May 28, 2013

Four Buena Vista University faculty and staff members will travel to Spain and Morocco in mid-June as part of the 2013 McCorkle Fellowship program. During the two-week trip, the Fellows will visit various destinations throughout the two countries to gain international perspectives and broaden their field of knowledge in their academic specialties.

The 2013 McCorkle Fellows are:

  • Dr. Steven Mills, assistant professor of Spanish, who will also lead a student travel-course to the region prior to the McCorkle Fellows visit
  • Dr. Matt Hanson, assistant professor of exercise science and human performance program director, who will also co-lead the student trip
  • Dr. Bethany Larson, associate professor of theatre
  • Kaylyn Pick, Online academic and program development manager

"The student group and McCorkle Fellows are taking very similar paths, though some of the experiences will be different," says Mills. "With the McCorkle trip, we will be seeing the same sites, but professionals from the region will accompany us, giving us a deeper experience."

"My hope is that the faculty will see the complex cultural interactions in this region and its history over the last couple thousand years, so that when we return, we can all better understand the intercultural/intercontextual interactions that we experience in our own disciplines and our own classrooms," Mills adds.

Larson believes the trip will give her the opportunity to learn about theatre forms that are not commonly taught in the U.S., and specifically not in small college programs such as BVU's. "Although our theatre students learn about the Spanish Golden Age of Theatre, that period was 400 years ago and much has happened in Spain in the theatre world since then. I need to know about what is happening there, and the theatre-making that is happening in Morocco is completely new to me."

"Traveling to other places in the world, meeting people and understanding their perspective and context, is the most immersive way to practice the skills that are so essential to making good theatre and to being able to teach students about our art and our world," adds Larson, who also traveled to Japan in 2010 as a McCorkle Fellow.

"Spanish culture has had a significant impact throughout history on sporting ethics," says Hanson. "Racism during the Olympics, ethical issues surrounding bull fighting, and numerous issues surrounding soccer are just a few examples of the impacts Spain has had on sport. Gaining first-hand contact with sporting culture in the area will assist multiple lessons for the History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Sport course that I teach."

Hanson believes the trip will also provide more diverse experiences and will increase his ability to relate to and educate future students. "The Midwest culture is extremely 'set in their ways' when it comes to physical activity levels on a daily basis. The ability to view firsthand the type and amount of physical activity each of the different cultures participate in would help me with my leadership of the Human Performance program."

This experience will also create an environment of open dialogue and learning opportunities with the other faculty members on the trip, he adds. "As a young faculty member, I look forward to developing relationships with the other faculty members on the trip who teach in different fields."

"My greater understanding of the Spain and Morocco cultures will provide a global perspective and experiences to draw upon in the communication courses I teach for Buena Vista University," says Pick. "I hope to broaden my understanding of historical and current global issues and gain an insight on interpersonal relationships and the differences and similarities of communication styles."

This is the eighth year of the McCorkle Fellowship program, which was established through the generosity of the late Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle, who were both Life Trustees of BVU, to provide selected faculty members with an opportunity for international travel to enhance their scholarly knowledge and to add international dimensions to the curriculum. Locations selected for McCorkle Fellows have included Argentina and Peru (2006); India (2007); Israel and Egypt (2008); Turkey (2009); Japan (2010); South Korea (2011) and Rwanda and Kenya (2012).

"Throughout the past year, the Fellows have prepared extensively for the trip by meeting regularly to gain a better understanding of the situation in the region," says Mills. "We have read books, articles, excerpts and reports from both countries and related religious traditions, and then discussed them in our meetings. Topics ranged from history to modern politics to literary and philosophical influences. It is impossible to cover everything before we get there; I just hoped to give enough background so that they can continue to build their understanding while we are there."

My greater understanding of the Spain and Morocco cultures will provide a global perspective and experiences to draw upon in the communication courses I teach for Buena Vista University.

Kaylyn Pick