Feb. 17, 2011
|Morningside College student Lisa Grosvenor poses for a photo this fall with Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the background.
Lisa Grosvenor learned about stereotypes this fall studying abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Morningside College student from Newcastle, Neb., still remembers what happened the day she met some international students from Austria.
“When I met the Austrians, the other American was like, ‘Oh, “Sound of Music.”’ And they said, ‘We hate that film. We only watch that when we’re learning English because they make us because they say that’s all you’re going to know about us.’ I was like, ‘Guilty!’”
Morningside College has increased efforts to expose students to international experiences. As a result, next year more students will study abroad than ever before. Twice as many students as usual applied and were approved to participate in study abroad programs.
“For students to be well-rounded individuals and to be competitive in the marketplace upon graduation, they need to have more global awareness experiences,” said Susan Burns, associate dean for academic affairs. “We see direct engagement with other cultures as the best way to learn.”
Over the past several years, faculty members have taken hundreds of students abroad for a couple of weeks at a time during the May Term session, which takes place after the spring semester. This a less expensive way for students to have an experience overseas, and students continue to show interest in taking advantage of this opportunity.
Even so, Burns said she is excited to see the increasing number of students wanting to spend a semester or year abroad because it helps them to take their international experience to the next level – from that of a traveler to someone who actually lives in another country.
There are several ways Morningside College is working to increase the number of students studying abroad. For one, it is partnering with Central College in Pella, Iowa, to expand the number of places where students can study. Starting next year, students can study in locations such as Austria, China, France, Wales and the Netherlands.
Then starting in the spring of 2013, students will be able to participate in the new Morningside in Italy program. This program is unique in that Morningside College courses will be taught overseas by Morningside faculty members. The program will be led by Heather Reid, professor and chair of philosophy at Morningside. She is fluent in Italian, has led summer bicycle tours of Italy since 1998, and has worked in Italy more recently as a visiting scholar.
In general, Morningside is doing more to promote study abroad to the student body. It also has almost tripled the funding available to help students with study abroad expenses.
Along with opportunities off campus, the college is working to provide students with international experiences on campus. There are currently 20 international students from 11 countries studying at Morningside.
“Having a roommate from another country, you’re faced directly with cultural differences,” Burns said. “Our students are very open to having these kinds of experiences. There’s not only an openness – there’s also a desire.”
In addition, there is a pilot program at Morningside this semester where participants use the Web-based Rosetta Stone program to learn a new language. Over 120 students, faculty and staff expressed interest, and 25 people were selected to participate in the pilot program.
Grosvenor said she is happy to have had the experience of living in another country. She said she learned a lot living in a house with four other international students.
“There are so many stereotypes,” she said. “Then when you actually meet all of those cultures and stick them all into one room, it’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re all different, but we’re not that different.’”