A closing letter to my J-Term students

At Luther, we have a great global story to tell. This blog, in part, gives it voice!

In October 2019, the Institute of International Education released its annual Open Doors Report. Luther was ranked #9 of all baccalaureate institutions in the country for the number of students studying abroad on short-term duration programs.

During J-Term 2020, 243 students and 26 program leaders will participate in one of Luther's 14 courses around the globe. This blog is about more than numbers, though. Its purpose is to provide glimpses into our students’ experiences as they live out an important component of the college’s mission—to move us into a larger world.

So, take a look at the course descriptions, review the itineraries, and learn about our leaders. But most importantly, follow along as our J-Term students experience a much larger world.

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Whenever someone asks me about my job, I always say that one of the best perks is traveling abroad with students in J-Term. Our course this January reminds me how fortunate I am to teach at a college that prioritizes study abroad and that pushes its students to see the world from other perspectives while becoming more aware of their own culture.

As we discussed in our pre-departure meetings, living in another culture requires persistent communication and a willingness to sacrifice many of the freedoms and conveniences that we take for granted at home. I congratulate you for the patience and good humor with which you responded to the daily challenges of living in Mexico. I hope you detect that your ability to communicate in Spanish has grown and that you began to understand some of the practices and perspectives of Oaxacan culture, particularly its rich ethnic and linguistic diversity. I also hope your time in Mexico leads you to greater awareness of the daily challenges of life at Luther for students from other countries and cultures.

In addition to your good work, the success of our J-term course is also due to excellent teachers, host families, and guides. I am grateful in particular for the staff at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca (Lucero, Trinidad, Choni, and Omar) for organizing our program; for Paty, who spent many hours helping you improve your language skills and teaching you to cook delicious food; and for our outstanding host families, who received you warmly, fed you richly, and taught you to see the world from a different point of view.

Leading J-Term courses abroad is truly a privilege. Thanks for making my work so pleasurable, and felicitaciones for a successful study abroad experience. Continue to reflect on what you learned about Mexico and about yourself, ¡y no dejes de practicar mucho el castellano!


Prof. Thompson

Oaxaca Mexico J-Term course.
Oaxaca Mexico J-Term course.
Oaxaca Mexico J-Term course.