ShortTRECs Allow Students to Adventure During Winter Break

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Caitlin Shannon, Editor of Student Life and Arts


What did you do over winter break? Shovel snow? Watch Netflix? Eat home-cooked food? Well, while we were all relaxing, some Drewids decided to broaden their horizons by traveling the world through Drew’s ShortTREC programs. ShortTRECs allow students to experience new cultures, languages and cities over winter, spring or summer breaks. Quite a few students took advantage of these opportunities and travelled to Ireland, South Africa and China.

Under the direction of Bill Rogers, Retired Associate Dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, Caoimhín De Barra, Assistant Professor of Irish History and Culture, and Niamh Hamill, Director of the Institute of Study Abroad, Drew students ventured to Dublin and County Donegal in Ireland for 10 days. While there, students learned about Irish history, from medieval times up until The Troubles, and participated in the Trans-Atlantic Connections Conference. “Our goal is to introduce the complicated history and wonderful culture of this small island nation to our students,” said Rogers, speaking of the myriad of learning opportunities provided not only by the conference, but by the landscape and people of Ireland themselves. The conference allowed Drew students, both graduate and undergraduate, to share their own research as well as learn from others presenting along the theme of “Kindred Spirits.” The goal with this activity was to, as DeBarra says, “relate what some of the students learned about Ireland to both their own experiences and more global issues through the conference that was held at the end of the trip.” Between exploring local art, listening to live music at pubs and learning about Irish history there are many things to explore even after the days activities have ended. Jillian Canal (’19) shared her experience, saying, “My favorite part of the trip was going to the Hill of Tara which was the first time I really got to see the green rolling hills of Ireland.”

Students travelled to China for the second running of the trec called “Culture as a Spectacle: China’s New Cultural Industry” lead by Professor of Chinese, Bai Di. On the trip the students visited Shanghai-Wuxi, Nanjin and Yiwu to observe the cultural industry in China through examples like recreations of Chinese historic and ethnic villages at theme parks and other cultural sites. “This program gave students, even those from China, the opportunity for deep discussion of cultural and social identity,” said Bai about the goals of the trip. With the trip being specifically centered around culture, Grace Odusi (’20) noted that she “learned how to make deeper observations and cultural connections between any differences I noticed while there.”

Looking to study health and medical practices, students travelled to Durban and Johannesburg South Africa under the direction of Assistant Adjunct Professor of Pan African Studies, Ebenezer Addo and Brianna Barker, Assistant Professor of Biology. Here, students were able to compare their knowledge of Western medicine and the healthcare model of the United States with that of South Africa, where traditional and holistic medicine are still dominant. “I learned that there is a lot of scientific research to back up traditional medicine, particularly herbal medicine. Often in the U.S. we view it as inferior to modern or western medicine, but this is not the case. Treatments have been passed down from generation to generation and continue to be successful today,” says Ryann Callaghan (’19), speaking about her experience. Addo recounts some of the trips highlights saying, “I was most delighted when students hit their “aha” moments” and “ Cape Town’s famous Groote Schurr Hospital’s Heart Museum where the legendary Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first human transplant on Louis Washkansky in December 1967 has always been a highlight of this trip.”





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