Live, Act, Learn!

This phrase is at the heart of our description of a Drew education, defined as “Full Impact Learning.”  For us it really reflects how the trip works. What we learn in our classes enriches and shapes our experience of Honduras and the Dominican Republic–it isn’t just about practicing Spanish or drawing on readings form Latin American studies; rather, things we have learned in almost all majors seem to come to life when we reflect on our experiences in-country. From political science to economics, from sociology to psychology, from archeology to religion, the connections might be obvious when you think about it, but it is the thinking about it that seems to happen as we experience the trip. Someone can always use something they have learned to help a peer understand our experience. Over the years, Biology students have explained many things we have seen at the farm in Honduras along with the impact of malnourishment (not to mention our own health issues), and countless art majors have designed and helped us paint murals or, with archaeology majors, have commented on what we see at the Mayan structures and artifacts in Copán. Anthropology students have helped us understand and observe cultural expectations, Latin American Studies students have explained the history and politics of Central America, economists have helped us to understand poverty or commented on things the rest of us didn’t even notice, such as the price of staple goods or raw materials. The list goes on. And students bring back what they have experienced to their classes at Drew, using Honduras or the Dominican Republic as case studies in papers from psychology to anthropology, and writing about it in travel writing and creative nonfiction courses. Beyond the academic benefits, returning students can also interact with international students on richer and deeper levels as a result of having experienced life outside the US, even if briefly. Many go on to study abroad with Drew programs or travel on their own; all are enriched.
Sometimes we even surprise ourselves with what we didn’t know we knew!