiting at the same time, our study-journey took on an added dimension of meaning.”

The strictly non-partisan excursion allowed students to grasp their own perspective on the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts, while simultaneously immersing themselves in the rich, ancient history of Jerusalem, traversing the Galilean Mountain landscape, the external and internal architecture of ancient mosques, even experiencing the modern hubbub of Tel Aviv.

“All these moments in time serve the college’s education reason-for-being,” Goldman expressed. As an aside, he enthusiastically described a pre-school in Jerusalem where students of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions learn together, with teachers drawn from a mix of religious backgrounds as well. “I believe it bespeaks the mission of TIF, namely, peace through education. The school works. There is hope!”

Other trips abroad left students with memories to last a lifetime. Amber Maurer, ’09, said of her trip to Italy, aside from the large amounts of rubbish and stray dogs, “The culture itself was incredible and their food, whether it be pasta or marzipan, was awesome.”

She added, “The people over there were really nice too, and if you tried to talk to them in Italian they would get all excited!” Considering the experience was one with the school rather than a solo excursion, she raved, “I got to see an awesome country and just about everything in it that is worth seeing. And I got to live the culture and be almost totally immersed in it.”

Though many students remained on campus, they still had a variety of activities and course offerings to keep occupied. These ranged from gym classes (badminton among the more popular, tai chi, indoor soccer) and introductions to psychology, history, jazz studies, yearbook independent studies, and discussing French culture.

Other trips abroad included Dr. Mohamed Esa’s “Treasures of Central Europe,” Mark Rust’s group visiting the Dominican Republic, and an England Theatre Tour with Ira Domser.

On a vastly different track, Adam Dwoskin, ’09, accompanied a group of students to Belize for fishing and diving. Having heard excellent reviews from students who already went on the trip, he said it was simply amazing.

This once-in-a-lifetime trip, Dwoskin’s first time out of the States, gave him “the opportunity to meet with locals, converse with them, find out how they live their lives—how much it differs from American society.” He also befriended many on the trip, returning with friendships he may not have otherwise made on campus.

From snorkeling expeditions, spear fishing and climbing Mayan ruins, “it opened my eyes,” he said, “to how much is out there we haven’t been able to experience—you only get so much from a textbook.”

Whether a first trip out of the country or taking a required gym class for punctual graduation, students can rest assured they have the opportunity for a true liberal arts education at McDaniel College. Despite the adventurous spirit of its faculty members and administrators, most students empathize with the thought, “I wish I were still abroad.”