January Interim means travel, learning for UW-Green Bay study abroad students

About 60 UW-Green Bay students are basking in the sunshine of some pretty exotic locales this winter break — and earning academic credit while doing it.

The students are part of six January Interim study abroad programs, and they’re receiving instruction in a variety of disciplines while learning about the culture of their chosen destination. Three overlapping programs are based in Cuernavaca, Mexico, while other students and faculty members are learning and researching in Costa Rica, Ecuador (and the Galapagos Islands) and Panama during the break.

The travel courses are ideal for students who desire the benefits of a longer international education excursion, but who may be unable or unwilling to study abroad for an entire semester, said Brent Blahnik, director of International Education.

“In today’s ever-competitive job market, employers are looking for those who can think critically, be adaptable and who possess an international perspective,” Blahnik said.

“There is no better time during one’s life to acquire those skills than the college years, and no better way to learn global competency than by experiencing it through travel.”

Profs. Lucy Arendt, Steve Kimball and Christine Vandenhouten are teaching courses in Cuernavaca, Mexico, combining Spanish instruction and an overview of Mexican culture with business, education and nursing emphases, respectfully. Portions of the students’ days are spent together, studying Spanish, while the rest of the time is tailored to their specific discipline — for example, meeting with business professionals, visiting schools or spending time in area hospitals.

The Natural and Applied Sciences academic area also is among those offering travel courses this January, with Profs. Matt Dornbush and Kevin Fermanich leading a trip to Costa Rica, and Profs. Vicki Medland, Mike Draney and Alma Rodriguez working with students in Panama. The Costa Rica course focuses on a wide range of biological, geological and socioeconomic issues related to ecology and conservation. In Panama, students are conducting hands-on research in marine biology and tropical rainforest ecology at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It’s a great opportunity for students to conduct graduate-level research as undergrads, Blahnik said — and pick up three academic credits while doing it.

Urban and Regional Studies students also are enjoying a trip abroad this January, with about 16 of them studying with Prof. Marcelo Cruz in Ecuador — and getting the chance to visit the renowned Galapagos Islands.

The six interim programs are among the wide array UW-Green Bay offers on six continents. Study abroad experiences can last anywhere from a week to an entire year and include every discipline taught at UW-Green Bay, Blahnik said.

And while students may have missed their chance to study abroad during January Interim, their next opportunity isn’t far off. The following programs will be offered this summer, and online applications are due March 1. Visit www.uwgb.edu/international/ for more information.

Summer 2012 study abroad offerings:

Florence, Italy — Profs. Christine Style and Kristy Deetz
Students will have the opportunity to create art in studios at the Santa Raparata International School of Art, explore Tuscany, and live for four weeks in central Florence. A number of excursions are planned, including trips to Venice and Rome.

Germany and Poland — Profs. Donna Ritch and Amanda Nelson
This course will address issues underlying the use of humans in teaching and research. The majority of the course will take place at the Plastinarium in Guben, Germany — the same anatomical learning center where specimens are created for the acclaimed “Body Worlds” exhibits. Following the workshop, students will travel to Poland and visit Auschwitz for lectures on historical events involving unethical human experimentation.

Japan — Prof. Cliff Ganyard
This course will introduce students to the history, culture and language of Japan. The program will be based at the Yamasa Institute in Okazaki, while providing students several opportunities to explore ancient temples and futuristic cities like Tokyo.

Jordan and Israel — Prof. Heidi Sherman
This course will help students to understand the long and colorful history of the Middle East. Jordan will be the “classroom” as students visit Neolithic, biblical, Roman, Islamic and Ottoman sites.

Jordan — Prof. Jill White
This course provides students a hands-on opportunity to learn about how culture shapes human development. Students will meet with various groups of Jordan’s diverse population, and will visit Roman ruins, a Palestinian refugee camp, the Dead Sea and a night in a Bedouin camp. Fans of Indiana Jones will be delighted to snap pictures in the ancient Nabataean city of Petra.

South Africa — Prof. Illene Cupit
A combination of lectures and visits to sites such as orphanages, group homes for adolescents and nursing homes will allow students the opportunity learn about contemporary issues regarding human development in South Africa. The program is offered in partnership with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.

Ecuador — Profs. Marcelo Cruz and Adam Parrillo
This program will select five students for advanced research and practical experience working in Ecuador. Alongside Urban and Regional Studies faculty, Ecuadorian professionals and an international consulting team, students will work to address complex issues ranging from sustainable housing to natural area preservation in drafting urban plans.

Spain — Prof. Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz
Based in Alicante, Spain, students will learn about Spain from the beginning of the 20th century while being immersed in the Spanish language.

In addition to these faculty-led program offerings, students may study at one of five institutions in Germany, as well as spend a semester or year abroad in:
• Bilbao, Spain • Aalborg, Denmark • Bordeaux, France • Kassel, Germany • Leon, Spain • Merida, Mexico • Auckland, New Zealand • The Hague, Netherlands

UW-Green Bay students also can student teach in more than 60 countries.

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Photos provided by the UW-Green Bay Office of International Education

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