A college classroom is a great place to learn, but for many University of San Diego students, especially this month, the knowledge that’s being absorbed is happening far away from the confines of Alcalá Park.
More than 265 undergraduate students are participating in Intersession study abroad programs while others, including graduate students, are on trips that provide valuable hands-on and life experiences while being exposed to people and places throughout the world.
Undergraduate students are studying and immersing themselves in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Spanish and two business courses), Hong Kong, China (Communication Studies, Economics courses) and Oxford, England (Introduction to Shakespeare). There’s even a few U.S. destinations, too. Communication Studies Professors Eric Pierson and Roger Pace and students leave Saturday to attend the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah, while Political Science and International Relations students are getting a close-up look at American politics in Washington D.C. with professors J. Michael Williams and Del Dickson.
More than 150 USD sophomores are participating in the Second-Year Experience Abroad in Barcelona, Spain (Spanish, History and Theology and Religious Studies courses) and Florence, Italy (Art History, Italian, Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies courses). The SYE trips, which run Jan. 4-23, are a collaborative effort between USD’s Undergraduate Study Abroad office and USD’s Student Affairs. It’s the second year of the SYE abroad program and one example of USD’s study abroad staff’s creative thinking to maintain the university’s current No. 1-ranking for undergraduate study abroad participation.
January is proving to be a time when USD students immerse themselves in another culture to enhance their community awareness, put their classroom theory into practice to help others, build friendships with classmates and more.
Master Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) students and more from USD’s Hahn School for Nursing and Health Science are currently in Haiti where USD Clinical Assistant Professor and MSN Clinical Placement Coordinator Kathy Marsh provided an update:
“We started with an eight-mile hike up the mountain to the Citadel, which is the oldest fortress in the western hemisphere. The students hiked through the poorest of the poor mountain town. It was such an eye opener for many and afforded students the opportunity to see the living conditions of the Haitian people who will be coming to the hospital for care.”
Marsh said USD nursing students were doing head-to-toe assessments on patients. “It’s so satisfying to see how they’re using their critical thinking skills to make a plan of care. … Our USD students have open minds and open hearts. We should all be very proud of their compassion and dedication.”
School of Business Administration graduate students through the Ahlers Center for International Business — including the MBA and International MBA, MS Global Leadership and MS Real Estate programs — are taking classes and doing practicum work in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila and Ghana.
The Ghana trip is a collaboration with School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) to do professional development for teachers and to help this small African country’s school leaders with business plans. This project is a follow-up from the visit that SOLES Dean Paula Cordeiro, PhD, made to Ghana last summer. She visited 20 low-cost private schools, conducted research and explored future opportunities for SOLES and USD students and faculty.
Three USD student-infused service immersion trips are happening in Jamaica, El Salvador and Panama.
John Loggins, associate director of the Center for Community Service-Learning, and 13 students are currently in Duncans, Jamaica to deepen the friendly relationship and strong bond between the university and the small community. USD offers a summer study-abroad program in Jamaica and this January trip allows students and staff to connect with local children in schools and community members, assist with service projects and to bring supplies to aid the community’s needs.
It’s a trip like this that leaves a permanent impression on the participants. “One cannot truly be educated without being exposed to the vast diversity within our global community,” said Lovel Tokic ’11, who went on the Jamaica immersion trip last year.
Students and staff left this week for El Salvador, a Romero Immersion Program organized by University Ministry. Participants, who will be in El Salvador through Jan. 21, follow the program’s core values — social justice, spirituality, simplicity and community — during their stay.
Medical Brigades, a USD student volunteer organization, works with U.S. doctors in temporary clinics to administer free medical care in underserved areas. Thirty USD pre-health students, led by James Walston and Shane Smith (both pictured, farthest right) went to Panama this month.
Walston said the group, which has done two previous medical service trips to Honduras, sees these trips as a hands-on experience that can’t be matched. “This gives our students at USD a much better idea of what it’s like in other parts of the world.”
Each one of these experiences provides a glimpse into the vision that Denise Dimon, associate provost for international affairs and director of the International Center and the Ahlers Center, wants for all USD students.
“It takes you out of your comfort zone,” Dimon said of having an international experience. “I think being out of your comfort zone makes a person more creative and more responsive to change. Having the ability to positively react to change and ambiguity as a part of your skill set helps prepare you for the future.”
And, she added, “I know if I was an employer, I’d be looking to hire people who can think about the next thing, the next change. I definitely think a global perspective and having an appreciation for it can help.”
— Ryan T. Blystone