We at the Office of Global Education and Partnerships are excited to report that this academic year we are sending a record number of students abroad through a variety of short-term experiences organized by MU faculty.
What are International Trips Abroad?
Mu International Trips Abroad are coordinated by MU professors and are usually offered during the summer sessions. However, this year we also have two new programs running during spring break of 2016! Each trip is different in terms of what it offers and the length of time traveling, however they do provide another option for students who cannot study abroad for an entire semester.
During Winter break MU is offering two returning programs, The first is a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, a program led by Dr. Karen Rice in the School of Social Work. The second is a trip to the Dominican Republic led by Dr. Barry Atticks in the Music Department.
The Office of Global Education had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Atticks to ask what he is most looking forward during his upcoming trip.
Dr. Atticks commented saying, “What I most look forward to is being with students who are experiencing a new culture for the first time. 70% of the students traveling to the Dominican this year will be doing so for the first time. Being able to provide these opportunities which will change their life is the sole purpose of these trips.”
One of our new programs for Spring Break 2016 is a program to Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico! Students may participate in this opportunity by taking MATH 102: Mathematics in Non-European Cultures” or by participating in the service learning portion of the trip, as part of a high-impact cultural and educational experience.
The program is being run by Dr. Leonora Foels, professor in the school of Social Work and Ximena Catepillian, a professor in the mathematics department. We are excited that in its very first year of running, the trip quickly reached its full number of participants.
Another one of the new programs for Spring 2016 is to Granada, Nicaragua. This trip is being led by Dr. Karen Rice who is no stranger to taking students abroad. She has taken students abroad countless of times by offering various alternative Spring Break Service Learning programs through the school of social works’ Learning Institute: “Global Well-Being & Social Change”. We had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Rice, asking her what drives her in selecting a location.
She responded, “In choosing a destination, it is all about the relationship. First and foremost, I ensure I partner with an organization that has an established relationship with the community members where we will travel and who worked with those members to identify what they want us to know, learn, and do while we are there. It is very important to me that the service learning trips I coordinate foster collaboration and solidarity with members of the community to promote understanding, respect, and compassion.”
This is the 3rd year Dr. Rice has done an Alternative Spring Break Service Learning Trip, and while this trip is not for academic credit, students participating in this experiencing have the opportunity to learn ways in which rural communities are empowering those in poverty through various cooperative initiatives and collaborate with the community to respond to identified need. Some of the service learning opportunities this year include: building safe stoves for rural schools, the women’s soap cooperative, and the hammock project.
MU students seem to be looking forward to the two returning program for this summer. Both are traveling courses: one to Iceland and the other to London.
Dr. Tony Elliot of the Communications & Theatre department is leading the London Theatre Tour. He is excited to be taking students back as he has done so every other year for many years. When asked what makes him continue to want to take student’s abroad, Dr. Elliot responded, “I have never had a group of students who did not say that the trip was one the best experiences of their lives. For many, it is their first experience abroad, so there is that factor.”
Students participating in this MU Course Abroad have the opportunity to take one of three classes for credit. The program incorporates daily field trips to nearby locations in the city. Most class gatherings will be on-site, focusing on first-hand experience (as opposed to lecture) all while leaving students ample time to explore on their own. The course includes four professional theatre performances, as well as backstage tours at the Globe Theatre, the National Theatre and the Royal Theatre Drury Lane.
The Traveling Tour of Iceland which is a program by Dr. Len Litowitz of the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology department. Dr. Litowitz is another professor who is no stranger to taking students abroad. Just last year he ran two programs, one to Iceland the other to Costa Rica!
Students learn about the long-term sustainability of our planet and learn all about energy resources and ways to conserve them. There is a lot of hiking and outdoor fun involved in this trip which Dr. Litowitz has said allows students to really see Iceland. He notes that the outdoor activities are something he greatly looks forward to.
For professors or other individuals thinking about planning a trip abroad, Dr. Litowtiz offers some advice. He notes that it is, “Important to know your location well. I have traveled extensively to everywhere I have ever considered taking students. That way you can plan a detailed itinerary with quality excursions at reasonable prices.”
One of our new programs for this summer is a unique teaching experience abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. Participants of the program are planned to spend a full week at Internationella Engleska Skolan Nacka, which is an international School devoted to teaching English to young students. Additionally, participants of the program will spend time teaching in a school for students with disabilities. Both of these opportunities are really beneficial in allowing MU Education majors gain some very valuable teaching experience.
The program is being run by Dr. Thomas Neuville, Associate Professor of the Educational Foundations Department. We are excited to hear about the experience once the students return!
We applaud all of our professors who work to create these experiences for our students. It really helps them to be more well-rounded and global citizens. Plus, these experiences as Dr. Litowitz commented, “have the potential to change these student’s lives in some small way and that is really powerful stuff!”