A ten-day trip to Cuba was one of the program's most influential experiences for Bailey. While there, she witnessed some unattractive behavior by some American tourists, visitors who were clearly not sensitive to the culture they were encountering. Bailey says this gave her the opportunity to think a lot about the difference between approaching a country as a typical tourist versus as an appreciative and sensitive learner. While the program’s director assured them that they were students with a purpose, Bailey struggled with that difference, noting that even her fellow students could be culturally insensitive. From that point, she made a conscious effort to evaluate her own behavior and “consider my position as a US citizen and what that means, both outside and within the US.”
Before going to Nicaragua, Greene felt real concern about communicating in Spanish with native-speakers. Now back at Denison, she feels the satisfaction of being able to make smoother presentations in her Spanish class without reaching so hard for vocabulary and grammar. Since her return for senior year, she's been working as a TA for a printmaking class and is involved in Active Minds, a student organization promoting mental health awareness.
Eager to remain connected to her semester abroad, Greene also works as an intern for the off-campus study office where she helps other students prepare for their own study abroad experiences. She visits Advising Circles and other classes to talk about her time in Nicaragua and conducts informational sessions to advise and guide students interested in studying overseas.
Bailey’s advice to interested students is that study abroad is a great choice, no matter what your financial situation may be. (Denison offers institutional need-based aid for off-campus study for eligible students.) Pondering the value of a semester abroad, she says, “It’s a time to push yourself a lot. If you’re not doing that to the greatest extent, then what are you doing?”