Winter Session Overseas

FDU students traveled to Belize, Ecuador and Wroxton College in England during the winter break.


The upperclassmen of the Global Scholars Program at the Metropolitan Campus traveled to Belize from January 14 through January 21, 2014. They stayed in San Ignacio, learning about the cultural, political and economic character of the country. From there, the group traveled to South Water Caye for a visit to the Carrie Bow Smithsonian Marine Research Station and snorkeled at Belize’s famous coral reef. The educational experience is one of the annual features of the Global Scholar’s Program.

The Belize group, from left standing, Samuel Raphalides, political science/history and director of the Global Scholars Program; and students Brittany Timney, Christina Thai, Aneta Zaniewska, Caitlin Gilmore, Olga Pascual, Kushan Costa, Justine Bent, Norbertha Jimenez, Avery Watters, Ruben Carrasco, Oluwaseyi Adebisi, Megan Fry, Stephaney Elfikey-Sanders, Marco Hernandez and, kneeling, Jamal Jefferson.

This is the third trip to Belize since the origin of the program at the Metropolitan Campus. The students were accompanied by Samuel Raphalides, political science/history and director of the Global Scholars Program.


Fifteen students and two staff members — Jas Verem, dean of students, and Anne Miksza, program specialist, global learning — spent two weeks in January with the indigenous Shuar people of Ecuador.

From left, Anne Miksza, program specialist, global learning, with student Samantha Fano; students Angel Menendez and Megan Barrios with Jas Verem, dean of students; the flag of Ecuador; and students teaching English in Limon.

In the mornings, the group worked on a service project coordinated by the Connecticut nonprofit Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, building a community center in Yunganza. In the afternoon, students donated time to schoolchildren in Limon, teaching English through songs, numbers and stories. “This is the fifth year we’ve run an alternative winter break trip,” said Verem.

“Service trips at their heart, regardless of whatever physical work is done, are an opportunity to explore new cultures and ways of life,” said Miksza. A special moment with the local children came near the end of the trip as the schoolchildren joined hands with FDU students and led them to the river for a swim. Earlier in the trip, students participated in a waterfall ceremony.

Top photo: College at Florham students volunteered in the rainforest village of Yunganza, Ecuador, for two weeks over winter break. Putting finishing touches on the new community center are students, from left, Gina Giurastante, Gina Partite, Ashley Vieira, Meghan Barrios and Antoinette Merola. (Photographs by Jas Verem.)

Bottom photo: Standing, from left, are Jas Verem, dean of students; students Greg Fleming, Angel Menendez, Natalie Nieves, Meghan Barrios, Leslie Merino, Ryan Barth-Dwayer, Ashley Vieira and Melissa Cepin; the group’'s driver, Patricio; local firefighters and tour guides for the day Jimmy and Cristian; and Don Fernando, the local village chief; and kneeling, from left, Victor Izquierdo, trip organizer; and students Antoinette Merola, Samantha Fano, Jessica Marin, Gabriella Vitiello, Gina Giurastante and Gina Partitte; and Anne Miksza, kneeling right, program specialist, global learning.

Wroxton College

Three freshmen Global Scholars from the Metropolitan Campus were accompanied by Assistant Metropolitan Campus Provost Craig Mourton and Metropolitan Campus Dean of Students Michelle McCroy Heins, and seven honors chemistry students from the College at Florham were accompanied by College at Florham faculty members David Rosen, anthropology, and Amber Charlebois, chemistry, to FDU’s Wroxton College in England from January 12 to 20.

The annual trip is intended to provide a British cultural immersion. While at Wroxton, the students and accompanying faculty and staff attended lectures on British politics, theater and education. They also visited towns such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Banbury and the city of London. Highlights of the trip included seeing a production of “Thirty Nine Steps” in London’s famed West End and visiting the birthplace of Shakespeare and film locations for the Harry Potter films in Oxford.

Master of Fine Arts Residency

The January residency, part of the academic program for the MFA in creative writing at the College at Florham, was held at Wroxton College, January 4 through 13. Twenty-one graduate students attended, along with faculty members David Grand, creative writing; Rebecca Chace, creative writing; Walter Cummins, emeritus, English; Thomas Kennedy, creative writing; Ellen Akins, creative writing; Renee Ashley, creative writing; Kathy Graber, creative writing; and René Steinke, English and director, creative writing.

Among the usual lectures, workshops and meetings, some of the highlights included: presentations by visiting writer Craig Raine, a well-known Oxford don and British poet (author of More Dynamite, and How Snow Falls), who was interviewed by Ashley and also gave a poetry reading; a visit from Laura Barber, of Granta Books in London, who spoke about her experience as an editor of a prominent literary publishing house; and a reading celebrating the recent publications of Cummins’ collection of stories, Habitat: Stories of Bent Realism, and Ashley’s collection of poems (on the Independent Publishers’ bestseller list), Because I am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea. Additionally, Chace gave the annual “You Must Read This” lecture on Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, and Kennedy gave a lecture on John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” (many of Kennedy’s previous lectures at residencies have been slated for publication). Students and faculty traveled to Oxford, and one night, enjoyed a bonfire on the grounds behind the Abbey.

Education Field Experience

Seven QUEST education students participated in a field experience course, Field Experience IV, at Wroxton and Banbury schools. The QUEST program is a five-year accelerated (BA/MAT or BS/MAT) program leading to teacher certification. The students stayed at Wroxton College during their experience.