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Volcano Adds New Elements to Iceland Program

A group of Meredith College students and faculty will travel to Iceland for a four-week study abroad program based in the small village of Skalholt.

Ten students, led by Professor of History Michael Novak and Professor of English Eloise Grathwohl, will participate in the program, which runs from May 28-June 27. Click here to learn more about Iceland.

Iceland has been in the news recently because of travel interruptions caused by the eruption of a volcano located over a glacier known as Eyjafallayokull. Rather than being a hindrance, the volcano has added elements to the Meredith program.

“We will be in Iceland about 60 miles from the volcano under the glacier Eyjafallayokull but at no risk from it,” said Novak. “I am in touch with the Icelandic Institute of Volcanology – some of the best in the world – and they have agreed to work up a seminar and also a visit to the volcano for us, conditions permitting.”

The volcano will add a chance for the group to perform community service while in Iceland.

“We plan to join the thousands of Icelanders who volunteer time to help the farmers who live near the volcano clean up the ash,” Novak said. “Icelanders take care of each other like no people I have ever met.”

Students in the Meredith program will be taking two courses: IDS 941: Arts, Artifacts and Culture of Iceland and ENG/HIS 941: Life on the Edge: Themes in Icelandic History and Literature.

The Meredith program offers a variety of benefits to the students who participate, learning about geology, literature, government and nature.

“They see a geology that is unique in the world. They meet and get to know a people who find happiness with very little control over nature and very little attachment to material possessions,” Novak said. “They read a rich literature written over 800 years ago that is still alive in the places, the names, and the imaginations of the populations.”

The program is based in one place, which affords the opportunity to get to know the people who live there.

“Students have direct access to members of parliament, cabinet ministers, and experts of all sorts who donate their time to us because we have come to learn about the country rather than just to see a few famous places,” Novak said.

Date Submitted: 2010-05-27

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