Carpe Diem: Study Abroad

July 2, 2013 3:40 pm Study Abroad, Undergraduate Studies

Street art in Santiago, Chile

At some point in our lives, we all dream of traveling to a foreign country and immersing ourselves in a new culture, perhaps learning a new language. But as we mature and settle into jobs, marriage, raising a family, and the general minutia of life, the dream weathers with time. Instead we watch episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and imagine ourselves trekking through the streets of Casablanca searching for some tasty delight and engaging in a vivid conversation about customs with locals.

The truth is there’s no time like the present to travel, particularly when you can earn credit toward your college degree.

Lehman’s own office of Study Abroad has made it possible for students to study in England, Greece, Russia, Italy, France, Spain, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Chile, and other places around the world. On the Program’s website, there are pictures of students posing before distinctive monuments and cityscapes.

Students Irina Sverzhanovskaya and Victor Daniel Boja-Armas in Chile.

This summer, Lehman faculty and students spent the month of June on the Island of Crete in Greece where they participated in an intensive program in Ancient Greek culture and geology. This is the third year that Lehman has run the popular program.

Led by Professors Marie Marianetti (History) and Yuri Gorokhovich (Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences), students began their journey in the capital and largest city, Heraklion, where they visited sites such as the ruins of the Palace of Knossos.

This past winter, seven students traveled to Santiago, Chile to participate in a new course, Global Justice, taught by Professor Chiseche Mibenge (Political Science). Students learned about human rights research techniques, met with activists and individuals involved in Chile’s transition to democracy, visited memorial sites, and met with leaders of the Mapuche community.

The College partnered with Global Majority, a not-for-profit organization, and the Universidad Bolivariana in Chile, joining students and faculty from two other American schools: Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute.

“In my opinion, the most interesting part of studying abroad was the opportunity to physically and literally learn about a culture while living in its surroundings,” says Victor Daniel Boja-Armas, who participated in the program, and is studying ethical philosophy at Lehman.

The group spent twenty-one days exploring human rights and transitional justice issues using Chile’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy as a focal point. They traveled to the southern regions of Chile, home to the country’s indigenous Mapuche population. There they met with tribe members and their leaders to learn more about their struggles, both past and current. Students also attended classes at La Universidad Bolivariana.

This was the first time that Lehman has run a faculty-led program in Chile. The College partnered with Global Majority, a not-for-profit organization, and the Universidad Bolivariana in Chile, joining students and faculty from two other American schools: Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute.

“While the study abroad experience can be costly, those students who articulate well the potential gains of their participation in such programs often become scholarship recipients,” says Study Abroad Coordinator Emmanuel Perez. Three of the Chile program’s seven students received CUNY scholarship funding, as did five of the nine students in Lehman’s Crete program this June.

“Lehman College’s Study Abroad Program in Chile this winter gave me an important element in my field of research,” explains Boja-Armas. “As a young intellectual and advocate for human rights, the experience was crucial enough to have impacted my career in the most positive way possible. I would do it all over again.”