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Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Hello, friends of Central College Abroad! Our quarterly newsletter is intended to keep you in touch with what’s happening with Central College Abroad’s programs across the globe.
Join the Central College Abroad team for a one-day Pre-FORUM event to explore what it means to study abroad with purpose.
Curricular Integration Webinar
Join colleagues and the director of study abroad at Central College to share strategies, lessons learned and time-saving tips that help integrate study abroad with academic programs on your campus.
Dec. 3, 2015, 10 a.m. (CST): Webinar on curricular integration
To participate, access the webinar here.
Specific topics include:
Regardless of where your institution stands in terms of integrating study abroad into the undergraduate curriculum, this participatory webinar will give you the opportunity to exchange ideas with others in the field. Please join us!
Central will offer two new business courses for the fall 2016 semester in Merida! Assistant professor of accounting Maggie Schlerman will be Central’s visiting faculty member. Her areas of expertise include financial accounting and analysis, strategic planning, international accounting and corporate social responsibility. These fall courses in Merida could be a great fit for accounting, actuarial science, business management and information systems majors. Students interested in accounting and management minors or looking for electives in entrepreneurship and not-for-profit minors may also benefit from these courses.
Fall 2016 Merida courses include:
For a number of years, Central College has been collecting assessment data on student learning using the Global Perspectives Inventory (GPI). The GPI assesses holistic human development and students’ attitudes towards other cultures, their sense of personal identity and their ideas about ethical interactions among cultures. Careful and creative analysis of these data reveals impressive gains by Central students who studied abroad, especially when compared with those that did not.
Analysis of this GPI data was presented at the Region IV NAFSA conference in Des Moines in October. To complement the data, action plans were presented for how to use the data to strengthen the case for study abroad and how to apply data to inform efforts aimed at increasing participation in study abroad. The presentation was followed by lively Q&A and discussion.
Pachamama Never Left: Nature and Culture of Peru was an interdisciplinary LAS capstone course created by professor Paulina Mena (Biology) and myself. We taught it for the first time in spring 2014 and traveled to Peru with eight Central College students. We decided to create a course that combined both our fields of study, with a focus on sustainability within the Andean/Amazonian region of Peru. Pachamama is a Quechua word translated as Mother Earth. This definition provides a fundamental base for understanding the historical perspective and contemporary situation of indigenous people in Peruvian society, as well as the effects of the processes of urbanization and globalization. Peru is biologically and culturally diverse, with many habitat types and indigenous cultures.
The course created opportunities for the students to reflect on the relationship between place and meaning through experiential learning. While visiting Peru, students did home stays with a traditional Andean community. There they learned the traditional forms of agriculture (dating back to the Inca Empire) and other economic activities such as organic fish farming, weaving cooperatives and reforestation efforts. Students also participated in a ceremonial offering to Pachamama. Students learned firsthand how this community deals with a changing environment. The main goal was to have our students become aware of the interconnectedness of the decisions they and others make — and the sustainability challenges that diverse communities face.
Our service provider, Peru Vida y Cultura, caters specifically to community-based learning projects and sustainable tourism. All of our site visits have trained guides who specialize in providing a historical perspective on how the Incas developed their communities with sustainability in mind. Their entire way of life revolved on a reciprocal relationship with the land and the environment, with many of these practices still in use today.
As I reflect, I realize my desire to work abroad started much younger than I was aware. I say that a turning point for me was studying abroad in South Africa — and it was. However, I can also remember being four years old and telling my parents that I wanted to be a park ranger when I grew up (I called it poacher stopper then), and that I was going to live in Tanzania. I would miss my parents, but endangered animals needed me. With determination, I checked out every book in the children’s section on endangered animals and the people living with them. After all, it was people who were hunting them, and I needed to understand them too, right?
Fast forward 15 years. I was not a park ranger but studying literature at SUNY Purchase. I was still interested in learning about different cultures and decided to study abroad early. My time in South Africa was the most incredible and eye-opening experience of my life, both in its richness and moments of heartbreak. South Africa is both beautiful and harsh, a place of stark duality. It was my first time traveling by myself — and my first experience actually living in a different country. Whether it was from wondrous and happy experiences or moments that were deeply uncomfortable and upsetting, South Africa was constantly pushing me. Four and a half months later, I felt like a different person. I came home feeling like a puzzle piece that had gotten wet and could no longer fit in with the rest of the puzzle I belonged to. I was deeply depressed for a couple of months after and didn’t have any re-entry support from either Geneseo, Purchase or my host university in South Africa. I still loved literature, but a career in publishing, even travel writing, seemed empty to me. Although good writing and literature can inspire, I didn’t feel like I’d be doing enough to address the inequalities and suffering I had seen and that still haunted me. And I felt travel writing couldn’t do enough to address the misconceptions Americans have about South Africa. It didn’t show them the beauty and the love I had felt there.
It took me until the summer going into my senior year to find my path again. I had just finished a conversation with my mother about my feelings of anxiety over the future and the stress of feeling like I was lost and just floating aimlessly. She said “I know you felt like your study abroad advisers failed you after your return abroad, but why don’t you consider becoming a study abroad adviser? Maybe you can make improvements in the areas you felt let down by?” So I did a Google search on how to become a study abroad adviser, and that was my first exposure to international education.
This was how I ended up in tiny Brattleboro, Vermont, at SIT Graduate Institute or Students in International Training. I took classes in reflective dialogue, social justice and policy advocacy to temper my IE degree and mold it into something that fit my passions. I didn’t want to just send students abroad. I wanted to use study abroad as a tool of learning and a means to promote peace-building and understanding. Unfortunately, there aren’t many programs that use study abroad in this way, but there are some. And hopefully, organizations that offer meaningful and intentional study abroad programs will become more common in time.
Although I don’t know my future, I do know I want to work for an exchange program that believes in experiential learning and social justice. Encouraging students to become better global citizens, broadening access to underrepresented students, offering opportunities abroad to students with disabilities. Studies show that experiences abroad not only help students with learning disabilities feel independent and confident; they actually improve learning upon the student’s return home. In short, I want to work for an exchange program that is also passionate about making positive change in the lives of the students and in our rapidly globalizing world.
I found Central College and was drawn to its belief in experiential learning and high quality study abroad programs. I was impressed by how Central puts a lot of effort into getting the students immersed in the host culture and exposed to different points of view. For example, the program in Granada, Spain, brings students to Morocco for four days. They ride camels and see a few tourist sites, but they also visit a women’s clinic and village primary schools, meet Moroccan students, professors and villagers, meet with Fulbright scholars, stay with a host family and discuss tourism’s impact on a developing country. This is just one of many excursions included in their program fee. I was also attracted to Central’s hybrid model and required culture class, which is not only tied into the excursions, but also provides opportunities to journal and reflect on experiences. I believe Central is a great stepping stone in my journey and will set me up well in developing and realizing my passions and dreams.
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