Next year’s May Term trips offer new, revised options

by Brittany FriesthStaff Writer

Faculty approved 12 proposed May Term abroad courses for 2009 at Tuesday’s faculty meeting. The courses include trips to China, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Great Britain, Rwanda, Ireland, German and Poland, Thailand, France and Argentina. Some trips will also visit multiple countries.

Nick Proctor, assistant professor of history and chair of the study abroad committee, is pleased with the options students have to choose from if they want go abroad for May Term.

“They’re good,” Proctor said. “They’re going to interesting places and doing interesting things. We have some old chestnuts like the England trip that’s been going for decades, and we have some trips being offered that’s never been offered before.”

Virginia Croskery, assistant professor of music, and Instructor of Music Bruce Brown will lead a first-ever Rwanda trip. Croskery began thinking of proposing the May Term trip after her visit to the country last August.

Croskery considers the course a service learning project through the usage of the arts.

“We will be working together with the Rwandans,” Croskery said. “We will use a Rwandan story and Rwandan music, and it will be in their native language.”

She plans to divide the group of approximately 20-to-30 students into separate groups to help create a stage, costumes and other materials for the Rwandans to perform the show with.

“We’ll leave everything we made, and if the Rwandans want to, they can continue to perform what we put together,” Croskery said.

Croskery believes this trip will impact the students in a positive way.

“For an American college student to go to a place like Rwanda, I have no doubt that it will change their life,” Croskery said.

Another approved trip will travel to Ireland. It follows a different structure model than most May Term abroad courses, constisting of two separate classes traveling together.

The trips will be led by Chad Roberts, instructor of communications studies, and Steve Griffith, vice president and dean for academic affairs. Roberts’ class will focus on media, while Griffith’s concentrates on art and history. The classes will spend approximately half the trip together.

Last year, Griffith proposed a trip to Ireland that would have traveled this May Term. Although approved, it was canceled due to lack student enrollment.

After hearing Roberts express interest in proposing a trip to Ireland for next year, Griffith did not want his and Roberts’ courses competing and suggested a model he had used before coming to Simpson.

According to Griffith, not only does the model provide him and Roberts the opportunity to share their expertise with both classes, but it will also help lower the costs to students.

Instead of one class needing a minimum amount of students, the two classes can be smaller in size, yet combine to form a larger one to keep overhead expenses lower.

“Because I had such a good experience at a previous place with the model, I thought we could try it here,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the ideal combined group of 18 students may increase if there is more student interest than initially expected.

Griffith and Roberts are also scheduling the May Term course without the use of a traveling vendor.

“Chad and I will be doing those things so we can drive the cost down for students,” Griffith said. “By both classes traveling and staying and eating together, we can keep the volume discounts and keep the cost at a minimum.”