MOST HOOSIERS WILL NEVER SEE THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, study Spanish
along the shores of the Mediterranean coast, or learn how to surf in Costa Rica.
They’ll never look out across the Strait of Gibraltar to see the murky coastline of
Africa, dim and hazy and full of expectation.
But what if they had those experiences? Who would they be today if they had
traveled to Nicaragua, New Zealand, Ecuador … outside their comfortable boxes?
I’m writing this from an internet café in Barcelona, Spain, with a completely
different future in front of me than the one I had before I stepped onto Manchester
College’s campus. Three years ago, I had never left the United States and hadn’t
even traveled much outside Indiana.
You can’t attend Manchester College without
constantly hearing about studying abroad. I knew it
was popular, but I had no idea how I would fit into
that corner of the College culture, or why I should
Last January session, more than 100 students spread
out across the globe. They worked side-by-side with
alumni medical professionals in a makeshift
Nicaraguan clinic. They walked Tiananmen Square
and crossed the London Bridge. They traveled in Italy,
Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Jamaica.
The College Catalog is full of international
opportunities, too, with more than 20 campus-based
courses related to globalization – from cultural
anthropology and Asian diaspora to world musics,
international trade and teaching English as a second
And there’s more: An MC partnership with The India
Foundation offers an intense three-week immersion in
that country. Or I could explore vocations
(particularly theological and non-profit vocations)
through the College’s Pathways program.
For me, the igniter was my Spanish professor,
Dr. Ingrid Rogers, who urged our class to attend an
informational session about her upcoming January
Session to Costa Rica. Suddenly, my Manchester
intercultural experience was in motion. Beautiful
beaches and classes held in outdoor bungalows: What
more could I ask of an otherwise gray and cold
In Costa Rica, my Spanish improved. I worked at it.
I studied the language every day and talked to the
native Spaniards. I learned to surf, and zip-lined through the treetops. I made friends, danced salsa, and
in the end, learned to open up.
Encouraged by my progress in the language, I declared
a dual major – in communication studies and Spanish.
Making up for lost time in Spanish coursework, I
forced myself to buckle down, which opened up more
opportunities, and made me a better student.
Using my newly acquired worldliness and Spanish
skills, I won an internship teaching English to
Hispanics in the North Manchester area, dramatically
altering my perspectives on immigration, intercultural
connections and friendship. I met people who had a
completely different walk of life, who struggled and
faced very real challenges, like losing their jobs.
My Spanish still needed work, and I searched for that
big experience that would really mark my life. Thelma
Rohrer ’84, director of international studies, pushed
me to set my goals high. I took a deep breath (so did
my family and close friends) and decided to spend an
entire school year studying through BCA Study Abroad in Barcelona, Spain – far, far from my
northern Indiana hometown. I am among 19 MC
students studying abroad, either for the whole school
year or just a semester. We’re at universities in
England, France, Germany, Northern Ireland, China
and Japan. Two of us are in Spain. (Last year, we had
students in universities in Ecuador and Mexico, too.)
Here in Spain, I’ve learned so much about what it
means to be “American” – the good, and the bad –
from another culture’s perspective. I’ve learned the
value of spending reflective time alone in amazing
places like the massive la Sagrada Familia temple,
under construction since 1882.
I find pride in passing a semester at the University of
Barcelona completely in another language. Maturing
from being completely lost in the language to
understanding nearly everything has built my
self-confidence. I trust myself now to find solutions to
my own problems, to make my own path.
I’ve set out with new friends on adventures across
Spain, and even to Paris. I get to see incredible things
that I’d only studied about – the Mona Lisa, art by El
Greco and Dali, the Eiffel Tower and the 14th century
fortress Alhambra. I’m absolutely consumed by a
desire to see more, discover more, feel more,
My Spanish professors tell me that the land shapes the
people who live there, so if you know where someone
is from, you know more about who they are. I feel so
connected to so many different places now.
Even far from campus, I’m continually tempted by
Manchester College international opportunities. I
really wanted to join the A Cappella Choir on its
spring tour with alumni in Austria, but couldn’t quite
swing it. In January, I joined Professor Scott Strode’s
intercultural theatre class in China and got my first
glimpse of a non-Western civilization (and met up with
Fulbright recipient Tim Polakowski ’08, who is teaching in South Korea.) Next, I’m hoping to serve as
a translator for the January 2010 medical practicum
to Nicaragua, helping MC pre-med students and
alumni deliver supplies and aid deep within that very
I am so glad that international experiences are an
affordable priority of the Manchester College
academic experience – that scholarships, grants,
donors, enthusiastic faculty support and class credit
arrangements like I have through BCA make it a
I am almost overwhelmed with all of the opportunities
before me because of my MC international
experiences. And I’ve a whole year left! My ultimate
dream: to emulate Manchester College graduates who
have taken their own study abroad experiences to the
max, moved to change themselves, and, perhaps,
The Waas international experience
sets pace for January abroad
|Professor David A. Waas '47 and
Becky Brightbill '46x Waas
at the Great Wall of China.
Professor Emeritus David A. Waas ’47 is the father of
January term (January session to this generation of students),
plane tickets in hand for its beginnings in 1966. Almost every
January for 42 years, David and Becky Brightbill ’46x Waas took a Manchester College classroom overseas, visiting
three-quarters of the countries on the globe.
More than 200 (maybe 300) students have experienced Africa,
Western Europe and Russia the Waas way. For many, like George Boudreau ’87, it was their first international
experience. So many years have passed, yet the professor
remembers the northwest Indiana native’s hilarious attempts
at French in Senegal. For sure, so does Boudreau, an associate
professor of history at Penn State Harrisburg.
“It’s important that people see other cultures, in other ways
than simply as a tourist,” says Waas, who has donated artifacts
of many cultures to the College. Manchester’s up-close
international experiences change perceptions, change
viewpoints. “We have transformed some students,” Waas says
For the past 18 years, alumni who missed out on January
abroad as students have embarked on Waas-led ventures for
adults through the MC Alumni Office. (More than 45 alumni
and friends joined the couple on the Rhine last fall.) And the
couple supports MC’s international consciousness, through
scholarships and gifts.
Dusty detours, unplanned swims, flat tires, war breaking out
… Waas has
a hundred stories of lessons by the side of the
road, labeling some "horrendous but wonderful.” He recalls
an instant itinerary detour in Ghana: a traditional doctor
spotted alongside the road, dancing a ritual, in costume.
Much conversation about medicine ensued.
Says Waas with a grin: “You have to take advantage of
Teaching the teachers:
Transforming conflict into
Manchester College faculty listened intently to Fidel
Castro’s city planner as he talked about the social and
political dynamics of Havana. They met Nobel laureate John
Hume in Northern Ireland. They sat in the twilight in
Bethlehem, talking to an Israeli and a Palestinian veteran,
former enemies who have committed to peaceful
resolution to their conflicts.
In three separate journeys, a total of 33 Manchester College
faculty members – most with little international travel
experience – embarked on a venture of a lifetime,
supported by Plowshares (Lilly Endowment) grants for
travel to global conflict zones.
The goal was to broaden the world view of our teachers, to
acquaint them with intransigent conflicts in the world and
with resources in every field – social psychology, political
science, economics, philosophy, education, science,
language and the arts – to apply to solutions for persisting
Manchester’s faculty delegation was one of the last
international groups to visit Cuba before the U.S.
government ended educational travel to the island in 2004.
(Access was restored in 2009.)
In Northern Ireland, James Skelly, resident director for
Brethren Colleges Abroad, called on his associates in
Belfast, Londonderry and Galway to give the Manchester
delegation a thorough introduction to the troubles that
have plagued the area for centuries.
In Israel and Palestine, Elaine Lindower ’84 Zoughbi, who
lives in Bethlehem with her husband and four children,
presented a balanced program on peace efforts by both
Israelis and Palestinians. Hostilities with Lebanon began just
as the Manchester group was departing.
The Manchester international experience: on campus and abroad
January session 2008
“I took Comparative Civilizations for my senior year January session. It was one of the most amazing experiences that I
have had at Manchester College. I never thought that I
would have the chance to travel overseas. I got to learn and
experience the cultures of many other countries, including
Ireland and England. It was a great experience and I will
never forget it. If I could offer any advice to an incoming
student, it would be to go on a January session trip if at all
possible.” — Lindsey Helstern ’08, management major
Plowshares faculty journey to Israel and Palestine, June 2006
“As I glanced at the fresh stamps in my first passport, I
realized it was now official and undeniable: My first trip
overseas would be to the Middle East. I had always assumed
my international travel debut would be at Australia’s Great
Barrier Reef or the cliffs and castles of Ireland, places I always
dreamed of visiting. Yet there I was, traveling with 10 faculty
colleagues through a world unlike anything I ever
experienced … The faces, voices, sights and stories would
broaden and alter my world view.“— Jill Lichtsinn ’79, MC associate librarian
Reflections of a northern Indiana student
“When I came to Manchester College I was not openminded,
not at all. Being immersed in the intercultural
community on campus has helped shape me into a better
person. I’m not so narrow-minded anymore, I look at things
more openly now.” — Anglett Wells ’13, biology-chemistry major
Reflections of an international student
"The 42 international students
on campus remind others to
look at the bigger picture. We
are all essentially the same –
young souls trying to figure out
our particular callings for life
through experience and
– Tihitina Dagnew’10, political science major from Ethiopia