Articles tagged as: study abroad
Organizers say the special event will offer an opportunity to renew passport books or passport cards, find out more about applying for a passport and for members of the Study Abroad Programs Office to accept passport applications from U.S. citizens.
“We are a full passport acceptance facility,” says Michael Clement with Study Abroad. “We accept all passport applications.”
Study Abroad is joining the Department of State in celebrating Passport Day in the USA 2013, a national passport acceptance and outreach event. This year, the Bureau of Consular Affairs is focusing on family travel, so organizers say the convenient Saturday hours ensure most parents won’t have to miss work to apply for their child’s U.S. passport.
Parents are advised to keep in mind that passports for children under the age of 16 expire every five years. To apply for a passport for a child under the age of 16, both parents and the child will need to appear in person or bring a notarized “Minor Consent” form signed by the absent parent.
U.S. citizens must present a valid passport book when entering or re-entering the United States when they travel by air. This rule also applies to citizens entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry. They must present a passport book, passport card or other travel documents approved by the U.S. government.
Information regarding the cost and how to apply for a U.S. passport is available here. Passport information is also available by phone, in English and Spanish, by calling the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778.
West Bizzell Hall is located on Houston Street facing Simpson Drill Field. Parking is available in the University Center Garage, or visitors can go here for more parking information.
A memorial gathering to honor the late Paolo Barucchieri, recently deceased director of the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy, will be held Saturday, May 5 from 4-6p.m. in the Rudder Exhibit Hall at Texas A&M University. Barucchieri served as the director of Texas A&M University’s study abroad programs based at La Poggerina and Santa Chiara over the last three decades.
More information is available here.
As news of the earthquake that devastated Haiti grabbed the world’s attention, a group of Texas A&M University undergraduate and graduate students received an urgent request for help.
They were ready.
The group had been meeting every Friday with civil engineering professor Bryan Boulanger and an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff (including Stephen Carpenter, Oscar Munoz and Cory Arcak) to research and create appropriate technology-based ceramic water filters ― a low-tech solution to the local and global potable water crisis. The team, known as the Texas A&M Water Project, had been troubleshooting techniques with the support of FilterPure, a nonprofit organization based out of the Dominican Republic and Haiti committed to providing safe drinking water to at-risk populations.
“FilterPure needed trained people right away,” says Boulanger. “Haiti’s entire infrastructure, including its existing water supply, had been destroyed, and we were in a position to send people to help. We needed to mobilize quickly and a study-abroad field trip was the best way to accomplish this.”
Boulanger says that the Study Abroad Programs Office did “a wonderful job” getting all the passports, insurance and other paperwork processed quickly. He credits Amy Schultze, a study-abroad adviser, with getting him and five students ― two from the College of Education, two from civil engineering and one from industrial and systems engineering ― on the ground in three weeks.
“Our trip to the Dominican Republic wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Study Abroad and the departments of civil engineering, industrial and systems engineering and teaching, learning and culture,” says Boulanger. “It’s that kind of across the board support that demonstrates how committed Texas A&M is to service around the globe.”
The group’s intention was to go to Haiti itself, Boulanger explains, but the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory that prevented taking students into Haiti. Instead, the group worked across the border in a FilterPure facility in the Dominican Republic to help create 500 filters and approximately 3,000 fired mud bricks for a kiln that is now operational in Haiti. FilterPure then trucked the material across the border into Haiti.
“This was an amazing opportunity for our students to see their engineering work put into practice and have immediate utility. It was experiential learning at its best,” Boulanger says.
The students were immersed in another culture day and night. They stayed with local families in the small town of Higuerito, taking bucket showers and sleeping under mosquito netting. They built strong relationships with the family members and with the local community. At the filter production facility, they worked side-by-side with workers from other cultures and backgrounds.
Boulanger adds, “They discovered that when you get your hands dirty together, you really bond quickly with people.”
“We had a multi-level experience,” explains Ishan Desai, a doctoral student in civil engineering from Kolkata, India. “At the physical level, we had an opportunity to travel halfway around the globe to help an at-risk population. At the mental level, we used our technical and problem-solving abilities to produce economic and effective water filters. And at the spiritual level, it wasn’t about ‘me,’ it was about being part of the global community.”
“The opportunity to do a study abroad field trip had so many benefits besides the obvious one of helping the people of Haiti,” Boulanger states. “It helped our students grow, allowed them to experience different cultures and definitely built character and confidence. Also, every aspect of our experience involved high-impact learning.”
The students needed to practice teamwork and to trust in other team members in order to get the filters made, he adds. For example, creating filters and kiln bricks involves a multistep process. Team members needed to cooperate and coordinate with each other to determine what to do next.
There was also the issue of how to get the bricks from one part of the island to the other, and problems associated with border crossings. The ability to solve logistical problems, as well as to develop a better understanding of the reasoning behind the design process of the filters, helped when the team returned to Texas A&M.
“They were able to help plan the layout of our new facilities in Laredo based on what they learned in the Dominican Republic,” Boulanger notes.
The Texas A&M Water Project has been granted space to build a point-of-use ceramic water filter production and education facility in Laredo for residents of the Texas colonias. Texas has an estimated 400,000-500,000 people without access to sanitation or clean drinking water in their homes, most notably in South Texas.
“Not only does this project provide a critical service for people in the state and beyond, but our study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic has given our students the global perspective needed to work with the diverse communities of Texas,” Boulanger adds.
As Perpetua Mbachu, a senior allied health major from Austin, says, “Being able to work with the Texas A&M Water Project was an opportunity of a lifetime. I had the chance to work in an unfamiliar setting, to interact with people of a different culture and to learn the value of breaking barriers to communicate ideas and share perspectives. This experience showed me how a small group of people with a common mission can begin to shape the world.”
The Institute of International Education announced that five Texas A&M University students received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for the spring 2012 semester studies abroad. Sylvia Carmona will study in Argentina; Lonisa Early, in Brazil; Candy Reyes, in Germany; Kimberly Soto, in France; and Marco Zapata will study in China. These scholarships assist students with program expenses like housing, tuition, fees, and travel expenses.
Carmona, an international studies major and psychology minor, will pursue Spanish studies in Buenos Aires.
“International experience serves a purpose that gives students the bigger picture and lets us know that we live in a diverse world. Also, the experience will contribute to my goal once I graduate to work as a foreign correspondent for CNN,” Carmona said.
Early, an animal husbandry major, will study in Recife, Brazil, taking animal science and Portuguese courses.
“I can benefit professionally by understanding Brazilian practices and interests in animal agriculture, and I will be eligible for an internship with a Brazilian company,” Early said.
Reyes, a biomedical sciences major and business minor, will study at Germany Biosciences Semester program in Bonn, Germany, on a Texas A&M faculty-led program with Jeremy Wasser, Judith Ball and James Moore.
“Living with a host family and studying at a German university with other students will help me to be surrounded by the language and culture daily. I hope this experience will lead me to my future career in physical therapy with an enhanced knowledge in medicine and other cultures,” Reyes said.
Soto, an international studies and anthropology major, with a minor in French language and literature, will study French in Angers, France, on the Texas A&M-Universite Catholique de l’Ouest France Language and Culture Semester hybrid faculty led-transfer credit program.
“Angers is a city with rich history, where I can experience French language immersion with a host family, and I hope to find an internship in Paris, France. My goal post graduation is to teach French,” said Soto.
Zapata, an economics major with a minor in Southeast Asia studies and Chinese language and literature, will study Chinese in Chengdu, China.
“I will take Mandarin and economics courses, so that one day, I can have a job in which I conduct U.S.-China trade interactions. Knowing how to deal with the largest country in the world will become an indispensable task because they offer a great place for growth,” Zapata said.
The Gilman Scholarship was founded by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 with support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs. The Gilman Scholarship provides more than 2,300 awards annually in amounts up to $5,000. For more information on the Gilman Scholarship, visit the organization’s website or contact the Gilman study abroad advisor, Orié Varner, in the Study Abroad Programs Office at (979) 845-0544.
Meet José Luis Bermúdez: As dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M since June 2010, José Luis Bermúdez is focused on building nationally prominent academic programs in the liberal arts, emphasizing undergraduate education and research, and preparing students for a globally competitive environment upon graduation. Dean Bermúdez earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from King’s College, Cambridge University, and has more than 100 scholarly publications to his credit, including five single-authored books and five edited volumes.
How important are the liberal arts at Texas A&M?
The liberal arts play a key role at Texas A&M. Just look at the numbers. There are 6,200 undergraduate liberal arts majors and 800 graduate students in the college. We graduate more students each year than any other college – nearly 2,000. And almost every student at Texas A&M takes several liberal arts courses to fulfill core curriculum requirements.
There is a reason for this. Leadership is a core value at Texas A&M and all liberal arts students learn the vital academic skills that I call the cornerstone of leadership. Effective leaders need excellent written and spoken communication abilities. They have to be creative problem-solvers and critical thinkers. And they must understand the global dimensions of modern society. Our mission in the College of Liberal Arts is to develop these skills in our students through our 25 different majors and 23 minors.
One of the cornerstone of leadership initiatives currently underway in liberal arts is our new Freshman Critical Thinking Seminars. The seminars are designed to develop students’ critical thinking skills and will give students a chance to learn in small groups with experienced faculty members. I will be teaching one myself next semester, as will some very distinguished researchers.
How is research important to students at Texas A&M?
I know there has been much debate recently about the role of research in undergraduate education and questions about whether teaching suffers while our faculty are engaged in research. But I am convinced that teaching and research have to be interdependent at Texas A&M. The College of Liberal Arts, like the other colleges, is the home of outstanding researchers who put their knowledge and skills to work in the classroom. We can offer the type of educational experience that only a tier one research university can provide – one where the people who transmit knowledge also create it.
Students benefit in many ways when they study with faculty who are active researchers. As well as getting the most up-to-date perspectives and state-of-the-art insights, they learn that serious reflection is both open to the new and respectful of the past. Many liberal arts students get directly involved in faculty research. Some develop their own projects and research in collaboration with faculty members and graduate students. Two important priorities for me as dean are increasing undergraduate student exposure to research in the classroom and further developing our undergraduate research opportunities.