My Homecoming

During my fourth day in town, I decided to take a walk through Colonial Williamsburg. Law Week was in full swing and the overwhelming anxiety of starting law school placed a permanent raincloud of terror above the Wythe building. I needed to get away, and eighteenth century America was my only option.

Strolling along the cobblestone sidewalks, I became disturbingly aware of my surroundings. I was in Williamsburg. I was standing in the birthplace of America. For someone who avoided all things American her entire life, this was just too weird.

Although I am originally from Florida, I never considered myself American. My Moroccan mother and Canadian father raised me as an international citizen. By my sixteenth birthday, I had been to every continent (excluding Antarctica) and lived abroad in places that seemed more “me.” That’s why my decision to go to McGill University in Montreal for my undergraduate education was so easy. I knew I didn’t want to go to America, so I attended a school that was close to my parents and far enough from Florida to make me happy.

At McGill, while unpacking boxes and boxes (and then some more boxes) of winter clothes, I told my Ottawan roommate that I am from Florida. Her jaw dropped. “You’re not American!” she insisted, “They’re different.”

Were Americans really that different?

My entire life, I avoided my American identity, but now that I am in Williamsburg, surrounded by the oldest law school in America and one of the oldest settlements in American history, I realize that Americans do have something. If I were asked to name the King of Spain, the President of Colombia, or even the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, I would respond with silence. If I were to ask any Spaniard, Colombian, or Ethiopian to name the first President of the United States, they would respond correctly without hesitation. America may not be the greatest country, but the entire world is envious of our past and interested in our future.

There is one simple piece of advice I have for all American travelers: remember where you came from. When you’re studying abroad, you will meet the most interesting people and see the most beautiful things. Some of you, like me, will never want to come home. But always remember that your American passport is something special. Treasure it. And have fun!

Nadia Abramson majored in Political Science and English Literature at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She has lived in dozens of countries, including Thailand, Australia, and France. She is currently a first-year law student and hopes to start a career in international human rights law.

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Mason School of Business Celebrates Diwali–The Festival of Lights

Students at the Mason School of Business recently celebrated Diwali, the biggest and brightest festival in India.  Diwali, or the festival of lights, symbolizes the age-old culture of India which teaches to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Even today in this modern world, Diwali projects the glorious past of India.

The International Student Association (ISA) celebrated the festival of lights on November 9th with a grand function in Brinkley Commons at Miller Hall. With over 250 guests in attendance, students, faculty, staff, executive partners and family members enjoyed food, music, culture and fun.

The delicious Indian cuisine gave guests a sneak peek into Indian kitchen and a glance at Indian spices.  The highlight of the event included various performances by enthusiastic students and fabulous faculty/staff. It was really a pleasant shock to the spectators to see another side of our talented faculty! All the performances were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. No one could resist the musical atmosphere.   Everyone joined the dance floor, shaking their legs to the Indian tunes. There could not have been a better way to conclude a night of amazing performances.

One of the objectives of ISA is to facilitate an environment to showcase the significant elements of cultural diversity, and help people understand and appreciate global traditions. With the continued encouragement and support from students, staff and faculty, we look forward to bringing many more such events, hoping that the memories of these events will be a significant part of the Mason MBA experience for all students.

 

***Reprinted with permission from the author

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Oranich (Gift) Kulapatrapa is a native of Bangkok, Thailand and is currently attending the College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business. She is pursuing an MBA and expecting to graduate in 2013. Not only is she the president the International Student Association at Mason school of Business, but also a member of International Student Advisory Board in the College.

 

 

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International Students and Scholars Visit DC

On October 26, 2012, Dr. Pamela Eddy, Associate Professor at William & Mary’s School of Education led a group of students on a trip to Washington D.C.  The trip was part of Dr. Eddy’s EPPL 601 Educational Policy: Development and Analysis class.  International doctoral students in the  class include Duna Alkhudhair (Kuwait), Tehmina Khwaja (Pakistani), Young Eun Son (Korea), and Jingzhu Zhang (China).  Joining the class trip were visiting scholars Zheng Fang (China), Aliaksandr Kalbaska (Lituania), and Yongjun Zha (China).  The visit included meetings with  leaders at several government offices and meetings with policymakers. The trip was very informative for the international students and scholars as it gave them an opportunity to visit directly with U. S. policymakers and witness firsthand venues where the process of educational policy formation occurs.  During the trip the students and scholars visited the William & Mary, Washington D.C. office, the Department of Education and the House of Representatives where they met officers who apprised them of the policymaking process.  As Tehmina Khwaja one of the students reflected on the trip, “It was a very valuable experience, to not only meet with the people who are actual actors in the educational policymaking process but also to see the physical ‘corridors of power’ and how the symbolism of the settings and body language of the officers communicate much more than what is said.”

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Pictured left to right:  Tehmina Khwaja, EPPL doctoral and Fulbright student; Aliaksandr Kalbaska, visiting scholar Lithuania; Zheng Fang, visiting scholar China; Jingzhu Zhang, EPPL doctoral student ; Dr. Pamela Eddy, Associate Professor, School of Education; Yongjun Zha, visiting scholar China; Young Eun Son, EPPL doctoral student; and Duna Alkhudhair, EPPL doctoral student.

 

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From China to Williamsburg

I travelled a lot before coming to College of William & Mary, but I never had the opportunity to live in another country.  The past four months living in Williamsburg has been an amazing opportunity to experience American culture firsthand.

Life in Williamsburg is a lot calmer than in Beijing. When I first arrived in Williamsburg, I missed Beijing–the lights, the noise, the busy streets and my friends. Gradually, I got accustomed to W&M: my Residence Advisor took the time to introduce W&M to me and my roommate invited me to her grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. Life for an exchange student is not easy:  the vast language and cultural differences can be vast.  However, all my new friends helped me think of Williamsburg as my second home.

I enjoyed my William & Mary classes.  I found my classmates active and exciting, expressing their veiwpoints in novel and creative ways that prompted me to think more broadly about the course’s topics.  I was also impressed by the innovative ways my classmates approached their schoolwork.  For a public speaking assignment, we were required to shoot a five-minute video to demonstrating a skill.  Some students demonstrated cooking, playing a sport, knitting, and one student even taught the class how to dance “Gangnam Style!”

There are thousands of foreign exchange students pursuing degrees in American institutions, demonstrating the quality of American higher education.  From my three-month experience at W&M, I believe the American higher education system deserves the reputation as the world’s best. W&M students’ assignments are connected with current affairs, encouraging students to apply class knowledge to solve real-world problems.  Additionally, professors’ teaching methods let students design research projects and encourage individual thinking, letting W&M students think independently.  Based on my time at W&M, I believe these teaching methods have helped foster creative W&M students, and outstanding American citizens.

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Jie Zheng spent the 2012 Fall Semester at William & Mary as an exchange student from Tsinghua University, China.  Jie is an Economics and Journalism double major.  During her time at W&M, Jie participated in the FLAG program, working as a volunteer teacher in local elementary school. She likes travelling and was deeply impressed by the long history and profound culture of Williamsburg.

 

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“Hi, I studied in Cape Town”

While studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa during the spring semester of my junior year, I decided to apply to the Reves Center’s Peer Advisor Program. During my choppy Skype interview in a dark, unoccupied classroom at the University of Cape Town, I shared stories with my interviewer about my experiences abroad. After my interview, I continued to talk about studying abroad to anyone who would listen. At William and Mary, I became “that guy who studied abroad in South Africa… and won’t stop talking.”

I felt hopeless. It wasn’t my fault that I am wired to verbally express all of my thoughts. Nearly everything I did on campus reminded me of a tale from my time away. I would see an orange and remember how I fed elephants on a game reserve. Or a zipper would catch my eye and I thought about zip-lining in South Africa’s Garden Route. After three months back in the U.S., I could sense that my friends and family were growing tired of my stories. “We get it,” they would say. “You studied abroad.”

Salvation arrived my senior year at William and Mary, when I worked a few hours a week as a Peer Advisor at the Reves Center. I led workshops on the logistics of studying abroad, I helped with administrative work around the office, and I met with students one-on-one who were interested in studying abroad.

During my third week, a young woman walked into the Reves Center and sat down on the leather couch.

“Hi. I’m interested in studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. Do you know anything about programs there or what life is like in Cape Town?”

Why, yes. Yes I do.

Our conversation lasted about thirty minutes as I described five different study abroad programs in Cape Town (including William and Mary’s summer program in Cape Town!) and what my experience was like there as an American student. We engaged in an enthusiastic back-and-forth about her hopes for Cape Town and settled on a plan. She thanked me for sharing my stories and walked out the door.

Although she did not know it, I appreciated her gratitude more than she liked my stories. It was then I realized that the Reves Center is a special place where study abroad stories are not only accepted, but also encouraged and shared. I was working in the right place.

Jake LewitzJake Lewitz ’13 is an overly dramatic senior at William and Mary who, you guessed it, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa during the spring semester of his junior year.

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William & Mary Student Abroad Celebrates Thanksgiving with Traditional Italian Foods

While their friends and family ate turkey back home, William & Mary student Lauren Weiss and her classmates celebrated Thanksgiving weekend by eating prosciutto andparmigiano reggiano in Parma, Italy, as part of the Umbra Institute’s Food Studies Program.

“Going to Parma during Thanksgiving weekend made me forget about being away from my family and home,” said Lauren Cudney of the University of Denver. “And what else could you want during Thanksgiving but food galore?”

Through hands-on tours of family owned factories and cooperatives, the Food Studies students learned about the traditional and complex processes involved in creating some of Italy’s most famed food products.

“What I loved most about this trip was the deep-rooted, historical traditions that go into preparing a very specialized product such as the balsamic vinegar or parmesan cheese,” Weiss said. “Seeing artisans committed to producing the best quality food brought eating (the food) to a whole new level.”

The trip was not complete without a tasting at each of the factories. Students could finally put into practice the curriculum from the classroom and the information they learned on the tours and actually experience the food. A favorite part of the trip was tasting aged parmigiano reggiano and the unfamiliar but decadent treat of balsamic vinegar on top of vanilla ice cream. 

“Like the other co-curricular trips, the goal was to learn about the production of these important food products  but with a historical-cultural context,” said Food Studies Program Director Zachary Nowak, adding: “And it doesn’t hurt to try some great cheese, prosciutto, and vinegar!”

*Reprinted with permission from the Umbria Institute Food Studies Program

 

Lauren Weiss ’14 International Relations major and Economics minor. This past summer, Lauren interned with Soluciones Comunitarias, a social business, in Guatemala.  You can usually find Lauren at The Daily Grind either working or eating chocolate chip scones.  I’m involved in the International Relations Club, Tribe Ambassadors, and Virginia21.

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2013 Potsdam, Germany Summer Program

The College of William & Mary’s 2013 Potsdam summer program offers participants the opportunity to immerse themselves in German language and culture. It provides courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced German speakers, as well as course options taught by University of Potsdam faculty and W&M faculty Dr. Maria Morrison, Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies, and an option for independent study/research. Students may earn up to 10 credits on the Potsdam summer program. Grades appear on students’ W&M transcripts and are included in GPA calculations.

There is a required 1 credit course to be taken in Spring 2013, which you will be registered for following your acceptance into the program. This course is designed specifically for students going on the summer program and is intended to enhance cross-cultural understanding of Potsdam and cover a variety of pre-departure questions. The scheduling of this course will be dependent on the class times possible for the program participants.

Potsdam, the capital city of the German state of Brandenburg, is located on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin. Known for being the residence of Prussian kings and German kaisers until 1918, the city also has the largest World Heritage Site in Germany: the palace of Sanssouci. The Potsdam Conference, the post-World War II conference held between the Allies, was held at the Cecilienhof palace, another area attraction. The W&M Potsdam summer program begins with a three day visit to cultural sites in Central Germany.

During their time in Potsdam students live with host families. Breakfast will be provided.

The Reves Center advisor for the Potsdam summer program is Molly DeStafney, mldestafney@wm.edu

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2013 Montpellier, France Summer Program

The College of William & Mary’s 2013 summer program in Montpellier offers students the chance to immerse themselves in French language, literature and culture. This program may begin with a 4-day tour of Paris, where students will have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s greatest museums, monuments and palaces.

The Institut des Études Françaises pour les Étrangers (I.E.F.E.) is the host institute of this month-long intensive summer program. Participating students live with French families in Montpellier, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, just a few miles from the Mediterranean.  In addition to taking classes, students will conduct an independent research project examining life in either Montpellier, or France and Europe. There will be excursions to cultural and historic sites around the region.

There is a required 1 credit course to be taken in Spring 2013, which you will be registered for following your acceptance into the program. This course is designed specifically for students going on the summer program
and is intended to enhance your cross-cultural understanding of Montpellier and to cover a variety of pre-departure questions. The scheduling of this course will be dependent on the class times possible for the program participants.

One of France’s fastest growing cities, Montpellier offers a relaxed atmosphere and treasures its 1,000-year-old history, preserved in an unusual medieval cathedral, an 18th century aqueduct and water tower set in formal gardens, and an elegant Old Quarter of 17th and 18th century residences.

The Reves Center advisor for the Montpellier summer program is Molly DeStafney, mldestafney@wm.edu

 

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2013 Goa, India Summer Program

Students on the William & Mary Goa summer program spend five weeks exploring globalization and development in India. Indian faculty and W&M faculty teach courses on the program, and all students earn 7 credits. The focus of the courses will be Indian economy, globalization and development. Grades will appear on students’ W&M transcripts, and will be included in GPA calculations.

Goa still exhibits the cultural influences of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter. The Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961. Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats region, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.

All meals are provided on-site (included in the program fee). Excursions may include Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley” of India, as well as a Kabini jungle safari. Course-related excursions to the spice plantations and points of interest around Goa will enhance students’ understanding of the economic and cultural background of the region.

Students will take 2 courses for 3 credits each from local faculty, and will be enrolled in the 1 credit course titled History and Politics of Postcolonial India (HIST 200) taught by W&M faculty, Prof. Chitralekha Zutshi.

The Reves Center advisor for the Goa summer program is Molly DeStafney, mldestafney@wm.edu.

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2013 Cambridge, England Summer Program

William & Mary’s long-standing summer program in Cambridge, England, is housed in beautiful and historic Christ’s College, one of 31 colleges that comprise the University of Cambridge. Christ’s was founded in 1437 and later endowed by Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII. The college is located in the heart of the city of Cambridge, about an hour-long train trip from central London.

The 2013 session runs five weeks–from July 5 to August 9. Classes will generally meet from Mon-Thurs, with excursions on weekends. At least one weekend will be free, so that students who wish to can schedule their own travel. W&M students are housed in comfortable single rooms in the stately 18C court of the college. The program price will include breakfast and partial supplements for other meals.

There is a required 1 credit course to be taken in Spring 2013, which you will be registered for following your acceptance into the program. This course is specifically designed for students going on the summer program and is intended to enhance cross-cultural understanding of Cambridge and cover a variety of pre-departure questions. The scheduling of this course will be dependent on the class times possible for the program participants.

This year’s faculty hail from various disciplines at W&M: Anthropology Professor Kathleen Bragdon, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Neal Tognazzini, and Professor of Kinesiology & Health Sciences Ken Kambis. In addition to hosting several information meetings scheduled for fall term, they will be available in Fall and Spring terms to assist individual students interested in the Cambridge program.

The Reves Center advisor for the Cambridge Summer Program is Molly DeStafney, mldestafney@wm.edu

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