Branching Out: Drew Students Discover the World

5 mins read

By Izabella Louk

While most of us headed home over winter break to catch up on much-needed sleep and see our friends and family, some Drew students chose instead to set off on shortTRECs across both the country and the world.


A small group of students headed to New York to work on a reading of a new musical called “Houdini Among the Spirits,” written by Theatre and Dance department chair, Chris Ceraso. The group spent two weeks living and working in the city, side-by-side with theatre professionals and brought their time in the city to a close with a brilliant reading of “Houdini Among the Spirits.” Those involved in the program agreed it was an amazing experience and couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to be involved in the New York theatre scene.


Further afield in Ireland, Drew students studied the country’s history and culture, as well as attending and presenting at the Transatlantic Connection Conference to study the theme of ‘Emerging Equality’. Students spent ten days in Ireland, immersing themselves in the country’s interesting history and rich culture, and visiting the areas of Dublin, Derry/Londonderry, Yeats County, Donegal, and Bundoran. Kelly Duddy (’19) spoke about her time on this shortTREC in Ireland, saying: “In Dublin we went to an amazing exhibit called ‘EPIC Ireland,’ which was all about the diaspora of Ireland. In Derry we visited the University of Ulster, saw the Peace Bridge, and, most significantly, toured the Bogside Murals. What was really special about the Bogside Murals was that we were given the tour by Tom Kelly, one of the three artists, so we really got the full explanation and insight on each mural. Bundoran was our home base, which just happens to be the surfing capital of Ireland, so we had the opportunity to learn and go surfing early one Sunday morning, which was definitely a highlight of the trip.”


A few thousand miles south of Ireland, Drew was represented by a small group of students studying health and human development in South Africa. Spending time in the cities of Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, Drew students spent nineteen days partaking in hands-on learning surrounding the South African public and private health sectors, the country’s health care systems, and disease. When they weren’t hard at work, the group went on a safari, tried traditional foods such as crocodile and ostrich, and visited the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben island. Manny Lopez (’19) commented on his time there saying, “The best part, in my opinion, of the shortTREC was the scenic views. Nothing can compare to going all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, seeing a sunset on a safari, and being able to go to one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Table Mountain.”


All students, no matter the TREC, agreed that they could bring something back from their time away and apply it to their learning here at Drew. Duddy made many connections between her shortTREC to Ireland and her studies at Drew, remarking “I’ll take my research and continue it or something similar in my research methods class this semester, which will hopefully, in turn, narrow into my capstone and then my thesis. Also, with History as one of my majors and Holocaust Studies as one of my minors, I hope to be able to use my new knowledge of the Great Famine, the Troubles, and peace efforts in Ireland to compare them to other conflicts in history and the current world.” Lopez added “It was a life-changing adventure and I highly recommend anyone who wants to have a hands-on learning experience to consider going on a shortTREC.”


For those who are interested in a shortTREC over summer break, there are groups of Drew students setting off all over the world to Cuba, China, Brazil, and beyond. Look out for announcements about information sessions in Drew Today and find more information on the Drew website.  

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