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PLU leads in global reach

By Greg Brewis


The PLU campus spanned the globe in January when classes convened in Australia, China, Italy, Namibia, Peru, Neah Bay, Wash., and on the Antarctic Peninsula.

It was the first time that students from one university studied at the same time on all seven continents.

“This is a first in the field of education abroad and bodes well for PLU reaching its target of 50 percent of its graduating seniors studying abroad by 2010,” said Mary M. Dwyer, president of the Institute for the International Education of Students.

“PLU’s continued support of semester and full-year programming is also laudable, since the January Term programming will undoubtedly provide a taste of global knowledge that a longer duration of study can build upon to produce interculturally competent graduates,” Dwyer said.

Presented here are excerpts from the real-time, online journal that chronicled the academic and cultural experiences of students and faculty on every continent during January. The full blog remains online at studyaway.plu.edu.

AFRICA:

Human Rights and Development in Namibia

Students examined the way the Namibian people are working to create a tradition of human rights as part of government practice.

So, if you've been reading the other blogs, you'll read a lot about Katatura, the poverty-stricken, mostly black residential area in/near Windhoek. I had a lot of the same reactions as others - embarrassment at how well dressed we were, feeling awkward about taking pictures and just the general feeling that we are intruding on people's lives. But so many of them were friendly, and called out to us as we drove by, that I felt a little better.

Believe it or not, this became a common sight on our drive through the park. Never thought I'd say that about a giraffe!

The town reminded me of some Thai villages I saw a couple years ago, only much, much bigger. One encouraging thing we heard was how different Katatura was ten years ago, and how much it has improved over these past ten years.

The Ministry of Education was very interesting. I cannot remember a time in recent history when I have felt so humbled that someone was giving us his time. Simply realizing the work he puts into his job, the decisions he has to make and all that he has already done for his country made me feel very honored that he gave us so much of his time. Like others, his speech about how badly Namibia needs teachers made me briefly reconsider going into Elementary Ed, but I know that staying with Global Studies and Anthropology is the correct route for me.

Today, the lecture on the Truth and Reconciliation Council in South Africa was very interesting. The prof talked about how this bishop, along with others, wanted people involved with apartheid to confess anything they had done that was wrong in order to bring about forgiveness and healing for the country as a whole. The problem was, those who confessed were generally a) not the leaders, and b) were made into scapegoats. Basically, everyone said they didn't know, and/or it was not their fault. Realizing that this is human nature, it makes me want to examine the areas in my life and society where I too may be shifting blame to others when I, myself, could be making a difference, or at least a stand.

I also loved today's performance poets - some of the poems were heart-wrenching.

I wish I could write so well.

Submitted by Carolyn Benbow Thurs., 01/12/2006

 


ANTARCTICA:

Journey to the End of the Earth

Students explored the Antarctic Peninsula in the context of studying natural history, the environment and conservation issues.We are in the Drake Passage, on our way back to Ushuaia after our amazing Antarctic adventure. Most of us are now realizing that this part of our austral travels are coming to an end. Although leaving the ship on Tuesday morning will undoubtedly be bittersweet, we are excited to embark on new experiences in Patagonia.

These last few days we have enjoyed icebergs calving with thunderous roars, close encounters with Minke whales, Chinstrap penguins with their downy chicks, and joining the crew in a typical Argentinean barbecue on the deck of the ship. Our days in the Antarctic have been even better than we could have imagined. Daily lectures by the guides and our interactions with the crew have been essential in framing our adventures in learning.

Three nesting Gentoo penguins allow Tifanie Krebs a close view on the continent of Antarctica.

We are processing our experiences through reflection, writing, and conversation. Even as we contemplate the meaning of these powerful experiences, we know we are being changed by them.

Spending time in nature, especially in such an intimate way, we feel a stronger connection with our surroundings and have come to understand that there is a big world out there for us to explore. The world evolves beyond our own problems and there are bigger issues than what we tend to concentrate on in our everyday lives.

Enjoying the peace and harmony in such an untouched place has affected us all in different ways. We will take the memories of the Antarctic landscape and creatures with us to cherish forever. Whenever we feel the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we can use our imaginations to transport ourselves back here to find that natural beauty and peace again.

Submitted by Jinnie Hanson, Kristin Liverman, and Sarah Salisbury on behalf of our group. Mon., 01/16/2006

 


ASIA:

Business and Urban Culture in China

Students compared creations from China's golden age with more contemporary sites of urban activities, including museums, art galleries and other venues for current artistic expression.

We just arrived in Shanghai tonight after a 2 hour flight from Beijing. It was raining super hard when we landed, so we're still all soaking wet. The rain has died down though, but we just stopped at the market nearby to buy some umbrellas. It's really warm here compared to Beijing. When we were leaving Beijing this morning it was snowing and starting to stick. I guess there's no need for the warm clothes we bought in Beijing now.

The wonderfull Great Wall outside of Beijing.

Beijing was very fun. I experienced so much there. My most memorable part was climbing up a whole section of the Great Wall. The view was beautiful and the climb was pretty tough. Some of the stairs were very steep. I also had to use the bathroom about half way up but luckily there was a bathroom towards the top. It was definitely an experience in itself just using that bathroom. I wouldn't recommend it!

We also met a lot of interesting people while we were in Beijing. Just talking to the store clerks was an adventure. Many of them think that I am from here, and continuously try to speak to me. I just give them blank looks and tell them the one phrase I know best (I don't speak Chinese, in Chinese). Luckily I know that one! But I've been trying to learn more as we go along.

I've now learned how to say "I love tea" and "more tea please" and "I'm Japanese". It's pretty funny when you know people are debating about your ethnicity while you're standing right there.

Shanghai seems like a very busy city. We just went to a market near our hotel and bought some DVDs along with some other item. I've been shopping a lot here in China. It's just too tempting when the prices are so low! We even got massages in Beijing which only cost $10 for an hour.

Well now that I know my password, I will be writing more as the adventure continues! I promise! Stay tuned for more!

Submitted by Cindy Kaya Thurs., 01/12/2006

 


AUSTRALIA:

International Media

Students explored how Australian media – film, TV, radio, Internet – differ from those in the United States.

Today was a very interesting day! After waking up bright and early, we all headed off to the SBS (the Special Broadcasting Service) which is typically known as "Australia's multicultural and multilingual public broadcaster." The adventure there (a bus ride, a train ride and about a mile walk) was quite exhausting, but after we reached our destination most of us were certainly impressed.

As I walked along the Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House, I paused to listen to the didgeridoo. It is a hauntingly beautiful sound.

Since I have personally done a bit of research on the SBS (thanks to Rob's {Robert Wells, professor of communication} Media in the World course @ PLU), it was fascinating

to see it all "up close and personal." We not only got to witness foreign films being subtitled by various multilingual employees, but we also got to see a live radio show along with a few film studios. With SBS broadcasting to Australia in approx. 68 languages along with SBS radio being the world's most linguistically diverse radio network, we all felt very privileged to tour such a place (especially since we don't have such a thing in the US).

Anyways, after all was said and done, we were all standing in the SBS lobby when all of a sudden we hear a loud "fan-like" sound. THEN, after looking outside, we realize (or maybe it was just me) that it was DUMPING RAIN and THUNDERSTORMING!!! Well, needless to say, at this point, I sure wished I had gone with my original instincts and brought my poncho, pants and close-toed shoes. :) Silly me to think I would have been able to walk around in a tank top, shorts and flip flops for the entire month =] Thankfully though, some of us were lucky enough to have brought umbrellas. So in short, we certainly weren't expecting this "taste of home" during this trip. O well....as long as it clears up for the planned (Bondi and Manly) Beach/snorkeling trip that us girls have penciled in for this weekend. On a more positive note, this weather could be to my advantage b/c I'll be $200 richer (since I WON'T go on the Sydney bridgewalk with these conditions :)

No worries (as the Aussies would say)...we'll make the best of it all~! More updates later....G'day all!

Submitted by Jenny Zarelli w Mon., 01/16/2006

 


EUROPE:

Economic and Environmental Change in Italy

Students studied technological and social adjustment as people changed from human drawn carts to automobiles, from watchtowers to wireless phones, from city-states to a nation state.

POMPEII and HERCULANEUM ROCK MY SOCKS!! To walk in cities two thousand years old is awe-inspiring and scary, considering the volcano that destroyed them is still active and nearby. There is so much that could be said about Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I will just focus in on a few things.

Greek ruins, preserved because the area was abandonned due to Malaria

I was surprised most of all by the pristine condition of the counter tops of what were basically Christ-time fast food restaurants. These food stops were mainly used by workers who did not have time or the means to make their own meals. Sellers would have huge jugs of food that could be eaten standing up.

We were able to see the structure of ancient apartments, houses in which multiple families would live, or small rooms could be rented out. There were also huge houses with multiple rooms and mosaics still intact. The range of classes was interesting, since Lauren and I read an article concerning the economics of slavery in ancient Italy. A practice that did not occur in American slavery was manumission: buying your freedom. Slaves would work and save money in order to be free. Since slavery was not ethnically based in ancient Italy, a free slave had the same status of someone not born or taken into slavery. Another difference between slavery in America and Italy is that, while American slaves did mundane physical jobs that required little skill, slaves in ancient Italy usually specialized in different crafts and skills, even rising to positions of authority. There is speculation that it was sometimes better to be a slave that a poor person, since you were given food and shelter from your boss/owner.

Intersections in Pompeii often had stepping stones connecting the crosswalks, since flooding happened often. The streets also have small white stones scattered among the larger dark ones that acted as night lights.

In case you were wondering, I took about a billion pictures of Pompeii and Herculaneum, mainly of the different skeletons of the buildings. There were many different styles of bricks and various patterns used when building the cities. Plaster used to cover the real structure of the buildings, but now you can see the underbody of most.

Two days before we went to Pompeii, we visited the Archeological museum in Naples. That is where many mosaics, sculptures, and tools from Pompeii are housed.

I was most impressed by the mosaics. The intricacy and detail is still impressive. This is one of the coolest museums I have ever gone to. The sculptures were also awesome, as well as the 2,000 year old dice.

Submitted by Jessica Lee Tues., 01/24/2006

 


NORTH AMERICA:

Makah Culture, Past and Present

Students studied Makah culture and contributed to a research/service project arranged by the Makah Culture and Research Center. The Makah Nation is located on the Northwest portion of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

The Makah welcomed us with their customary hospitality on Thursday evening with a clam chowder dinner in the community hall followed by welcome speeches and introductions. Friday morning we were invited to brunch at the Senior Center. Within our first 24 hours on the reservation, we met more than 50 members of the Makah Tribe and had extended conversations with many of them.

Tribal artwork from the Makah Nation. It symbolizes Thunderbird bringing a whale to the Makah.

The Makah Cultural and Research Center has arranged a program of activities that will keep us busy learning about traditional Makah Culture in contemporary Makah society.

Saturday was a pretty typical if somewhat "light" day. In the morning we hiked to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost tip of the continental United States, guided by an interpretive specialist from the tribe. Along the way we learned about harvesting cedar bark for baskets and about edible plants. At the Cape we enjoyed the breathtaking natural beauty and watched sea lions fishing, while an eagle soared overhead. Check out the photos that Rob will post later to see what I mean.

In the afternoon, we learned about the technology involved in making traditional halibut fishing gear. After that we learned how to gather and process Olive shells, used in necklaces and to decorate a variety of objects. Then everyone got to make a key-chain decorated with Olive shells. While doing that our instructor shared the Makah story that explains why frogs make so much noise during part of the year and are so quiet at other times. Then it was back to Dorm 7 for dinner, discussion, and "take it easy" time.

Tomorrow we will hike out to Ozette, on the ocean coast. Ozette was a Makah village. A small part of the village was destroyed by a mudslide about 400 years ago, preserving wooden and basketry artifacts. The Makah Museum displays artifacts from the excavation at Ozette, illustrating the Makah way of life 4 centuries ago. It is one of the best small museums anywhere and attracts visitors from all over the world. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for rain and wind so we will get a taste of what the Makah had to deal with, living on the open coast.

Time to go so I'm not late for the next event on our schedule.

Submitted by Professor David Huelsbeck Sun., 01/15/2006

 


SOUTH AMERICA:

Cultural and Environmental History of the Andes

Students explored the history, culture, and environment of the Andes, featuring pre-Inca, Inca, colonial and modern Andean history.

It is now the 17th of January and a Seattle like weather here in Sucre, Bolivia. I calculated that we have about 13 or so days before it is time for us to return to the states. I don’t really know if I am in that much of a rush, but I do acknowledge the fact that I do miss some things. For example, I really miss my family, my boyfriend, and some American food. But I am having a great time out here.

LLamas, llamas everywhere.

On Saturday, I was able to get a glimpse of what i wanted to do with part of my future. For those who actually know me, you know that I am headed to fashion school before Graduate school. We were invited to our guide’s beautiful home where she and her family put on a beautiful fashion show. Now, this was no ordinary fashion show, this was a collaboration of indigenous weavings and modern day fashions. That is exactly what I want to do! I was in awe! I want to take traditional clothings and weavings and pieces from Native American tribes and create modern designs with them. I already have some of my own designs at the moment.

Earlier that day, we went to ASUR, which is a weaving co-op. There were some incredible pieces there from all over Bolivia. What made things even more interesting was getting the opportunity to watch some of the women weave tapestries. It was kind of intimidating to be honest. There were what looked like to be thousands of threads and tools to use. We were told that it took about 2 months full time to create a medium sized piece. And to make things even more interesting, we as a class are going to have the opportunity to learn how to do some of that kind of weaving next week or so. I don’t really know how we are going to do it or what it is we are going to make, but I am very excited.

Sucre is a fairly quiet city. I don’t really know how I feel about the place yet, but it is beautiful. I am kind of the person that needs to live in a place where there is much for me to do. I guess there are some places to go and things to do here, but we are kind of restricted on what we can and can’t do for safety reasons. I guess I am missing my Seattle and Tukwila because I could just take a bus to anywhere and be able to do or see something.

Well, that is all for now. Soon I will have my Quechua, Spanish, and Dance lessons before we have a lecture on the current political situation of Bolivia. Until then, chau!

Submitted by Kendra Jeffrey Tues., 01/17/2006

 

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