Summer vacation brings enrichment opportunities

May 31, 2010 — by Christine Tseng

Students and teachers will be branching out in the next few weeks as they explore new subjects and other parts of the world.

As one example, junior Daryl Chang will be taking part in a prestigious internship at Stony Brook University in Long Island called Garcia MRSEC.

“Compared to other programs, it wasn’t too hard to get into,” said Chang.” Last year they accepted around 65 students nationwide from an applicant pool of around 300. I don’t know the statistics for this year, but I’d assume they’re around the same. I didn’t make the three other programs I applied to, so Garcia was my default choice.”

The program focuses on research about material science with an emphasis on polymers and engineered interfaces like thin films and nanostructures. Chang will be choosing from several exciting projects that range from stem cell nano-scaffolds to different kinds of plastics.

“I’m excited to explore the world of scientific research and what it has to offer,” said Chang. “So far I haven’t had a lot of experience with actual research, so the Garcia MRSEC program should be an interesting primer in that. I know I will have to work hard, since research is never easy, but hopefully it will give me an idea of what the polymer science field is like.”

Other students with interesting summers include junior Jennifer Zhang, who is going to a business camp called LBW at the University of Pennsylvania, sophomore Jeffery Kuo, who is going to two national badminton tournaments, and sophomore Angie Chang, who is going to Taiwan with her church to teach children English.

Students are not the only ones working over the break. English teacher Suzanne Herzman will be studying abroad in Senegal.

Herzman and 15 other teachers chosen nationwide received a Fulbright-Hays Grant to study in the country and will be hosted by the West African Research Center in Darkar. This program take place for the whole month of July, and during this period, participants will learn about Senegalese history and culture through a series of interactive lectures, field trips, readings and discussions.

Herzman is excited for this opportunity since she has not been to Senegal before and knows little about it.

“I don’t know what to expect, which is a thrilling feeling,” said Herzman. “Everything will feel new: the climate, the language, the scenery. I studied French in college, but I haven’t been in a Francophone country in over a decade. I’m hoping it comes back. Believe it or not, I don’t speak [their language] Wolof—so that should be fun.”

Herzman decided to apply for the opportunity while she was working on an elective program with the SHS English Department and wrote a curriculum for a novel by Ousmane Sembène called “God’s Bits of Wood.” Herzman feels that the experiences she gains will help in her teaching and her knowledge of different cultures.

“I think being a student again helps me be a better teacher,” said Herzman.”This summer I will struggle to learn Wolof, for example, which I hope will lead me to be more patient and innovative as a language teacher at SHS. In addition, I have so many students who move flexibly between cultures—and I admire them. I don’t want to become so comfortable that I cease to see the world.”

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