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Students share unusual summers

Katie Peralta | Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Campus was a bustle on the first day of class Tuesday with the return of students after the nearly three-month summer vacation. The question was frequently asked: “How was your summer?” followed shortly by “What did you do?” Many students returned home, some pursued internships or and some part-time jobs.

Others, however, spent their vacations slightly more exotic locations.

Richard Paulius, a junior, spent his summer traveling throughout Japan with his 18 year-old brother who studied abroad in the central city of Nagoya, Japan last spring. Paulius has family living in the country and said that he tries to visit as much as possible.

“Since I was little we always visited,” Paulius said. “I learned to speak the language partly through my visits.”

Paulius and his brother bought rail passes in the United States and were able to use the bullet train to travel to the cities of Nagoya, Sukuoka and Nagaski, as well as the Kyushu Islands.

Paulius said that in light of the economic recession, he noticed that a number of his friends were unable to find part-time work or an internship. Traveling eliminated the need to pursue one of the highly sought-after jobs.

Senior Helen Syski also pursued her love of language with a summer vacation. Syski studied with the American Councils Foundation in Moscow, Russia for two months this summer.

“It was even better than I had expected,” Syski said. “I knew it would be exciting. This program was well-organized and fun.”

Syski received funding from the Nanovic Institute as well as the Russian Department for her program. Although not quite fluent yet, Syski, a Russian major, admits that the experience helped her to become conversational in Russian.

Other students additionally pursued summer opportunities that incorporated their major subject. Junior Amy Dunbar who majors in architecture, traveled to Accra, Ghana to volunteer for Construct LLC, an architecture firm.

“I wanted to incorporate service and architecture,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar will leave the U.S. again next month to study in Rome, Italy for the academic year.

Other students took advantage of summer programs offered through the University’s Center for Social Concerns (CSC). The CSC offers popular programs like the Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) and the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP).

SSLP and ISSLP programs put students at the service of impoverished or non-industrialized communities in need. Both 8-week programs offer students a stipend as well as three Theology credits.

Junior Kaitlyn Kiger participated in an ISSLP in Mbour, Senegal this summer, working in an orphanage with one other Notre Dame student and several other international volunteers. Kiger and the other volunteers were responsible for playing with and feeding over 200 Senegalese children.

Kiger said that she always wanted to pursue this kind of opportunity.

“I have always wanted to spend my summer in a developing country,” she said.

Junior Katie Dufner was also able to work with children at an SSLP in the Bronx, New York. Dufner taught reading to fourth through seventh grade girls at the Rosedale Achievement Center.

Both highly competitive SSLP programs are funded by various Notre Dame Alumni Clubs, the James F. Andrews Scholarship Fund and other donors. The application deadline is in early November.