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​Backpacking, kayaking, dolphins, oh my!

CMU students explore the nature of leadership in back country of New Zealand

Contact: Heather Smith

Imagine hiking rural New Zealand, carrying everything you need in a bag on your back. Fourteen CMU students did just that during a summer study abroad program that taught them personal growth and leadership.

"The trip is challenging but rewarding," said Mount Pleasant junior and University Communications intern Christian Driessnack. "Most growth takes place out of your comfort zone."

The students were led by Bob Dvorak, a faculty member in recreation, parks and leisure services, and Jordan Bruursema, an outdoor and environmental recreation faculty member.

"This trip was the evolution of trying to find new opportunities and environments where we can have the most high-impact learning and most diverse settings for our students to be in," Dvorak said.

The two-week program offered students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, environmental values and cultural awareness through experiential learning in the back country of New Zealand. Students interacted with local community members, traveled through New Zealand's national park system and had the chance to sea kayak and swim with dolphins.

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