Archive for March, 2011

Honors Travel Grant Helps Student Travel To Uruguay

by   |  03.24.11  |  Honors College News, Honors Student Achievements

The following story was submitted by Michelle Cornell who traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay in the Fall of 2010 with the help of an Honors College grant.

Punta Ballena.jpg

Going for the Gold

This past fall I had the opportunity to leave the United States to study abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Before leaving that fateful day in August, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  At that point in time, I could not have possibly imagined the incredible community I would become a part of, the amount of Spanish language I would learn, the beauty and diversity of the places we would go to, and the adventures my fellow study-abroaders and I would manage to get ourselves into.  On that August day of departure, I packed up my bags, checked to see that I still had my passport, got onto the bus, and tried to decide which emotions I was feeling in that moment.  Sitting in the back of that bus, I could not entirely suppress the mounting apprehension that the trip I had decided to go on was going to be a lot more life-changing than I had ever expected.  Fortunately, that apprehension of mine was entirely accurate.

Over the course of the semester, it became my goal to make the most of every experience, whether that be in Uruguay or during travel.  Realizing that the semester would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the necessity of gleaning as much as possible out of every event became the desire of our small study abroad community, and one of our mottos for the trip becamLa Playa.jpge, “Go for the gold!”  In going for the gold, my travel grant became absolutely invaluable, because rather than spending it all in one place, I divided it up to enhance several adventures along the course of the semester.  Thus, with the travel grant money I was able to explore and adventure above and beyond my original intention to make the most of my traveling experiences.

One of these adventures supplied by the travel grant remains one of my favorite memories of my study abroad experience.  About halfway through the semester our group took a trip to Iguaçu Falls, Brazil, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Where Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil come together, there are the Iguaçu Falls, some of the most majestic waterfalls on earth, which are surrounded by dense jungle.  Our days on that trip were spent hiking through the jungle, viewing the falls from both Argentina and Brazil, and learning about the incredible ecosystem and environment of the jungle.  Though this trip was fabulous in and of itself, Brazilian Butterfly.jpgthe cherry on top was when I was able to use some of my travel grant money to go white water rafting down the Paraná River.  Four other girls and I used our free afternoon to go white water rafting, which entailed walking through a jungle, climbing down a rusty spiral staircase from the top of the falls down to the river, and crawling across giant boulders in the riverbed to a small lean-to tent.  Upon arrival, we discovered that our rafting guide only spoke Portuguese, and the other people in the raft only spoke Chinese.  That afternoon was certainly an adventure I could not have missed: after surviving the rapids, we were able to swim and float down the Parana, one of the longest rivers in South America.  The experience provided me with not only a fun story to tell, but also helped me to more fully realize the awesome power of God, who created the wild beauty and grandeur of Brazil.

Quite honestly, what I saw and heard and experienced this past fall will remain with me forever.  Uruguay is not just a place I visited; it is onIguazu Falls.jpge of my homes.  Study abroad is not just an experience that I went through; it is an event that molded and shaped me.  With the travel grant, I was able to create and add details to my trips that had direct influence on the way I now view the entire semester.  By utilizing the resources given to me, I was able to taste an acai smoothie, ride a motorcycle taxi through a Brazilian favela, jump on a jeep to Cabo Polonio, horseback ride along La Paloma beach, white water raft in the midst of the Brazilian jungle, and attend a Uruguayan fútbol game, all of which allowed me to more fully taste and see true South American culture and life.  The life-changing aspect of study abroad occurred in the details, small trips, and side adventures that built up to shape the rest of my experience.  As I suspected on the bus back in August, study abroad did turn out to be stunningly life-changing, and it is my hope for all those who are considering or will be studying abroad in the future that they would have a similarly amazing semester by stepping out, donning an adventurous spirit, and going for the gold.

Honors Students Get Published

by   |  03.24.11  |  Honors College News, Honors Student Achievements

Two ACU Honors English students have had poems accepted for publication in in two different literary journals.
The original story appeared on the English Department’s blog in  January of this year.

A new print journal, Fjords, has accepted for publication in its inaugural issue “weeping willow” and “Highway 285″ by Juliana KocisFjords has solicited poetry from around the country and plans to nominate its very best poems for the annual Pushcart Prize.

Juliana says the composition of “weeping willow” came about when “I had been out running one day, ran by a willow tree, and immediately thought of what became the first stanza–it just seems appropriate/ sitting beneath you/ to weep. The rest of the poem developed on its own and turned out to be one of the easiest poems I’ve written (and one of my favorites).”

As for her “Highway 285″ poem, Juliana developed the idea after driving  just outside of Salida, Colorado, past spectacular mountain landscapes. She notes that, “Having grown up in Colorado, I absolutely love it and have always just been amazed by some of the scenery, so I wanted to write a poem that captured that.”

It was a productive semester for Juliana because she just learned that Sphere Literary Magazine: An International Journal of Student Writing will be publishing another of her poems, “Liturgy, as witnessed by a statue of Mary.” Sphere is an on-line journal edited by students at Farleigh Dickinson University. Twice a year they publish undergraduate writing from around the globe.

Juliana wrote her Sphere poem after reading a news item about the bombing of a church in Baghdad back in November. She characterizes the poem as “a sort of lament” over the tragedy and a call for peace and religious tolerance.

Juliana is currently a junior English major and plans to graduate in May 2012. What she’ll do immediately following that momentous occasion is still a bit speculative, but she wouldn’t be surprised to find herself in graduate school working on an M.A. and thinking about maybe teaching postsecondary school. She’s also considering teaching ESL abroad for a year or two.

The other student who has had poems accepted for publication is Bethany Bradshaw. Her poems “Aubade” and “You Asked Me What It Means” will appear in Sphere.

Bethany, who is serving as one of the co-editors of the student literary magazine, The Shinnery Review this year, will graduate in May. She is waiting for acceptance/rejection letters from MA programs in English Lit. “to decide my fate.”

As the teacher of both of these young poets last fall, Prof. Al Haley was contacted for this article. He wished to contribute the following:

“I’m thrilled at how people are going to get read some of the fine poems Juliana and Bethany wrote in our class. At the same time, I’m not that surprised that their work was accepted. Besides evidencing keen imaginations as they looked for situations ripe for poetry and having a sharp ear for the sound of words, they worked themselves to the bone revising all their poems. The highest compliment I can pay any poet I offer to them: I read these poems and wished they were mine.”

As a final comment Prof. Haley suggest that anyone consider signing up for Poetry Workshop. He observes, “Everyone has something to say about life, and poetry is one of the best ways to do it. It’s a demanding but rewarding craft that anyone can learn. And from our annual poetry slam to workshopping our poems in the relaxed atmosphere of The Inkwell, we have so much fun in this class it could almost be illegal.”

Honors Alumna Wins Writing Contest

by   |  03.24.11  |  Honors College News, Honors Student Achievements

Former ACU Honors student, Lydia Melby, wins second prize in a writing contest for The Austin Chronicle. As an ACU student, Lydia received several Honors grants.

Congrats Lydia!

The following story appeared first in ACU News.

Posted February 24, 2011

More than 400 writers entered The Austin Chronicle‘s annual short story contest, but Abilene Christian University alumna Lydia Melby nabbed second place.

Melby’s prize came as a result of rewriting her award-winning story, “Fruit.” She was inspired to change the original tale while working on ghost stories with the middle school students she teaches.

“I outlined a new way to write ‘Fruit’ with a different crisis and ending, and went home that night and rewrote it,” says Melby, “Reading what I had written the night before was exciting and chilling; I felt a lot more involved with the narrative. So I workshopped it a few times with the writing group I attend, and when it was ready to go, I sent it to the Chronicle’s contest.”

Melby’s story beat out hundreds of others in the first round of competition, where all stories received two blind reads from the Chronicle’s panel of readers. It was one of 10 stories to move on to the final round, in which four judges from the Austin arts community chose the winning pieces.

Dr. Shelly Sanders, assistant professor of English at ACU, recalls seeing Melby’s talent displayed in her work as a student

“Lydia has a wonderful observational eye, and her fiction has a quirky realism, always bordering on other-worldly, that can make the reader sigh or squirm. It’s no surprise that ‘Fruit’ won second place,” says Sanders. “I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from her. We’re so proud of her for her accomplishments and for representing ACU’s English department in such a great manner.”

Melby graduated from ACU in May 2010 with an English degree and decided to defer admission to Emerson College for a year. She moved to Austin for the numerous artistic outlets and to save money before attending graduate school. Melby currently works for Austin Pets Alive! and volunteers once a week at Keeling Middle School, teaching creative writing.

Read Lydia’s short story, “Fruit,” and learn more about The Austin Chronicle’s annual short story contest here.