Tuesday June 23, 2015

Learning Abroad

Where in the world are UD students this summer? Just about everywhere.

More than 400 students are earning academic credit or participating in service opportunities in 17 different countries through numerous international experiences led by the University.

They’re learning how economies vary, and how music and art impact societies. They’re teaching in schools, volunteering in hospitals and installing clean water systems.

Through programs administered by the Center for International programs, students are improving their language and intercultural skills with immersion programs in France and Spain. In Rome, students are studying interpersonal communication across cultures.

In Florence, Italy, students are learning about medieval Europe, studying art by visiting churches, streets, museums and the public square, and digging into geological materials used by artists and architects to study the region’s natural hazards and geology.

In Germany, business students are touring corporations and government offices in the world’s fourth-largest economy and taking weekend excursions to Paris, Venice and Switzerland. Argentina gives students a chance to learn about local history, the cultural dynamics of tourism and how societies influence musicians and their music.

Our students are also studying urban life and communication in Ireland and Northern Ireland; automotive engineering in eastern Germany; immigration, culture and power in London; and psychology in Paris.

Jon Puricelli is getting a firsthand look at what resulted from the Dayton Peace Accords agreement brokered 20 years ago at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, studying peace building and post-conflict transformation and development at American University in Kosovo.

Service opportunities abroad are sponsored through the Center for Social Concern, Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning (ETHOS), and the Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development program.  

This summer, the Center for Social Concern offered three experiences:

  • In Guatemala, students are improving their knowledge of Spanish while exploring the different cultures, religions and politics.
  • Students in India are working with the Marianists’ Ragpickers Education and Development Scheme (REDS) to help children in the slums. The children are sometimes called ragpickers because they must live and search for food in the streets. The REDS program places more than 1,000 children each year in schools and job training while providing food, health care and a better living environment.
  • Marianists in Lusaka, Zambia, are hosting students for a week so the students can visit tourist destinations and adjust to living in the southern African country. After Lusaka, students travel to Lubwe to work in hospitals and schools. They've been able to teach classes, and premedical students have shadowed doctors and nurses to learn more about medicine in the rural parts of the country.

"They are really incredible experiences," said Mary Niebler, associate director of the Center for Social Concern. "Each one is really different, but the main focus is cross-cultural understanding and sharing of each other, learning through the lens of faith, culture, and group reflection."  

The ETHOS program has been sending engineering students abroad since 2001. Malcolm Daniels, academic director for the program, said 29 students are spending 10-12 weeks working with non-governmental and nonprofit organizations in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Malawi, South Africa and India. 

ETHOS students are working on projects with their host communities including building solar photovoltaic systems, developing clean cook stoves and biomass fuel stoves, and installing clean water systems.

“For engineering skill development, it’s a great learning experience in lots of ways. It really helps them figure out what’s important when they are trying to design an engineering system to meet a need in a community," Daniels said. "And they are trying to do that in communities that are significantly less resourced than what they are familiar with at UD. They are trying to make these technologies work with what is available locally because when they leave, the organization that they are working with has to take their work and continue it.”

In the department of political science's undergraduate research program in Malawi, students are designing projects to help advance human rights and address development issues such as secondary education needs, life skills training for girls and water security in rural settings. Their findings are presented to community members to help them solve these issues. It also gives students life-changing experiences and ample opportunities to interact with the people living in the southern African country.

Chaminade Scholars explore their religious vocations during an intensive trip to Italy, led by Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, M.H.S.H., who directs the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. The trip blends powerful spiritual experiences and visits to sacred spaces with a whirlwind tour of Rome and Assisi. They attended an audience with Pope Francis, and through Zukowski's extensive Vatican connections, were interviewed by Vatican Radio.

The University of Dayton China Institute offers students a unique academic and cultural experience in one of the world’s fastest growing innovation centers. The China Institute is in Suzhou Industrial Park, 75 miles west of Shanghai, where one-third of the world’s Fortune 500 companies have facilities. With Suzhou as home base, students visit Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing, earning credit in 17 courses offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration and the School of Engineering.

Learn more about study abroad programs at https://www.udayton.edu/international/

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