M-Term Week 2: Marine Studies, Rain Forests, Art, Music, Theater, and Cuisine

The 2014 Midwinter Term, or M-Term, began on February 24 and runs through March 14. Students are currently traveling overseas, studying on campus, and working on approved independent projects.

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In Mo’orea, students are working with marine science experts at the Gump South Pacific Research Station conducting on-site biodiversity research and fieldwork to collect, identify, and document marine life using biocubes, frames that measure 1 cubic foot of space in the ocean. This week, students accompanied distinguished Smithsonian scientists Dr. Chris Meyer and Dr. Seabird McKeon to the edge of Cook’s Bay to retrieve the ARMS (artificial reef monitoring system), which has been submerged and collecting data for two years.

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In the Caribbean, Ethnomusicology in Cuba students continued their daily drumming classes and explored the beauty of old Havana, while students studying the coastal ecology of the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John are learning about the island’s flora and fauna and the challenges facing the local coral reefs. Recently, they went on a medicinal plant walk with an indigenous local expert and visited Princess Bay and Haulover Bay.

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Over in Central America, on the Panama trip, students are studying the lush rain forests and wildlife and interacting with indigenous groups. On March 3, they journeyed three hours outside of Panama City to Tusipono village to meet the Embera Tribe. One student said of the experience, “We are true outsiders, but the people are more welcoming than some of our neighbors at home.”

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Not too far away, in Belize, students are exploring tropical rain forests, observing marine animals and other wildlife (including howler monkeys and coatis), and learning the customs of the local people. On March 6, the class got to snorkel near the Belize Great Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef in the world, diving in with sea creatures of all kinds.

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On March 6 in England, students traversing the Ridgeway Trail walked 17 miles from Avebury to Ogbourne St. George. Despite the long walk, the group seems to be maintaining good spirits, and they are posting reflections on their visits to such British landmarks as Stonehenge and Westminster Abbey. Further east in Europe, Ross School Tennis Academy students in Greece are keeping up with a rigorous training schedule but taking time to experience the culture, cuisine, and history—and of course, the grass courts!

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In Myanmar, students are experiencing the sometimes shocking diversity between the country’s ancient beauty and its modernity. “The cultural difference between what I am used to and what I see here is vast, and I’m not even sure I have begun to properly comprehend it,” one student said of her first experiences with this new world. They are currently in Mandalay.

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Back in New York, the Art and Culture class is completing a mural with students’ paintings of human rights violations; Innovation Lab engineers are turning a large ride-on Barbie ATV into an autonomous robotic rover; and the Mangiamo class is learning Italian cooking, language, and culture.

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Students exploring Long Island visited the Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Sag Harbor and went on a shark dive at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, where the students were lowered in a cage to observe the sharks. The class has also been learning about coastal ecology from the experts at the aquarium.

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The Life Behind the Lyrics class has been busy. So far, they have studied Beyoncé, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Kelly Rowland, Destiny's Child, Bob Dylan, "American Pie," Nas, J. Cole, Buena Vista Social Club, Amel Larrieux, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Chuck Berry, Little Walter and other artists from Chess Records. They also visited The Beatles exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Cullman Center, attended the Motown Musical, and tried their hand at drumming, songwriting, musical-writing and story-writing.

Musical Theater Workshop teacher Gerard Doyle says his students are making great strides in their understanding of telling a story through dialogue and song. On March 14, the class will perform the opening number from the musical Pippin.

The J.R.R. Tolkien Middle-Earth class is reading the Hobbit and using their experience as a basis for discussions of sustainability as it relates to cultural heritage, environment, and technology.

Students in the Making Life a Little Greener class have visited area farms and greenhouses, where they have learned about composting, hydroponics, and planting seeds. As a final project, students will formalize a proposal for a greenhouse at Ross School.

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In addition to travel and on-campus courses M-Term students have the opportunity to partake in independent study during the term. One student doing independent study is Livia Azevedo, who is interning for an architectural firm and studying Art Deco architecture in South Miami Beach, Florida. Another student, Jordyn Moncur, is spending the time as an intern in the fashion industry in New York City.

OFF-CAMPUS COURSE BLOGS Adventure on the South Pacific: Founder’s Trip to French Polynesia  Read blog The Coastal Ecology of St. John, U.S. Virgin Island  Read blog Ethnomusicology in Cuba  Read blog An Exploration of the Culture, History, and the Environment of Panama  Read blog Hiking the Ridgeway: Sustainable Travel on the Oldest Road in Europe  Read blog Isolated Like an Island in the Planetary Sea: Myanmar  Read blog RSTA Travels to Greece: The Olympics and the Meaning of Sport  Read blog Grades 7/8: Ethnology and Sustainable Ecology in Belize  Read blog