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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2017

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Center for International Education celebrates travel and culture in weeklong event

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By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH

Some who walked by Lee Hall last week may have wondered what was behind the blue and white sign draped across its entrance, which read simply, “Think Globally.” However, the sign’s two-word statement represented an entire week that highlighted the many study abroad and cultural experiences that the University of Mary Washington offers students and was created with one goal in mind: to encourage UMW students to see the world.

All of the events were a part of The Center for International Education’s annual International Education Week, which lasted from Sunday, Sept. 14 through Saturday, Sept. 20

The CIE hosted numerous events, such as the Global Café in Seacobeck Hall, which took place Wednesday, Sept. 17. Students were served tapas and other global dishes and could view displays made by recent study abroad students. An internationally themed Trivia Night was also held in the Underground, and students won EagleOne dollars and other prizes, while also learning facts about different cultures.

CIE also held seminars, which included Study Abroad 101. Representatives of CIE guided students through the application process, explained the travel opportunities available and answered any student questions. In Passport Agency, another seminar, students could apply to either get a new passport or renew expired passports.

The events culminated at the Education Abroad Fair, which took place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 during Family Weekend. Following the fair, students and families participated in the “Go Global Soccer Tournament” on Turf Fields Stadium, where they formed teams of seven that represented the country of their choice.

“International Education Week is a way to promote cultural inspiration and make students aware of international studies abroad,” said Kate Jordan, the faculty-led program coordinator of CIE.

Junior business major Eileen Settlemyer traveled to China through the CIE in May 2014.

Settlemyer first worked for eight weeks in an internship at a marketing firm called Web2Asia, located in Shanghai. Once she completed the internship, Settlemyer took 20 days and traveled through Asia.

According to Settlemyer, one of her favorite aspects of the trip was getting the opportunity to travel the continent, especially Taiwan.

“It’s a beautiful country. The people there were really polite and friendly,” said Settlemyer.

For the 2014-2015 school year, including the summer semester, the CIE is offering 20 faculty-led programs, where students can travel to areas such as China, Europe, South Africa and Spain. Once they arrive, they can participate in internships or service work in the country where they are staying, take courses they would normally have received at UMW and see the sights, exploring the country around them.

The CIE also arranges programs where individual students can plan their own studies abroad.

According to Jordan, the CIE “services incoming and out-coming students who want to travel internationally, whether that’s through volunteerism, internships or athletics. This also includes incoming international exchange students, degree or non-degree seeking.”

Katherine Little, a senior classics major, traveled to Paris, France with CIE this summer and stayed for one month.

“It was a great cultural experience. I was able to look at people’s lives differently from it,” said Little.

According to Little, her trip cost approximately $4,000, but was covered thanks to grants and other scholarships that Little applied for and received.

“I only needed to pay personal expenses,” Little said.

The CIE offers a dizzying variety of scholarships and grants awarded to students who want to study abroad. Amounts range from $1,500 to $30,000, with some even providing full financial support, according to the CIE’s website.

Financial concerns and time constraints are common issues students interested in traveling abroad face. For any of these concerns, the CIE offers a multitude of options.

“[The CIE] showed me all of my options,” Settlemyer said. “I was worried about not being able to graduate on time if I took the trip, but they showed me all of the different paths I could take with it.”

The CIE takes students through the study abroad process and experience, no matter where they plan to go.

“They answered every single question I had. They walked me through the process from beginning to end, literally,” said senior Spanish major Michael Arriaza, who traveled to Spain for 5 weeks this past summer.

According to Jordan, beginning the process to exploring the world is as easy as walking into Lee Hall.

“We hold peer advising meetings in Lee Hall, 434. We show interested students everything they need to do to start the process. We show them how to navigate the website. Give them all of the options we have available,” Jordan said.

In addition, the CIE provides insurance and personal meetings with students considering individualized study abroad programs. Lastly, they give seminars for students who have returned from studying abroad. In these seminars, advisors show students how to incorporate their international experiences into their résumés, as well as help students deal with common issues such as culture shock.

“We hope that through International Education Week that students will have a greater knowledge of opportunities to travel abroad at UMW and everything that can mean for them,” Jordan said.

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