Ashley Barto: Chicago Botanic Garden Echinacea Project

I traveled to the Chicago Botanic Garden to continue my research project I started during my summer internship with the Echinacea Project. Echinacea Project scientists study tallgrass prairie fragmentation and the consequences that deterioration has on prairie plants and insects. While working at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was able to continue my own project, which helps explain the effects of pollen-stressed conditions on Echinacea pollination and seed development. My experience at the Chicago Botanic Garden allowed me to lean useful research techniques and network with other plant scientists.
When I worked in the field this summer, I pollinated 1980 Echinacea florets to control for floret age and position in addition to the number of florets receiving pollen on the plant that day. At the end of the field season, I collected the plants, so I could examine their seeds later. When I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden, I worked in the population and reproductive biology laboratories to identify how my treatments affected the seed set of Echinacea. On my first day at the garden, I learned the ropes of the lab, and I began dissecting my plants. At first, this task took about an hour per plant, and I had 21 plants I needed to get through while at the garden. With each plant, I worked more efficiently, and eventually, I was able to dissect a plant in just over 30 minutes. As I dissected the plants, I met graduate students and volunteers who chatted with me about their research or hobbies.
After I had dissected all of my plants, I used the garden’s seed x-ray to identify how many healthy seeds the plants produced. Learning the technique for using the x-ray was challenging, as I had to work quickly not to overexpose the x-ray film and accurately to capture all of the seeds on each x-ray sheet. Although learning the dissecting and x-raying techniques took a couple of practice rounds, I learned what I needed to do to have good, usable data, and I got it done in my few days at the Garden.
While I got a lot of work done, I also spent time with some of my friends in the Chicago area and visited some of the major attractions. During my weekend in Chicago, I rode the L to meet my friends and visit the Field Museum, the Art Institute, and Millennium Park. The Field Museum was favorite place I visited. When there, I saw exhibits on global conservation efforts, the ancient Americas, and the diversity of plants. These exhibits were captivating to me because they laid the foundation upon which my research had meaning. In particular, the global conservation exhibit highlighted many ecosystems like prairies ant the importance of prairie restoration and research.
My experience in Chicago allowed me to study my research topic and question, but even more, I learned about the importance of my questions in the context of conservation. While I learned about prairie research from working in the lab and visiting the Museums, my favorite experience was networking and visiting with my friends and mentors. I was able to talk about graduate school, environmental justice, and my other research projects, and often, I received feedback just through friendly conversation. On my last night in Chicago, my mentor at the Chicago Botanic Garden invited me, the lab intern, and his graduate students to dinner. While I spent most of my time at the garden dissecting the Echinacea plants and x-raying their seeds in the lab, I was reminded that scientists also need to be able to discuss their research ideas.

Maddie Tucker: Fresh Start in Florence

Upon deciding to take this trip, I had just undergone many big changes in my life. I had just completed my first year of nursing school and I was in love with the work I was doing, no matter how difficult it was. I love helping people and trying to understand their hurts, both physical and emotional. Going on this trip really helped my cultural awareness in a way that I know will help my nursing practice. My mind was opened to a different communication style, new lifestyle, and health management.

The people were quite different from those in America. There was a collective sense of being in Florence. The people were more openly kind and helpful to one another. I hope to bring this sense of community into my nursing practice with not only my patients, but also my co-workers.

Another huge part of the trip that affected me was the nature. We hiked in Cinque Terre, on the Mediterranean and the views were incredible. I pushed my body past limits I thought I had. We hiked for 7-8 hours each day through stunning vineyards and mountains overlooking the beautiful blue water. I couldn’t help but absorb the pure, raw beauty. It was so perfect and untouched by luxury. The buildings were colorful, simple and without too much flare. They were so old and the residents had been there for years and years with their families. It was a small village, everyone-is-friends mentality.

The next big hiking endeavor was in Bolzano, in the Alps. The mountains were stunning, like giants looming over the picture-perfect Alpine meadows. There were beautiful wildflowers of orange, purple, pink, blue, and yellow. They danced in the soft breeze and I couldn’t help but run through the field with the new best friends I made on the trip.

I highly suggest exposing oneself to the beauty of Italy. I love that we not only got to experience historic, artistic Florence, but we also got to explore many other Tuscan hill-towns via train. The small towns had stunning cathedrals and history and small shops, whose shopkeepers were captivating in their knowledge of Italy. The churches were moving both in their immense size and in the spiritual wholesomeness they exuded. Upon entering the churches, one could feel the history and the reason so many people clung to their faith a long time ago. The statues, murals, and altarpieces were so detailed and intricate.

This trip was full of history, art, architecture, cultural comparisons, and natural beauty. Nothing was overly modernized with technology the way things are in America. If you have the opportunity to expand your mind and cultural awareness, take it. Too many people never get the chance to see what is out there. More people need to in order to be more compassionate and open-minded in today’s ever-changing world.

Morgan Sweere: Mobile Clinic in Succotz, Belize

The crazy thing about going on a service trip to another country is when you get home. Everything is the same – same people, same places, same smells. Yet, everything is different. I realized that what had changed was me. I learned about medicine while I was there, and we helped people as much as we could during the time we were there. However, the biggest help we gave to the local people wasn’t healthcare at all – it was love. Building relationships and sharing stories with the people, showing that we cared, and playing with the children with all the time we had seemed to mean the most to them. The people were so grateful for anything we had to offer, and they were so kind and content.

The culture was very different from anything here in the United States. The children were especially well behaved and grateful for receiving even one McDonalds toy, as it was the only toy they had.  We spent the first day in-country visiting local orphanages. We prepared for the King’s Children’s Home first, where we saw about sixty children in the afternoon. Our group gave out gift bags to each of the children in the home, which contained pencils and notebooks (they need school supplies badly), as well as sunglasses to protect from the rampant sun damage and a toy. We also visited Marla’s House of Hope, which was in a secret location because it housed girls who were victims of sex trafficking originally and many of their children as well. After each girl had a visit with one of the doctors, we gave out vitamins and flip flops, as many of them didn’t have shoes, which caused them to contract pinworms from walking around in the dirt.

It is difficult to explain the gratitude each of the children in these orphanages showed on their faces. They looked forward each year to the week when our group came, as it was their only “gift” of the year and their only medical visit. The next three days were spent working in the “clinic” we had set up, which consisted of trash bag room dividers and a suitcase pharmacy in the local Nazarene church. We got help from local people, who we paid $25/day to translate for the people who didn’t speak English (mostly elderly). When we arrived at the clinic the first day to set up, there was a line of people stretching down the street who were waiting to been seen by a doctor. Many of these people sent one person from each home to wait in line to be seen, depending on who might need medical attention the most. When the patient was “triaged,” we got information on how many people were living in their home so that we could better determine how many vitamins to provide for their family.

I was so surprised at the condition of the homes in the villages we visited (one room huts made of trash and sheet metal). Each of these contained around 15-20 people.

My primary job during the clinic was to work at the glasses station, which I found to be the most rewarding experience of the entire trip. Some of these people who came to our clinic were in their sixties and had never had glasses before. A local Conway opthamologist had donated five hundred pairs of glasses to our trip, although we didn’t know what prescriptions they were, as they were used. It was kind of difficult at first to help people find the glasses that might work best for them because of this, since we had to just keep trying them on until we found a pair they liked. However, we eventually found ways that worked best for us at our station and attempted to sort them by their strength.

The coolest part of the entire trip was seeing elderly patients who finally put on that “perfect” pair of glasses. Their faces lit up immediately, and that’s how we knew we had found the pair that fit them. It is amazing how these people were so resilient; they had gone their entire lives without being able to see and had successfully held jobs and raised families.

I was also lucky enough to get to observe our two physicians, Dr. Andrew Cole, OBGYN, and Dr. Tom Roberts, orthopedic surgeon, as they did some of their patient care. The medical problems we have here are very different from the medical problems there, because there is so little health care available to the people. Dr. Cole removed several warts and growths from people’s’ skin (we joked that he was the new dermatologist). Because of the high carb diet (beans, rice, tortillas), the people often had hypertension, diabetes, and obesity as diseases, but it wasn’t very well controlled, so we gave out as many glucometers as we could. I met four year old Aliyah during the last day of clinic, as I talked with her while her mom was seen by the doctor. She ended up stealing my pen and writing her name on my thigh so I “wouldn’t forget her,” but I knew that I never would. She had the most innocent and real smile I’d ever seen.

In the clinic, we saw 492 families, treated 1387 people, filled 2603 prescriptions, and gave out 500 glasses. The last day, we spent visiting the school another group had built in a previous year. I was walking around the school when Aliyah came up and jumped on me. She showed me her classroom and we spent a little while building blocks before we had to leave. She hugged me and said that she would miss me and hoped that I would come back next year. I will.

Kane York: First Conference Experience

I attended the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) conference in San Antonio, Texas between March 31st and April 2nd. Before the conference enjoyed research; however, it seemed as if I was working in a vacuum. The only people I could discuss my findings with were my professor and a select few people in the department. This changed when I was able to attend SWPA. Walking into the poster room blew me away. I expected there to be a good amount of people in attendance, but witnessing the amount of posters and people discussing the subjects made it all the more real. This became even more poignant when I stepped back and thought of the amount of work each project took. Each poster or presentation was the result of hours of data collection, critical thought, and analysis.

Each day consisted of a myriad of talks and poster sessions. The first day I attended a talk discussing the manner in which we value human lives in and out of war. The speaker drew upon themes in psychology, economics, and philosophy to enlighten the discussion. We addressed questions regarding donations made to nonprofit organizations, how we as a developed country form our views of people in war torn countries, and how we allow the state to place value on certain lives. This talk impressed me because of how the speaker and the audience drew upon different disciplines. It displayed that psychology is a field that draws from many sources.

In the latter portion of that day, I observed a symposium with Cognitive Psychology as a focus of the talks. I was excited to hear this presentation since the content differed from the social psychology presentations I had already heard. A common theme through all of the speakers was studying the visual system using visual search tasks. In short, this is a task in which a participant needs to “search” for a target object among other objects known as distractors. This tasks allows the experimenter to manipulate the stimuli that appear on the screen and draw conclusions from the participants input. From this we can make inferences about unobservable mental processes. This provided me with more reference material for a project I plan to work on next semester, one that studies ensemble processing—the ability of humans to make quick judgments when presented with large amounts of visual stimuli. It brought me joy to see that my area of study was alive and well.

During the second day I attended another talk that was about how teachers can approach learning differently. The speaker quoted a number of studies in discussing how professors and students need to stop thinking of lectures as a transferring of knowledge from one container to the next. He claimed that it was an active process on both parts. His presentation gave me new insights to learning and was able to dispel some myths. The amount of false assumptions I had was a bit surprising. One interesting takeaway from his lecture was that students are responsible for 50% of their learning. This puts a number of student problems into perspective. Later, it was time for my poster presentation. What I figured was going to be an event full of anxiety turned out to quite enjoyable. What I expected was to be rigorously questioned by professors and academics, but this did not happen. People expressed a genuine interest in my research and asked understandable questions.

This was a fantastic first conference experience. To see the amount of and how diverse the people in attendance brought me much joy. Seeing so many studying in my field gives me confidence that I am choosing a worthwhile degree.

Russell Jeffrey: Rwanda

You Need a Friend

Mr. Gaby was the first person we met in Rwanda, and without him we would have been completely lost. His head, shorn like the heads of most Rwandan men, balanced on his body more than six feet in the air – inches above the tallest in our group. Gaby seemed to know his way around everywhere, and he could bargain, discuss, argue and talk his way around until he got what he had come for. We were naturally curious when we discovered that he could speak seven languages. He advised us that the first word to learn in any language is “thank you,” or, in Kinyarwanda, “moracoze.” After that, it is up to you.

The second person we met on our trip was Gaspar, the bus driver who drove us all across the country. He was a very shy, humble person who was probably the best bus driver in Rwanda. Gaby knew that Gaspar was excellent, and the bus company knew that Gaspar was Gaby’s first, second, and third choice if he needed transportation for a group like us. We soon learned that Gaspar could squeeze the bus through gaps in the rush-hour streets of Kigali as smoothly as he could cruise through the hills, and because of our trust in Gaspar’s skill, the bus became a safe place for us throughout our trip.

We spent our first week in the capital, Kigali, at a guesthouse called Kings. As such, we became familiar with the staff members, Justine, Augustine, and Celestia, and the owner, Mr. Amos. Justine could not stand idly by as the white, American students struggled to do the most rudimentary household chores. She often had to show us the proper ways of doing things like washing clothes and peeling potatoes after she had a good chuckle. Augustine was a cheery fellow who always greeted us with a smile, but we were never quite sure exactly how much English he understood. He always smiled and nodded politely when we asked him questions, but we found that some conversations required much more pointing and gesturing than others. Luckily, he was quite familiar with the English phrases, “There is no hot water,” and “There is no Wi-Fi.”

I met another person in the village of Kanembwe. At the time that we visited, there was some confusion about the ownership of the land we were working on, so while Gaby was off talking his way through a Rwandan police force, an electric company, and a village of several thousand people to sort things out, we were left with little more than hand gestures and the Kinyarwanda words for “yes”, “no”, “thank you”, and “white person”. The guy I met seemed to be about my age or a bit younger, and he was one of the only people we met in the village who spoke a lick of English. He wore a red snapback cap turned around backwards, and he called himself Jumeve. (Pronounced with a soft “J”, Ju-may-vay is my best attempt at spelling the name from I-don’t-know-what-language that I only saw written as “JMV”).

Over the course of the two days we spent in Kanembwe, there were many occasions that sent me in search of Jumeve to make sense of the ideas that the people were trying to communicate to us. I was told that I could be cut by sharp minerals if I touched the cement, I was told that it was considered a “blessing” to get peed on by a baby, and I declined the requests of several men who thought it was my job to marry off the ladies in our group. None of these messages were understood without the help of Jumeve. At the end of our stay in Kanembwe, I briefly got to say goodbye to him. His grin, which I had always received when I smiled at him in passing, fell away when he understood that we were leaving. He gave me his WhatsApp number and asked for something to remember me by. I thought frantically: Shoes? I need those; Notebook? Tattered; Money? Impersonal; Tape measure? Cheap. Then it struck me: Pocket knife. I unclipped it from my belt and handed it to him. He nodded, we exchanged mournful smiles, and I went on my way to join the others for the ride back to our hotel.

On the morning of our trip home, Gaby arrived with a different bus driver (Gaspar had a scheduling conflict) and took us to the airport. I was comfortable letting everyone else take pictures that would be shared after the trip, but my biggest regret about the trip is that I failed to capture Gaby. There are very few pictures of him in our shared folder for, I suspect, the same reason that there are not many pictures of Gaspar’s bus. In the rush and jumble of our first few days, Gaby and Gaspar quickly became the secure foundation from which we operated – the giants whose shoulders we stood on to see Rwanda. I only have one recording of Gaby speaking. In the recording he says one word, “Nzagukumbura,” which is the Kinyarwanda word for, “I will miss you.” I miss him, too. Because, although I have returned from Rwanda, I left a little piece of me behind. I left it on purpose, and maybe someday I will go back to look for it.

Radishes, Swiss Chard, and Kale, Oh my! by Tessa Wolff

Many students are unaware that UCA has its own organic garden on campus. It’s called the Dee Brown Memorial Garden and it’s named after Dorris Alexander “Dee” Brown. Dee Brown attended Arkansas State Teacher’s College (now known as UCA) from 1928 to 1931. He is well-known for his influential book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” which chronicles the history of Native Americans in the early western U.S.

​This semester, my classmates and I had the opportunity to learn about the impact and history of gardening in our world today by attempting to grow our own organic garden. “Organic” horticulture incorporates sustainable, environmentally friendly methods of gardening by eliminating synthetic pest and weed controls, chemical fertilizers, and GMO seed varieties. In contrast to today’s industrial agricultural habit of monoculture, organic horticulture attempts to mimic the natural world by promoting the integration of various types of plants and animals into a single garden ecosystem. It also requires a lot of work, which my classmates and I were soon to realize. We started out with thirteen empty garden beds, from which (we hoped) would soon flourish many fall crops. To prepare the beds, we added compost from our campus compost pile which provided a foundational amount of nutrients for our baby plants. Then, we took to our hands and knees and began to plant seeds and seedlings in the fresh Earth. We planted Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Lettuce, Radishes, Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Carrots, and my favorite, “Baby Bear” Pumpkins (which, unfortunately did not do well this season). We added Pansies and Marigolds to attract pollinators and add to the beauty of the garden.

Many hours were spent watering, weeding, amending the soil with extra compost, and inspecting for insects, all in an attempt to make sure our harvest came to fruition. Additionally, we planted three beds with peas to prepare them for the next growing season. Peas are nitrogen fixers; they take nitrogen from the air and return it back to the soil. This is an important step in preparing beds for future vegetables that require high amounts of nitrogen, such as tomatoes or squash. Over time, our baby plants grew into mature plants and finally started producing vegetables! The leaves of Swiss Chard and Kale can be harvested as they grow and the plant will continue producing leaves for further harvest. The broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and pumpkins take a bit longer to produce fruit, but patience is a virtue! As we wait for the rest of our veggies to grow, we continue to learn about the benefits of organic horticulture to humanity and the environment. We’ve learned that agricultural costs aren’t strictly limited to monetary ones. By not using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, organic gardeners and farmers are reducing agriculture’s harmful impact on the Earth. For example, synthetics can cause soil depletion, increased insect resistance, pollution, and may even have long term, detrimental health effects on humans. By gardening organically and selling locally, farmers reduce the use of oil in transportation and preservatives in shipping. They also promote the growing of fruits and vegetables during their proper growing season and preserve the important heritage of heirloom seeds, which are natural, non-genetically modified seeds that have been preserved over generations.

​I came into this class with what I thought was a pretty good amount of gardening experience and knowledge. The first day of class, we were told to rate ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 meaning “gardening genius” and 1 meaning “clueless.” I rated myself a 5. The fact was, I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did and I have certainly had a bit of a wakeup call when it comes to the astonishingly far reaching effects that food production has on our world. My classmates and I are proud of our little garden, knowing that our hard work paid off and that we did our own small part in treating the Earth respectfully.

Scotty McKay: The Life of a Protein

I worked in Dr. Marian’s lab for three semesters. During this time, I learned to culture cells, determine the protein concentration of a solution, perform immunoprecipitations, perform immunofluorescent microscopy, SDS PAGE, as well as western blotting. I was also able to present my work at three different conferences and wrote my honor’s thesis titled “Cadherin 18 Localization and Interacting Partners” over this project. I got into this research because I wanted to explore whether research was something that I would want to pursue after graduation, but also because I saw potential for this work to have a real, positive impact on people’s lives.

The goal of this project was to learn more about a protein that is found naturally in human cells called cadherin 18. This is a type 2 cadherin that very little is known about, which to me is one of the most fascinating things about this project. Knowing throughout your research that something you notice could be the first time that anyone has ever made that observation is an awesome feeling. For this project, we had two main goals. These goals were to find out where cadherin 18 is localized within cells as well as determine what proteins cadherin 18 interacts with. By knowing where it is located and what proteins it interacts with, we will have a much better idea of what it does in the cell. Gaining a greater understanding of cadherin 18 is important because by learning more about cadherin 18, we will have a better understanding of any bodily process or disease that cadherin 18 is found to be involved in.

In order to see where the cadherin 18 is located in cells, we used immunofluorescence. Immunofluorescence makes use of antibodies as well as fluorophores (light emitting organic molecule) to locate a particular antigen. In our case, we bound a primary antibody that specifically binds cadherin 18 to cadherin 18. We then bound a secondary antibody to the primary antibody. This secondary antibody had an attached fluorophore that emitted light when it was exposed to a certain wavelength of light. Using this method, we were able to take pictures of our cells that highlighted where cadherin 18 is located.

We then used immunoprecipitation to determine what proteins cadherin 18 interacts with. Immunoprecipitation uses the same antibodies as immunofluorescence that are specified to cadherin 18. In this case though, the antibodies are bound to agarose beads. After the cell’s proteins are extracted, all the cellular proteins are allowed to interact with the antibodies. Only the cadherin 18 should bind to the antibody, and any protein that interacts with cadherin 18 should bind to cadherin 18. After performing washes and centrifugations, we should be left just with the beads, antibodies, cadherin 18, and possible interacting partners of cadherin 18. An elution buffer was then used to remove the proteins from the antibodies, and the proteins were subjected to an SDS PAGE to help determine what the interacting proteins are. During SDS PAGE, the eluted proteins are mixed with a dye and then pipetted into the wells of a precast gel. This gel is then put into a tank of SDS buffer which denatures the proteins and gives them a negative charge. When this gel is subjected to electrophoresis, the proteins are pulled toward the positive electrode. The gel that the proteins move through is very porous which allows small proteins to move more quickly through it. The end result is a gel with multiple bands of proteins separated based off molecular weight.

The end result of my work on this project is that we believe, based on our fluorescent images, that cadherin 18 is located throughout the cytoplasm of cells. We also were able to see multiple distinguishable bands on our SDS PAGE which we believe are possible interacting partners of cadherin 18. This project will be taken over by another student next semester who will help verify and expand upon these results. I am very happy that I was given the opportunity to assist with this project and am extremely pleased with the results we were able to get in such a short amount of time. I highly recommend that other students get involved in some research project of their own. This was an experience that not only taught me useful skills, but also an experience that greatly developed my critical thinking, problem solving, and presentation skills which will be invaluable in the future.


Taylor Avery: Study Abroad in The Netherlands

It seemed like an outrageous idea to leave everything behind for half a year. It wasn’t until I was offered a real opportunity that I started to consider how much of an impact studying abroad could have on me. I was told that the Netherlands had a business program, so I decided to follow through with applying to the school and just seeing what happened from there. Then, I received an acceptance letter and the next thing I knew I was informing people I would be gone for five months, I bought a plane ticket, and I said goodbye to familiarity.

 A memory that stands out about the plane ride to Amsterdam was the fear that brought tears to my eyes and made my hands shake. Luckily, I was traveling with another UCA student who was going to be at the same university in The Hague. We started talking to a wonderful Dutch man who was traveling back to the Netherlands after doing business in the United States. He gave us advice and assured us that we would be just fine. I remember falling asleep and praying that he was right and hoping for some comfort in his words.

 Upon arriving to Amsterdam, we frantically tried to figure out the train system to get to our apartments in The Hague, where our university was located. After buying the wrong type of ticket, getting off at the wrong station (with multiple suitcases per person), and then finally arriving to our apartments I was feeling a type of exhaustion that I had never experienced before. On the train, we had been surrounded by Dutch conversations going on around us. People of all walks of life were speaking this language and I felt like the biggest outsider. Growing up in a small town, I was familiar with so many people and could strike up a conversation with just about any person that I came across. For once in my life, I was genuinely self-conscious to even say hi to other people.

 We went to the orientation the following day, and immediately gravitated towards Americans who were in the program from other universities. If you’re wondering how we could tell they were American, just know that they are always the loudest person in any room. My friends in Europe used to make fun of me all the time for talking so loud. I was so happy to gain some familiarity, even if it was from total strangers. We made plans to visit Amsterdam together that weekend, and ended up traveling to Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany with them later in the semester.

These friends ended up being my go-to people when I needed a taste of America. We traveled together, ate together, challenged each other, saw the most beautiful sights of our lifetime and bonded through our heartaches for simplicities like Wal-Mart and junk food like Taco Bell. These friendships were the first challenge to my personal growth as I allowed myself to open up to people who I barely knew. I gave a part of myself to these friendships knowing I was receiving the same from them. I went from being a closed-off person to being able to express my feelings freely and be daring, adventurous, and confident. I can never thank them enough for helping me grow into this person that I am now.

 Going back to the orientation day, I soon discovered that I was in a separate program than all my American buddies. So, I lost my familiar again. It was hard making friends at school at first. Most of the other exchange students were from European countries and they immediately bonded through conversations about their credits and internships. I couldn’t really find a common ground to relate until a week or so later when I was asked by one of my professors about Donald Trump and I made a bit of a joke and my first non-American friend laughed and invited me to go eat together after class. She was Danish and outgoing and reminded me of myself in Conway. She introduced me to the group of friends that I spent most of my time with. Two Danish girls, two German girls, an Aruban girl, and myself.

These girls shared their cultures with me and allowed me to ask all of the stupid questions my heart desired. I was so eager to learn about their lives and they felt the same about me. They were hilarious and exciting and had no filters. I learned to be okay with myself and be happy to be who I was. They gave me a confidence I was so incredibly proud of at the end of my journey. I traveled with them several times and we have already made plans for them to visit me in America.

 I discovered that my comfort is found in people and relationships. No matter what country I was traveling to and no matter how scary that was, the people I experienced it with helped me find comfort and familiarity. What I love about the relationships that I made in my time in Europe is that it made me comfortable with myself. I ended up becoming a professional at public transportation in all forms. Trains, trams, planes, you name it and I could figure it out now. I became comfortable enough that I traveled alone to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Five months flew by, and I would give anything to experience it twice. I would encourage every person who can to take the leap of faith and study abroad, especially if you can do it for a semester. You can potentially experience a personal growth that only giving up the “familiar” can give you.


Jasmin Cotoco: 50 Must Do’s When in Greater China, Philippines, and South Korea

This summer, thanks to generous funding from the Honors College, I embarked on my dream study abroad trip. I, with one of my best friends, Lindsey Hazeslip, spent six days in Hong Kong, a day in Macau, thirty-five days in Shanghai, four days in Beijing, twenty-four days in the Philippines, and seven days in South Korea. As much as I would love to, in no way could I ever wholly and justifiably share all of the crazy and phenomenal memories I made with friends and family in just one blog post. Instead, I decided to list all the Must Do’s of the places I visited based on my experiences, just in case you ever chance your way upon these destinations in your next trip.

Hong Kong

  1. Get a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong at Victoria’s Peak. (Pro-tip: Save the sweat and ride The Peak Tram all the way up.)
  2. Stroll around Central District to admire all the architectural buildings.
  3. Walk around Ngong Ping Village.
  4. Greet the Tian Tan Buddha, the world’s biggest seated, outdoor Buddha.
  5. Visit the Po Lin Monastery. Take a peek at the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
  6. Explore Tsim Tsa Tsui. (Pro-tip: Book your hotel here. If you pick the right one and get lucky, you could have the perfect view of Hong Kong’s city scape from across Victoria Harbour. It is literally “lit” at night.)
  7. Visit Disneyland.
  8. Shop ‘til you drop in Mongkok. Visit street markets like The Ladies Market and Sneaker Street.
  9. Must Eats: Dimsum, Ice Cream-filled Eggette waffle. Also, Hong Kong Milk Tea is to die for!!


  1. Visit Senado Square to get a feel of the city’s Portuguese influence.
  2. Visit the Ruins of St.Paul.
  3. Ogle at the luxurious casinos, such as the Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, The Parisian, and Studio City.
  4. Must Eats: Egg tarts, Portuguese food, and jerky. (Pro-tip: Take all the free jerky samples.)


  1. Learn Chinese at East China Normal University. ECNU places you in a lively classroom full of other international students. You’ll take reading classes, a listening class, and a speaking class and will learn how to read and write hundreds of words in a short time. You’ll lose sleep and your sanity, but you’ll reap the benefits of this immersion when you gain so much Mandarin fluency.
  2. Stroll through the Bund to get a waterside view of Shanghai’s signature skyline.
  3. Visit Nanjing Road, a shopaholic’s heaven.
  4. Visit Shanghai Disneyland, the newest and largest Disneyland.
  5. Visit the Shanghai Museum and learn about ancient Chinese painting, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, and more.
  6. Visit Jingan Temple in the middle of bustling downtown Shanghai.
  7. Visit Longhua Temple, the biggest and most authentic temple in Shanghai.
  8. Wander around Tianzifang, Shanghai’s artsy, hipstery district.
  9. Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar.
  10. Must Eats: Hotpot, Dumplings, and Chinese KFC


  1. Explore the Forbidden City and its 90+ palace compounds. Soak in the ancient Chinese cultural history while walking through the many museum collections.
  2. Hike the Great Wall. (Pro-tip: Avoid going after torrential rainfall. Entry to the wall closes because of possible “geological disasters.”)
  3. Stroll through the Summer Palace with its beautiful lakes, gardens, palaces, and temples.
  4. Must Eat: Peking Roast Duck


  1. Experience Philippine shopping culture and go mall hopping. (Pro-tip: Best malls are Megamall, SM Aura, BGC, and Greenhills)
  2. Go food tripping. Food is very cheap, and you can find restaurants of ANY cuisine.
  3. Explore Intramuros to learn about Filipino history.
  4. Go swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Panglao Beach.
  5. ATV through the Chocolate Hills.
  6. Say hi to the tarsiers.
  7. Go ziplining through the rainforests.
  8. Enjoy lunch on a jungle river cruise.
  9. FILIPINO Must Eats: ….I personally approve of EVERYTHING.


  1. Wander through Myeongdong, and stock up on all the renowned Korean fashion, makeup, and skincare.
  2. Get lost in COEX mall, Asia’s largest underground shopping mall.
  3. Have a taste of Korea’s youth culture in Hongdae. Sit and enjoy the many talent-filled street musicians and dancers.
  4. Cuddle dogs and enjoy a drink at a dog cafe.
  5. Stroll through Garosugil, a more quiet, high-end shopping district.
  6. Find specialty souvenirs in Insadong.
  7. Wear a hanbok and take pictures at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
  8. Look at traditional houses at Bukchon Hanok Village.
  9. Check out the futuristic architecture of the Dongdaeum Design Plaza and its 21,000 roses in the LED garden.
  10. Must Eats: Bibimbap, Jajangmyeon, Bingsoo, Korean-styled fried chicken, Korean BBQ

Bonus for any K-pop fans reading:

  1. Visit an entertainment company building. You might spot your favorite artist.
  2. Visit SM COEX Atrium.
  3. Jam out at your favorite group/band’s concert.

For anywhere you go:

  1. Remember Walker Percy’s “Loss of the Creature”? Remind yourself to lose the “symbolic complex” that may form before visiting a place. You have sovereignty over your experience, so take this list as a mere suggestion, and venture outside of it to create your own unique memories!

Honors Students, Faculty Attend First Woman Summit Conference By Mary Kathryn Whitaker

Students and faculty from the UCA Honors College attended the First Annual World Woman Summit, hosted by the World Woman Foundation, on Saturday, Sept. 30, in Little Rock. The World Woman Foundation, led by CEO Rupa Dash, hosted a variety of professional men and women to speak on the topic of “gender harmony.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was invited to make opening remarks at the conference. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, Little Rock Vice Mayor Kathy Webb, and Lynnette Watts were also invited to make opening remarks. All four spoke on economic and social developments for women, including the increasing percentage of women holding executive positions in companies. Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, Facebook and Pepsi all have women CEOs. “Intelligent, talent and strength are genderless words,” Watts said.

Anna María Chavez, former CEO of the Girl Scouts, was the first keynote speaker at the conference. The first woman of color to hold the highest position, Chavez joined the Girl Scouts of the USA for their advocacy for the protection and empowerment of girls.

“It is our collective responsibility as leaders to invest in girls and women and to model ethics, values and behaviors for young children,” Chavez said. “If we don’t change the dialogue, we will see a gap in leadership representing gender parity.”
Economic development was one of the main topics discussed at the conference. Of the world population, the panel shared, only 55 percent of women participate in the workforce, compared with 77% of men. Women have been found more likely to participate in informal economies, likely without social protections such as healthcare.

An increasing number of girls are displaying interest in technology and science fields. Seventy-six percent of high school girls expressed an interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM); however, pursuing an education in STEM was ranked lower than the desire to stay at home and raise children.

Arkansas is the first state in the United States to require high schools to offer computer science courses, a decision that may influence the percentage of girls studying these topics in years to come. The biggest factor in girls deciding not to study science or technology, Chavez said, was a trusted, male figure telling them otherwise.

These historical gender stereotypes have carried over into the workforce. When it comes to applying for positions, women have a different mindset than men, Ceylan Rowe said. More men apply for job positions where they have a marginal opportunity for being hired; whereas, women oftimes apply only if they know they are 100 percent qualified. One way to combat this discrepancy, Rowe said, is by encouraging the use of gender neutral descriptors for corporate positions. Women may be discouraged from apply to positions with masculine descriptors, because they see themselves as not being qualified for the position, or feel they may not be welcome in the organization.

Empowering women allows for a more efficient use of the human capital of a country, said Shruti Kapoor, founder of Sayfty, an organization dedicated to educating women and girls in India about gender violence. A 10 percent increase in the number of girls attending schools would increase the GDP of a country by three percent, Kapoor said. Hilary Haddigan, Chief of Mission Effectiveness at Heifer International, said 77 percent of their food providers are women. However, only 43 percent of farmers worldwide are women. If women were given equal participation in the worldwide economy, Haddigan said, there could be a $23 trillion increase to the global GDP.

“The best way to establish change is to educate,” said Samantha Marqaurd, a global health policy expert. Marqaurd has worked closely with the city of St. Louis to establish health care strategies, including a push for school-based health care. “You can’t learn if you don’t go to school, and you can’t go to school if you are always sick.”

The World Woman Foundation ultimately aims to educate and advocate for the gender equality. In order to reach equality, however, we must focus on equity, which recognizes that not all groups require the same efforts and materials to be considered equal. In developing countries, women may face pushback in the forms of barriers in land ownership, information and technology. Just recently, Saudi Arabia announced that, beginning in June 2018, women will gain the right to drive.

“We can compare the human race is a bird with two wings,” Kapoor said. “If one of those wings is broken, no one can fly.”