Warm weather has finally arrived on campus, a testament to the fact that summer might just be around the corner after all.
As students attempt to stay afloat amidst endless assignments and exams, the lure of break, however tempting, is a source of motivation for individuals who have something to look forward to after many hours of studying.
For some, summer vacation will be spent at home, catching up on much needed relaxation as well as time with family and friends. Others, however, have chosen to take advantage of the time away from campus to either earn course credits abroad or participate in professional internships.
In just over a month, Lucy Davies, a sophomore nursing major, will be travelling to Peru through a university program geared toward students with majors in the College of Health Sciences. Davies is one of 13 students, eight of whom are nursing, participating in the program led by nursing professor, Lisa McBeth.
The first two weeks of the program will take place in Cusco, one of Peru’s largest and most historic cities. There, students will work in a local hospital, conducting rotations similar to those they would have to complete in a clinical setting where actual patients are observed and treated.
“While at the hospital, we will be spending a certain amount of time in each unit so that we can gain first-hand experience in a variety of areas,” Davies said.
From Cusco, students will spend the remainder of the program in the villages of Q’eros, a remote collection of 14 villages in the Andes Mountains.
“To get there, we have to hike up mountains with donkeys,” Davies said. “There will be no electricity or running water.”
Students will stay with local families in the village for four days in an effort to provide basic sexual education to children and adults. They will be discussing safe sexual practices such as birth control methods as well as post-conception maternal care. Additionally, students will also be responsible for teaching individuals about proper sanitation and infection-control techniques.
“The village suffers from a high infant mortality rate and often, the women do not actually know how they got pregnant or how to prevent pregnancy,” Davies explained.
The goal is therefore to provide residents with the tools and knowledge necessary to lead safer and cleaner lives in a region of the world that typically lacks these luxuries. At the conclusion of the program, students will receive a one-credit internship.
Eli Akerfeldt-Howard, a sophomore mandarin Chinese and anthropology major, and Kaylee Wolfe, a junior triple language major, will also be spending a portion of their summers abroad.
Both students will be traveling to Beijing, China for seven weeks through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization focused on global educational exchanges.
In Beijing, Akerfeldt-Howard and Wolfe will be taking four classes at Peking University, China’s second-highest ranked university. Courses will be led by usual university faculty and taught entirely in Chinese.
“Two of my classes — reading and speaking — will meet for two hours each day,” explained Akerfeldt-Howard. “The remaining two I chose to take will be about Chinese drama and culture.”
While the credits are not guaranteed due to a lack of affiliation between institutions, both students are still eager to participate in the CIEE program as a means to improve their language skills and stretch their comfort zones.
“Cultural immersion is definitely one of the most important parts about learning Chinese, or any language,” Akerfeldt-Howard said. “As much as my classes can teach me about vocabulary and sentence structure, I really need to experience the language and interact with native speakers … I’m actually kind of nervous but looking forward to the challenge.”
In addition to taking courses this summer, some students will be gaining real-world professional experience by working and interning for organizations that align closely with their post-graduate ambitions.
Kiersten Harris, a sophomore international relations and triple language double major, will be spending three months in Washington, D.C. as an intern for the American Security Project.
“American Security Project (ASP), is a fairly new think tank whose goal is to educate the public about a variety of national security issues,” Harris said. “The organization has different subdivisions. Each focus on a region of the world whose relationship with the United States is especially important.”
As a triple language major, Harris studies Russian and will be interning with the sector of ASP that specializes in U.S.-Russia relations.
Her job will be to write blog posts for ASP’s forum, an online discussion page that anyone can contribute to. Harris is required to choose topics linked to current events surrounding the two countries so that people can engage with each other while staying up to date with relevant issues.
Writing for the forum will not only allow Harris to educate those interacting with its content, but Harris will also be able to relate what she has learned back to her studies at the university.
Although it is not a paid position, Harris said that this is the exact kind of work she envisions herself being a part of when she graduates.
“Ideally, I want to work for the government, building connections and relationships with different countries,” Harris said. “This internship will hopefully give me an idea of what that will be like.”