By Megan Harris, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Monday, January 9, 2012
On his way to Kentucky Wesleyan College’s winter term courses — and college as a whole — junior criminal justice major Jon Bell took a different tack.
The 28-year-old spent four years in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked in retail in Chicago before coming home to put his G.I. Bill to work. This week, that includes being one of a dozen world travelers taking advantage of KWC’s study abroad program.
The college offers 32 winter term courses, held in the first three weeks of January, but this year only three culminate in an eight- to-12-day trip customized to students’ specific educational desires.
Bell’s criminology professor, Ken Ayers, treats his “Leadership Through Sailing” course, departing Saturday for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as a metaphor for life, teamwork and the ever-evolving “winds of change.”
As a Merchant Marine captain and retired Navy commander, he designed his program to include two works to be read prior to the start of the term but offers no hands-on training until his five students land that Sunday.
“It’s like when you get that phone call where there’s a death in the family or you got fired. Nobody anticipates those calls,” he said. “Nobody sees what life is going to throw them. In sailing, the wind is going to shift. The course (the students) set, the destination they want to achieve, may not happen. They may have to change directions, change career paths, change their goal when it doesn’t work out.”
And hopefully, Ayers said, they’ll return with a working knowledge of the sea as well.
Columbia native Arcea Zapata de Aston, assistant professor of Spanish and chairwoman of KWC’s department of modern languages, will lead three students, including her 20-year-old son, on a 12-day trip to Costa Rica, which began Monday.
“The beauty is that we’ll be immersed in a unique culture, full of food and passion, very biodiverse, with language and music and new experiences,” she said.
The group will traverse forests, beaches, volcanoes and downtown San Jose, coming back each night to a tech-savvy hotel where they will keep journals in English and Spanish, post photos and write blog entries for KWC’s website.
Collin MacQuarrie, a self-described intermediate level Spanish speaker, said he’s drawn as much to the completion of his Spanish minor — the class will satisfy his last three credit hours — as he is cultural immersion into San Jose.
Visiting assistant professor of English Tamara Coy flies Sunday to London, her home of 20 years. The Owensboro native will take with her three students, including 21-year-old Phoenix Jenkins, for a 10-day Tudor family excursion where she hopes to bring alive the works of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Thomas More.
The junior sociology major said she’s most excited to visit Hampton Court Palace, a former home of Henry VIII, Windsor Castle and other British royal residences.
“It’s one thing to read, but to actually be in the places that you’ve read about, see the people that you’ve read about and try to get a sense of what life was like for them, it’s amazing.” Jenkins said. “I’ll be in a place where so much history happened.”