SRU student groups travel abroad for short-term summer programs


New Zealand at night

Slippery Rock University students enrolled in a new study-abroad leadership program will travel to New Zealand, May 15-29, including a visit to Queenstown.

May 8, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Eight Slippery Rock University groups will travel internationally as part of SRU faculty and staff led summer study abroad programs. While most of the programs will head to countries often visited by the University, such as Italy, Japan and Norway, a new program focused on leadership will take students to a country that no SRU student group has visited in recent memory.

Ten SRU students will travel to New Zealand, May 15-29, as part of a new initiative organized through the University's Office of Student Engagement and Leadership.

"The destination is appealing and it hasn't been something offered to our students," said Lauren Moran, director of student engagement and leadership. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because most people will never have a chance to go. And the topic of leadership is so broad and we were able to bring together a diverse collection of students from different majors, class levels and areas of involvement on campus."

SRU previously offered study-abroad experiences focused on leadership, but after a hiatus of more than a decade, Moran and Jayne Piskorick, assistant director for fraternity/sorority life and student organizations, revived the program this year. Moran said they developed the program before selecting a destination so that it could be implemented in future years in different countries.

"New Zealand was selected because it's a destination new to SRU students and because the University's Office for Global Engagement, which organizes study abroad programs, is looking to strengthen its new exchange partnership with Southern Institute of Technology, one of New Zealand's largest institutes of technology with more than 13,000 students," said Moran.

In addition to SRU staying on SIT's campus in Invercargill for all but three nights during their stay, SIT helped organize activities related to the 10 student leadership competencies that Moran and Piskorick identified for the program. The competencies include: group development, organizational behavior, confidence, diversity, self-development, listening, appropriate interaction, vision and reflection/application.

For example, students will visit with a professional netball team to study group development. Netball is a sport played by women in New Zealand that is similar to basketball. For diversity, they will learn about the Maori, a group of indigenous people in New Zealand. The students will also attend classes in human resource development and organizational behavior at SIT and visit the New Zealand cities of Queenstown and Te Anau.

"We're taking real-life examples and talking about them with daily reflections so that they can gain leadership skills through these experiences," Moran said. "The ultimate goal is for them to create their own personal definition of leadership and then have a plan for themselves for when they come back to SRU and how this experience will impact their leadership here."

Moran said the organizers successfully recruited students for the program who are not usually engaged with with OSEL, but who already have leadership positions on campus or are interested in taking on leadership roles. The students pay for the trip but the University provides at least $700 in funding. Two students applied for and received $500 scholarships that will defray the costs through the Laura Ordaz Fund for Leadership Experience Abroad. The Ordaz scholarship, named for a former council of trustees' student representative, was awarded to Hannah Runas, a sophomore special education/early childhood major from Tarentum, and Sylvia Edwards, a junior exercise science major from Monroeville.

"The short-term study abroad programs, like the one we are offering to New Zealand, give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in new culture and community through engaging scholarly activities," said Jenny Kawata, director of global exchanges and partnerships. "They can develop a greater sense of global awareness and understanding. In addition, since summer break is longer than spring break, the summer programs provide opportunities for travel to regions of the world which might be more difficult to travel to during the spring break period."

Faculty leading SRU's seven other summer study abroad programs are:

• Catherine Massey, professor of psychology, will take 24 students enrolled in the Developmental Psychology Honors course to Norway, May 13-27, to study the role an egalitarian culture has on psychosocial functioning, including mental health and life satisfaction, and the role that health and social service programs have on optimal human development across the lifespan.
• Wendy Fagan, instructor of physical and health education, and Jillian Stringfellow, project coordinator in the physical and health education department, are taking 12 students to Scotland, May 8-16, to attend the International Symposium on Physical Activity and Individuals with Visual Impairments or Deafblindness, an event hosted by the University of Edinburgh for international educators, researchers, mobility and rehabilitation specialists who are interested in sport and leisure activities for people with disabilities.
• Lindsay Viatori, assistant professor of dance, and Jesse Factor, instructor of dance, are taking 23 students who were enrolled in eight sections of various dance classes to Italy, May 21-31. The group will explore Rome and Florence through dance and take dance classes in the styles of Italian Folk, Cunningham, Hip Hop, Baroque and Cecchetti Ballet.
• Rachela Permenter, professor of English, and Mark O'Connor, associate professor of English, are taking 23 students from their Dante and Our Journeys and Food/Travel Writing courses to Milan and Rome, Italy, May 15-31, to experience and write about the food and culture of Italy and retrace the steps of the poet Dante. Click here to read about last year's program.
• Timothy Oldakowski, associate professor of English, is taking nine students from his Stratford Shakespeare class to the Stratford Festival, in Ontario, Canada, June 24-29, to see plays by William Shakespeare; tour the festival theater, archive and the largest costume and prop warehouse in North America; and meet with the performers.
• Yukako Ishimaru, instructor of modern languages and cultures, and Alice Del Vecchio, assistant professor of interdisciplinary programs, are taking 13 students from the Topics of Japanese Culture class to Saga, Japan, May 15-27, as part of a cultural immersion program where students interact with students from SRU's partner institution, Saga University. Click here to read about last year's program.
• Kerry Edwards, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, is taking 10 students from a summer course, Comparative Criminology, to London, England, June 9-21, to visit criminal justice organizations and facilities and engage in discussions with criminal justice practitioners.

For more information about study abroad opportunities at SRU, contact the Office of Global Engagement at 724.738.2057 or click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |