Brueggeman Fellows present studies: Students reflect on their extended living-learning experiences

By: Justin Worthing ~Staff Writer~

Xavier’s 2013-14 Brueggeman Fellows regrouped in Kennedy Auditorium last week to share the stories of their travels and the implications of their research. Last year’s seven Fellows traveled to three continents, studying topics ranging from community organizing in post-communist Eastern Europe to occupational therapy in Latin America.

Each Fellow applied one year before leaving for his or her trip. Between acceptance and departure, they spent that academic year making necessary preparations for their travels. The Fellows also received a $3,000 travel grant to help cover expenses.

Brueggeman Fellow and graduate student Grace Badik (above) shares reflections about her trip to Slovakia, where she studied democracy and community organizing in Eastern Europe as part of the Brueggeman Fellows program.

Fellow Christine Ulrich condensed her 10-week trip studying the normalization of children in South Africa’s education system to a brief 20 minutes. She recounted the various cultures she experienced while also showing how her spirituality helped her through the process.

Tim Holliday shared his experience researching the preservation of the Pacific Northwest’s Klallam language — a language whose remaining native speakers passed away only a few years ago.

Abby Anderson followed, recalling her hike to Manresa, Spain to deepen her understanding of Ignatian spirituality and consider what implications it has for the future of Xavier.
Kelly Schmidt, who also traveled to Europe, asked how the Jewish identity continues to play a role in Poland after World War II. She told of her encounters with individuals who discovered their Jewish identity late in life, leading to an identity crisis with which they struggled.

Grace Badik returned to her roots in Slovakia, examining what role democracy and community organizing plays in Eastern Europe and how it has been understood by a variety of populations.

Josephine Lando traveled to her home in Kenya to further the economic empowerment of women in the country. Much of her time was spent writing a pamphlet on business advice for women in the area, and she received a published copy of it only days before presenting.

Ryan Lavalley concluded with a video summarizing his trips to Nicaragua and Guatemala, where he examined current occupational practices in the areas. He stated that much of the trip built on his previous experience of Latin America through the Nicaragua Academic Service Learning Semester.

Lavalley also said that structural and cultural factors make it difficult to improve occupational therapy practices.

The Brueggeman Center is currently accepting applications for 2014-15 until April 4. Applications can be found at