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Study Abroad Forum Program 
October 29, 2009, McKinnon Hall
4:00 - 7:30 pm

4:15Welcome by Dean Woody Pelton 
 Session I Chaired by Dr. Kim Jones
4:20Ms. Lauren TaylorInternational Research: A Case Study of Costa Rica and South Africa
4:40Ms. Elizabeth Leman, Ms. Maggie Pahos, Ms. Katherine DirksWhat They Learned: A Comparative Study of Science Education in Kerala, India and Graham, North Carolina
5:00Ms. Mica McCullough, Ms. Alison BrooksEnhancing National Health Care In Ghana Through Government Programs And Community Partnership
5:20Mr. Charles CostaThe Criminal Justice System of Costa Rica
5:40-6:10Reception (McKinnon Hall)Everyone welcomed!
 Session IIChaired by Dr. Judy Esposito
6:10Ms. Maggie PahosIndia: Art as a Bridge to Connection and Communication
6:30Ms. Alexa TerryTalk It Out: the Importance of Self Reflection through Inner Dialogue
6:50Ms. Adley KlothFrom Getting Credit to Gaining Confidence: My Summer Living in Berlin
7:10Mr. Nathan GueretteDiscussing the influence of a service learning study abroad experience on a student’s critical thinking processes and ability to compare relevant social themes across cultures.





Session I: chaired by Dr. Kim Jones

4:20 pm
Ms. Lauren Taylor
International Research: A Case Study of Costa Rica and South Africa

As a Lumen Scholar, Elon College Fellow, and Periclean Scholar, I have had the opportunity to conduct original research in several different countries. While such experiences at first sound overwhelming, going to a foreign area and making the most out of your time is not only possible but extremely rewarding. From my time in semester-long study in Costa Rica and 6-week summer experience in South Africa, I have learned what steps are necessary in order to be successful in international academic pursuits. As a way to encourage others to pursue research projects, I have developed guidelines for students who are planning to engage in scholarly activities abroad. Guidelines include the importance of a faculty mentor and emphasize planning prior to departure. Before embarking upon international study, it is necessary to establish contacts in the host country and develop an alternative plan should the original initiative prove impractical. It is necessary to have patience and recognize that tasks such as making photocopies may take longer than anticipated. The ability to articulate research requirements is also important. Finally, it is imperative to remember that international academic work is hard and that challenges are just a part of the experience. My presentation will include specific examples of difficulties and how I overcame them in Costa Rica and South Africa.

4:40 pm
Ms. Elizabeth Leman, Ms. Maggie Pahos, Ms. Katherine Dirks
What They Learned: A Comparative Study of Science Education in Kerala, India and Graham, North Carolina

Teaching principles of science can be challenging and complex when done by non-science, non-education majors. Teaching them in India to children who may or may not have a firm understanding of English is even more so. Our panel will compare survey results from both the children we taught at six different middle and high schools in India during Winter Term 2009, and children who were taught with a similar program at the local Graham Middle School. The India program was loosely affiliated with Periclean Scholars classes of 2011 and 2012, and the 2011 class has a sister project at Graham, so there was an existing partnership from which to work.

The programs each consisted of a series of interactive exhibits or booths demonstrating various scientific concepts, including concave and convex mirrors, human lungs, ultraviolet light, and the chemistry of smell. Most of the exhibits in the two programs were different and taught by different students. There were also more exhibits during the Indian project than there were at Graham. However, we intend to compare and contrast children’s reactions to the experience of learning science through visiting exhibits taught by students, not their reactions to specific science topics.

The three presenters will address the survey results each from India, from Graham, and our overall conclusions and final comparisons. We will compare, as specifically as possible, which exhibits were the most engaging to the children in each country, and conjecture why, as well as examining how this information can further our exhibitions and teaching experience the next time they are carried out. We will also look at what the children said they learned or took away from the exhibitions and how that differed in the two situations. We will attempt to analyze if there were any complicating factors in the differences between the Indian and American students, such as a language barrier, which may have altered the results.

5:00 pm
Ms. Mica McCullough, Ms. Alison Brooks
Enhancing National Health Care In Ghana Through Government Programs And Community Partnership

Ghana, a highly-indebted poor country with just over 20 million people, has a severe shortage of trained medical personnel and health care facilities. This study examines the measures taken by the Kufuor administration (2001-2009) to improve Ghana’s national health system as well as the extent to which an Elon University, Periclean Scholars class of 2010 community partnership with Kpoeta, Ghana has supported Ghana’s national health care goals. It also evaluates the relative success of measures to improve healthcare undertaken by the Government of Ghana and the 2010 Periclean Scholars based on analysis of research studies, feedback from our partnering community and first-hand experience in the country over fall 2008 and January 2009. Findings include that funds and goods distributed through government-supported incentive programs aimed at reversing the exodus of trained medical professionals to foreign countries have been insufficient. Ghana continues to lose more than half of its medical professionals annually, a loss of nearly $4,000,000 in training costs. In Kpoeta, an isolated, rural community, locally provided incentives have helped to retain two nurses posted by the Government of Ghana at a clinic constructed with Periclean support, but the community fears that without the provision of improved housing, that the nurses could be lost. Thus, the next phase of our community partnership will be the construction of medical staff housing. The initial phase of the partnership was the construction of the clinic itself; it provides the approximately 10,000 people of Kpoeta with year-round access to a health care facility and supports national health care goals started during the Kufuor administration, to move away from the construction of a few showcase medical facilities in urban areas to supporting thousands of smaller, basic facilities in rural areas. The Paramount Chief of Kpoeta describes the addition of the community clinic as a dream come true; he believes its services will reduce morbidity and mortally, especially from preventable yet common diseases like malaria and cholera, and that with the arrival of a Government of Ghana supported midwife later in 2009, will also help reduce maternal deaths.

5:20 pm
Mr. Charles Costa

The Criminal Justice System of Costa Rica

The criminal justice system is a critical issue for any country. The ability to detain and incarcerate criminals is fundamental to the success and vitality of a nation. If a country cannot provide a safe living and working community for its citizens, progress is greatly hindered and the country will struggle to develop. Costa Rica is a country that has been plagued by negative stereotypes as a place of danger and because of this will never be able to truly become a first-world country. This paper demonstrates how the criminal justice system of Costa Rica, a country riddled by penny-theft and street crime, functions both effectively and ineffectively. The research focuses on the laws that govern everyday life for Ticos and aims to show why street crime in Costa Rica is as large of a problem as it is. Also included are comparisons to the legal system of the United States to further comprehension for Americans who have trouble grasping the differences that lie in Costa Rican Law. The research for this paper was gathered largely through primary sources: two interviews with practicing lawyers in Costa Rica, including one who has appeared at the Hague National Convention, as well as a visit and tour of the Corte Supreme de Justicia de Costa Rica(Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica). The presentation of this paper will demonstrate to the audience that in order for Costa Rica to decrease its criminal problems and increase its standing as a country in the eyes of the rest of the world, it must restructure the way the criminal justice system handles crime.


Session II: chaired by Dr. Judy Esposito

6:10 pm
Ms. Maggie Pahos

India: Art as a Bridge to Connection and Communication

One of the personal as well as academic goals that I set for myself while I was in Kerala, India, during the Winter Term of 2009, was to collect artwork from the students that we worked with in the Traveling Science Center service-learning project. Specifically, I asked these students to draw for me artwork with Keralan or Indian wildlife as the subject matter, but what I received from the students was much more thought provoking and interesting than simple pictures of animals and plants.

At the end of our time, I had received drawings in pencil, colored pencil, and watercolors on a variety of different papers. The subject matter ranged from detailed pencil drawings of bugs and plant life to large charcoal drawings of figures in Hinduism to portraits of the students themselves. The range of work and the innovation, excitement, and dedication that I saw from the students through this small project was tremendous and was not only inspiring, but also a testament to the power and importance of art in the creation of connection and communication among people despite cultural, age, or language differences.

While the knowledge in science that we exchanged over the course of our time there was valuable and educational, the creative exchanges that took place between the students and me were unique because they provided opportunities for us to get to know each other better on personal and cultural levels. Because of my interest in the students beyond their scientific knowledge, namely as individuals with creative capabilities, they were inspired to share and communicate through their art. According to Mary Renck Jalongo “bringing creative thought to fruition requires more than personal ability or even individual determination; it requires social support.” The children were given this necessary social support by my request for their art and by each other. Their art took on a social purpose, that of connection, and became a powerful tool in our communication.

In this presentation I will share some of the artwork with the audience and some of my understanding of the children’s lives as communicates through their art.

6:30 pm
Ms. Alexa Terry

Talk It Out: the Importance of Self Reflection through Inner Dialogue

We most often find ourselves traveling to far off places because we seek to understand. We are frustrated, sometimes angered, and confused by things we don’t know. Many of us seek to eliminate stereotypes we may have about a particular culture by experiencing it first-hand. But we so often forget that we are not examining a culture through a two-way mirror- we are not the only ones who are allowed to study. In opening ourselves up in an attempt to understand others, we are placing ourselves at risk of being judged. We so easily forget, and are sometimes harshly reminded, that our culture may be just as perplexing or fascinating to the party that we are studying as theirs is to us. And sometimes others’ views of us are not as pleasant as we might hope.

How do we make the most of our cultural exchanges? How do we remain open-minded, carefully studying a culture as they are studying us, all the while staying fully aware? The answer, I think, is self-reflection. Self-reflection is essential and it should be a constant process. Journaling, painting, blogging, and photographing - these are all creative outlets and should absolutely be explored as a means of self-reflection. But what I would like to challenge listeners to do is to create and foster an inner dialogue- within their own minds, they should be constantly questioning and comparing to what they know, what they think the know, why they think they know, and how it applies to what is currently happening. It is a hyper-awareness that can be practiced with exercises like anthropological field notes and tested in simpler circumstances. It is through this inner dialogue that we are able to think on our feet, to process our thoughts as events are occurring, and enable us to stay open minded and thoughtful and potentially even contributive.

It is my intention, in my presentation, to explain the importance of inner dialogue as a means of self-expression, to support my opinion with personal experiences in my winter abroad (London, WT 2009), and to provide the audience with some exercises that will help build and strengthen their own inner dialogue to help them prepare for their next experience abroad, across the country, or even down the street.

6:50 pm
Ms. Adley Kloth

From Getting Credit to Gaining Confidence: My Summer Living in Berlin

In order to receive the semester study abroad requirement for my International Studies major, I decided to create an IEPA (Independent Elon Program Abroad) through an internship I was offered for the summer in Berlin, Germany. Instead of taking courses with other college students, I found that an internship would give me real life job experience as well as complete cultural immersion, since I would be working with nearly all native German speakers.

I worked with the head of the International Studies Department as well as with my German professor to create a class out of the experience I would gain over the summer. My assignments for the class included writing a blog in both German and English four times a week and, at the conclusion of my trip, writing a reflection essay in German, creating an Undergraduate Research proposal, and compiling examples of my work. But while living in Berlin gaining credit for both my International Studies major and German Studies minor, I ended up achieving so much more.

Through living with a single mom and her five-year-old son in an apartment right near the center of the city, taking a four-week language course, and working for eight weeks at the oldest University in Berlin, I gained confidence in myself that I never knew existed as well as a life of my own in a foreign country!

“From Getting Credit to Gaining Confidence” is a photo journal of my experience living and working in Berlin for three months. This fifteen-minute presentation will teach Elon students how to create an IEPA program in order to gain Experiential Learning credit in a non-conventional way. I will also share my unique experiences in the German workplace as well as how living on my own in a foreign country helped me gain confidence and truly change my life.

7:10 pm
Mr. Nathan Guerette

Discussing the influence of a service learning study abroad experience on a student’s critical thinking processes and ability to compare relevant social themes across cultures.

On January 13th, 2009, in the Guatemalan mountain village of Calhuitz, I witnessed the interaction between a young woman suffering from a broken rib and her traditional bone healer. In my personal journal, I wrote: “As the healer palpated the woman’s abdomen, she grasped his wrist. I could not see her face or body - only a pile of blankets with an agonized hand reaching and pleading for the process to end.“ I noted that while many of my fellow students seemed disturbed over the episode, we must be careful to not assume that this was an unnecessary procedure. I argued that many medical procedures in Western culture (such as the chemotherapy and radiation therapies that we use to treat cancer by essentially poisoning the patient) could be perceived as equally upsetting practice to those unfamiliar with our culture’s medical customs. It is this critical perspective that allowed me to make cross-cultural comparisons that I would never have made without that multi-lensed perspective.

I experienced the Guatemala: Culture and Service course as a student in 2008 and as a teaching assistant in 2009. The focus of my presentation will be an articulation of how a study abroad course and its professors can mold a college student into a critical thinker (unfortunately, the two are not always synonymous). Themes that will be discussed include the following: First, I will argue that stepping out of one’s personal, academic, and social comfort zones is requisite to achieving growth in any of these areas. Secondly, I will discuss how the service-learning component inherently facilitates this growth. Lastly, I will share the importance of critical self-reflection (both individual and group, written and spoken) in digesting study abroad’s often overwhelming experiences into relevant and comprehendible themes that can be applied across cultures, and particularly, to one’s own culture. I will present this argument through 5 minutes of video, 5 minutes of explaining the video, and 5 minutes of discussion.