Tag Archives: Jody Littleton

Internationalizing Parkland Curriculum: A Personal Journey

A few years ago, Parkland College Study Abroad Coordinator Jody Littleton challenged me to think about how my classes could be different and possibly even better through adding more cultural reflection. When teaching in the quantitative sciences, it is easy to overlook the power that curriculum infused with an international perspective can have on student learning.

I had fallen prey to the mindset that I just needed to “get through the material” as presented in the book and on the Course Information Forms. After ruminating on her suggestion, though, I realized that I might be able to teach specific topics better if I created well-thought-out assessments with a global outlook. Jody and I continued the conversation, and when several Parkland faculty partnered with Joliet Junior College to travel to China a month ago (March 2017), I joined in.

It was a trip of a lifetime that opened my eyes to what may have been missing from my teaching. For one, this trip made my feet itch with the desire to travel outside of the US for my professional development. How can I teach about unique nutritional deficiencies, different modes of physical activity in the world, living quarters’ impact on health, medical training, and more if I only have a book for reference? I also quickly realized that my perspectives on China had been missing critical pieces of information; once abroad, I was able to form a holistic picture of Chinese culture and better compare it to the US as well as other to countries I have visited. While many topics I had studied prior to my trip were “mostly correct,” visiting China clarified several misconceptions, gave me a new appreciation, and allowed me to better understand the full picture.

What I Learned During the Faculty Study Abroad

  • I was shocked to see how quickly China is becoming Westernized, to the point that McDonald’s delivers in many cities in China. At the train station waiting for the bullet train, there were two KFC restaurants as well as a McDonald’s in one moderate-sized train station.
  • At the farmer’s market, we saw many choices that we don’t see in the United States. Lamb intestine, cow stomach, chicken feet, and more were sitting out for purchase from morning until evening, with patrons bringing them home to cook for dinner. When we were invited to eat with the Nanjing Technical School faculty and deans, we were able to sample more of the local fair, including duck heads, a native delicacy. (In case you were wondering, you eat duck heads like oysters.)
  • Most places we ate at served food “family style” with a turntable in the center. Plates were significantly smaller than in the US. Because everyone is sharing, I didn’t want to take more food than would be socially appropriate, so, it encouraged me to eat more modest portions than I am accustomed to eating. I also learned that rice is often not served in China if the host would like to impress you with the quality of food offered. Rice is not the food of the rich. The rich eat a meat- and fish-based diet with significantly fewer vegetables than China has historically consumed. In turn, there is a marked rise in obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
  • Even on good days, the smog in some locations of China would impede my ability to see the sun and, possibly, my ability to synthesize enough vitamin D to meet my nutritional needs without supplementation/fortification.
  • Toilets in China are often similar to the stalls you see here.  We discussed that women would realistically need to retain the ability to perform a deep squat if they were to use a public toilet. However, it seemed of little concern as many older individuals in China had a greater range of motion than we see in the US. Possibly due to the toilets?
  • When we visited a local park at 10  a.m. during the weekday, we noted that many people engaged in exercise…dance, tai chi, fencing, badminton, etc. Retirees in China do not retire to the couch. They get out during the day to enjoy other’s company as well as keep active physically and mentally.

How What I Learned Changed My Curriculum

  • Now, in each module of my BIO 120 class (Fundamentals of Nutrition), students have the opportunity to present a module-specific cultural comparison between China and the US. During the digestive system module, students can discuss the incidence of specific GI disorders in China relative to the US. For example, a student researched and found a higher incidence of lactose intolerance/maldigestion in China due to both environmental and genetic factors.
  • My KIN 288 (Exercise Physiology) class is finding peer-reviewed journal articles comparing topics such as air quality impact on VO2max, changes in childhood obesity rates in response to Westernization, and the selection and training of Olympic hopefuls in China.
  • In all of my classes, students have the option of creating a video focusing on the cultural comparison between China and the US. We are partnering with our PCTV studio, and many of the videos will become available on YouTube mid-May.

Overall, visiting China was a surreal, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I constantly took pictures, spoke with locals, and absorbed all the nuances I could. Other Parkland College faculty who participated in this grant echo my sentiments, and we plan to collectively present  about our experiences this September. We look forward to sharing more of our perspectives then.

[An associate professor in  Natural Sciences, Toni Burkhalter was Parkland College’s Teaching Excellence Award winner for 2016].

Seville Spain Street Performers

Enjoy some Seville, Spain, street music today, compliments of Scott Barnes, one of our study abroad students in Spain. Sign up for study abroad and you can experience these wonderful performances in person!

Contact Jody Littleton at jlittleton@parkland.edu or 217/351-2532 today.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/oM4m0c8p1GI

Know Where to Go for Flamenco in Seville, Spain!

This blog is from Christopher Scott Barnes.  He is studying this semester in Seville, Spain.  We offer study abroad here and many other places!  If you are interested in Study Abroad, contact jlittleton@parkland.edu.

*********

When gypsies arrived in Spain in the 15th century, they brought with them a style of song and dance that later developed into what is considered today as contemporary flamenco. flamenco-sign

The tradition became popular in Spain throughout the 20th century, as the “gitanos” began performing for tourists here in Seville and other cities.

In multiple locations, visitors can still see the famous “tabloas,” in which performers display a spectrum of intense emotion through song and dance. One of the best spots in the city for flamenco is at the Museo del Baile Flamenco, which is where I was lucky enough to enjoy a proper show for the first time.flamenco-4

Accompanied by ICS professor Judy Cotter, a small group of students and I sat front row for an intimate performance. Afterwards, I was able to meet the star of the show, Victor Bravo, who is also the dance director of the museum. When I asked him if he could provide me with a quote about the show that evening, he replied by telling me that flamenco cannot be summed up in a few words or a couple of sentences.flamenco2

The art has a rich history and has played a significant role in Spanish society for many years. The Jewish and Arabian influence that makes up the culture of southern Spain can easily be felt in the singing, which is accompanied by Spanish guitar. The flow of it all is directed by the movement of the dancers who keep time by stomping their feet, clapping their hands and rattling castanets. The rhythm of the show varies as each performer takes their turn in the spotlight.  The volume goes from a hush to a crescendo as the performers show individual style as well as collective coordination.

It all adds up to an authentic, theater-like event and an evening that is worth the time and money. I highly recommend that future students experience flamenco while they are in Seville. I also recommend having dinner at Bar Estrella just around the corner from the museum. Que rico!

flamenco-1flamenco-3

 

Study Abroad Spain: The Experience is Sinking In

Communication major Scott Barnes’ new study abroad acquaintance Corey Davis learns he should live life back home like he’s living it in Spain. “Get off the couch and quit watching Netflix,” I think, is a great message for all of us! Check out Corey’s interview below.

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.

*****************

The experience of living in another country is really beginning to set in, and most of the students at ICS are starting to understand how this program is changing the way they think and live. Corey Davis provides some wonderful insight into that phenomenon in this short interview.

****************

***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

China Study Abroad: The Dining Experience

I asked Ryan Mills, a study abroad student from Parkland College who is currently in China, to send me some reasons why students should study abroad in China. Ryan is so enthusiastic that he sent me quite a list! The first reason to go to China, according to Ryan? Food!

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.

Plus, travel to China through two study abroad options:
Summer 2017 travel to Nanjing, Beijing, and Shanghai (June 1–15)*
Fall 2017 option available in Xian, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Scholarships available for summer 2017 to degree-seeking students if they take 8-week WCE 364 001 (Conversational Chinese), which meets March 27–May 15 (M 6:30–8:30; cost is $139 with textbook  included).

************

Who doesn’t like food? Imagine eating at your favorite Chinese restaurant almost every day but ten times better. The food is fantastic and very affordable.

china-foodGet ready to put the fork down and pick up the chopsticks. If you get tired of Chinese food, there is always Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC to reach your inner American, (all chains actually taste way better in China than they do in America).

Eating at a restaurant with friends is different than back in the States. Part of the culture in China is to share everything you have with others, especially the food. When you order food, you don’t get a single dish for yourself, you share all dishes with the people at the table, get a little piece of everything, and split the fare evenly. It’s awesome.

************

***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]