January 2018 Interim Offers Students Variety of Experiences

Several students traveled the globe, enrolled in on-campus courses, and interned across the country this January Interim.

Many Buena Vista University students expanded their creativity and cultural awareness during this year’s January Interim — a three-week program that gives students the opportunity to travel, enroll in unique on-campus courses, and participate in internships.


Four domestic and international travel courses were offered to students this year, enabling them to further explore academic interests and broaden cultural and global perspectives. In addition, the University sponsored its annual “Global Fellows” trip to Chile.

Several students embarked on an international trip to Europe, where they experienced the rich culture, art, and history of several major cities including Amsterdam, Prague, Munich, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, Florence, Paris, and London.

As part of the Holocaust Studies course, students traveled to Poland, where they visited Warsaw, Lublin, and Krakow, as well as viewed the remains of the death camps at Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz. The students also traveled to the Czech Republic and Israel.

Students also visited theme parks in Florida to examine effective storytelling and how “Walt Disney’s Way” can be applied to any field or career. The group met up with several BVU alumni throughout the outing, before making a final stop to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Others students traveled to Costa Rica, where they studied the Spanish language at a local language school in the mornings and took in the country’s historical sites during the afternoons and on weekends. The students stayed with local families throughout the trip, enabling them to get an inside look at the Costa Rican culture.

“I feel assured that the trip to Costa Rica opened up students’ minds and broadened their vision of the world,” said Dr. Steven Mills, associate professor of Spanish at BVU and faculty co-leader of the travel course. “Travel is invaluable for so many reasons, but one of the biggest advantages is that it allows us to celebrate differences and to become more global and aware citizens.”

This year’s Global Fellows spent Interim near the southernmost city in the world, Puerto Williams, Chile, reexamining how the world treats its ecosystem and making global environmental connections. As part of the trip, the group of students trekked the Dientes de Navarino mountain range, studied freshwater ecology in the Robalo River, and toured the port city of Valparaíso.

Enriching courses

A number of BVU students chose to stay on campus during Interim, immersing themselves in unique topics that are not typically offered throughout the regular academic year.

Students enrolled in the How to Become a Recording Artist course were introduced to the commercial music industry through a series of lectures and class projects. Topics included music theory, how the commercial industry works, tips on lyric writing, and do-it-yourself tactics used by non-label musicians. The students showcased their musical talents with a final concert on Jan. 23.

Other students participated in a number of aquatic activities as part of the Swimming Fitness and Recreation course. In addition to watching film and engaging in research and class lectures, students took part in log rolling, water polo, water aerobics, snorkeling, and synchronized swimming.

The Diverse Cultures through Movies and Cooking course broadened students’ cultural awareness by examining the dimensions by which cultures vary. The group of students conducted community service, read short stories, watched movies that depicted different cultural experiences, and cooked meals from various parts of the world.

“I am hoping that the students were able to take away a different understanding and perspective of other cultures than when they began the course,” said Crystal Jones, who taught the Diverse Cultures through Movies and Cooking course and is the director of residence life and housing at BVU. “Interim courses are a fun way to integrate a different type of learning that can go above and beyond the classroom.” 

Additional courses included The Humanities Go Digital, The Pre-Hamilton Political Musical, How Things Work, Data Science in Society, Understanding Mental Illness, American Sign Language, and Role of Sports in Society, among several others.


Over 80 BVU students chose to enhance their professional skills by spending January interning at places locally and across the globe. Student internships included the Minnesota Vikings public relations department, the AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, and the Stewart, Seay & Felton Law Firm in Atlanta.   

Maya Rowe, a sophomore biology major from Sheffield, spent the month interning at TransAgra in Storm Lake, where she worked on a research project using a feed additive that is made on site.

“I learned many skills that I have not yet learned in the classroom,” said Rowe. “I learned a lot of lab techniques and different skills within the research field that I will carry on throughout my education. Internships are very important because they help you get a feel for what the real world is actually like. They also provide connections that you can potentially use throughout your career. Internships open up so many different doors for the future.”