January 30, 2019
Two College of the Ozarks students study abroad in Quito, Ecuador Tara McCloskey, senior journalism major from Big Cabin, Oklahoma, and Johnny Cummings, junior public relations major from Branson, Missouri, studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, during the fall 2018 semester.
Johnny Cummings, junior public relations major, reads to students in the Amazon Jungle town of Misahaulli, Ecuador. During semester abroad, the students spent five days in the Amazon Jungle to directly incorporate concepts learned in their community development course.
During the four months, Tara McCloskey, C of O senior journalism major, and Johnny Cummings, C of O junior public relations major, participated in unique opportunities such as trips to the Galápagos Islands and Perú; climbing Pichincha, a 15,000-foot volcano; zip lining through the cloud forest; and visiting the Amazon Jungle town of Misahualli.
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Two College of the Ozarks students studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, during the fall 2018 semester.
Tara McCloskey, senior journalism major from Big Cabin, Oklahoma, and Johnny Cummings, junior public relations major from Branson, Missouri, were selected by the College to participate in the semester abroad program after an application process taking place during the 2018 spring semester.
McCloskey and Cummings were two of 34 North American students studying with Living and Learning International (LLI), located in Quito, Ecuador.
This study abroad opportunity directly incorporates the academic, Christian, and cultural goals of the College.
“Contact with other cultures helps us understand ourselves, God, and the world we are called to serve,” said Andrew Bolger, campus minister. “The College saw a unique opportunity for our students to participate in the study abroad program in Ecuador. While there, students live as they learn within a culture and country that is significantly different than America – from its political system, to its geography, to its people and history. These opportunities provided our semester abroad students a transformative experience that forms a reservoir of stories that they can then bring back to our campus and share with other students.”
Throughout the last three years, the College has partnered with LLI to provide missional experiences in Ecuador for C of O students. This semester abroad is part of the ongoing partnership between the College, LLI, and Jungle Kids for Christ (JKC), located in Misahualli, Ecuador.
“Jungle Kids for Christ (JKC) is a ministry that serves rural, impoverished children in the Amazonian region of Ecuador. One of their primary ministries is their work school, which, similar to the College's mission, educates rural, impoverished children by allowing their families to work to pay for their school fees,” Bolger said. “Through LLI’s contact, C of O has consistently worked with JKC on their farm projects, media development, and business plans to help them generate revenue that can allow more rural, impoverished Amazonian children to learn at their school about who Christ is.”
A closer look at the semester abroad
The semester started with a five-day backpacking trip through the Andes Mountains and ended with trips to the Galápagos Islands and Perú, where the students visited Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel.
During the semester abroad, the students maintained full-time status as they were enrolled in classes such as language and culture courses. Additionally, both students completed an internship with local Ecuadorean businesses during their time in the country.
The internships were coordinated by LLI as part of the semester abroad experience. McCloskey interned with the World Vision national office, training in the media department. Cummings interned with Hand Eyes, a startup company that creates technology for people who are blind.
During the semester, every student in the program lived with an Ecuadorian host family for one month, allowing them to experience the culture in a more personalized fashion and improve their language skills. LLI selected all the families.
“I’ve never felt more at home than I did in Ecuador,” Cummings said. “I have family there now. I experienced the most breathtaking and beautiful four months of my life. If I’ve brought anything back, it’s the value of relationships over tasks.”
During the four months, McCloskey and Cummings also participated in unique opportunities such as climbing Pichincha, a 15,000-foot volcano; zip lining through the cloud forest; and visiting the Amazon Jungle town of Misahualli.
About College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college, located in Point Lookout, Missouri, on a 1,000-acre campus. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The College earns numerous accolades yearly, including No. 1 Most Innovative School in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for 2019 and No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck by Washington Monthly. To achieve its vision, the College pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic, and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school that completes the K-college model.
The Keeter Center — the College’s award winning lodge, restaurant, and conference facility — was ranked a Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2018. It features historic lodging, fine dining, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 student workers, it is the largest workstation on campus. Follow College of the Ozarks at www.facebook.com/collegeoftheozarks or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.
01.30.19 – Tara McCloskey