The whole world is out there waiting for you to make your mark.
At Newman University we are able to provide students with study abroad experiences, service trip opportunities or even a minor in International Studies.
Throughout the next week, Professor of History and International Studies Cheryl Golden plans to be available to students in the Dugan-Gorges Atrium to answer questions regarding study abroad programs and the International Studies program.
Her goal is to raise awareness on campus of the amazing opportunities Newman has for students to see the world.
A requirement for students who minor in International Studies is to go on an excursion abroad that “gets them out of their comfort zone,” said Golden. However, any student seeking any degree is invited and encouraged to experience a trip abroad. Trips vary in length and composition so finding one that meets your particular interests shouldn’t be too difficult. In fact, you may want to go on more than one.
Golden said, “One of the best things that anybody can ever do is go abroad and sort of get lost,” but added the disclaimer that we never send anyone abroad to really get lost. Being immersed in a new culture and exploring unfamiliar spaces will educate you in a way that no classroom can.
Golden mentioned how technology is changing the world of travel. It makes it possible to see amazing places in the world on your computer screen but to truly experience it is a whole different ballgame. Tasting the authentic food, seeing the sights in all their glory and smelling all of the smells are only possible if you’re truly there. Using GPS can almost hinder the experience. Golden said, when you get lost, “you have to talk to people, really look around and observe, ask directions. You find yourself really in this place.”
There is at least one new program offered at Newman this year as well as many programs that are ongoing, offered every year or every other year.
A brand new travel opportunity at Newman takes flight in March. With Golden as the ringleader, approximately 10 students will spend 10 days in Italy and be hosted by our Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) Sisters. The trip includes a tour of Rome and the Vatican City as well as attending a prayer service with the pope.
Staying with the ASC Sisters is a huge perk. “We’ll get to stay in their house, see how they live, have breakfast with them, pray with them, get to know who they are and how they live their lives,” said Golden. “I don’t know that our students fully understand the sisters’ worldwide order and mission, it’s nice to step back and see what they do,” she added.
Golden noted that Rome is one of the most vibrant cities in the world so the Sisters there stay extremely busy. Another perk of this trip is that students will get to experience places off the beaten path. There are plans to go up into the mountains and see the city where the ASC order was founded.
Newman also provides multiple annual or biennial trips for students.
Europe by Rail is a three-week trip led by Professor of History Kelly McFall. London and Vienna are staples of the trip but the group generally finds three other cities of interest to visit as well. “The goals are two-fold—to help students understand contemporary Europe (its history/politics/culture, etc) and to prepare students to be lifelong travelers,” said McFall.
Students take a course prior to the trip where they learn European history as well as how to be a good traveler. Things like money conversions, language barriers, foreign cultures, public transportation and foreign cities are all important factors to consider when going abroad and require research and planning prior to the trip. McFall hopes the students become savvy travelers in the classroom and are able to transfer that to real life. This course is offered every two years and the trip is taken in the summer.
Another ongoing program is a 10-day trip to England led by Associate Professor of Theatre Mark Mannette and Associate Professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente. The trip is largely theater-focused with activities such as attending theater performances and tours, as well as taking in the sights in London, a castle tour and much more. Students should take the NSP course ‘England Study Abroad’ offered in the second eight weeks of the spring semester to be thoroughly prepared for this adventure.
If a service trip is of interest, Assistant Professor of Spanish Sonja Bontrager leads a trip to Guatemala each year called Study and Serve in Guatemala. The trip lasts eight weeks and starts with helping the ASC Sisters in their health and education projects near Guatemala City. Throughout the trip, students will immerse themselves in the language and culture, see magnificent sights, do service projects, enjoy the locals and much more.
An entire semester abroad is a larger commitment but a large payoff as well. Newman has an exchange program with our sister school, Newman University located in Birmingham, England. “What’s great about that exchange program for our students,” Golden said, “is that whatever your financial situation is here with scholarships, you take that with you.”
Birmingham is the second largest city in England after London, and less than a two hour train ride away from the capital. The city is rich with music and art and the university has a great connection to Cardinal Newman. Golden added, “For our students in an English-speaking environment they can really start to soak up the nuances and cultural differences pretty quickly.”
Linnea Ristow, international studies student, will be spending her next semester at Newman University in Birmingham. Her background in travel started her sophomore year of high school when her family took a mission trip to Thailand. She’s also traveled to Uganda, a trip the Honors Program at Newman helped fund, to do mission work.
Ristow’s previous travels abroad have made a huge impact on her. “Because of that, I am very interested in traveling to other countries, both for mission work and because I love the thought of experiencing other cultures and trying new things.”
She added, “While it isn’t the most important reason to study abroad, you can also be more competitive when applying to jobs. … It shows that you are willing to be flexible and try new things, learn and put yourself into difficult situations.” She is looking forward to the experiences to come during her semester abroad in Birmingham.
The exchange program works both ways. Newman University in Wichita hosts students from Newman University in Birmingham as well. This semester, two students are attending university on our Wichita campus and next semester we will have three.
Beth Kelly, a second-year theology major, is a student from Birmingham spending her semester in Wichita. She is enjoying the variety of courses she gets to take and living in the dorms is a new experience for her. One of the main struggles for Kelly is not having a car or public transportation to rely on like she does at home. She said she would encourage others to study abroad, “You’ll make friends for life and will get to experience the country you are visiting with people who are familiar with it, as opposed to going as a tourist and perhaps struggling to get around.”
Being immersed in a different culture can be life-changing. Golden recalls Newman University’s mission to help people achieve a global perspective, “that combines with our catholic identity, our goal for academic excellence, to hunger and thirst for justice and peace in the world.” She hopes students who take advantage of these travel opportunities grow individually, spiritually and in service.
In some cases, students can learn from visiting international faculty. There are plans to have the dean of Arts and Sciences from Newman University in Birmingham to come speak in Wichita in April and have its chancellor come in the fall 2018 semester.
“We’re trying to enhance not only our student opportunities to learn about international issues and study abroad themselves,” Golden said, “but also try to enhance our relationship with our foreign partners. To get them to come over here and have a presence intellectually so maybe those students that can’t go abroad can still get that feel for international scholars.”
The graduate program hopes to connect the theology program at Newman University in Birmingham to the theology program here in some way.
Opportunities to travel abroad are expected to grow at Newman, these programs are only a select few of the options currently provided. Trips to the Holy Lands and theology-focused trips to Italy are also available to students along with others.