Tag: Study abroad

Building Brilliance With … Lezlie Weber: Putting a focus on global experiences

Lezlie Weber (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About this series: Building Brilliance With … is a periodic Q&A in which we shine a light on a Lawrence University staff member whose work helps support Lawrence’s students and the university’s mission.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lezlie Weber joined Lawrence University as its director of Off-Campus Programs not long before the coronavirus upheavals began.

As COVID-19 was headed toward global pandemic status and study abroad programs began shutting down in early 2020, Weber and her team were working to bring Lawrence students home quickly and safely. It was a wild way to begin a new job. Weber was commuting at times from her home in Waukesha while preparing to move to the Fox Valley.

“I remember sitting at my dining room table at about 9 p.m. on a Friday night and seeing alerts going out about the conditions in Italy and about how program providers were starting to evacuate students,” she said. “I had dealt with emergencies in the past but nothing quite like this. For the next several weeks, our office was working on evacuating students around the clock. I remember responding to urgent emails at rest stops on the way to work early in the morning. Hundreds of emails, phone calls to students, parents, and leadership. There were Lawrence students in many parts of the world and some with trickier evacuations than others.”

That led into a Spring Term in which most international and non-essential travel had ceased and very few study-abroad programs were in-person. A number of Lawrence students signed up for virtual programs, including via the London Centre, but for most, study abroad was on pause.

Some of that has since returned, including 10 students at London Centre during the current Spring Term, with pandemic protocols in place. Weber is looking with optimism toward the coming Fall Term, when more of the off-campus programs are expected to return, both internationally and in the United States.

“We know students are ready to explore and have transformational experiences again,” Weber said. “Students are starting to dream about future travel, and we are excited about what’s to come.”

Study abroad at Lawrence. See details here.

Weber arrived at Lawrence with a deep love of travel and an unwavering belief in global and cross-cultural study. She came to LU from Carroll University, where she served for four years as assistant director of cross-cultural experiences.

As an undergraduate at State University of New York at Buffalo, she studied studio art in Australia through an exchange program. She earned a master’s degree in international education from SIT Graduate Institute, and later lived and worked in Lima, Peru. 

We talked with Weber about her work in Off-Campus Programs.

What excites you about the work you do?

Working closely with staff in our office in Appleton, the London Centre, faculty, and other departments on campus, as well as partners from all over the world, I get to help students define their personal goals and find, apply, and engage in meaningful experiences off campus. That can mean helping them travel to our own London Centre, participate in a research-based science program on the East Coast, or go overseas to learn at a university in another country. We do everything from advising on which program to choose to re-entry back into the U.S post program. A day in the Off-Campus Programs office is never the same. It’s what keeps it interesting and fun.

What’s the current status of the programs, including London Centre?

We currently have 13 students abroad on off-campus programs and one student taking a virtual domestic program. Students who are attending the London Centre had to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, start their classes online and continue that for another few weeks until they could take some classes in-person. A lot of the time is spent in small groups outside, using London as a classroom. There are 10 students and Jeff Stannard (associate dean of the Conservatory and professor of music) at the London Centre right now.

How do you approach your job to best serve students?

First, I like to learn what the students’ goals are for both their off-campus program and plans after graduation. They don’t always have the life-after-Lawrence piece figured out, and that is completely fine. In fact, it’s a good reason to go off campus—to explore existing and new passions and interests. I try to support students through problem-solving and helping them break down the logistics of international and domestic programs, which sometimes seem overwhelming—knowing that being supportive and encouraging means different things to different students.

What work or life experiences led you to this role at Lawrence?

During my sophomore year of college, I studied abroad as an undergraduate student and have since worked in educational travel in many different capacities, including a position in Lima, Peru. My favorite part is watching students grow and learn through new experiences and develop their intercultural skills. I have worked in international education for the last eight years and was so excited to join Lawrence. I am a strong believer in the liberal arts, and I love how creative the Lawrence community is.

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

2 Minutes With … Naomi Torres-Solorio: Exploring climate crisis while at sea

Naomi Torres-Solorio ’22 spent a portion of Winter Term in New Zealand.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

One morning earlier this year, while on dawn watch aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, miles from New Zealand shores, Naomi Torres-Solorio ’22 spotted dolphins. It was a welcome sight and a moment of peace for this environmental studies major from Oakland, California, who was researching the climate crisis on the other side of the world.

SEA Semester, one of Lawrence University’s beloved study abroad opportunities, sends students around the globe to spend a portion of an academic term at sea. SEA Semester programs encompass a range of academic disciplines from anthropology to marine science, but all concentrate on specific ocean-related themes and give students the tools to take on real-world problems. This is possible thanks to the efforts of the Sea Education Association (SEA), a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that promotes environmental literacy in high schools and undergraduate programs.

Eye-opener on other side of the world

Torres-Solorio was among the first students to try out SEA Semester’s new humanities program, Climate in Society, which allowed her to study the effects of the climate crisis on New Zealanders’ way of life. New Zealand is an island nation that is already feeling the effects of rising sea levels and warming temperatures.

But the students didn’t jump into research right away. They spent the first half of the term on the SEA Semester campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Here they prepared for their time at sea by taking global ocean classes and learning the ins and outs of safety on the boat. Then, after a long flight, Torres-Solorio and 30 other students from around the country spent a week on New Zealand’s south shore. This is where Torres-Solorio first had the chance to speak to islanders about their personal experiences with climate change. It’s when she realized the gravity of what she was there to do.

“It was really eye-opening,” she said. “It’s very important to recognize what’s going on and be able to talk to people about it.”

Much of the SEA Semester experience for Naomi Torres-Solorio ’22 was spent on a boat off the shores of New Zealand. There was plenty of work and study, mixed with a little bit of fun.

Living life at sea

Torres-Solorio has long been interested in human impact on the environment. But getting out of her comfort zone was what drew her to SEA Semester in the first place. That is, spending the final five weeks of her term living and working on the vessel, the SSV Robert C. Seamans.

“I never imagined myself living on a boat,” she said. “I’m a city girl. But it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.”

Of course, life on the boat wasn’t a vacation. Torres-Solorio and the other students were responsible for daily chores and rotating watch shifts. But Torres-Solorio found plenty to love in this new routine. Even staying awake for dawn watch from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. turned out to have its perks.

“You see everything,” she said. “You get the night and the stars, and by the end of your watch a sunrise. It’s so nice. Anything can happen in that single watch.”

When they weren’t maintaining the vessel, students attended class in the afternoons. This offered opportunities to share data they collected on various aspects of their journey, such as keeping track of organisms they saw along the way.

That data is for students to use in two projects that finish off the program: one in science and one in humanities. Using the collective data, Torres-Solorio focused on the abundance of chlorophyll A and phytoplankton on the cruise track. She capped off the humanities component with a paper on the psychological effects of climate migration, using data from her interactions with New Zealanders.

To students considering a term abroad with SEA Semester, Torres-Solorio offered these words of advice: “Talking about it doesn’t do justice to how amazing the program is. All the things you see and do, the people you talk to, it’s just incredible. If you like adventure and the environment, go for it.”

For more on Lawrence’s study abroad options, see here. For more on SEA Semester, see here.

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

2 Minutes With … Caroline Garrow: Designing her own Lawrence path

Caroline Garrow ’21 worked with Lawrence professors to design her own course of study.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

One of the many great features about Lawrence University is the ability to self-design your own academic path. If a student is interested in taking a specific class or pursuing a major that is not readily available at Lawrence, there are options.

Caroline Garrow ’21 took advantage of the self-design aspect of Lawrence while studying at London Centre during Winter Term, before COVID-19 brought about social distancing restrictions. 

“It’s really nice to have the independence to work on your own time and to have the immersive experiences,” Garrow said. “I went to the British Film Institute, down by Southbank, and they have lots of other resources for film. It was super cool to be able to just get up and do something like that.” 

Garrow, of Evergreen, Colorado, is a film and self-designed cognitive science double major.

“I have two professors on campus who are ‘sponsoring’ me,” Garrow said. “I coordinate my assignments with them.” 

For information on Lawrence’s student-initiated options, including tutorials, independent study, and academic internships, see here.

Being independent

With her independent study, Garrow has been able to focus on specific topics of interest. 

While Garrow’s independent classes during Winter Term didn’t directly connect with the city of London, taking an independent study abroad opened the opportunity to better understand an aspect of the place where you are studying.

Garrow had planned to stay in London for spring term, but she headed home because of the closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. She hopes to do more studying abroad in the future, including in Copenhagen.

“My family lived in Copenhagen and London,” Garrow said. “I think it’s really cool to see where you grew up from a completely different perspective.”  

During her time at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Garrow hopes to be able to take classes pertaining to her self-designed major.    

“I’ll be taking cyber-psychology, neuropsychology of social behaviors and innovation through design thinking,” she said. “These are courses that are not specifically offered at Lawrence but do have connections with what we are studying and will help to enrich the major I have established at Lawrence.”  

Willing to explore

Study abroad opportunities will eventually come back. So, we asked Garrow for some tips for students who are considering it: 

Say yes. “My favorite trips have been when I wasn’t in charge,” Garrow said. “I went to an Afro beats club; I wouldn’t have done that on my own. A friend took me hiking; I wouldn’t have done that on my own. I would say talking to the people around you, getting to know people and see what they’re interested in, and just being Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man.”  

Think about food. “Things can get expensive if you get take-away or eat out every day. Think about what it is you like to eat and what would keep you healthy”. 

Pack light. “You will buy things to bring home with you; make sure you have enough room for it.” 

Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office.

2 Minutes With … Andrea Arivella: Studying in London, interning at Parliament

Andrea Arivella ’20 is interning during winter term with a member of Parliament in the UK.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

As a Lawrence University student from Italy, Andrea Arivella ’20 knew that studying in the United States was not going to be the end of his study abroad experience. The government major is now spending winter term studying in London at Lawrence’s London Centre and interning at Parliament. 

“I finished my requirements for my major in the fall,” Arivella said. “So, I thought it would be a nice experience to come to a different place. Also, because this is my senior year, I wanted to use this time to look for some careers. That’s why I applied to the internship program, to get some ideas on what I want to do and make some connections. In a city like London, I knew there would be lots of options.”

Arivella is interning with Wendy Chamberlain, a newly elected member of Parliament (MP). However, Chamberlain was not his original internship placement. 

“What they say in the office is, my MP died,” Arivella said. “Politically died. He was in office since the 1990s but did not get reelected.”  

Two weeks before the start of winter term, Tom Brake, the MP Arivella was supposed to be interning with, lost the election. This put the internship coordinators at the London Centre into a bit of a frenzy trying to coordinate a next option.

Pursuing the internship

While still in Appleton, Arivella had worked with two internship coordinators at London Centre via Facetime. 

“They looked over my resume and helped me to transfer it into a British CV. … A few weeks later they emailed me saying they found an internship.”

He was all set to work in Brake’s office. Then came a message from one of the internship coordinators that Brake had lost his re-election bid, but efforts were already under way to find a different internship placement in Parliament.

“She emails me saying, ‘I’m sure you know, but Tom Brake has lost his seat, but I’ve been scrambling, and I found you someone else,” Arivella said.

He would eventually land on Chamberlain’s staff. Despite the initial chaos, it was worth it in the end.  

“What I was told with [the previous MP] is I was just going to be writing back to constituents, so I was going to be behind a laptop all day typing stuff, which I hated,” Arivella said. “When I found out I was going to be working with someone new, especially because this is her first time getting elected, I knew it was going to be more interesting.”  

 Arivella said day-to-day activity moves at a fast pace as he helps to support his MP’s office.

This internship and being in London have given Arivella the opportunity to explore various ways he can put his government major to work after he graduates in June.   

“I already knew I wanted to have a professional career in Europe, but this experience has definitely further established that idea,” he said.  

More on study abroad: Financial aid changes clear hurdles

Tips on studying abroad

We asked Arivella to share some advice on studying abroad:  

“Just do it. Don’t be scared. I’ve talked to people and they’ve said to me, ‘You’re going to London for three months, doesn’t that scare you?’ No. Don’t be scared to explore. Make friends, meet new people, delve into new cultures.”

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.  

2 Minutes With … Esmeralda Liz: Study of art therapy draws her to London internship

Esmeralda Liz poses for a photo during a stop in Greece prior to Winter Term.
Esmeralda Liz ’20 is studying in London this term. She visited other overseas locales, including here in Greece, prior to the term to do art research for her Senior Experience capstone. (Photo courtesy of Esmeralda Liz)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

About 11% of American college students study abroad, and even fewer partake in internships abroad. Esmeralda “Esme” Liz ’20 has joined the short list of students doing both.

Liz, studying during winter term at Lawrence’s London Centre, is taking part in a London internship focused on using the arts in the treatment of mental health. 

“I wanted to experience how to interact with different types of people,” Liz said of pursuing the internship abroad. “The way mental health might be approached in America may be different to the way it is in Europe. And I wanted to see how I can learn some of those things and bring it back.”  

More on study abroad: Financial aid changes clear hurdles at Lawrence. See story here.

Liz is a psychology and studio art double major from New York — and a Posse Foundation scholar — who became fascinated by the possibilities of art therapy.  

“I took studio art spring term of my senior year in high school,” Liz said. “I took it because it was one of my general requirements, but it became the only class I would look forward to, so I was like, I guess this is what it’s supposed to feel like going into your major. Psychology was my back-up plan. … Then I was in PPR (Posse Plus Retreat), and I had a dyad with a woman named Katherine. She was telling me about how one of her friends was an art therapist, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ She told me she felt this was something I should look into because you’re doing psychology and art. Then I looked into it and was, ‘Oh, this seems like fun.’”

Finding connections

Liz’s professors at Lawrence encouraged her to continue to explore the art therapy options. She soon realized having hands-on experiences would be important to understanding what the field might entail.

“It’s giving me a preview of what I plan on doing,” Liz said of the London internship at Core Arts. “I feel like this placement allows me to be hands-on and see what it’s like to both work with art and mental health.” 

Core Arts is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing through the arts.  

“Core Arts is an art therapy facility that focuses on mental health without speaking about,” Liz said.

The art therapist bonds with the participants through art, and consults with psychologists and counselors as needed.

“A lot of (the art therapists) get back to the counselors with things that they notice, but they don’t specifically talk to the people about their mental health; they just talk to them as artists.” 

Winter term abroad is not Liz’s first time in London. She was able to explore England and other parts of the region in late 2019 through her Senior Experience capstone. 

“Before we went on break for the winter, I made a proposal to the art department to do research while on break for my capstone,” Liz said. “It got approved, and I went around to a lot of the art capitals of the world, places like France, Italy, Spain, and London. While we were traveling, me and another studio art major, we were going to museums, talking to local artists, and collecting information for our capstones.”  

Tips on studying abroad

We asked Liz for a few tips on being a student abroad: 

1: Try to get a card with low or no foreign transaction fees.  

2: When in London, look right when crossing the street.

3: Bring spare luggage. You will buy things.  

Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office.