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Jeremy Wiles

Jeremy Wiles

Jeremy Wiles

Grinnell College

Participant in the 2014 ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study

  • Hometown: Pittsburg, CA
  • Major: Economics
  • Graduation: 2014
  • Program: Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS): Copenhagen — Spring 2013


Cultivating Social Responsibility and Community

My experience with Copenhagen, Denmark, and the DIS Spring 2013 program truly enlightened my understanding on how crucial cultivating a consciousness and appreciation towards social responsibility is for establishing sustainable communities, especially when diversity explicitly exists.


At left: Video of Jeremy Wiles' presentation at the Symposium.


Most of the time Denmark, much like my Grinnell education, was relentless at convincing me why everyone's wellbeing matters, rather than just people I identify with. It was after talking to a Pastor/community leader who oversaw a housing project in Hellerup, full of various ethnic Danes, when I documented that social responsibility and expanding the effectiveness of community building could best be done when communication and actions are 1) transparent 2) purposely accessible, and 3) co-designed. These qualities became more salient during my participation with the DIS Diversity club, as well as two of my courses (Creative Industries and Gang Crime in Scandinavia).

Whether we are talking about a city of 10,000 like Grinnell, Iowa, or half a million people like Copenhagen, community building is always significant. My presentation will explain how I’ve tried to implement these three qualities I have found beneficial in both American and Danish advocacy groups and organizations to better assist the student organizations I am part of at Grinnell College.


Post-graduation plans: I am working in customer service for a pediatric healthcare company by the name of EPIC Healthcare services in Dallas, Texas.
The best choice I made while on an off-campus program was actively looking for diversity. This included joining the DIS Diversity student organization in Copenhagen, seeking the stories of minority populations in Denmark and learning how diversity constructs community differently across Europe.
One word or phrase that best describes my experience off-campus: O.H.S.O. (Originality Having Successful Outcomes)
Top 3 reasons why I chose to go off-campus:
1. I wanted to see the world outside of the United States.
2. My institution made it cost-benefit friendly, especially for students with high financial assistance. (Way to go Need-Blind!!!)
3. I am a 1st generation college student with immigrant parents. I wanted to do it for my family. The study abroad opportunity was my chance to pioneer an experience. I tell my little cousins, "If I can do it, so can you."
If I could travel anywhere, I would go to Liberia, which is the home country of my mother and father.
If I could learn to speak any language it would be Spanish.
The best meal that I had while on my program was Butter Chicken from Maria's.
The most interesting person I met on my off-campus study program was a young lady by the name of Maria who lived in Nørrebro, the most ethnically diverse district of Copenhagen. Maria opened her home, especially her kitchen, to a small bunch of Grinnellians in Copenhagen with unparalleled kindness and generosity. Our conversations about Danish culture, child-rearing, European politics and career paths made my experience incredibly enlightening. A tour guide is nice, but nothing beats experiencing a city with a friend that is a local.

Photos and materials on this page are courtesy of the presenter.

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