April 30, 2014
With the fall 2013 season completed, junior cross country runners Christine Heaney, Carolyn Windover, Chelsea Needham and Nick Grudev had the opportunity to explore new countries this spring.
"I think it's a great opportunity for our athletes to be able to study abroad," noted coach John Kenworthy. "It is something that makes us different from schools that have three seasons of competitive running. Running is a simple enough endeavor that you can do it anywhere and I simply ask my athletes to stay in touch with me throughout their time abroad and continue training to their fullest to be prepared for their fall seasons when they come home."
Each of the four juniors chose very diverse locations to visit.
Heaney, of Malverne, N.Y., chose to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria.
"I chose this place because I wanted to go somewhere that is not the `typical' study abroad destination," said Heaney. "I also wanted to challenge myself to learn a foreign language."
While in Salzburg, Heaney is taking classes focused on Austrian customs and culture including an Austrian folk art class, dancing, and architecture. In addition, she is volunteering to teach English to local high school students. Her stay in Europe was not limited to Salzburg; Heaney has traveled to Prague, Munich, Budapest, and Italy during her 16-week adventure.
Windover, a native of Southbury, Conn., has been abroad since September studying at the London School of Economics. Windover is enrolled in a program called the General Course, made up of 300 students from 43 different countries. She will stay in London until the conclusion of the program in mid-June.
"I was given this incredible opportunity to spend a year at one of the best institutions for Economics in the world," said Windover. "While at LSE I have had the chance to attend a variety of outside lectures. Guests such as multiple Prime Ministers in the EU, the mayor of London and various other academics have spoken at LSE."
While studying at LSE, Windover joined the running team which participates in several races throughout the year. In late February, she ran her first half marathon.
Throughout her time abroad, Windover immersed herself in European life. She has traveled through much of the United Kingdom, including Stonehenge and Bath. Her travels include trips to Germany, Italy, Hungary, Greece and Croatia, where she visited many of the popular tourist sites. Attractions included the Munich Christmas markets in Germany, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Vatican in Italy and the thermal baths in Budapest. Despite enjoying her travels through Europe, Windover is most excited to return to Siena in the fall for her senior year once her program is completed.
Needham, from Buffalo, N.Y. selected Ecuador as her study abroad location. She began her trip in Quito, Ecuador for the first month and has been spending the remainder of the program on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Islands. Needham chose this location because she has the opportunity to study marine biology during her time on San Cristobal Island.
In addition to her classes, Needham is doing service work with Hacienda Tranquila, an organization on San Cristobal Island that focuses on ecological and social service work. While working with the organization, she has worked on a project called Book Bus where volunteers are renovating the local library to provide books to children on the island.
"Since starting my volunteer work, I have had the chance to herd cows, peel and make fresh coffee, remove invasive species of the island (guava and mora) with machetes, plant tortoise grass to restore the tortoise population and help with hippotherapy for children," said Needham.
While in the Galapagos, Needham became scuba certified which became one of her favorite activities while being abroad. In addition, she ran in the local 9k race where she won second place for the female racers and will be bringing home a Galapagean trophy.
Grudev, a native of New Milford, Conn. has been studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. While taking some classes to fulfill his minor requirements, Grudev is also taking a class to learn Xhosa, a local language spoken primarily in the western part of South Africa.
"I chose Cape Town because it's unique from any other place on Earth," said Grudev. "With no shortage of beaches and historic mountains, this is easily the most beautiful city I've ever seen."
In addition to taking classes, Grudev has volunteered for SHAWCO, an organization that helps mentor and tutor students in the local area. He has also traveled through much of the area in Southern Africa including Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
"I've never been bored while I'm down here," Grudev said. "I was able to see an ostrich farm, an elephant sanctuary and a wildlife ranch with tigers, lions, crocodiles and other animals. I bungee jumped off the highest bridge in the world and stepped foot in the Indian Ocean. That was all within four days."
The Siena cross country helped each of these student athletes enrich their experiences abroad. As coach Kenworthy noted, "one of the simplest ways to see a new city, or explore an area you've never been, is to lace up your shoes and hit the ground running."