Editor’s Note: January is the most popular time to complete a Field Period, but this past summer, some 240 Keuka students took advantage of time away of the classroom to get a taste of experiential learning. Here’s a sampling:
It’s OK to Bug Him
It’s not flesh and blood that initially attracts mosquitoes, but the carbon dioxide that living things give off.
That’s something sophomore biology major and Portville native Tyler Shaw learned during his summer Field Period with the Cattaraugus County Health Department-Environmental Division.
“I had no previous knowledge of mosquitoes,” said Shaw. But, a two-day, 12- to 14-hour course that he took at Buffalo State during Field Period taught him the basics.
Shaw’s assignment was to set traps for adult mosquitoes and their larva at 10 different sites using carbon dioxide-emitting dry ice to draw in the insects.
Once the specimens were collected, Shaw would “pool all of the mosquitoes together (and get rid of other bugs that had made their way to the trap), and then look at them under the microscope.”
He would then determine the genus and species of each mosquito specimen collected, with the use of a health department manual. Once the genus and species were identified and tallied, the specimens were sent to the New York state lab “to be tested for different viruses.
“They have found that certain species correlate with certain diseases,” said Shaw, who added that West Nile is “one of the more prevalent diseases.”
Shaw’s experience at the Cattaraugus County Health Department has confirmed the organismal biology major’s interest in working with animals/organisms.
It also fostered his ability to work independently.
“I drove to and from the sites by myself, and collected the specimens on my own,” said Shaw.
Furthermore, “it improved my organizational and computer skills.”
Variety in Vermont
It’s not easy photographing a donkey.
Not because they are stubborn, but because “they are so friendly that they don’t stand still for long,” according to Jake Martin, a senior English major from Chateaugay who worked with donkeys and miniature horses during his summer Field Period.
Martin conducted the 140-hour internship at the Chrysalis Center for Human Development in Derby, Vt., which offers counseling, mental health services, drug rehabilitation, and addiction treatment. As part of their treatment, participants spend time at Derby Pond Farm.
“Being around the animals helps participants open up,” said Martin. “We discussed such things as how animals behave and what animals can do in public that people can’t.”
Since his Field Period supervisor at the Chrysalis Center owns Derby Pond Farm, Martin also led tours of the farm for groups such as the Cub Scouts. Additionally, he helped write brochures and other literature for the farm, and created trading cards for each of the animals, complete with photos and stats, including personality traits. That meant Martin learning a new design program to create the cards.
While Martin doesn’t quite know what he is going to do after graduation (he wants to “write, eventually”), the experience has made him “a lot more comfortable around people, especially telling people how I feel.” It also set him more at ease about “being in charge.”
For his other Field Periods, Martin wrote a manuscript under the supervision of Professor of English Bob Darling and worked with autistic children in Florida.
Education, South of the Border
Imagine a public school with no special education programs or attendance policies.
That’s the way public schools are in Mexico, according to senior unified elementary education major/Spanish minor Meghan Bartholomew, who conducted a two-week Field Period in Ciudad del Carmen during the summer.
“Only students who go to private school have to go for a full day,” said Bartholomew, who spent one of the two weeks in a second grade classroom at a private school “to compare and contrast Mexican school systems to American school systems.”
Public schools in Mexico have bigger class sizes than most American schools.
“There can be as many as 50 students in one class,” said Bartholomew.
Therefore, private schools are more appealing and there are often scholarships available for students to attend private school.
Mexican schools also do not have art, music or physical education classes, Bartholomew found.
Bartholomew’s other goals for Field Period were to increase her Spanish language skills and knowledge of Mexican culture.
Staying with Yazmín Pérez Nares (one of two Universidad del Carmen faculty members who spent the fall 2006 semester at Keuka) helped Bartholomew to achieve both objectives.
“Yazmín’s husband and parents had limited English proficiency,” said Bartholomew, so it was necessary for her to speak Spanish as much as possible.
Around 3 p.m. daily, Bartholomew and the Nareses would go to Yazmín’s mother’s house for the “big meal.” Yazmín’s sisters and cousins also joined them.
“Around 7 p.m., we might have soup or fruit or something light, similar to what Americans would eat for lunch,” said Bartholomew. And breakfast often consisted of tacos “or some kind of meat and tortilla,” though pancakes were served, too.
The second week she was there, the family took Bartholomew to see some of the historical sites including the Town of Campeche, Merida, Chichen Itza, and Edzna.
The Field Period will give the future teacher the “opportunity to teach my students Mexican culture using firsthand experience and souvenirs.”
She believes that “American school systems should start teaching a second language much before middle school, since students in Mexico begin learning English in elementary school.”
Teaching and Learning
The Polish Field Period proved to be a valuable experience for Stephanie Craig, adviser and assistant professor of social work, and her band of Keuka students.
The students participated in Teaching English in Poland, a four-week cultural immersion program sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation. Under this program, hundreds of Polish students learned and practiced conversational English.
Keuka students Craig Duddy, Joe Hanley, Sara Munio, Nicole Musicant, Jane Palmer, Nikki Fronier, and Katie Rzeutek served as teacher’s assistants and teachers in several Polish boarding schools.
Palmer, a sophomore psychology major, worked as a teacher’s assistant in Tczew. Her students, who were between the ages of 16-19, took an interest in poetry.
“They practiced reading passages aloud and worked hard to decipher difficult American words. They also learned to work together in groups as they interpreted each passage.”
Palmer, in turn, learned the Polish words for “bathroom,” “good morning,” and “have a good meal.” She says her students were just as patient with her as she was with them.
Fronier, a unified childhood/special education major, taught students ages 13-15 in Limanowa. Her students warmed slowly to the process of learning English.
“They were scared to speak English at first,” she said, ”and constantly asked me if this is how we’d say it in America.”
Fronier used craft projects, lessons on sports and holidays, and discussion to teach her students about American culture.
“The kids were fascinated with baseball and wanted to play all the time. They also loved to dance and even mastered the routine to Cotton Eyed Joe.”
Craig agrees that the Polish students are “like groupies. They try to chase the buses and they form such great bonds with our students.”
The Keuka students also spent time touring the country, making visits to Warsaw, the salt mines of Wieliczka, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
And a Few More Samples…
Senior Khala Johnson interned at the Attack Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa. She discovered that “the creative end of marketing is what I’d be most happy and content with.”
Johnson helped put together press packets for potential sponsors and filed grants. She also learned that a big city wasn’t for her.
Nick Salemi, a junior management major, traveled to Toronto, Canada, for his summer Field Period. At the Toronto Hockey Factory he helped organize and run hockey clinics for young players who were scouted by the NHL.
“I love this type of career because the kids look up to me and the parents seemed to enjoy what I brought to the camps,” he explained.
The players worked on and off the ice, focusing on hand-eye coordination, speed and agility.
Jaimie Watters of Fairport joined the Perinton Volunteer Ambulance Corps and served as an EMT. The sophomore biology major helped provide immediate medical care to 911 callers.
“I love helping people and being in charge,” she said. ”My father and I worked together as a medic and driver. We work well as a team.”
Watters plans on attending graduate school to become a physician’s assistant in pediatrics.