Tag Archives: study abroad

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].

Morocco: Gateway to Another World

Scott Barnes, a Parkland student, is living in Seville, Spain for a semester study abroad. As part of his study abroad experience he visited Morocco. I am looking forward to what he has to say!

Remember YOU can study abroad too.  We have lots of different experiences. Check out our study abroad options at http://www.parkland.edu/international/studyabroad

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When I first arrived in Europe, I knew very little about the history of the various countries in it and had very little knowledge about the many cultures that exist here. Other than the secondhand information I received via the media throughout the years, I didn’t have much of an idea about libarnes-blog-2016fe abroad.

The differences are what I noticed first and foremost, and those differences are what most students struggle with, initially. Changing mealtimes and sleep habits as well adjusting to the foreign way in which people greet each other and conduct themselves requires some time to understand and get comfortable with.

Despite the differences, there is a lot that Americans and Europeans have in common. Those similarities were brought to light after I took a trip to Morocco.

I hadn’t realized how much the way in which I live echoes the European way of life until I spent some time in the Rif Mountains. The social norms that westerners share exist to a lesser degree in northern Africa. For example, it is uncommon to see men and women together in a public setting and much of the daily routine is centered around practicing religion.

barnes-blog-3Although my visit to Morocco was very short, it had a significant impact on me. Rather than providing a detailed, firsthand account of the various activities that the International College of Seville planned out for our trip, I prefer to share with you what I found to be truly rewarding about the experience. It is wonderful to have pictures of riding camels and eating in authentic Moroccan restaurants, but what is more valuable is the perspective that is gained from visiting different countries and meeting new people. The stimulation that comes from trying to understand a different way of life or to see the perspective of things through another cultural lens has been life-changing for me.

The name of the game in the touristic areas of Morocco is buy and sell, and merchants love to engage in the act of negotiation. There are no set prices and the bargain to be had is largely determined by the ability of the buyer to be resolute. The confidence of knowing a low price has been paid may be confirmed by the statement, “you haggle like a Berber!” The country is a great place to purchase gifts for friends and family back home and that seems to be the objective for most of the tourists who visit. The products offered vary from handmade gifts and food to just about anything they think people might want to buy.barnes-blog-5

To my surprise, many Moroccan people know English and speak it very well. It is necessary when dealing with foreigners, and their linguistic capability is impressive. Many of them learn English at a very young age and likely have been speaking more than one language since they were children. In fact, it is normal for Moroccan people to speak three or four different languages; English, French and their own dialect of Arabic are the most common. I found that after the exchange of money was complete, the sellers were more open to conversation. A lot about their culture was conveyed in those brief interactions, and it was easy to feel their affection and see the kindness in their eyes.

barnes-blog-4Superficially, consumerism is obviously a part of their way of life, and tourism certainly supports the economy, but there is much more to the culture and history of Arabian people. There are stories behind the faces in the shops of the medina, or “Old Town,” district of Tetouan, or within the painted blue walls of Chefchaouen. There is a way of greeting people, of falling in love, of raising children, and of experiencing life that is unique to the culture.

I have found that tasting the different flavors, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and smelling the scents of various cultures is enlightening. The best way to learn about other countries is to visit them. Sharing face to face conversations is rewarding, even if the interaction is minimal.

barnes-blog-2Moving beyond being a tourist and finding commonality with people of another race is what is truly beneficial about traveling. Also, to tell the story of the person who sold you the gift makes the act of giving it more enjoyable. I may have left with a pair of high quality, handmade Moroccan leather sandals, but the real present is my new found view of the world and my life.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of studying abroad is the easy access to other worlds and the subsequent comprehensive understanding of culture that results from those adventures.

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.

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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.

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***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).

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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.

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***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.]

 

Study Abroad Spain: Morocco, and a Friend

Communication major Scott Barnes’ introductory video to  his life-changing educational experiences in Spain happened more than a month ago now. In his latest video, Scott gets ready to visit yet another country and lets you meet a new friend he has made from the states.

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.

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My study abroad program is in its fourth week, and the weather is still quite warm in southern Spain. There are multiple trips that take place throughout the semester, and one of the most exciting excursions is this weekend – Morocco!

 

***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.]

Parkland Study Abroad: Meet Scott Christopher

What’s the first thing a student tells me when they come back from study abroad? This was the best experience of my life and has changed my life forever.” I encourage you to follow Communication major Scott Christopher Barnes on his life-changing experience abroad and live vicariously through him until you can go on your own Parkland study abroad! In this first video, Scott introduces himself and a few new friends.

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 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.

Sunny and Warm: Study Abroad in Morocco Part 3

Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week Three adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.

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May 30
MarrakechThis morning we went to the Majorelle Garden, a moorish villa and garden built by Jacques Majorelle in 1931. The garden has 1,800 species of cactus; some look like aliens. The house and grounds were bought by Yves Saint-Laurent. Saint-Laurent collected Berber crafts and household items while he lived in Marrakech. The small studio pictured has been converted into a Berber museum. Marrakech3The Berbers are Moroccan mountain people, some think of European decent, who specialized in crafts such as rugs, jewelry, and clothing.

Marrakech2This afternoon we visiterd the Saadian Tombs built between 1578-1603. They were discovered in 1917 and restored by the Beaux-arts service. There are 60 members of the Saadi dynasty interned there. The wood carving and stucco work is amazing.

Bahia3We also visited the Bahia Palace, which is located on the northern edge of the medina in the Jewish quarter. Bahia2Built between 1859-1873, this is an enormous palace covering 8 hectares. There was no plan; each part of the palace is very different because it was built section by Bahia1section by artisans from all over Africa. They used several materials including Carrera marble, glazed terra cotta tiles, blue and yellow ceramic screens, and painted cedar.

 

June 1
We traveled by bus from Marrakech to Fez and made a stop in Volubilis.Volubilis1

Volubilis is a partially excavated Berber/Roman city located between Meknas and Fez. It was founded in the 3rd century B.C. and is a UNESCO world heritage site. This was the most western part of Africa conquered by the Romans. You can see a family of storks on top of a pilar, the aqueduct, the victory arch, and a mosaic.

Volubilis3         Volubilis2This was the most interesting stop we’ve made so far. The country side is one of the most fertile agricultural areas in Morocco. In this part of Morocco some farmers use modern farming equipment. They grow olives, corn, wheat, grapes, sunflowers and pumpkins. They also raise sheep and use donkeys for transportation. This is a very pretty part of Morocco with gently rolling hills and cypress trees.

June 2
thumbnail_IMG_0319Today we toured Fez. The first picture shows the medina, which is the largest in the world. It has 10 miles of walls, 11 gates, 275 mosques, 400,000 people live there and 80,000 stores.

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The gate is called Bab el-Semarine, Gate of the Ferriers, also known as the blue gate. The entrance leads to the food section of the medina.

 

 

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The building shown is the Gregorian Mederssa Attarine dormitory for the nearby ancient university built in 1325.

I had a delicious lamb tagine for lunch. The rest of our day was spent visiting the leather, weaving, and pottery section of the medina. Fez is the most authentically preserved medina in Morocco. It’s certainly the most interesting, I really enjoyed watching all the artisans at workIMG_0333.

We were invited to the Embassy by the public affairs section. There are no pictures of the Embassy due to security issues. Embassies report to the U. S. State Department and employees work for the foreign service.

The Embassy just moved into a new building about a year and a half ago; there is a family of storks living just outside the walls. It’s a beautiful building and has been certified LEED gold. The building was constructed by local contractors to a certain stage, then certified cleared contractors take over. Certain construction jobs must be completed by US citizens. The walls, doors, and glass are extra thick, it takes muscle to open the doors. There is tight security, we could only enter with our passports, no bags or cell phones.

Working for the foreign service sounds like a lot of fun, but you have to like change. Employees must continually work their way up the ladder and must tenure in 5 years or they are out. Posts last 2-3 years and employees are expected to be interested enough to do their own research on the next country they will work in. Employees can and should transfer between sections; some of the sections are management, political, and economic. It’s hard on spouses because if they want to work they must find it on their own or telecommute. The State Department provides housing based on family needs such as size or pets. If you pay 50% of parents’ expenses, they can live with you. An employee should be outgoing, work well with others (teamwork is essential), and be able to network with known and unknown people.

We listened to three employees about their experiences in the foreign service. Although we didn’t get a tour of the building it was certainly an interesting day and an honor to be invited. Our picture will be on the U S Embassy Rabat Facebook page.

June 3
We have reached the end of our trip. I loved everything about Morocco.

The food was outstanding. There was only one thing I didn’t like, a dessert that was made with 14 spices, almonds, and raisins typically served by the Berbers.

The people were really nice; they are just like us in their private lives. The women do cover up in public, but I noticed that the younger generation seems to be modernizing; they wear western clothes. Some wear scarves, but a lot don’t. I never felt uncomfortable while walking, but I was always with someone after dark.

Morocco is an inexpensive country to visit. One US dollar equals ten Dirhams. You get the best deals on leather, pottery, and woven goods. The only difficulty I can see is transportation. To get from city to city, you must have a car. Morocco is putting in a high-speed rail system, but it won’t be completed for several years.

I recommend this country for anyone who is looking for a non-western cultural experience. There is so much to see and do, I think you should plan to stay at least 10 days.

Happy travels!
Del

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***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

 

 

 

 

Sunny and Warm: Study Abroad in Morocco Part 2

Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week Two adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.

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May 23

Chefchaouen, the blue city
Chefchaouen, the blue city

Today, we traveled to Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city of Morocco. It’s located about 80 miles southeast of Tangier. The blue paint has a mosquito repellent in it. We walked from the top of the hill to the bottom. This is definitely a shopper’s haven. We spent the day shopping and stopped at Darkoum for lunch.

May 24
Moroccofood3Moroccan food is really good; so far everything I have tried here is excellent. The picture shows tajin, which is both the name of the vessel and the dish. Tajin can be made with beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. There are two kinds here, chicken and fish. The sides are a green salad, radishes, olives and bread. There is also a dish of pears and bananas.

Moroccofood1The bread is used as the utensil. You break a bite size piece off and scoop the food on to the bread and pop it into your mouth. Moroccans eat a lot of bread. We have been given at least 10 kinds so far, it’s eaten at every meal. I have had so much bread that I can’t eat anymore. I’ve asked to use a spoon instead.

The most popular drink is tea. It’s made in a pot that holds 5 to 6 small glasses. They add 8 tablespoons of sugar to the pot and a handful of mint. Our host mother told us that she goes light on the sugar and only adds 7 tablespoons. Their tablespoon is bigger than ours, so you can imagine how sweet it is. It’s so sweet that my ankles were swollen. I’ve had to ask that my tea be made without sugar, just the mint.

May 26
IMG_0145Today, we took a drive west of Tangier. We took a short camel ride, which was okay with me because the fun part is getting up and down. One day, I will return to Morocco and do a camel safari in the Sahara.IMG_0157

Next, we stopped at the cave of Hercules. It’s the most famous site in Tangier. The cave walls were carved out into small wheels that were used to grind grain.

Our last stop was a beautiful seaside town called Asilah. It would be the perfect place to retire. It’s quiet, and all the buildings are white with blue doors. As you walk around town, at almost every turn there is a mural. Many artists and musicians live in the town, and they hold art and music festivals every year.  IMG_0159

We had a lovely fish lunch before driving back to Tangier. It was a very nice day!

 

 

 

May 28
Saturday we drove from Tangier to Marrakech, an 8-hour drive.  The scenery was rural and we saw many subsistence farms which had various types of vegetables. The farmers were plowing the small fields with a single blade plow, pulled by either a donkey or a team of cows.Rabat

We broke the drive by stopping in Rabat to see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The mausoleum was commissioned by his son Hassan II and designed by Vietnamese architect Vo Toan who used Carrara marble. The candelabra is made of pierced and engraved copper. This was a beautiful stop; the entrance was guarded by two guards in ceremonial dress, on horseback.  Bouznika

We stopped in Bouznika for lunch. The road leading to town was loaded with restaurants. We ate at Restaurant Dayga and had several types of roast meat including lambDayga. All of us loved the food and we finished everything which must have been 16 pounds of meat. Lunch cost $160 for the 16 of us, including beverages.

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***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

Sunny and Warm: Study Abroad in Morocco Part 1

Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week One adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.

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May 16
We arrived in Tangier by ferry in the afternoon. The weather is similar to Southern California, warm (about 77 degrees) and dry with a slight wind. We transferred by bus to the American School of Tangier, where we were met by our host families.

May 18
Our host family consists of the father Saad, mother Nisrin, oldest daughter Lina, youngest daughter Ritaje, and two-year-old son Islam. They are a happy family, and Nisrin is a very pleasant woman. She has been making us traditional meals and they are really tasty.

stairwell - MoroccoThey live in a four-story house. The first floor is a combination garage and den. The second floor is where our family lives; another related family lives on the third floor,  and they rent the fourth floor to a single woman. The two families leave their doors open and run between the two homes.

This picture is the staircase leading from the front door to the second floor home. As you can see, it’s lined with beautiful tile. There is no air conditioning, but the house is cool to cold, and you forget how hot it is outside.

May 20
This is my new djalaba and head scarf. The djalaba is basically a coat that the women wear when they go outside. It slips over your clothing; if it has a zipper, it’s not authentic. The djalaba comes in a rainbow of colors and designs. It can be embroidered in many different patterns, and it may or may not have crystals. It comes in various weights suitable for any time of year.

My djalaba and scarf
My djalaba and scarf

May 21
Today all the girls went to the local hammam. A hammam is a spa-like experience.

Doors to the hammam.
Doors to the hammam.

Everybody sits in the sauna for 10 minutes. Instead of sitting on wood, you sit on marble. It’s very hot. Then the woman comes in and rubs a form of henna all over your body. Off to the next room; you lie down on a heated marble table and they scrub your whole body until you’re raw. You move over to a stool and they rinse you off and wash your hair. Then, back on the table, they cover you in a light mud and give you a massage. They rinse you off again, you get dressed and then get your hair blow dried.

The whole process is wonderful. I feel clean and soft and all for $10. Moroccan women go to the hammam once a week.

Henna tattoos
Henna tattoos in Morocco.

Henna is best applied after you have been to the hammam. Our host mother arranged for a professional henna artist to come to the home and tattoo all five women on our trip.

The artist applied the henna with a syringe and the process took about 30 minutes. We all had both hands and one foot done. After the henna has been applied and dried for about a half hour, the tattoo is dabbed with a mixture of sugar and tea. It takes about an hour for the henna to dry and set. The longer you let the henna stay on your skin, the darker the stain. Typically it’s best to wait three hours.

 

 

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***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

New Perspectives: Study Abroad in Brazil

Sophomore Marnie Leonard (third from left, below) was one of several Parkland students taking a Portuguese language class last spring who were then able to immerse themselves in the culture during a two-week trip to Brazil last month. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has received to boost foreign-language study.

As you will see, Marnie gained more than a deeper understanding of Portuguese.

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I was very nervous about this trip. I had never been so far away from home for so long before, and it was my first time abroad. It felt really daunting to be going to a place where I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to communicate with people who lived there. I was always more excited than nervous to embark on the trip, though!

group
Students from Parkland and Joliet Junior College attended the trip to Brazil.

We went to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraty, and Mogi Mirrim. In Rio, we saw Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana beach, and the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral. We also visited a favela, or slum, and got to witness firsthand the extreme poverty that so many Brazilians live in. In São Paulo, we went to several museums and to Ibirapuera Park, the Brazilian equivalent of Central Park in NYC.

favela 2
Here’s a look at life from the favela.

Paraty is a preserved colonial town, so we saw a lot of cool baroque architecture and learned the history of the port there and its ties with Portugal. While we were there, we also visited an island village populated by fishermen. It was so beautiful and untouched by the outside world, but just like the favela, its people lacked many of the resources and basic assets we take for granted in the United States.

I think my favorite part of the trip was Mogi Mirrim, though. Mogi Mirrim is a really small city in São Paulo state. This is where the trip started to feel more like a study abroad rather than a vacation. We went to the college there, Fatec College, a technical school of about 1,000 students. It was really interesting to meet the Brazilian college students and interact with them (as best we could with the language barrier) and learn more about what it’s like to live day to day in Brazil. What made it so cool to me was the fact that this was an experience I never would have had the chance to have if I had just been a tourist in Brazil—and they were so excited to meet Americans. The Brazilians were all so warm and welcoming that it was hard to leave them when the time came to go.

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US and Brazilian students get acquainted at Fatec College.

This trip was so incredible, I would go on it again in a heartbeat. I gained a new understanding of worldwide poverty. I met people my own age who come from a different world and yet still had things in common with them. I now have a new appreciation for language and how difficult it is to master a new one. These are all new perspectives I will carry with me in returning to my normal life, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to obtain this outlook.

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For the current academic year (2015-2016), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Arabic, with an opportunity to visit the country of Morocco in summer 2016. Our AY 2017 opportunity will explore Taiwan and the Chinese language. Short-term summer study abroad opportunities and scholarships will be offered for both of these countries, too. For more information, give Jody a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

In Love with Life: Study Abroad in Dijon

How can a Parkland College Study Abroad experience make you feel? Just ask Klairyn Karmazinas, a second-year Dietetics major (and International Studies minor) who has just returned from our Dijon, France, Study Abroad, June 25-July 25. She’ll make you want to pack your bags today.

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Klairyn in Paris
Klairyn in Paris

“I’ve never been so truly happy in my life. I have absolutely no words for the past weeks I’ve been in Europe. The people, the memories, the confusion, the adventures, the laughter — I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything in the world.

I’m in love with life. I’m in love with the people I’ve met, the people I haven’t met, the places I’ve gone, the places I haven’t gone, everything I’ve experienced, and everything I’ve yet to experience. I am coming home an entirely different person.

Klairyn in Provence
Klairyn in Provence

I’ve learned that the beauty of language is that somehow we always make it work. It might not be pretty, but it’s a pretty amazing thing. I spent the last four weeks with people from every corner of the world, and if they’ve taught me anything, it’s that life is pure bliss. I was searching for something when I left the States; I’m not entirely sure what that something was, but I know I found it and I know that I’ve changed. It’s been such a blessing to do this, and I swear my heart could explode with the pure joy that’s inside me.

To the amazing people I’ve met, thank you SO much for the endless memories, and I can’t wait to make more. I miss you tons and love you bunches. You all hold a special place in my heart, so please don’t forget me.”

******

Ready for your life-changing moments in a different country? Check out our upcoming Study Abroad opportunities at:  http://www.parkland.edu/international/studyabroad. Spring semester’s Study Abroad deadline  is October 15, 2015.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton is Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

 

Expand Your World: Foreign Language Study

What are some benefits of studying a foreign language?

In addition to fulfilling the language requirement that some of Parkland’s 4-year partner institutions have, studying a foreign language is a great way to expand your mind and your world. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), language learning can benefit all students. Specifically, language learning boosts the development of reading skills, and it correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized tests.

Interestingly, research has also shown a correlation between language learning and students’ ability to hypothesize in science.

Parkland College offers instruction in 6 foreign languages:
Arabic
French
German
Japanese
Portuguese
Spanish

Don’t be afraid to try a new language; you’ll never know whether you like it unless you try it. Plus, as described earlier, even a small degree of language study has advantages. Check out Parkland’s class schedule for the upcoming semester to see when a language class you are interested in is being offered.

(For more research on the benefits of language learning, visit www.actfl.org.)

[Wendy Patriquin, interim director of the Humanities department,  specializes in English as a Second Language.]