Exploring January Term 2015

Juliet Magoon/Guilfordian

From media bingeing on Guilford College campus to making jewelry in New Mexico to rebuilding a village school in El Salvador, students return to this spring semester with newfound experiences.

Guilford’s January term offers students a way to receive credit in classes that are not normally available.

They also often happen in places outside the campus bubble.

Take senior Trent Evans, for example, who traveled to Central America and aided in redeveloping a school in El Salvador.

“My favorite part of the trip would be learning and taking in the hardships El Salvador has faced, then being able to hear the stories and see the people who were affected by such a harsh history,” said Evans. “It’s a form of learning that you just can’t get in a classroom setting.”

Further south from Evans, senior Kristy Lapenta spent J-Term on South America’s equator in both the highest capital city in the world and the Galapagos Islands.

“It’s every biologist’s dream,” said Lapenta. “The baby sea lions were awesome. I would just sit on the beach, and they would just waddle up, sniff your feet and then run away. Well, a sea lion running: more like waddle away rapidly.”

Other students such as first-year Jonah Woodstock went across the Atlantic Ocean. Among other Guilford students, he studied fantasy writers in Oxford with Instructor of English Caroline McAlister.

“My favorite part was how I would take a class and then be able to go out into the town and see firsthand what I was just learning about,” said Woodstock. “Walking the same walks as Tolkien, and going to the same pubs that Lewis Carroll went to, I was immersed in history.”

Senior Andrew Jones did not have to go so far from home. He went to New Mexico to study the art of silversmithing.

“I choose New Mexico because I knew some people who went, and it was pretty hyped,” said Jones. “It just seemed like somewhere to go that was not too far away, still accessible, spoke English and I’ve never been to that part of the country.”

Don’t want to leave campus? No problem. There are still J-Term options for people who wish to stay at Guilford. Sam Knecht, sophomore, was taught about binge media under Associate Professor of English Heather Hayton and Assistant Professor of Psychology Rachel Riskind.

“I got four credits for watching all of ‘Game of Thrones,’ reading two Neil Gaiman books, and playing through a Pokemon game,” said Knecht. “We had to post journal entries at the end of every day. We also wore a pedometer everywhere and counted the calories we were eating because it was an experiment.”

Assistant Dean of Career and Community Learning Alan Mueller also taught improv/sketch-comedy and the art of the job interview.

“I met some cool people, and we had off-campus activities so I didn’t really feel that isolated feeling I expected to get during an on-campus J-Term,” said senior Cameron McDowell. “I learned a great deal about thinking on my feet, as well as how to present yourself in a job interview situation, how to ‘check yourself’ in regards to posture and involuntary motions.”

So if you want to get experience-centered learning, or just need some required credits out of the way, J- term is there for you.

Who knows? Maybe it will open new doors like it did for Lapenta, who plans to intern at the Galapagos after graduation this spring.

“I’m just glad I had this opportunity,” said Lapenta. “That’s what I like about Jan Terms, I couldn’t study abroad for an entire semester and graduate on time due to being a double major. That’s why I think Jan term is really cool.”

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