BY OLIVIA MURRELL – STAFF WRITER
Study abroad is part of the Centre Commitment to its students, along with opportunities to engage in an internship or research opportunity and graduating in four years. 85% of Centre students will study abroad at least once, and many will study abroad more than once. Centre places a huge emphasis on abroad experiences, and with good reason.
Three of the courses taught abroad this past Centre Term were to Japan, the Baltics region of Eastern Europe, and to Morocco and Spain.
Japan: Nagasaki – Rebuilding a Metropolis was a course focused on Japan’s interactions with the rest of the world and provided students with first-hand accounts of the effects of the atomic bomb. The course discussed how “[the] government of Japan destroyed the city at one point by their policy and how the atomic bomb destroyed it and how they rebuilt from that,” junior Sarah Taylor said. Though the course began with a 14-hour plane ride into Japan, the trip was “definitely worth it…the most valuable part was getting to see another culture and having to experience it and live in it,” Taylor said. The course influenced Taylor greatly, as she is now considering Centre’s program that helps graduates have the opportunity to teach English in Japan post-graduation.
Morocco and Spain: Jews, Christians, and Muslims was a course focused on exploring the history of these three religions and their interactions in these regions. “The best part of my experience in Spain and Morocco was being in Granada. We toured the Alhambra palace which is a magnificent and very historically significant place,” junior Ellen Tyra said. “I had read about it before but never imagined how grand it was… I loved exploring the city of Granada, from seeing the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, to the baroque-style cathedral and the mosque overlooking the Alhambra. The history of Spain that I had learned about for years became nearly tangible through my explorations of both Granada and Fes.”
Sophomore Zamirah Hussein had a similarly impactful experience exploring Spain and Morocco. “It’s actually impossible to pick one part [that was my favorite], but I really enjoyed the time we spent in Marrakech exploring the city square and our time in Cordoba seeing La Mezquita.” Hussein said. “The title for most memorable moment is split between watching a performance of Sufi women in someone’s home in Marrakech and coincidentally finding the best (and cheap!) burger of my life in Granada.”
Baltic States: The Singing Revolution in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania was a unique trip that melded together music performance and the history of the Baltic States, specifically the use of music as a form of organized resistance during the Baltic States’ fight for independence from the Soviet Union. The course began on Centre’s campus, where the students learned about the history of the region and learned songs that were important to the movement. Cruz Avendano Dreyfuss was enchanted by the snowy landscape, and he remembers distinctly “going to the beach in Estonia was incredible. There was a layer of snow between the slush between the sand, and there were ice flows out on the water,” Dreyfuss said. “We got to see a castle, Castle Trakei. It was on this frozen lake and we got to stand on it and make the professor worried because we were standing on a frozen lake…the first castle I had ever been to. I had seen castle grounds in movies, but I was there, and it was exactly how it looked [in the movies].”
In all instances, the abroad courses brought to life the cultures students read and learned about before traveling abroad. “Centre’s study abroad program is truly remarkable because it allows students to immerse themselves in foreign communities and have hands-on learning opportunities that bring textbook content to life,” Tyra. Abroad courses allow students to apply what they have learned in their previous classes or pre-abroad course studies in a way that learning in a classroom can’t achieve. “[The abroad course to the Baltics region] really showed me the value of learning about a place before you go to it…It was a lot of information, but once we got there and were able to apply it to everything we learned, it was really incredible. I felt like I could appreciate the place more,” Dreyfuss said.
Concerning the importance of immersion in other cultures, Tyra said, “I believe that this Centre Term trip has contributed to my preparations for after Centre. In an era of globalization, knowing about other cultures and having experiences living within systems that are different from your own is very important.”