From Russia to the U.S./ Mexico border, students and faculty travel near and far for spring break

For members of the Connecticut College community, spring break is more than just a time to relax. This past March, students, faculty and staff travelled across the nation and the world to gain new experiences, share their research, and help others. Here is just a sampling of spring break activities: 

Sustainability, Big Apple-style


Cian Fields ’16, Jill Ouellette ’17, Virginia Gresham ’17 and John Rissmiller ’18 traveled to New York City to participate in EcoPracticum, a weeklong program that blends academics and service-learning activities focused on sustainability and environmentalism. All four students are active in student clubs, organizations, and academic departments and programs related to sustainability, including the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, Oceana, Forest Justice, the Office of Sustainability and the Environmental Studies Program. At the conference, the students had the opportunity to learn from and shadow professionals from the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York City Parks Department, the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, and the nonprofit Grid Alternatives, an organization dedicated to bringing solar technologies to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access.

A look at life on the border


Seven students headed to the Arizona/ Mexico Border to visit workers’ centers for immigrants, learn about grassroots organizations dedicated to human and civil rights for immigrants, study border patrol stations and nongovernmental human rights centers in Nogales, and walk trails along the border. The students prepared for their trip through their “Advanced Studies in Race and Ethnicity/ Studies in Immigration” course, taught by Leo Garafolo, associate professor of history and director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life Claudia Highbaugh.

“It was so exciting to hear from immigrants living through the daily triumphs and injustices of life on the border, as well as from a whole community of incredible advocates and activists fighting for change in the messy world of immigration policy,” said Taryn Kitchen ’16. “This issue is so much more dynamic than I realized, and it was fascinating and inspiring to see how things unfold in person, instead of just reading about it.”

The group was accompanied on the trip by Yale Divinity School students Kevin Durazo and Creighton Chandler, as well as by the Rev. Robert Washabaugh, Connecticut College’s Catholic chaplain.

Pictured above are Sally Washabaugh (sister of Catholic chaplain), Sister Mary Jude (who works with immigrant communities in Norwich), the Rev. Robert Washabaugh (Catholic Chaplain), Heidi Munoz '17, Samantha Pevear '15, Randsel Brannum '17, Jihmmy Sanchez '17, Kata Adams '16, David Garcia Barrera '17, Taryn Kitchen '16, Creighton Chandler (crouching, Yale Divinity School intern) and Kevin Durazo (Yale Divinity School intern).

Practicing Russian — in Russia


Seven students taking “Elementary Russian” this semester went with their professor, Petko Ivanov, a lecturer in Slavic Studies, on a 10-day trip to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novgorod, Russia. The trip included a visit to the Cold War Museum, Bunker 42, a ride on the night train to St. Petersburg and a visit to the Kremlin. The class met up with current Connecticut College students studying in Russia and alumni who live and work there and dined with friends from the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg. Connecticut College and the Higher School of Economics have previously partnered on trips, events and exchanges, as well as on a teleconference course.

Exploring transgender narratives from the 19th century


Jen Manion, associate professor of history and director of Connecticut College’s LGBTQ Resource Center, gave a presentation at DePaul University and delivered the keynote presentation at the New England Dean’s Conference, held at Skidmore College. Manion’s March 10 presentation at DePaul University was titled, "To work as a man: Transgender narratives and labor in early 19th-century America.” “Motivation to pass as male for work, compensation, safety, freedom or love, does not necessarily exclude the possibility that these same people felt they were men, some combination of man and woman, or not conventionally women — something we might now describe as a gender identity that was transgender,” Manion explains.

Habitat in Athens


In keeping with its annual tradition, the Connecticut College chapter of Habitat for Humanity spent a week at build sites in Athens, Ga. The group of 15 students, led by Annie Rusk ’15 and Neta Nakash ’15, helped build a fence, level a site for a new house and paint a Habitat apartment. Each year, the College’s chapter visits a different location to help build homes for those in need.

Research explores improving patient experience through healthcare design


Ann Sloan Devlin, the Sadowski Professor of Psychology and College marshal at Connecticut College, co-presented at the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Planning, Design, and Construction Summit in San Antonio, Texas. Devlin’s research explores how the environments in healthcare facilities affect patients’ care and their overall experience. The work, presented with Cláudia Andrade and Maria Luísa Lima of Lisbon University Institute, compared 236 orthopedic patients’ reactions to questions about positive distraction (e.g., art), social support (e.g., seating), and perceived control (e.g., adjustable lighting) in hospital rooms to determine whether these are linked to satisfaction and stress. The results indicate that these elements of supportive design are linked to reduced stress and greater well-being in patients, and the greater the number of such elements, the larger the impact.

Two weeks in Chiapas

Professor of Education Michael James led nine students on a Travel, Research Immersion Program (TRIP) to Chiapas, Mexico during Spring Break to better understand revolutionary ideology within Latin America. For the first week, students spent time in San Cristóbal de las Casas, where they visited two pirate radio stations, had daily classes on Marxism and capitalism and participated in discussion with indigenous university students. The second week consisted of a trip to Oventic, a Zapatista caracol (community center) in the highlands. While there, students witnessed manifestations of the Zapatista attempt to remain autonomous in all senses: education, self-government and property. Overall, the students concluded that the theoretical framework with which they began the course allowed them true comprehension of the Zapatista movement.


April 10, 2015