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Garcia Thrives in Spain Experience

Garcia Thrives in Spain Experience

University of the Ozarks junior Luis Garcia had not travelled much outside of his hometown of Clarksville when he decided to spend the Fall 2019 Semester studying abroad in Spain. He called the decision to step outside his comfort zone one of the best he’s ever made.

The business administration major spent the semester studying at the Universidad de Granada in Granada, Spain, through a company called Sol Education Abroad.

“As a commuter student, it was a tough decision to go since I’m so used to being with my family,” Garcia said. “But I’m so glad I did it. This opportunity helped me experience a true college experience and grow individually in a whole new continent. Studying abroad taught me that learning isn’t just in the school but also in the various settings you place yourself. Granada is a city rich in history and culture, and I learned more in that semester abroad than any other semester.”

Garcia took 15 credit hours in courses such as Latin American civilization and culture, Spanish literature, Spanish grammar, marketing communication, and economics and business in Spain and Latin America.

“One great thing about doing my courses abroad was the language difference,” Garcia said. “All my classes where in Spanish, which helped me learn Spaniard Spanish and learn the subject in a different language. Another benefit about being abroad is having the opportunity to learn the different education system. The way they teach in Spain is different from the USA. They have different priorities and standards which was really nice to learn about as well.”

The lessons were just as valuable outside the classroom as well.

“I was learning many new things every day in so many different aspects,” Garcia said. “it helped me gain skills in money management, self-awareness, courage and problem-solving as an individual. I grew so much as a person.”

Garcia said one of the most memorable parts of the experience was staying with a host family that was organized through Sol Education Abroad. He said a typical day would start with breakfast with his host family before walking to classes.

“Our classes would be two hours long but we had a short break during class to get a snack or buy a coffee,” he said. “After class, my friends and I would walk to a coffee shop called Qarmita, owned by a Venezuelan refugee who became a great friend of ours.  We would finish our homework for the day and then would head back home to eat lunch at 3 p.m. with our host families. After lunch we would take a siesta, which is very common in Spain. As a professional napper, there wasn’t much to complain about. Once nap time was over, my friends and I would gather again and walk around the city of Granada and go for tapas, which is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. To finish most of our days, we would usually head to the church of San Miguel Alto, which is the highest viewpoint of Granada. It had a great view of La Alhambra and was the perfect place to watch the sun set.”

Luis Garcia

Garcia became fast friends with many of his classmates who came from around the United States as well as Europe and South America. They were also able to bond though long weekend excursions around Europe.

“In Europe, it is easy to travel to many countries for an affordable price, so we took advantage of that,” he said. “We also had the chance to really explore Granada. It seemed like every day we got to see something new in the city. Granada would host many events like art shows, comic book sales, local market sale, movie week, Christmas light shows and other family events where we discovered new things to do.”

Garcia said once he made up his mind to study abroad, he was surprised how easily and quickly the experience came together. Much of his trip was funded through a University grant, the Academic Enrichment Fund, that assists students with study abroad trips or research projects.

“The professors and staff at Ozarks were really helpful in providing information and tips for my study abroad opportunity,” Garcia said. “They always encouraged me and informed me about grants I could apply for to help me financially, such as the Academic Enrichment Fund. And, Sol Education Abroad handled many of the details and set me up with a great host family.”

Garcia said his study abroad experience is just the latest step in his growth as student. “This University has encouraged and pushed me outside my comfort zone in so many ways and that’s helped me learn and grow,” he said. “I was fortunate to take the roles as student ambassador and Ozarks experience mentor leader while I’ve attended here. These two important roles allowed me to grow and the study abroad trip was the next step. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

With colorful macaws flying in formation overhead, the growls of howler monkeys echoing through the jungle and surrounded by walking palms — Tolkienesque trees that get its name from its tall, spiny root system that looks like multiple legs — Cherokee Gott found herself in disbelief as she stood in the rainforest of the Bolivian Amazon. “I kept thinking over and over, ‘I can’t believe I’m here right now,’” said Gott. “I’m from a small town in Oklahoma and I had never even been on a plane before, much less travelled outside of the United States. This was all so new and exciting to me.” Gott was one of 15 University of the Ozarks students and faculty members who took part in a 15-day study abroad trip to Bolivia and Peru in January. The trip was the capstone of a multidisciplinary Fall 2017 Semester class — Study Abroad: Bolivia and Peru — that examined the culture, language, history and agriculture of the region. The upper-level class was taught by Dr. William Clary, professor of Spanish, and Dr. Kim Van Scoy, professor of environmental studies and sustainable agriculture. The highlights of the trip were visits to the Madidi National Park in the Bolivian Amazon, the highlands of the Andes Mountains and the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu. Like Gott, a sophomore environmental studies major from Claremore, Okla., it was the first significant trip abroad for several of the students on the trip. “When the plane took off from Miami, that is when it really hit me that I was doing what I had always dreamed of doing since I was a kid; I was travelling the world,” Gott said. “The whole trip, from the time we landed in La Paz, Bolivia, to flying over the Andes Mountains, hiking in the Amazon and standing on top of one of the Seven Wonders of the World at Machu Picchu, was an amazing adventure. It was extremely difficult to convey my thoughts in my journal because I could not come up with the words to explain the uniqueness and beauty of the land, people and experiences.” Clary, who has organized and led numerous study abroad trips to Central and South America, said students learn on multiple levels during a trip like this. “Certainly exposure to societies and cultures with complex economic challenges gives them needed perspective on how most of the world lives,” Clary said. “Student growth also occurs as they begin to understand that traveling like this is feasible, that one can do these kinds of trips without the guiding hand of a travel agency. Finally, by experiencing Bolivian and Peruvian culture up close in different contexts, students acquire both knowledge and deeper understanding of intercultural differences and historical traditions outside the United States.” Van Scoy added that a trip abroad is the ideal “cure for racism and prejudice.” “I think the students who travel to Latin American countries learn first-hand how generous and gracious our neighbors to the south are,” Van Scoy said. “In Bolivia, we were shown tremendous generosity from the second poorest country in the hemisphere. Lessons like that stick with students.” Bordering Peru, Madidi National Park encompasses an area of 1.9 million hectares of South American rainforests, glaciers and Andean peaks. With more than 1,000 bird species, 12,000 plant species and 2,000 vertebrates, it is considered one of the most biodiverse spots on Earth. The Ozarks contingent spent four days and three nights staying at an indigenous eco camp deep in the Madidi rainforest—a six-hour boat ride from the nearest city. Local guides led the group on several educational treks through the jungle. “To experience life in the jungle and to see and learn about all of the different plants and animals was an experience I will never forget,” said Deborah Sebagisha, a sophomore chemistry major from Rwanda. “It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” One of the highlights of Madidi was an opportunity to visit a remote, off-the-grid indigenous village in the Amazon rainforest, the Quechua-Tacana community of San Jose de Uchupiamonas. The group toured the village and was invited to have lunch with a local family. “I learned that the happiest people in the world are the ones that seem to not have a lot. The perfect example of this would be the members of the indigenous village,” Gott said. “Our guides were amazing and they always seemed to be smiling and joyful. When we visited the village, the people were extremely friendly and welcoming.” Sebagisha agreed that the visit to San Jose was impactful. “The people of the village didn’t have a lot, but they wanted to share the little that they had,” she said. “I would describe them as a very humble and charitable community. I learned from that community about sharing and caring with no limits and discrimination.” A visit to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains, was another high point of the trip. “Machu Picchu has always been a place that I have wanted to visit since high school and never in a million years did I imagine that I would visit as a college student,” said Rebeca Silva, a junior Spanish major from Rockwall, Texas. “To learn about it in class and then to actually get to see it in person was amazing.” Silva said the entire trip “broadened my horizon on the way I view life and the world.” “Every place we traveled to changed me in a different way and opened my eyes,” Silva said. “From experiencing a different way of life and culture, I grew to be more appreciative of the things that I feel are taken for granted in America. Something as simple as a free public restroom, with toilet seats, is something that I now feel grateful to have. This trip was very much a humbling experience for me and I feel blessed with all the lessons, memories and experiences that I have taken and made from it.” The trip was not without its difficulties. Nauseating altitude sickness, painful insect bites, uncomfortable overnight bus trips, frustrating visa issues at the border and pesky 3 a.m. wakeup calls were a few of the minor inconveniences the group faced. There was even plane mechanical problems that delayed the return home two days. “This was a very challenging trip and the students were often outside of their comfort zone,” said Van Scoy. “The altitude was challenging and several were impacted. Through it all, they remained in good spirits and were enthusiastic about their opportunities. I don’t think there was a single person who participated on this trip that didn’t grow personally.” For Hailey Godfrey, a junior health science major from Salem, Ark., her first trip abroad was eye-opening. “This trip helped me realize all of the steps that are involved in traveling abroad,” she said. “It is not an easy process. The most important lesson I learned was to be patient. Not everything on an abroad trip is going to go perfect.  We had a couple of hang ups, but it helped me understand how to be patient when things were not in our control. Even with the difficulties, it was an incredible experience.” Most of the students received assistance to pay for the trip through the King Endowment for International Study, a University fund established by the estate of Virginia L. King to help Ozarks students who want to study abroad. “To see first-hand how gracious people are and to experience the unique sights, sounds and smells of a foreign country is just incredible,” said Kole Smith, a senior biology major from Canehill, Ark. “This trip has given me the confidence and desire to travel abroad more and to see different parts of the world and I’m thankful that the King Endowment gave me this opportunity.” For Gott, her first trip abroad has motivated her to begin plans to spend a semester during her junior year studying abroad in Chile. “I knew I needed to experience travelling with a group first before I started thinking about going somewhere on my own,” Gott said. “Whoever says that travel is over-rated needs to open their minds and broaden their horizons. The world is so much bigger than the United States and it is definitely worth seeing. There is so much to learn about and so many amazing people and places to see. I cannot wait for my next adventure.”

Thanks to some encouragement from their professors and funding assistance from the Academic Enrichment Fund, University of the Ozarks students Catalina Chen and Gerardo Navarrete are headed to a three-week summer study program at one of the world's elite universities.

Chen, a senior English and international business major from Costa Rica, and Navarrete, a senior economics and political science major from El Salvador, will study at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) this summer. Established in 1895, LSE is considered one of the foremost social science universities in the world, with an acclaimed reputation for academic excellence.


University of the Ozarks students Catalina Chen and Gerardo Navarrete will spend three weeks this summer studying abroad at the renowned London School of Economics and Political Science.

"I've known about the London School of Economics since I was in junior high in El Salvador," said Navarrete. "Being an economics and political science major, I can't think of a better place to learn and grow. It's definitely a dream come true for me."

Both Chen and Navarrete will live on the LSE campus and each take an intensive course during the first summer session, which runs from July 7-25. Chen's course is International Political Economy and Navarrete will take Development Economics. Each class is comprised of three hours of lectures each day, followed by two hours of seminars.

"They are very compact, intense classes, which I'm very much looking forward to," said Chen. "This will allow us to really get into the subject matter in an in-depth and comprehensive manner."

Chen, whose parents are Chinese, speaks fluent English, Spanish and Chinese. She hopes to one day use her business education and trilingual skills in the international business sector.

"I've never been to Europe, so I'm looking at this as a great way to learn about the European economy and to get a different perspective," said Chen. "I've studied in Central America and in the United States, so this will definitely help to help round out my education and to get a different view of the world economies."

Chen is also excited about the diversity of the student body at LSE. According to the institution's website, approximately 6,000 students from more than 100 countries and every continent attended summer school at LSE last year.

"To be able to meet students from literally all over the world will be incredible," Chen said. "The whole experience will add so much to my cultural awareness of the world."

Navarrete said it was difficult trying to pick just one of the more than 70 summer courses offered by the university.

"I was like a kind in a candy store looking at the list of classes," he said. "There were so many great courses to choose from."

Both Chen and Navarrete said the summer study abroad trip would not have been possible for them had it not been for the Academic Enrichment Fund, which was established by Ozarks to offer competitive grants to students in support of their research or creative projects, professional preparation through internships, and study abroad.

"I realize how unique and special this opportunity is," said Navarrete. "My professors really encouraged me to pursue my dream of studying abroad in London. These types of opportunities can truly be life-changing and I want to make the absolute most of it."

A life-long goal for Navarrete is to help improve the economy in his home country of El Salvador, something that has led to him learning as much as he can about world economics.

"The way you can truly help and uplift a country is to improve its economic foundation," he said. "I want to do whatever I can do to help the country and people that I love, so that's why an opportunity like this to learn at a great institution is so important to me. I want to apply the theories and best practices that I'm learning in the textbooks and classes back in my country to make a difference. I can't think of a better purpose for my life than that."

Spending a semester abroad is a scary and exciting prospect for most students, but what many don't realize is that the experience lasts long after the return flight home. Rosa Ruiz and Kurt Shemanske, both juniors at University of the Ozarks, spent the 2012 Fall Semester studying abroad and can attest to how life-altering such an adventure can be.

Ruiz, a management/administration and strategic communication major from Zacatecas, Mexico, spent the fall 2012 semester studying at Shanghai International Studies University in China.

"This is one of those things I've always wanted to do," says Ruiz. "Studying abroad has a big item on my bucket list for a long time."

Ruiz studied Chinese culture and business and took language courses in Mandarin Chinese.

"In terms of my education, I believe that studying abroad has been extremely important," Ruiz said. "There are some things that you can only learn by exposing yourself to other environments. There were so many times when the language barrier forced me to ask a million questions, so now I am definitely less shy and more confident asking questions. I think, as students, we should be brave and expose ourselves to experiences outside the classroom that can teach us as well."

While departing China was bittersweet, Ruiz knew that she was returning home with a new lease on life.

"I'm different now.  I feel a little more mature and a lot more fearless, like I can do anything," Ruiz said. "I was sad to leave my new friends, but I was also really excited to come back home and share my experiences with friends and family."

Ruiz said the best lesson she learned while in China was that all people are remarkably similar.

"I realized that people are basically the same everywhere," she said. "I learned that as long as someone is willing to try to understand a different culture, they can thrive there."


The Great Wall of China was one of the places Rosa Ruiz visited while spending the 2012 Fall Semester studying the Chinese language and culture at the Shanghai International Studies University in China.

Kurt Shemanske, a management major from El Reno, Okla., had a similar experience in a completely different part of the world. Shemanske spent the fall semester studying at the International College of Management in Sydney, Australia.

Shemanske admits it was difficult for him to return to the States.

"I had such an amazing experience. I was very happy to see my family and friends, and that made the transition back home much easier, but it was difficult leaving the life-long friends I made and the beautiful country I was able to call home for a semester," he said.

Both personally and professionally, Shemanske's entire view of his future has changed after a few months abroad.

"My view on the world is actually a 'world view' now," he said. "For so long, I imagined myself being satisfied with what the United States has to offer, but the world has so much more to put forward. The opportunities are endless, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the world has to offer."

As someone who plans to pursue a career in management and economics, Shemanske said he gained a new global perspective on business.

"I've learned each country has valuable assets they can contribute, and a successful company capitalizes on that," he said. "I've learned that the decisions the United States makes not only affect us, but countries around the world. As the world becomes smaller, we need to adapt and recognize that the U.S. isn't the only country in the world that has something to offer."

While in Australia, Shemanske also developed a deep-seated respect for the values of others.

"After being abroad, I feel like a completely different individual. I've maintained my same life values, but I've learned to respect the values of others and to adapt to change. When you live life as a 'foreigner,' you learn a lot from observation.  I had to adapt quickly to the environment around me. I was the one who was different and not the other way around. From this experience, I now view life much more thoroughly and not as one-sided as before. I've learned to adapt with the changing society around me and to have respect for the different values of others," Shemanske said.


Kurt Shemanske, a junior from El Reno, Okla., studied business and economics last semester in Australia at the International College of Management in Sydney.

University of the Ozarks Professors Dr. Bill Clary and Dr. Kim Van Scoy do not teach similar subjects. Clary teaches Spanish and Van Scoy specializes in biology and earth science. But the two professors combined their knowledge to create an interdisciplinary class they believed could end up being a life-changing experience for their students.

Clary, who has years of experience exploring various places throughout South America, thought the Amazon River region would be a great area to take an intrepid group of Ozarks explorers. 

"It was a trip that I've done before," he said. "I thought it would be a good trip to build a class around; an interdisciplinary class that combined different subjects centering on the Amazon."


Watch a video recap of the trip, created by Lauren Ray.

Clary's idea was to design a class that combined the history and culture of the Amazon with rainforest ecology. He pitched his idea to Van Scoy and the class Ozarks Abroad: The Amazon was created.

"I went to Manaus (Brazil), which is deep in the Amazon, for a couple of months when I was teenager," Van Scoy said. "It was a life-changing experience for me. The idea that we could give our students a life-changing experience in the Amazon rainforest really appealed to me."

Clary used his expertise and language skills to organize the travel arrangements and teach the students with basic Spanish, while Van Scoy taught the biology, biodiversity, and rainforest ecology parts of the course.

The class was held during the 2012 Fall Semester, and nine students accompanied the professors on their journey to the Amazon region in early January. The trip began in Leticia, a remote Columbian city accessible only by plane or boat.

"Leticia, Columbia, is a fascinating place. It is part of what they call the Tres Fronteras, the three frontiers. It sits at the border between Brazil, Peru, and Columbia. It is an amazing place to go, because you've got three countries that meet there," Van Scoy said.


The first-ever Ozarks Abroad trip to the Amazon was led by U of O Professors Dr. William Clary and Dr. Kim Van Scoy and included nine students. (Photo courtesy of Matt Friant).

"The fusion of Peruvian, Brazilian, and Columbian culture makes this area really unique," Clary agreed. "You get this fusion in the center of the Amazon that becomes almost one culture in a sense. Their heritage comes more from the indigenous communities than their nationality. If you ask someone, they might say 'I'm Ticuna,' instead of 'I'm Columbian.'"

While Leticia served as their base of their trip, the group explored many other areas of the rainforest around them.  

"We went to this wonderful community called Puerto Nariño in Columbia," Van Scoy said. "It is a mixed community, but it has an indigenous community attached to it. It's what we would call a green community. It's very ecologically minded. It has lots of recycling practices. No motorized vehicles at all."

In Puerto Nariño, the group stayed in cabanas where they shared their hammocks with monkeys and macaws, went on a four-hour rainforest hike, and did some zip-lining in the trees.

Lauren Ray, a senior environmental studies major from Siloam Springs, Ark., said her favorite moment of the trip came during an afternoon boat tour just upriver from Puerto Nariño.

"We all squeezed into a long, skinny boat and leisurely glided along, checking out the unkempt, wild rainforest bordering the river," she said. "At one point, we actually floated through a flooded portion of the forest and emerged into a beautiful lagoon on the other side. Here, we visited an indigenous tribe, went swimming, and watched the pink freshwater dolphins playing in our boat's wake at sunset.  As we were approaching our eco-resort at the end of the day, three macaws came out of nowhere and landed right on the canopy of our boat, allowing us to take pictures of them and feed them.  To top that day off, we got to play with and feed squirrel monkeys at our resort."

Both Clary and Van Scoy were impressed with their students, many of whom had never traveled abroad.

"This wasn't a trip for everyone," Clary said. "You had to be a little adventurous and willing to put up with some places outside of your comfort zone. This was a more rustic study abroad opportunity. If the students hadn't had a great attitude about it all, I think they would have been very uncomfortable."

The students were up to the challenge of making the most of their adventure. They carried on conversations in Spanish, even with limited knowledge of the language, spent their evenings playing soccer with locals, and eagerly sampled local cuisine.


Kelsey Ramsey, a senior biology and environmental sciences major from Lamar, Ark., takes a photo of local children during the Study Abroad trip to the Amazon River. (Photo courtesy of Matt Friant).

Ray shared a memorable moment that left the weary group of hikers laughing.

"We were on an extended hike through the Amazon rainforest outside Puerto Nariño," she said. "We were all exhausted and nearing the end of our hike when we saw a creek crossing up ahead.  Our native guide informed us that that we needed to be especially careful while crossing the log because this particular creek was anaconda territory. I was about the third or fourth student to cross.  When I got to the middle of the log, I started losing balance and panicking.  After several seconds of wobbling to regain equilibrium, I looked behind me at the rest of my classmates and said, 'Well, guys, I'm going in!' and plopped into the creek.  The water was at least 7 feet deep at the center of the creek, so I completely submerged. When I surfaced, I saw looks of terror on my classmates' faces. I was in the water in anaconda territory! But as soon as they saw the huge grin on my face, they all started laughing with me."

In the end, Clary and Van Scoy were confident that their students really did experience a life-changing adventure in the Amazon.

"For both of us, it was really important that our students see how other people live and realize how similar we all are; To  realize that happiness comes from within," Van Scoy explained. "Here are these people experiencing what we would consider a life of poverty, in a house that has nothing but a couple of hammocks in it, and yet they're happy. They're caring. They're generous. I think it was a good experience for our students."

Clary agreed. "Students can't have a real experience to anchor their beliefs and knowledge of Latin American culture until they've been there," he explained. "It's a formative experience for them. It can change the course of their lives. Seeing how most of the world lives can really open their eyes to how we live our lives here. I think that all students should travel abroad as part of their educational experience."

The nine students are working on a presentation of videos, pictures, and stories that they will present to the campus community later this semester.


University of the Ozarks students and professors cool off with a swim in the Amazon River during the Ozarks Abroad trip to South America in early January. (Photo courtesy of Matt Friant).

Even though Kurt Shemanske, a junior from El Reno, Okla., is only about half finished with his semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, his life has been already been irrevocably changed by his experiences there.


Kurt Shemanske got an up close view of a Koala bear during his study abroad trip to Australia this semester. Shemanske’s study abroad experienced is being funded by the university’s Academic Enrichment Fund.

As a management major at Ozarks, Shemanske began exploring study abroad options with the help of the Academic Enrichment Fund, monies set aside specifically to assist Ozarks students with broadening their educational experiences.

"I am currently attending the International College of Management (ICMS) in Sydney," he said. "I chose Australia for three reasons. First, I had always wanted to visit Australia. Second, the culture, as unique as it is, has many similarities to that of the U.S., especially the English language. Not having to overcome a huge language barrier has definitely made my time abroad easier."

"Lastly, and probably most importantly, I chose Australia because over 600 multinational companies have chosen Sydney as their regional headquarters, and this presents an excellent opportunity for a future internship after college," he said.

Shemanske, who is taking four courses at ICMS, has greatly benefited from his exposure to international education, particularly his management classes.

"I am currently taking Cross Cultural Management, Business Forecasting, The Innovation in Sports Management, and Global Trends in Tourism. The best part about my classes is that I am the only American, so I am often asked by my professors for my opinion on the issues because the U.S. has such a big impact throughout the world," he said.

Shemanske has spent his time in Australia learning about more than international management.  He is also involved with the Event Committee at ICMS, which organizes fundraisers and entertainment events on campus.  He also participated in the Bridging Cultures program his first week in Australia, which helped introduce him to Australian culture and lifestyle.

"The first week we were in Cairns, Australia, and we experienced so much," Shemanske exclaimed. "The first day we went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. The second day we went to a national park located in a part of the rainforest where we were introduced to the Aboriginal culture. We also played with kangaroos and koala bears and went on a nature walk. The third day was our free day, and I chose to go sky diving."


Kurt Shemanske, a junior management major from Oklahoma, recently took time out from his studies in Australia to go skydiving. Shemanske is taking classes at the International College of Management in Sydney as part of an Ozarks’ study abroad program.

Shemanske knows his time in Australia is about more than learning from new professors and having exciting adventures. His time abroad has given him a much broader view of the world and small glimpse into a global economy.

"In the short time that I've been here, I have gained a new understanding on my outlook on life," Shemanske said. "The United States is a huge country, but there is so much more outside of our country to experience. Attending a college on the other side of the world with students from all over the world allows you to expand your own world views. The friends I have made in such a short time will be life-long friends, and my experience here will continue to impact the rest of my life long after I'm back in the States."

Clarksville, Ark. --- University of the Ozarks has entered into a student-exchange agreement with Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea, according to Ozarks Provost Dr. Daniel Taddie. The two universities are expected to begin exchanging students as early as the 2012 Summer or Fall semesters.

Like Ozarks, Hannam is a Presbyterian-affiliated university. Established in 1956 by American missionaries, Hannam has approximately 18,000 undergraduate students, 1,500 graduate students and 375 full-time faculty members. The private university offers more than 2,000 courses per semester in its 49 departments. Daejeon, located in the center of South Korea, has a population of 1.5 million and is considered the science and technology capital of the country.

According to Dr. Bill Eakin, professor of philosophy and German and director of the Ozarks Abroad program, the agreement with Hannam was initiated through the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.

"They approached us to see if there was an interest, and it fell into place," said Eakin. "The program will work for our students in ways that are similar to our current Irish-American Scholars Program."

Like in the Irish-American Scholars Program, students apply and are selected to study for a semester or a full year in South Korea. The agreement will include fall-spring student study as well as summer program study. Students pay their regular tuition at their home university, and must pay for their travel, room and board in the country they are visiting.

Eakin said one of the colleges at Hannam University, The Linton Global College, emphasizes global communication and culture and global business, as well as general education and language courses. All of the courses in the Linton Global College are taught in English.

"It's really a win-win situation for our students," Taddie said of the agreement. "The students from Ozarks who travel to South Korea will have a wonderful opportunity to learn and experience a new country and take a number of different courses that they wouldn't be able to here. The students here at Ozarks will get the increased exposure of a diverse culture from Korean students who take part in the program."

Under the five-year agreement, up to two students per semester from each university can participate in the program.

One positive aspect of the new Korean exchange program is that many of the Ozarks students' financial aid packages can be utilized in the program.

"In a lot of cases the financial aid package stays in place and that's going to help students afford this great opportunity," Taddie said. "These types of study abroad programs can be life-transforming and a tremendous growth experience, so we're excited about being able to offer it."

Taddie said at least one Ozarks student has already expressed an interest in studying abroad in South Korea. He also added that the agreement between Ozarks and Hannam offers the opportunity for possible faculty exchanges in the future.

In addition to the Irish-American program, Ozarks also has study abroad agreements with Mexico and Australia.

Called "The Lungs of the World," the Amazon rainforest in South America covers 1.7?billion acres spread across nine different countries. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest on the planet.

This fall, a handful of intrepid students will travel to this exotic setting to explore the region and investigate its many complexities. The Study Abroad course will encompass not only the geography and environment of the Amazon, but also economic and political facets of the area, as well as its history and language.

"Students will visit several important Amazon towns in three different countries," says Professor of Spanish and Latin American Culture Dr. William Clary, who has had extensive field experience in Latin America for decades. "We will explore the Amazon River town of Leticia in Colombia as our base of operations to make day trips to smaller Amazon towns and villages in the surrounding area. We will have the opportunity to visit Tabatinga and Benjamin Constant in Brazil, and the Peruvian town of Rosario, which lies across the river from Leticia. Within Colombia, we will stay in the smaller Amazon town of Puerto Nariño and visit indigenous villages located nearby."

In Puerto Nariño, populated largely by indigenous people and where motorized travel is forbidden, students will visit the Natutama Centre where they will learn about many of the endangered species which populate the Amazon River including the pink dolphins and the manatees.

Students will experience first hand the tropical rainforest environment in Amaycayacu National Park, which is accessible by boat. Amacayacu is well known for its interpretive trails, where with the help of a local indigenous guide, students can hike deep into the Amazon jungle. This park offers an astounding array of flora and fauna from the world's smallest primate, the lion marmoset, to the world's largest lotus, the Victoria Regia. This park is also home to several indigenous Indian communities which preserve their traditional way of life. In Amacayacu, students will stay in primitive eco-cabins and sleep in traditional hammocks.

Students will be thoroughly prepared in the classroom during the semester, leading up to the trip itself, which takes place at semester's end during the holiday break. Classroom discussions will include topics ranging from indigenous cultures of the Amazon and their agriculture, biodiversity, the problem of deforestation, to climate change, and public policy and land use in this vast region.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Science Education Dr. Kim Van Scoy, whose extensive field experiences include the Galapagos Islands, the Falkland Islands, Svalbard, and the Antarctic - and who took a life-changing mission trip to the Amazonian rainforest as a teen - stresses the importance of the area: "The Amazon Rainforest harbors the richest diversity of plant and animal species on earth." she said, "It is considered the single most important ecological resource on the planet."

Globally, says Van Scoy, one in ten identified species live in the Amazon Rainforest, constituting the largest collection of existing plants and animals in the world. "Scientists have identified some 2,000 birds and mammal species, at least 40,000 plant species, and nearly 1,000 amphibians and reptiles in the region," she says.

While historically the inhospitable nature and relative isolation of this region have protected these organisms, changes in land-use, specifically with respect to deforestation and agriculture have dramatically increased rates of extinction.

"Knowledge of spoken Spanish isn't a prerequisite for the trip," Dr. Clary says. "The focus will be on basic communication skills, and students will be expected to use the Spanish they acquire in the classroom in the field. Those with more knowledge will help those with less."

This course will complement and enhance the University's existing majors and minors in Spanish, Biology, and Environmental Studies.

Asked why a course like this one is important, Dr. Clary replied, "Not only is it an introduction to non-commercial foreign travel and Hispanic culture and language, it is also an intro to the marvels, complexities and paradoxes of the Amazon, the largest and last great frontier region on the planet."

Dr. Van Scoy replied with a quote from the Senegalese poet Baba Dioum:

In the end, we conserve only what we love.
We will love only what we understand.
We will understand only what we are taught.

For more information on the upcoming Study Abroad course, email Dr. Clary at or Dr. Van Scoy at

For those with a desire to find out what Italy is like, now is the time. This spring, Ozarks Abroad will offer "Italy: From Rome to the Renaissance," a course which fulfills the requirements for social analysis or global awareness credits and includes an intensive 10-day trip to Italy from May 16 - 25.

Assistant Professor of History Karen Frank and Walton Professor of Music Dr. Sharon Gorman will accompany students on their journey.

"We will have the lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the spring as a sort of cultural history of Italy," says Professor Frank, who organized the course and trip. "The point is to get everyone prepped for the places they'll encounter abroad."

The class will begin with early Roman history and culture and move forward to the High Baroque period, which includes the Renaissance. "That includes some of the most famous art in the world," says Prof. Frank. "The works of Michelangelo, for example - which we'll see on the trip."

The travel itinerary includes the cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Sorrento, Pompeii, and Rome. "There is a lot to see and do in 10 days," says Frank. "In Venice, the home of Marco Polo, we will see the palace of the Doge, who was leader of the Venetian Republic, as well as St. Mark's Square, the Grand Canal, and an exhibition by Venetian glassblowers; from Assisi, a lovely medieval hilltop town and burial place of St. Francis, we will take a day trip to Pompeii, which was buried by volcanic eruption in A.D. 79. It's one of the richest archaeological sites in the world. In Rome we'll visit Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and St. Peter's Basilica, among other places."

Frank says she plans to offer an optional course one night a week in basic conversational Italian in the weeks before the trip for those interested. "I always find there's a lot of personal satisfaction in being able to function in the language of where you are," Frank says.

Frank is an experienced Italian traveler. "My area of specialty is medieval Italian history," she explained. "I spent my last undergraduate semester in Italy, outside Florence. It was a wonderful experience because I got to interact with Italians who weren't used to dealing with tourists all the time. I've been also on several research trips, and I spent a year there on a Fulbright scholarship doing research for my dissertation."

She wants her students to be able to go on a trip like this to "get their feet wet traveling, but in a very controlled kind of way. We'll be staying together as a group, and there is a curfew, which is good since we'll be leaving early each day and everyone will get a chance to get plenty of sleep." She believes that Italy as an excellent place for a new student traveler to go for a first time to get over the "I'm really far away from home in a foreign country" feeling.

"In addition to the many other reasons to study abroad," Frank says, "it does look really good on your résumé to travel. Medical school, law school, grad school, and even employers like to see that you are a well-rounded individual. It sets you apart from a lot of others no matter what your major and makes you more interesting."

The group will fly from Little Rock non-stop to Milan, where they will be met by a dedicated tour guide who will remain with them 24/7 during their visit. "We've arranged it so we don't have to stand in long lines," Frank says, "and at each major site we visit, for example St. Peter's, we will have a guide there who specializes in that area."

Frank describes the students' days as a combination of structured activities - time together for tours and some meals - combined with free time so students can explore a little on their own. "They can always have lunch with me, or ask me for suggestions for good places to eat," she said. "It's a good opportunity for them to spread their wings a little. They'll also have my Italian phone number in case they need to get in touch with me no matter where they are."

Having gotten their feet wet in the wonders of Italy, the travelers will return home on May 25. "I want these students to know just how much they can do," Frank says. "I want to train them to travel, which includes issues such as what to think about when they first arrive in a city. (Hint: Find lodgings.) It's going to be a wonderful experience."

For further information on the event, email

Clarksville, Ark. --- Travel broadens the mind, as is famously said. Each of us has experienced this, looking out the car window at a new place or walking out the airport into a world where the colors are somehow brighter, the air fresher, the sounds of traffic more exciting.

Why should this be?

The University of Ozarks' Study and Travel Abroad program gives students the opportunity to find out. The program, in its 17th year this spring, will offer its students a chance to explore "Castles and Cultures of the Danube," an 11-day excursion in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Germany.

"Since joining the Ozarks faculty in 1996, I've led study abroad tours for Ozarks to Greece, Italy, Egypt, Australia, England, France, and India," said Professor Bruce B. Brown, who will lead the Study Abroad trip this spring. "We consult many people about the proposed destination – people both here at home and from the country where we plan to visit. Then I put together a course curriculum and a custom tour based on my research. I always leave extra 'free' time in the locations I choose. You never know what fascinating side trip might come up that was not on our schedule, and these unplanned expeditions make the experience feel freer and less rigid."

What is the appeal of this part of the world? "I have always been fascinated by castle architecture, and this part of Europe along the Danube River is the perfect place to delve into a deeper study with first hand observations," Brown explained. "I love experiencing and seeing others experience different cultures. It expands our lives in so many positive ways. Any travel abroad changes a person, but travel connected to a course where you investigate beforehand and learn more about where you are going and the history behind what you will see enhances the entire experience and allows students to experience 'Aha!' moments. They absorb so much more while on the tour."

Brown require his Ozarks Abroad students to keep journals in order to help them comprehend what they are experiencing and to reflect on their experiences. "Being able to read about and see their reflections/connections makes the prep work for creating a course and travel opportunity like this totally worth it," Brown said. "By becoming more aware of how we live in comparison to the unique cultures we visit while abroad, students are able to see their own prejudices and realize the broader implications of their actions and associations. They are no longer limited in their perspective; their experience has forever changed the way they will see another human being and human life. It is my opinion that every student who comes to Ozarks should take a study abroad course as soon as possible in his or her college career. Doing so would help expand their world views and prepare them to be the lifelong learners we hope to help them become."

Other faculty and students who have gone on Ozarks Abroad trips agree. "I thought the trip to India was amazing and life changing, for us and for the students," said U of O Gift Records Coordinator Kody Eakin. "You really can't appreciate a country or a city until you walk around in it, smell it, eat the food, and meet the people, and try for a little bit at least, to walk around in others' shoes.  It makes you appreciate your own country as well.  As for the trip next spring, I have to say that Bruce Brown plans a great trip!  He's organized, fun, and enthusiastic, and loves to travel.  If he weren't a theatre professor, he would make a great travel agent."

Dr. Bill Eakin, professor of philosophy and German, who also made the India trek last year, applauded the upcoming trip. "The route Brown is taking is unbeatable for getting a feel for Germanic and European cultures, from the castles outside Munich to the Opera – nothing will ever look the same again! Students report almost always that their trips via Ozarks Abroad are the most eye-opening and valuable learning experiences they have in school and often in their whole lives.  It's also invigorating and refreshing for an old bearded professor like me to be able to lead (with the help of Brahmin priests) a 4000-year-old ancient Vedic fire ceremony, as I did in India."

Lauren Ray, a junior in environmental studies from Siloam Springs, agrees the trip she took has changed her life. "I went on the Mundo Maya trip to Mexico last summer. Studying abroad really made me appreciate diversity. The people there live so much differently than we do in the United States, and they take much pride in their heritage. We got to watch Mayan dancers, eat authentic Mayan food, and explore the preserved structures in which the ancient Mayans lived and worked so long ago. Visiting the Mayan ruins helped me to think critically about the evolution of human civilization. I was exposed to a totally new culture and landscape, and I learned more in those few days abroad than I could have possibly learned in an entire semester-long course. In fact, my learning experience during that trip inspired me to study for an entire semester in Costa Rica this fall."

For a full description of the upcoming trip, go to