Becoming Global Citizens

Arts and Sciences Students and Alumni share their international education experiences

The College of Arts and Sciences prides itself on the emphasis we place on utilizing the world as a classroom. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic has prevented our students from getting to experience education abroad since March. In recent years, we’ve offered a variety of programs to fit the academic needs and interests of our students in some amazing destinations, in over a dozen countries around the world.

We reached out to a few of our students and alumni and asked them to share their perspectives on how international education experiences and adventures have changed their life. Most, if not all, said it not only helped them further their education and gain long-lasting friendships, but gave them a broader and more sophisticated view of the world and increased their self-awareness, confidence, adaptability, and independence. One even decided to donate a scholarship to support Kent State students who study abroad.

Alina Howard
Alina Howard in Italy
Alina is a Photojournalism major with minors in Italian Language, Italian Studies, Ancient Medieval and Renaissance Studies and plans to graduate in 2021. She spent two summers in Florence in 2016 and 2019 and had plans to go back this year. As a result of her study abroad experiences, she is currently researching the justice of the Medieval Ages to that of contemporary and past African Diasporic creatives.

“Learning to navigate a foreign culture helped me to become more comfortable learning to navigate parts of myself I was scared to confront,” Howard said.

Ruby Callen
Ruby graduated cum laude last August with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminology and Justice Studies. She wrote her honors thesis on the treatment and reoffending of domestic violence offenders. In her time at Kent State, she studied abroad in Florence (Italy), Israel, Athens (Greece), Prague (Czech Republic), and Poland to study Polish Jewish life and the massive effect of the Holocaust.
Ruby Callen in Poland

“I was wholeheartedly changed as an individual on that trip (to Poland),” Callen said. “Not only was I learning so much more about traveling abroad, I saw humanity in its rawest form. I feel that everyone should experience the eerie realness of visiting the grounds where it happened. It has made me a stronger activist for the societal outcasts and downtrodden.”

She recently got accepted into a Masters of Legal Studies program at West Virginia University to do exactly that. She believes that it all started with her experiences in Poland.

“I’m so grateful to Chaya Kessler, director of the Jewish Studies Program, for being an amazing leader in Poland and fueling my desire to learn even more once we returned to Ohio,” Callen said.

To learn more about Ruby’s journey, read the full article.

Alberto Yagüe Vázquez
Alberto, an international student originally from Madrid, Spain is a senior majoring in both Finance and Actuarial Mathematics and minoring in Chinese Language (which he’s been studying since fourth grade). He studied abroad for a month in Xi'an (China) in Summer 2019.

Alberto Yagüe Vázquez in China
“There were so many experiences there, from the amazing sights that we got to see, to living the daily life of Chinese people, to the lifelong friends I made over there, to the amazing cuisine,” Vázquez said. “This trip really opened my eyes and helped me be braver. Overall the premise is kind of scary…I went there with five Americans who knew no Chinese and my Chinese spoken level wasn't great. Every day we tried to go to different places and different restaurants and immerse ourselves as much as possible in this marvelous ancient yet modern culture. I was already aware of how ‘big’ the world is but the cultural differences between Europe and the U.S. are a lot more subtle than the differences between China and the ‘West’.
Bobbi Broome
Bobbi Broome
Bobbi graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minors in Pan-African Studies and Digital Media Production. She is now enrolled in grad school at the University of Southern California’s film school in Los Angeles. Inspired by shows like Stranger Things, she wants to work in the television cinematography industry.

In June 2019, she studied in Xi’an (China) with five other Kent State students who immersed themselves in Chinese culture, learned calligraphy, toured many historic sites, and even learned how to make traditional tea.

In May 2007, she and eight other students from Kent State, studied abroad in Ghana, a nine-day course called “The Real Africa”, led by Assistant Professor Mwatabu Okantah. They stayed in a village, traveled along the Ghana coastline, visited a botanical garden and a rain forest. They also learned how to weave their own kente cloth and dyed the cloth with symbols.

“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in my entire life!” Broome said. “It was also about cultural immersion and learning your roots and your history.”

She said her most emotional and intense experience was visiting the Cape Coast Castle slave dungeon and torture chamber.

Read more about Bobbi’s experiences in Ghana and China.

Dr. Holly Morris
Holly Morris
Holly had just graduated with a degree in Classics from Kent State (in June 1974), when one of her Classics professors, Jim Carpenter, received grants which allowed him to take several students to Cyprus for an archeological dig. It was the perfect opportunity to gain valuable research training before starting graduate school. She didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. What she never could have expected was for their whole group to become refugees who had to be evacuated by the British Royal Air Force to London during a coup of Cyprus (in July 1974) and subsequent invasion by Turkey. As you may expect, the experience was life changing.

Read Holly’s story

Holly decided to donate a scholarship to support Kent State students who study abroad. Her advice for students thinking about studying abroad: “Anybody who can, should,” Morris said. “I doubt that anyone would really regret it and it can really rock your world. It can be one of those milestone moments.”

POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 5:50pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 12, 2020 - 11:05am
WRITTEN BY:
Jim Maxwell