ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCES ABROAD
Thanks to The Guilford Edge, some of the College’s most collaborative learners spent part of the fall in Spain, Germany, Norway, India and England. One of the most impactful parts of the initiative is the partitioning of semesters to include a 3-week session. Many students took advantage of study abroad options during this time. Some programs were derivatives of already popular areas of study, while others were conceived from a variety of disciplines. Here’s a sampling of student experiences.
This year the Honors program introduced the redesigned Honors 200: Fantastic Journeys with director Heather Hayton taking a flagship group of 22 students to Spain. After a week of reviewing the components of pilgrimage and hospitality on campus, the group spent four days walking the Camino de Santiago, visiting cities like Lisbon, Pontevedra and Santiago.
One of the major Christian pilgrimage routes of the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela have attracted guests for more than 1,000 years.
“Our journey was at turns exciting, challenging, magical, full of joy and camaraderie,” Heather said. “We discovered things about ourselves and the larger world, and were humbled by the small towns along the Camino that have dedicated themselves to welcoming poor or tired strangers.”
Heather, who has led seven Guilford study abroad programs, remarked that the new semester schedule has great potential for study abroad opportunities. Designed for second-year Honors students, the new Honors 200 component will shift its focus every year but always include a “fantastic journey.”
Guilford has been sending students to Germany for 41 years. For this term’s 3-week session, Professor of German Dave Limburg led 20 students on a quest to study German literature and cinema while traveling the countryside. The syllabus largely consisted of what Dave refers to as “dark mountain tales” by
the Brothers Grimm, Thomas Mann and Marlen Hauschofer, among others. The movies followed the same theme, including Die Weiße Rose (The White Rose), a 1982 film about a group of Munich University students who lead a resistance against the Nazi Regime.
Additionally, the Guilford group trekked the beautiful trails and mountains of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Senior English and German doublemajor Lana Heltzel ‘20 says that “there was a lot of satisfaction in knowing no day was wasted. One day we would hike or take a cable-car to the top of a mountain, and the next we would be seeing a ferry ride across stunning lakes — always with the mountains in the backdrop.”
Indeed, what may have been the gem of Guilford’s study abroad programs is now an ideal fit for The Guilford Edge.
Eighteen students joined Justice and Policy Studies Professor Sherry Giles and Psychology Professor Eva McGuire for their team-taught course comparing prisons in the United States and Norway. The course began locally with the study of the American prison system. From there, the students traveled to Norway to compare its structure, which is widely considered more humane.
On campus, the class took field trips to the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, Central Prison and Wake Correctional Center, and met with North Carolina Department of Public Safety leaders.
Once in Norway, students visited a women’s maximum-security prison, a men’s maximum-security prison, as well as a men’s minimum security prison where the incarcerated are responsible for the prison’s operations. The group also met with a Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Oslo and leaders from the Norwegian Prison Administration. Back at Guilford, students gave presentations to the NC DPS. Todd Ishee, the current North Carolina Commissioner of Prisons, says he plans to share these findings with other directors.
Maya Brown ‘21 spoke on the value of using the 3-week as an opportunity for students to travel for shorter periods of time: “I wasn’t sure if I would like a full semester abroad. The three weeks were a good way of testing my interest.”
Eleven students took part in a community health and development course during The Guilford Edge’s 3-week session. Following one week of on-campus study, the group traveled to Jamkhed, India, with Business Professor Michael Dutch and Public Health Professor Lavon Williams to work alongside the Comprehensive Rural Health Project, an organization that provides healthcare options to India’s marginalized and poor. Working to improve the overall health quality of the rural area surrounding
Jamkhed, CRHP’s system includes helping and improving local farming efforts. “We chose this organization because it takes a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to addressing its mission,” says Lavon. As part of their studies, students interacted with locals. Translators helped conduct interviews and focus groups about community issues that the students had been studying.
“It was interesting to hear what they had to say and compare it to our own prior knowledge,” says Alec McMahon ‘20, a Biology major. “It was truly an enlightening experience.”
Michael and Lavon’s biggest goal in creating this course was to provide an experiential learning environment. Emma Chaiken ‘20, a Theatre major, says that was achieved. “If it weren’t for this trip or The Guilford Edge, I never would have gone abroad.”
Biology Professor Michele Malotky and Religious Studies Professor Eric Mortensen’s course was the only one to spend the full three weeks abroad. The group lived in Alnwick Castle — one of the famous filming locations for
the Harry Potter series — and studied medicinal practices in the western world with an emphasis on the role and perception of magic.
“The space we were using was probably best known for its commercial or theatrical popularity,” says Michele. “That was the backdrop for a more serious conversation about causal systems to make a rich cultural exploration.”
From studying the medicinal properties of local herbs, to re-enacting 19th century England’s reaction to Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, to discussing the beliefs behind sympathetic magic in the gardens of Medieval priories, combining two seemingly different disciplines made the classes more engaging, noted Chloe Wells ’20, a Religious Studies major and recipient of the CPPSET Endowed Scholarship. “I was really glad to see all the ways religion and biology come together.”
Students enjoyed day trips to neighboring towns and castles, including Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Craster and Edinburgh. Hannah McKinnis ‘20 particularly enjoyed scenic hikes along the northern sea. “The community-building aspect was incredible,” she says. “We all felt a bond after having gone through living in a new place for three weeks together.”