Spring 2019 - Volume 3, Issue 2

Camino Pilgrimage

by Dr. Carla Bluhm, Associate Professor of Psychology

I had the incredible opportunity to walk one of several Camino paths into Santiago de Compostela, Spain, during the second half of spring semester 2019. I had been fortunate in 2014 to teach abroad in Portugal for a short time and be a faculty member on summer study abroad trips to Paris with the USG European Council. But this trip differed because I walked miles to accomplish it. My particular Camino path was Portuguese. Most people travel the French path that begins on the border of France and Spain and travels across the top of Spain. I was going to fly to Lisbon and walk as much of that Camino as possible north to Spain. Each year around 350,000 pilgrims reach Santiago; meticulous records are kept at the Pilgrim's office in Santiago. One day along my trek, the Pilgrim office recorded 636 Pilgrims, and this is updated each day. If you are interested to learn more, please visit https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/

Their records show that less than 5% of all Camino walkers yearly, across all routes are from the United States. I went alone confident that Portugal is ranked the 4th most peaceful and safe country in the world, and I felt with my language skills, while not significant, would be enough to navigate my experience. I bought my equipment over 18 months so that it was affordable for me, and used my miles on airlines to keep my travel costs very low. I walked around Jekyll Island, Georgia, with all my equipment for three weeks before I left to see if what I had in there was manageable for me for the month-long trek. After some consideration, before I left, I decided to stay in Lisbon for one night and then take the train north 90 minutes - that is almost a four-day walk - to Tomar, Portugal where the famed Knights Templar Castle was and that I would start walking from there north. I was not sure how well I could manage the walking mileage and wanted to be sure I left myself enough time to both walk and rest in the month I had.

The walk itself covered all kinds of terrain, from 10K long uphills, across small mountains, along pristine fish-filled rivers, flat Portuguese coast, paved roads through small towns, woodland and farm tracks as well as the third oldest University in the world in Coimbra, Portugal. I was incredibly lucky that it only rained two days in the month, and I had optimal weather with an optimal spectacular spring flower bloom. I loved being outside every day and just "following the arrows" – the official signage of the Camino. Most days I walked six-to-eight hours, day after day, making progress to Santiago.

Pilgrims stay in particular kinds of hostels called albergues. You need a Pilgrim passport with stamps from stores or churches that you collect each day. Albergues cost only five or six euro a night. The beds are usually bunks, and everything is extremely basic, like camping level, but you are inside, and all but one was heated. You can splurge and stay at private albergues, for 12 euro or so and have laundry facilities and a more private experience if it is not crowded. For example, I had a tiny four bunk bedroom for myself a few times with a curtain that I could close for some privacy. Most pilgrims use a hotel once a week or so for privacy and restore your sleep in a more quiet setting. Humans, as you know, are noisy in all kinds of ways while sleeping, but it was comforting to have other pilgrims with you from all over the world to talk to and feel friendly and warm towards each evening. I might say that if you think you have trouble sleeping, you will not after walking all day for weeks at a time.

I did meet women from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, as well as a group of mixed European country pilgrims, that I walked with for days or so. But, it is almost impossible that you will have the same pace as someone else. So, you will see them, and then not see them, but join up again or more likely never see them again until Santiago. I was lucky, however, to find a few pilgrims who walked about my pace and was able to stay together with them for a few days at a time.

After about three weeks of walking, I entered the square in Santiago where all pilgrims end up regardless of the Camino path. It is an emotional and considerable relief that the journey had ended. I found it fascinating to see all pilgrims taking in their accomplishments together at the Pilgrim office to collect the official certificate of accomplishment. Each pilgrim is interviewed individually; they inspect your pilgrim passports and ask you a few questions. It was only then that I realized that I had made it – when he stamped my passport with the Santiago stamp – the last stamp of my Camino.

Upon my return, I wrote a blog that is almost 40,000 words long covering many reflections as well as the start of at least two academic papers and a short book on the experience based on my blog. I also met on the Camino someone from the Netherlands who has walked 18 pilgrimages. As soon as I returned we collaborated and submitted an abstract to the Center for Pilgrimage Studies yearly conference at the College of William and Mary - so, that will be another great opportunity if it comes to fruition. Ultimately, I walked 460,000 steps over 230 miles, and I carried my pack myself the entire walk. It was an extraordinary opportunity at many levels.


Recovery Efforts in Nicaragua

by Tiffany King, Advancement Writer

In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s important for students and the community to be knowledgeable about what’s happening in other parts of the world. International education at the College encourages students not only to study abroad but to embrace the world coming to campus. The Office of International Education hosted guest speaker Sarah Junkin Woodward of the Centre of Development in Central America (CDCA). Woodward spoke about recovery efforts in Nicaragua with her presentation “2019 Nicaragua in Recovery…What’s Next? Linking U.S. and Nicaraguan Neighbors” held on Tuesday, April 2, in Stembler Theatre.

Woodward works with the CDCA, a Nicaraguan project of the non-profit, faith-based organization, the Jubilee House Community (JHC). The CDCA has worked in Nicaragua for 25 years responding to human needs created by natural disasters and poverty in the second most impoverished nation in the western hemisphere. The organization focuses on alleviating poverty while helping communities become self-sufficient and sustainable using integrated technology in all projects—specifically in areas of organic agriculture, education, health care, and economic development. Woodward will discuss her work in Nicaragua and share how people can help with recovery efforts.

“The CDCA has been called to work with, and speak on behalf of the poor in our area of Nicaragua,” Woodward said, “to share their lives and stories with folk in the U.S., bridging the gap between us to understand the global and environmental connections between our communities better.”

Woodward is one of the founders of the JHC and does an educational speaking trip in the eastern U.S. each spring. She hopes to bring awareness to both students and the community at large about what’s happening in Nicaragua and share how other groups from around the world are helping people in Nicaragua become self-sustaining.


International Faculty Scholarship

Dr. Claire Hughes, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Education, presented at the Universidad de Puerto Rico in early May as a Board member of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Association for the Gifted. This Special Interest Division promotes the welfare and education of children and youth with gifts, talents, high potential, and those who are twice-exceptional. Dr. Hughes presented on the needs of twice-exceptional students, specifically high ability students with autism.

Dr. Carla Bluhm, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Dr. Jim Fullerton, Associate Professor of Management and Leadership Development, were both invited to teach for the University System of Georgia's European Council in Paris, France, and Waterford, Ireland, respectively, in summer 2019.


English Connection

On April 18, through an invitation from Dr. Claire Hughes, Interim Chair of Education and Teacher Preparation, Dr. Any Bloor from the University of Derby in the United Kingdom, visited the College of Coastal Georgia. In the morning, he visited an elementary classroom and participated in the observation of a student teacher. Dr. Bloor shared how he was amused to see that other than some spelling differences, the classrooms looked very similar to how they look in the UK, but that the U.S. classroom was more informal in how faculty introduced lessons, using music and visuals to present key concepts. In the afternoon, Dr. Bloor presented on "Childhood Attachment Disorder" to Education and Teacher Preparation program students. Students were quite interested in the differences and similarities between the two countries in how they label and address the needs of children in school.

Dr. Bloor’s presentation built off of the experience that several students had had through their engagement with Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England. In Dr. Carol Geiken’s Special Education class, students could see each other through a livestream, and conducted class in real time, despite the time difference. Students met three times, with a guiding question and specific activities they were to do before they met in person. In this COIL project, students explored how inclusion and programs for students with disabilities are similar and different in the two countries. In the last activity, they examined another country, Burundi, and discussed what they learned and saw about that particular country. Perhaps because of the language similarities, students had originally not expected many differences in educational emphases but were surprised to find that not only programs were different, but priorities and definitions of terms were very different. In addition, the aspects that they considered “important” in the third country were different.


IREX UGRAD Pakistan

Sara and Ahmad, two international exchange students from the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (through the U.S. State Department) shared their country's history and traditions with students, faculty, and staff at the College of Coastal Georgia as well as in off-campus settings such as local schools, libraries and rotary clubs.

In 2015, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) selected the College of Coastal Georgia to host and receive exceptional students from around the world as part of the U.S. government’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program. Since that time, 19 participants have come for either one or two semesters to share their culture and explore American culture, values, and education. Upon their return, all IREX students will share their understanding of the U.S. with their home communities and use their experience to promote cultural understanding and growth.


Phi Beta Delta International Lecture Series

The Theta Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society sponsored an International Lecture Series during the 2018-19 academic year consisting of varied topics.

  • Dr. Carla Bluhm, Associate Professor of Psychology
    • "Paris: The City of Intellect - Study Abroad and Collaboration"
  • Dr. Karen Humbright, Profesor of Psychology
      • "Primate Research, Teaching, and Scholarship in Indonesia 2017"
  • Dr. Claire Hughes, Associate Professor of Education
      • "Spectare - To Look and Learn: Lessons learned from Working in Palestine"
  • Three CCGA students shared reflections from recent study abroad experiences and how it has prepared them for a globalized society ...
      • Juhanyris Barreiro-Valderrama (Italy)
      • Cody Haynes (Ireland)
      • Annaliese Kondo (France)
  • The purpose of Phi Beta Delta is to address the need on campus for recognition and visibility of the international experience and to serve as a vehicle for the development of academically based international programming. It provides a network on campus for faculty, staff, and students involved in international endeavors and extends this network to thousands of members in chapters across the nation and internationally.

    Chartered on April 17, 2017, the College’s Theta Iota Chapter has been recognized by the Phi Beta Delta National Office for its commitment to promoting international education through “excellent international programs and opportunities, including Study Abroad program, Fulbright program, and the international education components and pathways your Office of International Education is developing support the mission of Phi Beta Delta."


    2019 Summer Study Abroad

    To expand Coastal Georgia students' global awareness and intellectual curiosity, the College has partnered with the USG's European Council (EC), offering a range of summer study abroad programs in Europe.

    Fifteen Coastal Georgia students are participating in summer study abroad: Grace, Kimberly, Bralee, Shelby, and Kayla are studying in the Waterford, Ireland; Raegan, Eason, Morgan, Brooke, and Chandler will soon be in Paris, France; Marcie is traveling to London, England, for her education abroad experience, while Emma and Sai will be in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Madrid, Spain, respectively. Stephanie is attending an eight-week summer session at the American College of Greece, while Miranda will spend four weeks in China at Zhengzhou University.

    Since summer 2017, the College has experienced a 56% increase in study abroad program participants. Please visit the Study Abroad web page to learn more about education abroad programs.


    New Study Abroad Brochure

    The Office of International Education, working in collaboration with the Advancement Office, created a new study abroad brochure to help promote study abroad programs. The goal is to distribute the brochures at on-campus events, club meetings, classroom visits, and residence hall presentations. Copies will be made available during Brunswick and Camden Center study abroad information sessions and at new student orientation sessions in an effort to more fully engage students about study abroad opportunities - Study Abroad Brochure


    2019 SUMMER STUDY ABROAD SCHOLARSHIPS

    Congratulations to Emma (Edinburgh, Scotland), Raegan (Paris, France) and Miranda (Zhengzhou, China) on being awarded 2019 summer study abroad scholarships. The scholarship amount will go towards the cost of tuition. The Office of International Education is grateful to those individuals who have been generous in providing funding support to help offset some of the costs associated with a global educational experience.


    International Festival

    The 8th annual International Festival, sponsored by College of Coastal Georgia and the Robert S. Abbott Race Unity Institute, was held on April 5 at the Conference Center on Coastal Georgia's campus. The event was free to the public and featured international cuisine, live entertainment, an artisan marketplace, a culture expo, and a special area for children called “KidFest.” The festival seeks to build bridges between the different cultures within our community through education, food, and entertainment activities.


    Call for Contributions

    If you would like to contribute an article or news item for the next issue of Global Mariners, please contact the Office of International Education.

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