Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waking up to the howl of howler monkeys

Hey fellow Huskies,

It's pretty hard to believe that today (May 23) is my last full day in the USA for about a month, as tomorrow morning I board my first flight to the island of Ometepe, Nicaragua to finish my last few undergraduate credits at BU.

It seems completely surreal to me that I could be afforded an opportunity like this to finish my degree internationally, and I hope by detailing some of this experience for all of you, I encourage you to go out there in the big bad world and do the same!

First off, it would be in my best interest to explain what exactly I'm going to be doing in Central America that could possibly relate to our undergraduate career goals as Bloomsburg students.

I'm currently about to finish a B.A. in Anthropology, and through a program my professor and mentor Dr. Faith Warner recommended to me, I'll be studying for the next few weeks primate behavior and rainforest ecology through the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy.

Now, I recognize obviously that might not be everyone's cup of tea, so I'd like to mention that this program offers a variety of other classes including photography, sea turtle ecology, art, rainforest ecology, climate change, and botany classes which serve to benefit a wide range of majors.

In a nutshell, not only this program but many others out there can serve to benefit you and your career goals. Get to know your professors and your mentors, it seems obvious but their experience in the world and the workforce can be such a valuable resource to your future, because I know I wouldn't be going on this once in a lifetime trip without the guidance of my department.

If you think studying abroad might something you're interested in, get out there and ask, explore your options! There's a life changing experience out there waiting for everyone, you just have to be proactive about becoming the navigator of your life's adventures.

Over the next few weeks I'll be living and working on the island of Ometepe, settled in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America. Myself and the other students in my group studying primate behavior will be observing and developing our own independent research projects about the two groups of monkeys living on the island, white faced capuchins and howler monkeys (who I've been told make an excellent alarm clock for us in the mornings.)

I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to share this experience with anyone who wants to follow me on my journey throughout the Nicaraguan rainforest, and I truly hope that this unique experience of mine encourages some of you to get out there and show the world just how intelligent and driven us Bloomsburg students are. I know I sure am!

Until next time ...
    — Jeanine Hubert is an anthropology major.
#BUAbroad #HuskyUnleashed

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Africa study abroad gets off to interactive start

A group of Bloomsburg University students are spending four weeks in Africa studying at the University of Buea in Cameroon, where they will also take cultural trips to Ethiopia. 

As part of their study abroad experience, the students are offered to take such classes as Gender and Development in Sub-Sahara Africa, Model United Nations and African Union, Natural Hazards and Disasters, Multicultural Education.

We were invited to a Reading Day ceremony in Kumba on May 16. The group witnessed numerous traditional activities from the children and faculty of the various schools present including singing and dancing.

We were also invited to share some opening words as well as a tradition of their own. Babak Mohassel, associate professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice, introduced the group and their initiatives with a moving speech while student, Courtney Dunn, invited the audience to join her in a "Lion Hunt" interactive activity.

Bloomsburg students interacted with a group of children participating in the Reading Day ceremony following the reading workshop. Students led the children in new games and songs to entertain and teach them. The children also helped the Bloomsburg students by bringing out the inner child in each of us. Much laughter and new lessons were shared on this educational opening day.

Megan Hallick poses for a picture with a group of children following the Reading Day workshop. The children were more than willing to have their pictures taken with their new friends.

Bloomsburg students await their lunchtime meal following free time. We were treated as special guests at the occasion, and our hosts graciously prepared a full table of carefully prepared dishes for us.


Friday, May 16, 2014

The End Came Quickly

It is hard to believe that my freshman year of college has come to a close! Nine months ago I was facing the unknown: leaving my family for the first time and hoping that I would be able to find my place at Bloomsburg University.

I had a relatively smooth adjustment to college the first semester and I must say that the second semester was more of challenge for me both emotionally and academically.

When I came back from winter break, I experienced homesickness for the first time. The first semester I was so busy meeting new people and becoming involved on campus that I sometimes forgot to call my parents and they would have to eventually call me to check in.

The second semester I had established a routine and had found my friends, which left me with more time to miss home. I called my parents and my grandparents often the second semester, but after spring break the homesickness subsided.

My second semester was a lot more challenging academically, as my general education classes are mostly complete and instead mostly have classes in my major. My advice is to avoid scheduling your classes like I did. Try to always have one or two "easy classes" in your schedule. I like to challenge myself and scheduled all difficult classes at once.

I set myself up for struggles and a tumbling grade point average as I attempted to stay afloat in the classes beyond my current level. Do not make this mistake and be sure that you are prepared for all of the classes that you schedule.

Though I had some low points, the second semester, I still had many high points. I received the wonderful opportunity to become roommates with my best friend on campus. I was lucky and had a great roommate randomly assigned from the beginning, but when my best friend was left without a roommate, I quickly switched rooms.

I made the long difficult move a door down the hall while my friend was at class. I bribed a girl down the hall to help me move with the promise of granola bars (food is a great currency in dorms) and I was moved in less then an hour. My friend had given the approval for me to move in, but she was slightly freaked out when she came back from class and hear voices inside the room.

When you are great friends with your roommate, college is more enjoyable. Try your best to be friendly and open with your roommate. My second roommate (best friend) and I had dance sessions, music therapy, take out nights and the occasional heart to heart. It made every night more fun to have a close relationship with my roommate.

As my freshman year has drawn to a close, my best piece of advice is to get involved. It is how you will meet friends, form support systems and just have an overall positive experience.

Bloomsburg University has so many amazing opportunities, you just need to look.

If you would have asked me a year ago what I would be doing this summer, I would have said working a summer job or maybe taking a summer class, but Bloomsburg has given me an amazing opportunity.

As I write this blog, I am on a flight to Cameroon and then Ethiopia, Africa! I am participating in a study abroad program with 20 other students. I know the experience is just beginning, but I can already tell it will be life changing. The flight is long (about twelve hours plus another transfer flight) but I am already forming friendships.

Bloomsburg has many opportunities such as this; do not be afraid to explore the possibilities and step outside your comfort zone. College is a time to find yourself!

    — Morgan Lewis is a biochemistry major with a pre-medical studies concentration.

#FutureHusky #HuskyUnleashed

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Leaving a lasting impact

Well, it seems 14 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye! As our days staffing the BU Toy Library come to a close, I cannot help but get emotional! The BU Toy Library has been my home this semester and all of our projects hold a piece of my heart, but I cannot help but be excited for the future of the Toy Library.

I am most excited for the Friends of the BU Toy Library Early Literacy Program. The response we received from the five preschools we visited this semester has been overwhelming and very rewarding. All five classrooms practically begged for this program to continue throughout the whole year!

It was so gratifying to see how thankful the teachers were and how much fun the children had.

The second thing I am most excited for is the Say Y.E.S. Program. It is amazing to see a project which focuses on teaching children about giving back and actually enacting it in ways they know how such as crafts. The possibilities and potential of these programs are endless and to know that we were the pioneers of them is so exciting! Of course the smiles on the children’s faces and gratitude of the Say Y.E.S. recipients were meaningful, but it was everything for Dr. Mary-Katherine Duncan to thank us and tell us we were part in creating a legacy.

It is great to know the lasting impact of all our hard work this semester and to have the ability of coming back several years later and still see our work in progress.

Leaving a lasting impact to something bigger than myself was a huge goal for me this semester and it feels amazing to have achieved that. I could not be more grateful or the opportunity provided to me for personal and professional growth in so many ways. I have grown in my organizational and leadership skills, my diplomacy and professionalism, and knowledge of child development.

These are skills I will be able to use throughout my life and I am excited to see when, where, and how. Graduating this semester is bittersweet. BU has been my heart and soul for five long years, but knowing that a part of me will always be here and in the community makes moving on a little easier. I am beyond excited to see the great accomplishments of the Toy Library and its practicum students in the future and how they will grow our students and community!
    — Ashlie Hess is a graduate assistant with BU Toy Library.

A positive impact through literacy learning

The month of April was a busy month for the BU Toy Library. Our main focus was finishing strong with our Early Literacy Initiative as well as our Say Y.E.S. Service Project.

In April, we officially completed our literacy programming in two preschools: Children’s Country Cottage and Magic Carpet Preschool. The rest of the preschools will be completed during the first week in May. All locations have expressed their gratitude for our time and efforts.

Magic Carpet Preschool showed their appreciation by giving Ashlie and me matching thank you cards as well as beautiful paintings of a heart made out of the children’s handprints. It was so nice to receive such well thought out, hand-made gifts and Ashlie and I were extremely grateful.

It felt amazing that the Toy Library made such a positive impact in the community. Not only did the children express gratitude and excitement from our visits, but also Miss Penny (head teacher of Magic Carpet Preschool) requested that the Toy Library return next semester to continue our literacy initiative with the next class of children to attend their preschool.

During our final weeks being practicum students at the BU Toy Library, Ashlie and I also created a comprehensive list of materials needed to enhance the toy library’s materials that develop sensorimotor skills. Ashlie focused on sensory toys and resources while I recommended items that would enhance children’s fine motor and gross motor skills.

These resources will benefit typically developing children and be especially useful for work with children on the Autism Spectrum, children with ADHD, and children with sensory impairments. We are pleased that another senior psychology major will be able to use our preliminary research as a foundation upon, which to build her summer research through the URSCA program, as well as her honors independent study project in the Fall 2014.

We have had a busy and successful semester at the Toy Library. This experience helped us grow in many ways and we are proud that our programming will be used in future semesters.
    — Emily Haines is an intern with BU Toy Library.

True Impact of Summer Orientation

Hey Future Huskies,

I can only imagine how excited you all are as your senior year in high school is finally coming to an end! The next step to starting your time here at Bloomsburg is summer orientation. As you prepare for your scheduled day of orientation, it’s important for you to compile a list of any questions you may have.

College can be very overwhelming when you first get here, it’s important to get your questions solved before you get here for move-in.

Our Orientation Workshop Leaders (OWLs) will be able to answer most of the questions but if not we will guide you to any department that will be able to help you. Remember that asking for help is an essential in college and don’t fear that any questions are too big or small, we all had the same ones going into our first year!

Summer orientation is designed to help you complete all the last final steps in becoming a husky. That being said, you are more than welcome to come alone, bring your family or bring a friend. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and feel free to show off your amazing new school.

It’s also important to approach this day with an open mind and positivity. You will be surrounded with your fellow classmates so it’s important to start making connections. Be outgoing and introduce yourself to whomever you’re standing in line or sitting next to.

Orientation is meant to ease you into Bloomsburg and will be a very rewarding experience so I recommend utilizing your time here that day and taking it all in.

I think my personal favorite part of going to summer orientation was knowing I was officially done with high school and this was now my new home. It gave me a completely different insight when I looked at the campus that day and it hit me that this was going to be where I spent the best four years of my life. And looking back, these past three years I’ve been here have truly been better than I could have expected that day during orientation.

Of course you also get to the do all the exciting stuff like getting your school ID picture taken so bring your best smile! The orientation department has worked very hard on making this day extremely meaningful and helpful in adjusting to your new school, there’s no way you’ll be bored!

I am so excited for each and every one of you to experience the amazing college life I’ve had thus far. Enjoy your day and always remember to Be You at BU!

— Sierra Kern, Class of 2015 #FutureHusky