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Costa Rica Provides Plenty for Field Period™

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.

Brittany Gleason

Like many people, Keuka College junior Brittany Gleason has a bucket list. And like many people, traveling is among the items on the list.

Thanks to receiving the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, Gleason had the opportunity to cross ‘traveling’ off of her list during her January Field Period™. The mathematics major and Carthage resident traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, where she took classes at Centro Cultural de Idiomas (CCI), a cultural language center.

“To me, traveling means learning and experiencing new cultures and broadening my horizons,” said Gleason. “It also means meeting new people and forming lifelong friendships. I was excited to push myself and get as much out of the experience as possible.”

But she was not the only Keuka student who traveled to Costa Rica for her January Field Period™. Sophomore Kathryn Zawisa, another recipient of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, went too, intent on learning more about how Costa Rican small businesses are run.

Gleason, Zawisa, a marketing and management major from Amsterdam—and four other Keukonians—participated in Finger Lakes Community College’s (FLCC) study abroad program. During the Field Period™ each conducted, Gleason and Zawisa had the opportunity to improve their Spanish language proficiency, and develop an understanding and appreciation of Costa Rica’s culture. They also had the opportunity to tour sites of interest and be housed with a host family.

Kathryn Zawsia

“It’s been my dream to travel to a Spanish-speaking country where I could use what I have learned,” said Zawisa. “Taking Spanish classes since sixth grade has transformed into a minor at Keuka. Not only have I enjoyed learning the language, but I’ve also found myself yearning to learn more about the culture. Costa Rica gave me the opportunity to understand the Spanish culture and feed my interest.”

It was also a chance to practice community service.

“I have been involved in my community from an early age, so when I heard we were going to work with young girls, I jumped at the chance to help,” said Gleason.

She worked at a social services organization which provides room, board, and schooling to adolescent girls who have been removed from their homes due to domestic violence, neglect, and or abuse.

Gleason enlisted the help of her fellow Enactus teammates to ask the College community for donations for the girls. Together they collected pens, pencils, erasers, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, stickers, ponytail holders, headbands, and barrettes, among others. Zawisa also intended to donate part of her award money to a Costa Rican charity.

“I believe I am a driven and passionate student, which is shown through my interaction with others,” said Zawisa. “I hope I displayed this passion while in Costa Rica.”

Part of that passion was the desire to compare how a small Costa Rican business is run versus an American one.

“My family owns two small businesses in New York state so I already know much about how to run one,” said Zawisa. “But seeing what differs in Costa Rican businesses, instead of reading it online, was an unforgettable opportunity.”

And she was not just interested in how the businesses are run.

“I wanted to learn the differences of communication in a Spanish-speaking country such as nonverbal cues, inter-gender communication, and more,” said Zawisa. “Learning these skills could put me one step ahead of other Spanish minors because I’d not only know the language, but I’d also know how to approach, and speak to, a native Spanish speaker.”

Added Gleason: “Being at Keuka has given me the confidence and knowledge I need to be a productive member of society. I believe traveling to Costa Rica was a life-changing experience, especially because I learned more about the world while helping others in need.”

Slovakia and More

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.

What began as a Skype session with high school students in Assistant Professor of Education Klaudia Lorinczova’s native country of Slovakia last year has turned into a Field Period opportunity for Keuka students.

The students will have the chance to travel to Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria during a summer Field Period.

Junior Tyler Kroon is among those who will travel to the three European Union countries.

“I’ve been fortunate to grow up as part of a family who places a high value on experiencing other cultures, so after reading about Judith Oliver Brown, I was excited to discover her love for travel, too,” said Kroon, a unified childhood/special education major from Canandaigua.

And while Kroon may be a seasoned traveler—he’s been to such countries as Italy, Fiji, and New Zealand, among others—he expects this Field Period to be “especially eye-opening.

“We will have the opportunity visit the high school we began Skyping with, so we will have the chance to interact with those Slovakian students,” he said. “This is particularly interesting to me because I believe that our education in the U.S. is narrowly focused. I would like to bring my experiences from schools in other countries into my future classroom to provide my students with a more culturally diverse education.”

Kroon and others on the trip will tour local landmarks, town centers, castles, and manor houses. The group will also explore the cities of Prague, Nitra, Banska Stiavnia, and tour the United States Embassy in Bratislava.

“Not only do I want to learn about the culture and history of the three countries we will visit, I want to develop the ability to function and interact with the people who live there,” said Kroon. “And I want to gain an understanding of important historical and political events that have helped shape Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria.”

Kroon is also interested in art, “so this trip will be an amazing opportunity to take photographs of castles and other sights unique to central Europe. I’m especially hoping for free time on this trip to people-watch and sketch scenes from the various places we’ll be learning about.”

Down Under with the Animals

Not just any old zoo will do. Nope. Janelle Davidson headed halfway ‘round the world to get an up-close-and-personal look at the kangaroos, wallabies, and other exotic animals at Sydney Wildlife World in Australia this month.

The Cortland resident was set to endure 20 hours of travel time before arriving in Australia just after the New Year’s holiday for a short-term tour of the country and its exotic wildlife. A senior biology major, Davidson was eager to get started on this, her first trip outside the continental U.S. She also planned to visit the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school to compare and contrast what those Down Under learn about animal diseases and care-taking.

“My hope with this Field Period is to see what it’s like working with those exotic, almost-extinct animals, and decide [a focus on small or large animals] by the time I go off to vet school in the fall,” said Davidson, who is interested in a veterinary career. “Right now, I have the most experience with small animals, but I’m really interested in zoo animals, such as tigers, lions, koalas, kangaroos – not ones that everybody gets to work with.”
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