Oglethorpe Study Abroad: The Oxford Experience

OxfordCrestStudying abroad is an invaluable experience for young scholars. It allows the opportunity to live and work on your own in another culture, learn from a new perspective, and travel to incredible places. Oglethorpe University has worked to develop a study abroad department that has formed partnerships with universities all over the world. Oglethorpe’s partnership with Oxford University was among one of its most appealing qualities for me, as studying at one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in history was a personal dream of mine. During my three months in England, I not only fulfilled that goal, but changed the course of my academic and professional future.

For most college sophomores the experience might seem daunting: holding hour-long academic discussions with an Oxford professor, reading seven or more books and writing an essay each week, and then receiving feedback and critique. But, this is what is expected of any student who studies at Oxford University. The process is simple, but effective: the student chooses a course of study and the university selects an expert in the field to design and instruct the course in a one-on-one setting called a tutorial.

SKYLINE (1 of 1)

The Oxford skyline view from the Oxford Castle tower.

As an Oglethorpe student, this self-motivated curriculum sounded familiar to me. Core classes consist primarily of individual reading of a text, discussing it among my peers and with my professor, and writing an essay to illustrate my perspective. Perhaps this is why my “Media and Politics” tutor, Dr. Tudor Jones, was delighted to hear that I had come from Oglethorpe University; he had taught another student from Oglethorpe before and recalled her proficiency in writing constructively and conceptually sound essays.

Dr. Jones is author of multiple books on British political party policies and philosophies, has been a lecturer at three Oxford colleges, and was the Liberal Democrat candidate for the district of Buckingham in 2001. When I arrived at his flat for our introductory meeting, I expected to spend the next eight weeks learning about the news, journalism, and social media effects on American Politics. During our meeting, however, I decided that his experience in British political campaigning was too valuable to pass up. He convinced me to leap head first into the world of British political marketing.

Christie Pearce resizedOver the course of the next two months I would read more than 20 books and write seven essays focusing on political marketing, a field I did not know existed only a few weeks prior. I became enthralled almost immediately. As a politics and communication double major, a discipline that combined rhetoric, campaigning, interpersonal communication and party platform design seemed to be tailored to my interests. Dr. Jones was impressed with my confidence and natural aptitude for the subject, and helped to convince me that I could potentially have a future in political marketing. I now plan to pursue this avenue in a doctoral program for graduate school.

My study abroad experience quite literally changed my life. This is Oglethorpe’s goal for every student it sends to another country, be it for a few weeks or an entire year. The independence that is gained both academically and in terms of living alone in a new country is a merit of studying abroad that cannot be substituted. Students should not hesitate to speak with Dr. Collins, the director of the study abroad program at Oglethorpe, if they feel motivated; the experience will not disappoint them.

Oxford University (Corpus Christie College) is the alma mater of General James Edward Oglethorpe, the namesake of Oglethorpe University.

 

Making a Difference in South Africa

cprebil_1369271904_600Oglethorpe’s mission to “make a life, make a living, make a difference” affects not only its students, but also touches lives in the global community. Last fall, Oglethorpe extended its global reach, becoming the new academic partner of Global LEAD, a purpose driven summer study abroad program. And this summer, students from more than 30 universities nationwide traveled to Greece, Ecuador, and Cape Town, South Africa to experience Global LEAD’s unique combination of “Leadership, Education, Adventure and Diplomacy.”

Children in the Sir Lowry's township of Cape Town

Children in the Sir Lowry’s township of Cape Town

Oglethorpe’s Dr. Kendra Momon, associate professor of politics and director of the Rich Foundation Urban Leadership Program, led 81 students on their month-long journey through Cape Town, South Africa. She served as the academic director for the group, instructing two courses: “Leadership in Action” and “Global Citizenship & Engagement.”

What sets Global LEAD apart from other study abroad programs? The program combines academic curriculum with two weeks focused on service projects that expand upon the classroom learning. Living and serving in these underprivileged communities allows students to apply the principles they learn in classes and creates an immersive atmosphere that often transforms the lives of the students, as well as the members of the community they serve.

Oglethorpe’s objective to make a difference is enriched by the Global LEAD program. “There is no doubt that we (made a difference) in Cape Town this summer,” said Momon. “…Two weeks of the program, in rotation for the two student groups, are spent in local townships serving poor and disadvantaged children and teenagers.”

Dr. Momon and Janine in Cape Town.

The partnership opens up possibilities for Oglethorpe to spread the word about the school and its mission to create global citizens throughout the countries that Global LEAD serves, universities nationwide, and with the non-OU students who are exposed to the Oglethorpe curriculum and teaching. Students receive six Oglethorpe credit-hours while studying abroad with Global LEAD which are transferred to their home university. Oglethorpe’s dynamic faculty are the perfect ambassadors for Oglethorpe. Dr. Momon, who showed her love for OU through her apparel and anecdotes, told me a story about Janine, a 13-year-old South African girl whom she got to know during their two weeks of service. “Janine asked me to give her something to remember me so I gave her my beloved black OU fitted cap which I’ve had for five years.”

This year alone, Global LEAD and Oglethorpe will potentially change the lives of hundreds of students and people scattered around the globe. The partnership creates exciting possibilities for the future of Oglethorpe study abroad and global leadership opportunities.

Dr. Momon agrees. “I think the partnership is a great opportunity to extend our brand internationally as well as extend the scope of our motto to make a life, make a living, and make a difference.”

To keep up with the experiences of students and Oglethorpe traveling with Global LEAD, visit their blog, which is updated frequently.

OU Students Play a Part in Georgia Shakespeare’s “Metamorphoses”

Kristin Butler '14 performing in Metamorphoses

Kristin Butler ’14 performing in “Metamorphoses”

Oglethorpe University theater students have the exceedingly rare opportunity to be a part of theater at the professional level—right on their own campus. As part of the decades-long partnership between Georgia Shakespeare and Oglethorpe, students are invited to compete for scholarships that provide not only financial assistance, but also the privilege of interning with the company during their junior year.

This summer, Georgia Shakespeare scholar Kristin Butler ’14 is taking full advantage of her internship. Butler captured a role in the production of Metamorphoses and credits her scholarship from Oglethorpe as the stepping stone for getting this rare opportunity.

“I don’t see how I would have had this opportunity without the scholarship,” said Kristin. “I feel prepared after having these experiences.”

Working with past Georgia Shakespeare scholars and her fellow OU thespians has shown Kristin that the Georgia Shakespeare experience is just as much the Oglethorpe experience. She says it’s exciting “to see people in an academic environment, and then see how they take the same education I have, and see how they act in a professional environment.”

metamorphoses_georgia shakespeareNot only are Georgia Shakespeare scholars active and involved, but several other Oglethorpe thespians are taking part in the summer fun, too. Antonio Mantica ’15, Laura Roberts ’15 and Lilly Romestant ’14 aren’t right in the spotlight this time, but they’re still bringing their talents to “Georgia Shakes”. Lilly is perfecting her assistant directing skills, while Antonio and Laura run the front-of-house operations.

Take the time to go see our students in action by catching Metamorphoses at the Conant Performing Arts Center, but move quickly—the run ends this Sunday, July 21!

Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part II: An Odyssey of Learning, Part III: Study Abroad Creates 'Momentum'.]

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (13)c

Chelsea Reed ’13

When I began my Oglethorpe journey, I never could have anticipated everything I would both gain from and give to this incredible community. As a freshman, I vividly remember studying The Return of Gilgamesh in Dr. Shrikhande’s Core class, Narratives of the Self. The epic tells a tale known as a bildungsroman, a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. Retrospectively, it seems that these past four years have been something of my own bildungsroman, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Oglethorpe’s key role in the person I have become. Following graduation this past May, I embarked on a study abroad trip in June, spending 20 days touring Greece with two of my favorite professors, fellow alumnae, and students earning academic credit in art history or studio art. The trip was a serendipitous way to end my time at OU, celebrate graduation, and solidify my entire college experience.

Although I’ve been back in Atlanta for a couple of weeks, I am still trying to fully process the amazing journey through Greece. We began in Athens, island hopped, ventured back to the mainland for a land tour, and then ended up back in Athens, full circle, before heading home. In Athens, we were blown away by the historical value of the Acropolis and the majestic Parthenon and entertained by the hustle and bustle of the busy Plaka where we ate and shopped. When we left on a ferry, I could feel the vastness of the Aegean Sea begin to settle my soul as we voyaged toward the islands.

Parthenon - Chelsea Reed (2)cor

The group listens to Dr. Collins at the foot of the Parthenon.

Our first stop was the beautiful island of Mykonos. We felt like we were in paradise at our quaint resort. A maze of streets lined with crisp white buildings with blue accents, Mykonos was as lively as its famous Don Quixote-esque windmills. I would’ve gladly stayed, convinced that it couldn’t get any better aesthetically—until we arrived on the island of Santorini.

Santorini, the remnant city, is re-established in optimism after one of the largest volcanic eruptions of all time wiped out the entire Minoan civilization and devastated the island. The desire to remain here despite fear of another natural catastrophe was much easier to understand after seeing Santorini’s beauty and grandeur in person. We hiked Nea Kameni, the burnt island, feeling empowered as we stood on the basalt of a dormant volcano. The view from the winery, where we sampled local wines, was absolutely breathtaking, illustrated with shades of blue I thought could only exist in my imagination. One night as we walked back to the hotel from dinner, we paused to gaze upon the charming town on a cliff, lit up against the dark sapphire sea. In that moment, I understood why so many people from all over the world find Santorini so special and appealing—it is certainly the most gorgeous place I have ever seen.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (1)cReluctantly leaving behind Santorini, we made it to the island of Crete, with its unique combination of metropolis, oceanic and mountainous scenery. We spent much of our time in the old port of Hania, characterized by a beautiful lighthouse and an animated town. There we saw the Phaistos Disc, one of archaeology’s great mysteries, engraved with some of the first known hieroglyphics.

We finally made it back to the mainland of Greece, where we recuperated in the serenely quiet coastal town of Nafplio. We had become fairly well acquainted with Greek cuisine by this point in the trip, and were thrilled to have a great feast followed by lessons in traditional Greek dancing. I will never forget Dr. Collins doing a flip or proposing a toast to Professor Loehle for his tireless efforts in challenging us artistically.

Greece 2013 - Chelsea Reed (12)cAfter much anticipation, we got to the mystical town of Delphi, which felt like another plane of existence with its astonishing view of mountainous landscape for miles. A cozy town with a main road of shops and cafes, Delphi seems ordinary, but the spiritual feeling it evokes in its visitors is anything but. One morning, we arose early with the roosters and went for a run along on what was once known as the sacred road to the Castalian spring. Mystics before us had cleansed and hydrated themselves with its healing waters, and I gained from our ritual an awakening I will never forget.

Everyone in our group seemed to be on the trip with an objective. Whether we realized it beforehand or not, we were all searching for something… education, mental retreat, vacation, spiritual awakening, perspective (albeit personal or anthropological), or maybe a little bit of all these things. What we would all manage to find throughout our journey in this fascinating, ancient place—and also within ourselves—far exceeded our expectations.

Chelsea Reed graduated this past May with a major in Communications and Rhetoric Studies and a minor in Studio Art.

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum’

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part II: An Odyssey of Learning, Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey.]

After seven hotels, five ferry ridKatherine Law 2es, four chartered buses, a few terrifying cab rides, a couple donkey rides up some cliffs, and a cable car to the highest point in Athens—I was back home in Atlanta.

After this trip to Greece, my biggest fear was losing momentum. It blows my mind how much we moved, literally from the mainland to the islands and back again. I knew I would be okay with coming back home because I know it’s a totally different feeling after these trips. You come back motivated and inspired, determined to not slow down. The longing I felt was for full days, long tiring days of seeing and doing everything I possible can. Time spent exploring the landscape, the people, and myself.

Greece was not an escape, a break from reality, or a vacation. I can say now, it’s an experience I can always look back on and carry with me. I made it to Greece this summer with Dr. Collins and Professor Loehle because of the incredible journey we took to Italy last summer. I feel alive and determined when I get back from these trips—an absolutely priceless souvenir, if you ask me.Katherine Law 3

Greece is the center, the cradle of western civilization, and my two feet got to walk all over it. The sea, the land, the people, the food, the ruins, the aromas, the aesthetics…we soaked it all up. I was discovering new parts of myself in this Grecian context, and based on my experience last summer after Italy, I could trust myself to bring these new self realizations back home with me.

I am so in love with my time spent in Italy and now Greece. As a May ’13 grad, I head into an unknown future with my time in Greece fresh on my sleeve. Being part of such a positive collection of professors, students and mentors was comforting, inspiring and irreplaceable. We were being led but also pushed—pushed to take steps out of our comfort zones and embrace the unfamiliar. Professor Loehle and Dr. Collins pushed us, led us, and questioned us for ouKatherine Law 1r own opinions. We need more people like them in the world. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel the world with those two and build foundations for our life-long friendships.

And with my undergrad education now at an end, I can confidently say my OU short term study abroad trips are now the backbone of my liberal arts education from Oglethorpe University. Everything I learned in the classroom and abroad have come full circle. And I feel I have truly earned the right to march into my future confident and humbled, determined and centered. I have so much to give and now, after Greece, even more to share.

A studio art major, Katherine Law graduated in May 2013.