By ARDEN IGLEHEART
With China’s growing middle class, increasing outsourcing of US jobs, and the skyrocketing population of the developing world, it’s clear that countries today are more interconnected than ever. Likewise, many colleges claim that they provide an international experience that prepares students to thrive in this new global economy. However, UT has credentials to back up that claim, as it recently won the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization by the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs for 2016. UT is one of four schools to receive the honor this year.
“The University of Tampa won the award for doing outstanding and innovative work in international education,” Dr. Marca Bear, associate dean of international programs and associate professor of management and international business, said . “International education includes everything from facilitating student study abroad and serving a growing population of international students to implementing enhanced global curriculum on campus and supporting international faculty development and community engagement.”
UT has funded 65 professors to attend seminars abroad, which they then write about in the Office of International Programs’ World View magazine. The university also has a variety of international program offerings. While some are more popular, like international business major, UT also offers Asian studies, government and world affairs, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
According to Bear, UT students can combine the school’s international offerings to best position themselves for graduation.
“A UT student can declare an International Business major and Asian Studies minor, take language courses in Chinese on campus, then enroll in a semester abroad program in China to study Chinese history, culture, and business practices in the local economy,” Bear said. “While in China, she [or he] can also complete an internship, gaining first-hand experience in the business environment and better language skills. [A student] can then return to UT and use her [or his] experiences abroad to complete her [or his] degree requirements focusing on international trade and then graduate being well-prepared to work in a corporation centered around developing markets in Asia.”
Studying abroad is a common undertaking at UT, and recently the university announced new study abroad options for freshmen. First semester freshmen beginning next fall can spend two weeks in Costa Rica in a class about sustainability and environmental politics. Freshmen in their second semester have the opportunity to go to Dublin, Ireland and Seville, Spain.
UT has also had students placed in the Peace Corps, and students now have the opportunity to prepare with the Services Oriented Spartans (formerly Peace Corps) Club which began last semester. Victoria Tully, a senior international and cultural studies major, began Service Oriented Spartans last semester, and will be joining the Peace Corps after she graduates, teaching English in Comoros.
“Being a part of this group allows for students to prepare for service in the Peace Corps,” Tully said. “It is not required to become a Peace Corps Volunteer to join, all are welcome. Being a part of this group allows for students to reach out in the community through meeting Return Peace Corps Volunteers, the Regional Recruiter, and partake in different volunteer opportunities provided through the group. It gives students the chance to be a part of a highly diverse group and share their passion for international service.”
Tully has studied abroad twice, in Florianopolis, Brazil, and Seville, Spain, experiences that she thinks will help her in the Peace Corps.
“Having studied abroad several times has allowed for me to become independent and I have learned to adjust to cultures other than my own,” Tully said. “It has also allowed for me to advance my language skills, which will serve useful when having to learn other languages. The studies abroad that UT has given me the opportunity to partake in has allowed for me to be more open minded to different views, which will help when it comes to adjusting to a place that is foreign to me as well as the difference that will exist between cultures.”
Besides the Peace Corps, graduating students have other opportunities to work abroad with programs such as the U.S. Fulbright commission, which gives scholarships to students to pursue graduate studies abroad. UT has had 10 Fulbright awardees.
Among the alumni who are currently working abroad are Kelly Fitzgerald, a Fulbright English Teaching assistant working in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia and Caitlyn Guthrie who attended graduate school at the American Graduate School in Paris. She majored in English and government and world affairs and was a participant in the Oxford study abroad program. She now works in Paris as a consultant on the Global Relations team in the Directorate for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an organization founded to foster growth of economies and global trade.
Julia Camoratto, a senior government and world affairs major, took the travel course, “Challenges of Doing Business in a Developing Country,” taught by Dr. Kevin Fridy, in 2014 and went to Ghana with the class. There, she worked with a District Assembly, similar to a mayor’s office.
“Because I am a GWA major, Professor Fridy tailored the project we were doing to fit what I was studying. My partner and I were assigned to the local government in the village, instead of a small business,” Camoratto said. “Our assignment was to study the way the local government functioned and then try to make a small improvement. My partner and I observed how the DA functioned and attempted to implement a project that was sustainable and long-lasting. It was difficult with such a short amount of time.”
Although Camoratto said that it is impossible to truly understand the developing world without having grown up there, her studies abroad helped her broaden her world view.
“My experience in Ghana shaped my view of the world and what I want to do with my life. It got me interested in development and government in developing countries, specifically non-governmental organizations’ role,” Camoratto said.