Students to study abroad

Two groups of Northwestern College students will travel and study overseas this summer. Each trip is connected with a class and has a different academic focus.

Piet Koene, a Spanish instructor who was chosen as Iowa’s Professor of the Year in 2004, is leading a four-week course to Mexico May 28 through June 26. As with his previous trip in 2000, students will spend time in Mexico City and Oaxaca, learning about Mexican society and culture and studying the Spanish language.

“Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world and very urban,” Koene says. “Oaxaca is very historical and very much influenced by indigenous cultures.”

In addition to several hours of classes four days a week, students will participate in day trips in and outside of Mexico City. They will live with Mexican host families and also spend five days traveling to and exploring Oaxaca.

“We want students to learn—or begin to learn—what it means to live like a Mexican in Mexico, within Mexican society,” Koene says. “Hopefully, the experience will change their worldview.”

Dave Nonnemacher, Northwestern’s director of service learning, has been to Romania and Moldova numerous times, usually to work with a mission organization. This time, however, he’s leading a monthlong course May 16 through June 12 that will expose students to Romanian culture and give them experience in adventure education.

Working with New Horizons Foundation, students will be trained in ropes course, rock climbing, and initiative and group-building activities. They will then plan and deliver an adventure program to Romanian youth under the guidance of Nonnemacher and the organization’s staff. The program, which will culminate in a group wilderness trip, is designed to teach Romania’s next generation basic values like trust, concern and compassion for others.

“Our partnership with New Horizons is really important to this experience,” Nonnemacher says. “They are great people doing incredible things in a country that is desperate for positives.”

The opportunity for students to take what they’re learning and use it in service to others will benefit the students as well, Nonnemacher says. He quotes educator and author Steve Garber, who says, “When students are able to touch the world with their learning, they begin to see why the ideas matter.”