Broadening horizons

For several Bluffton University students, fall semester 2012 included exposure to different cultures, internship opportunities and visits to historical sites.

Five of them, all seniors, recounted those experiences off campus during a Bluffton Forum on Jan. 29.

"It was nerve-racking at first not knowing what you can and can't do," said Hillarie Severt about her first encounter with her Belgian-Moroccan host family in Brussels, Belgium. She was there as a participant in the BCA (Bridge-Connect-Act) Study Abroad program, which aims to promote international understanding and provide challenging cross-cultural learning.

Severt's studies at Vesalius College exposed her to many different cultures as students and professors came from all over the world, including China and Germany as well as the United States and Belgium.

With two weeks to explore, Severt, from St. Marys, Ohio, also saw Belgium's Palace of Justice, Château de Modave and Château de Jehay.

Spending the semester at the Washington, D.C. Community Scholars' Center, Maryam Teka, Shahad Al-Doori and Ben Wesseler took courses that helped them learn about the city, but they spent most of their time outside the classroom.

Teka, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, shared their cultural experiences, which included the annual Turkish Festival, visiting historical monuments, exploring the Smithsonian Institution and experiencing election night. Recalling that night, she said "seeing hundreds of people celebrating and waving flags and giving hugs to strangers was something we will never forget."

Jonathan Luginbill, who studied at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, Tenn., worked in the Technical Track, one of three tracks for visiting students. "The program spared no expense in the Tech Track area," said Luginbill, noting that he spent most of his time working in the studio.

The Bluffton resident also worked on a student-run weeklong tour and was excited about his experience with Sound Check, a rehearsing warehouse for touring bands, where he had the opportunity to help a few bands set up for sound checks.

Luginbill said "I feel more connected with the music industry because of the CMC," which is affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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Alexandria Ferland, Bluffton public relations, 2/1/13