Stetson Students Participate in Internship with AIR Guatemala

 By Camila Morales Hernandez, ’20

(l-r) Students Sydney Arrington, Peter Greubel, and Matinicus C’Senger pose with AIR Guatemala founder and President (and Stetson Professor Emeritus, ), Dr. Anne Hallum in front of AIR’s Training Center

Over the summer, the Stetson students, Sydney Arrington, a Public Health major/Spanish minor, Peter Gruebel, also a Public Health major; and Matinicus C’Senger, double major in Economics and Philosophy and an Environmental Sustainability Fellow at Stetson, did a summer internship with AIR (Alliance for International Reforestation, Inc) Guatemala. During the experience, the students were able to work closely with local farmers to learn the practice of Regenerative Farming. The students also spoke Spanish during the entire time of the experience.

WHAT IS AIR GUATEMALA?

AIR is a non-profit organization improving human and environmental health in Guatemala.  With operations in Atlanta, Georgia and central Guatemala, AIR has trained over 4,000 farm families and planted almost 6 million native trees in Guatemala.  For over 25 years, AIR has implemented a community-based, five-year approach with great results and success.  AIR is a winner of the 2017 Equator Prize from the UN Environment Programme because of this successful model.  All salaried employees are local professionals, so ninety-two percent of funds and donations go straight to the field to implement projects and programs:  Rural school programs; tree nurseries; farmer training; and efficient, custom stoves.  AIR was founded in 1992 at Stetson University after Dr. Anne Hallum, Stetson University political professor, visited Guatemala for the first time and observed first hand the rural hunger and malnutrition, the barren mountainsides and mudslides, and the strength of the Maya people.

GOALS, PROCESS AND ACADEMIC PURSUITS:

Each year, one to three Stetson students are selected to participate in the AIR Guatemala internship program. All of their program expenses are covered by a generous endowment by Drs. David and Leighan Rinker. The main goal of the internship is for the student to provide tangible benefits to the local residents.  Likewise, the experience is designed to align with the academic pursuits of the students.  

Learning goals for the student interns include:

  • Discover the value and method for farming with trees (“Regenerative farming” aka “agroforestry”) for better anthropological and environmental well-being: The students planted trees where they brought the most benefit for the communities: Acatenango, Xibalbay, Paquixic, and Montellano. 
  • Learn  the effect of working with residents instead of for them. Residents requested help constructing efficient stoves from AIR Guatemala. Students constructed 3 stoves for two days, resulting in transformational lessons since they saw the living styles of the Mayan families, the hazards of breathing smoke all day, how close the families are and how fully their connection was to surrounding nature. 
  • Shadow the president of AIR Guatemala, Dr. Hallum. During the second week, a large group of volunteers arrived from Florida and Georgia, and all three Stetson students were enormously effective in welcoming these volunteers and showing them what they had learned the first week. Dr. Hallum also had all three students accompany her on important meetings with the AIR staff.  The interns were especially helpful in an unforeseen way: Dr. Hallum was prefacing a network technology of registering via GPS the exact location where each tree was planted, and then “selling” the planted trees to a company in Hong Kong for purpose of combating climate change. The staff—and Dr. Hallum—had to learn how to use this technology and naturally, the Stetson students were very comfortable with this fascinating technology and taught the staff the functions of it. 
  • Learning about the Mayan and Ladino cultures in Guatemala. An overarching goal is that students learned about the regional cultures while planting trees and building stoves in rural communities. For instance, one day, the women of the communities brought lunch in the field where the students were planting trees —they carried tortillas and hot soup in containers on their heads. The team also participated in two school programs with Mayan dances which the class students had prepared especially for AIR visitors.

FOOTPRINT LEFT IN GUATEMALA

The three students supported the construction of three fuel-efficient stoves which involved mixing cement, soaking and laying bricks—each stove required six-hours of work. The stoves have a chimney to ventilate smoke and prevent lung diseases; they also help to conserve trees.

Sydney Arrington helps build a stove for local residents.

The volunteers this summer—including the three students—planted approximately 2,000 trees. The trees were strategically located to prevent soil erosion and improve crops with nitrogen-fixing roots; prevent mudslides, and to protect water sources. As previously mentioned, the students taught AIR staff members and Dr. Hallum how to use the technology for photographing and syncing each tree. By the end of the two weeks, the team had registered and sold 886 trees to a company in Hong Kong.

Peter Gruebel plants trees in Guatemala

 The three students also participated in two rural school programs—helping to judge environmental contests and playing with children.

THE ADVENTURE DOES NOT STOP THERE!!

Apply to join this journey and work with Guatemalan communities in Summer 2020!!!  Applications are due by February 1, 2020.

This article was written based on Dr. Anne Hallum’s annual Air Guatemala report.

A Summer with UNITAR

By Camila Morales ’20

On Friday, October 18, I had the honor of giving a presentation to Stetson’s University Board of Trustees about my previous internships and the impact they have had in my professional life. This article is about the most recent one I had this 2019 summer in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research New York Office (UNITAR NYO).

I had the honor to work under the supervision of H.E. Ambassador Marco Suazo, UNITAR-NYO head of office ambassador, and Mr. Pelayo Alvarez, programme coordinator. Both of them served as invaluable mentors during this journey. I also worked alongside with remarkable young professionals, who I am happy to call my colleagues. UNITAR is a training arm of the United Nations, whose mission is to develop capacities to enhance global decision-making and to support country-level action for shaping a better future. The organization provides training and capacity development projects to assist mainly members of the least developed countries. In my time here I gained experience in finances and multilateral diplomacy. 

TAR team: Camila Morales ’20 (far left)

UNITAR allowed me to work in tasks that enhanced my two areas of studies: finances and world languages and cultures. I was able to hone my financial skills by presenting the project and budget proposals to members of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other organizations. Likewise, I was able to strengthen my technical skills by administering the underground finances and by developing the finance and statistics sections of the Midterm Summary Report.

During the internship, I assisted the office by supporting the logistics and program management to meet and work alongside mission representatives such as ambassadors and diplomats. I also supported developing and leading projects that equipped members of the diplomatic community with the capacity to contribute to the United Nations deliberative process and policy-making.

The most remarkable thing about my internship was the mentorship I received from my supervisors and my colleagues.

The UNITAR-New York Office team would always promote collaboration and professionalism. We were incentivized to take part in learning more about the United Nations and its projects. For example, I had the opportunity to attend the elections of the 74th President of the General Assembly, and the meetings of the Security Council. The UNITAR-New York Office also allowed interns to take part in the organization and the implementation of the UNITAR Economic and Social Council resolution.

We were invited to attend bilateral meetings among high officials of the United Nations. Additionally, we had the opportunity to manage and develop capacity building events which were co-organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development Goals and UNITAR for the SDGs Learning, Training and Practice Center during the High-Level Political Forum.

Camila Morales ’20 in a bilateral meeting of the United Nations (4th from right)

The professional background I acquired in UNITAR was exceptional, but the unique opportunity to be directly exposed to the United Nations system I experienced in UNITAR was invaluable. This is a chapter in my life I will forever treasure.

Camila Morales,’20, is a security analyst in the Roland George Investments Program at Stetson University. Morales, a senior finance major, works at WORLD: Rinker Center for International Learning.

UNITAR supports governments to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This article originally printed in LinkedIn and published at Stetson Today.

Highland Adventures

Inverness, Scotland

As Robert Burns, regarded as the national poet of Scotland, so eloquently wrote: “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands forever I love.”


Ample camaraderie is evident among students and faculty during Stetson’s Summer Scotland, with the Urquhart Castle in the background. Students who participate in the summer program earn four credits upon completion.

The endearing qualities of Scotland have inspired many a writer and poet over the years. Travelers from every corner of the globe also have been enchanted by Scotland’s beauty, typically describing it as “mystical” and “awe-inspiring.” 

For Stetson students, a study-abroad program, now going into its fourth year, is providing them with the opportunity to experience that splendor firsthand in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands and the northernmost city of the United Kingdom. 

“I had never traveled outside the country before, so it was suggested that Scotland would be a good first study-abroad experience. It was a life-changing experience, and I caught the travel bug after that,” said Caylyn Gunby ’19, a double-major in international studies and world languages and cultures whoparticipated in the program in the summer of 2016. Gunby added she since has participated in two additional study-abroad programs in Austria and Thailand, plus an internship in France.

Such a trip has that kind of impact. 

Summer Scotland is centered at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College

The Inverness program, called Summer Scotland, is a multi-university, faculty-led consortium including professors from Stetson, Jacksonville University and Utah Valley University, all congregating at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College to teach students management and marketing as they relate to the international community. With approximately 8,500 students, Inverness College is the main campus for The University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The program occurs three or four weeks over summers. Summer Scotland 2019 is set for May 28-June 27. 

“Five years ago, we got together with Jacksonville University and suggested Scotland as a great place for a study-abroad program,” cited Paula Hentz, director of international learning at WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson. “We wanted to build something that included best practices and incorporated case-study projects with local Scottish businesses. Utah Valley University and Inverness College joined the consortium, and it has turned out to be really beneficial for students.” 

As part of case-study projects, students work with local companies on real-world business issues. 

As part of these case-study projects, students are paired with local businesses (five students per company) and work on real-world business issues. They apply their coursework and offer solutions to actual problems to help the businesses, presenting a final report at the end of the project. 

Group projects vary based on the current business needs. In the past, companies have included WOW! Scotland (a travel company); a fashion designer who has designed items for the Queen; Robertson Construction; Walker (an international shortbread company); local craft breweries; a Highland bakery that provided baked goods for the 2012 London Olympics; local social enterprises that support youth; and Cobb (a hotel company). 

“This represents an incredible opportunity for students to not only get real-world experience but also real-world international business experience — learning how to do business in another country with another culture. It’s a great challenge for them,” Hentz added. 

In 2016, Gunby and her team worked with Café Artysans, a social-enterprise café in Inverness that uses some of its profits to help homeless Scottish youth. 

“We helped with advertising, met with the director and talked about growth and international outreach,” Gundy said. “We focused on social-media coverage and how to better reach out to Americans.” 

Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the program.

Students who participate in the program are offered a choice between two courses — Global Marketing: Business Without Borders and Principles of Management — and earn four credits upon completion. The course counts as an elective for nonbusiness students. 

“These study-abroad programs teach students about international business and how countries operate and do business differently because of cultural nuances,” said Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, who teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the trips. “In Scotland, people are more laid-back than we are when it comes to their business culture. And it’s important for students to be able to adapt to whatever company they’re working for, wherever that may be. 

“When I see students presenting at the end of the program, I feel so proud. Their marketing proposals and plans get praise from these companies, and they’ve resulted in direct changes and improvements made in many of the businesses. It’s a life-changing experience for these students, who come back more enlightened and also improve academically.” 

Students start some coursework online prior to their arrival in Inverness. Once there, they have regular class time, Monday through Friday, and also interact with advisers to work on their case studies. Additionally, they hear local guest lecturers talk about topics such as the effects of Brexit (the U.K. leaving the European Union), the general business environment and business practices in Scotland. Students have the option to stay in the dormitories at Inverness College or with a Scottish host family. 

Further, there is cultural immersion. Among the highlights is a guided tour of the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. 

“It was stunning,” Gunby recalled. “We actually went to Fairy Pools [on the River Brittle in the Isle of Skye].” 

As part of their study (and adventure), students investigate the legend of Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom. 

Other excursions include visits to Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom and where students can take a boat tour and hear stories about the Loch Ness Monster; Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic castles on the banks of Loch Ness; the Quiraing, a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye; and Edinburgh, the ancient capital city of Scotland. 

Also, this past summer students participated in mini-Highland Games, so they could try some of the activities. Previously, they had watched the actual Highland Games. “We learned about Scottish food, music, sports, folklore and even got to hear Gaelic from the local Highlanders,” noted Gunby. 

“We want students to step out of their comfort zones,” Azab said, simply. 

“It’s a chance to build intentional opportunities for students to meet local people,” Hentz affirmed. “Everything we do there is geared toward giving our students the most immersive cultural experience possible.” 

For Gunby, who missed not having black pudding and sausage when she got back to the States, her Scotland experience opened many doors and widened her eyes. And she will never forget the Scottish people, while she also became close with other Stetson students who participated in the program. 

“They’re so friendly and much more laid-back then we are,” she said about the Scottish. “People understand how to enjoy life there, and that taught me something about how to live my life.” 

When Gunby graduates this spring, she plans on teaching English abroad, as a gap year, then attending grad school to get a master’s degree in international affairs or global development.

The study-abroad effect is transformative. 

“I believe in student learning and stepping out into the world as a life-changing experience,” Azab concluded. “Helping students realize this is very rewarding to me. In the end, we’re celebrating differences, and this is a beautiful thing and a great lesson for these students to learn.” 

-Jack Roth

Online at Stetson Today March 27, 2019

Ceramic Brahman bull wins Best of Show at Student Art Exhibit


“Rage” by Alaska Gilmour

Artist Alaska Gilmour let friend Natalie Greenshields name her entry in Stetson’s 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition “because I honestly didn’t think it would win anything,” Gilmour said of her quasi-anthropomorphic ceramic bust of a Brahman bull. Gilmour’s ceramic, named “Rage,” won the Ann West Hall Best of Show Award.

The exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus. Sixty-two student artists submitted 129 works to be considered for the show.

Stetson art faculty chose 77 pieces from 36 artists to be exhibited. Gisela Carbonell, Ph.D., curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and exhibition judge, chose the winners of six awards. Stetson students voted on the Student Choice Award.

All Stetson students regardless of major were eligible to participate in the exhibition. This year’s show includes works by 16 non-art majors.

Gilmour, a junior with a double major in psychology and studio, currently is in Thailand as part of an exchange program.


Alaska Gilmour
Photo/Stuart Gilmour

By email, she said she “just thought it would be cool” if Greenshields titled the ceramic “because she went to the effort of entering it for me on my behalf. When Nat told me what she had called it, I burst out laughing. I told her it definitely wouldn’t win anything now with a name like that, but I guess I was wrong.”

A fifth-generation native of Zimbabwe, Gilmour noted her family, who still lives there, breeds Brahman bulls. “I’ve grown up around these floppy-eared cows my whole life, so I guess that was my inspiration for the piece,” she said.

Gilmour said there “are not a lot of higher education options in Zimbabwe” and she chose Stetson because of Florida’s warm climate “and I liked how small Stetson is and how much history it has.”

Her main mediums are oils and ceramics, but she had never worked in the latter until she took a class under Professor Dan Gunderson in her first year.

“I had to beg them to let me into the class because it was already full, and I took the class without much intention of pursuing ceramics,” Gilmour said. “But I fell in love with the medium and loved working with Dan.”

Gilmour is uncertain which of her degrees she will pursue as a career path.

“I get bored easily so I’m sure I’ll chop and change careers,” she said. “It’s good I have two very different degrees to follow. I’ll definitely carry on making art throughout my life – I’m just not sure if it will be professionally or just as a hobby. Life is too fleeting to have a set plan, things change all the time and therefore so will I.”

If you Go:
The 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s Palm Court/Quad, 139 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand. Admission is free and open to the public. Designated parking is available in the lots at East Arizona Avenue.

Center hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed on national holidays, holiday weekends and fall, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Information: 386-822-7270.

Story is an adapted excerpt from an article originally posted on November 28, 2018  at Stetson Today

Classroom Cuenca

Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province and third largest city in Ecuador, is the economic center of the southern Sierra. With its 8,000-foot elevation, cobblestone streets, cathedrals and colonial parks, Cuenca is perhaps the country’s most charming city. And, not coincidentally, Cuenca recently has enjoyed resurgence as a safe, low-cost and generally pleasant locale for expatriates to rediscover and for retirees to live.

At Stetson, Cuenca also represents an opportunity for students to travel abroad, using this natural wonderland, believed to have been founded around 500 A.D., as their own classroom.

The next lessons are scheduled for June 1-30, 2019, when up to 10 students will gain a “total immersion experience,” according to Bill Nylen, Ph.D., professor of political science, who will serve as faculty mentor.

“That part of the world is absolutely fascinating,” Nylen said. “I live for cultural immersion. … I’m really excited about this trip for all kinds of reasons.”

Among the planned sites to visit with the students are churches, parks and museums, along with indigenous communities and the picturesque countryside, where all four of southern Ecuador’s distinct cultures (Hispanic, Cañari, Saraguro and Cholo) will be on full display.

Students on last summer’s Cuenca study abroad (L-R): Merida Mikell, Jessica Chamberlin, Emma Logue, Noah Katz and Abby Ault

For students, also included in the trip is a mandatory Spanish class plus optional instruction, with the study falling under a four-credit course. Each student will be hosted by a family. The cost, excluding airfare, is roughly $3,000 (including meals and room/board).

The response from students who traveled to Cuenca last summer?

Noah Katz, a senior history major, went on and on about his experience, which even entailed attending a church mass with his host family (all in Spanish) and a wedding — both “unofficial” adventures. He concluded that the trip “exceeded expectations” before exclaiming, “I had a wonderful time!” For good measure, Katz added that he remains in touch with his host family.

Beyond Cuenca

On the upcoming trip, Nylen will replace Bob Sitler, Ph.D., Latin American and Latino Studies Program director and professor of world languages and cultures. One of the reasons is that Sitler is planning 12 days in Yucatan, Mexico, Dec. 28-Jan. 8, with four students.

There, subjects will range from seven ancient ruins and eight natural landscapes to nine Mayan villages. In preparation, this fall the four students are taking a classroom course — mostly taught at Sitler’s home — then returning for a post-trip spring course that will encompass project and presentation work.

“This is about seeing, feeling, smelling. And most students respond very well to that,” Sitler commented.

Their study abroad is part of a concerted effort by faculty, as well as a curriculum requirement, through Stetson’s Latin American and Latino Studies, a multidisciplinary and experientially oriented program that encompasses social, cultural, political and economic systems of regions. Students, who receive a minor, must complete at least one experientially oriented credit-bearing course as part of their academic requirements. This may include a Mentored Field Experience, study abroad in Latin America and/or approved internships.

In the past, students have studied in Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Belize, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

And, with Spanish being the most studied language on campus, the program is especially popular across a campus that clearly is bullish on study abroad. In all, 24 study abroad trips, the most ever at Stetson, have been proposed for 2018-2019, according to Wendy Viggiano, program coordinator of International Learning.

Notably, the Mentored Field Experience is a program sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies department that began in 1995, fully funded by alumnus Mark Hollis ’56, a university former trustee. The program covers the expenses of up to four students each summer on professor-led trips to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Before visiting a country, the students must spend the spring semester in the classroom, preparing for the trip by learning the history, politics and culture of the nation, as well as submitting a research proposal. During the trip, the students collect data for those projects, culminating with a fall-semester, post-travel evaluation course and presentation of their research at Stetson.

Essentially, students travel the world and learn by doing, one real lesson at a time.

Said Sitler: “This is the opposite of staying in an envelope.”

-Published at Stetson Today on November 26, 2018 by Michael Candelaria

How Study Abroad contributes to Career Readiness: 8 Studies

International experience used to be a “nice-to-have” criterion in a graduate’s resume. Today, it has become one of the most important components of a 21st century education. Many new studies show a direct impact of study abroad on creativity, cognitive ability, and student success. In addition, studies show that study abroad plays an important role in developing a global mindset and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Below are studies showing the value employers place on international experience and whether a graduate’s career prospects actually improve as a result of this experience.

Career Success

The Erasmus Impact Study: Effects of Mobility on the Skills and Employability of Students and the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions
This independent study prepared for the European Commission finds that internationally mobile students have better chances of finding a job after graduation. Their unemployment rate five years after graduation is lower than non-mobile students. Results show that around 65 percent of employers consider international experience important for recruitment, and over 90 percent are looking for transversal skills enhanced by study abroad, such as openness and curiosity about new challenges, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Gone International: Mobile Students and Their Outcomes; Report on the 2012/13 Graduating Cohort
This UK Higher Education International Unit report finds that graduates who had studied, worked, or volunteered abroad were more likely to be employed within six months of graduation. The data also shows a significantly lower proportion of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who were mobile were unemployed compared with those from the same backgrounds who were not mobile. Graduates with international study experience earned more, on average, than other graduates.

Recent Graduates Survey: The Impact of Studying Abroad on Recent College Graduates’ Careers
The IES Abroad Recent Graduate Study shows that study abroad alumni find jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher starting salary. Study abroad students also have better graduate and professional school acceptance rates. Ninety-seven percent of alumni secured a job within one year after graduation, compared to 49 percent in the general college graduate population.

Career Readiness

Expanding Opportunity by Opening Your Mind: Multicultural Engagement Predicts Job Offers Through Longitudinal Increases in Integrative Complexity. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(5), 608-615
This study by Maddux et al. shows that the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures (multicultural engagement) during a highly international 10-month master of business administration program predicted the number of job offers students received after the program, even when controlling for important personality and demographic variables.

GLOSSARI – Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research
An assessment by the University System of Georgia found that students who studied abroad had a 17.8-percent higher 4-year graduation rate than those who did not study abroad, particularly among underrepresented minority and low income students.

Employer Perspective

The Outcomes of Outbound Student Mobility
This summary of academic literature over a 50-year period by AIM Overseas shows that over 60 percent of employers agree that an overseas study experience is a positive on a résumé. Additionally, 72 percent of employers agree that knowing a second language adds to the appeal of a prospective employee.

How Employers Value an International Study Experience
Based on responses from 10,000 recruiters worldwide, this QS Global Employer Report found that employers are looking for the skills and experience gained through the overseas study experience when hiring graduates.

Faktaa – Facts and Figures: Hidden Competencies
Prior studies mention that employers value international experience. This study by CIMO and Demos Helsinki concludes that employers recognize only those skills that are traditionally linked to international experience like tolerance, language skills and cultural knowledge. A substantial number of skills that are also linked to mobility were not visible to employers. The study concludes that young people need more guidance in making competencies such as productivity, resilience and curiosity gained from their international experiences more visible.

Posted at IIE.org.

This post was originally published in the fall 2015 edition of IIENetworker magazine, “The Impact of International Education.” This issue analyzes distinct aims of international education and discusses ways to improve how we measure its success.

Hao Jin Named ASUN Defensive Player of the Week

Stetson University’s international students continue to prove themselves the cream of the crop.  Included among their accomplishments Stetson University senior middle blocker Hao Jin, from China, has been named the ASUN Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday.

Jin and Varga 2018  Jin helped lead Stetson to a 3-0 upset win over ASUN leader Kennesaw State on Saturday, posting eight kills and six blocks while hitting .438 for the match. Her solo block in the third set broke a 23-23 tie and was followed by Julie Varga’s game-winning kill.

Hao Jin 2018 Head ShotsOverall, Jin registered 10 blocks for the week and surpassed the 200-block mark for her Stetson career. She has 90 blocks on the season, sixth-most in the ASUN, including 20 solo blocks.

Jin said “Playing volleyball at Stetson has contributed to my international learning experience in a way not many schools could. It’s a great experience since Stetson is such a diverse and inclusive school! Even on the volleyball team we have six international students and each of them affects my experience here differently. The courses at Stetson are very challenging academically. However, with the support of my teammates I manage to stay on top of everything.”

An Economics major, Jin earned her second weekly  conference honor this season. She was named ASUN Player of the Week back on Sept. 10.

 

Article originally published in part on Stetson Today, October 30, 2018.

Discover Campeche

Exchange student Janereth Vargas Cervera will perform folkloric dancing from her home country of Mexico as part of Discover Campeche, an event by Stetson’s Latin American Studies program, on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rinker Welcome Center.

Janereth Vargas Cervera has traveled around her home country of Mexico, performing traditional folkloric dances and once even danced for the princess of Japan.

The visiting exchange student arrived at Stetson University earlier this month from her home city of Campeche, Mexico, where folk dancing is a deeply rooted tradition. Performed in elaborate colorful costumes, the dances have Spanish and Caribbean roots depicting elements of everyday life for the locals, as well as the upper class.

“The folkloric dance is very upbeat,” said Vargas, 22, who is living in a Stetson residence hall on the DeLand campus for six weeks while attending classes. “There are two basic styles: The Sarao Campechano is more elegant, and the Fiesta del Palmar is a little more playful.”

Vargas will perform some of the dances Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center, Lynn Presentation Room, as part of the Discover Campeche program.

Robert Sitler, Ph.D., director of the Latin American Studies Program, will provide an introduction to the city and state of Campeche on the western Yucatan Peninsula with photos from his trips there. Cultural Credit will be provided for the event.

In Mexico, Vargas attends the Instituto Campechano and majors in art education, with a dream of one day opening a dance academy back home. She is a member of the Ballet Folklorico de Campeche and has performed throughout Mexico, sponsored by the Campeche state Secretary of Culture.


Robert Sitler

Dancers from the art education program at the Instituto Campechano will perform on Stetson’s DeLand campus on April 16.

Campeche has been a Sister City of Volusia County since 1995, and Stetson’s Latin American Studies program has maintained a student exchange with the Instituto Campechano for more than 20 years, said Sitler, a professor of World Languages and Cultures. Applications are required for the 2018 Campeche internship by March 16.

“Our students go down there every summer,” Sitler said. “They are often teaching English. They’ve worked doing translations in the tourism office and helped out with a sea turtle conservation program.”


Campeche, Mexico, has been left off the tourism map, so visitors will see few tourists there, said Professor Bob Sitler. The state of Campeche includes the ruins of the largest ancient Mayan city, Calakmul. The city of Campeche, above, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its beautiful colonial architecture.

Stetson student Tyler Thomas stayed with Vargas’ family in Campeche last summer. And through that experience, Vargas learned of the opportunity to travel here – her first trip to America.

She is taking classes at Stetson — Principles of Acting, Dance Appreciation, French and Portuguese – and staying in Emily Hall, which is a novelty because Mexican colleges do not have residence halls. She keeps busy by going to the gym, and taking Zumba classes, cardio boxing, ballet and ballroom dancing, as well as visiting local parks with Sitler and his wife, June.

“For me, Stetson is marvelous. It’s very modern, very cutting edge,” she said. “My experience has been meeting a lot of really very nice people. … I like how there are so many cultures here because that’s not the case so much at home. It’s so important to maintain that cordiality and respect in a multicultural environment.”

Article adopted from Stetson Today, February 2, 2018