Learning through Engagement

Purdue Calumet students become global travelers

Allie Kobar, a Purdue Calumet equine business management major, wanted to broaden her horizons this past summer, and she did just that – all the way to England and Ireland. Along with Purdue Calumet professor Jordan Kerr, fellow Purdue Calumet student Alysa Goeke and 24 Purdue West Lafayette students, she traveled to cities in each of the countries to enrich her educational studies.

“I wanted to learn more about how Europe deals with their horses, and how it’s different than here in the states,” the Purdue Calumet sophomore said. “I also decided to go due to the fact that it’s a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity and my family is from those countries – England, Ireland, and Wales.”

Along with her 25 fellow travelers, Allie found many things in Europe fascinating. “Everything is different and eye opening. The one major interesting factor, however, is how their horses are managed,” Allie added. “Most horses are managed through their government, especially the race industry.”

(from front to back) Gianna Giercyk (Purdue Calumet student), Kelsey Sajdera (WL student), Rebekah Pierce (WL student) and Sarah Piess (WL student) grooming a pony
(from front to back) Gianna Giercyk (Purdue Calumet student), Kelsey Sajdera (WL student), Rebekah Pierce (WL student) and Sarah Piess (WL student) grooming a pony at the Exmoor Pony Centre

The focus of the three-week adventure had a two-part goal – to immerse students in the cultural experience (on a personal level), and to visit horse facilities and organizations that are engaged in education for the equine industry (on the educational front).

Kerr felt that her students benefited from the trip abroad in myriad of ways.

On the educational front, the two countries visited offered valuable insight to the current equine business, as well as history of the same. Visiting horse farms and veterinarians that conduct cutting edge research, as well as the cultural experience of a faraway land combined to make the travel experience one that the students will not soon forget.

“Ireland has always had infinity for horses,” Kerr said. “And England is considered the historic birthplace of thoroughbred racing.”

Student Alysa Goeke enjoyed the entire trip, but favored Ireland over London.  She preferred being out in the country atmosphere of Ireland, with its beautiful landscapes,  which she identified as peaceful and quiet, compared to the busy-ness and crowded streets in England. “I have always wanted to visit barns across the world to figure out the tricks of how to create a successful equine business,” Alysa said. “I definitely did learn some helpful tricks, like putting lavender oil in the bedding to calm down the horses and help their airways.”

Annie VanProyen at the Exmoor Pony Centre
Annie VanProyen at the Exmoor Pony Centre

Another Purdue Calumet student group that added to their travel log this summer included 14 Purdue Calumet Spanish enrollees utilizing a Study Abroad program in Caceres, Spain. According to associate professor Gloria Velez-Rendon, one of the most interesting and effective ways to learn a language is to be immersed in its culture. Students enrolled in this year’s program had multiple opportunities to experience Spanish culture first-hand, she added.

“In addition to attending regular classes at the University of Extreme dura for four weeks, students participated in the daily life of the Spanish families and participated in several cultural events and guided tours,” she said. The completion of this program garnered six credits of instruction with this program geared toward students seeking to take their second year language credit or their Spanish Culture and Civilization classes. By participating, students also fulfill the Experiential Learning credits required by Purdue Calumet for graduation.

Student Mike Gorman had to acclimate to Siesta hours and the different household procedures in his Spanish host home. “It was very different living with a Spanish family because they cook a really big meal at two o’clock in the afternoon and eat just a small dinner about 10 p.m. or whenever they feel like it,” he said. “The Spanish mother takes care of the all the cooking, cleaning and laundry for their house guests. I do my own laundry, so this was hard getting used to.”

Fellow traveler Jamie Hillbrich enjoyed seeing the different cultural influences of the city of Caceres. “The historic part of the city is majestic. It’s hard to fathom walking down streets where people have walked for thousands of years,” he said. “The Roman structures that still stand today after all this time are impressive.”