Buies Creek, N.C.- Campbell University's North Carolina Teaching Fellows returned from a study abroad program in Costa Rica, May 9-26, with a new perspective on teaching.
Accompanied by Dr. Carol Maidon, director of the Teaching Fellows Program at Campbell, and Dr. Karen Guzman, associate professor of biochemistry, the nine students' days were overflowing with activities, including 40 hours of Spanish instruction, volunteering at an elementary school, visiting the Costa Rican Rain Forest and touring a museum dedicated to the indigenous insects of Costa Rica.
As part of their instructional requirements, the students also completed a special topics science course begun in the spring semester titled "Tantos Insectos!" Developed specifically for this Fellows cohort, the students compared insects in North Carolina with those in Costa Rica, specifically researching an insect indigenous to Costa Rica and presenting that information to their colleagues.
As an added enrichment, each student resided with a different Costa Rican family. The students were nervous about this aspect of the trip at first, Maidon said, but they adjusted quickly and soon learned that the values and beliefs of Costa Rican families weren't very different from their own.
"I loved my family," said Drew Frink, a rising junior from Sunset Beach, N.C. "I had a younger sister and two brothers about my age. They were a very friendly, very lovely family. I enjoyed hanging out with them."
Maidon said the closeness the students developed with their host families was an unexpected outcome of the trip.
"Being over there, having this kind of immersion program really helped them to become more empathetic of students whose primary language is not English," she said. "In today's global society, it is imperative to have knowledge of other cultures. This experience will have an everlasting influence on the Fellows lives and in their future teaching careers."
Campbell University was one of two universities selected to begin its Teaching Fellows program in 2007. The North Carolina Teaching Fellows program is committed to certain goals. Among these are academic and cultural enrichment beyond the classroom; the development of leaders and decision makers; providing opportunities for building and understanding the educator's place in society; and enhancing the image of teacher education candidates and programs campus-wide.
Selected upon the basis of academic and civic achievement, each Teaching Fellow receives a $6,500 scholarship annually from the state with, at a minimum, matching funds from private universities. There are currently 26 students enrolled in Campbell University's North Carolina Teaching Fellows program and more Fellows will arrive this fall.
Frink is very happy with the program at Campbell. "I love the opportunities it provides and the camaraderie with my classmates," he said. "We have a nice, close group. We're like a family."
Photo Copy: Campbell University N.C. Teaching Fellow Drew Frink tutors students in a Costa Rican elementary school.