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Study Abroad Fair connects students to a world of opportunities

fair 1Today on the University of Washington campus, over 1200 students visited the annual Study Abroad Fair in Mary Gates Hall Commons. International universities such as Waseda University, Universidad de Guadalajara, and University of Bristol, as well as representatives from UW faculty-led programs, scholarship programs, and other organizations – over 60 in all – were on hand to provide information about the many opportunities available for study, research, and internships abroad. Study Abroad Peer Mentors and International Programs & Exchanges staff members were available during the fair to direct students to appropriate resources and provide new ideas. Student participants could also attend information sessions during the fair, including several on study abroad scholarships.

Study Abroad Peer Advisers Samantha Walters, Melissa Wong, and Jackie Lungmus
Study Abroad Peer Advisers Samantha Walters, Melissa Wong, and Jackie Lungmus

“The Study Abroad Fair creates a really exciting atmosphere for students,” says Mike Renes, a Study Abroad Adviser and Regional Lead, “they can come into the Office of International Programs & Exchanges any day for advising and learn about program options, but getting to talk with a Program Director or alumni of a program makes it real for them and gives them a good sense of the kind of experience they’ll have on the ground. That’s what the Study Abroad Fair is all about.”

fair2The Office of International Programs & Exchanges plans to hold the Study Abroad Fair at the HUB next year to provide room for additional participants and information sessions. “We’re very excited to move the fair to a new home in the HUB,” says Renes, “the new space will give the fair room to grow. Even students who come in thinking study abroad may not be possible will have the chance to come and learn everything they need to know… from program options to how to fund it.”

UW named top produced of Fulbright scholars

The Institute for International Education recently named UW a top producer of Fulbright scholars. The efforts of UW staff and faculty members are key to the scholars’ success, both on-campus and abroad.

In late September, 51 UW faculty and staff members volunteered to serve as Fulbright campus interviewers, providing feedback to 58 UW seniors and graduate students who applied to the Fulbright US student program for next year. The Institute for International Education recently named UW a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.

“The campus selection process demonstrates the wide-ranging resources and research interests available at UW,” say Robin Chang, Marilyn Gray, and Natalia Dyba, UW’s Fulbright advisers. It is just one of many ways that UW contributes to the success of Fulbrighters, abroad and on campus.

Dr. Yan Cimon
Dr. Yan Cimon

“I don’t think there’s another university that would so readily accept a business faculty member in the College of Engineering,” reflects Dr. Yan Cimon, the 2012 – 2013 Fulbright Visiting Chair in Innovation at the UW College of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “I benefited greatly from my amazing colleagues and research group at UW… they were instrumental in making my Fulbright year a success.” Dr. Cimon is Associate Professor of Strategy at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada and Deputy Director of CIRRELT, the Interuniversity Research Center on Logistics, Transportation and Enterprise Networks.

While at UW, Dr. Cimon investigated the integration of international value chains through a multi-disciplinary research project. He also collaborated extensively with UW Scholars, including Dr. Anne Goodchild of the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The cross-fertilization of ideas between visiting Fulbright and UW scholars enriches the level of academic scholarship and discourse at the university and makes UW very globally relevant,” he says.

Sam Lim
Sam Lim Photo: May Lim

Sam Lim, a UW alumnus and Fulbright US Student Program Fellow to Germany, emphasizes the importance of his UW education in preparing him for his Fulbright fellowship. “My research experiences, particularly the ethnographic research I did with Dr. Taso Lagos during a study abroad program in Greece, allowed me to go on my Fulbright to Germany feeling quite comfortable with my research goals. Another critical aspect of my Fulbright prep work was simply the access I had to UW faculty mentors who helped me shape my research approach.”

As a Fulbright Fellow in Germany, Sam served as an enthusiastic ambassador. “I have great pride in being an American and a UW alumnus. I always seemed to find an opportunity to inform [fellow Fulbrighters and friends in Berlin] that the UW would be a great place for them to further their career. One ended up coming to UW for a summer research opportunity.” Currently completing his Master of Arts in Education Policy at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Sam continued his ambassadorial work when he was selected in 2012 as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador to assist with Fulbright’s national outreach efforts.

For visiting Fulbrighters and those abroad, UW is an ideal place to prepare for international scholarship and make strong connections with fellow innovators.

Study abroad gave alumna new perspective

When L’Oreal Kennedy came to UW, she did not imagine that study abroad would be a part of her education. Today, she is completing an accelerated second bachelor’s program in nursing at Johns Hopkins University, having engaged in clinical internships in St. Croix and the United Arab Emirates. This autumn, she will begin doctoral studies at UW School of Nursing.

Working with children in Namibia Photo: L'Oreal Kennedy

“I knew that [study abroad] was out there, but I didn’t know it was an option for me,” L’Oreal explains.  However, with the help of supportive professors and advisers at the UW School of Social Work, she discovered an exciting study abroad program in Namibia.

While in Namibia, “we saw how social work works in a different environment,” L’Oreal says, “we rode our bikes to an after-school tutoring center in a small township every day and worked as teaching assistants. It was a chance for hands-on application of the skills she was learning in her social work major, and it also convinced L’Oreal that she wanted to study abroad during her graduate studies. “I saw how important it is to get out there while you’re in a learning environment, to meet and develop relationships with local people.”

Taking in the view
Taking in the view Photo: L'Oreal Kennedy

During her nursing program at Johns Hopkins, she engaged in two international clinical rotations. Working directly with medical providers, women, and families in St. Croix and the United Arab Emirates, L’Oreal had the chance to see nursing practice at work in very different cultural contexts.

Now entering the Doctor of Nursing program at UW, L’Oreal sees clear connections between study abroad and her future career. “I’m interested in focusing on under-served populations. [Study abroad] has helped me understand that there’s always another view, something else that I need to consider. I can’t just look at it from my perspective.”


GO! Scholar gives back through Study Abroad Peer Mentor program

Biochemistry major and aspiring pediatrician Melissa Wong embarked on a unique, self-directed study abroad in 2012. Through an independent study course with the UW Asian Languages department, she earned academic credit for completing an ohenro, or pilgrimage, to 88 temples scattered across the Japanese island of Shikoku. The journey, which Melissa made by bike, bus, car, train, and foot, took her across 750 miles of countryside. A Husky Promise student, Melissa studied abroad with the support of a GO! Scholarship. Funded by the Washington State Legislature, GO! Scholarships support study abroad opportunities for students with significant financial need.

Temple visit
At a temple, on her last day of pilgrimage Photo: Melissa Wong

Melissa bloged about her journey to the temples of Shikoku.  She sums up her experiences in the following blog entry, made after visiting the final temple:

One of the most important gifts I received was courage and bravery. I am willing to take more risks and not be afraid of the unknown. The old Melissa would never bike to 88 temples, take initiative to meet new people, and travel out of her boundaries. This is something you can never learn from textbooks.

Now back on the UW campus, Melissa is giving back by serving as a Study Abroad Peer Mentor. The peer mentorship program, facilitated by International Programs & Exchanges, connects undergraduates just back from studying abroad with students considering a similar experience. “When I saw the opportunity to become a Peer Mentor, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back after receiving the GO! Scholarship,” she explains.

A pre-med biochemistry major, Melissa hopes that she can inspire fellow science majors to study abroad.  She wants to show that it’s possible and very beneficial to work around sequential courses and busy schedules to study abroad. “I learned so much from the people I met in Japan,” Melissa explains, “…to go with the flow and do what I like, and see how it connects to my future goals later. Everything I’ve done since getting back has been influenced by my experiences in Japan.”

After returning from her study abroad, Melissa took Astronomy 101, just because the subject interests her. “Since then, I’ve been working with Professor Fraser on the Mobile Planetarium, where we teach 1st and 2nd graders about astronomy. I think volunteering as a teacher will help me become a better pediatrician.” Melissa’s journey with study abroad doesn’t stop with peer mentorship. She will travel to South Korea this fall with the Family & Child Nursing: Culture, Immigration & Health Exploration Seminar, and she hopes to engage in a direct exchange or internship abroad next year.

Students engage in a Spanish community through storytelling


Dr. Anna Witte leads the dynamic Spanish Children’s Literature: Creative Reading, Writing and Storytelling study abroad program at the UW Leon Center in northwestern Spain. The Center is housed in the 16th century tower of El Palacio del Conde Luna, a gothic palace that was formerly the seat of the Kingdom of Leon and today hosts a museum and performance space. Its location in and strong connection to the Leon community makes the center an ideal place for Dr. Witte’s program, which engages UW undergraduates in local culture and life through homestays, school visits and teaching opportunities, as well as live performance.  In the classroom, students explore the craft of storytelling through a survey of Spanish children’s literature course, pupeteering workshop, and several group projects.

Working with puppets
Working with puppets Photo: Matthew London

“There’s nothing like learning about how children grow up, how they relate to adults and other kids, to learn about another culture,” says Dr. Witte.  Her program provides many opportunities for cultural exploration through the lenses of child development, teaching, and storytelling.  Much of her students’ time is spent engaging hands-on in local schools and in the Leon community.  Students visit a local public and private school, first observing and then returning several weeks later to give lessons in English and Spanish.  The lessons are great opportunities for the UW students to put their new teaching through storytelling skills in action.  “Schools in Leon are basically bi-lingual,” explains Dr. Witte, and local educators are excited for American students to participate in their classrooms.

Performing for an audience - with wolf ears
Performing for an audience – with wolf ears Photo: Matthew London

The program culminates with a public storytelling event at the Leon Center, organized and performed by the program students.  The free event is publicized by the Leon Mayor’s office, and tickets sell out on the first day!  This spring, UW students performed a “story salad”, mixing together several familiar stories, a song, and a puppet show for the audience of 30 youngsters.  Because the event’s theme was “The Wolf”, one group even made wolf ears for every child in the audience!

Celebrating the performance
Celebrating the performance Photo: Matthew London

“This was the best experience of my 30-year teaching career,” says Dr. Witte. “The program showed students that being in the classroom is a lot of work, but they ended up wanting more interaction with the children!  I look forward to building even closer relationships with schools in Leon.”  These partnerships will no doubt benefit children in Leon as well as UW study abroad students.

Dr. Witte watches the perfomance
Dr. Witte watches the perfomance Photo: Matthew London

Provost’s Grant enhances Zambia study abroad program

Learn more about funding for faculty and programs! Grant applications are due April 11.

A Provost’s Grant from the Office of Global Affairs will further enrich an exciting UW study abroad program to Zambia in summer 2013.

Developed and led by Dr. Leslie Ashbaugh, Director of UW Bothell’s Center for University Studies and Programs, the month-long interdisciplinary program began in 2010 and introduces students to the socio-economic, political and health challenges faced by Zambians 45 years after the end of British colonial rule. While in Zambia, undergraduates from all three UW campuses retrace the steps of Dr. Ashbaugh’s own previous research on urban-to-rural migration pathways and outcomes. Along the way, they gain exposure to the complex problems facing individuals and institutions in a country where the government and the international donor community struggle to meet citizens’ basic needs.

Traveling by foot
Traveling by foot Photo: Rabeka Anne Randall

Program activities include collaborating with University of Zambia students promoting healthy practices on their campus, observing at health clinics and children’s centers, conducting a health education workshop, and spending 10 days in Luangwa National Park, working in local clinics by day and viewing game by dusk.  “We’re on the go from 7am to 7pm every day”, says Dr. Ashbaugh. The program’s packed schedule is designed to provide many opportunities for cultural exchange with Zambian students, professionals and local residents.

The Provost’s Grant has allowed Dr. Ashbaugh to add a completely new field experience to this summer’s program. With grant support, the group will embark on a five-hour journey, by bus and then on foot, to visit a rural village and volunteer-based goat farm where HIV positive individuals raise goats for milk and pasteurize goat milk for consumption by babies. Goat’s milk is a better substitute for breast milk than cow’s milk, so the enterprise provides community members with a livelihood, a safe and healthy infant feeding solution for HIV positive mothers, and a chance to overcome the stigma of HIV infection. Dr. Ashbaugh sees the visit to this village as a chance to witness best practices in development work, but also as an opportunity for students to experience and learn from the strength of Zambian communities and the generosity, kindness, and family-orientation of the local people.

Hearing local stories
Hearing local stories Photo: Misty Provenzano

With the support of the Office of Global Affairs, Dr. Ashbaugh’s study abroad program allows students to engage in meaningful international field work, learn first-hand about the challenges faced by members of another culture in an increasingly globalized world, and test career interests in global health and development. Just as importantly, she says, students gain humility and “recognition that [Americans] have much to learn from Zambians. I’ve done my job if students leave for Zambia thinking they have some answers, and then return home humbled and able to recognize the complexity of issues related to development.”

-Sara Stubbs