Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: March 18, 2010 5:01:12 AM PDT
WWU's Adventure Learning Grant Program To Send Students to the Andes, Balkans and Central America

Contact: Kathryn Anderson, WWU Fairhaven College professor, (360) 650-4910 or kathryn.anderson@wwu.edu

Past ALG recipients include WWU graduate Tim Werwie, who took this photo in 2007 from the back of a motorcycle as he traveled through West Africa learning about native musical traditions and techniques.

BELLINGHAM Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies will this summer send three students abroad on 10-month international learning projects as part of its Adventure Learning Grant Program. 

The most recent grant recipients are Susannah Arnhart, daughter of Kirk Arnhart and Sherry Bess of Seattle; Kelsey Beckmeyer, daughter of Jim and Debbie Dumont of Walla Walla; and North Campbell, son of Kathy and Craig Campbell of Port Orchard.

The ALG is a $15,000 grant awarded annually to three students within Fairhaven.  Any student enrolled in Fairhaven is eligible to receive the grant, so long as they have completed two quarters and commit to returning to Fairhaven for three quarters upon completion of their trip. This year's ALG recipients will be venturing off to such far-flung locales as the Andes, the Balkans and Central America.

WWU’s Kathryn Anderson, a professor in the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, said that the ALG application process is quite demanding. 

“Part of the goal of the program is to engage students in the conversation about what kind of global experience might enrich their lives and what level of responsibility they are ready to assume.”

Factors on which the grant applicants are judged include: the creativity and ingenuity of the proposed project, the extent that the culture they will experience is different from their own, and the student’s commitment to integrating and sharing their experience with the WWU community.  Upon returning from their trip, grant recipients are expected to share their experiences with other students in classes or presentations to the community. 

Campbell, a senior at WWU, will leave this summer for Croatia and Montenegro.  In his project, “Fisherman, Fish Farmers, Fish Processors and Fish Eaters: An Exploration of Interrelated Economic and Social Relationships,” Campbell said he hopes to learn about the Croatian people’s relationship with food, specifically seafood, and better understand the relationship between commercial and subsistence fisherman.  Inspired and driven by his experiences working in the fishing industry in Puget Sound and Alaska, Campbell is interested to see how the fishing cultures of the Balkans compares with the Pacific Northwest

Campbell said he is most looking forward to volunteering with the local commercial fishers he encounters.  Campbell has recognized after working on fishing boats for the past three summers that through fishing it is possible to gain great respect for and from those who he works with. 

“I get immense satisfaction out of building relationships with other people by working with them,” Campbell said. 

Arnhart, a junior at WWU, will leave in August to study weaving and fiber-arts techniques in Ecuador and Peru

Arnhart’s project, “Weaving and Livelihood: Textiles in Andean and Amazonian Communities,” focuses on learning the techniques of producing hand-crafted textiles from the indigenous people of these areas. 

After spinning her own yarn and practicing weaving for more than 10 years, it was a natural choice for Arnhart’s international adventure, and she said she is very grateful and excited for the opportunity. 

“I have the expectation that the small, simple things are going to be the most fulfilling,” Arnhart said.

Beckmeyer, a junior at WWU, will leave in September to travel to Costa Rica and Uruguay to explore and learn about the impact of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” on an international level.  In her project, “Feminism Across Borders: The Vagina Monologues,” Beckmeyer said in an e-mail that she hopes to connect with the communities of women in these countries who have been a part of the Vagina Monologues and better understand how it has influenced them. 

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler in 1996.  It is made up of a varying number of monologues all relating to the vagina through themes such as love, mutilation, masturbation and birth.  The play’s central theme is that of the vagina as a tool of female empowerment and individuality.  

Beckmeyer said she also aims to better understand how the concept of feminism is different between the United States and other countries. 

Currently abroad on their adventures are the three students who received the ALG for the 2009-2010 academic year: Jason Davis, son of Scott and Becky Davis of Fairbanks, Alaska, “Narratives of Childhood: Culture, Development, and Children’s Identities in a Changing World,” in Northern India and Nepal; Ryann Martinek, daughter of Karen and Gary Martinek of Anchorage, Alaska, “Exploring Community-Based Solutions to Targeted Public Health Issues Among Marginalized Populations,” in India; and Jamie Stolz, daughter of Ken Stolz and Laura Briney of Missoula, Mont., “Power, Privilege and Childbirth: A Doula’s Approach to Culture,” in Tajikistan

The quest for learning, traveling and living is what Anderson said the ALG is all about.  The program has inspired many students to pursue opportunities they had previously never thought possible. 

“It’s based on the faith that if you give bright, creative students this kind of opportunity, then great things will happen,” Anderson said. 

For more information about the ALG program, please visit http://www.wwu.edu/fairhaven/academics/alg/ or contact WWU Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Kathryn Anderson at (360) 650-4910 or kathryn.anderson@wwu.edu.

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