McCorkle Fellows in Norway from L-R: Mr. Jerry Johnson, Dr. Amy Barth, Dr. John Bedward, and Dr. Bethany Larson.

McCorkle Fellows in Norway from L-R: Mr. Jerry Johnson, Dr. Amy Barth, Dr. John Bedward, and Dr. Bethany Larson.

July 12, 2018

In June, a group of four Buena Vista University professors embarked on a journey to Europe as part of the McCorkle Fellowship program, interweaving their disciplines and personal interests and bonding as BVU colleagues and friends. 

The 2018 McCorkle Fellows included: 

  • Dr. Amy Barth, assistant professor of education
  • Dr. John Bedward, assistant professor of education – STEM
  • Mr. Jerry Johnson, assistant professor of digital media
  • Dr. Bethany Larson, professor of theatre 

The trip allowed us to examine different ways of living and then reflect upon what those perspectives can teach us in our everyday lives.

Dr. Bethany Larson

“The McCorkle Fellowship program is incredibly special,” said Larson, who was the lead organizer of the trip. “The fact that it was created with the understanding that such a program would benefit faculty and thereby students was incredibly visionary. The experience provides the unique opportunity not only to learn about different parts of the world, but also to build camaraderie among colleagues and collegiality across disciplines.”   

The Fellows visited a variety of cities and historical locations, including Reykjavik, Iceland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Bergen, Norway; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. 

In Iceland, the group embarked on a tour of the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that showcases a number of Iceland’s natural wonders, including geysers, waterfalls, lava fields, and volcanic craters. 

“My big takeaway in Iceland was the landscape,” said Bedward. “It is a geologist paradise with expansive views, active geysers, and a very good transportation network. It was a beautiful experience.”   

While visiting Copenhagen, Denmark, the group visited several historical locations, including Tivoli Gardens, a legendary Danish amusement park that served as Walt Disney’s inspiration to create the original Disneyland in California in 1955. 

“It was amazing to know that I walked where Walt Disney did analyzing and critiquing Tivoli Garden,” said Johnson. “It really was clear how Disney was inspired by the storytelling of the world’s oldest amusement park. The visit to Tivoli Gardens will help prepare me for the future January Interim trips with students to any Disney destination.” 

The group also took advantage of the Copenhagen’s advanced transportation system, which allowed them to explore the sites and culture with ease.    

“The canals and transportation system provided ample opportunities to explore the city, visit a multitude of museums, eat well and learn about Danish culture,” said Bedward. “The ARKEN Museum was a definite highlight because it provided insight into contemporary sensibilities of Danish art and culture as well as a multimedia presentation on issues surrounding immigration.” 

In Norway, the Fellows visited the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo and took a train to Bergen, which is located the country’s southwestern coast. There, the group explored the Fjord Norway region and took a boat along the Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway and the second longest in the world. 

The group’s final destination was Stockholm, Sweden, where a trip highlight included visiting the Swedish Film Institute and exploring contemporary film and photography issues. They also had the opportunity to look through the Ingmar Bergman Archives, which is a collection of thousands of documents that once belonged to well-known Swedish film director, Ingmar Bergman. 

In addition to taking in the natural beauty and sites of each location, the experience provided the Fellows with an inside look at a multitude of social issues. 

 “The McCorkle Fellowship was a memorable experience,” said Barth. “Of particular interest was learning how children with disabilities are identified and serviced within their city schools.” 

“The trip allowed us to examine different ways of living and then reflect upon what those perspectives can teach us in our everyday lives,” said Larson. “We were able to experience and observe different education systems, different political structures, different social issues, and so much more. The biggest takeaway in terms of what I plan to bring back to students is the awareness that our way is not the only way.”  

The Fellows also developed new outlooks and a genuine camaraderie throughout the three-week experience. 

“I valued the time spent with fellow faculty in a setting far beyond the usual campus environment,” said Barth. 

Johnson added, “The trip was an experience I would have never gotten without the opportunity given by Paul and Vivian McCorkle. It allowed me to be present in new discoveries and stories. The idea of face-to-face adventure allows a person to acquire a better understanding and empathy of others including your colleagues and students. Storytelling became our mantra as we traveled through Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. We discovered how culture uses story to define place, space and time.”