Denison spring seminars travel abroad to Costa Rica and Cuba

ANDREA ZUCCHI— Denison seminars offer sophomore and junior students the unique opportunity to travel to a new place, and learn about the country or city that they are being immersed in. In reading about Denison seminars it is stated, “true learning is about making connections—across disciplines, across time, across borders, and across social barriers. We want you to take these courses because you choose to, because they’re exciting”. Students travelling to Costa Rica and Cuba experienced this immersive, experiential learning first hand over spring break. Although very different in the subject matter addressed, students from both trips expressed their gratitude for the experience.

Denison seminars are exclusively offered to sophomores and juniors. Additionally, seminars do count towards general education requirements and provide a way to earn credit in a more hands-on way.

Gillian Spivak ‘20 was one of the students who traveled to Costa Rica with a class entitled, “Soccer: The Global Game.” Spivak explained that the class was multifaceted as during the semester Spivak and fellow classmates examined Costa Rica and the sport that forms so much of their identity through an anthropological lens, specifically analyzing how race and political issues influence soccer.

The other part of the class was simply learning the game of soccer. The class would meet once a week and play, which gave students the opportunity to learn a new sport. Spivak played sports all throughout high school but stated, “This gave me the opportunity to play a new sport. I was able to relate my experience playing sports in high school to playing sports in college.”

Perhaps the biggest draw to Denison seminars though, is the opportunity to travel. Spivak’s class was able to go to Costa Rica and gain an understanding of the country through soccer and beyond. Through a professional soccer match, volunteer opportunities, interviews with coffee plantation workers, and even some time at the beach the class was able to “learn about the culture there and see other sides of the country.”

Not only do seminars offer an educational opportunity, but also a social one. Spivak stated that one of the best parts of the seminar was the opportunity it presented to travel and spend time with students you may not talk to regularly. Now back on campus, students from the Costa Rica trip are still hanging out regularly and are even going to a professional soccer game this weekend as a class.

Marc Haddad ’20 was part of the class, “Creative Transformations.” This class travelled to Cuba and was centered around “learning about Cuban writers and artists, and taking the strategies they used to express themselves into how we can express ourselves.” Haddad stated that his main motivation for taking the class was the opportunity it presented to travel to Cuba.

Although each day was a little bit different, in general the daily routine when in Cuba consisted of going to a museum in the morning, exploring Havana to interact with locals, and a workshop or activity. Looking back on the experience as a whole, Haddad states that he would “definitely suggest it.”

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