Stories of Winter Abroad
April 20, 2018
UD faculty from seven colleges offer innovative travel study programs
Each winter, more than 1,000 University of Delaware students strike out across the globe on 50-plus faculty-led travel study programs that promise academics, adventure and the ability to explore independence.
This winter’s programs, offered across every academic discipline and more than 40 countries, provided a tailored journey for students to explore the world within the context of their undergraduate experience.
Here is a sampling of a few of this year's programs:
In Australia, Sue McNeil, chairperson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, directed a program exclusively for engineering students that allowed each to fulfill major and minor requirements in an international context.
“Our transportation class in Delaware is very much a highways class, because that is what everyone knows and sees,” said McNeil. “When we teach the same course in Australia, it becomes a multimodal class. Students can be out using public transportation as a means of getting around and this adds to their understanding of the course material.”
For students seeking a career in healthcare, Donald Lehman, associate professor of medical laboratory services, led a health sciences study abroad program to Italy.
“My students had a chance to interact with others who have different interests in healthcare and to see how healthcare is administered in a global context and across different specialties,” Lehman said.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Colette Gaiter, associate professor of art and design, accompanied a group of 15 students through Cuba’s vibrant art scene, including an exclusive meeting with the family of artist Belkis Ayón, who passed away in 1999 at the age of just 32.
“Belkis Ayón is an internationally known artist and her family showed our students how her prints were actually made using plates,” Gaiter said. “It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them to connect to an artist’s family and her work,” Gaiter said.
Gaiter added that her students came away with more than just a greater understanding of Cuban art, but also of global politics.
“I think that one of the things my students realize is that politics are complicated and that there is never any clear answer or explanation for anything,” she said.
In Brazil, 13 students joined Sue Barton, professor of plant and soil sciences, on a program to experience the Amazon River and Rio de Janeiro. In Rio de Janeiro, the group visited several gardens designed by Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape architect credited with beginning the native plant movement in landscape architecture. This proved a special moment for those who hope to pursue a career in the field.
For Tony Seraphin, associate professor of mathematical sciences, and Steven Hastings, professor of applied economics and statistics, Dominica also presented a unique landscape to explore academic content.
“Being a very small island, Dominica does not have the sort of resources you often see in the United States and in some European countries,” said Seraphin, himself a native of the island nation. “What they do have are lots of water, rivers and forests. The environment is just ideal for conducting the geography and applied economics and statistics courses we offer.”
Students on the program experienced firsthand the country’s distinct fusion of African, British and indigenous culture. Seraphin works annually with the government’s Division of Culture to organize the event.
“The cultural show was a big hit for our students, and it was put on specifically for them,” Seraphin said. “Here, our students see and hear a variety of dances and music that have been inherited and passed on over the years.”
Destination: Southeast Asia
John Stocker, faculty director of the finance program to Vietnam and Cambodia, added that cultural immersion is one of the most valuable elements of his study abroad program.
“I want to give my students a sense of the region and what it is like to work in international business,” Stocker said. “One of the things that I have learned is that you do not necessarily have to like what you see, but you do have to understand it if you are going to do business there.”
Destination: South Africa
Those participating in Norma Gaines-Hanks’ and Ann Aviles’ human development and family sciences program to South Africa came away not only having better understood their host culture, but also themselves, through service to local communities.
“A lot of my students see themselves as having lived in a bubble,” Gaines-Hanks said. “So, what we do is we take them to places where they have to step out of that bubble and experience a level of cognitive dissonance. They write about these experiences, reflect on them, and begin to identify their own areas of growth in working with diverse populations.”
UD undergraduate students interested in studying abroad during Winter 2019 are encouraged to visit the Institute for Global Studies website and apply by Friday, April 20, at 5 p.m. Select programs will accept applicants through September 20.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program, IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students for a number of global opportunities, and administers internationally recognized State Department-sponsored programs such as the UD Fulbright Initiative, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Institute, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for Young African Leaders, and most recently the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership (SUSI-WL) program.
IGS collaborates with other global partners on campus, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies. In addition, IGS partners with Enrollment Management to coordinate the UD World Scholars Program.