Tag: study abroad

Deep friendships, new studies follow a life-changing term in Senegal

From left, Greta Wilkening '21, Dominica Chang, Bronwyn Earthman '21, Miriam Thew Forrester '20, and Tamima Tabishat '20 pose for a selfie in Chang's office.
Senegal selfie: Dominica Chang, second from left, is teaching an independent study course on Wolof this term with, from left, Greta Wilkening ’21, Bronwyn Earthman ’21, Miriam Thew Forrester ’20, and Tamima Tabishat ’20.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

When they began gathering in preparation for their Spring Term abroad in Dakar, Senegal, they were acquaintances at best — fellow Lawrence students, yes, but close friends, no.

Ten weeks in Senegal changed that in ways that Bronwyn Earthman ’21, Tamima Tabishat ’20, Miriam Thew Forrester ’20, and Greta Wilkening ’21 never saw coming. The study abroad experience, a full immersion in Senegalese life and culture and French and Wolof languages, created deep bonds that continue now that they’re back on campus in Appleton, dramatically altering post-Lawrence plans for at least one of them, maybe more.

“We bonded,” Tabishat said. “We moved as a unit; we checked in on each other. … When one of us wasn’t there, it was like incomplete. It’s crazy because even at Lawrence now, we all do our own thing but when we see each other there’s just this connection.”

Learn more about Lawrence’s biennial study abroad program in Senegal here

That connection has led to something that Dominica Chang, the Margaret Banta Humleker Professor of French Cultural Studies and an associate professor of French, has never seen in her time leading the Lawrence immersion program in the West African country. Friendships blossom all the time during study abroad experiences. But this was different. Consider that all four of these students are now taking an independent study course with Chang during Fall Term to continue their studies in the Wolof language. That has never happened before.

“I reached out to Dominica about doing a Wolof tutorial just to continue learning Wolof,” Earthman said. “I mentioned it in a group chat, and then within a day everyone was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”

Wolof is one of a dozen indigenous languages in Senegal, a francophone country with deep ties to France. While French is the dominant language, Wolof is spoken by many of the locals in Dakar, where the students were living and learning during their time abroad.

For the four students, the draw to continue with Wolof lessons this term comes from a place of shared passion, deeper than any of them would have anticipated when they set out on their study abroad excursion in late March. The time in Senegal created intellectual and emotional connections with the place and the people of Dakar, and all four said they wanted to embrace and build on that. And to do it together in Appleton, as a group, or unit.

“When Bronwyn proposed the Wolof thing, I was like, well, I already have 18 credits,” Tabishat said. “And they’re all saying, ‘I’m doing it,’ ‘I’m doing it,’ ‘I’m doing it.’ So, I adjusted my schedule because we don’t do anything with just three of us. I can’t just not. I had to justify that to my advisors. I said, ‘The other girls are doing it, and I don’t want to miss out because it’s just as important to me.’”

Earlier story: Students checked in midway through term in Senegal

They now meet with Chang weekly for Wolof lessons in an independent study program designed to pick up where they left off when they departed Dakar in early June. Chang had accompanied the foursome to Senegal, teaching in the Baobab Center while there.

Celebrating the Wolof language was one of the students’ big takeaways from their time in Dakar. For 10 weeks, they met every day with instructors at the Baobab Center, learning terms and phrases and proper usage. They did their best to speak Wolof when greeting people at the market or in their neighborhoods, where they were living with host families.

“It’s something we all value a lot and something we want to continue,” Wilkening said of the new studies with Chang. “For us, we learned it there and lived it there. It’s not just a language but more about how we communicated with our friends who we became so close to while we were there.”

The students gained the respect of Dakar residents because they made the effort to learn and use Wolof. Friendships grew from there.

“There’s that point of preserving something you started,” Tabishat said of her motivation to sign up for the independent study this term. “I think it’s partially academic but also emotional because we communicated with people who couldn’t speak French, which is the colonial language, so you had to use Wolof, and that’s such a deeper connection. In the market and other places, the reaction people have when you are able to speak Wolof is crazy. They are shocked, which is insane to me because French people have been there forever and yet they’re still shocked when you speak Wolof. It’s something we value because we value those people so much.”

The four students — they dub themselves the SeneGals on Instagram — come from different disciplines. Earthman is studying biology, Tabishat is in global studies, Thew Forrester has a double major in government and English, and Wilkening is in environmental studies. Each dived deep into an academic service project that related to their majors while in Senegal.

For Thew Forrester, that service project involved studying artistic identity and how government, politics, and language in Senegal interact with the pursuit of art and personal expression. That will now become a key focus of her graduate school studies, and she plans to return to Senegal to pick up on what she started.

The idea of going back wasn’t on Thew Forrester’s radar when she first arrived in Dakar. Not even close. She was more than a little anxious about the 10-week commitment, she said, having signed up only because she thought the immersion in the French language would help her in pursuit of a French minor.

“I almost didn’t go,” she said. “I think now about what I would be doing, where I’d be if I hadn’t gone there and had that experience.”

Her SeneGals nod in agreement.

“I think all of us have a dream of going back at some point,” Tabishat said. “If possible, maybe together.”

Want to hear more from Earthman, Tabishat, Thew Forrester, and Wilkening? Tune in to the live Lawrence University Giving Day webcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10. The four students will be talking with host Terry Moran ’82 about their Senegal experience.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Voices from abroad: LU students share takeaways from studying across the globe

Fallon Sellers drinks milk from a coconut while studying in Auckland, New Zealand.
Fallon Sellers ’20 enjoys fresh coconut milk while studying in Auckland, New Zealand.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

It’s more than traveling the world; students who have enhanced their college experience with off-campus study often return with new perspectives and skills that stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Studying abroad last year made a lasting impression on Jackeline Flores ’19, who studied at the Lawrence University London Centre for her global studies major and Spanish minor.

“Personally, I feel that my experience abroad really solidified the idea that the world truly is my oyster,” she said. “All the knowledge and culture I was exposed to while abroad reminded me that there is so much out there left for me to learn about, which I find super exciting.”

Jackeline Flores takes in a view of the streets of London.
Jackeline Flores ’19 spent a term studying in London.

She’s not alone. We sampled more than a dozen Lawrence students who studied abroad during the past academic year, asking them to share key takeaways from their experience.

So many opportunities

The London Centre satellite campus is just one of 52 life-changing opportunities available to Lawrence students through the off-campus study program.

Each program blends classroom and experiential learning to facilitate students’ personal and academic growth through engagement with different cultures in an immersive learning environment. This leads to a range of profound benefits, says Director of Off-Campus Programs Laura Zuege.

“We know it affords the opportunities for intercultural learning, growth and development that employers time and time again are looking for,” she says. “Study abroad is a laboratory for that kind of development.”

Zuege and her colleagues work tirelessly to make these programs accessible and suitable for students of diverse academic, socioeconomic, social and ethnic backgrounds, by offering programs for every major and addressing students’ varied needs.

For more information on off-campus study, click here.

To see the full list of programs, click here.

“Different students have different concerns in different locations,” Zuege says. “We want to be tuned in with some of our portfolio (program) choices but also with how we approach, prepare and recruit students to be sure we’re reaching a range of the student body that’s representative of our student body.”

This fall, a breakthrough financial aid policy change is making that possible. All of a student’s institutional financial aid — grants, federal loans, scholarships — can now be contributed to off-campus study, in addition to existing study abroad scholarships. In the past, 100 to 120 students went abroad each year; this fall there will be 145.

What they’re saying

Here are a dozen more Lawrence students whose lives changed thanks to off-campus study last year:

Tamima Tabishat poses for a photo overlooking Rabat, Morocco.
Tamima Tabishat ’20 takes in a view overlooking Rabat, Morocco.

Tamima Tabishat ’20, AMIDEAST, area and Arabic language studies in Rabat, Morocco; global studies/German language studies and French language studies: “The most important (impact) was the way it helped me learn how to adapt quickly and smoothly to a new environment. Morocco’s geographic, linguistic, religious, political and cultural elements are very different from my typical academic environment. By studying in a new context, I felt that I was able to adopt new habits, adapt to new customs, and abide by new social rules, all of which are incredibly important skills to have in life. Practicing these things every day taught me how to see everything from a totally new perspective, which has made me not only a more critical thinker, but also a more considerate and tolerant citizen of the world.”

Joe Hedin ’19, Lawrence University London Centre, government/Spanish: “The London Centre allowed me to prepare myself for life after Lawrence. Thanks to the London Centre and Off-Campus programs staff, I had an internship, so I learned how to work in traditional offices, along with learning how to commute to work. I will never be able to put into words how impactful this was.”

Abigail Keefe ’20, IES Paris, language and area studies; violin performance, and mathematics/French and music theory: “Living in France with my host family helped me to improve my skills in the French language way beyond what I ever thought I would be capable of. Living in a country where my native language was not the primary language also helped me to try to understand how it would feel for people living and working in America for whom English is not their native language.”

Ryan Leonard sits in the sand in front of Mount Maunganui.
Ryan Leonard ’19 poses for a photo in Tauranga in front of Mount Maunganui.

Ryan Leonard ’19, IES Auckland, New Zealand, geology: “This experience is going to be one of the biggest selling points in my life after college. From the challenge of moving to a new country alone and having to meet new people, to maintaining good grades and budgeting and making time for travel, I have gained many marketable skills that I may not even realize I have acquired.”

Julia Johnson ’20, IES Vienna, music, cello performance; psychology/pedagogy: “It pushed my boundaries in so many ways such as speaking another language, making friends, being comfortable with public transportation, making travel plans, and not being afraid to explore Vienna and go to performances on my own. I feel like I grew more as a person studying in a new city where they speak another language more than I ever would have on my own campus.”

Ethren Lindsay ’20, Japan; linguistics and Japanese: “I was able to take many classes that would not have been available at my home university, one of which was a translation job. Since I am planning on possibly going into translation as a part of my future work, this was quite literally the most valuable thing that I could have gotten out of college.”

Alice Luo poses for a photo in an urban garden in Berlin.
Alice Luo ’19 visits an urban garden in Berlin.

Alice Luo (Manxin) ’19, IES Berlin, language and area studies; history: “Berlin is such a dynamic city with people coming from all over the world. In America, I felt an urge to be more American and I tried to deny my Chinese identity to some extent in order to better merge into the American culture. In Berlin, with the diverse population and cultures and a seemingly freer atmosphere, which I personally felt, I learned to accept my identity and even celebrate it and appreciate it.”

Juan Marin ’20, IES Freiburg, language and area studies; film studies and German: “I feel like the program taught me how to understand people better. I met a lot of people abroad, and I don’t just mean my classmates and more Americans. I met people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Russia, Bolivia, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Australia, Germany (of course), Morocco, the UK, and more. The program gave me an even higher appreciation for diversity and inclusion.”

Kate Martensis ’20, Budapest, semesters in mathematics education; math and history: “As part of our practicum course, my fellow students and I each had to teach two classes at a local high school. Though the process was not without its difficulties, it was an incredibly valuable experience, and I was so glad to put all the things we’d learned from school visits and our classes into practice. This made me all the more excited to be a teacher.”

Tia Colbert looks up at a wax figure of Sherlock Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.
Tia Colbert ’20 checks out a wax figure of Sherlock Holmes while visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London with her British Crime Fiction class.

Tia Colbert ’20, Lawrence University London Centre, English and Greek/creative writing: “There was a significant focus on using London itself as a textbook, and I feel like that enhanced all the classes. I believe that experiential learning is one of the best ways to engage students, and the London Centre Program definitely delivered in that respect.”

Harry Rivas ’19, ACM Shanghai, economics: “The program had a drastic impact on my life. It changed the way I saw the rest of the world, specifically how I saw China, the impact China has already had on the world, and what is to come. I got to explore a culture and mindset so different from my own.”

Fallon Sellers ’20, IES Auckland, New Zealand, government/international relations: “It was incredibly interesting to interact and work with others my age from a different social and academic culture than mine. Collaborating with them and learning their stances on business and ethical behavior was fascinating, and it was immensely rewarding to observe other points of view outside of the U.S.”

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Senegal experience: Students immersed in culture, language during term in Dakar

Dominica Chang and Lawrence students Bronwyn Earthman, Mima Tabishat, Miriam Thew-Forrester, and Greta Wilkening jump in the air at Lac Rose along the Atlantic Ocean just outside of Dakar.
Miriam Thew-Forrester, Tamima Tabishat, Bronwyn Earthman, Greta Wilkening, and Dominica Chang visit Lac Rose along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean just outside of Dakar.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

For the four Lawrence University students who are studying abroad during spring term in Dakar, Senegal — part of the school’s Francophone Seminar program— the immersion in daily life in the west African country is invaluable.

“All of our courses are either in French or Wolof, and the people around the Baobab Center are always chatting with us and pushing us to learn new phrases in Wolof or French, so we are truly immersed in the language and culture,” said Greta Wilkening ’21.

Accompanied by Dominica Chang, the Margaret Banta Humleker Professor of French Cultural Studies and an associate professor of French, the students are staying with host families, studying at the Baobab Center, being immersed in local customs and languages and working on independent study projects.

We asked Chang to tell us a little about the program and we asked the four students to share their experiences halfway through the 10-week term. Their responses are below.

Dominica Chang, a brief introduction:

“Hello! BonjourAsalaam AlaikumNa nga Def? I teach French at Lawrence and am leading this spring’s Francophone seminar in Dakar, Senegal.

“Lawrence University’s Department of French and Francophone Studies is proud to lead a long-term study abroad experience for students to Dakar, Senegal. This program, which first began in 1996, is unique for many reasons: not only does a member of the department’s faculty accompany students for the entirety of their stay (both teaching French language and taking courses from local instructors with them), but participants experience complete cultural and linguistic immersion in Senegal, a francophone country with deep ties to France but with its own distinctly rich and proud history and culture.

“While in Dakar, The Baobab Center (African Consultants International) is a home base resource center that arranges family home stays and service learning opportunities, provides cultural orientation workshops and language instruction in Wolof, and organizes cultural excursions in Dakar and other cities and villages in Senegal.”

More on the Francophone Seminar program can be found here.

The Lawrence contingent poses for a photo with Gary Engelberg, one of the founders of African Consultants International.
The Lawrence contingent meets with Gary Engelberg (in red shirt), one of the founders of African Consultants International. ACI was founded in 1983. The Lawrence program began in 1996.

Meet the students:

Bronwyn Earthman ’21 is a biology and French major from Minneapolis:

“My host family here in Senegal has been a little bit different than I initially expected because my host mom is in France with her husband getting a medical treatment, and so I have been living with my three host brothers, Lucas, 23, Noel, 15, and Marco, 9. They are the best, and I’ve had a great time hanging out with them!

“The Baobab Center is our home base, where we have all of our classes. It’s about a three-minute walk away from my house, which is so convenient! Africa Consultants International (ACI) was founded in 1983 by Gary Engleberg and Lillian Baer, and its mission is to promote intercultural understanding, social justice, health, and the well-being of the people. The center has two main floors with many classrooms, where we have classes with guest professors from the university, as well as with professors from the center and Dominica. The faculty and staff of ACI are so wonderful and helpful, and are definitely my favorite thing about the center. Every morning when I walk in the building, everyone greets me enthusiastically in Wolof and French, giving me the opportunity to practice both.”

The Lawrence students sit on the floor during a session with an instructor in the Baobab Center in Dakar.
The Lawrence students meet with instructors daily in the Baobab Center in Dakar.

Miriam Thew Forrester ’20 is double-majoring in English and government (international relations) with a French minor:

“My host family lives in the neighborhood of Mermoz. I live with my host mom (Gnagna) on her floor, but her son and his family live on the floor above us so I also have a little brother (Mouhammed) and a baby sister. My house is right on the VDN (one of the main roads in Dakar), so my walk to and from the Baobab Center is always interesting.

“One of my favorite things about Dakar is that there is so much to love; it’s made it almost impossible for me to choose my independent project. I’m primarily interested in identity (and its creation, expression, transformation, transmission, etc.), and Dakar has a seemingly infinite array of possibilities for this. There’s the graffiti, which is not illegal here and incorporates various aspects of Senegalese identity, culture, and traditional art forms while simultaneously pushing cultural norms.

“The mix of the French and Wolof languages (as well as Pulaar and others) in daily life is incredible, and I’m currently beginning to conduct interviews focusing on the impact of language on identity here. Each interaction has offered something new, and I am so excited to continue exploring the culture here.”

Lawrence students get a music lesson from a Dakar instructor.
Music, dance and language instruction are all part of the Senegal program as students are immersed in local culture. The primary languages are French and Wolof.

Tamima Tabishat ’20 is majoring in global studies with a focus on cities and is pursuing a triple minor in French, German, and Arabic language studies.

“I chose to study in Dakar to improve my French-speaking skills and to work on my senior project. During these 10 weeks, I am staying with a host family that lives very close to the center. My host parents, Chantal and Babacar, are very kind and I felt like a part of their home from the very first day. Chantal takes me with her to markets, family gatherings and church services, which have all been very enriching experiences.

“For my service learning project, I have been researching the role of the second-hand clothing market in Senegal and its impacts on local tailors and the textile industry. Over the past few decades, used clothing from the U.S., many European countries, and China have flooded into Senegal by the ton and created an enormous second-hand clothing market where used clothing is sold for a fraction of its original price. Not only is this industry harmful to the environment, but it has destroyed local industries and jobs such as fabric production and tailoring as it has become more affordable for consumers to purchase second-hand items from overseas than locally made garments.

“Over the course of my time in Dakar, I hope to learn more about this global phenomenon through interviews with local tailors, second-hand vendors, fashion designers, and fabric shopkeepers.”

The students pose on a trip to Lac Rose.
The students take numerous excursions, including this one to Lac Rose.

Greta Wilkening ’21 is an environmental studies major with a French minor.

“I live with a host family near the Baobab Center, where I attend class. My family is quite large: about 18 people in total, though neighbors and friends will always drop by at any given time. My host family speaks mainly Wolof, the local language, and they are always helping me learn new phrases in Wolof. Three younger host-siblings are always ready to play with me, even after I return home from a long day of classes.

“At the Baobab Center, we take many different classes throughout the week. We take classes like Senegalese literature and history, political history, contemporary art, Islam in Senegal, Wolof, and music and dance. In music and dance, we are learning to play the kora, a stringed instrument, and are also learning a dance routine that we will perform at the end of the program.”

Follow the Lawrence students’ educational journey in Senegal, including more photos and video, on Facebook @lawrenceinsenegal.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Three Lawrentians awarded Gilman International Scholarships for study abroad

Three Lawrence University seniors are spending this fall studying abroad as recipients of a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Sam Bader, Milou de Meij and Christian Rodriguez were among 1,037 undergraduates nationally selected for the fall 2017 scholarship from among 2,859 applicants.

“I’m very proud that three Lawrence students have received these highly competitive awards,” said Laura Zuege, director of Lawrence’s off-campus programs. “The Gilman program aims are to diversity student access to study abroad and promote study in countries less commonly represented in study abroad. Lawrence students are contributing to the changing demographics of study abroad participants and it’s a thrill to work with them during this process. Meaningful study abroad experiences have been shown to contribute to academic success, increased graduation rates and greater employability after graduation. I’m eager to extend the reach of these outcomes.”

Sam Bader
Sam Bader ’18

Bader, an anthropology major from Hilo, Hawaii, leaves Sept. 4 for Madagascar. He will spend 12 weeks at Centre ValBio, a research station in Ranomafana National Park run by Stony Brook University. During the program, Bader will participant in field site visits to conduct research relevant to primate study, specifically lemurs, as well as biodiversity and ecosystem comparisons throughout Madagascar.

“Most of the time I will be in Ranomafana, but the program also includes two camping trips and a cross country trek towards the island’s west coast,” said Bader, who is traveling abroad for the first time. Being from Hawaii, he admits being on a tropical island will make it seem a bit more like home for him.

Opportunities to explore areas of his interest — biological anthropology, which involves primatology or aspects of environmental conservation — are especially exciting for Bader.

“I’m hoping to get some experience in these areas while conducting fieldwork in a different country and culture than I’ve experienced before. I’m looking forward to connecting the areas of anthropological research I have experience in, particularly in linguistic anthropology, cultural preservation, and music, in the independent study portion of this program. I’m also looking forward to interacting with the Malagasy people throughout my time there.”

Bader hopes others follow his lead and pursue the Gilman and other funding opportunities for study abroad.

“So many people see finances as a barrier and never get the chance to go abroad,” said Bader. “I’m thankful for the opportunity and hope more underrepresented students from Lawrence get the chance to do so as well in the future.”

Milou de Meij
Milou de Meij ’18

de Meij, a double degree candidate with majors in Russian studies and piano performance from Bozeman, Mont., will be in St. Petersburg, Russia until Dec. 23.

She is participating in the Bard-Smolny Program, a liberal arts college associated with St. Petersburg State University. Founded by New York’s Bard College, Smolny College was the first liberal arts college in Russia. de Meij is taking Russian as a Second Language courses as well as courses in Soviet music history, political science and Russian theater, all taught in Russian.

“My biggest goal is to improve my speaking skills in Russian,” said de Meij via email, who began her stay in St. Petersburg in mid-August. “I chose this program because I’m able to take actual college classes in Russian with Russian students at Russia’s first liberal arts college, an entire experience that is unusual for most study abroad programs. I’ve already seen my conversation skills growing. I’ve even successfully haggled for a sweater in the market.”

“The Gilman program aims are to diversity student access to study abroad and promote study in countries less commonly represented in study abroad. Lawrence students are contributing to the changing demographics of study abroad participants.”
Laura Zuege, director of Lawrence’s off-campus programs

On the program, de Meij is living with “an amazing host mother” on Vasilievsky Island near the center of St. Petersburg.

“Her name is Rita and I call her Mama Rita,” said de Meij, who is the 75th student Rita has hosted. “She cooks delicious food and is always eager to talk and help me with language. She bought a stack of notecards to put around the apartment with new words I’m learning. I really, really like her.”

Christian Rodriguez
Christian Rodriguez ’18

Rodriquez, an economics and mathematics major from Chicago, will spend 16 weeks on the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program at College International, a Hungarian-based educational institution focused on international students.

“This was the best program that fit with my interest and degree requirements,” said Rodriguez, who will live in an apartment in central Budapest while on the program. “Almost everybody I’ve talked to has said this is not a run-of-the-mill, go-abroad-and-have-fun program. It’s known for its large emphasis on academics and to challenge math majors. It is a bit intimidating, but I’m really excited for the diverse selection of mathematics courses offered.”

The program will be Rodriguez’ first experience outside the United States and it has generated a mix of nervousness and excitement.

“I’ll have almost nothing flying into Budapest. I’ll be a foreigner with no relation to anybody and have no familiarity with the place, culture, or language,” said Rodriguez.

“But there is a bright side. I intend to create a new ‘me’ while in Budapest. When I’m at home or at Lawrence, I’m stuck being a certain person, but I think Budapest will be a great opportunity to start from scratch. Through previous experiences, such as coming to Lawrence or through my summer internship at Michigan, I’ve been able to discover new parts about myself. Who knows what I’ll get from Budapest? Despite the challenge Budapest may impose, I intend to travel a lot and see more of the world.”

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad program costs. The program’s mission is to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

Administered by the Institute of International Education, the program is named in honor of Benjamin Gilman, who represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973-2003. According to Gilman, a strong advocate of studying abroad programs, the scholarship “provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Ben Meunier awarded Gilman International Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan

Sophomore Ben Meunier has been awarded a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Ben-Meunier_newsblog
Ben Meunier ’17

Meunier, an anthropology major from Marshall, was one of 850 undergraduates nationally selected for the scholarship from among 2,700 applicants. The award will support studies abroad this fall (Aug. 23-Dec. 17) on the Middle East and Arabic Language Studies program in Amman, Jordan.

Administered by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest in partnership with AMIDEAST, the program immerses students in Arabic as well as the history and culture of the region.

Meunier, who his completing his first year of studying Arabic at Lawrence, sees the language skills as critical to his future plans.

“I expect to journey to the Middle East regularly during my professional career,” said Meunier, whose older brother Zechariah, a senior at Lawrence, received a Gilman International Scholarship in 2013. “I aspire to be a biblical archaeologist and learning Arabic is a necessary step if I hope to attain the fullest understanding of the region. Arabic, like Hebrew, is a Semitic language and this connection will only further help me study the Hebrew peoples.”

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad program costs. The program’s mission is to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

Lawrence Anthropology Professor Peter Peregrine said the Gilman Scholarship provides a perfect opportunity for Meunier to combine his Christian faith with his broader interests in the Abrahamic religions.

“Ben’s planned work in Jordan will allow him to develop his Arabic language skills while pursuing a greater understanding of Islam,” said Peregrine, Meunier’s academic advisor. “I have developed a great respect for Ben. He has not allowed his deep Christian beliefs to keep him from trying to understand and appreciate other faiths. He has used his interest in the Abrahamic religions to strengthen his understanding of his own Christian beliefs.”

Amman-Jorda_newsblogGilman Scholars have opportunities to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies, which prepares them to be leaders in an increasingly global economy and interconnected world.

“I am looking forward to the whole experience,” said Meunier, who will live with a host family while on the program. “I am very excited about the homestay because I will be directly immersed in the culture of the Middle East. I am also looking forward to meeting my fellow classmates and living as a Middle Eastern college student.

“As an anthropology major, this program will be ideal, providing me firsthand experience in the field,” he added. “I also will be able explore some of my personal interests in religion, and the influx of refugees from Syria and other neighboring countries has created an anthropological research topic of great interest. Jordan truly is the perfect location for me.”

Administered by the Institute of International Education, the program is named in honor of Benjamin Gilman, who represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973-2003. According to Gilman, a strong advocate of studying abroad programs, the scholarship “provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Ruby Dickson awarded Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for Chinese language immersion program in Beijing

Ruby Dickson will venture outside the United States for the first time this summer courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

Ruby-Dickson_newsblog
Ruby Dickson ’16

The Lawrence University junior from Louisville, Colo., has been awarded a $2,700 Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for the 2015 Associated Colleges in China (ACC) Intensive Language Program. In addition to the scholarship, Dickson will receive $800 for travel expenses.

This is the 10th year in a row at least one Lawrence student has been recognized by the Fulbright Program. Dickson is the 14th Lawrence recipient of a Fulbright award in the past five years.

Beginning June 14, Dickson will participate in a Chinese language immersion program at Beijing’s Minzu University. The program runs through Dec. 7.

“I’m really excited for the chance to go to Beijing, especially since this is my first time leaving the United States,” said Dickson, who is pursuing a double major in Chinese language & literature and economics. “The Fulbright-Hays will help me with funding this amazing opportunity and I’m incredibly grateful for the generosity of those responsible for the scholarship.

“While I’m in China, I’ll have the opportunity not only to learn the Chinese language, but also to understand Chinese culture, conduct research and make valuable friends and connections,” Dickson added. “The Fulbright-Hays represents an amazing opportunity to build on my experiences at Lawrence. I can’t wait to begin my trip.”

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Minzu University, Beijing, China

Kuo-ming Sung, associate professor of Chinese and linguistics and one of Dickson’s academic advisors, said she is one of the brightest and hardest working students he has had in his classes.

“What is truly remarkable about Ruby is her creativity and imagination,” said Sung. “She transforms otherwise ordinary sentence patterns and vocabulary into fun-filled dialogues and compositions. Her oral presentations are always enthusiastic and infused with a wonderful sense of humor.”

Following her language program, Dickson will remain in China for several more weeks to complete an internship in the finance department of Deprag Industries, a Germany-based industrial manufacturing company with an office in Beijing.

David Gerard, associate professor of economics, said Dickson came to her economics major late, but has quickly distinguished herself.

“Ruby’s academic excellence is no accident. I call on people randomly and she has consistently demonstrated she had prepared for class and typically has a handle on even the more difficult material. She has very good foresight, is an exceptional planner and certainly does not shy away from academic challenges. Many students will take courses to protect their GPA, but Ruby shows no indication of taking that route. The internship abroad presents a great opportunity for her to operationalize her economics training and her liberal arts education more generally.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Fulbright-Hays Group Program Abroad seeks to strengthen foreign language expertise through advanced overseas study and research opportunities and by providing experiences and resources that enabling educators to strengthen their international teaching.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Hartmut Gerlach 1929-2015: Taught in the Lawrence German dept. for 28 years

Professor Emeritus of German Hartmut Gerlach, who spent 28 years on the Lawrence University faculty,  died at his Appleton home Wednesday, March 18. He was 85.

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Hartmut Gerlach spent 28 years teaching in the Lawrence German department.

Born in Dresden, Germany, Gerlach joined the Lawrence German department in 1966, teaching language,  literature — he was especially fond of Goethe’s “Faust” — history and culture until his retirement in 1994. He was well known for his innovative courses on the art of German cinema and his observations on the changing focus of German films after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

During his tenure, he served as director of Lawrence’s study-abroad programs in Germany, first in Boennigheim in 1968 and later in Eningen and Munich. He was appreciated by a generation of Lawrentians for whom he served as a solicitous guide for students exploring a new culture.

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Professor Emeritus of German Hartmut Gerlach served as director of Lawrence’s study abroad programs in Eningen and later in Munich.

Growing up in Germany under the Nazi regime, Gerlach was forced to join the Hitler Youth Organization as a 10-year old, something he detested. At the age of 14, he was put in charge of 25 10-year olds, but rather than indoctrinate them in Nazi ideology, Gerlach taught them German folk songs during meetings as a way to subvert the Nazi regime. As a youth living through World War II, Gerlach wrote numerous poems and short stories that reflected a deep love of nature, country and family.

He studied psychology, psychiatry, pedagogy and philosophy at the universities of Zurich, Tuebingen and Goettingen and spent a year teaching at Trenton State College in New Jersey before completing his master’s and doctorate degrees in German at Indiana University.

He is survived by his wife, Diane, and four children: Bettina; Peter (Cady); Pamela (Bobbie); and Loren (Susan); and two grandchildren, Katelyn and Nicholas.

The family will hold a private service and have requested any donations in Professor Gerlach’s memory can be made to Lawrence University or any charity of the donor’s choice.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Fulbright Fellows: Four Lawrence Students Awarded Teaching, Research Fellowships

For only the second time in school history, Lawrence University has been awarded four student Fulbright Fellowships in the same year.

Katie Blackburn and Helen Titchener have received fellowships as English teaching assistants in Taiwan and Germany, respectively, while Inanna Craig-Morse and Abigail Wagner received research fellowships in India and Austria, respectively.

Operating in more than 155 countries, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Since 2008, 21 Lawrence seniors have been named Fulbright Fellows, including four in 2009, the only other time the college has earned that many in one year.

The four Fulbright awards brings to six the number of national awards Lawrence students have received this spring. Anthony Capparelli was awarded a $28,000 Watson Fellowship in March, while junior Zechariah Meunier was named one of 50 national recipients of a $5,000 Udall Scholarship in April.

Katie Blackburn — “Enthusiastic, Intellectually Curious”

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Katie Blackburn ’14

Fluent in Mandarin, Blackburn she will spend 11 months beginning in August as an English teacher working with Taiwanese seventh and eight graders on the island of Kinmen.

This will be her third trip to the Far East for the senior from Brookfield. A linguistics and Chinese language & literature double major, Blackburn spent the 2012 fall term in Beijing on a study-abroad program. She returned to China for seven weeks last year as the recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for the 2013 Associated Colleges in China Summer Field Studies Program, which provided a peek at China’s education system by working with teachers and students in rural areas.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with the people and learning about this different culture,” Blackburn said of her first visit to Taiwan. “I’m excited about getting to know these people and hopefully make some connections in ways I wasn’t able to on my previous trips to China. This time I’ll have a full year to get to know people.

“On my earlier trips, people would get excited to see people who weren’t Chinese,” Blackburn added. “I’m hoping I can get past the whole ‘You’re white, I want to be friends with you,’ scenario. I’d like to make friends because they actually want to get to know me personally, rather than just because I’m some foreigner.”

Ruth Lunt, associate professor of German and Blackburn’s linguistics advisor, called her “an enthusiastic, intellectually curious student.”

“With her background in linguistics, her passion for Chinese language and culture and her desire to teach Chinese and English as a second language in the future, this Fulbright teaching position in Taiwan is a perfect fit for Katie.”

Helen Titchener  — “Motivated, Intelligent, Mature”

Teaching English as a second language has long been a career interest of Titchener’s. She sees her Fulbright fellowship as the perfect opportunity to give it a test drive.

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Helen Titchener ’14

“I applied for the Fulbright to give myself a chance to see if that’s what I want to do before pursuing graduate school for it,” said Titchener, a German and English double major from Concord, Mass.

Beginning in September, Titchener will spend the 2014-15 academic year as an English language teaching assistant in a “secondary school” (middle and high school) in Berlin, Germany. She previously visited Berlin in the fall of 2012 as part of a study-abroad program.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Titchener also will have a chance to further explore her other passion — opera directing.

“I’ve had a little experience with the opera world through some internships. Germany has some really great opera houses, and you can get really cheap tickets, so I’m hoping to take advantage of that. By the end of my fellowship, I should know if I want to pursue ESL or opera.”

Assistant Professor of German Alison Guenther-Pal hailed Titchener as “simply one of the most motivated, intelligent and mature students I have had in nearly 15 years of university teaching.”

“I am thrilled that Helen has been given the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright Program in Berlin,” said Guenther-Pal. “She will be an outstanding representative both of Lawrence University and the U.S.”

Inanna Craig-Morse — “A Global Citizen”

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Inanna Craig-Morse ’14

Craig-Morse came to admire the women involved in politics she met while in India on an off-campus study program in 2012.

That admiration sparked a research project that will send the senior from Sebastopol, Calif., back to the world’s largest democracy. In addition to her Fulbright research fellowship, she also received a Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA).

Beginning in August, she will embark on a nine-month project to expand on previous research she conducted on Indian women’s political efficacy and their power to effectively lead others. Working in Mumbai, much of her research will entail interviewing area leaders, including women in political positions, NGO officials and law enforcement authorities. She also will spend part of her stay studying Marathi, the region’s most widely-spoken language.

“The impetus for this project is why so many of the cultural factors we expect to contribute to women’s political ambitions don’t seem to be present in India,” explained Craig-Morse, a government major. “I want to look at what factors enable women to enter politics and their belief that they have the capacity to lead others. The hope is to better enumerate what factors can promote more women to get involved in politics in the region and beyond.”

This will be Craig-Morse’s third trip to India. As part of a study abroad program in Pune two years ago, she conducted a series of interviews with women in high-profile political positions. She returned last fall for six weeks on a Mellon Foundation-supported Lawrence Senior Experience grant, conducting interviews with members of a women’s Communist Party.

Lawrence government professor Claudena Skran praised Craig-Morse for her “deep commitment to understanding global issues, especially those concerning women in developing societies.”

“Inanna has specialized in comparative politics and international relations,” said Skran. “Her work both on the Lawrence campus and abroad demonstrates her drive and quest for understanding as well as her cultural awareness and role as a global citizen.”

Abigail Wagner — “Stellar Student”

Ever since Wagner spent the fall of 2011 in Vienna on an off-campus study program, she has been determined to return to Austria.

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Abigail Wagner ’14

Beginning in September, the classically trained violist from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., will spend a year in Vienna teaching English and conducting research on Austrian folk music.

“Finding out that I actually get to go back, do research, teach and spend more time with people I’ve come to respect and appreciate, I just can’t describe that feeling,” said Wagner, who earned a bachelor’s degree in viola performance and general/instrumental music education in January.

Wagner will hold an assistant English teacher position at a private school in Vienna that fast tracks students into the business world through a university preparatory-type program.

She also will reconnect with Austrian ethnomusicologist Rudolf Pietsch, who she met on  her study abroad program. When she began her Fulbright application process, she contacted Pietsch to see if they might collaborate on a research project. They came up with a proposal to compare the music of Austrians living in Austria with the folk music of Austrians now living in the United States.

“He has lots of field recordings and some interviews from when he had done some of his doctoral research in the U.S.,” said Wagner. “He has all this material he hasn’t even looked at yet. He thought it would be really helpful and a good project for me to listen to the field recordings and compare them to modern-day Austrian folk music or Austrian folk music of the past and see if there are any similarities.

Professor of Music Matthew Michelic, Wagner’s academic advisor, said her Fulbright fellowship is well-deserved.

“Abby has been a stellar student in both her performing and academic pursuits since day one at Lawrence,” said Michelic. “Her term of study in Vienna opened new avenues of thought and inquiry and I am thrilled this Fulbright grant will allow her to combine her many areas of developing expertise in a unique path of discovery.”

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and athletics. Forty Fulbright alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize and 75 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Two Lawrence Students Awarded Gilman Scholarships for Off-Campus Study

Two Lawrence University students have been awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Senior Tammy Tran and junior Zechariah Meunier are among more than 850 American undergraduate students from 324 colleges and universities across the United States selected for the scholarship.

Tammy Tran ’14

Tran, an English and Chinese languages and literature major from New York City, will study abroad at Minzu University in Beijing on the Associated Colleges in China Intensive Chinese Language program this fall.

Meunier, a biology and environmental studies major from Marshall, will spend 11 weeks in Madagascar on a study-abroad program based at Centre ValBio, a research station in Ranomafana National Park.

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

Tran, who will spend three months in Beijing beginning in September, is looking forward to making her first to China, where her grandparents were born.

“Extending my studies in Chinese language and culture beyond the Lawrence classroom will enhance my liberal arts education and challenge me to grow into a more globally minded individual,” said Tran. “I am really excited to continue learning Mandarin by immersing myself in China and opening my mind to a culture that I have always felt deeply connected to through my family.”

In addition to classes, Meunier will complete an independent research project as part of his program, which includes a 10-day trip across the island. With his interests in ecology, botany and entomology, he is focusing on a project involving plant-insect interactions.

Zach Meunier ’15

“The Madagascar program is an ideal opportunity to further my interdisciplinary education and the Gilman Scholarship helps make this experience affordable,” said Meunier. “By studying the country’s tremendous biodiversity and participating in conservation initiatives, I will advance my life’s goals of researching and preserving the natural world.”

Gilman Scholars have opportunities to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies, making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

Administered by the Institute of International Education, the program is named in honor of Benjamin Gilman, who represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973-2003. According to Gilman, a strong advocate of studying abroad programs, the scholarship “provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.