Each year, after the spring semester comes to a close, some Rhodes students pack their bags and head to spots around the world to study yet some more. They’re taking part in Maymesters, short courses with specialized topics of discussion brimming with historical significance. Students receive class credit, which sometimes also fulfills one or more of Rhodes’ Foundations requirements. In addition, students gain understanding about a diverse range of matters, often outside the scope of their majors. In one Maymester option, students travel through Germany and the Czech Republic to learn firsthand about the lifestyle of Jewish people during the Nazi era and the postwar period. Another offers the opportunity to study urban healthcare policy through case studies in Glasgow and London.
New for summer 2016 is the Cuban-Russian Connection Maymester. Students attend lectures, visit museums, and tour locations of historical significance, such as Morro Castle in Havana and the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The Maymester focuses on the formation of Cuban and Russian identities, and the convergence of their cultures as communist regimes bond them and influence their histories. Additionally, students will be immersed in the highly intellectual traditions and rich cultures of Cuba and Russia.
Also this summer, for the first time in several years, the French Language and Culture Maymester is being offered. Students will stay in historic Rennes, a blooming university town in close proximity to a plethora of historic sites, such as the Normandy beaches and Le Mont. St. Michel. They will experience the magnificent culture of Rennes, which is famous for its traditions, environmental efforts, and music festivals.
Besides offering opportunities for independent research and field study, Maymesters also foster special relationships among the students who participate. Shauni Cowan ’16, who went to Namibia for environmental field study, adds that the trips can provide some great adventures—including climbing 200-meter sand dunes, skydiving, four-wheeling in the desert, and being charged by a rhino.
Not all Maymesters take place outside the United States. They can be as close as Ames Plantation, an archaeological dig 50 miles east of campus, or as far as Jackson, Wyoming, where students focus on the ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Students also have the opportunity to study in America’s oldest city: St. Augustine, Florida. There they reside at Flagler College for three weeks while studying Dr. Martin Luther King’s nonviolent approach to social change and hearing firsthand from prominent members of the community about their experiences during the civil rights movement in 1964.
Summer scholarships are available for these programs, and students wishing to learn more can visit Study Abroad Scholarships and Fellowships.
By Swaneet Mand ’18