Students grow through unique Jterm experiences

HUNTINGTON, Ind. Each year, on-campus and cross-cultural experiences during the January term challenge Huntington University students beyond typical classroom instruction.

Next month, one group of students will travel to India to serve at an all-girls orphanage. Others will apply their skills in medical clinics and schools serving the Haitian population in the Bahamas. And yet another group will follow the footsteps of the Apostle Paul in Italy and Turkey to study the development of the early Christian church. And these are just some of the many options offered to students this year.

The purpose of the January term, or Jterm, is to encourage creative imagination and independent inquiry. Jterm frees both student and faculty from demands of other courses and programs, providing opportunities for uninterrupted and intensive investigation.

"My hope is that the students, through their service, learn more about themselves, their passions, strengths and weaknesses, and grow closer in their relationship with God," said Varun Kaushik, who is leading the India trip.

Students are required to participate in three out of the four Jterms during their time at HU. In addition to off-campus study and service trips, a variety of on-campus classes is also offered. Topics range from illustrating children's literature to exploring iPhone application development.

"This experience is a life changer," Dr. Bill Bordeaux, professor of chemistry, said about a class that he is leading on outdoor environmental education at Camp Michindoh in Michigan. "Students find out a lot about themselves and forge strong attachments within the group. It's an incredible and exhausting experience."

Most Jterm courses are two credits each, though some three-credit practicum courses are available in social work, education and English language instruction. Beginning in 2013, students may also opt to take three-credit classes in their major or from the core curriculum.