In Their Own Words

Educational Enrichment Travel Grants offer a wide range of possiblities for broadening your educational experience. Read below what some students said about their experience with their travel grant, and what it meant to them.

Horne in labDevante Horne, “NTU’s Summer Research Internship Program”

Devante, an Engineering Major, spent eight weeks in Singapore conducting laboratory research in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Nanyang Technological University, in the NTU’s Summer Research Internship Program.

”As a part of the NTU School of Materials Science and Engineering, I conducted research in laboratory of Dr. Terry Steele. My project was entitled: “ The Effects of Industrially Processed PLGA Thin Films on Drug Delivery and Material Properties.”  This was a great experience for me in multiple ways. My career goal is to use my engineering degree to work in industry. As well as allowing me the opportunity to solidify several laboratory techniques, this project effectively gave me some scaled-down industry experience that will make me an asset in the future. I made significant contributions to this project through the production of all samples and commencement of the drug release study, which my mentor will continue while I am away. With the support of Dr. Steele, I plan to present my project at the 2014 BiomedicalHorne riding elephant Engineering Society Annual Meeting this fall in San Antonio, Texas. This will be a great networking opportunity for me as I begin applying for PhD programs.

I have matured substantially from this experience: both academically and socially. I can attribute this development to Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College for providing me the funds, allowing me the opportunity to study abroad. This summer I was immersed in a true melting pot of culture, conducted meaningful research, and explored nearby countries….

It was a cultural immersion that I would never have imagined. Through this life-changing experience I have grown into a much more mature and competent researcher and traveler. From this day forward I will have a thirst for opportunities for such development.”

Morgan Daughtridge, “Surf Outreach in Africa”

Daughtridge surfingMorgan, an Engineering major, went to Muizenburg, South Africa and volunteered with “Surf Outreach.” This program works with children in an afterschool curriculum that uses surfing to teach children life skills.  Morgan writes, “I knew this experience was going to be life changing. I told myself it would be amazing. I was beyond excited for what I would have the opportunity to do. But nothing prepared me for what would actually happen. My first solo trip out of the country led me to South Africa and took all my emotions of excitement, fear, anxiety, wonder and in a maelstrom of events churned out new emotions of confidence, experience, and passion. I now have dreams and passions for things I didn’t even know existed. I dare to do things I would have previously never even considered; all because of the generosity of the Calhoun Honors College.

I traveled to Muizenburg (about 40 minutes outside of Capetown) to teach surfing to underprivileged kids from the local township of Capricorn. This trip was ultimately inspired by a desire to help others anddaughtridge Cat see a land abroad, but a large part of it came to be about fear and learning to conquer it. As I faced fears one by one I grew in myself a new boldness that has led me to consider my future very differently than before.

I had always felt independent before, but being fully on your own, with not even cell service to call for help was a uniquely liberating experience. Prior to going to South Africa I had never surfed; I ended up becoming a surf instructor. I, who had not even summoned the courage to watch Jaws, went shark cage diving…

If I can go to South Africa, make foreign friends, teach a program to kids whose primary language is not English, survive a dangerous environment and still be able to laugh and love every minute of it, then I now know there is nothing I cannot do. My dreams do not have to be limited to my state, or even my country. This is why since coming back, not only have I already planned other future trips including one to work on an organic farm in Greece and one to volunteer at the 2016 Olympics and I have added a minor in Non Profit Leadership. I want to combine international nonprofit work with agriculture and engineering in my future career. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but after this experience I have no doubt that I will find a way and I will continue to keep traveling, exploring, searching, and growing, and helping how I can along the way, until I find a way to make my impact.

So thank you so much for this awesome experience!”

Benjamin Bodek, “Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest”

Bodek with batBenjamin, a Mathematics major (with a concentration in biology), spent 6 weeks in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest learning biology and conservation. He lived in the Taricaya Ecological Reserve at a small lodge nestled in the heart of the Amazon on the Madre de Dios River. Taricaya is a protected area of the rainforest where many ecology and animal studies are performed. Taricaya is also home to Peru’s only animal rescue center, where animals hurt by hunters or kept illegally as pets are rehabilitated to be released into the wild. During his time at Taricaya he was not only able to take part in ecological research and animal care and rehabilitation, but gained an invaluable cultural experience which helped him grow both as a person and a world citizen.

“Much of my time at Taricaya was spent taking care of the animals in the animal rescue center. The center has a large variety of rainforest species including a puma, jaguar, parrots, tapirs, and many species of monkeys. Taking care of these animals was difficult and time consuming work…The work was tough, but it was very rewarding to see the immediate effects of my work.  By working so closely with animals you gain a real appreciation of the extraordinary diversity and complexity of life in the Amazon. 

Bodek on waterI was also able to participate in various field studies while at Taricaya. Taricaya has many ongoing studies led by experts in Amazon ecology….Another study I contributed to was a bat study…. During my time at Taricaya a possibly new species of bat was found, as well as the very rare vampire bat, the largest known bat species. …Through all of these studies I was able to greatly increase my experience in biological research. They provided very hands on lessons in what it takes to plan and conduct a valuable and successful field study and showed me the real world applications of the information taught in biology classes.

Another very valuable facet of my time in Peru was the cultural experience I gained….From living in close quarters with people from so many different places I was able to learn a lot about different countries and cultures. During my trip I also had the opportunity to take a week off to travel to the Peruvian Andes and see Machu Picchu. … Seeing a third world country and experiencing what this means is so much more different and valuable than reading or hearing about it.

Overall, my experience in Peru was an incredible learning experience, one which I would not have been able to get in any classroom. It opened my eyes to different cultures as well as increasing my knowledge of field studies and biology.”

Medah Vyavahare: Educational Outreach in Pune, India

Medha Vyvahare with studentsMedah Vyavahare, an Engineering major, traveled to Pune, India.  While  there she volunteered with a nonprofit organization, Ashraya Initiative for Children to help alleviate the poverty in the slums in which they operate. This programs uses education as a means to help children begin to remove, and move beyond, the stigma of poverty.

“As part of my involvement with Ashraya Initiative for Children in Pune, India, I worked with their Educational Outreach program that is involved with the Waghri and Sikligar slums. The center seeks to make a quality education accessible to the children of these communities, while also focusing on community outreach initiatives that help empower the locals and help them use skill-based learning to find work outside of their immediate community and thus improve the quality of their lives. I interviewed many parents and students who participate in tuition center Ashraya, asking them about the changes they have seen in the community since the start of the program, their involvement, and what they feel they have gained or would like to gain from it. Sushila... gave one of the most gratifying responses, "Before the center, people had no sense of themselves. Now we want to become better...we live better and we have a chance to learn new things." Despite a number of challenges, the center has really made a positive change in the community as a whole, and it was amazing to be part of the driving force behind this  change.

Vyavahare with teachersIn working with the Educational Outreach tuition center with Ashraya, I took charge of creating a spoken English class for the teachers called "Chai Chats." Ashraya is currently transitioning to a completely English-based curriculum, and many of the teachers are young women hailing from the same community as the children they teach. Their limited exposure to English and restricted access to education about the subject made this transition difficult. The teachers had a strong understanding of English from interacting with the many foreign volunteers, but they lacked the confidence to form sentences and speak on their own. I designed and taught a course that focused heavily on sentence formation and basic grammar aimed at giving the teachers the tools they needed to speak effectively and successfully teach their students. The teachers grew immensely throughout the course, and I found them to be exceedingly willing and excited to learn. Their enthusiasm to learn only bolstered my desire to teach them, and I developed close relationships with each and every one of them. I know that they were able to benefit from the instruction, and the program will continue with new volunteers picking up my syllabus. To know that I at least gave momentum to this program is incredibly rewarding, and was one of my favorite things about volunteering with Ashraya."