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Study Abroad Fair completes International Education Week on campus

Nov 22, 2019
by Jayda Barnes, '19

In honor of International Education Week and the corresponding Study Abroad Fair, student intern for News and Information Jayda Barnes shares some of the most talked-about study abroad experiences from the last year.

aerial of feet in a circle

Where Saints become Pilgrims

From May 11 to June 2, twelve students of Assistant Professor Aggie Johnson studied abroad in Spain as part of the Language and Pilgrimage course. They spent two weeks in A Coruña before embarking on a six-day journey as pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago.

Students began their study abroad by traveling to A Coruña, a port city in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. For two weeks, they stayed with host families and took courses in Spanish and culture at the True Spanish Experience School. These classes prepared them to interact with the different cultures they would encounter by studying the landscape of the pilgrimage.

Perhaps the most significant subject of study was the patron saint of Spain, St. James, or Santiago. One of the Twelve Apostles, St. James traveled to Spain to spread Christianity. After returning to Jerusalem, he was martyred for his faith and refused burial rites. His followers transported his body back to Spain, where he was buried in Compostela. Now, hundreds of thousands of people set out to complete the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James.

During the third week in Spain, students transferred to Neda, a municipality of A Coruña, where they began the Camino Inglés, or the English Way, one of many pilgrimage routes in the Camino de Santiago. They travelled 62 miles over six days from Neda to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. As part of the pilgrimage, students participated in immersion activities such as art workshop, bread baking, fishing and more. They lodged in hostels and hotels, as well as traditional pilgrim shelters. At the end of the trip, students presented their journals to demonstrate their personal takeaway.

“It’s kind of a mystical experience,” said Johnson of the pilgrimage. “You discover something about yourself.”

The impact of this study abroad trip embodies the goal of a transformative academic culture as part of Flagler’s new Strategic Plan 2025. To learn more about Flagler’s roadmap for the future, visit here.


German and American exchange students take a group photo.

Summer Seminar broadens QEP initiatives to an international context

This July, Drs. Timothy Johnson and Wayne Riggs hosted a summer seminar entitled “Citizenship in Diverse Democracies: Germany & the United States in dialogue.” The seminar ran July 22-29 and concluded with a panel discussion of select faculty members about the historical and current state of relations between Germany and the United States.

As part of Flagler College’s efforts to support our exchange program with the University of Wurzburg, this summer seminar engaged the initiative of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to explore the question of citizenship in diverse democracies. By including professors from both Flagler and the University of Wurzberg, the course brought an international component to the QEP’s core elements. On July 29, the final class was followed by a panel discussion open to the public. Riggs moderated, while Johnson joined Dr. Helmut Flacheneker and Dr. Peter Hoeres of the University of Wurzberg.

“The city of Saint Augustine, rich with a diverse history shaped over the centuries by various cultures, serves as the perfect place for this international exchange,” said Riggs.

The exploration of diversity and citizenship in this seminar embodied the goal of a transformative academic culture as part of Flagler’s new Strategic Plan 2025. To learn more about Flagler’s roadmap for the future, visit here.

Students observe a turtle being held by someone.

 “Nocturtling” in Belize: Students Study Abroad

A term coined by Tyler Cooper-Kolb, ’21, “nocturtling” describes the night hunt he and his fellow study abroad students embarked on while in Belize. The four students, with Assistant Professor Benjamin Atkinson, donned headlamps and flashlights, waded into the Bladen River and spent their night searching for turtles to study. From June 1-10, the small group traveled all around Belize as they studied wildlife and ecology.

The students, including Cooper-Kolb, Nour Al-Hussayni, Jesse McCulloch and Nicole Spicer, flew into Belize City before traveling to the southern Toledo district, where they stayed for seven days. Most of their time was spent working with the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE), a conservation organization which operates a field station in the rainforest of Southern Belize. While there, the students were able to work with turtle hatchlings and adults, particularly Central American River Turtles, or “Hicatees” as they are locally known, an endangered species native to Belize. In addition to hunting for turtles at night, they also had much success with field trapping turtles by baiting nets in rivers. Any turtles they caught were measured, notched, observed and released back into the wild. Of the nine species of turtle in Belize, they were able to work with five.

In addition to working hard, the students traveled around much of the country in just a few days. They enjoyed hiking, snorkeling and experiencing the country in full. The study abroad students were even able to meet up with Ali Mulla, ’19, an alumn interning at a research station called T.R.E.E.S. in northern Belize. The trip made for a truly enriching and educational experience.

“I would consider this past trip to Belize the most amazing experience of my life,” said Cooper-Kolb. “This trip definitely solidified my interest in ecology and motivated me to keep pursuing my career goals.” He intends to pursue a career in ecology and environmental ethics.

The impact of this study abroad trip embodies the goal of a transformative academic culture as part of Flagler’s new Strategic Plan 2025. To learn more about Flagler’s roadmap for the future, visit here.




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