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 282 SRU students use spring break as study abroad opportunity 



March 3, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab


282 SRU students use spring break as study abroad opportunity


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Nearly 300 Slippery Rock University students will use their spring break to expand their world knowledge through trips to 11 countries as part of their spring semester classwork.

           "We have long made use of including a spring break travel component as part of a number of select course offerings during spring semester," said Pamela Frigot, director of International Services at SRU. "Students know there will be travel as part of the course. In addition to their academic work, the students are exposed to the culture and people of a foreign nation, giving them new perspectives on the world."

           "While the travel is based on academics, there is also time for museum, art gallery and tourist attraction visits so students get a flavor of the country they are visiting," Frigot said.

           This year's students, depending on the course, will visit Spain, England, Greece, Costa Rica, Hungary, Peru, the Bahamas, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy and St. Lucia.

            Colleen Cooke, associate professor, and Deborah Hutchins, assistant professor, both in the parks, recreation and environmental education department will take 13 SRU therapeutic recreation undergraduates and two graduate students enrolled in the "Adapted Physical Activity" course to Bradford, England, where SRU has a cooperative agreement with the University of Bradford. In England, SRU students will observe and learn about mental health service provisions in the United Kingdom. The group will visit the Bradford District Care Trust, an agency that provides a continuum of services to people with severe, persistent mental illness, including inpatient and outpatient services. The group will also visit Liverpool and a castle in York.

           A new program will take nine SRU students to Hungary led by Istvan Kovacs, assistant professor of physical education. The program's focus will be on water polo as part of the students course work in learning to teach and coach the water sport.   

           While in Hungary students will spend time at Semmelweis University, originally called the Hungarian University of Physical Education, and will hear from members of the Hungarian Olympic team and the Hungarian national water polo team. They will attend competitions and visit a variety of water polo facilities as part of their aquatics minor study.

           "Hungary is the most decorated country in water polo," Kovacs said. "During our visit we will meet Olympic champion players and visit practices and games of professional teams. The head coach of Hungary's men's national team, who won the last three Olympic gold medals with his team, will give us detailed game and practice analyses," he said. 

           The trip includes visits to the Citadell, Panopticum of Visegrad and the bob-sled roller track. The group will attend a lecture titled "The Legacy of Physical Education and Sport in Hungary" delivered by Tibor Kozsla, strategic and international director of Semmelweis University.

          Seventeen graduate students in physical therapy will travel to the Netherlands with Nancy Shipe, assistant professor in SRU's School of Physical Therapy, as part of the "Healthcare Systems II" course.

          "This course encompasses communication, ethics and legal issues that affect the profession," Shipe said. "Communication will focus on interaction with patients, clients, family, colleagues and other members of the health care team with the emphasis on cultural sensitivity and using communication as an integral aspect of therapeutic interventions. Practice and legal standards governing the practice of physical therapy, as noted in laws, regulations and the APTA Standards of Practice will be reviewed. The ethical challenges facing physical therapists and strategies for resolving them will be discussed as part of the program."

          While in Amsterdam, the students will tour the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk Church. They will also visit The Hague and the European School of Physiotherapy as well as tour Vrolik Museum (the museum of anatomy) and the Hanzehoogeschool Academy for Health Studies.

          Kimberly Smith, assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative science, will lead 18 students to Dublin, Ireland, as part of SRU's "Wellness Promotion and Programming" course.

          "This course was recently designated as a diversity class, so we thought it would be a great idea to have students experience a component of diversity firsthand. We will be investigating and observing the differences in culture, healthcare, fitness, wellness and food composition, including quantity and quality. Classes will be conducted at the University of Limerick," she said.

          Students will also tour the Boyne Valley, Monsterboice Monastic Site and High Cross, the Melifont Cistercian Abbey, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, Trim Castle, King John's Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, Powerscourt Gardens, Clonmacnoise Monastic Site and other sites.

          Twenty students from SRU's special education program undertaking the "Introduction to Special Education" course will spend their break in Greece in a program led by Jodi Katsafanas, assistant professor of special education who also coordinates SRU's Community Programs for Americans with Disabilities courses. 

            "The students will study the inclusion of students with autism in Greek schools in Volos in conjunction with the University of Thessely located there," Katsafanas said.  

            As part of their visit, Katsafanas will delivery a presentation titled "ReThinking Teacher's Identity in Special Education in the U.S." with SRU students serving as panelists for a roundtable discussion with University of Thessely students and faculty.

            SRU students will visit the Diagnostic Center for Autism, meet with faculty and students and attend a class lecture on autism services in Greece. Similar sessions will be conducted in Thessalonki. "We will observe, meet with teachers and talk with parents to learn more about special education services in Greece," Katsafanas said. "Upon their return, my students will prepare papers on the topic 'Inclusion Abroad: Philosophy, Policy and Practice.'"

          Kurt Pitluga, assistant professor of art, and Thomas Como, associate professor of art, will lead 28 art students to Athens, Greece, and the island of Crete.

          "The course is 'Greek and Roman Art,' an experimental course offered only this semester," Pitluga said. "We have just finished studying Greek art, including Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean art, in preparation for the trip. When we return we will continue to study the development of Classical art with Roman art and architecture,"

          "I have placed a heavy emphasis in the class on art objects we will actually visit. We will spend time in Athens visiting the Parthenon on the Acropolis and other historic sites, including museums - the National Archaeology Museum, which has the best collection of classical art in the world. We have side excursions to Mycenae, the major citadel of the Mycenaeans, and the famous Treasury of Atreus. Our trip includes a visit to Delphi - location of the Sanctuary of Apollo and the famous oracle," Pitluga said.

          The group will visit the hilltop monasteries in Meteora in northern Greece. "The students are very excited about the long ferry ride in the Aegean to the island of Crete to visit the famous palace of King Minos. The trip to Crete will also include a visit to the Heraklion Museum, the second best museum for ancient art in the region," he said. "This will be a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience the birth place of classical civilization and see firsthand some of the major works of art that influenced the west for centuries."  

          Eighteen SRU students enrolled in "American Literature II," taught by Rachela Permenter, professor of English, will spend spring break in Italy. "For British and American authors, Italy has always been a very evocative place. American writers follow the English tradition of the turn to Italy with a yearning for change and transformation," Permenter said. 

           The reflective mode in American was using Italy to elicit Romanticism or to contemplate American society in contrast. For the numerous American writers and artists who traveled and emigrated to Italy in the 19th and 20th centuries, Italy represented possibilities and the weight of history not available at home, but also a backdrop for contrast to American 'na�ve' or  progressive optimism," she said in explaining the travel.

          "Specifically, this trip provides background for 'The Portrait of a Lady,' by Henry James, and we will follow the travels of Isabel Archer. Moreover, studying the Italy of American writers and researching the Italian Renaissance as the birth of humanism are excellent starting points for the study of American literature," she said. The trip includes visits to Rome, Florence, and Venice.

          SRU athletic training education program students will get to see how the sport therapy program works at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland, as part of a program led by M. Scott Zema, assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences. 

          "We will have the chance to talk with students and faculty about how their programs are implemented, and we will share our experiences," Zema said. As part of the trip, the 15 students will also tour a number of castles in and around Dublin.

          It will be Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice, Italy, to study "Sales Management" for 20 SRU students in Bruce Orvis' class. The itinerary includes business tours and presentations with Laguna Murano Glass Factory in Venice; the Castello Sonnino Winery in Tuscany, the Castel Romano Designer Outlet near Rome, and the flagship store of Bulgari Jewelry in Rome, Orvis, an associate professor in SRU's School of Business, said.

          The trip also includes visits to various cultural sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, Pantheon, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum.

          Richard Findler, SRU professor of philosophy, will lead a group of 26 SRU students to Greece as part of his "Great Books Honors" course. While there they will see a presentation of a Greek tragedy and will meet with the director and actors. The students will tour the Athenian Acropolis, museums, the sites at Delphi, Mycenae, Corinth and Epidaurus.

          Nineteen SRU students will spend their break in Spain led by Robin Ammon Jr., professor of sport management. Their visit will key on a variety of sport venues with behind-the-scene tours of facilities in Madrid and Barcelona. Students will tour the Prado Museum, Palacio Real, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, including its stadium, offices, VIP areas and press facilities, Ammon said. "The students will have opportunities to talk with stadium management and ask about crowd control on game days." 

            Visits with Spanish Olympic committee members, the Sagrada Familia and the Park Guell along with RCD Espanyol Stadium and the Barcelona Olympic Stadium and Museum are planned.

            Students enrolled in SRU's "Field Studies in Oceanography and Advanced GIS on San Salvador Island, Bahamas" will spend their break in organized field trips designed to expose them to the environment of living and fossil reefs, caves, beaches, tidal creeks and lagoons, archaeological sites and other sites of natural history significance, said Tamra Schiappa, associate professor of geology, geography and the environment. Jack Livingston, associate professor in the department, will also participate.

            "Specifically, students will make observations while traveling around San Salvador to develop an understanding of human pressures on island environments and specifically the human impacts on reef development and health." she said. "Issues related to climate change will be discussed and the potential impact climate change will have on the small island system. Some of the activities that the 13 students will be experiencing include snorkeling around the numerous patch reefs that surround the island, describing the tidal pool habitats, caving, and hiking to archaeological sites."

            Eleven SRU students will visit the legislative assembly of Costa Rica as part of Donald Kerchis' "Politics of Developing Areas" class. Kerchis, an SRU assistant professor of political science and a graduate of Georgetown University, said he hopes to parlay that connection to the country's newly elected president, also a Georgetown graduate. "I am hoping we are able to spend a few minutes with her as part of our visit to the capital city of San Jose," he said.

          In addition to discussing political science, Kerchis said the group will also touch on such areas as eco-tourism in visits to the rain forest and the island's volcano, along with issues linked to development strategies that carry a political science connection. 

            Armand Policicchio, associate professor of professional studies, will lead the 20 students enrolled in his "Women in Asia" course to England to visit the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple, the Tower of London and the British Museum, all locations Policicchio calls "the second best places in the world to study Asia and Asian history." 

            The 15 students in Srinivas Mani's "Introduction to Anthropology" course will spend their break in Peru looking at artifacts at the Pachacamac Pilgrimage Center build around 700 AD as a temple honoring the sun god, Pachacamac. "We will visit the City of Kings, the historic Plaza Mayor and the Government Palace along with City Hall," Mani, a professor of professional studies, said. The visit in Lima will also offer an excursion to the Casa Aliaga, America's best-preserved colonial mansion and occupied by the same family since 1535. Visits to the San Francisco Monastery, the residential district of Miraflores and San Isidro are also planned. The group will visit Iquitos before a boat trip along the Amazon River and a walk in the jungle. 

            In addition, 18 SRU students involved in leadership development at the University will participate in a St. Lucia visit where they will deliver 3,000 pairs of shoes to school children on the island. The shoes were collected by Bishop Canevin High School and packaged by SRU students. The trip is being led by Alice Kaiser-Drobney, assistant professor of professional studies. The trip will see SRU conducts a number of service-learning projects and a series of leadership development programs for school students in St. Lucia. Brad Kovalesky, direcot of the Center for Student Involvement and Leaership, Kateeka Harris, director of judicial programs, and Noreen Herlihy, women's soccer coach, will accompany the group.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.


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