Study abroad fair sheds knowledge

Alex Seidler, Staff Reporter

Professors wait, ready to captivate students with their pitch at the Study Abroad Fair in the University Ballroom in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Thursday.

Each professor sitting at their table had laid out informational pamphlets and fliers for students to take and poster boards for students to look at.

A.J. Walsh, communications professor, represented the study abroad trip to Ireland and admitted she wished she had the same opportunities.

“I am doing this because when I was in college I did not get this opportunity, and it is my biggest regret,” Walsh said. “Now is my chance to lead it and help other students take a part in it.”

This is not the first study abroad Walsh has hosted. Walsh co-hosted the New Zealand/Australia study abroad trip over the summer of this year. Walsh said all majors are welcome and communication studies majors can receive college credits for their time.

Walsh said the communication department hosts study abroad trips to Ireland on even- numbered years and New Zealand/Australia on odd-numbered years.

Gordon Tucker, biology professor, will host the study abroad trip to China in May next semester. Tucker said students who attend would visit Hong Kong, national parks, the Great Wall of China and a tea plantation along with other areas.

Tucker said students have the opportunity to see the mountains that were featured in the 2009 film “Avatar.” Tucker also said they will learn about how other cultures use plants for food and medicine.

“Most students usually describe it as the trip of a lifetime from the sights, culture, and people,” Tucker said. “I enjoy seeing students experience new countries and their cultures.”

Frances Murphy, family and consumer sciences professor, represented the trip to South Africa in the fall semester of 2016. Students within the family and consumer sciences major will receive credits for their service.

Murphy said the main takeaway students say when they serve is the relationships they make.

“They value the teachers they meet, the sense of accomplishment and that they get to navigate through the culture,” Murphy said. “They have to navigate their money, transportation, work and school so it’s different than just visiting because they are living there.”

Murphy said students often come back with a new understanding of other cultures that are different than their own.

“I think in the US we think everything should be like us,” Murphy said. “In Africa a lot of English is not spoken but with an accent so students have to listen carefully and concentrate with people who speak different than they do.”

While all these trips have been done before there is one that will be entering its first year at Eastern.

Candace LaPrairie, a senior communication disorders and sciences major, represented the trip to Ireland along with associate professor Trina Becker.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out of the country and share experiences with other students,” LaPrairie said.

Becker said the group would visit Trinity College and meet up with a speech pathologist among other things. She said they would talk about the linguistic differences between America and Irish cultures.

Oscar Gomez Borda, a graduate sports management major, talked extensively with Walsh about the study abroad trip.

“I thought she gave me useful information, and I always wanted to go to Europe,” Gomez Borda said. “I’m curious to know what the other countries are like.”

While the representatives stayed as enthused as they could, fewer students attended the event than last year.

Brazil Day, a graduate political science major, said the reasons behind the low attendance could be the timing, not enough promotion or awareness.

“People might be unaware of study abroad in general,” Day said. “Regardless of the outcome it’s important for us to keep promoting awareness and diversity.”


Alex Seidler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]