Oh, the Places You’ll Go

J Term student photographing a Komodo dragon in Indonesia

It wasn’t an ordinary January for Lesley Howard ’18. In fact, she and 11 fellow students were in Bali, Indonesia, for J Term this year, taking a close look at Balinese temples, Komodo dragons, and liquid hot magma. It was the fifth year in a row URI offered this exciting course that explores Indonesian culture, biodiversity, and geology.

“Every single part of the trip was inspiring,” said Lesley, a double major in wildlife biology and animal science. “I loved that this trip helped me gain exposure to a new culture, a change in perspective, and a heightened respect for the world as a whole.”

After exploring the crater of an active volcano, following rare birds through the rainforest, and waking up on a houseboat amid gorgeous tropical islands, Lesley said the experience provided “a deeper meaning” than she imagined it would. “I learned that I have a love for travel, and it solidified my decision to pursue a career in wildlife research in the future.”

“I learned that I have a love for travel, and it solidified my decision to pursue a career in wildlife research in the future.”Lesley Howard ’18

While Lesley’s group explored the land and the culture of Indonesia, another J Term group studied global health care in this nation of 18,000 islands straddling the equator.

Visiting Bali, Jakarta, and Yogyakarta, students from the Academic Health Collaborative colleges of pharmacy, nursing, and health sciences toured community health centers, conducting blood pressure screenings and relaying information on stroke and asthma prevention. They collaborated with Indonesian pharmacy students and recent graduates from Universitas Islam Indonesia to create presentations regarding stroke prevention and education.

Pharmacy professor Nicole Asai organized the Indonesia global health trip. “We had an excellent community outreach project in which URI students worked with locals, were received by patients at three different community health centers, and attended one rural community meeting,” she said. “The students have learned a great deal not only about global health issues but also about each other’s professions and the culture of Indonesia. I cannot tell you how proud I am of their efforts and impact on this community.”

These two popular J Term classes provide a glimpse into an ongoing, comprehensive URI initiative in Indonesia that includes a dual-degree program, a range of student and faculty research opportunities, and partnerships with a dozen Indonesian universities. They also offer students like Lesley Howard the opportunity for life-changing experiences, halfway around the world.