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The Mount Goes Global
The earth remains the same size as it was millenia ago with a circumference just short of 25,000 miles at the Equator. Oceans and mountains still act as dividing barriers for countries and continents. Yet, it seems that our planet has become increasingly smaller in size and that once insurmountable barriers can be overcome almost instantaneously.

Aided by rapid advances in technology and communications, globalization has occurred at a blistering pace over the last few decades. Improvements in transportation allow manufacturers in Asia to produce and send their products to suppliers in the United States faster than ever before. A college student in Venezuela can order a textbook from Amazon.com for delivery in less than a week. E-mails and text and instant messages, not to mention "smart phones" make communication with far off lands not only possible, but easy, inexpensive, and widely available.

As the world gets smaller, the need for Americans to understand and interact with individuals from a diverse array of cultures intensifies. In keeping with the demand for study abroad programs and internationally-focused educational offerings, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers numerous study abroad opportunities that allow Mount students to broaden their horizons and enrich their cross-cultural understanding. The College currently sponsors study abroad programs in Russia, Canada, Italy, Japan, China and the United Kingdom.

In addition, the Office of Campus Ministry at Mount Saint Vincent sponsors service-learning trips, where students can volunteer abroad in Guatemala and lend their services closer to home, with service-learning trips to the Appalachian region of Kentucky and Hoboken, New Jersey.

When students study abroad, they not only take in the local sights and complete courses specific to the region, but they also immerse themselves in the country’s rich history.

Take, for instance, the Mount’s study abroad program in Rome, Italy. Students view great architectural landmarks, sample various Italian cuisines, learn the language and encounter Italy’s artistic masterpieces.

Dr. David Aliano, assistant professor of modern language and history, has been spearheading the Mount’s study aboard program in Italy since 2008. He led eight Mount Saint Vincent students to the Eternal City during this past January’s intercession  trip.

“It’s wonderful to teach in Italy, because you can see 2,000 years of history unfold on its streets,” he says. “I have never met a person that has gone to Italy that has never wanted
to come back.”

Junior Yulissa Liriano ’12, a French Studies major with a minor in Italian, describes her time in Italy as an eye-opener and an invaluable learning experience. “Italy was a culture shock, but I learned a lot about Italian culture, history, and architecture,” she says. “I came back with many unforgettable memories and the urge to return to Rome again.”
 
Dr.Natalia Smirnova, assistant professor of economics, introduced a study abroad program to her native Russia in 2007. “Russia is the biggest country in the world,” she says. “It is a major player in politics, business and economics, as well as a country with great cultural heritage, which  spreads through poetry, literature, theater, opera, ballet and art. By visiting Russia, students will become more familiar with all of those matters.” Through Dr. Smirnova’s efforts, the Mount has become a partner institution with Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance.

In 2010, the Mount received a Title VI grant, which funds undergraduate programming in international studies. Part of the grant will fully fund two Mount students during a study abroad summer session in Russia. Dr. Teresita Ramirez, associate professor and chair of the Department of Business and Economics, is currently developing a study abroad session to China.

As the world’s second largest world economy and a growing international power, China is a logical destination for a study abroad program, which Dr. Ramirez hopes to launch during January 2012 intercession. “I like to think of China as challenging the U.S. in education and economic development,” she says. “We must face these challenges.”

Dr. Ramirez, a native of the Philippines, has completed Fulbright programs in 2002 and 2006, during which she studied in China, Hong Kong, Hungary and Poland. She views studying abroad as a vital component of an undergraduate education in an increasingly global world. “A student who studies abroad has more of a perspective of economic issues,” says Dr. Ramirez. “To live in another country and get to know its people is a wonderful thing.”

Mount students can also volunteer both domestically and abroad, through the College’s service-learning programs. During these service learning trips, students volunteer their time and talents in a variety of ways that range from giving vaccines in Guatemala to building houses in Appalachia. Since 2007, Mount students have traveled to the Appalachian region of Kentucky during spring break, where they build homes for the less fortunate.

During this year’s January intercession, four Mount nursing majors traveled to Guatemala with members of the Sisters of Charity, where they worked in Sisters of Charity-run clinics, administering vaccinations, assisting in a pharmacy, and aiding with pediatric care. Nursing major Kimberly Foerster ’11 traveled to Guatemala during January intercession. “I anticipated a hands-on experience, incorporating spiritual and professional aspects along with elements from the field of health care,” she says. “While there, I experienced a very humbling and simplistic, yet extremely effective, system, that the Sisters of Charity implemented.”

Sister Cecilia accompanied four nursing majors to Guatemala this past winter intersession. “Having educated these four young women for four years and being able to take their acquired skills and put our mission in action by showing them a part of the world they don’t know, will shape who they are for the rest of their lives,” she says.

The College also offers a new exchange program with St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham, London, where students from each respective campus can swap lives for a brief time. In 2010, this exchange program was developed by Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies Edward Meyer. Students are given the opportunity to study for a semester in London while choosing from a broad range of courses in subjects including English, management, business law, tourism and media.

“In recent years, the College has made a strategic effort to increase study abroad,” says Dean Meyer. “One of the best ways to enhance your appreciation of other cultures is to study abroad, where you can experience them first hand.” Mount students can also participate in outside programs, thanks to the College’s membership in the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic College and University Consortium and the College Consortium for International Studies.

“I would definitely recommend other students to go on these trips, or any other study abroad program, because it is an experience that doesn’t compare to any other,” says Ms. Liriano. “When I look back at my college years, I will be happy that I took full advantage of the time that I had here.”