Ghana, West Africa was one of R-MC's 2008 J-term destinations.
Costa Rica was another destination for 2008 J-term students.
An important component of many J-term courses is service learning, a teaching and learning strategy that meshes community service with instruction to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.
Darrell Headrick, the college chaplain, and R-MC Professor Emeritus Ira Andrews are in Guatemala with their students during J-term. Headrick and Andrews teach a course that explores the religion, history, culture, cosmology and economics of the Maya of Guatemala.
R-MC students traveling to Guatemala will be involved in three service learning projects. The first involves building ventilated stoves. The leading cause of mortality in Mayan communities is upper respiratory infections, which is linked to the practice of cooking over open fires in tiny, unventilated homes. The benefits of ventilated stoves are threefold: they are healthier, more fuel efficient and better for the environment.
Students will also participate in the Mayan Arts Program, designed to foster the preservation of the Mayan culture. The group will share basic art concepts with Mayan children in village schools, with special attention given to the traditional themes and philosophies of the Mayan people. R-MC students will also collaborate with Mayan children by designing and painting murals for community school buildings.
In addition, students will offer hands-on help by participating in various stages of reforestation, from soil preparation and transplanting to working in nurseries. Severe soil erosion has contaminated drinking water, and there is a critical need to replace the vast tracts of forest that have disappeared throughout Guatemala.
Professors Alphine Jefferson, Ph.D. (history) and Reber Dunkel, Ph.D. (sociology) have touched down in Brazil with 20 of their J-term students. The group will explore the cultural terrain of Rio de Janeiro, ascend the magnificent Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) and attend a Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian) religious service and a workshop on capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art) in Salvador, Bahia. In addition, they will participate in several service learning projects. R-MC students will distribute clothing and school supplies at the Steve Biko Institute and teach English to students at the Eugenia Anna dos Santos elementary school, both located in Salvador. Community service is an important part of the trip, according to Dunkel. “It places our students in cross-cultural situations on a personal level,” he says. “The interaction between Afro-Brazilian and American youth is a mutually beneficial experience in learning about the differences and common bonds among people.”
So be sure to visit www.rmc.edu throughout January as the students blog! Then buckle up, lean back and enjoy J-term through the blog entries of some lucky wayfarers as they explore new worlds…and a little bit about themselves, too.