College expands study abroad programs

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February 2, 2007

1:27 AM

In an effort to respond to increasing student demands for study abroad opportunities, the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies, in cooperation with a variety of esteemed faculty members, once again are offering several summer programs in a variety of global locations, including the brand new option of Galway, Ireland.

p. Currently, students may choose from 12 programs, while incoming freshmen have the option of a College-sponsored Freshmen Experience in St. Andrews, Scotland.

p. Students interested in studying abroad this summer have until Feb. 8 to complete an application and submit all of the required materials to the Global Education Office. Applications require a personal statement, a written reference and a $50 application fee. The Reves Center hosts pre-advising workshops on Tuesdays at 3 p.m., Wednesdays at 4 p.m., Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. and Fridays at 11:30 a.m. Students must attend one of these workshops before arranging an appointment with a study abroad advisor.

p. For a full list of available programs and information, visit the Reves Center’s website at www.wm.edu/revescenter. The website also includes information on other international education options, including cooperative programs through other American universities and accredited study abroad agencies.

p. According to Reves Center Director of Global Education Guru Ghosh, the popularity and variety of options available has grown tremendously over the last seven years. In addition to the current possibilities, both during the summer and the academic year, the Global Education Office has recently been the recipient of notable grants from the U.S. State Department to pursue Arabic study programs in the Middle East and a $1.2 million contribution from the Freeman Foundation to expand opportunities for students wishing to study in East Asia.

p. “Students are going where they never used to study,” Ghosh said. “Since April of 2000, we’ve doubled the number of students who go overseas and doubled the number of summer programs available.”

p. Ghosh also said that the College has more than doubled the number of scholarships for students, and noted that the GEO hopes to start Arabic programs in Syria or Morocco as early as the Fall semester. Planners are also looking at Jordan and Egypt as possible locations.

p. “We’ve been impressed and stunned at the level of involvement,” Ghosh said. “Students are yearning for the international experience.”

p. Ghosh stressed the importance of global and international education, concepts which have become virtually ubiquitous at institutions of higher education in an increasingly interconnected world. He called a sustained study abroad experience “an integral part of the liberal arts experience.”

p. The skyrocketing percentage of students studying abroad is perhaps a testament to the effectiveness and practicality of the programs. Sophomore Rob Cottrell, who participated in a joint economics and sociology program in Goa, India last summer, said that he originally chose India because of the courses and subjects offered. Cottrell said that learning about globalization and economic development in India was incredibly influential in helping him to adjust his course of study.

p. “I initially chose Goa because I thought I wanted to double major in economics and sociology. The location was just an added bonus, but those were the courses being offered,” Cottrell said. “My experience there made me change one of my majors, and I’m now really interested in international business.”

p. Senior Celeste Otsuka attended the College’s exchange program in Prague in the summer of 2005, a program which was first launched three years ago and whose numbers have doubled in that time. Otsuka also chose the program based on the course offerings, since the College did not offer many economics courses during its summer session.

p. Otsuka said that even though she took classes from both Czech and College professors, the classes were structured very similarly to upper level economics classes students would find at the College.

p. “The fact that we were learning about corruption in emerging markets in a recently corrupt country made the facts a little more real,” Otsuka said. “We could really see instances of the communist influence on the country.”

p. The College’s programs continue to grow both in variety and popularity, but the safety of students abroad remains the primary concern of the GEO. While many Americans have been concerned with post-Sept. 11 travel, Ghosh noted that, ironically, the College “experienced a tremendous spike in students going abroad, which has continued ever since.”

p. Ghosh also noted that faculty for the programs are well-trained and carefully selected. “Faculty members apply based on their experience and their areas of interest,” he said. “There is a systematic selection process. All of our faculty are also trained in emergency situations.”

p. It is the hope of the GEO that options for cultural learning abroad will continue on their current upward trend. A new program is scheduled to open in Capetown, South Africa for the summer of 2008.

p. “Study abroad is not just about people who are international studies or language majors,” Ghosh said. “We hope that these programs can be catalysts for our students.”

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