Studying the World: BVU students head to Easter Island, Athens, Barcelona

Friday, January 11, 2019
Students performing experiments during a Chemistry and Food interim class at Buena Vista University this month. Other students are traveling stateside and abroad. / Photo courtesy BVU

Interim at Buena Vista University is a time to think, and experience, outside a student’s comfort zone.

Trips, and classes, offer intensive opportunities to “expand your creativity, cultural awareness, analytical abilities, and awareness of important conversations in today’s world,” says Brian Lenzmeier, Vice president for Academic Affairs. The university wish is that students will step outside their major programs of study, and “investigate new ways of discovery and knowing.”

The January opportunities are not a “breather” in the academic cycle. Participating students are expected to show high academic achievement, as well as three to six hours a day of work outside class.

“These classes allow learning to take place within and outside the classroom as we offer you opportunities to enhance your potential for life-long success through innovative and imaginative opportunities,” Lenzmeier said in a letter to participating students. “We believe Interim, with its travel courses, internships, residencies, and enrichment courses, is essential to the achievement of these goals.

Group trips this month are visiting Easter Island, Greece, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, and Phoenix. A group of computer science students are exploring the tech industry in Seattle, and an Ireland trip will be held later, in May and June.

The Easter Island Trip will explore art, religion and environment on the most remote inhabited island on the face of the earth. Students begin their exploration in the city of Santiago, the cultural center of Chili, and after visits to Valparaiso and Vina del mar fly to Easter Island. They will study the world of the gigantic statues (moai), live with a local Rapanui family, learn about life in the Pacific Ocean, and experience the immediacy of our impact on the environment.

The group bound for Greece will study Greek mythology in popular culture.

Students will visit sites including Athens, Delphi, Olympia, and Mycenae. Each scheduled destination is rich in Greek mythology spanning from Mount Olympus to the Temple of Apollo. Weather permitting, an island day tour will be scheduled.

Students traveling to the Virgin Islands will be focused on ecology, island conservation, and human impact -habitat destruction, invasive species, extinction.

In Spain, students will experience life in Barcelona, particularly the Catalan culture. They will be staying with local families, learning the language, meeting nee people and trying new foods.

The Phoenix trip is aimed toward sports marketing and management. Students will meet with marketing and management professionals at organizations such as the Phoenix Suns, Mercury, Rattlers, Coyotes, the Phoenix Open, and the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Seattle group will study tech business incubation inside the city’s tech industry and start-ups. The group will be forming their own start-up that will produce a software product or service, a process that started with a fall class on campus.

The Emerald Isle has long held an air of mystery and intrigue for travelers, and the spring group will explore culture and storytelling from its folk tales of the ‘Wee Folk’ and banshees to the magic of its music and dance. Students will spend the first part of the Irish experience in a small, remote village meeting its people, learning the customs, and studying the history of the area. They will then explore the rest of the country from its breathtaking vistas to its bustling cities.

Back on campus, other students will take part in innovative classes, which include “How to Become a Recording Star” complete with a public concert, Designing Creatures and Characters for Star Wars, Creating an Online Literary Magazine (to be titled Hot Dish), ethnic dance, dystopian literature, horror art, history of the Walt Disney studios, learning about diverse cultures through film and cooking, a physiological class called Your Body on Autopilot, strategies for life success, understanding mental illness, a theological class on forgiveness, American Sign Language, writing, and other scientific or fitness related three-week courses.

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