Students' eyes opened through international experiences this January


A group of Carthage College students visited Table Rock in Johannesburg, South Africa in January.

What better way to learn about the world, than to immerse into another culture. That’s what three Hononegah graduates experienced through the J-term program at Carthage College, located in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The J Term Study Abroad program is a tradition at Carthage. It is offered each year during the month of January. Students have the opportunity to travel for two weeks, exploring and learning about cultures in host countries around the world.

Students earn four credits through the J-term program. They are required to take either the one-month classroom program or the two-week traveling program in order to graduate.

Additional costs for travel, food and lodging, per student is usually between $2,000 and $4,000.

Scholarship funds are available for short or long- term study abroad programs.

Hononegah graduates Payton Bird, Skylar Rhodes and Michael Anderson are students at Carthage and elected to take the J-term class this year.

Michael Anderson of Roscoe chose to study International Business - Marketing and Cultural Analysis of Sweden.

Payton Bird is a sophomore at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Payton had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to study the culture and make friends from all over the world through the J Term program at the school.

Payton Bird of Rockton traveled to South Africa where she studied Service Learning in Communities. “A group goes down every two years.” Payton said. “We spent time in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and at the Nkume Primary School in Eshowe, South Africa. Students learned about South Africa cultures, maintenance programs, and raising crops.”

“It is absolutely beautiful country,” said Payton, especially Cape Town. “Cape Town is on the coast of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. There are lots of winelands (vineyards) around the country.”

“We saw many differences in the culture and the lasting effects of apartheid. Apartheid started in the 60’s and 70’s and ended in the late 1990’s.” She said being exposed to the culture of South Africa was a great experience.

Payton is studying elementary education. She plans to earn a teaching degree and to come back to the Rockton area once she finishes school.

Skylar Rhodes visited India and learned about the medical and non-medical treatment options at clinics in New Deli. Skylar is a nursing student at Carthage College

Skylar Rhodes of Rockton is in her junior year at Carthage. She is majoring in nursing. She chose to travel to India for her J Term study to learn about Health Care in India: Traditional and Nontraditional Healing.

“It was a very big, eye-opening learning experience. We stayed in hotels in New Deli and Varanasi... Varanasi is among the most holy cities in the world. The people of India speak mostly Hindi.

“I learned a lot in Varanasi during the first week we were there. We went to the Taj Mahal and rode camels. The cities we visited were very crowded with lots of wild cows, dogs and monkeys. We saw a lot of poverty, with people begging in the streets.

“I felt safe in India, although the driving is coordinated chaos.

“The second half of the program was touring the clinics, studying natural methods of healing and aromatherapy. There was not a lot of western medicine practiced there.

“Health care in India focuses on class, gender, environment and the caste system. India health care also focuses on hospice-care and end of life. Many ascribe to reincarnation.

“It was a great learning experience. I feel that it changed me.”

Streets in New Delhi (seen here) and Johannesburg are very crowded and there is a great deal of poverty. Photo: Skylar Rhodes

After finishing her studies at Carthage, Skylar plans to come back to the Rockford area and pursue a career as a nurse practitioner.

According to Carthage College professor and J Term counselor Maggie Wentzell, Carthage is one of only a few colleges and universities in the United States who offer the J Term experience.

“Students learn a global perspective through their experiences abroad.’

For information about the Carthage J Term student program, fees and requirements, visit

Cows and wild dogs in large numbers are found in the streets of New Delhi, India, day or night. Photo: Skylar Rhodes
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