International Studies & Programs

Past Learning Abroad Conferences

2012 Learning Abroad Conference

Welcome Address

Faculty Workshops

Conference Program

2013 Highlight Video

Featured Student Presentations

 

Sorry, I don't Speak Chinese (Ferguson, Nickolas)

The presenter participated in a non-MSU program offered by the Shanghai International Studies University. Nickolas's presentation focused on his cross-cultural learning while living and studying in China for six weeks. Through his experiences, he learned to build authentic relationships and appreciate difference, which he discussed during the presentation.

Çay, Conversation and Cultural Immersion: Intensive Language Instruction in Azerbaijan (Selig, Hannah)

The presenter participated in a non-MSU program. She spent eight weeks in Baku, Azerbaijan as part of the American Councils and Department of State Critical Languages Scholarship program. While immersed in an intensive Azerbaijani language course and living with a host family, Hannah learned about the linguistic, economic, and cultural changes Azerbaijan has undergone since the country gained independence. Hannah's presentation focused on her cultural and language immersion experiences as well as how she gained access and funding to support her study abroad. Her career interests includes working in the health industry in Central Asia where she hopes to apply her Azerbaijani and Turkish.

Attempting the Impossible: Throwing Up Among Gorillas in Uganda (Ravary, Riley)

The presenter participated in the Evolution of Uganda's Forest Biodiversity: Apes to Aves program. She spent 25 days studying evolution and biodiversity while tracking gorillas through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Her journey was filled with mishaps, challenges, and immeasurable rewards. Riley's presentation focused on how she attempted the impossible, yet accomplished the possible.

Bakavu, Democratic Republic of Congo: A Medical Student's Perspective (Vijitakula, Pat)

The presenter spent a month working collaboratively with Dr. Mukwege and his Obstetrics/Gynecology team at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the College of Human Medicine International Study program. He gained valuable insights and practical experience regarding how to deliver quality health care with limited resources. Pat's presentation focused on the knowledge and skills he gained during his education abroad experience, such as the importance of patient advocacy, and how he consequently applied his learning to medical practice.

Becoming Fluent in German and Building Lifelong Friendships (Abbott, Andrew)

The presenter participated in a non-MSU program. He was stranger to Germany; in fact his first experience entailed living with a host family in Germany for three weeks during a German Exchange Program, offered by his high school. His passion and interest for German language and culture brought him back a few years later, this time as an MSU student studying at the University of Stuttgart. He took courses in German for four months at the university and lived with the same host family. Andrew's presentation highlighted his motivations for, challenges with, and successes in continued engagement while in Germany and with his host family; and how he individually crafted an education abroad experience to meet his needs and interests.

Cuba: Bridging the Sea of Politics and Generational Influence (Bratzel, Allison & LeBlanc, Michelle)

The presenters studied abroad in Cuba for four weeks as part of the Culture and Sustainable Development in Cuba program. The group presentation focused on how the experience provided an opportunity to explore and learn in a country that is metaphorically distant to the U.S., yet broadened their knowledge of the younger generation of Cubans, and politics and culture in Cuba.

Educational Travel: From Abstraction to Human Experience (Wilson, Kristopher)

The presenter has international experience in nine countries across five continents, three of which were academically oriented. Kristopher's presentation focused on how experiences abroad led students from an abstract perception of other places and cultures to a deeper cultivation of global understanding beyond limited personal perspectives.

Online Presentation

Embracing the Uncertainty: Made in Italy 2012 (Boren, Kyle; Herzing, Sam & Kallil, Jeffrey)

The presenters studied abroad in Rome for six weeks as part of the Made in Italy program. The group presented on how the study abroad experience led them to step outside their comfort zones and to examine and share their personal stories in a meaningful way, helping them to enjoy a unique bonding and learning experience.

Online Presentation

Excuse my French, but I'm an American: Cultural Exchange, Lessons, and Appreciation Abroad (Brewer, Kara; David, Katelin & Shalda, Elizabeth)

The presenters studied abroad in France for eight weeks as part of the French Language Literature and Culture in Tours program. The group presented on their individual and collective cross-cultural learning and how they incorporated important lessons from abroad into their respective lives.

Online Presentation

Fearless and Prepared for International Learning Experiences (Blancou, Jean-luc)

The presenter is an international graduate student from France. He hoped to maximize his learning from the cutting-edge French Engineering School at MSU and develop knowledge regarding a culturally-different business environment. His journey from France to MSU was in the accompaniment of his wife and four children. Jean-luc's presentation focused on the challenges and strategies associated with his family's transition to Michigan and how he hoped to utilize his new academic learning in future career endeavors. He is presently a full-time employee with Key Safety Systems Inc, an automotive supplier headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Growing Our Family: Community Engagement in a South African Township (McCullough, Meghan & Melcher, Annie)

The presenters participated in the Race Relations program and spent three months as interns at Vumundzuku-bya Vana: Our Children's Future. Their time in Zonkizizwe, a peri-urban, informal settlement located on the southeastern periphery of Johannesburg taught them how to cultivate genuine relationships with the youth and community members and to grapple with issues of their own identity in post-apartheid South Africa.

Gundam, Gangnam, & Chicken Rice: Studying and Interning in East Asia (Wilson, Andrew)

The presenter studied abroad for one week in Korea and two weeks in Japan in a technology communication program, followed by a six-week internship in Singapore at Veev Interactive where he was involved in web content development. Andrew's presentation highlighted how his study abroad connected to, and expanded upon, his academic and cross-cultural learning and his interests in the sociology of information technology. Study abroad provided Andrew with opportunities to try new fields and to consider applications of his undergraduate degree for employment or graduate study.

Identity of Cuba: The Relationship Between Religion, Rhythm, and Music (Lockhart, Gibron)

The presenter studied abroad for five weeks, participating in the Culture and Sustainable Development program in Havana, Cuba. His education abroad experience included learning about Afro-Cuban music, and observing and performing with top Cuban musicians. Gibron's presentation addressed the intersections between identity, music, and religion and how these intersections created a model through which he came to better understand his own identity.

Il Belle di Viaggiare da Soli (The Beauty of Traveling Alone) (Maher-Balduf, Amanda)

The presenter studied abroad for four months in Italy at the American University in Rome. Her presentation focused on her personal growth and learning across three distinct stages of the experience: studying and living with four other Americans in Rome, traveling alone to Morocco, France, and England, and living independently in Rome for three additional months.

Jane Austen and Bone Implants: Designing an Interdisciplinary Experience at the University of Cambridge (Pearson, Craig)

The presenter independently arranged a 12-week program that included a research-internship at the University of Cambridge. Immersed in intensive literature courses and hands on training in the material science lab by day and exploring the United Kingdom by night, Craig gained invaluable skills and enriched his cultural knowledge. His presentation featured useful tips for how to plan ahead, establish networks, and craft learning abroad experiences unique to individual interests.

Learning and Interning: Adventures of a Spartan in the United Kingdom (Porter, Kara)

The presenter participated in a two-week Freshman Seminar Abroad in Scotland prior to beginning her freshman year at MSU. In her senior year, she spent three months interning in England at the Royal Aeronautical Society. Kara's experiences abroad afforded her the opportunity to gain valuable skills sets and professional experience that she has applied at MSU. Her presentation featured the similarities and differences across her freshman and senior year abroad, and how these experiences fueled her passion and preparation for an international career. Kara is presently a Peer Adviser at the Office of Study Abroad.

Learning through Teaching: Eli's Work in Mali and South Africa (Sullivan, Eli)

The presenter participated in the Ethics and Development program and was involved in community engagement at a local school in Kati, Mali for a month. Upon return to the African subcontinent, Eli spent three months interning with an NGO in Cape Town (South Africa), teaching human rights in townships. Pursuing the passion to live and learn, Eli returned to Mali for another month, this time to build upon prior experiences in Kati. Eli's presentation illustrated how the education abroad experiences led to personal growth across several life stages: from traversing loneliness and being an unmistakable 'outsider' to embracing 'aloneness' and problem-solving independently.

Living a Life of Immersion: The Kenyan Experience (Corden, Sam & Dodge, Leah)

The presenters spent four weeks in Kisumu, Kenya with Global Youth for Education and Change, a non-profit organization. They taught youth empowerment and job readiness programs in an urban office setting and in an orphanage in the outskirts of the city. Their connection to the community made possible the opportunity for activism and advocacy, which they shared during their presentation.

Video

Mining for Gold: Anything is Possible in the Peruvian Highlands (Bassman, Emily & Kim, Will)

The presenters participated in the Community Engagement and Interdisciplinary Study in the Peruvian Andes program. During their three months in Peru they engaged in research, held various internships, and developed Spanish language proficiency. Their presentation focused on how they built sustainable community through authentic engagement with their host families and community members.

Online Presentation

My Indian Summer: Growing Personally and Academically (Wright, Jessica)

The presenter spent four weeks in India participating in the Ecology of the Mountains program. Jessica's presentation focused on her 'Indian summer' and how the experience not only impacted her intercultural learning and personal growth but shifted her academic focus from a natural science degree to the pursuit of dual degrees in interdisciplinary studies and anthropology. Jessica is presently a Peer Adviser at the Office of Study Abroad.

Video

New Perspectives on Nature After My Journey to the Galapagos (Rygiel, Christine)

The presenter participated in the Biology in the Galapagos (Ecuador) program for three weeks. Christine's poster presentation focused on her new appreciation for wildlife and the importance of environmental conservation.

Paying It Forward: A Career in International Education (Blanton, Laura)

The presenter spent a month in Argentina participating in the Globalization, Politics and Social Capital program and nine weeks in Spain engaging in the Spanish Language Literature and Culture in Valencia program. Laura's presentation focused on her personal growth throughout both study abroad experiences and how these experiences shaped her vocational aspirations to pursue a career in study abroad advising, administration, and program implementation. Laura is presently a Peer Adviser at the Office of Study Abroad.

Online Presentation

Pop Culture and Shedding Stereotypes in Ghana: Travel as the Best Education (Mullen, Jackie)

The presenter spent three months living with a host family in Tamale, Ghana while interning with a Microfinance and Small Loans Centre. Her cross-cultural learning occurred through dialogue with Ghanaians and interacting with Ghanaian pop culture. These unstructured experiences helped break down her stereotypes and misconceptions, which she shared during the presentation.

Reentry Shock: How my Life Abroad Changed my Life at Home (Scharra, Katie)

The presenter studied abroad at Lancaster University. During her nine months abroad she took physics, microbiology, chemistry, and history courses and traveled across England, France, and Greece. Her presentation focused on how her re-entry into Michigan led to reverse culture shock, a change in academic major, and rebuilding her life as she grappled with issues of identity and incorporating the "new with the old".

Same Same, But Different (The Journey vs. the Destination) (Fabian, Leanna; Fisher, Elly; Ridge, Jenae & Thorp, Elise)

The presenters studied abroad in India for three and half months as part of the Multidisciplinary Studies in New Delhi program. The group presented on their journey through the land of possibilities that helped them appreciate and respect the importance of cross-cultural learning, amidst situations that seemed "same same, but different".

Video

Schizophrenia: My Hong Kong Identity in the Context of Cross-cultural Interaction at MSU (Tang, (Cecilia) Hiu See)

The presenter is an international student from Hong Kong. Her research focuses on the cultures, economics, politics and histories of contemporary China in relation to Hong Kong and America in the context of a globalized world. Cecilia's presentation unearthed how, through interactions with domestic students, international students and faculty/staff in Michigan State, she now understands her identities in light of her research and interactions and how she positions herself within the American context.

Video

Speechless in Brazil: Community and Identity (Courant, Ansel)

The presenter participated in the Globalizing Forces: Study in Brazil, eight-week program. Ansel engaged in teaching English to children at a black empowerment organization in Salvador and Braganca, Para, and teaching trombone and marching lessons in Portuguese to local youth. The poster presentation focused on how the international learning experience affected Ansel's cross-cultural learning and communication and provided insight into how to relate cross-culturally to international students at MSU.

Striving to Save the World: A Lesson in Humility (Wilson, Chris)

The presenter spent two summers and a winter break studying and conducting research abroad in Tanzania. During his experiences and while at MSU, Chris gained valuable insight into the complexities, challenges and realities facing international development work which he featured in his presentation. He told his story as he seeked to find his niche as an international activist. Chris is presently a Peer Adviser at the Office of Study Abroad.

Study Abroad Times Two: Mediating My Experiences as an International Student (Chung Kwan Fan, Mark)

The presenter is an international graduate student from Mauritius. Prior to arriving at Michigan State, Mark spent five months studying and living with a host family in Mexico where he learned how to speak Spanish through interacting with community members and academic work. Mark's presentation focused on his intercultural learning, personal growth, and how his experiences in Mexico prepared him to be an international student at MSU.

The International Corporate Tour: Four Stories of Personal and Professional Development (Heatherington, Brittney; Jones, Alexa; Minissale, Angelica & Mozdrzech, Sarah)

The presenters participated in the inaugural International Corporate Tour coordinated and implemented by the Lear Corporation Career Services Center (Broad College of Business) and the College of Engineering. During their two-week experience in England, Italy, and Germany, they visited seven corporations. Their presentation spoke to how the experience enabled them to advance their understanding of the global marketplace and the importance of developing an international mindset in business.

Online Presentation

The Making of a Zoologist: Why Kenya Mattered (Salome, Sabrina)

The presenter participated in a three-week program, Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals while living and studying in Kenya. She gained valuable knowledge about how to conduct research and take field notes while being up close with wildlife during her stays at Lake Nakuru National Park and the Masai Mara. Sabrina's presentation focused on how her education abroad confirmed her desire to be a zoologist and how she has since applied what she learned in the field at MSU.

Transcending Comfort Zones (Kim, Taehoon)

The presenter is an international undergraduate student from South Korea. During his time at MSU, Taehoon participated in the European Union, Globalization and Social Change program in France and Belgium, and held an internship in London, England. His presentation focused on how the education abroad experiences shed his prior stereotypes and prejudices and informed his own identity. Presently, Taehoon volunteers at the Office of International Students and Scholars and serves as mentor with the American Semester Program through the Office of Study Abroad.

Trust the Bones (Shelton, Kailey)

The presenter participated in the Forensic Anthropology and Human Identification program. During her five weeks in London and Bournemouth she contemplated her academic and career interests. Kailey's poster presentation focused on the importance of mentorship in education abroad and how her mentor's lesson to "trust the bones" was key in making decisions about her career aspirations.

Vocation and Transformation: A Veterinary Internship in Argentina (Stefansky, Eileen)

The presenter spent three months living with a host family in Cordoba, Argentina practicing her Spanish proficiency while interning at a veterinary clinic. Her education abroad afforded her an immeasurable opportunity to 'scrub in' and gain 'hands-on' experience about animal anatomy, as well how to recognize and treat medical conditions in animals. Her presentation focused on her personal transformation through these experiences and how the education abroad in Argentina confirmed her choice of vocation.