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June 7, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU experiences summer study growth

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - More than 120 Slippery Rock University students are using their summer for international study that will take them to such places as Costa Rica, France, Spain, England, Italy, Peru, Scotland, Mexico, Canada and China.

"We haven't been able to put our finger on exactly why, but our students have dramatically increased their summer study aboard participation," said Pamela Frigot, director of SRU's international services office.

She suggested an increase in summer program offerings by SRU faculty, additional online summer courses that allow students to undertake three credits internationally and three credits online to meet minimum credit-hour requirements for financial aid in summer school, and an overall increase in international issues in the news may be factors.

Seven students opted for independent study, or longer term study abroad programs this year, while others will travel as a group under the leadership of an SRU faculty member, Frigot said.

"This year's summer programs, which continue into August, began just after the end of spring semester. One of the early groups that visited Italy will have stories to tell their grandchildren," Frigot said. "The group had left Bologna just hours before a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit northern Italy. They were unaffected by the quake, but certainly will remember the close call."

The 28 SRU students were part of a group participating in an "Italian Literature Seminar" taught by Rachela Permenter, SRU English professor, or in the "Nonfiction Travel and Food Writing" course taught by Mark O'Connor, associate professor of English.

Spanish language students are headed to Costa Rica as part of Deb Cohen's intensive Spanish study course. Cohen is a professor of modern languages and cultures at SRU. Adelaida Cortijo, assistant professor of modern languages and cultures, is leading a six-student course in Spanish language to Spain. Jennifer Carl, an SRU student from Indiana, Pa., will user her summer to study French in France.

"In all three cases, students will be immersed in the language, one of the best ways to learn it," Frigot said.

Twenty SRU students will attend the Paralympic Games in London, immediately following the conclusion of the 2012 summer Olympic. The Paralympics involve athletes with a physical disability.

Pamela Arnold, assistant professor of physical education, will lead the group that will watch a variety of Paralympics events such as goalball, wheelchair basketball, tennis and soccer. The games were first hosted in London 1948 as a gathering of injured British soldiers. The students will tour Stoke Mandeville Hospital south of Aylesbury. The hospital is known for its pioneering rehabilitation work in spinal injuries. The hospital and the Paralympics are closely linked in their work.

A medical mission to Peru will involve eight SRU doctor of physical therapy students who will gain hands-on experience and offer services as part of a trip led by Barbara Bilek-Sawhney, an associate professor of physical therapy, and Mary Ann Holbein Jenny, an assistant professor of physical therapy.

SRU's Jack Livingston and Jialing Wang, both associate professors of geography, geology and the environment, led a group of nine SRU students to participate in a regional course dealing with "The Geography of Asia."

"We started in Shanghai where we did a globalization review, then went to Nanjing where our students met with students from Nanjing University and did a kind of 'undergraduate-day-in-the-life of a Nanjing University student,'" Livingston said. "We visited one of the manufacturing parks where a Maryland company is doing business, then went on to Xi'an, the oldest and first capital of Imperial China, to look at the history and archeology of the region. We had the chance to travel overnight by berth train, and we finished with a tour of Beijing, including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square."

The major thrust of the course was a review of the modern political and structural systems in China," he said. "We mostly examined the question of China's emergence in the global economy, its growing population and population and environmental issues, such as air quality. We looked at the challenges China faces and its growing affluence. It was a look at 3,000 years of culture."

Eighteen SRU students will drive and camp their way to and through Newfoundland, Canada, as part of Patrick Burkhart and James Hathaway's summer class in environmental geosciences. Burkhart and Hathaway are SRU professors of geography, geology and the environment.

The 16-day trip will involve interdisciplinary studies of a transect of Canada from Ontario through Newfoundland examining nature and human history. The students will visit two UNESCO world heritage sites, Gros Morne National Park, a sight of great plate tectonic significance, and L'anse aux Meadows, the New World outpost of Eric the Red in 1000AD.

For the fifth time, a group of Slippery Rock University theatre students will travel to Scotland to participate in the internationally known Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this year offering performances of "The Barwell Prophecy," the latest work by David Skeele, professor of theatre, who will also direct the production.

The horror play premiered on campus in May and will be offered Aug. 4-11 at the three-week festival, billed as the largest arts festival in the world. The Scotland festival, which involves thousands of performers, caters to everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and related events.

Laura Smiley, associate professor of theatre, and Rebecca Morrice, assistant professor of theatre, are also involved in the production.

"We also have individual students involved in various length, individual summer programs that will see them undertaking course work in Japan, Macedonia and Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as Kingston University in England and the Universidad de Alacala in Spain," Frigot said.

More than 265 SRU students participated in this year's traditional spring break study abroad programs in which students spend spring semester enrolled in an on-campus course that includes an international travel/learning component.