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Theres a First Time for Everything: Leading a Short-Term Study Abroad Trip to Mexico Kristi Leonard AAPLAC Annual Conference February 19, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Theres a First Time for Everything: Leading a Short-Term Study Abroad Trip to Mexico Kristi Leonard AAPLAC Annual Conference February 19, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theres a First Time for Everything: Leading a Short-Term Study Abroad Trip to Mexico Kristi Leonard AAPLAC Annual Conference February 19, 2009

2 The Trip Exploring Wellness in the Yucatan May 14-28, 2008 Merida, Yucatan, Mexico Field study, cultural activities, and excursions Visits to Mayan ruin sites (Izamal, Chichen-Itza, Ek-Balam) Excursion to and opportunity to swim Ik-kil Cenote Excursions to surrounding haciendas, colonial towns, and villages (Izamal, Acan- ceh, Maní, and Teabo) Salsa dance lessons Sunday Catholic church service Tour of the city of Merida Interaction with local Universidad de Marista students Interaction with local residents, families, and vendors Community service opportunities (Universidad de Marista collaboration with local elementary school, Sol y Luna daycare) Visit to Cancun Class sessions and assignments

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4 Creating and Developing the Trip Waldorf Colleges study abroad programs Variety of opportunities Most students who travel to international destinations do so on one of Waldorfs faculty-directed trips All trips four credits Costs vary, depending on destination and strength of the dollar in countries visited Four trips in May 2008 Europe – Communications Malaysia – Religion/History Mexico – Wellness World Trip – Honors College Other study abroad opportunities Trips to Norway and Japan with international studies programs Student exchange agreement with the Marista University in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico Personalized programs tailored to students specific interests with a variety of colleges and universities (sister ELCA colleges and Central College)

5 Creating and Developing the Trip (cont.) Why the Yucatan? My familiarity with the culture and language Central College study abroad experience Iowa-Yucatan Partners collaboration w/ Hogares Juveniles boys orphanage Host family George Ann Huck Subsequent visits Connection with la Universidad de Marista How did I start the process of creating/developing the trip? GAH Previous experiences and knowledge of the area, events, etc. Communication w/ Central College for housing Exploratory trip in May 2007 (to start the planning process, make personal contacts, start planning excursions, meet Marista administration) Waldorf College Approval from Academic Dean, Study Abroad Director, Faculty Senate

6 Creating and Developing the Trip (cont.) Living arrangements Rented Central College house All-inclusive Safe Familiarity with house staff Staff helped schedule events, transportation, tours, meals, salsa dance lessons, etc. Staff very flexible, helpful, and friendly Essential contacts and services GAH Luis Medina (tour guide) Central College staff Marista School of Psychology administrators

7 Academic Component Focus on the Experience WEL 389G: Exploring Wellness in the Yucatan Four elective credits in fulfilling College requirements Fulfilled the Waldorf College core curriculum global requirement necessary for graduation Students explored the seven dimensions of wellness and learned how this model fit into the Yucatecan culture. Students explored the city of Merida as well as participated in day trips to Mayan ruins, nearby pueblos, and Cancun. The course breakdown was three meetings during the 2008 second semester to prepare for the experience; one week of pre-departure on-line assignments in May; two weeks in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (May 14-28); and a final week of post-trip on-line assignments to further share, discuss, journal, and reflect upon the experience.

8 Academic Component Wellness Wellness is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individuals potential. It is a life-long process of moving toward enhancing ones physical, intellectual, emotional, occupational, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being. While each component of our lives is essential, no single area outweighs the others. We strive not to establish a hierarchy, but rather to create a balance.

9 Wellness Wheel 7 Dimensions of Wellness Social Physical Emotional Career/Occupational Intellectual Environmental Spiritual

10 Academic Component Classes & Assignments Pre-Departure Three classes Two assignments 1.The Seven Dimensions of Wellness Personal reflection on Wellness and the seven dimensions Wellness in the United States 2.Self-Reflection On-Site Three classes Informal and impromptu class discussions Two assignments 1.Journaling/Personal Reflection 2.Final Project Post-Trip Zero classes Three assignments 1.The Seven Dimensions of Wellness Personal reflection on Wellness and the seven dimensions Wellness in the Yucatan 2.Self-Reflection 3.Final Project

11 Pre-Departure Assignments PRE-DEPARTURE Assignment #1 Due Friday, May 2 THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS Directions: Answer each question. Give examples and be specific, thorough, and detailed in your responses. PART I: PERSONAL REFLECTION ON WELLNESS AND THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS You have the general definition of wellness, but what is YOUR personal definition of wellness? Specifically, what does the term wellness mean to you? You have the general definition of each of the seven dimensions of wellness, but what is YOUR personal definition of each dimension? Specifically, what does each dimension mean to you? Rate on a scale from 1-10 (1 = very weak; 10 = couldnt be better) how YOU are doing in EACH dimension of wellness. List your score and describe what led you to that decision. Describe one aspect of EACH dimension of which you are particularly proud. (Use examples if possible.) Describe something in EACH dimension that you would like to improve about yourself. (Use examples if possible.) PART II: WELLNESS IN THE UNITED STATES For EACH of the seven dimensions of Wellness: What does this dimension signify in the American culture? What represents this dimension in the American culture? What is the American attitude toward this dimension? What are Americans doing well in this dimension? How can Americans improve their lives in this dimension? How do you think this dimension of wellness will be similar in the Yucatan? How will it be different?

12 Pre-Departure Assignments (cont.) PRE-DEPARTURE Assignment #2 Due Friday, May 9 SELF-REFLECTION Pre-Departure Assignment #2 asks you to do a lot of written self-reflection. Directions: Answer each question. Give examples and be specific, thorough, and detailed in your responses. Examples may be given within the question, but do not let these prohibit you from coming up with your own personal examples and responses. Describe your feelings and expectations regarding your upcoming experience. Why do think you have these feelings and expectations? What specific experiences abroad are you seeking (e.g., living in a bigger city, being in a country in which a particular language is spoken, experiencing something in particular)? What are all the things you hope to learn as a result of the experience? In other words, how do you want to be able to talk to your peers, your family, or a professor about your experience when you return? For example, do you want to be able to say that you experienced a church service in Mexico, that you understand the concept of wellness better, and/or that you learned about the history of the city of Merida? How do you want to challenge yourself during your two weeks in Mexico? How do you want your peers to challenge you? How do you want your professor to challenge you? How are you expecting to grow personally from this experience? For example, do you want to become more independent or a more effective problem solver? What are some personal qualities or values you hope might change as a result of this experience? For example, do you hope to open your mind to a new idea or way of doing things, to become more flexible, or to view a different religion with more compassion and understanding? How do you anticipate feeling while you are abroad? Imagine being in Mexico, getting to know new people, not speaking the language, being far from family and friends, and so on. How do you think factors like these will make you feel? What obstacles do you think will be challenging for you living and studying in Mexico? List at least five and put them in order of the least to the most stressful. What things do you think you will really enjoy while youre living and studying in Mexico? List at least five and put them in the order of the least to the most enjoyable.

13 On-Site Assignments ON-SITE Assignment MAY Journaling/Personal Reflection Directions: You will be required to keep a journal during your time in Mexico. It needs to be typed and will be turned in at the end of the study abroad experience. Why should you keep a journal? To help you remember the details of your experience To help you process and learn the most from your experience To serve as a record of your experiences To provide a reference for cultural learning and development To help you cope with your feelings and emotions while going through cultural adjustments What should you write in your journal? Describe what youve seen, felt, and experienced and your feelings about/responses to these experiences. Include snapshots of your experiences filled with sights, sounds, smells, concerns, insights, doubts, fears, and critical questions about issues, people, and, most importantly, yourself. A journal is not a work log of tasks, events, times, and dates. Write freely and honestly in your entries. Write an entry just about everyday. If you cant write a full entry, jot down random, thoughts, images, etc. which you can come back to later and expand into a more expansive verbal picture. Discuss how your experiences (and your resulting thoughts and feelings) relate to the seven dimensions of wellness. You may also be given specific topics and/or questions to address in your journal. These will be assigned as applicable during your time abroad.

14 Post-Trip Assignments POST-TRIP Assignment #1 Due Friday, June 6 THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS Directions: Answer each question. Give examples and be specific, thorough, and detailed in your responses. PART I: PERSONAL REFLECTION ON WELLNESS AND THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS Review your personal definition of wellness that you wrote before the trip. Has it changed? If so, how and why? If not, why? Review your personal definition of EACH of the seven dimensions of wellness. Have your definitions changed? If so, how and why? If not, why? Reflect back on those aspects of EACH DIMENSION of which you were proud. Did you discover opportunities to enhance these aspects on the trip? Reflect back on those aspects of EACH DIMENSION on which you wanted to improve. Did you discover opportunities to improve upon these aspects on the trip? PART II: WELLNESS IN THE YUCATAN For EACH of the seven dimensions of Wellness: What does this dimension of wellness signify in the Mexican/Yucatecan culture? What represents this dimension in the Yucatecan culture? How does this dimension apply to the Yucatecan culture? Is the Yucatecan significance and definition of this dimension similar or different from the American significance and definition? How and why? What is the Yucatecan attitude toward this dimension? What are Yucatecan people doing well in this dimension? How can Yucatecans improve their lives in this dimension?

15 Post-Trip Assignments (cont.) POST-TRIP Assignment #2 Due Friday, June 6 SELF-REFLECTION Directions: Review your pre-departure responses to the self-reflection questions (Pre-Departure Assignment #2) in answering these follow-up questions. Give examples and be specific, thorough, and detailed in your responses. Did the expectations in which you had anticipated come to fruition? Why or why not? Did you experience any of the specific experiences abroad that you were seeking? Why or why not? Did you learn what you had expected? What did you learn that you didnt expect? Did you challenge yourself during your two weeks in Mexico? How? Did your peers challenge you? How? Did your professor challenge you? How? How did you grow personally from this experience? Did any of your personal qualities or values change as a result of this experience? Did your anticipated feelings come to fruition? How and why (not)? Did your expected obstacles happen? What unexpected obstacles did you encounter? How do you navigate through all of these obstacles? Did your expected items of enjoyment happen? What unexpected items of enjoyment did you encounter? How did you navigate through all of these enjoyable experiences?

16 Final Project FINAL PROJECT Due Friday, June 6 Your final project has two parts… 1.Final draft of your on-site journal (complete, legible, proofread/edited, etc.) 2.Create at least one visual aid to portray and to help others understand your study abroad experience. Include reflections about both YOURSELF and THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS. This assignment will be due after returning to the United States, so you will not be able to present or explain it in person. Keep this in mind because as such, you will need to provide ample explanation of your visual aid(s) and any/all included examples within the content of your project. As always, be sure to specific, thorough, and detailed. Feel free to be creative and have fun with this project! You will be graded on the following criteria: Creativity Grammar/punctuation/spelling/syntax Inclusion and presentation of personal reflections Ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of your personal reflections Inclusion and presentation of the seven dimensions of wellness Ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the seven dimensions of wellness (in the U.S. AND Mexico)

17 Grading Rubric Pre-Departure Assignment #1 – Wellness (+25 pts.) Assignment #2 – Personal Reflection (+25 pts.) On-Site Engagement & Participation (+50 pts.) Journal Random assignments Class discussions Final Project Post-Trip Final Journal (+50 pts.) Final Project (+50 pts.) Assignment #1 – Wellness (+25 pts.) Assignment #2 – Personal Reflection (+25 pts.) T0TAL POINTS = 250 pts.

18 Course Evaluation Travel arrangements appropriate/cost-effective Accommodations appropriate Pre-departure meetings effective Well-prepared and coordinated academically Correlation between travel and academics Appropriate academic expectations Variety of opportunity to experience culture Behavioral expectations clear Professional faculty leader Adversity/unexpected handled well Instructor treated students w/ respect Genuine interest in individual students Recommend to others Overall grade – instructor Grade student expected Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

19 Waldorf College Chapel September 2008 Two of the students and I reflected upon our trip experiences and how they have impacted our lives.

20 Lessons Learned Utilize contacts and connections, especially of those who live in the areas to which you are traveling. Use past experiences and knowledge of an areas events, locations, culture, etc. if possible. Take an initial exploratory trip to meet personal contacts, to plan and confirm activities, and to experience things yourself before planning for a group. Stay in an all-inclusive residence in a safe neighborhood. Consider setting a curfew for students. Integrate community service opportunities into the trip. Become familiar with the culture and language of the areas to which you are traveling. Be comfortable with having a quality student group versus just quantity. (My group was just four students, but they were positive and open-minded, tried many new and different things, and had no issues with discipline.)

21 Lessons Learned (cont.) Weigh the pros and cons of tourist attractions. (Including and promoting Cancun as part of the trip was essential for recruiting purposes.) Implement journaling and reflection-based assignments into the curriculum. Realize that you will at the mercy of others when planning excursions. Balance time spent in-class and out-of-class. Realize that time is limited; students need time to experience the culture. Have patience with your students. (My students had a tremendous language barrier and were timid and indecisive.) Challenge and support your students. Be patient with yourself. (I struggled with the language and laid back Mexican culture at times.) Appreciate and enjoy the culture and the opportunity to lead students in a life-changing experience.


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