Spotlight on summer Odyssey projects

Elizabeth Jones


Project: Think About What You Saw: A Learning Experience in Eastern Europe

Sophomore Elizabeth Jones will travel in various places through Eastern Europe to look at Holocaust sights as well as Holocaust sights of memory. Jones will leave in May, a mere four days after her finals. This trip will last approximately 3 weeks.

“I’m going to Budapest, a couple spots in Poland, and some spots in Germany,” Jones said. “I am also doing Hendrix-in-Bonn, so some of these things are tied in with that. The biggest thing is, I am visiting a lot of spots Auschwitz and Treblinka, which is a death camp. In Budapest, I am mainly focusing on sights of memory.”

For the self-reflection part of Jones’s project, she is doing a travel and history blog throughout her trip. Jones will include her Hendrix-in-Bonn trip with these blogs. Ideally, this will be a daily blog post. She hopes to post on what she is doing, facts, and her overall education—not just academic— but also from the perspective of a first-time international travel student.

“I am hoping to put a lot of things out there,” Jones said. “I’m going to be posting an essay about why I study the Holocaust and why I am interested in this. Also, what I am expecting before I go over there.”

Jones would like to be a curator in her future. Jones is involved in the Isabelle Peregrin Odyssey Professorship: “Bearing Witness: Holocaust Literature and Education” program with Dr. Stuber that delves into how to study and teach about the Holocausts, specifically looking into literature. She plans on looking deeper into these exhibits, not only as understanding the Holocaust but in a curatorial sense as well. Jones has dreamed of visiting the places lined up for her trip.

“At this point, I saw an opportunity, and I just ran for it,” Jones said. “Because of working with the Peregrin scholarships and Hendrix-in-Bonn, it’s perfect timing for me to do this thing that I’ve always dreamed about. It’s cool how it is all connected with my major and minor and what I would like to do; now is the prime time to jump right in.”

Ivan Heger


Project: Investigation of the Longevity of Nicoya, Costa Rica

Sophomore Ivan Heger will be traveling to Nicoya, Costa Rica, accompanied by Dr. Anne Goldberg and Dr. Jennifer Peszka along with a couple of other students. Nicoya is a blue zone in Costa Rica.

“A blue zone is basically an area where people live a long time, longer than the average population,” Heger said. “We will be interviewing them on their sleeping habits, social life, monitoring their sleep, and collecting micro-biome samples to run in the fall semester.”

Heger is currently a part of Dr. Houck’s lab through a research position. In this lab, students analyze the microbiome samples. Heger found interest in looking at blue zones and microbiomes.

“I thought I’d be a natural addition to the team going to Costa Rica this summer.” Heger said, “Since I am part of the lab that runs the samples.”

One benefit Heger adds to the group is that he is fluent in Spanish. Heger spent the first ten years of his life in Spain.

“I am looking forward to interacting with the population of Nicoya and seeing how their lifestyle, culture is different from that, that I am used to and the rest of Costa Rica as well.” Heger said.

Rachel Elmakiss


Project: Coffee and Hospitality in the Bedouin Society of the Negev

This past winter, Rachel Elmakiss went on a birthright trip where she resided in Israel for ten days. A Birthright trip is a program for Jewish people of other countries to come and visit Israel at a very low cost. There was a tourist attraction in Negev where Elmakiss stayed with the Bedouin tent for a night on New Years.

“They gave us a little lecture about their hospitality,” Elmakiss said. “Hospitality is something that is really ingrained in their culture for multiple reasons.”

Elmakiss learned about the importance of coffee in Bedouin society as well as it’s importance in hospitality. This little lecture only scratched the surface. Elmakiss witnessed the green coffee beans and will explore if they grow their own.

“They have these big wooden jugs with wooden sticks—there’s a term for this that I don’t remember,” Elmakiss said. “When they start grinding the coffee, it makes music.”

The process of grinding coffee signals the entire community that, that home will be open to guests within the community. Cups of coffee hold their own significance. This is where Elmakiss’s interest sparked.

“There’s kind of code,” Elmakiss said. “Depending on how many cups of coffee you get, or what kind of coffee you get as a guest, is what services you will receive as guests and how long you can stay there.”

Elmakiss reflected on an intricate coffee ceremony in Bedouin culture.

“I came back and starting reading more on Bedouin’s ties to coffee, and it is very tied to their religion—Islam.” Elmakiss said.

Elmakiss is very interested in the amount of hospitality shown by this culture. One interesting fact is the lack of coverage or research on the Bedouins. For places who know of the Bedouins, there are negative stereotypes because of their minority status. Elmakiss is driven to change this view. She hopes to use this to her advantage for possible grad school.

“I am hoping that research like this might get me a door into grad school in Israel,” Elmakiss said. “It is not a highly researched topic. The Bedouins, in general, do not have a lot of research on them. It’s really hard to find articles and books about them.”

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