The independent student newspaper at Goucher College

Tag archive

StudyAbroad

Goucher Unveils Summer ’23 ICAs

by

The Office of Global Education (OGE) announced the three Intensive Courses Abroad (ICAs) that will be running over the summer of 2023. The courses will be held in Ghana, France, and the Balkans. ICAs are three-week-long Goucher faculty-led trips, occurring during the school’s summer and winter breaks, that provide an alternative to a full semester abroad. 

Bill Funk has been OGE’s primary Study Abroad Coordinator since the beginning of this year. He previously helped coordinate last year’s summer ICA, The Scottish Connection: A Cultural and Artistic Experience, led by Amanda Thom-Woodson, Professor of Dance. 

“I think they’re all great,” said Funk of this year’s ICAs, “It’s always encouraging to work with professors who are passionate about [their work].”

Funk said that while the three ICAs offered this summer will be the most that Goucher has run since the start of the pandemic, they are still a far cry from previous years, when they would offer five ICAs over the summer and two over the winter. 

Mustapha Braimah, Professor of West African Dance and African Diaspora Dance, is very excited to lead his ICA, Dance, Arts, and Culture in Ghana, West Africa

“I love researching African dances, African-American dances, dance history”, said Braimah.

A native of Ghana, he has served as a visiting professor at multiple universities, has his own dance company, and runs a community engagement program with other members of the Ghanaian diaspora in Baltimore. 

Before that, he was part of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, a project of the University of Ghana, with whom he took part in a welcoming dance for former President Barack Obama during his visit to the country in 2009.   

Braimah wishes to fully immerse his students in Ghanaian culture and help them understand how the people there “thrive and keep on thriving.” In particular, he wants to introduce his dance students to how African traditional dance is actually performed in Africa, as opposed to a staged performance on the other side of the Atlantic.

“It hits differently if you see it in its original context,” he said.

Much of the trip will be based at and held in partnership with the University of Ghana, Braimah’s alma mater, where he wants to help Goucher and Ghanaian students understand each other cross-culturally. 

Braimah, who speaks nine languages, also wants his students to connect with every region of the country. Destinations on this ICA include Elmina Castle, the Dubois Center, the Kwame Nkrumah Museum, and the village of Aseman, which was the last bath in Africa for many enslaved people.

Alternative Media in the Balkans will be run by Sonja Bozic, Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies, alongside Thom-Woodson. Originally from Serbia, Bozic has many connections in the media industry of the region. 

The trip will take place over three countries, with fifteen days in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, five days in Zagreb, capital of Croatia. There will also be day trips to Croatia’s Plitvice National Park, an inspiration for the world of Avatar, and Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. 

Bozic describes this ICA as being a “mix of all elements,” with a combination of lectures and independent exploration. Like Braimah, she wants to use her ICA as a means of showcasing the creativity happening in the Balkans. 

She said that the Balkans are not a traditional tourist hotspot, with the exception of Croatia due to Game of Thrones filming locations, so they tend to fall under the radar. Nevertheless, the region is very vibrant, and has a great deal of artistic potential.

Topics will be explored through the digital lens, and include film history, art, culture, and representation of race and gender. Students will have classes with representatives of creative industries such as film production and game design. In addition, they will be given time to create their own digital interactive project. These can come in forms such as stories, documentaries, and photography projects. 

Becky Free, Associate Professor of Theatre, and Mark Ingram, Professor of French Transnational Studies, have been running their ICA, French Theatre in Paris, Marseille, and Avignon,  on and off for over fifteen years. The idea originated from a project Free worked on in the early 2000s, which sought a grant from the Department of Education as part of a program to help students learn a foreign language through another discipline. The project would eventually evolve into a course on French through the lens of theater. 

“The main idea is to put them into immersion kind of settings”, said Ingram of the way that he and Free run the ICA.

Students in this course will arrive in Paris and take a train down to Avignon, where they will stay with an English-speaking host family for over a week. From there, they will spend a week each in Marseille and Paris. When students return to Goucher in the Fall, through the theater program, they will put on a show in French with English supertitles. According to Free and Ingram, the show’s exact nature varies a lot, but is usually a contemporary French play.

Information sessions on the three ICAs will be held during the first two weeks of November. Students can also arrange meetings with the program leaders if they are unable to make it to the information centers. Applications are due on December 2, and students can apply at abroad.goucher.edu. If they are accepted, students must take a pre-course in the second half of the spring semester before their departure.

Study Abroad is Back, but Students are Struggling

by

When the college search began back in our students’ final years of high school, one of the things that likely stood out to students when scouring Goucher’s website was Goucher’s boasted study abroad program. With the pandemic halting these programs, and a slow but steady start back up, study abroad at Goucher seems to be back and roaring. 

Goucher’s study abroad program was not completely shut down in the 2021-22 school year, but there is a dramatic increase in numbers for students studying abroad. Goucher sent approximately 30 students to different programs between both semesters last school year, according to Bill Funk, Study Abroad Coordinator at the Office of Global Education (OGE). This semester alone, Funk said we have 30 students out on semester long programs, with another 30 students participating in short term Intensive Course Abroad (ICAs). 

Due to study abroad still being a requirement during the pandemic, there has been an attempt to broaden the program’s definition of study abroad. The addition of a virtual exchange course has assisted the past few graduating classes and will continue to provide options to students working with tight schedules. OGE is also looking to accept international internships and more short term programs in the near future. 

Though things may be on the up for OGE in terms of numbers and future opportunities, there may also be some problems for the current study abroad students. 

Romeo Vides ‘23, who is studying abroad this semester at Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica, has concerns with communication and clarity. When asked if he felt supported by Goucher, he said, “I pretty much don’t feel supported at all.” 

In addition to courses taken at their host university, students on semester-long exchange are enrolled in a Goucher course on Canvas. Vides said was not made aware of this enrollment until he was sent numerous emails regarding his lack of discussion post participation. After beginning to complete the required posts, Vides said that he hasn’t heard from the instructor and does not know who they are. 

Celeste Fazioli ‘23, who is at the same program as Vides, expressed a similar sentiment. 

“To be honest, I have felt mostly independent in all of the study abroad processes, including application, registration, and while I’m here,” she said.  

While the OGE is not the only office involved with students while they are abroad, it is certainly the largest and most critical in assisting students during this portion of their Goucher education. However, with only three staff members in this office, and only one of them being a student coordinator, it’s apparent that sometimes communications may run tight. 

Funk said that there is “never a dull day in the office,” but he is happy to see students interested in international opportunities. 

With 70+ pre approved programs offered for fulfillment of the study abroad requirement, OGE is also looking forward to establishing more partnerships with universities and study abroad providers similar to ISEP in addition to hiring support for more ICA and short term programs. They are of course also hoping to hire more coordinators to increase student support for the growing number of students studying abroad. 

The study abroad program may be extending Goucher’s reach around the globe with hopes for the future, but one eye should be kept on the present by supporting the students currently abroad, especially with students’ perceptions of study abroad support from within the institution being low coupled with few staff numbers. 

As Vides put it, “If I am supposed to be a representative of Goucher, I feel that Goucher should be doing much more to support me, so I can represent them well.”

Image by Amita Chatterjee

Go to Top