(June 3, 2015)

Students encircle the globe for 2015 May Modules

SHREVEPORT, LA — This spring nearly 180 Centenary students jetted off to nine destinations around the world and in the United States to participate in Centenary's unique May Module programs.

Students of the The Finnish Miracle module at the Arctic Circle

The month-long immersive courses cover a variety of academic areas while helping students fulfill their requirements for Trek, an innovative program through which all Centenary students participate in experiential learning by exploring opportunities in the areas of career, culture, and community.

"Centenary is all about gaining real world experiences and being ready to succeed in life after college, not just sitting in a lecture hall," said Laura Perilloux '17 who traveled to Finland for the course The Finnish Miracle. "Modules are just one opportunity Centenary offers to experience something that will change the way you look at the world. By understanding other cultures, you will be able to better understand where different perspectives are coming from and to communicate and work together effectively."

Participants who traveled to Asia for the Religions of Northern India Module are shown with their mutual learning partners at the Bhagsunag Waterfall

May Module afforded Perilloux the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time—an experience that was ultimately life-changing.

"In Finland, I fully committed to try everything I could and get the most the culture had to offer," said Perilloux. "From facing my fear of saunas to running into the freezing cold water and eating some questionable fishy Finnish dishes, I had the time of my life. I made some Finnish friends my own age and got to discuss our cultures' similarities and differences face-to-face. I really came out of my shell."

Arash Ataei '16 chose to participate in the Module in Greece, Life Amid the Ruins, to experience what it is like for modern Greeks to live in such a historically rich nation. Ataei took full advantage of immersing himself in the culture by meeting locals and learning about their lives.

Ataei in Naxos, Greece

"If you stopped at a restaurant, the waiters would treat you like anyone else, but as soon as you brought up a question or comment about Ancient Greece or their current financial crisis in an intellectual way, you could be sitting there for hours talking to them about their lives growing up 'amid the ruins,'" said Ataei. "Most of the locals that I encountered seemed very proud of their heritage and loved hearing others' perspectives on it; that was something I enjoyed very much."

Ataei recalled a particularly meaningful conversation with one of the hotel staff members in Tolos. She and Ataei talked for a few hours about how her family was dealing with the financial crisis. Ataei met her husband and discussed the historical battles and arguments among the Ottoman Turks, Albanians, and Greeks. His new friend even invited Ataei, a Centenary swimmer, to race in the water component of his IRONMAN team that week.

"Although I would have really enjoyed and relished that experience, I had to get back to the States in order to study for the MCAT," said Ataei.

For many students, picking life back up in the US after their travels has been an equally formative experience. Brittany Wagner '16, who enjoyed the Finland Module with Perilloux, noticed a difference in herself once she returned to her regular routine.

Centenary students on the Journey Down Under Module in Australia pose outside the Sydney Opera House

"Since I've been back, I've learned to embrace what life throws at me," said Wagner, who chose the Finnish Module in order to understand education reform on a deeper level. "Some of our scheduled events didn't go as planned, so we had to modify on the fly, which was half the fun."

Wagner recalled a time when she and her classmates had to opportunity to see the iconic Rock Church in Helenski, but with only a few minutes to spare before the close of visiting hours. The group literally raced across the town to experience the sight.

"From that day on, whenever we needed to get somewhere quickly, we described the pace as a Rock Church walk," said Wagner.

These memorable cultural, classroom, and relational experiences advance the College's commitment to encircle the world with wise, caring, moral leaders.

Want to see more pictures from this year's May Module experience? Check out our Storify that features personal photos from our students' travels!