It is a particularly blustery and cold day here in De Pere, Wisconsin. It seems Guatemala is calling us back, tempting us with its mild temperatures and sunny days. As the calendar turns to a new month, our time spent exploring Mayan ruins, sipping fresh Guatemalan coffee or riding on an over-crowded chicken bus all seem to be growing more and more distant as the hustle and bustle of the new spring semester takes over.
Tonight we will gather back together as one group to begin our reintegration and reflection course, IDIS 150- Reflection to Action: A Re-Entry Seminar.
The purpose of this course is to provide our students an opportunity for meaningful reflection. It is intended that this course will assist students in developing deeper insight into the transformative aspects of their off-campus experience. By means of directed readings, storytelling, and through other short assignments, students will critically reflect and articulate the deeper meaning of their experiences in an effort to communicate the skills they gained, and to identify the concrete benefits of participating in an experiential learning program.
We will spend these next 6-weeks looking forward. Asking ourselves important questions that will allow us to apply all that we learned over our Gap semester together. This course might be the final portion of the formal Gap Experience Program, however, it is certainly not the last interaction these Gap students will have with one another.
Lifelong friendships have formed and, as with each cohort before them, plans have already been made for future get-togethers, spring break trips to adventurous places, and schedules organized to ensure these important bonds are tended to.
Before we turn the page, it is important we share three outstanding digital stories produced by three members of the 2017 Gap cohort. These stories were produced as the final project for the course taught in Guatemala. Students were asked to be creative in how they summarized all they had learned and combine critical analysis with thoughtful self-reflection.
These digital stories are incredible demonstrations of our student’s capacity to expand their understanding of themselves as agents of change and begin to recognize that they have the capacity to be bearers of light in a world that is so often shadowed in darkness.