A message from Jennifer Robertson, Director, Study Abroad and Global Experiences
Spring Break 2014 Short-Term Study Abroad
During Spring Break 2014, 33 students and six faculty members participated in short-term study abroad programs via Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE). Through multiple disciplines — culinary, health education and humanities — faculty and students explored cultural diversity and global community, both in an effort to develop intercultural competency, which is the mission of SAGE.
Gastronomy and Cultural Tour of Italy
From Saturday, February 22 through Wednesday, March 5, 2014, students from the international and regional cuisine course (FSS 2242C) learned about various Italian cooking techniques at the Apicius Center School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy, led by Pierre Pilloud, professor, culinary management and Kenneth Bourgoin, professor culinary management.
“Our gastronomy and culture of Italy trip was designed to expand students’ knowledge of all aspects of Italian gastronomy,” said Pierre. “Through intensive culinary, baking–pastry and wine training, students consolidated their cooking skills, while focusing on the ingredients and methods applied in Italian cuisine.”
The 10-student cohort and group leaders explored traditional Tuscan menu items, were introduced to a wine maker and participated in workshops that covered pasta making, food and wine pairing, Italian spices, the all-important olive oil and breads.
“To say that I took classes at Apicius in Florence, Italy, is the most endearing thing to say,” said Kenneth Bourgoin. “The professors were engaging and pushed the objectivity of critical thinking in the hospitality world.”
Kenneth recounts that the tours were as educational and engaging as the university classes. Moreover, he found that going to the factories and listening first-hand to the producers about how their product is made is the best way to learn.
“At the Parmaigno Reggiano factory, we saw how they mixed the curds and watched as they pulled the 200 pound cheese out of those huge vats by hand. Also, the class lectures and cooking with the products helped us learn more about the product before we went on the tour.”
The group also toured the Barilla Pasta Factory, a traditional Balsamic vinegar-making factory in Modena, enjoyed a walking tour of Renaissance Florence and visited the Gallerie dell’ Accademia Museum.
“Cultural immersion did enhance the students’ experience and appreciation of Italian cultural tradition and their link with gastronomy, to meet Valencia’s student learning outcomes,” Pierre concluded.
Public Health Education in Panama
“Students now have a better understanding of region-specific diseases after traveling to the Republic of Panama, Panama City to learn about public health awareness related to infectious disease,” said Melissa Schreiber, professor, biology, who led a group of seven students from Thursday, February 27 to Sunday, March 9, 2014, in a health education course (MCB 2930), along with Terry Allcorn, interim dean, business and hospitality.
While there, participants attended a lecture at the USMA University on several tropical diseases such as Leishmaniasis, caused by sand flies, soil-transmitted helminths (worm) infections and dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes — all parasitic diseases.
They also spent time at the UNAIDS facility where they heard about the global impact of HIV/AIDS. A visit to the Institute of Scientific Research and High Technology Services (INDICASAT), an organization that conducts biomedical and clinical trial coordination, provided the opportunity to learn about the scientific advancements in research and medicine.
What’s more, students were able interact with HIV-infected patients at the Casa del Buen Samaritano Hospice Center and witness the grave importance of public health education and prevention. And at the Ministerio de Salud governmental facility, they were treated to a lecture by health advisors on promoting and protecting the health of all Panamanians.
Cultural activities included a trip to the Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas and Panama Canal to learn about the eradication of yellow fever in Panama and a visit to the indigenous people known as the “Embera” to hear about medicinal plants from a botanist.
“The study-abroad participants were also excited to learn about additional opportunities for possible internships,” Melissa shared.
Melissa, who was the recipient of the Chelsey G. Magruder Foundation Endowed Chair in Allied Health, Melissa donated 100 percent of the money to the students for travel-related expenses.
Humanities Exploration of Italy and Greece
From February 28 – March 9, 2014, 16 students traveled to Italy and Greece to experience in real life what they had only seen in pictures. Led by Tammy Gitto-Kania professor, humanities and Caroline Cully professor, humanities, the opportunity was made available as part of a Greek and Roman humanities (HUM 2220) course.
Students applied and were selected for the trip during September 2013. Once accepted, they were required to attend five pre-departure orientation meetings where they heard lectures on the history of Greek-Roman culture. In addition, they completed reading assignments, online coursework and were required to select a research topic on sites they would visit while abroad.
The group arrived in Rome where the Coliseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican were included in the course destinations. From Rome, they traveled to southern Italy in the Sorrento region and visited the historic ruins of Pompeii, site of the 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius volcanic eruption that decimated the 2,000-city population, but left a nearly intact city beneath a thick layer of volcanic dust and debris.
Next stop, via an overnight ferry, was Delphi, Greece, where they traversed the ancient site that was known to host the famous Oracle at Delphi, the most important shrine in all of Greece. Thereafter was Athens, where students were able to visit the ancient Acropolis and Parthenon.
Upon their return, students were required to present their research findings. Upon successful completion of the trip, students will receive credit for Greek and Roman Humanities, a three-credit Gordon Rule class.
“For the students, I think the biggest take away was not only seeing the sites, but more so, being in another culture. A large majority of them had never been outside the United States and for one student it was the first time she had ever been on a plane,” said Caroline. “For both Tammy and myself as professors, the experience of every trip is different. However, the greatest part is seeing things ‘click’ for students when traveling abroad.”
Short-term study abroad is partially funded by the Student Development Office, the Valencia Foundation and the SAGE office. Eligible students may use their financial aid to cover parts of the program as long as the course satisfies degree requirements.