January Term 2013 saw a number of students travel off the Luther College campus for more unconventional educational opportunities. I sat down with several students to discuss their studies away and abroad over this past January, ranging from internships in our nation’s capital to studies of Europe’s relationship with Judaism and the Senegalese educational system.
“It was way more relaxed than I thought it would be,” Maggie Steinberg (‘15) said. “I got an internship with my congressman [U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer] from Oregon on Capitol Hill, and was working in one of the congressional offices for a month. It was a lot of fun.”
A political science major, Steinberg elected to intern as a way to explore future career paths.
“It was kind of a trial to see if I really would want to work in a government setting,” Steinberg said. “I just assumed that since it was in D.C., it would be so high-pressure and tense all the time, but there were definitely days when it was very laid-back.”
Courtesy of Maggie Steinberg
Having spent the month answering phones and sorting mail and email for the congressman, Steinberg worked to document issues popular among constituents and across the nation.
“The gun legislation thing happened while we were there, the debt ceiling happened when we were there, and the inauguration,” Steinberg said. “[The internship] was an invaluable experience because you really got to see the other side of politics and it’s not what you learn in your textbooks or what you hear in the news.”
Amsterdam, Berlin & Wittenburg
Associate Professor of Religion Karla Suomala and Visiting Faculty in Art Lea Lovelace (‘97) led a trip through Europe to study Judaism’s long and complex relationship with the continent.
“It was a religion course with another aspect of museum studies,” Casey DeLima (‘15) said. “A lot of what we were doing is looking at how museums presented the cultures and presented the Holocaust.”
Courtesy of Casey DeLima
The course moved through Amsterdam, Berlin, Wittenburg (featuring the world’s largest Martin Luther museum) and turned to the study of the Holocaust through Auschwitz, Ravensbrück and Terezín, a concentration camp and Jewish ghetto during the Second World War.
DeLima described the experience of interacting with her Jewish heritage: “I was learning a lot about my family, and what my ancestors did. I didn’t grow up in that, so I was learning a lot along with everyone else.”
Some students created their own J-term experiences. Kimmy Rooney (‘13) was one such student.
“It was kind of an independent study,” Rooney said. “I went to do research on my senior paper, but at the same time, I had to do my teaching practicum. For some of the trip I did research and interviews and for the second half of the trip I was in a school in Dakar, teaching.”
Courtesy of Kimmy Rooney
Rooney went to Dakar, Senegal, after studying abroad there last spring. She became interested in the Senegalese education system and decided to choose that topic for her senior paper.
“I was lucky enough to get back there again, and got to do the practicum at the same time.”
“It’s Hawaii in January, you know?”
Art major Hannah Kielly (‘15) travelled to the Aloha State to study fiber arts over January. The course, led by Professor of Art Kate Martinson and Professor Emeritus Linda Elkins, focused on Hawaiian textiles and fibers made by immigrants to the island, and how those textiles reflected immigrant cultures there.
“We did Japanese embroidery, braiding and made kapa, which is a traditional Hawaiian cloth made from tree-bark,” Kielly said. “A lot of the patterns are really cool, as were a lot of the shapes we looked at.”
Courtesy of Hannah Kielly
The course traveled across three of the Hawaiian Islands. “We went to Oahu first, then the Big Island [Hawai’i] and then Maui for a couple days,” Kielly said.