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Maryville College Congress Proposal

Page history last edited by raeann.bray@... 10 years, 5 months ago






Title of your College or University: Maryville College


Names of Students Attending:  Raeann Bray and Jacqueline Grafton



Name of Your Big Idea:  Book of Adventures




Maryville College is a liberal arts college in the heart of the smoky mountains. Maryville is a college that seeks diversity but still seems to be populated by more students who are of local origins. This means that many students are from surrounding areas of Appalachia and eastern Tennessee. In these regions, it is common that most do not come from privileged backgrounds and few have traveled outside of the country. A great aspect of Maryville is they encourage travel as a part of the Maryville educational experience, and equally wonderful they provide this opportunity to many students who would not be able to travel without their assistance. However, even with the provided opportunities, Maryville lacks in providing students with the tools to plan their own travels.  This is a practical tool that many students would benefit from. Maryville’s international department does a great job of teaching student travelers about culture shock and traveling safety, and they are great at finding college partners when students want to study and travel abroad, but they seem to be limited in the amount that they can help their students who wish to volunteer abroad.  In recent attempts to organize a trip abroad, with a Bonner group, the student leaders have been left confused and mystified by their endeavors. A resource that the college could offer would be the experience of Bonner upperclassmen that have traveled and volunteered abroad. However, many of these upperclassmen are now alumni and not the most accessible resource.



Big Idea

The idea would be to strengthen the legacy of the Maryville College Bonners- the Bonner goal of bringing service home to the community. This could be done by proposing special dinners where students share and present their travels. Also, by beginning a book of travels/adventures as a resource for future students wishing to learn more about previous travel experiences. This book could serve as a directory and resource for all future Bonners to use when planning their travels.  It would be a compilation of several useful resources. It would include foreign contacts with whom past and present Bonners have formed trustworthy relationships. It could also include any other miscellaneous information that might be useful, such as the most important thing to know in the home language social taboos in that country, or specific advice to certain countries. Also, possibly it could include airline and transportation stubs of the companies that have been used by Bonners. It would be lovely if it could include “must-sees” and “must-visit” places to explore while in these countries. This might make future Bonners feel more at ease traveling in unfamiliar places, and also allow them to feel connected to Bonners of the past. Many general guidelines about traveling can be found in the Bonner service abroad handbook, however, including such personal experiences and information would make traveling abroad more attainable for students.



Action Plan

Our plan is to begin compiling a book of travel from the current Bonners and students who have already traveled and volunteered abroad. By scheduling a specific meeting time to discuss and share information to put in the book, people can have time to prepare what they would like to include. Hopefully, students will be excited to share their experience and knowledge for the benefit of future students. This could possibly be the beginning of something even larger. Maybe this will be the beginnings of a library of volunteerism on our campus. This book would be kept in a place on campus where volunteering is a main concern. On our campus, this is the Center for Campus Ministry.

To put the plan into action, inclusion of current Bonners; Bonner alumni; other MC students who have volunteered abroad; the MC Bonner Coordinator, Preston Fields; the campus minister, Rev. Anne McKee; International personnel, Kirsten Sheppard; professors who teach world cultures classes, such as Dr. Brunger and Dr. Pennington; and even travel and airport agents would be necessary for the successful execution of this project.

It is hoped that this “Big Idea” will create a resource for future students to access when they are completely confused or overwhelmed about making travel plans for volunteering abroad. Even though this idea may not eliminate all the anxiety involved in planning a trip, hopefully it ease the mind of some worried Bonner.  

As congress representatives for our school, we hope to learn from our fellow congress representatives what suggestions they have for implementing our “Big Idea.” Also, information and suggestions on what to add to this book of travel is welcomed.  We would like to hear any positive feedback or criticisms of this big idea and any proposals of ideas that might be more effective.



Anything Else




Which Groups Will You Be In?

Integrating Service Abroad 


Review the guidelines on the project before getting started: Bonner Congress Project Proposal Guidelines.pdf

For a written proposal example click here: Mock Congress Proposal .pdf

For a video example click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz7Nbw7XFTI


Update - Report to Share in the 20th Anniversary Congress Booklet

1) Title – Book of Adventures transformed into actual adventure and serving abroad


2) The Case:

     Our Big Idea originally was to create a book of adventures. This book was meant to be a reference book for future Bonners wishing to travel. However, once we arrived at Bonner Congress we were informed that a reference of this kind was recently created and was available through the Bonner Foundation website.  So, we decided to redirect our immediate attention on a very different problem. Our idea was to create a plan of action to make the junior trip abroad a success.


3) The Solution:  

     Our idea was to plan a trip abroad. In the early stages of trip planning, before our Big Idea was implemented, our group had been facing some difficulty and could not find a reliable organization to work with and was having difficulty finding direction. So, while at Congress we devised a plan to reach out to other contacts and groups on campus, in order better coordinate our trip. We sought out help from other Bonner’s who had previously traveled, international studies majors, and the international relations house on campus. We also encouraged the other Bonners interested in serving to get motivated and become involved. We did this through promotions at Bonner meetings. We also decided to divide leadership among the group because the concentration in leadership seemed to contributing to progress of the trip.

      Early on, we had luck with an older Bonner having a connection in Mexico, but because of the recent upsurge in Drug cartels and violence there, we no longer were able to serve there. However, the international house on campus partnered with us to find another site that needed a group of seven volunteers. We are now officially scheduled to serve in Portoviejo, Ecuador at an orphanage called Portoviejo School. At the school, we are helping to build a small kitchen and dining area with community members. We will be spending time with the children and helping to teach the children English and helping instruct painting, drawing, and music classes.

4) The Process: 

      At Bonner congress, we were lucky enough to brainstorm ways of making our trip a success. At the time of the conference, positive outcomes for the trip seemed far out of reach, and we felt that planning a solution for the trip was a more pressing matter than creating our book.  We believe that implementing our big idea has taught our Bonner class how to more effectively work together and share leadership. We figured out that we needed to devise a plan as a group, needed to pull our resources, and think creatively in order to find solutions for problems and unforeseen conflict.

     This group has been the most resilient in overcoming challenges. We rerouted the trip more than 5 times and yet all remained loyal to the trip and were willing to serve. Also, we learned how important it is, as Bonners, to be flexible and be willing to be placed where the biggest need is, not to be placed that promises the most scenic view or neatest destinations. We feel that we are going to pass these new found appreciations down to younger Bonners and are going to share our pointers on to how to effectively plan a trip as a group of student leaders.

As an aside, as a result of our long journey we have collected many contacts and formed many healthy relationships with community partners. We hope to start our own specific resource book including these partners, once we return. This resource, along with the traveling guides on the Bonner website, will surely make future trip planning a bit smother for future groups. 




March 2010


June 2010









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