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Wofford College students to explore cultures and music, help rebuild a city, learn new skills

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – January is always a treasured month for Wofford College students because it brings the monthlong Interim filled with exciting, insightful, fun activities. During the 2006 Interim, students will have the chance to explore everything from classical guitar to hip hop, Jesus Christ to Ossie Davis, and some will travel to far away lands, such as China and Israel.

The January Interim term begins on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Interim is a time to provide students and faculty an opportunity for non-traditional learning. Innovation and experiment are the foundation of the Interim, permitting and encouraging students and professors to explore the new and untried, and in doing so, to run risks that could not be justified in the traditional academic semesters. Students are offered a variety of choices for Interim – traveling with faculty members as guides, participating in an off-campus internships, or conducting an independent study project individually or in small groups. All programs have some type of academic component.

While many of the upcoming Interim projects sound like just fun and games – such as “You Are What You Eat,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “Costa Rica: A Kayaking Ecotour” – within these projects exist studies of people, cultures and activities that students may not get to explore during the traditional academic year.

Dr. Christine Dinkins, assistant professor of philosophy, for example, offers a project that will allow students to “learn by listening” in “Stories People Tell: The Art of the Interview.” Here students get the chance to read classic texts on methodologies, study sample qualitative research projects and critique interview-driven documentary films.

“The Passion of Christ as Film, Sacred Art, Theology, and Cultural Maelstrom,” offered by government professor William E. DeMars, will allow students to study Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Dr. Jim Neighbors, Assistant Professor and Co-coordinator of African/African American Studies Program, wants students to explore hip hop culture from its roots in the 1960s Black Arts Movement to its present day status as a major cultural movement in the project “Hip Hop Interim: The History and Politics of Hip Hop Music and Culture in America.”

With so many choices and so little time, some students prefer to take on independent Interim tasks that range from teaching English as a second language in local schools to riding on trains around the country, something students Victoria Rock and Tanya Frantz will do. They will travel to six major cities around the United States, ranging from Boston to Las Vegas, to study local coffee shops and what they add to the atmosphere of each city. In order to be allowed on this trip, both students have to take self-defense training with football head coach Mike Ayers.

Students also will get the opportunity to take on internships or service learning projects, such as working in dental medicine, going to Capitol Hill, or working to restore communities along the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Katrina victims. These students, along with Wofford’s Perkins-Prothro Chaplain Dr. Ron Robinson and Dr. C.L. Abercrombie, professor of biological and social sciences, will provide hands-on relief and recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region while engaging in multi-dimensional training.

Several Interim courses involve interaction with the local community, such as “Demonstrating Science,” in which students will gain a better understanding of the working of the natural world by involving elementary school and middle school students in hands-on activities in the classroom. Others involve learning skills or crafts, such as pottery making, sewing, bookmaking, and producing a magazine and a Web site.

A full listing of Wofford College’s 2006 Interim courses, go to www.wofford.edu/interim/.