UW Bothell students explore the world

study abroad
Photo: A festival in Mexico.

By Zachary Nelson
Do you have travel plans for this summer? Many students at the University of Washington Bothell do. They plan to explore the world, immerse themselves in different cultures and, in some cases, assist communities in resource-poor settings.

Study-abroad experiences put learning into context for students. When classroom learning is combined with real-world experiences, say faculty, students engage on a deeper level because they can actually see, touch, smell, taste and hear a culture instead of just reading or talking about it.

There are numerous study aboard trips available to all University of Washington students, with most trips open to any major, creating interdisciplinary groups that travel the globe together. This summer, trips to Guatemala, Mexico, France and Spain — led by UW Bothell faculty — are among the more popular.

Mabel Ezeonwu, an associate professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, is leading the trip to Guatemala to give students hands-on experience acting as health care professionals. They typically conduct about 600 examinations focusing on primary care, said Ezeonwu, who also led a study abroad trip to Guatemala in 2016.

In Guatemala, many poor children walk around without shoes in the dirt and mud. “But it’s important not to just feel bad for these kids,” said Ezeonwu. “Instead, students should recognize the amazing strength it takes for people to survive in these harsh conditions.”

Diana Garcia-Snyder, a lecturer whose expertise is dance research and education, will be taking a group of students to Oaxaca, Mexico, this summer. “Dance is one of those activities that you have to experience in person to really understand,” she said. “The tradition of dance in Mexico goes back hundreds of years. There’s so much rich culture embodied within the movements. Students will have the opportunity to learn these dances, experience the heritage of Oaxaca, do yoga, and go to La Guelaguetza.”

La Guelaguetza, she noted, is the biggest and oldest festival in Oaxaca, when approximately 20,000 people come together to celebrate indigenous Mexican culture through dance, art, music and food.

In yet another study abroad trip, students will be heading to Spain and France with Alice Pedersen, a lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. This expedition is focused on politics, the Spanish Civil War and Black cultural production in Paris.

“For the ‘in-class’ portion, students will spend four hours a day in a Spanish 14th century tower, discussing texts and learning Spanish,” said Pedersen. “That in-class time is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to immersion. Students will also have the chance to live with locals, discover cultural expectations, explore museums, experience café and street culture, and listen to different music during local festivals.”

Study abroad trips allow students to learn in person about other cultures — and can literally change their world views.

“I have never been on a plane, and a year ago, the idea of studying abroad wouldn’t have even crossed my mind,” said Tyesha Reed, a Society, Ethics & Human Behavior major. “That all changed when I heard about how UW Bothell makes study abroad accessible. Through scholarships and financial aid, anybody who wants to travel can. There’s really no reason not to apply. I did and now I am going to Spain, at a cost that works for me.”

For more information, go to the UW study abroad website or read about more student experiences.

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