Bruhns scholars return from trips

Three West Virginia Wesleyan College students spent their summer studying abroad thanks to a generous gift from Wesleyan friend and alumna Dr. E. Maxine Moose Bruhns, Class of ’45 and Hon. ’07.

The E. Maxine Moose Bruhns Summer 2013 Study Abroad Scholarship provided funding for three students to participate in international educational programs this past summer.

The highly competitive scholarship winners were Rachel Channell, a junior theatre and English writing major from Elkins; Andrew Wade Phipps, a senior English writing major from Buckhannon; and Briana Nicole Shockey, a junior psychology and political science major and gender studies minor from Belington.

Channell spent eight weeks in Kavousi, Crete participating in an archaeological field school sponsored by Duke University. She worked on a site called Azoria, the site of an on-going excavation of an archaic city. Channel also had the opportunity to work at the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete where she took part in the processing of finds and the analysis and conservation of artifacts.

“Aside from learning about Azorias and the development of urban centers in Minoan society, I learned technical skills necessary to work on any archaeological excavation,” stated Channell. “I also learned about modern Greek culture. We worked alongside the men of the village on the excavation, so the people of Kavousi accepted us into their community very quickly and gave us the opportunity to experience their culture in a very authentic way.”

Channell mentioned that the excavation team at Azoria was very diverse, so she had the chance to experience a number of different cultural views and attitudes while abroad, as well.

Phipps spent a month in Prague and the Czech Republic participating in a poetry workshop at Charles University through Western Michigan University. He had the opportunity to meet with some of the best current writers from around the world.

“I spent a month discovering myself and bettering my poetry with some of the most inspirational people I have ever met,” stated Phipps. “I want to share the same energy with other writers wherever I go.”

Phipps owes his experience abroad to the many encouraging professors at Wesleyan.

“One consistent part of my Wesleyan experience has been encouraging professors,” commented Phipps. “If certain faculty members had not cornered me with the Bruhns scholarship, had not asked me why in the world I was not applying, I would have missed out on one of the best months of my life. These professors sparked my interest and then helped me the rest of the way, from giving feedback on my work to helping me plan the actual trip. I owe them more than they would be willing to admit.”

Shockey traveled to Cape Town, South Africa for six weeks working on a Community Development program through Arcadia University. Shockey took a six-credit Community Development class at the University of Cape Town in conjunction with volunteer work through Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO). The class was structured around the nature of volunteerism and development work, particularly in the context of South Africa’s history of apartheid and racism, classism, and gender issues which continue.

“The applied practice of the learned classroom theory was divided among two townships in the Cape Town area,” explained Shockey. “The first two weeks of our volunteering was in Manenberg teaching women computer skills. For three hours a day, we would work with basic skills such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, email, and resume writing. In this area where the unemployment rate is higher than 60 percent, computer skills can greatly benefit the women’s lives. The following three weeks were spent mentoring high school students in Khayelitsha during a winter break program. The purpose of the mentoring program was to keep these at-risk teens occupied during a time when gangs tend to target them for new membership, while building life skills and fostering a sense of pride in themselves and their community.”

In addition to the educational service opportunities, Shockey was able to experience things she had only before read about. She hiked the Table Mountain and explored Cape Point, saw the Cape of Good Hope and African penguins at Boulders Beach.

“This experience has truly made an everlasting impact on me,” stated Shockey. “In addition to the broadened worldview and incredible education, I was able to bring back new theory surrounding service which I have shared with the staff of the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development. The effects of Ms. Bruhn’s scholarship are definitely far-reaching and beyond appreciated.”

Born in Grafton, Bruhns has devoted much of her life to the study and appreciation of and participation in other cultures. She has traveled the world, a champion of internationalism and global living. Her work has spanned the globe, from resettling refuges in isolated areas of different countries, helping others and fostering understanding and communication across cultures.

Her travel and experiences have helped her to develop deep understanding and scholarly presentations about the different cultures of the world, which she delivers to students and scholars at The University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.

The exhibits she has built there honor the ethnic heritages of many cultures, nations and peoples. Now, she is giving Wesleyan students the opportunity to become global scholars, allowing them to learn and experience more of the world beyond our borders.