It’s time for another International Student Spotlight! Have you ever thought of what Millersville looks like from an international student’s perspective? Meet Ismail, one of our exchange students from our partner institution, l’Université de Caen in Caen, France. Read more to find out what Ismail has to say about his experience thus far at Millersville!
Name: Ismail Bennani
Age: 24 years old
Home university:Université de Caen – Partner Institution
Field of study: Management and International Business
Why did you decide to study abroad in the United States, specifically at Millersville University?
I always wanted to study in the United States. It is a huge country that I have never visited before. The education has a good reputation. Also this experience will help me improve my English.
I Choose Millersville because it is one of the universities that have an exchange program with my home university
What is the coolest place you visited while studying abroad?
Actually, I liked Miami and DC. These are the most beautiful cities I have visited in the USA. What is the biggest cultural difference between Caen and Millersville?
I believe that the biggest cultural difference between Caen and Millersville is behaviors of the students. In Millersville, I can speak to everybody. The students are very friendly and open minded. Instead, Caen’s students are very distant and it is very difficult for a foreigner to have friends.
What are you most looking forward to when you return home?
I would like to spend a lot of time with my family, my friends and my girlfriend. Also, I would like to eat French food because I miss it so much.
What did you gain academically and/or professionally?
It was a challenge for me to study in English because it is my fourth foreign language. Also, the classes are different from my home university. Therefore, it was very interesting and challenging to study in Millersville
What food or drink do you miss most from France?
I miss Red wine and la raclette (potatoes with cheese)
What travel plans do you want to make next?
I am willing to go to the west coast after the end of the classes. I would like to visit Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
What did you like best about Millersville and the United States?
I really appreciate the life in the university because there are a lot of activities in Millersville. Also the best thing in the USA is that there are a lot of big cities to visit.
On a cold and snowy weekend in February, a group of nearly thirty students, administrators and community leaders came together for a two-day Changes through Stories workshop which was facilitated by Dr. Andrew Kahn from Buffalo State University and Director of the Anne Frank Project (AFP).
The AFP story-building curriculum teaches skills and enriched vocabulary that will impact communities, families and students alike and is available world-wide. The process is based on Devised Theater (DT) – theater that begins without a script. As rehearsals take place, improvisations, collaborations, explorations and research are conducted. At the end the group creates their own story! The story is then created by a group of artists (the collaborative team) who become the actors, musicians, writers and directors – this collaborative group explores a given topic through an active process which is continuously edited, expanded and defined on its journey from idea to the public sharing of that story. “What is best for the story?” is the question that must take priority over all other personal and individual goals.
Dr. Timothy Shea, Director of the Office of Global Education and Partnerships and Associate Professor of English at Millersville University envisions this eclectic group taking DT training and applying it to social justice storytelling projects locally, nationally, and globally. To that end, he is planning to take students to Rwanda in January 2016 for an MU inaugural multi-disciplinary service learning project that will involve combining education, social work, English, drama, genocide studies, and the arts under the umbrella of storytelling.
He will co-lead this project with Drs. Kirsten Bookmiller, Robert Bookmiller, and Caleb Corkery.
Some participants of the Change Through Stories Workshop also plan to participate in the Anne Frank Social Justice Festival at Buffalo State University in September where they will share ideas of incorporating social justice through storytelling in their own communities. Dr. Shea is thrilled with the opportunities that our students have to use this training and experience to bring change and healing to their own marginalized communities.
The Rwanda program will be offered to both undergrad and graduate students in a number of different majors with the dream of seeing how it will in turn transform their own communities. What role will YOU play in this dramatic storytelling adventure?
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue, then you have something very special.” –Nelson Mandela
Celebrating study abroad does not only happen when a student leaves the comfort of Millersville University. The Office of Global Education and International Studies hosted their 6th Annual Celebration for International Education event on April 20, 2015. Faculty, staff, international exchange students and recipients and past study abroad participants all came together to celebrate international educational experiences. The evening included a motivational and successful guest speaker, a few words from President John Anderson, and a ceremony to honor exceptional international student work.
To start off the night, Dr. Vilas Prahbu, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave an invigorating speech that revolved around his connection to international education. Since he was an international student himself, he made it a point to recognize the international students who have spent the semester or academic year at MU and congratulated them on completing their time at Millersville University.
Guest speaker of the night Holly Hutton (Millersville University ’99) gave a motivational and encouraging speech on three important lessons needed to succeed in life after graduation for those who have studied abroad. Those lessons included finding a mentor, get out there and lean on me. “Surround yourself with love and motivation and inspiration because the journey is never taken in isolation,” said Hutton who is currently an Associate Attorney at Trow & Rahal and has been working in the field of immigration since 1999. She also has experience as a Designated School Official at Virginia Tech University managing immigration and support services for thousands of international students. Hutton is fluent in Spanish, previously studying and working in Mexico and Costa Rica and has a basic understanding of Turkish and Italian.
Dr. Robert Bookmiller also inducted several students into the Gamma Phi chapter of Sigma Iota Rho, the International Honors Society of Millersville University for their hard work and dedication to international study. Congratulations to the following students:
Jennifer L. DeWalt
In addition to these students, three others were recognized for their contribution to the Global Education Ambassadors Program. This program allows past participants to share their study abroad experiences. Ambassadors are able to share their study abroad stories through creative outlets while maintaining their passion for the program. Congratulations to the following students on their achievements:
Finally, the Director of the Office of Global Education, Dr. Timothy Shea, announced that any student, who will be graduating this upcoming May, will be recognized as a study abroad participant by the new graduation cords that will provided to all of our graduates.
To close out the evening, President John Anderson gave a few words on the importance of studying abroad and how it has impacted him personally with both of his daughters having abroad experiences during their undergraduate careers. In closing the president stated “We hope to provide more of our students with the opportunity to have more international educational experiences.”
Overall, the evening was a successful celebration of all things international at Millersville University.
As many of the impending graduates are excited about obtaining their diplomas on May 9th, the Office of Global Education & Partnerships is excited to announce the new addition to the cap and gown attire – study abroad graduation cords! As with any honor, it is important to us that our students who participated in a study abroad program get recognized for taking their educational studies abroad and seizing the opportunity.
The cords are green and blue, the colors of the Global Education and Partnerships office. We wish all of our past participants the best of luck in their future endeavors and to never stop experiencing new places, people and cultures.
Please keep in touch and let us know where life takes you!
Studying abroad not only allows students to discover the world outside of Millersville University but it changes lives and helps students to discover people places and cultures that begin to feel like home. Hunter McBryde, one of our past participants who studied at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia, has made the move across the Pacific and started a life in the Land Down Under. Check out his letter to Global Education (which we loved) and see what he’s been up to since his experience abroad!
September 21, 2014
In 2010 I was accepted into study abroad program for the University of the Sunshine Coast. After a whole lot of planning and packing I landed in Australia on February 8, 2011. I knew right then and there that Australia was more than just a place to study.
I had some incredible adventures, met some amazing people and made some unforgettable memories. I applied to extend my stay for another semester and everything worked out! I was ecstatic!
That winter I began volunteering at Australia Zoo and in two months I was hired into the Koala department. It was a dream come true, and I worked, studied and adventured for the next six months. But then my visa ended and I returned to the states.
The next six months I spent devoted to getting back to Australia. I worked as hard as I could, sold everything I could and finally arrived back in Australia.
I started again at the Zoo, back with the Koalas but I soon moved to the work with the Elephants and eventually to the department I had wanted to work in since 1994: Reptiles.
I worked with animals I had always longed to see, Komodo Dragons, Fijian Crested iguanas, perenties, reticulated pythons and so much more. My dreams had come true…but they were not to last as long as I wanted. My visa was ending swiftly but I met this absolutely incredible woman in the meantime.
I returned to the states again, determined Australia was going to be home. It took me eight months of working 7 days a week to make it back, again.
Australia Zoo offered to sponsor me and for six months we waited for the paperwork to finalise. When it did I knew that Australia was home.
Earlier this month I married the woman had been dating before I left. We have a beautiful home with some incredible animals, I’m now the Exotic Reptiles Coordinator at the Australia Zoo.
I’m sending you this email to say thank you so much for allowing me to come over here. When I applied for the study abroad program I had no earthly idea that I would make my life in Australia. Without the opportunity of Millersville’s study abroad program, my life would be so incredibly different than it is. The program changes lives and opens so many opportunities for so many people.
I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have happened. I have an incredible blessed life. Thank you so much.
Sincerely, Hunter J McBryde
Questions & Answer
Name: Hunter J McBryde
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Field of Study: Political Science
Initially, what made you want to study abroad in Australia?
I decided to study abroad because I had reached a point in my life where I knew I had to experience this life for all that it was worth. I had lived in the same area for ten years and felt like I had seen and done so much within that area and I needed more. I wanted to throw a bit more exoticism in my every day.
Would you change anything about your experience while abroad?
Not a thing. Every experience over here, good and bad, has added up into this incredible adventure that’s now my life. Please don’t misunderstand me there are times when living so far away from everyone and everything you’ve known for the majority of your life is not always easy. While I’ve been here I’ve lost my Grandfathers from both my Mom and Dad’s side and two dogs who had been with me for 14 years and its incredibly difficult, sometimes impossible, to make it home in time to say goodbye. In saying that, they were proud of me for following my dream and that gave me solace while saying goodbye in my own way.
What was an adjustment you had to make when you were studying abroad that you look back on now as being “normal?”
The biggest adjustment was probably driving. It’s now harder to me to switch back to the right side of the road when I visit family in the states than it is for me to drive in Australia.
Since you are now residing in Australia, where do you see yourself in another 5 years?
I see myself owning a home overlooking the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains, raising a family with my beautiful wife and working at Australia Zoo.
Would you have imagined yourself living in Australia while you were still studying at Millersville University? What motivated you go back?
If you had asked me six years ago where you thought I would be I probably would have replied a history teacher somewhere in PA, now I’m a zookeeper in Australia. It’s astounding the avenues life takes you when you least expect it. When I got back to Pennsylvania after my time in Australia I just knew home wasn’t among the green fields and rolling hills of Lancaster County any more…the Sunburned Country beckoned.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do and what you enjoy about it?
I work with reptiles of all descriptions, giant reticulated and Burmese pythons, endangered woma pythons, komodo dragons, saltwater crocs, American alligators and so many more. Childhood dreams should never be underestimated…if you had asked me what I wanted to be back in elementary school I would have told you “a zookeeper working with Steve Irwin.” I find enjoyment bettering the lives of the animals I work with but also knowing I accomplished a lifelong dream.
What are some of the coolest things you’ve seen or experienced since living in Australia?
Where do I begin!?! I’ve been in search of the deadliest snake on the planet deep in the outback of Australia (check out: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/tag/hunter-mcbryde/), fallen asleep under the stars that stretched from horizon to horizon in the middle of nowhere, found the largest lizard in Australia, I’ve made lifelong friendships with people from all around the world, worked at a place I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid and found an incredible woman I get to spend the rest of my life with! Australia has been pretty amazing to me.
Is there anything you miss about living in the United States?
I miss my family most of all. I’ve made a promise to see them every year but it certainly isn’t easy to do. I’m so blessed that they are so supportive in following my dreams.
If the President of Millersville University asked you why you think studying abroad is important for MU students, what would you say? Explain.
Studying abroad changes lives. It’s that simple. Before I came to Australia the first time I wrote an essay for a scholarship offered for the very first time for the University of the Sunshine Coast (excerpt):
Wade Davis, anthropologist and ethnobotanist, summed up the experience of travel as succulently as possible in his work, Light at the Edge of the World. He wrote: “It was possible to fling oneself upon the benevolence of the world and emerge not only unscathed, but transformed” (18). It is in fact possible to rely on strangers for help, for a lesson, even for a smile. Each of those experiences, each of those new people one may meet along the way is an opportunity to grow. That is the occasion at hand, to go out into the world and come back transformed. With each new life experience comes the chance to gain a new perspective, to increase my ability to understand the world around me. The opportunity to study at the University of the Sunshine Coast is a unique chance to do just that.
During my senior year in high school, I was having breakfast with members of my wrestling team and my coach asked me what I was going to do after I graduated. I told him “Well… I’ll probably stay local, HACC and then Millersville.” He stopped eating, and looked at me with concerned and knowing eyes, took a breath and let me have it. He told me I need to go away, need to see different things and experience life outside of Lancaster. He knew from his experiences the necessity of a broader world view. At the time I took it for what it was: good advice from a knowing mentor. But for some reason I did not heed it. After nearly three years, I learned he was absolutely right.
Australia has changed my life completely and for that I am so grateful. I live in an amazing place but I would have never had the opportunity if Millersville had not offered to opportunity to study in such an amazing place. I would tell the President all of my stories and memories from traveling throughout this great continent and I would thank him for the opening the doors to such an amazing country.
Have you ever considered what Millersville University looks like from an international perspective? Sandra and Yuki, from our partner universities in Spain and Japan, have been exchange students at Millersville this past semester.We asked these two students to give us an insight into what it is like to experience Millersville University as an exchange student. Read on to find out what Sandra and Yuki had to say about their time here as a Millersville Student!
Name: Sandra Albo Basurto
Hometown: Burgos, Spain
Home university: Universidad de Burgos
Field of study: Humanities(History and Cultural Heritage)
Sandra what did you experience in Millersville that would never have happened at home in Spain?
Living on campus, in a dorm and participating in all the activities.
Why should other international students come to MU? It offers a wide range of opportunities. Professors are really helpful as well as Millersville students, always ready to help you and interested in your culture. It is conveniently located but you can focus in your studies better than in a big city. Live in dorms is special and the campus is great when it’s good weather.
What is something you tried for the first time while you were studying abroad in the States? Joining a club in the university. It’s been a great experience. I’ve met so many people and participated in different activities. I joined Amnesty International Chapter in MU.We went to the National Conference of Amnesty in Chicago where I learnt a lot. I went to that with other American students.
What travel plans do you want to make next?
I’m travelling the northeast coast after the end of the semester with a couple of international friends and after that…who knows! I would love to work abroad or in something that allows me to meet people all over the world.
What did you gain academically and/or professionally?
I’ve learnt to express myself better even if I am not in my comfort zone or in my own culture and make other ones understand the differences. I’ve also chosen subjects that challenge me.
What was one thing you did abroad that put you outside of your comfort zone that you never thought you would do?
Talk English in front of an audience. I guess is cliché but using your second language in public speech could be scary.
Is there a special moment you will always look back on that captures how you feel about your study abroad experience at MU?
Having lunch or dinner with all my friends in the Upperdeck between classes. As simple as that, my experience is about the wonderful people I’ve met here including internationals, MU students, staff and teachers.
Hometown:Fukuoka City, Japan
Home university: Kansai Gaidai
Field of study: English Education
Yuki, why did you decide to study abroad in the United States, specifically at Millersville University?
I have heard that Millersville has very good educational course!
What did you experience in Millersville that would never have happened at home in Japan?
Living in a dormitory, a lot of discussion, a lot of diversity, a lot of internationals. I had a very good experience here in terms of interacting with many people from many kinds of different ethnicities.
What totally freaked you out prior to arriving at Millersville, but turned out to be no big deal?
I was only one Japanese exchange student to go to Millersville, so I was worried whether I can make friends with other international students and Americans. After arriving here, many people were warm. I was totally relieved.
What did you gain academically and/or professionally?
Teaching knowledge. Teaching strategies. I gained many things about teaching reading, writing, English with media and film, English to ESL, and multicultural literature. I could gain a lot of knowledge from various fields about education. Especially, I learned how teachers’ attitude towards students is important in the classroom.
What is the biggest cultural difference between Kansai Gaidai University and Millersville?
How warm teachers are. Teachers at Millersville were so nice and always supported me in spite of not knowing of me. And they always gave me a lot of opportunities to challenge new things.
What are you most looking forward to when you return home?
To make use of my ability which I nurture by myself here, especially in educational places. I will have teaching practicum right after going back to Japan and I have to actually organize lesson plan and teach English for 50 minutes to real high school students in my home high school. That is the opportunity to make use of my knowledge and ability to teach English which I learned here.
What did you learn about yourself personally over the past year?
I learned how I am silent and build a wall between I and other people. This is cultural thing, but I could noticed that again.Americans are always so nice to people even though they are strangers. But I cannot do that immediately like Americans do because Japanese tend to keep a distance between people even though they are family or friends. Besides, Americans are so positive in class. I sort of could not catch up with their positive attitudes in the class because I think I was afraid of telling teachers or classmates my opinion because of my English ability.Also, I learned how much I want to be a teacher in the future. Teachers and friends always encouraged me here and I really enjoyed educational courses here.
Why should other international students come to MU?
Many of you may have noticed or heard about the new trolleys around Millersville this past month. Red Rose Transit, the local public transportation authority, gave their old buses a big makeover!
The buses now have an older trolley-style appearance to resemble the trolleys that used to run between Lancaster and Pequea through the Millersville area in the early 20th century.
The Office of Global Education, located in Cumberland house, used to be the trolley station! It is pretty interesting to know that our office, which sends students around the world and welcomes new students from all corners of the globe each semester, was also known as a center of travel back in the old days.
The Office of Global Education supports many students while they study abroad, but taking classes abroad is not all that MU students do. The Office of Global Education also assists students interning abroad, student teaching abroad, or students like Kelsey, who are completing their social work senior year field placement in Cape Town, South Africa. Through MU’s partner program, VAC, Kelsey flew half way around the globe and spent her spring semester participating in this amazing program. Check out Kelsey’s responses to a few questions about her time in South Africa and see how life changing a professional experience abroad can be!
Name: Kelsey Sevenski
Host University abroad: Volunteer Adventure Corps (VAC), Cape Town, South Africa
Major/Minor: Social Work; Psychology
When did you study abroad? January 15th to April 15th (Spring 2014)
What about study abroad drew you to apply?
1) Meeting new people – I knew this was an opportunity where I would meet people from all over the world and develop relationships I never had before. Before departing, I was really yearning for this particular aspect of life, and fortunately I fulfilled this hope of mine. I not only made friends, I made new and long lasting friendships.
2) Experiencing new culture and language – I never really spent adequate amount of time outside of the states, so interning abroad allowed me to experience many different cultures and languages.
3) Being away from home – After being at home for 21 years, I was ready to get away and just do something different.
4) Experiences like no other – The specific program description opened my eyes up to all these fun activities (surfing, bungee jumping, shark cage diving) and I just knew I had to try them all.
Why did you decide to study abroad in South Africa?
Africa as a whole intrigued me due to its vast size and varied countries, cultures, and social practices. In particular, South Africa has so many social policy issues including Apartheid and HIV/AIDS. In addition, people here live in astonishing conditions compared to many of the impoverished people of the states. I was really curious to find out what these townships were like and see how the government and it’s many flaws influences South African society as a whole, like the stigma of illness, treatment of women and children, and many religious beliefs. Lastly, I felt that it was important that the main language of South Africa was English, but also that it had many different languages to explore.
What are some things you did for the first time while abroad?
Bungee jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world; rode many forms of public transportation specific to South Africa (mini bus/taxis); saw and interacted with all different types of wildlife like elephants, baby tigers, great white sharks, penguins, and ostriches; stayed at many different backpackers/hostels and met a lot of different people traveling from all over the world; participated and watched African dancing; explored several different wineries and tasted many different wines; hiked beautiful trails up massive mountains.
What totally freaked you out prior to arriving in South Africa, but turned out to be no big deal?
The main thing that freaked me out was worrying about meeting people and making new friends. However, I got really lucky and was housed with 7 other girls, mostly Americans. Since we were experiencing the impact of interning abroad all at the same time, we all bonded instantaneously. Plus, after being here for a few weeks, I realized how small the world really is, and you start to meet people who know mutual friends or have traveled to places that you have. This connection is like no other.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
1) Cultural barriers and language – Of course I expected some cultural differences when interning abroad; however, I didn’t expect some of them to impact me the way they did. The #1 thing that got me was “Africa time.” This simply means that most people in South Africa are very laidback when it comes to being on time. I had a difficult time adjusting, but eventually I even started running on “Africa time.”
2) Even though a majority of South Africans speak English, it was still very hard to understand some individuals and how they communicate with one another (especially the Xhosa speaking groups). To overcome this, I stayed patient, and overtime I got used to the dialects and accents. But also, I observed and asked questions. South Africans are more than willing to teach you some words or phrases. This is their way of celebrating their language and culture.
3) Homesickness – I definitely knew I would experience some sort of homesickness, but being there and taking care of myself for 3 months was totally new. However, I overcame it with keeping myself busy, communicating on a regular basis with friends and family back home, and creating meaningful friendships here. It was hard to cope at first, but after a while, you learn to make the best of your situation and end up a better person because of it. Now that I survived these past 3 months on my own, I feel that I can do anything!
Describe a specific memory of your time abroad. Why do you remember that particular moment and what was meaningful about it?
When I first arrived and my driver drove me back to my accommodation and I was just taking it all in. I never saw a landscape so beautiful. I kept thinking… “This is not something you see back home.” The view of Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head was truly breathtaking. Plus, this was my first image of South Africa, and it was an amazing one.
What is something you saw abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?
You may see an Amish horse and buggy riding through Millersville; but here in many of the townships, people makeshift their own horse and buggies. I saw so many horses tied up to some sort of trailer, with a homemade seat for the rider, usually made out of a mattress or old couch. Surprisingly, this form of transportation is common and the police do not regulate these homemade vehicles. In addition to their forms of transportation, there are no standards in driving here. People often run red lights, speed through pedestrian filled streets, and beep at every little thing. It’s a very chaotic system.
What are you going to miss the most about your host country?
The happiness in people, the simplicity (Africa Time), the warmth and sunshine, the landscapes, and how cheap everything is!
How is your experience going to help you personally, professionally, and academically?
PERSONALLY – I’ve become so much more independent, self-aware, confident, etc.
PROFESSIONALLY – Africa time, rate of productivity, work ethic, work skills and values, etc.
ACADEMICALLY – Self-motivation, time management (balancing fun time with work time), increase in global education and other fields that I never knew about before.
Do you think it is important that MU students should study abroad?
Absolutely, after participating in this internship abroad program, I have realized how much traveling and experiencing new cultures and meeting new people forever changes you. You get to meet people from all over and learn about their countries and way of life. This allows you to learn about your own nationality, your values and beliefs, and the culture of your country of origin. Ultimately, it opens up your eyes entirely. Going abroad gives you an experience that you cannot get elsewhere.
The Office of Global Education wishes Kelsey the best of luck in her future as she graduates from Millersville University. If you would like to find out more about Kelsey and the VAC program in South Africa, check out this link below!
62 students are about to embark on their study abroad experience this summer or fall to 16 different countries!Their destinations around the world include Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Morocco, Italy, Germany, the U.K., Spain, and Chile, just to name a few.
The 62 students getting ready to pack their bags for their adventures are participating in a wide range of study abroad programs. Some students are traveling to participate in professor-led courses abroad. Through these programs, students travel abroad with a professor who teaches a course in another country. The professor uses cultural and historical resources of their location to enhance their course so students can get an experience they could never get in a class room.
Other students traveling abroad are participating through MU programs at our partner university locations or through Non-MU programs for a summer session, full semester, or entire academic year.
Some students are even completing international professional experiences where they will be teaching full time or interning for organizations specializing in their field and area of interest.
Check back in a few months time to read all about these students’ life changing experiences right here at the Office of Global Education’s Global Ed Gazette.
The Office of Global Education wishes these students all the best of luck and safe travels for their future endeavors!
Each semester our study abroad participants are invited to submit their most impressive and impactful photos that encapsulate a unique experience abroad. The photos are judged within four different categories. The following are the Fall 2013 Winners: