Western Kentucky University

Symposium Schedule

Schedule of Events

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.               Registration

9:00 - 9:15 a.m.               Opening Remarks - President Gary Ransdell

9:15 - 9:30 a.m.               Michael McClellan, Diplomat-in-Residence, WKU
                                        "Department of State Support for Study Abroad and Exchanges"

9:30 - 9:45 a.m.               Break

9:45 - 10:45 a.m.             Student Presentations

11:00 a.m. - Noon            Faculty Presentations

12:00 - 12:15 p.m.           Break

12:15 - 1:00 p.m.             Student Presentations

1:00 - 3:00 p.m.               Plenary Luncheon, sponsored by the Office of International Programs
                                        (Keynote Speakers will start at 1:30 PM)
                                        Consul-General Motohiko Kato of Japan
                                        David Carpenter, Japanese American Society of Kentucky


Student Presentations

The Benefits of Study Abroad in Underrepresented Programs

Group: Brandon Cayot and Kris Adams, University of Kentucky

Sponsor: Nick Zappitelli

This presentation will focus on the benefits of studying abroad in underrepresented programs such as Prague, Czech Republic. The presentation will outline my choice to study abroad in Prague, my experiences and the skills obtained during my study abroad. The goal of my presentation is inform people about smaller programs and how they could benefit future students who wish to study abroad.

Blogging Our Way Through Trinidad

Group: LaQuiche Matchen, JanaHarrison, Tevin Jones, ShaNeeka Brewton, Brittany Carter, and Dracin Williams, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Dr. Saundra Ardrey

Our WKU Study Abroad in Trinidad and Tobago blog serves as a platform that documents events, emotions, and our perspectives surrounding our experiences abroad. We posted various topics on our blog such as "Trini" culture, history, and food as well as our service learning experience, academic enrichment at the University of West Indies, and the importance of the Uniquely Represented Student Leadership Conference. The purpose of compiling our experiences on a WordPress blog full of images, videos, and information is that it can be easily shared through social media; not only is this a nice way to share our experience with family and friends, but it serves as promotional material for WKU. This is the perfect way to illustrate the relevance and truth behind our motto that establishes WKU as a leading American university with international reach. Furthermore, our blog is a way to specifically promote the WKU Faculty Led: Explore Trinidad trip in hopes of instilling interest and enrollment in the program for future years. One of our blog posts narrows the targeted audience to students that are underrepresented in WKU's study abroad programs (http://brittanycarter730.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/uniquely-under-represented-leadership-conference/).

Therefore, our blog captures our experiences in-country in the classroom, markets, and waterfalls in pursuit of advancing what our course and university represent. The best aspect of our blog is that it can impact an even larger audience of students, faculty, and staff. Broadcasting our hands-on experiences on our blog will encourage study abroad for all students especially those that are underrepresented. Our blog will enhance the WKU Study Abroad Symposium because we will have our own twist of the cultural experiences. Our blog showcases personal and professional development of the WKU student body abroad while enhancing multicultural competence and presents captivating images with concise content. This blog is a strategic capsule of how the WKU Study Abroad experience is evolving.

Trinidadian Culture – It's Carnival Time

Group: Mariah Tibbs, Raymond Smith, Rauneisha Mayes-Reid, Robert Pugh, Tia Allen, Coumba Sow, and Simone Smith, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Dr. Saundra Ardrey

Trinidad and Tobago has a proud history that unites them across racial and color lines in a way that eludes the people of the United States. We still struggle to become one country with no titles or separate cultures. One of the ways that Trinidad and Tobago have managed to achieve this unity is through the festival of Carnival with parades, foods, costumes, music and much more. Our experiences in Trinidad and Tobago granted us the opportunity to learn the history of Trinidad and Tobago and the role of Carnival. Our research examined how songs and dance assist with telling stories of the past. Experiences with locals gave us the opportunity to learn some of the past history as well as some modern day changes of Carnival. Our presentation will share the richness of the people and culture of T & T as it is expressed in the festival of Carnival. We focus on not only the history but the significance of the parade, traditional foods, costumes, dance, steel drums and music. We also include how the world views Carnival and what lessons Americans can learn from this unifying season of celebration. These topics are important because they all give you an understanding of why T & T functions the way that it does. This country has a recipe for peace within their society that the world can learn from.

Beyond the Film: Our Experience at Sundance

Group: Nathan Gjerstad and Jayme Powell, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Ted Hovet

This presentation will focus on our unique experience at the 2014 Sundance film festival. We will pay special attention to the multiple presentations and panels we took part in during the festival. We will also focus on the Slamdance film festival which is a counter-festival to Sundance and is held during the same time. We will share the knowledge that had the most impact on us from both festivals and discuss how this knowledge has led to inspiration and a newfound drive toward future goals. Along with this, we will present my personal physical and emotional experience during the trip and show a very short video clip from a news broadcast which we were featured in.

Trends in Study Abroad

Sierra White, Murray State University

Sponsor: Melanie McCallon

Over the past decade the number of students who participate in study abroad programs has increased significantly. Study abroad, and in particular, the factors which lead a student to study abroad, are a field that has not been fully explored empirically. As a result, there are a number of interesting questions that have to be explored to more fully understand the increases that have occurred during the past decade. These include: as the number of students participating in study abroad programs has increased, has the composition of those who study abroad changed? Are the program lengths and immersion levels increasing along with the growing number of participants? Are there identifiable factors that increase a student's willingness to participate in study abroad programs? This paper will seek to answer these questions using information from study abroad interest surveys, applications, and pre- and post-trip interviews.

Emergency Action Plan for Tsunamis in Hawai'i

Julie Scott, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Erin Greunke

The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is an important component of faculty-led program planning that helps to facilitate students and faculty in the event of an emergency away from campus. While not always together in a group, students should be aware of procedures and safety locations during an evacuation or other emergency. As part of my graduate studies participating in a Study Away program in Hawai'i, I was tasked to create an EAP for our program – focusing on a potential tsunami. Each area of interest visited during the program required a different route and safe location in the event of a natural disaster. Every Study Abroad or Away group should be aware of the environmental dangers in their travel destination and have an EAP. This presentation highlights the importance of developing an EAP for study away and abroad programs, and how the experience applies to my graduate studies in Homeland Security Sciences.

The Role of Children in Peru

Elizabeth McGrew, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Dr. Jane Olmsted

Children in Peru experience obstacles to education and therefore are limited in job opportunities; however, they benefit greatly from a strong family relations characterized by an abundance of physical affection balanced by healthy sense of independence and responsibility. This is in strong contrast to the accessibility to education and job opportunities in the United States and the deprivation of physical affection and failure to foster independence. During three weeks in rural and urban Peru, I photographed children and their families at work, home, and in public settings.

Trinidad Press Freedoms & Crisis Response

Ashlee Bradley, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Dr. Saundra Ardrey

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The first amendment to the U.S. constitution is often a freedom that has become second nature to Americans. My experience in Trinidad and Tobago allowed me the opportunity to speak with Irving Ward, editor of Trinidad's top newspaper The Guardian, along with local citizens to discover what press freedom 'really' means in Trinidad. An additional component to this research was the ability to discuss crisis management and to develop an understanding of how crisis response efforts in Trinidad compare to the standard for crisis response efforts in the United States. The relevancy of this study presents itself in that press freedom issues in countries such as Trinidad restrict the flow of valuable information to other nations; another relevant component being the void within crisis response research in relation to countries other than the U.S.

Medicine Out of the Box

Eppiphanie Benton, Western Kentucky University

Sponsor: Dr. Saundra Ardrey

The nationalism and culture of Trinidad and Tobago runs through the blood of all their citizens. During my time in Trinidad and Tobago, I had the opportunity to tour and speak with healthcare professionals and staff members in both the private and public sectors of their healthcare system. During my presentation, I will discuss my journey through different interviews and how my outlook on my future career path has changed.

Costa Rica: Cultural Immersion in Pura Vida

Regina Powers, Kentucky Wesleyan College

Sponsor: Dr. Arcea Zapata de Aston

This photo essay will examine study abroad in Costa Rica during winter term with a focus on cultural immersion through language experiences and nature. Total immersion in the language occurred through stay with a Spanish-speaking host family. I will address my methods of learning the language, which include speaking it with locals, reading newspapers, watching television, and studying grammar and vocabulary in a textbook. Learning the language also complemented experiences in nature, which involved visiting national parks and important sites in the city of San José. Learning the importance of nature to the country as a whole helps to better understand the culture of Costa Rica.


Faculty Presentations

Learning Abroad: An International Field Experience

Group: Dr. Sharon Hundley, Lisa Allen, and Nakita Gavre

Campbellsville University

Recognizing the importance of preparing globally competent educators, Campbellsville's School of Education (SOE) organized its first international field experience during the summer of 2013. Six months later, eighteen students and education faculty departed Kentucky for Belize in the midst of winter ice and snow equipped with Special Permits to Teach awarded by the Belize Ministry of Education. Staying with host families for cultural immersion, team members were placed in classrooms at Kuxlin_Ha, a Mayan Community Primary School, and the University of Belize Laboratory Preschool. This group presentation by SOE 2014 team members represents faculty and student collaboration.   Emphasis is placed on student and faculty perspectives of lessons learned, educational application for teacher preparation, and the advancement of life-long learning in a global society. The presentation also describes the process of developing partnerships with the School of Education at the University of Belize and its International Office, budgeting, funding, planning, preparation, and post-trip follow-up. The purpose of the planned field experience was to provide education students with international teaching experience in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. While English is the official language of Belize, any of five different languages other than English is spoken in homes. Classrooms include many children whose families are recent immigrants or refugees. Insights and implications for classroom teaching are shared. Student perspectives include observed differences in teaching strategies that broaden their own understandings. Plans for a 2015 Teacher Exchange Seminar between teachers in Belize and Kentucky are included in the presentation. Discussion of a qualitative study involving pre-service teacher perceptions about how the experience prepared them to meet Kentucky Teacher Standards and Kentucky Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Teacher Standards will also be included.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Undergraduate Research in International Settings

Isabelle Lagadic

Northern Kentucky University

Preparing undergraduate students to succeed in a society, a marketplace and work platforms rapidly moving toward globalization is becoming increasingly important in all academic disciplines. For the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines with sequential and tight curricula, providing undergraduates with study abroad experiences may be very challenging. Yet, most of the future jobs awaiting current undergraduates will involve one or more STEM disciplines and will require a sense of global skills and ability to work effectively across cultures and languages. For the past three years, the department of chemistry at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has developed an International Summer Research Internship program that hosted a total of 12 international students from China, Ecuador, France and Romania for a period of 8 to 12 weeks to conduct chemistry research in collaboration with their American peers under the supervision of a faculty mentor. This program has not only provided an innovative alternative for chemistry students to connect with international partners, but has also facilitated the creation of research abroad opportunities for NKU students and international research collaborations for NKU faculty. This session will discuss how faculty can develop successful international student exchange programs for undergraduate research in STEM disciplines, as well as how to find and secure funding through multiple institutional partners.

Value in the value of "Cultural Literacy" for students and faculty studying and researching abroad

Fidelis Achenjang


Universities, students and faculty are increasingly seeking to build 21st century citizenship via participation in study abroad programs; taking the initiative to educate, serve, lead and research in cultures and nations different than their own. Our experience shows that such sojourns should be a blend of guided and independent interactions. Our presentation consists of documentation from two Fulbright Hays GPA's to Cameroon, West-Central Africa with teachers from Appalachia. We will discuss our experience/lessons from a standpoint of the benefits/value of cultural literacy and allowing serendipity to act as an ally for students and faculty in their quest to learn synergistically and become better 21st century citizens. Some participants may lose sleep, develop anxiety and find out that an otherwise educational life changing experience, leads to disorientation and disorganization. Other participants begin to "chercher midi à quatorze heures" (turning simple issues into complicated ones). We will show how participants' cultural literacy promotes their control of circumstances during study and research abroad programs and minimizes culture shock and malaise resulting in enriching educational experiences.

Value Added Experiential Learning

Lynnette Guzzino

Thomas More College

The immediacy of the culture and international business environment connects theory to practice and creates a personal learning experience that transcends the classroom. Allows for discussion and observation of companies, managers and organizations that brings the text material to life, creating thought provoking questions and improving critical thinking skills of students. Adds value to course concepts and prepares the students for the global work force. Prepares students to work in cross cultural teams and become sensitive to diversity and open to multicultural ideas. Provides an international mind set, being able to maneuver in uncertain territory and make decisions. Able to experience real world situations of international business managers; challenges and opportunities of operating in a foreign country. Compare and contrast familiar companies operating in different cultures. Understand the financial impact of currency exchange and fluctuations on product pricing, assets, competitive advantage. Discern the value of regional economic integration from a business perspective.             The study abroad program provides an opportunity for multi-cultural awareness, experiential learning and exploration, preparing students to be global citizens, with open minds and hearts.

Student and Faculty Research Involvement as Base for a True Cultural Immersion

Dr. Arcea Zapata de Aston

Kentucky Wesleyan College

Student and Faculty Research Involvement as Base for a True Cultural Immersion and Best Practices in a Short Term Study Abroad Program in Costa Rica As suggested by the Standards of Good Practice for Short-Term Education Abroad Programs established by Forum on Education Abroad, the Undergraduate study abroad programs should have many goals that will prepare students and faculty to be globally conscious and interculturally aware of the importance to become effective leaders, versatile professionals, and civic engaged citizens. Providing undergraduate students with best practice experiences is important within many academic disciplines; for example, engaging students in important and relevant research topics and questions can provide critical information for them to explore more in depth later in their own major or areas of interest in their personal or professional life. Students in my classes write journals about their daily activities and often times use them to record their observations and research. They then use the recorded information to find topics they want to expand on and turn it into a paper. We also have academic programs in connection with field based experiential approach with projects either in the sciences or community based service learning. Students can also use this opportunity to work on research through Independent or Directed Study, promote cultural immersion by working with local organizations, or participate in intensive language classes and homestays with local families in the host country. They can also organize local programs with organizations in order to have access to local resources and networks. The faculty is also building a network of individuals, organizations, and community members that will help with research and cultural understanding of the country, like what is and has been done with Costa Rican writer, Alfonso Chase.

Preparing Underserved Students for Study Abroad

Dr. Saundra Ardrey

Western Kentucky University

African American college students, especially African American males, are traditionally underserved in study abroad opportunities. The entire study abroad process is a mystery and completely outside of the comfort zone for most of these students. Navigating the many forms, deadlines, policies and procedures is wrought with fear of the unknown. This session is a workshop and discussion on how to recruit, raise money, complete forms and make it to your international destination with underserved African American students - without losing your own sanity.

Passports, Global Citizenship, and the African American Student

Jenaya Purdue

Western Kentucky University

Literature suggests many reasons for African American or Black students not participating in global learning initiatives and study abroad ranging from familial concerns and responsibilities, financial obligations and challenges, unfamiliarity and fear of the unknown, and lack of information regarding how to overcome such barriers. However, these are surface issues that can easily, with support and advising, be ameliorated. They do not address a systemic and underlying current that which significantly impacts the participation rates of these students. Perdue suggests that part of the reason why Black students do not engage globally is because they feel rather disconnected to the world at large and don't consider themselves to be global citizens. In this dissertational research, she sought to qualitatively compile the vibe or dispositions of Black students regarding global citizenship, whether they find this mindset of value, how they see themselves in relation to others in the world, and how they connect to the world at large. She used the construct of "Global Citizenship" to frame her research which, according to Morais & Ogden (2009), consists of three pillars—social responsibility, global competence, and global civic engagement. Her themes and conclusions, although found after interviewing Black students, are not exclusive to this student population, and are useful to practitioners in international education, instructors in higher education, academic affairs staff, and others who are interested in enhancing the quality of a campus' internationalization plan or shaping students into globally-minded and adept scholars

 Last Modified 4/14/14