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UWyo Magazine
University of Wyoming
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Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

UWyo Magazine

May 2016 | Vol. 17, No. 3

Students Christian Bopp, J.P. Willson, Jessica Grunow and Karissa Rybicki photograph river hippopotamus on the Ewaso Ngiro in Laikipia, Kenya, on a study-abroad course with Assistant Professor Jacob Goheen. Photo Courtesy of Britt Brito

Students Christian Bopp, J.P. Willson, Jessica Grunow and Karissa Rybicki photograph river hippopotamus on the Ewaso Ngiro in Laikipia, Kenya, on a study-abroad course with Assistant Professor Jacob Goheen. Photo Courtesy of Britt Brito

Gateways Abroad

Short-term, faculty-led courses provide the perfect introduction to study abroad.

By Micaela Myers

About 400 University of Wyoming students study abroad each year, and the International Board of Advisors (IBOA) is committed to helping raise that number so that 25 percent of the total UW student body has an international experience by the year 2025. For many students, short-term, faculty-led study-abroad courses are the perfect way to get started. Held over summer, winter and spring breaks, these courses allow students to travel with other UW students and faculty members while learning hands-on and gaining course credit.

“If UW graduates are going to have a chance at competing in our global economy and global organizations, they must begin as undergraduates to develop international understanding,” says Celeste Colgan, an IBOA board member whose career highlights include serving as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, vice president for administration for Halliburton, director of the Wyoming Department of Commerce and deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “I spent three months in Europe between my junior and senior years at UW. That experience dropped scales from my eyes. I understood and saw people and ideas in an entirely different way. Schoolwork was easier, and I began to view my own future broadly.”

 

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Recent graduate Caroline Boarini of Indianapolis, Ind., took two faculty-led summer courses—one to the Yucatan of Mexico and one to Spain. “I acquired a totally new outlook on life and education,” says Boarini, who graduated with a dual degree in history and Spanish in 2015 and now works as an archival assistant at the American Heritage Center before attending graduate school. Improved language skills are one of the many things she gained from the trips. “When you’re in a different country, you have to take advantage of your language skills and really bolster your vocabulary. I tell everyone that if you’re learning a different language, you need to study abroad.”

Faculty-led courses can cover everything from language to science. Students in Department of Zoology and Physiology Assistant Professor Jacob Goheen’s Ecology and Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation course may very well see elephants or even leopards in their campsite in the Laikipia Highlands of central Kenya. There, they study issues of human-wildlife interactions and conduct fieldwork in methods of wildlife ecology, including independent projects. Rather than completing known experiments in the lab, this hands-on learning shows them that science is also about creativity. “There’s a perception that science is a meandering accumulation of facts: You just learn stuff, and it’s buried in a library somewhere,” Goheen says. “But in fact, it’s a process of generating and overturning ideas. That’s one of the things that we’re able to do out there when we do independent research projects.”

Student Gabriel Selting on Mount Sinai in Egypt during a faculty-led course with Lecturer Seth Ward. Courtesy Photo

Student Gabriel Selting on Mount Sinai in Egypt during a faculty-led course with Lecturer Seth Ward. Courtesy Photo

“I’ve known I wanted to study abroad since I was really young,” says Emily Sikorski of Pinedale, Wyo., a junior studying international agricultural business. “If I’d gone anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it.”

Sikorski first took a faculty-led course on Mayan art and culture with Visiting Assistant Professor Mary Katherine Scott, currently the acting director of the International Programs Office. Students studied architecture and art styles and then completed individual research projects, with Sikorski focusing on agriculture. That trip inspired her to do a semester exchange in the Netherlands.

“I learn so much every time I go abroad,” she says. “You learn how to communicate effectively with people who are vastly different from yourself. You also learn that there’s not just one way to do things—for example, agriculturally you learn a lot of different methods. I feel like traveling is an integral part of experiencing life.”

Bonnie Zare, professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, leads a winter break course to India titled Social Justice in Culture and Practice for which students must take a prerequisite course the previous semester. “I’ve literally had students say to me, ‘I have learned more and grown more from three weeks in India than I have in an entire year,’ simply because the experience is so hands-on and so intensely different from anything they would have imagined, even after having studied it for three months,” Zare says. She adds that the trip also builds her students’ confidence and cultural awareness, both valuable in their future career searches: “I think that in this marketplace, global citizenship skills are really needed—not just interpersonal skills but cross-cultural skills in terms of creating a good means of communication, following through, being sensitive to potential differences or being misunderstood. I feel like every minute on this trip we are practicing that.”

“Staying in my own backyard proved to be my real gateway to the world,” says Gabriel Selting of Laramie, Wyo., a global studies major who plans to graduate in 2018. “Over the past year and a half since coming to UW, I have been abroad on five separate occasions, engaging in activities ranging from tomb exploring in the Golan of Israel to craning my neck trying to take in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. Right now, I’m studying in France for the academic year. My first venture was in the summer of 2014 in Haiti, where I assisted at a women’s medical clinic and children’s camp. My second experience was a trip to Morocco over the winter break in 2015 where I taught English, music and theater in Casablanca. Over spring break of last year, I went with my Freshman Interest Group (Gateway to the World) to Trinidad and Tobago, where we volunteered our time in a city beautification project. Over the summer of 2015, I went to Israel, Egypt and Jordan with a faculty-led class directed by Lecturer Seth Ward, where we studied the religions of the Middle East. I then stayed in Israel and studied terrorism and responses and Israeli history at the University of Haifa through a UW study abroad.”

Selting hopes to one day work with refugees, focusing on the public health of camps and facilitating medical treatments. Through his international experiences at UW, he believes he’s getting the best education possible. As he says, “Study abroad turns you into a true, primary learner.”

International Programs

International Programs

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UWyo Magazine
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Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu

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