Would you like to study abroad, but aren’t sure you have the academic time to spend a semester overseas? Consider a Northwestern Summer Study Abroad (SSA) program!
Five SSA programs are being offered for summer 2010, with the potential of a sixth: China, Ecuador, Great Britain, Russia and a new program trip to Ethiopia. A program to Tanzania is pending approval from the Academic Affairs Committee.
Through SSA trips, students grow in their understanding of intercultural relationships and the complexity of other people and cultures through many avenues. SSA programs place students directly in contact with people of other cultures in their specific contexts. Students and faculty are forced outside of their “American bubble” and typically come away from an SSA experience with a deep appreciation and respect for another culture.
“One of the great challenges of traveling is how easy it is to just be a tourist and not really see/feel/experience hardly any of the true culture of a country,” said Professor of Spanish Rick Clark, the Ecuador faculty advisor. “A Summer Study Abroad program provides the opportunity for the students to truly be in the culture and, even more importantly, to fall in love with the people and culture of that place.”
An added benefit is the amount that students and faculty learn about themselves. Clark continued, “In the process, we are all changed, as is our vision of a great God who loves diversity and loves each individual completely.”
Senior Emily Muilenburg also confirms this idea, reflecting, “Somehow experiencing another culture taught me more about myself than anything. I traveled halfway around the globe to find myself, which is a noble endeavor that everyone should have the privilege of undergoing.”
Muilenburg went on NW’s India SSA last summer.
“Quite simply, going to India was amazing,” she said. “The Indian culture came at me like one of those painting palettes—the blues and oranges of Indian clothing, the shimmers of gold and silver bangles, the creamy mocha of children’s faces, the mushy tan color of the rice we had for every meal.”
What does an SSA look like? The programs are three to four weeks long and typically take place right after graduation so students still have time to work or complete internships.
“I feel that the Summer Study Abroad experiences allow for opportunities to study an academic discipline in a unique setting,” said Professor of Kinesiology Dean Calsbeek, the China faculty leader. “I love how it pushes students—and professors—out of their comfort zones and enables them to think about their own culture in new ways.”
SSA programs fulfill the GEN 350 general education cross-cultural requirement, and tuition for these programs is half-off normal tuition rates. Led by NW faculty, students travel and learn with their peers while experiencing a different part of the world.
When asked about her experience with SSA, Professor of Music Dr. Josselyn-Cranson, the Russia faculty leader stated, “Summer study abroad opportunities, like all chances to experience the world, are important because the whole world is God’s. By meeting new people, visiting and especially really living in new cultures, and encountering new ways of thinking, we are finding out more about who and what God has created.”